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To Chechenya, With Love

by RAYMOND HELKIO

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Martin Luther King

This morning I lit a candle for my brothers and sisters who have been detained or murdered in Chechenya. These past few days have been clouded by a flurry of news and a lack of information. At first I thought the news of a hundred missing gays was an April Fool's day joke. But this is no joke. Over one hundred people have just disappeared, having been plucked from their work and homes. Just like that. This morning I lit a candle but I don't think it's enough.

In response to the situation, spokesperson Ramzan Kadyrov said "You cannot arrest or repress people who just don't exist in the republic, if such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return." With statements like this coming out of Russia, the LGBT community should be worried. It's easy to blame the US president for this surge in anti-LGBT behaviour but that would underestimate the state of our rights globally. These attitudes were not created by Donald Trump, he merely tapped into what's already there. 

There's a lot we can do, starting with keeping the conversation alive. And while it's important to celebrate our rights at home we should remain vigilante in our pursuit of keeping global human rights at the forefront of our battle. Our rights at home are dependent on the rights of our brothers and sisters around the world and we will win the war through solidarity. 

"It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone. Never let anyone tell you that what you are doing is insignificant." - Desmond Tutu


 

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