#chechnya100: Sections of Amnesty International Held Protests Outside Russian Embassies Around the World

At the beginning of June, sections of Amnesty International held protests outside Russian Embassies around the world. They called for an immediate end to the harassment, illegal detention, and murders of LGBT citizens in the Chechen Republic. Together with LGBT activists, Amnesty International demanded from the Russian and the Chechen authorities to conduct a transparent and fair investigation of this crime against humanity.

A petition in support of LGBT citizens of Chechnya, calling on the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation to launch an investigation, was posted on the organization's website in May. To date, it has been signed by more than 650 thousand people. The global action of all sections of Amnesty International aims to pass the signed petition to the authorities of the Russian Federation through representatives of Russian diplomatic mission. On May 11, activists in Moscow were detained while trying to pass a similar petition to the Investigative Committee.

A section of Amnesty International in Paris held a protest on May 29, on the day when Russian President Vladimir Putin paid an official visit to France. Activists unfurled rainbow flags in the center of Paris on the Champs de Mars. Activists mentioned that this action went viral in the local media.

On June 1, Amnesty International in Kiev rallied in front of the Russian Embassy together with Human Rights Watch and Ukrainian LGBT organizations. Since the deterioration of Russian-Ukrainian relations the embassy works in a "hibernation" mode, thus the activists did not have a chance to pass the petition to the diplomatic mission.

"We join thousands of activists who will hold similar actions in their countries as a part of Amnesty's campaign in order to bring international pressure on Russian officials. We are striving to stop the abductions and killings of homosexual men in Chechnya and to persuade governments to provide shelter to victims of persecution. We demand the release of detainees and an official and unbiased investigation,“ activists posted on their Facebook page.

In the Netherlands, activists from Amnesty International and the largest Dutch organization for LGBT rights COC Nederland handed over 44,000 signatures to the Russian embassy in Hague. They demanded an immediate investigative report on the persecution of gays in Chechnya. 

Another 33 thousand signatures were transferred to the Russian embassy in Oslo.

 58171 signatures were delivered in Copenhagen by Danish activists from Amnesty International and the representatives of the Copenhagen Pride, LGBT Danmark, LGBT Ungdom to the Deputy Ambassador of Russian Federation Dmitry Bukin. The diplomat said that the petition can not be sent to Moscow via diplomatic mail, yet tried to assure the activists that the investigation of crimes against LGBT people in Chechnya is coming soon.

"Within a few days, according to my information, Tatyana Moskalkova, the human rights commissioner, will personally visit Chechnya. If the investigation [of her and her colleagues] yields some results, there is going to be a trial. At a meeting with the commissioner for human rights, the president mentioned that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General's Office will lead such a possible investigation, “ Bukin told the protesters.

In London, Sir Ian McKellen joined the protest, organized by the LGBT organization Stonewall. He stood in from of the crowd, and read out a statement provided by the Russian LGBT Network:

“It has been several months since the world became aware of the fact that LGBT people in the Chechen Republic are being persecuted, unlawfully detained, tortured and killed. We, the team of the Russian LGBT Network, have been working hard to help these people to flee the republic, to restore their feeling of safety and security, and to find sanctuary outside of Russia. It has been especially hard since both Russian and Chechen authorities have continued to deny that this crime against humanity is happening in the North Caucasus. They need to hear our voices. They have to.

We - human right defenders and the civil society - are capable of ending this. We, the team of the Russian LGBT Network thank you for coming here today to show your solidarity with the cause. Right now we need you. We need you to demand justice. We need you to tell your state representatives to take actions. We need you to accept refugees. We need you to call for a transparent and just investigation that is going to hold the prosecutors accountable. You being here today can create a better tomorrow.”

On Monday, June 5th, another protest was organized by the section of Amnesty International in Warsaw. The activists demanded an impartial investigation of hate crimes against LGBT citizens in Chechnya by the Russian authorities, as well as an adequate reaction of the conservative Polish authorities. Representatives of the diplomatic mission did not meet with the protesters, so a signed copy of the petition was transferred to the command post. Tatyana Vinnichenko, the chairman of the Russian LGBT Network, participated in the rally. She mentioned that the event was successful and even received unexpected support:

“There was also a strike of Warsaw taxi drivers. They drove right by the embassy and saw us with our rainbow flags. They immediately displayed signs of approval: pressed the horn, waved, and showed us thumbs up. We enjoyed this solidarity. "

The petition circulated not only in European countries. Activists of Amnesty International joined the campaign in Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, the USA, Taiwan, and Thailand.