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Chechnya Vigil

Audio from the Chechnya Vigil held outside the Russian embassy in Wellington. The candlelight vigil was organised to show solidarity with the people who have reportedly been rounded up in Chechnya because of their gay or bisexual orientation (or perceived sexual orientation) and then detained in concentration-like prisons. Some of these people are now missing and at least three have been murdered.

A special thank you to the vigil organisers and participants for allowing us to record and share this event.

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This abstract summarizes a 40-minute audio recording titled "Chechnya Vigil," recorded outside the Russian embassy in Wellington, New Zealand on April 18, 2017. The recording captures a candlelight vigil organized to express solidarity with individuals in Chechnya who have been targeted, detained, and abused due to their gay or bisexual orientation or the perception thereof. Reports have emerged of individuals being detained in prison-like conditions, some missing, and at least three confirmed murders. The content of the recording spans discussions and interactions across the 2010s decade.

The event was attended by a number of speakers, including Amanduh la Whore, Jan Logie from the Green Party and the parliamentary Rainbow Network, Max Tweedie, and Shelley Te Waiariki Howard. The interviewer, Gareth Watkins, documents the expressions of concern and the call to action among the attendees. Efforts to engage with the local police and embassy personnel are narrated, along with an emphasis on maintaining a peaceful vigil and diplomatic communication. The vigil was intended not only as a display of support for those in Chechnya but also as a prompt for the New Zealand government, particularly the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to take a stance on the issue and to condemn the acts of violence occurring in Chechnya.

Throughout the recording, speakers offer insights into the reported situation in Chechnya, describing the detention facilities as resembling concentration camps where torture, including beatings and electrocution, is common. It's mentioned that some individuals are released only to be killed by their families due to societal pressures. The narrative reflects the disbelief of the Chechen government's denial of the existence of gay individuals within their region as well as the lack of an immediate response from the New Zealand government to the crisis.

Amid the vigil, there are moments of connection and reflection, including the singing of traditional songs and the sharing of personal experiences and concerns. There is a broad call to action, with suggestions for individuals to contact their representatives, engage with Amnesty International petitions, and donate to organizations supporting LGBTQ+ groups in Chechnya. Attendees discuss the significance of standing together and the role of New Zealand as a country that values human rights and diversity.

This overview casts light on the broader impact of the event, not just as a response to the situation in Chechnya but also as a representation of the global fight against discrimination and for human rights. It emphasizes the power of community and solidarity in facing adversity and advocating for justice, pointing out the interconnectedness of struggles across the world.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:18th April 2017
Interviewer:Gareth Watkins
Photographer:Amanduh la Whore
Copyright (image):Amanduh la Whore
Location:Embassy of the Russian Federation in New Zealand, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004478).