Amnesty International Calls on Rex Tillerson and Russian Authorities to Investigate 'Gay Camps' in Chechnya

April 11th 2017

Anna Albaryan

Amnesty International just issued an 'Urgent Action' against the reported abductions of gay men in Chechnya — and it requires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's help.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his confirmation hearing

Following recent reports of gay men being abducted, beaten, and killed in Chechnya, the human rights protection agency is calling on Tillerson to hold Russian authorities accountable for the alleged crimes within the federation. Tillerson traveled to Russia for the first time as Secretary of State on Wednesday.

At least 100 men have reportedly been arrested and sent to concentration camps in Chechnya on the suspicion of being gay, and three have allegedly been killed, according to the Russian-opposition newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.

Vedeno, Chechnya, Russia

Now, organizations like Amnesty International are asking for Russian officials to immediately investigate the alleged crimes brought forth by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper and other human rights groups, said Heather McGill, Eurasia Researcher at Amnesty International. They are naming Tillerson as the best vessel to carry out these requests to the Russian government, asking him to "speak out forcibly against these horrific human rights abuses during his upcoming visit."

"Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action calling on Russian authorities to carry out prompt, effective and thorough investigations into the reports and to ensure that anyone found guilty or complicit in such crimes will be brought to justice in accordance with the laws of the Russian Federation," McGill said in a statement.

McGill said the organization is urging Russian officials to take precautions that would ensure the safety of these men isn't compromised any further.

"Amnesty International also urges Russian authorities to take all necessary steps to ensure safety of any individual who may be at risk in Chechnya because of their sexual orientation and to condemn in the strongest terms possible any discriminatory comments made by officials.

Amnesty International is working closely with its partners, LGBT-Network, Human Rights Watch and other groups to establish the facts and ensure that all measures needed to effectively protect LGBT people in Chechnya and elsewhere are taken," McGill added.

But it's not just Amnesty International. Others have echoed calls for Tillerson to step up:

Russia's president Vladimir Putin hasn't spoken out about the atrocities in Chechnya yet.

The only official statement has come from Chechnya, by way of President Ramzan Kadyrov's spokesperson Alvi Karimov, who said the following:

“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic. If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return."

Putin and Chechen president, Kadyrov, work closely together considering the majority-Muslim region of Chechnya is a republic within Russia. However, there hasn't been any substantial efforts from Russian authorities to even address allegations that the Chechen government is rounding up and beating at least 100 men, and in the case of three gay individuals, killing them.

Text from the urgent action reminds Tillerson: "Gay men are under attack in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Anyone who is known or suspected of being LGBT in Chechnya is in grave danger."