On 9 May, the Union of Writers of Chechnya published an open letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, requesting protection from what they describe as a ‘campaign of bullying’ by European countries and organisations against Chechnya and its people.
In the letter, the writers insist that there are no gay people in Chechnya, and that widespread reports in the media that they are being ‘harassed’, negatively affects the image of the whole Chechen nation.
Russian daily Novaya Gazeta reported on 1 April that over 100 Chechen men accused of being gay had been rounded up by the authorities, with at least three killed. Stories from Chechens who have since fled the republic tell of torture, and parents being summoned to kill their children. Chechen authorities and the Kremlin have repeatedly denied the reports.
[Read on OC Media: ‘Brothers, be careful. Don’t meet up in Grozny’]
In their letter, members of the Union of Writers claim they have accurate information that there are no sexual minorities in the republic.
‘We are the indigenous people of the Chechen Republic and we are aware of all the events taking place in the republic that have a socially significant character. Therefore, we have reason to state that the accusations against the Chechen Republic about alleged cases of illegal actions against citizens of non-traditional orientation are absolutely groundless and untrue’, the letter reads.
The authors of the letter nevertheless believe that even if there were any violations of human rights, they took place under the jurisdiction of Russian law.
‘We demand a halt in the campaign of bullying against the Chechen Republic and the Chechen people. All issues related to unlawful actions against citizens should be taken [sic] by law enforcement and judicial authorities vested by the laws of the Constitution of the Russian Federation’, the letter reads.
[Read a Chechen perspective on the persecutions and the international isolation of Chechnya: Chechens alienated amidst gay persecutions]