Global Justice Institute
Metropolitan Community Churches
Call for Swift Action on Behalf of Chechnyan Detainees
April 2017 — Early this month, journalist Elena Milashina, writing for the opposition paper, Novaya Gazeta in Russia, broke the collaborated story of the unlawful detention and torture of gay men in Chechnya, a semi-autonomous region in Russia. According to reports by the paper up to 100 gay men have been rounded up in the small area and detained in concentration like conditions. Subjected to physical and verbal abuse, including torture and electrical shock, all are beaten and humiliated and three are reported to have been executed.
The Global Justice Institute has been in contact with LGBT Russia, a network of activists on the ground, who have asked that we demonstrate both spiritual and political support for those still detained.
Holy Week and Easter are some of the times when we see the most people in our churches. This is the season of recommitment to the teachings and ways of Christ, and of reaffirmation in our belief in God’s power working through us to achieve the miraculous and call forth life from death.
Our friends in Russia have asked that first and foremost, we remember those suffering persecution in prayer in all of our services. If you or your congregation is a member of a local council of churches or other religious body, please consider making a public statement.
The Russian Republic maintains Embassies and Consulates throughout the world. Google Embassy of the Russian Republic to find the location of offices nearest you and the name of the ambassador to your country. Write and fax a letter demanding the immediate release of the gay men detained in Chechnya, and investigation into their unlawful detention and torture, a public recommitment to human rights obligations Russia holds in conjunction with other members of the United Nations, and appropriate psychological and medical care for those detained, as well as support to find secure community locations following their release.
As of this writing, our partners in Russia have received 50 requests for relocation. Funds are desperately needed to cover travel costs, accommodation, in some cases visa costs, medical attention and psychological support. The Global Justice Institute and Metropolitan Community Churches have committed to helping this relocation effort. People who remain in Chechnya and are suspected of being LGBTI run the risk of “honor” killings, even if they escape the present purge. The only honorable thing for us to do as people of faith is to care for those experiencing persecution. “As often as you did it to the least of these,” said Jesus, “you did it to me.” Those words call us to action.
Pray for those targeted throughout Holy Week and Easter services. Write to the Russian Embassy and Ambassador/Consulate Officer in your region. And, help provide safe space for those who can no longer go home. To make a donation specifically to relocate Chechnyan detainees, go to www.globaljusticeinstitute.org and click the donate button. You will be able to designate your gift. Other donations may be sent to Global Justice Institute, 446 West 36th Street, New York, NY 10018. Designate all gifts in the memo section of your check. GJI has established a relationship to directly transfer funds.
The Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner
Executive Director, Global Justice Institute
The Rev. Elder Rachelle Brown
Interim Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches