Five Russian LGBT activists were arrested and detained yesterday after attempting to deliver a petition with 2million signatures to the Prosecutor General’s Office in Moscow.
The petition, co-organized by human rights campaign group Avaaz, was condemning the recent arrests, detainment, torture and abuse of gay men in Chechnya.
Chechnya is a federal subject of Russia in its North Caucasus region. The petition demanded Russia do more to stop the abuse of gay men.
The activists, with their boxes containing pages of petition, were stopped by police on Tverskaya Street in central Moscow, near the Prosecutor’s office. The boxes had ‘Justice for the Chechen 100’ written on them.
Authorities say the activists were stopped as their action was tantamount to an unsanctioned protest.
One of those detained was a member of LGBT campaign group All Out. According to the group, which is appealing for funds to help the activists, a trial has been set for 29 May.
All Out says that when the activists turned up at the office, ‘Hordes of police were waiting. They were taken away immediately.’
A photo of the detained activists was later posted to Twitter.
Они собирались передать обращения и подписи в Генпрокуратуру РФ с требованием расследовать случаи внесудебных расправ в Чечне. В автозаке. pic.twitter.com/LxCZiH73M4
— Игорь Ясин (@iasineigor) May 11, 2017
‘Blatant attempt by Russia to intimidate’
The detainment of the five has been condemned by other human rights campaigners.
Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International said in a statement, ‘While the activists were released shortly after their arrest, this knee-jerk detention follows a familiar pattern of the Russian authorities crushing activism, and is a multiple violation of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and liberty of person.
‘It is aggravated by the fact that the detainees merely wanted to support gay men in Chechnya, one of the country’s most marginalized groups, and call for their protection.
‘The LGBTI activists should be allowed to deliver their petition. And crucially, the authorities must respond to the petition itself and investigate the allegations of horrific human rights violations against gay people in Chechnya which have rightly sparked a global outcry.’
Bert Wanders, campaign director with Avaaz, described the arrests as a, ‘blatant attempt by Russia to intimidate those standing up for gay people [which] will only draw more global attention to the horrors unfolding in Chechnya.’
Last month, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta was the first media to alert the world to the detainment, torture and abuse of gay men in Chechnya.
Subsequent reports have indicated that gay men are being detained in camps and being interrogated and tortured. It’s believed up to 100 men may have been detained, and at least three are believed to have disappeared – suspected killed.
Earlier this week, it was reported that a teenager boy was outed to his family as gay by Chechen authorities. He was subsequently killed when a family member pushed him from a ninth floor balcony.
Last week, following increasing international condemnation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he would investigate the treatment of gay men in Chechnya.