Death in Chechnya

On Easter Sunday, prayers for the persecuted gays in Chechnay and throughout the world. Via the Huffington Post:

Chechen police are snaring gay men by posing as gays looking for dates on social media sites, then arresting the victims and using the contact lists on their phones to discover more closeted gays. Once in jail, forced into dark cells so small they can’t even lie down, the men are mercilessly beaten in various ways, including having to run through a gauntlet of twenty men wielding bats aimed at the victims from the waist down.

Some who survive are released to their families, a move that is usually a death sentence. Chechnya is a hotbed of Islamic honor killings, usually of young women, but of gay men as well. When gay Chechens who’ve somehow remained alive get out of jail, they are often taken by their male relatives to remote places to be killed and buried. No one even searches for them.

Good to see this tweet from a GOP senator, linking to a Washington Post story:

Of course, there also is still much of this.

More.


18 Comments for “Death in Chechnya”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Of course, there also is still much of this.

    I’m not surprised that Stephen is pushing the meme that liberals are silent about Chechnya, but that silence exists mostly in the Alt-Reality world of conservative politics.

    Take Joe Biden’s reaction, for example:

    I am disgusted and appalled by reports from both the Russian media and non-governmental organizations that authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya have rounded up, tortured, and even murdered individuals who are believed to be gay. When faced with such crimes of hate and inhumanity, it is the responsibility of every person of conscience to speak out—to oppose this campaign of violence before it continues further.

    Every man or woman on this earth is entitled to be treated with dignity—to live without fear and to love freely. Unfortunately, the human rights abuses perpetrated by Chechen authorities and the culture of impunity that surrounds them means that these hate crimes are unlikely to ever be properly investigated or that the perpetrators will see justice. But that does not mean that we should fail to defend basic human rights, fundamental freedoms, and universal values.

    I hope that the current administration lives up to the promises it has made to advance human rights for everyone by raising this issue directly with Russia’s leaders. The United States must lead the way to demand an end to these egregious violations of human rights.

    … or the letter signed by 50 members of Congress (47 Democrats, 3 Republicans) urging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to speak out publicly against these reports and to pressure the Russian government to investigate and stop the violence and arrests.

    … or the statements issued by the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD and other gay rights organizations.

    … or the statements of individual Democratic members of Congress, like Alan Lowenthal:

    The most fundamental internationally-accepted human rights are the right to life, liberty, and security of person. I stand with the LGBT community in the Chechen Republic, and I call on Secretary Tillerson to denounce these atrocities and I call on the Russian and Chechen authorities to immediately halt these arrests and prosecute those who have tortured and murdered innocent people.

    I don’t know about others on IGF, but I’ll be I got two dozen e-mails from liberal groups and/or Democratic politicians last week calling my attention to the situation in Chechnya, and urging me, in one way or another, to get involved.

    I’m glad to see that Secretary Tillerson has issued a statement condemning Chechnya’s actions, but I wish that President Trump would get on the case. The Russian government is in full denial mode, and the more pressure put on President Putin, the better.

    Reply
  2. posted by Jorge on

    No matter how many times he’s quoted, I can never remember whether Pat Toomey is a Democrat or a Republican.

    “When faced with such crimes of hate and inhumanity, it is the responsibility of every person of conscience to speak out—to oppose this campaign of violence before it continues further.”

    I don’t know how. I couldn’t even figure out how to speak out against the hate crimes happening at home.

    I suppose I start my usual LGBT-month observance early.

    I don’t know about others on IGF, but I’ll be I got two dozen e-mails from liberal groups and/or Democratic politicians last week calling my attention to the situation in Chechnya, and urging me, in one way or another, to get involved.

    So far I have none.

    During my first year in college (2000-2001) I got a truly heartfelt email from one of my seniors about the terrible situation in Afghanistan for women (and that wasn’t the only time I’d heard of it). When the dialogue on Afghanistan was taken over by the Bush administration, it called attention to the same issues. There was an unbroken chain of concern, but the advocates switched. Speaking out in all cases was a path of limited resistance, used to enlighten people of like-minded ideology–liberals before 9/11, neo-conservatives afterward.

    There is no need to be cynical about this such things. That email has touched me to day even against the odds that the author has mellowed (and she was already pretty mellow anyway). People are “chosen” for these missions of speaking out by the forces and circumstances that cruelly divide us and by what is in their hearts.

    For some reason, Donald Trump chose Nikki Haley as his UN ambassador. (That doesn’t really capture the decision he made about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights when he entered the presidency but it’s as good a stand-in as any.) This decision can be celebrated, or it can be leveraged to the max.

    Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      “That email has touched me to day…” >> that email has touched me to this day…

      Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      For some reason, Donald Trump chose Nikki Haley as his UN ambassador.

      Has she spoken out in her official capacity on Chechnya?

      The United Nations hasn’t been exactly quiet about it:

      LONDON — United Nations experts demanded on Thursday that Chechnya halt the abduction, detention, beating and killing of gay and bisexual men, after weeks of reports about violent repression there.

      “These are acts of persecution and violence on an unprecedented scale in the region and constitute serious violations of the obligations of the Russian Federation under international human rights law,” the experts, a panel of five that advises the United Nations Human Rights Council, said in a statement.

      The experts noted that much of the abuse was reported to have taken place at an unofficial detention center near Argun, a town about 10 miles east of Grozny, the Chechen capital.

      “The arrested men are subjected to physical and verbal abuse, torture including with electric shocks, beatings, insults and humiliations,” the experts wrote. “They are forced to give contact details of other gay people and threatened with having their sexual orientation disclosed to their family and community — a move which could put them at risk of ‘honor killings.’”

      I wonder if the administration will support UN condemnation.

      Reply
      • posted by Jorge on

        Has she spoken out in her official capacity on Chechnya?

        I am sure she will.

        http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/01/18/haley-u-s-values-dont-allow-discrimination-kind/

        “‘That is something I will always speak loudly about,’ said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in response to a question U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked about the promotion of LGBT rights abroad during her confirmation hearing that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held.”

        Tillerson, however, will probably try to set up a situation where there is incontrovertible proof of massive wrongdoing, given his testimony during his confirmation hearings. So far what we have is the State Department calling for Russia to conduct an official investigation.

        Tillerson has the better approach in this situation. It’s a difficult time both domestically and internationally for bold statements against anything Russian. Not even chemical weapons by a desperate dictator can sway the American public toward much more than tit-for-tat. And yet, US-Russia relations are said to be at their lowest point since the Cold War, tensions are rising with North Korea, and the alt-right is triggered and crying for a safe space. All over a few missiles.

        Russia’s homophobia is protecting Chechnya’s homophobia. Ditto for the totalitarianism. Before we can attack the latter, we must do something to make sure Russia’s next move against us is prevented or negated. Better for the US to take cleanup than point in this situation–lead from behind, as the expression goes.

        Reply
  3. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Russia’s homophobia is protecting Chechnya’s homophobia. Ditto for the totalitarianism. Before we can attack the latter, we must do something to make sure Russia’s next move against us is prevented or negated. Better for the US to take cleanup than point in this situation–lead from behind, as the expression goes.

    We’ll just have to wait and see if, when and how the administration elects to deal with Chechnya’s latest round of oppression against gays and lesbians in Chechnya. I hope that the administration puts the pressure on Putin and his appointed puppet in Chechnya, but, as you point out, “It’s a difficult time both domestically and internationally for bold statements against anything Russian.”

    The Obama administration was consistent in its efforts to pressure Russia, Kenya and other nations to move away from oppression of gays and lesbians, but that administration was careful and measured in so doing. I have no problem with the Trump administration being likewise careful and measured.

    My primary reason for commenting was give lie to Stephen’s implied claim that liberals are not reacting to the horror in Chechnya. Liberals are, and strongly, as are decent people across the world.

    The cartoon he posted was typical of his simplistic, mindless, and often mendacious efforts to slime liberals. He should get a job working for Milo. Maybe he already has one.

    Enough said about this pathetic post.

    Reply
  4. posted by Jorge on

    Well, I’m afraid I’ve had a second thought, Tom.

    It occurred to me this morning that I recently put myself out there, tentatively and with a low chance of success, in the dating scene. This is very rare. At the same time over the past week I was finishing Part I of Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth and reading some Biblical passages now and then. My admiration for Pope Benedict and his writings being what it is, I became worried as I sometimes do that I would hear and feel the message that I must remain single for life. That instead God would put my experience just now to use for some ulterior purpose.

    *Sigh.*

    Not once did I consider that this is the point when some people die.

    I am ever finding myself looking out at the world, never is it about me. I know I’m refusing something important, but that’s just how I feel right now.

    Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      … God would put my experience just now to use for some ulterior purpose.

      I’ve learned over the years that God has always found a way to put the hard times — the times of isolation and loneliness, the times of doubt, the times of spiritual fog — in my life to good use in his own time, in his own way.

      I know that sounds like a pious platitude, but it is not. It is an observation from my deepest experience.

      Trust God to show you the way. In his own time, and at a time and through a means of his own choosing, he will.

      Reply
      • posted by JohnInCA on

        “I know that sounds like a pious platitude […]”
        Sure, but it sounds even more like a perfectly normal reconciliation of cognitive dissonance.

        Reply
      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        Tom: “I know that sounds like a pious platitude […]”

        JohninCA: Sure, but it sounds even more like a perfectly normal reconciliation of cognitive dissonance.

        I suppose, but that “perfectly normal reconciliation of cognitive dissonance”, as you put it, can be useful.

        I’ll give you an example.

        As we all know, the military currently has a problem with PTSD-related symptoms — depression, rage, substance abuse, suicide — among servicemen and recent veterans.

        A number of programs have developed over the last few years that match servicemen and recent veterans experiencing those symptoms with mentors, if you will, who have been through the experience from earlier wars, who share their own experience with combat, with PTSD-related post-combat problems, and the process of recovery/return to civilian life in all its fullness. The programs supplement professional counseling/therapy by the VA.

        The experience is helpful to many of the servicemen and recent veterans who participate, and is often seen as transformative (as in “Finally, some good came of what I went through …”) by the mentors who participate.

        The fact that the transformation experienced by the mentors may be entirely illusionary — “reconciliation of cognitive dissonance”, as you put it — isn’t relevant to the good that the mentoring can do, and does, on both sides of the equation.

        I understand that support groups of many kinds, including 12-Step programs, are grounded in sharing “strength, hope and experience” and sponsor/sponsee mentoring as tools for helping people move in the direction of recovery/healing, often succeeding when professional therapy/counseling has not succeeded.

        I see the hand of God in the process, others do not. That’s a matter of faith or no faith, I guess.

        At any rate, I have no desire to argue with you about it. As I recall, you are a professional in the area, and nothing I say is likely to change your views about the value of non-professional mentoring.

        Reply
        • posted by JohnInCA on

          “[…] that “perfectly normal reconciliation of cognitive dissonance”, as you put it, can be useful.”
          Sure, didn’t mean to suggest otherwise.

          But you guys hit on one of my fundamental problems with the notion of the Abrahamic God, and I let that get the better of me and inserted myself where it wasn’t called for or needed.

          Sorry Tom, sorry Jorge.

          That said…
          “As I recall, you are a professional in the area […] “
          Nah, I’m a software developer who studied too much psychology and philosophy in college.

          Reply
  5. posted by TJ on

    Again, implying that liberals don’t care about international LGBT rights is dishonest.

    The main NGOs that monitor LGBT rights on a global level would probably get labeled as being progressive.

    Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch have both done more to include LGBT rights within their global human rights concerns.

    What can actually be done – on the ground – to help LGBT people in the numerous countries where they are imprisoned, tortured, targeted by vigilante groups, is often more complicated than a soundbyte readily allows.

    Reply
    • posted by Houndentenor on

      I fear that this will play out like Darfur, Rwanda and every other humanitarian crisis of my lifetime. Some will pay attention. Most will look away. Officials will express concern but do nothing. People will die. Everyone will go back to their dinner as if it never happened. If I’m cynical it’s because I’ve watched this all happen before. I’d love to be wrong just once.

      Reply
  6. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    The Trump administration has taken the first step toward confronting Russia and Chechnya. Via press release from Ambassador Haley:

    We continue to be disturbed by reports of kidnapping, torture, and murder of people in Chechnya based on their sexual orientation and those persecuted by association. If true, this violation of human rights cannot be ignored – Chechen authorities must immediately investigate these allegations, hold anyone involved accountable, and take steps to prevent future abuses.

    We are against all forms of discrimination, including against people based on sexual orientation. When left unchecked, discrimination and human rights abuses can lead to destabilization and conflict.

    Tomorrow, the United States will lead a first-ever meeting on human rights in international conflicts in the UN Security Council to underscore our commitment to addressing human rights abuses wherever they threaten international peace and security.

    It is a start. I hope that it is just the beginning of US and international pressure.

    Reply
  7. posted by Lori Heine on

    This issue has prompted the usual silliness on Facebook.

    From the Right, we hear that no one on the Left cares what happens to gays in Chechnya. And from the Left, that the evil Putin-Trump alliance is behind it all.

    When I point out that leftists are certainly very interested in what’s happening in Chechnya, conservatives tell me that the Left refuses to mention that Islam is responsible. The fact that this is a fallback position, and that they originally claimed the Left didn’t say anything about the matter at all, is supposed to be conveniently forgotten.

    I don’t know whether the Left is mentioning that the tormentors of gays in Chechnya are Islamic or whether they’re not. I know that Putin (and Trump) are figuring prominently in its rhetoric. I also know that the whole damned mess is as silly as everything else that statists on either side get ahold of.

    Reply
    • posted by Houndentenor on

      It’s easy to shut up conservatives when they start using gay rights to slam Muslims. Tell them that you appreciate their concern for gay people in Chechnya (or Saudi Arabia) and thank them for joining you in calling for refugee status for gay people from places where gays have no rights. Works every time. They don’t care about gay people. It’s just another anti-liberal/anti-Muslim tirade. It’s disgusting and only someone with no empathy or compassion could engage in such a tactic.

      Reply
    • posted by Jason on

      conservatives tell me that the Left refuses to mention that Islam is responsible. The fact that this is a fallback position, and that they originally claimed the Left didn’t say anything about the matter at all, is supposed to be conveniently forgotten.

      I think that those on the left have been critical of what’s happening in Chechnya, but it is true that they’ve ignored/downplayed that Islamic fundamentalism is the driving force, and that omission is significant and worth commenting on and criticizing. Many on the left (MSNBC commentators, for instance), blames Russia and then blame Trump (Putin’s supposed puppet), and it’s all partisan hackery without any understanding of the complexity of Russian’s relationship with Chechnay (an autonomous region over which Putin installed a strongman to keep the place from declaring outright independence, but which Putin doesn’t directly govern). Many not on the left are fed up with the endless “Putin’s puppet” line as well.

      And in response to many terror attacks (France being the latest), many on the left omit Islam/Islamism’s role as the driving factor because (and yes, this is the point of the cartoon Miller linked to) they don’t want to be “guilty” of Islamaphobia. This happens all the time and there’s no point pretending it doesn’t.

      Reply
      • posted by JohnInCA on

        It’s not that folks “on the left” ignore that this stuff has religious motivations. It’s just we don’t put as much importance in religions role.

        You know, like how I’m regularly expected to ignore that Christianity is a major motivating force for most anti-gay stuff here in the west?

        Fact is, when stuff like this (or Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill) happens, folks try to use religion to justify it. But the religion didn’t suddenly get more homophobic, so that’s just a cover for the real motivation, which is to distract people from real problems by using a scapegoat.

        You want me to blame the religion, not the politics? Then I’m not going to focus on the one that’s far from home and doesn’t affect my life much, I’m going to focus on the religion that 70% of the country practices.

        Reply

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