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The Torture of Dozens of Gay Men in Chechnya Now Confirmed Says New Report by Human Rights Watch

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Electrocution, Enforced Disappearances, Torture, Extrajudicial Executions, and Collective Punishment Practices

Dozens of gay men have now been confirmed to have been subjected to horrific torture at the hands of the authoritarian regime of Chechnya’s autocratic leader, Ramzan Kadyrov (photo), according to a new report issued Friday by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization.

“Law enforcement and security agencies under Kadyrov’s de facto control have abducted people from homes, work places, and the streets, held them in secret locations, and carried out enforced disappearances, torture, extrajudicial executions, and collective punishment practices,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. 

First disclosed in a series of articles by the Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta early last month, gay men from this autonomous Russian Republic in the North Caucasus region have been disclosing to human rights campaigners as well as journalists from international media outlets the extent of their persecution.

b1.jpg“All of the victims suffered repeated beatings,” the HRW report says. “Security officials kicked them with booted feet, beat them with polypropylene pipes and sticks, and made other inmates beat them,” mostly on the men’s buttocks and legs.

“They put you face down on the floor and beat you with pipes,” one victim said. “They force other prisoners to carry on with the beating. Each man gets some 70 to 80 blows,” the report continues. “And you literally turn black and blue from waist to toes.”

The report also details use of electrocution devices to torture the victims. One man described a machine with a single knob and metal clips at the ends, which were attached to the victims’ fingers, toes, and earlobes.

a1.jpg“They turn the knob, electric current hits you, and you start shaking,” he said. “And they keep turning the hellish machine, and the pain is just insane. You scream and scream and you no longer know who you are. […] Finally, you faint, it all goes dark. But when you come to your senses, they start all over again. And once they’re done with you and you get your bearings, you hear other inmates screaming. The sounds of torture are just there all day, and at some point you start losing your mind.”

According to the 29-page Human Rights Watch report along with the reporting from Novaya Gazeta, the initial “anti-gay purge” lasted from late February through to at least early April. The arrests and purge began during the last week of February after the arrest of a young gay man and LGBTQ human rights campaigner in the city of Argun, about 11 miles east of the Chechen capital city of Grozny, during the last week of February.

The Chechen authorities searched his mobile phone and after discovering “intimate photographs and messages” which disclosed his sexual orientation, they tortured him forcing him to reveal numerous of his gay friends and contacts. 

“The police officials reported their findings to their superior, who apparently raised it with Magomed Daudov,” the speaker of Chechnya’s parliament, HRW’s report also disclosed.

Daudov “seems to have played a key role in both securing and giving approval from the Chechen leadership to set in motion the purge,” the report says. 

During this time period, Chechen authorities set up at least four and as many as six separate secret detention facilities where the abuses and tortures went on for several days or weeks according to Graeme Reid, the director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights program at Human Rights Watch.

c1.jpg“The first victim’s contacts, whom police in turn abducted and tortured, also provided information about other people presumed to be gay in Chechnya.”

“It was like a chain,” he said. “They get one person, go through his phone, torture him, make him name some others, get those others, and so it goes. In the place where I was held, we were four [gay men] at first, but several days later we were already 20.”

Journalist Nataliya Vasilyeva, writing for Human Rights Watch, noted that Russian federal authorities initially dismissed reports about the violence.

Following a growing international scandal, several federal agencies launched inquiries. On May 5, President Vladimir Putin said he intended to speak with the prosecutor general and interior minister about the reports. Kadyrov then claimed he is “ready to cooperate” with federal inquiries, but at the same time continued to deny the existence of gay people in Chechnya.

Russian officials do not appear to acknowledge the depth and legitimacy of victims’ fears about coming forward. There are grounds for concern that if victims remain fearful of coming forward, federal officials will simply dismiss the anti-gay purge as rumor. 

Western governments have been slow in denouncing the purge. As NCRM reported last week, the Trump administration Department of State is refusing U.S. visas to dozens of gay men from Chechnya seeking to flee Russia after the wave of kidnappings, torture, and murders of gay men.

Brody Levesque is the Chief Political Correspondent for The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody at Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com

To comment on this article and other NCRM content, visit our Facebook page. 

Image via The Kremlin

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Ginni Thomas Testifies Today Before J6 Committee

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Far-right-wing activist and lobbyist Ginni Thomas, who held a months-long pressure campaign with Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to try to force him to somehow overturn the 2020 election, and sent numerous emails to GOP lawmakers in multiple states also trying convince them to overturn the election, will testify today before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

Were Thomas merely a far-right wing extremist, or even a wealthy and powerful lobbyist, her actions would have received less scrutiny, but given she is married to a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, who was the sole vote opposing the release of January 6 documents to the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection, many see her actions as concerning and deserving of investigation.

Politico’s Kyle Cheney broke the news Thomas will testify before the Committee today. Her testimony will be virtual. The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell adds, it is “voluntary.”

READ MORE: Former GOP Congressman Has ‘Legitimate Concerns’ Clarence Thomas Was Involved in ‘Push to Overturn the Election’

Calling Thomas “one of the panel’s most high-profile outstanding witnesses,” Politico reports, “Lawmakers took interest in her connections to John Eastman, a legal architect of former President Donald Trump’s last-ditch plan to subvert the 2020 election. She’d invited Eastman to speak to an activist group in the aftermath of the election, though Eastman has denied ever discussing Supreme Court-related matters with Thomas.”

In a March opinion piece on MSNBC, Wayne Batchis, associate professor of political science at the University of Delaware, examined the Supreme Court’s “Clarence Thomas (and Ginni Thomas) problem.”

“It turns out that Thomas not only sat on the board of an organization that promoted the dangerous fiction that the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ from former President Donald Trump through fraud, she also attended the rally attempting to vindicate this paranoid propagandistic fantasy (and said she left before Trump took the stage),” Batchis wrote.

READ MORE: Trump Sarcastically Prayed for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Health – Before Asking ‘How Much Longer’ She Had: New Book

” All the while, in what might resemble the coordinated efforts of synchronized swimmers, husband and wife seemingly sought to thwart the investigation into the democratically perilous events of Jan. 6. Ginni Thomas signed on to a letter seeking the expulsion of Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from the Republican conference for joining the House Jan. 6 investigation committee; Clarence Thomas was the sole dissenter — standing in opposition to the rest of the court, including its three Trump appointees — in a decision allowing for the release of Jan. 6-related documents to said committee.”

“Without trust in the courts,” he warns, “American democracy does not stand a chance.”

 

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News

Former GOP Congressman Has ‘Legitimate Concerns’ Clarence Thomas Was Involved in ‘Push to Overturn the Election’

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Questions surfaced after Justice Clarence Thomas was the only member of the U.S. Supreme Court to oppose the release of Mark Meadows’ texts and information to the Jan. 6 committee. It turned out that in those text messages that the justice didn’t want revealed were communications with his wife.

Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA), wrote in his new book that he thinks Justice Thomas is far more involved in his wife Ginni Thomas’ 2020 election overthrow attempts.

Riggleman, who left the committee in April, included many of the text messages that had previously been released from Ginni Thomas, along with the note that he had a difficult time trying to get the House Select Committee to sound the alarm on her actions.

“Supreme Court spouses are typically low profile. Ginni’s involvement with political groups had already led to questions about whether Clarence would need to recuse himself in cases with a political component,” wrote Riggleman. If Clarence had been in the logs, it would be a much bigger deal than all that. When I began to suspect Ginni and Clarence had texted with Meadows, I put together a technical brief outlining how we might be able to cement the identifications.”

IN OTHER NEWS: GOP lawmaker leaves people baffled with his opinion of drug seizures

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) called him to express concern that telling Americans that such an influential figure had gone full-Q. Cheney was worried it would turn the whole committee into a political sideshow and overshadow all of the other work the committee was doing. The release of Riggleman’s book has left the committee members furiousover possible leaks after spending a year with so few.

Riggleman persisted in pressing Cheney to tell Americans about the Thomases.

“The committee needed to show the American people that there was an organized, violent effort to reverse the election—and that there were indications it could have been directed by the White House,” he wrote. “Thanks to their prominence, Ginni and Clarence would make a lot of headlines, but those headlines might overwhelm the other important work we were doing.”

The conversation with Cheney didn’t go well, with the two “type A personalities” duking-out their arguments. Riggleman argued that data wasn’t political. It wasn’t right or wrong.

“I also thought that, given Clarence’s position and Ginni’s prominence in conservative circles, the American public had to know what she had been up to,” argued Riggleman. “Some of the messages went beyond simply cheering Meadows on. It was legitimate for me to have concerns as to whether a Supreme Court justice had been involved in the legally questionable push to overturn the election. Was it possible that one of the country’s nine top judges was on board with an authoritarian interpretation of the Constitution? The implications were overwhelming. Cheney found it all improbable. I think she still had more faith in the institutional GOP than I did at that point.”

Riggleman’s book, The Breach, is on sale now and Raw Story has complete coverage here.

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

‘Doesn’t Get to Tell the County What They Can Read’: Lawmaker Blasts Christian in Viral Video Attacking LGBTQ Library Books

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A Tennessee Democratic state lawmaker is responding to a viral video of a Christian woman in her home state railing against “perversion,” apparently upset with LGBTQ-themed books being in a local public library, while ranting about Satan and “revelation prophecies.”

Rep. Gloria Johnson, a retired special ed teacher, blasted the young woman who spoke in the video for about three minutes berating, lecturing, and preaching to her fellow Maury County, Tennessee residents about books she believes the public library should not have.

After introducing herself as “Stephanie” (her last name was not discernible), the young woman in the undated video declares, “I speak on behalf of God Almighty, my husband, the daughter in my womb and every law abiding God fearing taxpaying citizen here in Maury County.”

She admitted she is not from Maury County, but she did feel very comfortable telling Maury County locals what to do and think.

“We moved here from Indiana to start our family,” she said. “I will not raise kids in a county that has sexual oriented books on the counter,” she insisted, later stating, “My taxes pay [for] this place.”

“The kingdom of God is within reach,” Stephanie went on to preach. “It is within here and we live not for heaven but from heaven. What that means is when perversion permeates our county, that is when the devil gets our children. If you don’t see this you are blind. We must understand that there cannot be perversion in this county, in this country. Obviously revelation prophecies are occurring right before our eyes. But what you need to know first and foremost, that obviously the future generation is our children.”

READ MORE: Christian Nationalist GOP Nominee Doug Mastriano Calling for ‘40 Days of Fasting and Prayer’ to Help Campaign

By the end of her lengthy rant she decreed, “God sees everything and by the grace of God, we will rise above this, but I’m not gonna let my children be raised – I’m gonna homeschool, you better believe it. I will not let my children be raised in a county like this. If we’re having sexual oriented books. You can even ask the gay community, a lot of them say why would you want to bring kids to the bars? They already think of pedophilia, why would you want them to come to the bars?”

“Understand that you serve our country second. You serve our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob first,” she concluded.

She also flew into a false screed straight out of recent Fox News reports.

READ MORE: Trump Uses Crude Anti-LGBTQ Language – Aides Stunned by Obsession With Staffers’ Sexuality: New Book

Saying, “I speak on behalf of millennials my generation,” she claimed, “We already have so many illegal aliens here who are bringing fentanyl they are killing our children, our youth.”

That’s false.

A right-wing think tank, the Cato Institute states: “Fentanyl is primarily trafficked by U.S. citizens.”

Rep. Johnson, who served in the Tennessee state House from 2013-2015, and is again serving, since 2019, also served up strong criticism against the woman in the video.

“She is welcome to monitor the books her children read, but she doesn’t get to tell the rest of the county what they can read,” Johnson tweeted.

Johnson is apparently a strong supporter of public libraries. This was posted to her Facebook page just days ago:

Watch the viral video below or at this link.

 

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