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June 6, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Abductions in Chechnya condemned by students

In April, the Russian independent daily newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that more than 100 gay men had been abducted in Chechnya, a federal subject of Russia, as part of a coordinated campaign.

Since then testimonies from survivors have been released by Human Rights Watch, which detail extreme torture and being forced to name other gay men.

The Russian Foreign Minister dismissed the accusations, arguing “we don’t see one concrete fact.” A spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied the existence of gay people within Chechnya.

According to the Independent, authorities have also allegedly told families within Chechnya to carry out “honour killings” on gay family members.

Amnesty at Vic, a campus offshoot of Amnesty International, staged a protest against the actions of authorities in Chechnya, with 60 people attending a sit-in outside of the Russian Embassy in Karori on May 27.

Their intention was to condemn the abductions as well as show solidarity — “[a] hug around them with the middle finger behind our backs,” according to Amnesty at Vic President Abby Spilg-Harris.

Spilg-Harris said that the group had tried repeatedly to get a response from the Embassy, however were not able to.

A representative from the Embassy did tell the group “I have no problem with what you’re doing, I just don’t want it on my property,” adding that he found the group’s actions “intimidating.”

The Embassy called the police in response to the protesters, but the police were dismissive of their concerns given that it was public property.

The Russian Embassy declined to comment when contacted by Salient.

The abductions in Chechnya have been condemned by other groups within Wellington such as the Rainbow NZ Parliamentary Network, a cross party coalition that includes National’s Paul Foster-Bell, Green’s Jan Logie, and Act’s David Seymour.

The Network called on Foreign Minister Murray McCully to condemn the abductions and the response from Chechnya’s authorities, a move that would follow newly elected French PM Emmanuel Macron, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, and Hillary Clinton.

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