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Washington, D.C. – Speaking on the U.S. Senate floor tonight, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) highlighted the human rights abuses being carried out by Chechen law enforcement and security officials against LGBT people and others in recent weeks. Rubio’s speech was part of his #expressionNOToppression initiative, which highlights human rights abuses around the world.

The full speech can be watched here, and a downloadable broadcast quality version is available for TV stations here. A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
U.S. Senate Floor
Washington, D.C.
April 24, 2017
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RUBIO: As part of my office’s #ExpressionNotOppression initiative …. I would like to highlight the horrific reports on the pro-Russian Chechen government’s brutal campaign against LGBT people and others over the last several weeks.

Human Rights Watch recently reported “law enforcement and security agency officials under control of the ruthless head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims.”

There are reports that at least 100 men have been arrested. At least three men have reportedly been killed since the campaign began.

Chechen LGBT individuals—as well as those just suspected of being gay—have been taken to unofficial secret detention facilities where they have endured heinous abuses. 

They also, by the way, face the danger of so-called “honor killings” committed by their own relatives.

It’s instructive, in that vein, a statement from the spokesman for the Chechen leader. Here’s what he told the Russian news agency Interfax: “If such people existed in Chechnya,” talking about gay men in particular and the LGBT community, this is his quote, “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”

Unfortunately, this is not a new reality for those living under the brutal tyranny of the Chechen leader, who by the way happens to be a loyal ally of Vladimir Putin.

There have been reports in the past of similar abuses, although these reports seem to be the most brutal and should provoke anger in all of us.

We should never, ever tolerate human rights violations against any person for their political views, their religious beliefs, their sexual orientation.

According to reports today, the Russian Foreign Minister, Lavrov, said that Russian officials have not seen information to confirm the reports. Additionally, Putin’s spokesman said, “We have no reason not to trust the head of the republic,” talking about the Chechen republic, “until there are actual complaints in this regard, not abstract, anonymous but actual complaints.”

Well the actual complaints are all around us. They’ve been well-documented in publications throughout the world. But instead, Vladimir Putin is choosing to prop up Kadyrov, the Chechen brutal dictator, and prop up his brutal regime instead of holding them accountable.

The United States and other responsible nations should do more to ensure that all people are protected and those who harm them are held responsible.

We should use our voice on the global stage to call attention to these horrifying acts and to ensure they are condemned in the appropriate way, and ultimately in the hopes that they will be stopped.