‘Silence means more murders’: Pussy Riot wants Australia to help LGBTIQ Chechens


Pussy Riot at Amnesty International Australia
Photo: Joel Clark/Amnesty International Australia

Russian feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot have joined a demonstration outside South Australia’s parliament to call for the protection of Chechnya’s LGBTIQ community targeted in the region’s violent “gay purge”.

Pussy Riot member Masha Alyokhina told a group of about a hundred gathered at the rally on Wednesday, organised by Amnesty International Australia, that the protest action is “not possible in the centre of Moscow”.

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Alyokhina said she wanted Australians to be aware of the violence against LGBTIQ people in the Russian republic, where human rights groups say at least 40 people have been arrested and at least two people killed since December.

“We have a region in Chechnya where you can be killed or you probably will be killed if you wave a rainbow flag or you are gay or lesbian,” she said.

“Just this year, 40 people were arrested and at least two of them were killed. And this is just the beginning of this year.

“It’s not just about one or two presidents… it’s a so-called tradition of Chechnya to kill people who are gay and lesbian.

“Also part of the tradition of Chechen people is to kill those women who has so-called ‘immoral being’, for example to have a divorce, or to have a short skirt and so on.

“We are here because we want to stop it, and we want the world to know what is going on in our country.”

Alyokhina said the group was hoping Australia would support people affected by violence in Chechnya.

“I believe those gay people who ask for political asylum, they should be accepted here,” she said.

“It’s really a question of their life, and they are in real danger.

“All the meetings with Russian authorities — which will be Australian and Russian meetings — this topic should be asked… Silence will only make these murders [happen] more and more.”

In January, Russian activists warned of a “new wave” of arrests and violence against gay Chechens, after the country’s brutal “gay purge” first triggered global outcry in 2017.

Both the Kremlin and Chechen government have both repeatedly denied allegations that gay men are being detained and tortured in the region, despite victims bravely speaking out about the violent torture.

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Pussy Riot are in South Australia to perform with Yothu Yindi at this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival.

The group were prosecuted for performing a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral in 2012, for which two performers, Alyokhina and Nadexhada Tolokonnikova, were jailed for two years.

 

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