Investigate Violence Against Peaceful Gay Rights Protestors In Russia

Target: President Vladimir Putin

Goal: To obtain justice for the Russian protestors of homophobic bill who were violently beaten.

Russian authorities must open independent and impartial investigations into recent violent attacks on gay rights protestors in Russia. The activists were protesting a recent law passed through the Russian legislative system that will impose fines on individuals, government officials, and organizations that engage in the “promotion” of homosexuality to anyone under the age of 18. This law no doubt adds fuel to the fires of those who believe that violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals is acceptable. The bill violates the free expression of all Russians.

Passage of the bill has led to protests throughout the country. Unfortunately, nationalist groups in favor of the bill have followed these protests and published calls to attack protestors who support the bill. Activists who were protesting in the city of Voronezh suffered the greatest violence. According to reports, before the protest could even start, 200 counter-protestors gathered at the rally site in order to block the protest. Instead of using the arranged space then, the protestors gathered in a square about 100 meters away. Alexei Kozlov, a prominent local activist, reported that counter-protestors threw snowballs, paint and bottles of liquid at the protestors while shouting abusive language such as “Beat the faggots!”. Eventually some counter-protestors cornered a group of six activists. One protest organizer was kicked in the head until he lost consciousness while another was cut in the head. The rest of the group, including a number of women, were also beaten quite severely. While none of the injuries were life threatening, the fact remains that law enforcement officers and other officials on the scene did nothing to stop the assault on the group of protestors.

Authorities ended up detaining three to six people, depending on the report, after the violence ended, all of whom were released later without charge. The Investigation Committee, the state agency in charge of criminal investigations, has opened a preliminary inquiry into the abuses laid upon the protestors. The police department in Voronezh has also opened an investigation into the counter-protestors violation of the procedures for organizing public assemblies. The hope for any sort of justice in this case is slim, however, given the current attitudes in the country. Opening an inquiry into abuses committed by counter-protestors is a start but it is only the beginning. There needs to be a thorough investigation and authorities need to hold responsible those who carried out acts of violence. Then attention can be turned to striking down the “homosexual propaganda” bill.

Members of Russian government should spend more time protecting the rights of their people by assuring them the right to peaceful protest, instead of taking away rights by passing a bill that discriminates against a portion of Russian society. Sign this petition and demand that the Russian legislature protect the rights of all its people.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Vladimir Putin,

The violence recently committed against peaceful protestors in the city of Voronezh is a disgrace. The proper authorities must open independent and impartial investigations into the violence. While the law that they were protesting is also a grand denial of human rights, that is not the focus of this letter. There needs to be a thorough investigation into the violence that left six activists hospitalized, one with a serious concussion after being kicked in the head until he lost consciousness.

Members of the Russian Duma should spend more time protecting the rights of their people by assuring them the right to peaceful protest instead of taking away rights by passing a bill that discriminates against a portion of Russian society. Ensure the human rights of all Russians by striking down this homophobic bill and by properly investigating violence committed against LGBT-rights protestors.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: WikipedianMarlith via Deviant Art

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