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Gay men in Chechnya reportedly being sent to prison camps and killed

Human rights campaigners say people are being tortured and abused.

Ramzan Kadyrov
Ramzan Kadyrov
Image: Musa Sadulayev/AP/Press Association Images

IT HAS BEEN reported that gay men in Chechnya are being sent to concentration camps before being killed.

Earlier this month, a respected Russian newspaper said it had uncovered information that police in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya had rounded up more than 100 men they suspected of being gay and that at least three of them were killed.

The report in Novaya Gazeta said it had confirmed the information with sources in the Chechen police and government. The newspaper is now reporting that a secret prison has been set up in Argun to detain the men arrested.

Human rights campaigners say these claims are consistent with information they have received.

LGBT activist Svetlana Zakharova told Pink News: “Gay people have been detained and rounded up and we are working to evacuate people from the camps and some have now left the region.

“Those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept altogether, around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death.”

Tanya Lokshina, Human Rights Watch’s programme director for Russia, said the information published by Novaya Gazeta is in line with reports it has received from “numerous trusted sources, including sources on the ground“.

“The number of sources and the consistency of the stories leaves us with no doubt that these devastating developments have indeed occurred. LGBT Network in Russia opened a special hotline to provide emergency support to those who find themselves in immediate danger.”

‘No gay men’

At the time of the initial report in Novaya Gazeta, a spokesman for Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov denied it and suggested there are no gay people in the Muslim-majority region.

Ali Karimov, according to the state news agency RIA Novosti, said: “It’s impossible to persecute those who are not in the republic.”

The Kremlin-backed Kadyrov is widely accused of extensive human rights violations. He has brought Islam to the fore of Chechnya’s daily life, including opening what is called Europe’s biggest mosque.

Torture 

Protests against the reported treatment of gay people in Chechnya have been arranged in numerous countries.

The Kremlin previously said it was unaware of the situation and urged anyone who was affected to file official complaints and go to court.

Lokshina said Human Rights Watch has documented “numerous cases in recent years showing just what fate awaits people in Chechnya who [go to court].”

For this reason, with very few exceptions, victims of torture and other horrific abuses refrain from seeking justice or withdraw their complaints as a result of threats, including death threats and threats of retaliation against family members.

“It is difficult to overstate just how vulnerable LGBT people are in Chechnya, where homophobia is intense and rampant. LGBT people are in danger not only of persecution by the authorities but also of falling victim to ‘honour killings’ by their own relatives for tarnishing family honour.”

Contains reporting from Associated Press 

Read: Russian paper says gay men are being arrested and killed in Chechnya

Read: ‘Lock up your wives and don’t let them use WhatsApp’

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