“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

Gay teen pushed off 9th floor balcony by uncle after being outed to family in Chechnya

Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov (right)
Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov (right)
Chechen police have told parents of gay men to 'sort it out' or the state will intervene

A gay teen was pushed off a 9th floor balcony by his uncle after he outed to his family in Chechnya.

The 17-year-old boy, who we will call Alec, was killed to ‘wash the shame’ of having a gay relative.

Chechen police have told parents of gay men to ‘sort it out’ or the state will intervene.

The survivor, given anonymity by liberal Russian magazine Snob, spoke about his experiences of growing up in Chechnya.

He revealed when he opened up to his religious leader about his homosexuality, ‘horror, disappointment and disgust arose on his face’.

The mullah said to him: ‘As a Chechen and as a man I do not want to see you here. Neither in the mosque, nor in this district. I want you to leave now, because everything you said is the most disgusting thing you can find out.

‘I hope your relatives have the dignity to wash away your shame. Go away.’

The mullah had also told him of what happened to 17-year-old Alec whose family discovered his sexuality.

The boy was ‘dropped from the balcony’ of the 9th floor. Later, his family decided to ‘wash the shame’ and invited the uncle to carry out the act.

Doing this is remarkably similar to how ISIS, and another extremist Muslim groups, murder gay people in Iraq and Syria by throwing them off high buildings. ISIS consider gay people to be the ‘worst of creatures’.

The survivor also said this persecution of LGBTI people is nothing new, alleging it has been going on since at least 2009. Other groups persecuted include the disabled and race minorities.

‘Others were caught, killed and their bodies were thrown into the yard of their families, in some cases, the bodies just passed away, because according to Islamic laws, gay bodies are not necessary to bury.’

While arrests are nothing new, he claims he knew of people who had to pay 100,000 rubles ($1,720, €1,570) to police to stop being tortured.

Others promised to rat out ‘rich’ gay people in hopes to gain their freedom.

Survivors shared harrowing accounts of torture, in one case by a ‘home-made’ electric chair, and violence in the camps, so they would give up the names of other gay men.

Alvi Karimov, a spokesperson for the Chechen government, denied allegations of running concentration camp.

‘You can’t detain and repress people who simply don’t exist in the republic,’ he said.

And Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, swore to eliminate the country’s gay community ‘by Ramadan’.

Ramadan, Islam’s holy month, begins on 26 May this year.

Source: Gay Star News, Joe Morgan, May 5, 2017

17-Year-Old Gay Teen Pushed Off 9th Floor Balcony By Uncle After He Was Outed By Chechen Family

A Chechen fugitive who left the Russian republic to escape the “gay purge” currently underway, has shared a harrowing account of his escape with liberal Russian magazine Snob.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, shared the disturbing story of a 17-year-old boy who was pushed off of a 9th floor balcony by his uncle, after being outed.

The fugitive said he was forced to leave his country after revealing his sexuality to his mullah (local religious scholar).

The mullah responded, saying, “As a Chechen and as a man I do not want to see you here. Neither in the mosque, nor in this district. I want you to leave now, because everything you said is the most disgusting thing you can find out. I hope your relatives have the dignity to wash away your shame. Go away.”

That’s when the mullah told him about the 17-year-old’s death.

Last week, survivors reported that families of gay and bisexual men are invited to prison sites to take part in killing their relatives.

‘Kill your loved ones or we will anyway,’ is the message authorities have reportedly sent.

“They tell the parents to kill their child,” said one man who managed to escape. “They say, ‘Either you do it or we will.’ They call it, ‘Cleaning your honor with blood.’”

Some have apparently committed the act.

“They tortured a man for two weeks,” he said. “They summoned his parents and his brothers who all came. They said to them, ‘Your son is a homosexual. Sort it out or we’ll do it ourselves.’ They replied, ‘It’s our family, we’ll do it.’ The family took him and killed him in the forest. They buried him there. They didn’t even give him a funeral.”

Alvi Karimov, a spokesperson for the Chechen government, denied the existence of LGBT people while giving a blanket denial of the existent of any ‘gay’ concentration camps. “You can’t detain and repress people who simply don’t exist in the republic,” he said.

Vladimir Putin has dismissed reports of gay torture and arrests as “rumors”, saying, “Of course, I will have a talk with the general prosecutor and interior minister so they support you on the topic that you have raised on information or rumors, we might say, about what is happening to sexual minorities in the North Caucasus.”

Source: The Gaily Grind, May 5, 2017

Chechnya leader claims region ‘never had’ gay men, just ‘fake’ Chechens

Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov
Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov
Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied that there are any gay men to persecute in the region, rather labelling them “fake” Chechens.

Kadyrov has insisted that he will cooperate with a Russian investigation into the discovery of persecution against gay people in the region, but denied that any gay people actually existed.

Kadyrov said: “We have never had them among the Chechens.”

“Unless we are talking about those who aren’t Chechens but say they are so that they can get to the West.”

“Chechen society does not have this phenomenon called non-traditional sexual orientation. For thousands of years the people have lived by other rules, prescribed by God,” he added.

Although Kadyrov said said that he and the republic were open to investigation, he insisted that they had not received any “official reports” of the abuse of LGBT people.

Initial reports of gay men being detained in the region, which is subject to federal law as it falls under the Russian federation, were revealed by the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Journalists who exposed the purge have been forced into hiding as they have received numerous threats from the largest mosque in the region, which has declared jihad against the newspaper.

Following the initial exposure, it has been revealed that Chechnya authorities are forcing gay men into concentration camps, sparking an outcry from LGBT and human rights activists across the world.

Tanya Lokshina, from the Human Rights Watch, said that Chechen authorities had been conducting “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and cruel and degrading treatment” over the span of the last two decades.

Britain’s deputy foreign secretary revealed the terrifying threat from the Chechen leader while taking an urgent question on the situation in parliament.

Ramadan starts on May 26 this year, and is widely celebrated in Chechnya, which is a predominantly Muslim area.

Source: Pink News, May 6, 2017

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