Government - Canada Quietly Rescues LGBT Chechens
After reports that authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya abducted and abused at least a hundred LGBT people, Canada has been working behind the scenes to throw a lifeline to the Chechen gay community.
The non-profit group Rainbow Railroad says it worked with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland to help 81 people escape persecution in Chechnya, a conservative autonomous republic in Russia ruled with an iron fist by self-styled devout Muslim and grandiose jerk Ramzan Kadyrov. Canada has helped resettled 22 of those escapees. Freeland is a former journalist and TV personality who covered the Chechnya conflict, and is banned from Russia.
"We hope that, in demonstrating Canada can do something, other countries take the lead as well," said Kimahli Powell, executive director of Rainbow Railroad. "The vast majority of the people we’ve helped are men," he continued. "It's harder for women to escape Chechnya."
Back in February, Chechen forces rounded up over 100 people perceived to be from the LGBT community. They were taken to unofficial detention centers - black sites - beaten, tortured, and sometimes killed. Human Rights watch believes three people were murdered; other groups say as many as 26 people were killed for being gay.
In May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the "reports of violations of the human rights of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya" were "reprehensible". Trudeau is a supporter of the LGBTQ community and frequently appears in Pride parades.
"Canada appears to be the only country that has done this on a such a massive scale," Tanya Lokshina, the Russia program director for Human Rights Watch. "It's certainly exceptional. Canada clearly has done the right thing here. Every extra day they stay in this country is an extra day of dire risk."