The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau P.C., M.P.
The Office of the Prime Minister
89 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A2
April 27, 2017
RE: URGENT RESPONSE TO THE PERSECUTION OF CHECHEN HOMOSEXUALS
Dear Prime Minister
We, concerned parishioners of St Matthew’s Anglican Church, Ottawa, are writing to urge the government of Canada to offer emergency humanitarian processing and authorization to come to Canada to homosexual people of Chechnya and to urgently prioritize coordination with the international community, and especially the Russian Government, to stop the persecution of homosexual people in Chechnya.
According to human rights groups and local media, beginning in February, men accused of being gay are being systematically arrested, imprisoned in a former military base close to Grozny, tortured and even killed by Chechen authorities. The CBC reported Kyle Knight, of Human Rights Watch, as saying: “The torture and imprisonment of dozens of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya is an emergency of ‘unprecedented magnitude’ that requires an escalated response from Western leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.”
Chechnya Government spokesman, Alvi Karimov is reported to have said: “If there were such people in Chechnya, law-enforcement agencies wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.” Kyle Knight confirms: “when men are returned by the security forces to their families, their families are encouraged to kill them." These heinous allegations are nothing short of state sponsored crimes against humanity and we believe it is our duty as world citizens to do whatever is in our power to end this outrageous persecution.
In a statement issued April 17th, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, called these reports “reprehensible,” and stated:
Human rights have no borders. Canada believes human rights are universal and indivisible, and these include the human rights of LGBTQ2 people.
We deplore acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
As a strong, vocal and forceful advocate for equal human rights for all, the Government of Canada is committed to combatting discrimination, violence, and unjust laws targeting the LGBTQ2 community around the world.
We are calling on the Government of Canada to act accordingly. Partnering with other agencies to allow safe passage for asylum seekers and providing emergency visas is only one step towards a coordinated response to this crisis. We urge the government to raise this as a matter a priority and to urgently seek out partners to address this injustice.
The Anglican Diocese of Ottawa has a robust refugee program underway as one of the major Sponsorship Agreement Holders. The people of St Matthews are champions in the Ottawa area under the Diocese of Ottawa, proudly sponsoring and settling refugees as part of FACES (First Avenue Churches and Community Embracing Sponsorship). We would be pleased to participate in assisting Chechens seeking asylum in Canada.
We look forward to hearing from you regarding this urgent matter,
The Reverend Gregor Sneddon, Rector, with the undersigned
cc/ The Honourable Ahmed D. Hessen P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration,
Refugees, and Citizenship
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P., Ottawa Centre
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minster of Foreign Affairs
The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, P.C., M.P., Special Advisor on LGBTQ2
Ms. Samantha McDonald, Executive Director, Privy Council Office
155 Queen Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A3