State Dept. mum on gay ‘concentration camps’ in Chechnya

From The Washington Blade:

by Michael K. Lavers
April 11, 2017

The State Department has yet to publicly comment on authorities in Chechnya sending gay men to secret prisons that have been described as “concentration camps.”

The Washington Blade was unable to ask Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner about the issue during a telephone briefing on Tuesday. He did not talk about the Chechen prisons with reporters before the call ended.

Toner on April 7 released a statement in which he expressed concern about the arrest of at least 100 gay men in the semi-autonomous Russian republic.

Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, has reported at least three of the men who were arrested were later killed. A State Department spokesperson on Monday referred the Washington Blade to Toner’s statement in response to a request for comment on the prisons about which Novaya Gazeta reported last week.

“We are increasingly concerned about the situation in the republic of Chechnya, where there have been numerous credible reports indicating the detention of at least 100 men on the basis of their sexual orientation,” said Toner. “Some reports indicate many of those arrested have been tortured, in some cases leading to death. We categorically condemn the persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis.”

We are deeply disturbed by recent public statements by Chechen authorities that condone and incite violence against LGBTI persons,” he added. “We urge Russian federal authorities to speak out against such practices, take steps to ensure the release of anyone wrongfully detained, conduct an independent and credible investigation into these reports and hold any perpetrators responsible.”

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