Nikki Haley: U.S. ‘disturbed’ by gay Chechnya arrests

By : Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley on Monday said the U.S. remains “disturbed” by the arrests of more than 100 gay men in Chechnya.

“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,” she said in a statement. “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,” she added. “When left unchecked, discrimination and human rights abuses can lead to destabilization and conflict.”

Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, earlier this month reported Chechen authorities have arrested more than 100 gay men since the end of February. Many of these men have reportedly been beaten and tortured with electric shocks and glass bottles that have forcibly been placed into their anuses.

Novaya Gazeta has also said at least three of the men who were arrested later died.

The Russian newspaper last week reported Chechen authorities have sent gay men to secret prisons that have been described as “concentration camps.” The Russian LGBT Network, a St. Petersburg-based advocacy group that has launched an emergency campaign with All Out, a global LGBT activist organization, to evacuate gay men from Chechnya, confirmed these reports to the Washington Blade.

Haley issued her statement less than a week after GLAAD urged her to do so.

Acting State Department spokesperson Mark Toner on April 7 said the U.S. is “increasingly concerned about the situation” in Chechnya. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump have yet to publicly comment on the gay Chechen men’s arrests and the secret prisons in which they are being detained.

“The attacks on LGBTQ men and reports of concentration camps in Chechnya were beyond horrific, and Ambassador Haley is taking the right step in speaking out against these blatant violations of human rights,” said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis.

Human Rights First President Elisa Massimino on Monday also urged Haley to “work with U.S. allies at the United Nations to develop a comprehensive response and engage with your Russian counterparts to ensure a thorough investigation of the acts and justice for the victims.”

“A comprehensive international response to the situation in Chechnya is crucial to asserting the international community’s values and advancing human rights,” said Massimino in a letter she sent to Haley.


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