Last week, the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that dozens of men had been rounded up on suspicion of being gay. Many have been tortured and at least three were killed while in detention.

On April 4, HRC President Chad Griffin sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, urging him to take steps to stop the mass arrests of men accused of being gay in the Russian republic of Chechnya.

The Chechen authorities have refused to stop the arrests, with one government spokesman denying that there are even LGBT people in Chechnya at all, saying, “You cannot arrest and repress those who simply aren’t in the republic.”

The Russian government likewise has also refused to intervene, telling the victims to “file official complaints and go to court,” which is unlikely to be met with any success.

In that context, Griffin sent his letter to Tillerson on April 4, urging him “to make clear to your Russian counterparts that such lawless detentions, arrests, torture and murders are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” Secretary Tillerson will travel to Moscow to meet with Russian leaders on April 12.

Griffin added that the Chechen and Russian governments “must transparently account for those who have been detained, condemn and investigate the attacks, and ensure that those targeted can flee to safety.”

“This is a crucial moment,” Griffin said, “to make it clear that the U.S. will indeed ‘work aggressively to advance human rights for everyone,’” quoting Tillerson’s own remarks during his confirmation process.

This week, while in Moscow, Secretary Tillerson must raise this issue with the Russian government including the Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. If Tillerson is granted a meeting President Putin this must be on the agenda.


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