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52 Democrats, 1 Republican Urge Trump to Break Silence on Chechnya’s Gay Concentration Camps

Urge Trump to Confront Russia

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53 members of Congress have sent a letter to Donald Trump urging the president to condemn the reports of kidnap, imprisonment, torture and murder of gay men in the Russian Republic of Chechnya.

“As Members of Congress dedicated to the promotion of fundamental human rights across the globe,” the letter begins, “we urge you to immediately publicly condemn the ongoing abuses of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) and perceived to be LGBT individuals in Chechnya and to raise this issue at the highest levels with members of the Russian government.”

As BuzzFeed reported, the effort is being spearheaded by Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, and includes one Republican: Ileana Ros-Lehiten of Florida.

“The lives of hundreds of Chechens are at stake,” the letter continues, “and it is vital that the U.S. uses its full leverage to pressure Russian authorities to end these atrocities, conduct a fair and open investigation and prosecution of these crimes, and swiftly work to provide a safe haven for the marginalized.”

It proceeds to detail the reports indicating that “since early March, the Chechen government has conducted a coordinated campaign of arrest, torture, and murder targeting gay and bisexual men and women,” citing international human rights groups and local activists. In May, a report by the Human Rights Watch confirmed the atrocities.

The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both leaders have  denied or ignored the accusations, which the letter points out, also noting that Russia “prematurely ended an investigation with the claim that the multiple reports have little credence.”

“We urge you to assign to the appropriate agencies in your Administration, and work with our allies, to help find a safe refuge for the Chechens who have managed to escape this horrifying situation,” the Congressmen urged.

In May, reports surfaced that Trump’s State Department had denied visas for gay men fleeing Chechen persecution.

“The United States stands as a beacon of hope for marginalized people across the world and has a commitment to protect and promote the human rights and dignity of all persons,” the letter concludes.

“When the President speaks out against human rights atrocities, or chooses to stay silent, the world pays attention.”

The full letter can be read below:

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