by Mary Emily O’Hara
Apr 14 2017
Joe Biden is “disgusted and appalled” by reports of authorities in Chechnya torturing and killing men who are believed to be gay or bisexual.
On Friday, the former Vice President responded to growing concerns among international governments and human rights groups who have been pressuring the U.S. to take action and address the Chechen crisis with Russia.
“When faced with such crimes of hate and inhumanity, it is the responsibility of every person of conscience to speak out — to oppose this campaign of violence before it continues further,” Biden said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
The reports of a violent, state-sponsored campaign targeting local LGBTQ men in Chechnya first arose on April 1, when the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta published a story revealing details of a prison-like facility near the Chechen town of Argun.
Novaya Gazeta spoke with Chechen men who reported being arrested and subsequently tortured with beatings and electric shocks, as well as being forced to supply authorities with the names and phone numbers of other LGBTQ people.
A St. Petersburg advocacy group, Russian LGBT Network, set up an emergency hotline to take calls from Chechnya — and now says it has received about 50 calls from people who were targeted or are trying to escape the region. As many as 100 men were believed to have been arrested for suspected homosexuality. Russian LGBT Network told NBC News it believes around 20 men have been killed by authorities as part of the roundups.
“People are very intimidated and not eager to talk. They are hesitant to even talk to us,” Natalia Poplevskaia, the network’s International Advocacy Officer and Monitoring Program Coordinator, told NBC News on Tuesday. “The people who have been targeted by the campaign need some time to get back to normal life.”