Listen to this article here
The United Nations received a letter from the US Ambassador Bathsheba Nell Crocker, detailing alleged plans Russia has to target a list of people they plan to send to camps or even kill upon military occupation of Ukraine. The note states that journalists, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, religious and ethnic minorities, and individuals who oppose the Russian state might be targeted.
In her letter to the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, Ambassador Crocker expressed “grave concern” about “widespread human suffering”.
The Washington Post first broke the story and The Black Wall Street Times has obtained a copy of the letter:
“These acts, which in past Russian operations have included targeted killings, kidnappings/forced disappearances, unjust detentions, and the use of torture, would likely target those who oppose Russian actions, including Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons.
Specifically, we have credible information that indicates Russian forces are creating lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation.
We also have credible information that Russian forces will likely use lethal measures to disperse peaceful protests or otherwise counter peaceful exercises of perceived resistance from civilian populations.” (Excerpt from Ambassador Bathsheba Nell Crocker U.S. Representative to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva)
Currently, an estimated 150,000 plus Russian troops are currently choke-holding the sovereign nation of Ukraine with plans, according to The White House, of an imminent invasion.
While Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov calls the report “absolute fiction”, the Russian nation has a long history of these human rights abuses.
LGBTQIA+ Human Rights Abuses in Russia are longstanding
Unlike most western nations, Members of the LGBTQIA+ community living in Russia face intense legal and social persecution. Even though marriage between same-sex couples has been permissible in Russia since 1993, homosexuality is disapproved by much of Russian society.
Even as acceptance for LGBTQIA+ individuals grows across the globe, the Kremlin continues disseminating anti-gay and anti-trans propaganda.
As a result, no anti-discrimination laws exist for LGBT people in Russia. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity are not prohibited.
In the nearby Czech Republic, authorities have carried out anti-gay purges. Residents report disappearances, imprisonment, and torture of people based on their perceived sexual orientation.
According to human rights groups and eyewitnesses, an unknown number of gay and bisexual men have died after being detained in facilities that have been dubbed “concentration camps” by human rights groups.
This long history of abuses increases the urgence of White House officials in their warning to the United Nations.
Anti-Semitic Apathy by the Russian Government furthers concerns about the safety of Jewish residents of Ukraine
Jewish leaders also claim that the police have been slow to respond to reports of anti-Semitic vandalism or violence.
The Israeli consulate has reported several cases in which local authorities took no action after Jews received anti-Semitic letters threatening them with injury.
In fact, according to humanitarian aid reports, Russia has a long history with antisemitism. Since the mid-2000s, many Russian political groups have penned reports blaming Jews for a myriad of issues in the Putin-controlled country. In particular, Russian nationalism sees Jewish people as an affront against Russian Orthodoxy, and prominent Russian nationalists openly express these views.
One such nationalist is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, an attorney-turned-politician with a zeal for anti-Jewish sentiment, as well as zionism. The leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Zhirinovsky is actually Jewish through his father’s family, though he dismisses it in favor of his national heritage.
“Why do I have to give up Russian blood, Russian culture, Russian land and to start loving all the Jewish people simply because of one drop of blood that my father left in the body of my mother?” Zhirinovsky once wrote.
According to human rights groups, the sentiment translates into violence against foreigners. According to Alexander Brod, director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights (MBHR), 60% of adult Russians adhere to an ideology that they believe is based on “Russia for Russians and all misfortune is caused by others.”
United States urges international action to protect human rights in Ukraine
In her letter to the UN’s Commission for Human Rights, Ambassador Crocker noted that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also elevated his concerns as well.
“Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised these concerns to the Security Council on February 17, 2022,” the letter reads.
“In particular, he stated that the United States has information that indicates Russia will target specific groups of Ukrainians.”
Crocker noted she believes Russia’s plans are among “the most pressing human rights violations and abuses, particularly those that put life in imminent peril.”
Nehemiah D. Frank and Erika DuBose, writers with The Black Wall Street Times, contributed to this article.