Joint statement from Rainbow Railroad and All Out
Today, rights groups Rainbow Railroad and All Out join an international chorus of human rights defenders to demand an immediate investigation into the serious allegations of disappearances, unlawful arrests, torture, and killings of LGBTQI people in Chechnya.
Yesterday, as the Russian Federation continued to dismiss reports of a horrific anti-gay crackdown on LGBTQI people in Chechnya, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) invoked what is known as the “Moscow Mechanism.”
The mechanism, which was voted on by the 16 member countries that make up the OSCE, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, authorized a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights abuses in Chechnya.
At the Miles of Love LGBT travel conference in Hong Kong, Rainbow Railroad executive director Kimahli Powell joined All Out’s Matt Beard, Planet Ally founder Bess Hepworth, and a member of Russian punk band and activist collective Pussy Riot in a live video announcement to demand an investigation into the atrocities in Chechnya.
Powell said many survivors of the crackdown are still recovering from the serious trauma, humiliation, torture, and abuse that they faced there. In some cases, Chechen officials even encouraged families to murder relatives they suspected might be gay or bisexual.
“Over the past year, working with the Russian LGBT Network and with various governments, we were able to help 70 people find safety from the state-sponsored terror regime affecting LGBTQI people in Chechnya,” Powell said. “We must continue to press for an investigation into what happened, so this does not happen again with impunity.”
All Out’s Matt Beard said the advocacy work of the Russian LGBT Network and their international allies has achieved an important initial goal: raising hope for justice in Chechnya and Russia.
“By invoking the Moscow Mechanism, the international community can now initiate an official inquiry into the anti-gay purge that took place last year in Chechnya under [head of the Chechen Republic] Ramzan Kadyrov’s reign,” Beard said. “This mechanism provides us with hope that we might finally get some justice in Chechnya and the rest of Russia. It is owed to the survivors and the victims of the atrocities.”
“We need as much international pressure as possible around the Moscow Mechanism over the next days and weeks,” he added.
The 16 countries voting to invoke the Moscow Mechanism were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The mechanism has been invoked a total of only seven times in cases of Russia (2018), Belarus (2011), Turkmenistan (2003), Serbia and Montenegro (1993), Moldova (1993), Estonia (1992), and Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992).
While at the Miles of Love conference in Hong Kong, Powell has also had the opportunity to meet with activists and business leaders from around the world to discuss how international travel can be more inclusive of LGBTQI+ people, especially those facing persecution.
About Rainbow Railroad
Rainbow Railroad is an international charitable organization that assists LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) people seeking safe haven from state-enabled violence, persecution, and the threat of death where homosexuality is criminalized. We provide information, connections, and funding for travel and other associated costs. www.rainbowrailroad.com
About All Out
In 71 countries, it is a crime to be gay; in 10 it can cost you your life. All Out is building a world where no person will have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or who they love. www.allout.org
SOURCE Rainbow Railroad