53 members of the US Congress have written to Donald Trump, pleading with him to speak out against the persecution of gay men in Chechnya and longer remain a silent voice on the issue.
The federal representatives have called on the President to condemn the ongoing kidnappings, torture and killings of gay men which have plagued the region since April.
Despite repeated urgings, Trump has remained silent on the issue.
In a damning letter, the elected officials – 52 of whom are Democrats – wrote that “the lives of hundreds of Chechens are at stake,” BuzzFeed has reported.
They added that it was “vital that the US uses its full leverage and to pressure Russian authorities to end these atrocities”.
The US should also ensure that Russian lawmakers “conduct a fair and open investigation and prosecution of these crimes, and swiftly work to provide a safe haven for the marginalised.”
And the politicians urged Trump to uphold the quote emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal – that is, to welcome Chechnya’s huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
“We urge you to assign to the appropriate agencies in your Administration, and work with our allies, to help find a safe refuge for the Chechens who have managed to escape this horrifying situation,” they wrote.
The US “stands as a beacon of hope for marginalised people across the world and has a commitment to protect and promote the human rights and dignity of all persons,” they added.
“When the President speaks out against human rights atrocities, or chooses to stay silent, the world pays attention.”
The names of 27 people slaughtered in a single night by Chechen authorities emerged earlier this week.
The secret mass execution is thought to have seen up to 56 people killed – all without trial.
The Chechen government has denied allegations of a gay purge in the region, despite many victims coming forward to reveal their ordeals.
Now, according to Enrique Torre Molina of All Out, Chechens have contacted the Russian LGBT Network hotline to say that arrests are again being made once again.
“Nearly 100 days ago, news broke of Chechnya’s anti-gay purge,” said Molina in a statement.
“Over 100 men were hunted down, arrested, imprisoned, and tortured by state authorities, because they were believed to be gay.
“At least 6 were murdered. Others were returned to their families barely alive, with their captors encouraging relatives to carry out honour killings.”
“The Russian LGBT Network and All Out call on G20 leaders to demand that President Putin order a full and immediate end to the arrest of gay men in Chechnya.
“And that G20 leaders pressure President Putin to conduct a full, independent and impartial inquiry into the abuses that have already taken place.”
The ‘concentration camps’ were reportedly set up in February 2017, with gay men being abducted, held prisoner and tortured there.
Two camps were initially reported on, based in the villages of Argun and Tsotsi-Yurt, but further investigations revealed a further four jails for gay people, bringing the total number believed to be in the Chechen Republic up to six.
One was later destroyed and moved to a new location.