Thursday, April 20, 2017

Torture Logic

You'll have to forgive me for getting serious this week.

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Apr 20, 2017

Most of what Americans know about the Soviet Russian Republic of Chechnya has to do with the Islamist revolt there in the 1990s and Chechen terrorist attacks such as the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis and Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004. Moscow has tightly controlled the Chechen government since crushing the revolt and eliminating the territory's independence-minded leaders. Vladimir Putin installed Ramzan Kadyrov as President of Chechnya in 2007.

This month, the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that Chechen authorities had begun mass arrests of gay men, who were tortured with electric current to get them to give up the names of other gay men:
The media scandal on repressions against homosexuals in Chechnya broke out on April, 1 after the publication of the Novaya Gazeta investigation, which referred to the detention and torture of more than 100 homosexual men in Chechnya, as well as to the murders of at least three people.
The publication aroused the anger of Chechen politicians and clergy, who called these data "lies and provocation". Kadyrov's press secretary Alvi Karimov said that there were no gay people among the residents of the republic, and Kheda Saratova, a member of the HRC with the head of Chechnya, said that she "would not consider a statement about the murder of a homosexual, because this is an evil that every resident of Chechnya must fight with".
The official denial of the existence of any gays in Chechnya echoes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial ten years ago that Iran was hanging men and women for the crime of being gay.

In keeping with dictatorial standards and practices, the official state policy is to attack the media. But we're not talking about merely denying Novaya Gazeta admisison to a press gaggle.
At the April 3, 2017, gathering of some 15,000 men, Chechen presidential adviser Adam Shahidov called the Novaya Gazeta journalists "enemies of our faith and our motherland" and promised "vengeance." The resolution adopted at the gathering included a "promise that retribution will catch up with the hatemongers wherever and whoever they are, without a statute of limitations," according to Novaya Gazeta.
The Novaya Gazeta reporters have good reason to be concerned for their own safety. The long list of Russian citizens assassinated for exposing what Russian government is becoming includes one of their own: Novaya Gazeta reporter  Anna Politkovskaya in October, 2006:
Politkovskaya was just 48 years old when she was found in the foyer of her apartment building, shot in the head with a pistol. Her unflinching reporting for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta on the Chechen War’s human-rights abuses, corruption, and brutality made her one of Russia’s bravest journalists.
Kadyrov (who was Prime Minister in 2006) denied responsibility for the murder in a 2007 interview, but his reasoning is still chilling:
"Why would I have killed her?" he says, in heavily accented Russian (Chechen is his first language). "She used to write bad things about my father, and if I had wanted to, I could have done something bad to her at that time. Why now?"
Another Russian journalist was murdered just last month.

To its credit, even the Trump administration has denounced the gross violation of human rights in Chechnya. I guess that's some small progress; but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

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