Metro Weekly

HRC’s Chad Griffin to Trump: Speak out against anti-gay crimes in Chechnya

Griffin says silence from the White House sends a message that human rights abuses abroad will be condoned

Chad Griffin – Photo: Rex Wockner.

America’s largest LGBTQ organization has demanded that President Trump speak out against the ongoing anti-LGBTQ actions taken by the Chechen government since last year.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin sent a letter criticizing Trump for remaining silent as Chechen police and military authorities have been carrying out what essentially amounts to a purge of people suspected of being LGBTQ.

He also is demanding that Trump condemn those atrocities as “crimes against humanity.”

According to Russian news sources and human rights watchers, hundreds — and, by now, maybe even thousands — of young men have been rounded up, detained, and tortured in secret prisons.

Some of them have been killed in custody and others have been released, only to have the government convince their families to commit “honor killings.”

“It has now been a year since the world learned of the horrific state-sponsored attacks on men suspected of being gay or bisexual in the Russian republic of Chechnya,” Griffin writes to Trump. “Yet over the last year, you have remained unconscionably silent in the face of these atrocities, despite the fact that human rights organizations have repeatedly called on you to speak out, and other global leaders have condemned the atrocities.

“Enough is enough. It is time to break your silence and condemn these atrocities as crimes against humanity.”

Griffin also praises the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate for passing bipartisan resolutions condemning the attacks against Chechnya’s LGBTQ population, as well as the U.S. Treasury Department for imposing sanctions against Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, one of his associates, Ayub Kataev, and others suspected of engaging in or having knowledge of human rights abuses or extrajudicial killings.

But Griffin expresses concern that there seem to be no consequences for those who ordered or condoned the anti-gay purge — particularly those in Russia who know about the purge but have failed to launch an investigation into the matter.

The HRC president worries that inaction on the part of major world leaders could send a message to other human rights abusers across the world that they, too, will avoid punishment for their actions.

“There is much more that needs to be done,” Griffin adds. “While it is long past time for you to speak out, it is not too late. You must condemn these crimes against humanity and call on Russia to conduct an investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable.”

Svetlanta Zakharova, the communication manager and board member of the Russian LGBT Network, also called on the president to condemn the anti-gay campaign.

“We want justice for the victims in Chechnya, for their relatives and their loved ones. The Russian authorities must fulfill their duties, and start a serious investigation of this crime against humanity,” Zakharova said in a statement. “The Russian authorities have not done anything to stop the atrocities or to punish those who are responsible. We still don’t know exactly how many people suffered during this state-sponsored campaign aimed to ‘purify Chechen blood.’ The Russian LGBT Network has evacuated over 100 people from Chechnya, and it is not over.”


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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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