On the current situation in Chechnya

May 8, 2017

I am sure we have all heard about the horrible things that are currently happening in Chechnya. An organised campaign of torture, imprisonment and murder against gay men, or men perceived to be gay. It makes me feel very sick when people do such things to other people for no other reason than who they choose to love. Dale Cameron Lowry and Arshad Ahsanuddin have asked me to post on my blog about it and make people aware of the horrible things that are happening right now. I happily agreed to do so…..

By Dale Cameron Lowry with Arshad Ahsanuddin

When the news started coming out of Chechnya about the organized police campaign of torture, imprisonment and murder being conducted against men perceived to be gay, it hit me hard.

Growing up in the Netherlands just a few decades after World War II, I learned to dread authoritarianism and genocide — authoritarianism’s frequent offspring — early on in life. On school and family outings we visited houses with secret rooms where families had provided refuge to Jews as they sought to escape Occupied Europe. Every summer, we would drive through northern Germany to see my cousins, and my mom would announce the sites of former concentration camps we passed along the way.

I felt compelled to do something about the situation in Chechnya — but what? How could I possibly help from the other side of the world?

I started talking about the topic with other LGBT authors. Fantasy author Olivia Helling volunteered to organize a charity auction. Over the next week or so, the idea grew into an effort that now includes three dozen writers, publishers, and other book people. We call ourselves Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens. We raise money for human rights organizations working with LGBT people in Chechnya and the Russian Federation (which Chechnya is a part of) in a few ways:

Speculative fiction author Arshad Ahsanuddin gives this quote from anti-Nazi theologian Martin Niemöller as his reason for lending a hand with the crisis in Chechnya and the Russian Federation:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

“Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

—Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

“Not this time,” Ahsanuddin adds.  “This time we’re not helpless.”

Ways to Get Involved

Readers

If you are a reader who would like to learn more about the situation in Chechnya — including news updates and how to make a direct donation to a designated charity, buy a book from a participating author, or support the auction — please visit Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens.

Facebook

Please RSVP to our Facebook event and invite friends. It’s a great way to keep up-to-date. https://www.facebook.com/events/286004325144634/

 

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 Dale Cameron Lowry (Twitter: @daleclowry) is a romance and speculative fiction writer living in the Upper Midwest with a partner and three cats. Queer Mormons, immigrants and emigrants, people with disabilities, multilingual folks, and others who spend their lives navigating multiple cultures often appear in Dale’s writing.

Arshad Ahsanuddin (Twitter: @pactarcanum) is a physician and writer of LGBT sci-fi and fantasy. He is the author of the Interscission Project series.

 

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