|"You can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic." Dozens|
of gay men are held in a former military headquarters in Argun, Chechnya.
An application for a Pride parade resulted in the crackdown, reports Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper which interviewed three witnesses and survivors who said they were held in a secret prison set up in the town of Argun.
Describing it as a “concentration camp,” one man who was let go said officials subjected him to violent “interrogations” and attempted to get him to reveal the names and locations of other gay men. They seized his mobile phone then went after his contacts — even those who are not gay.
According to PinkNews, those detained are being tortured with electric shock and being violently beaten, and officials have held some for ransom to extort their families.
The official government response is to deny the existence of gay men in Chechnya, claiming that “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic.”
Likewise, the Kremlin reportedly denies any knowledge of a purge.
Human Rights Watch reports there is no recourse for those who have been rounded-up and held against their will, and that there is fear that those who have vanished may have been killed.
Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began.”
These days, very few people in Chechnya dare speak to human rights monitors or journalists even anonymously because the climate of fear is overwhelming and people have been largely intimidated into silence.
Filing an official complaint against local security officials is extremely dangerous, as retaliation by local authorities is practically inevitable.
Source: LGBTQ Nation, Dawn Ennis, April 10, 2017
Amnesty International launches campaign as detention and killing of gay men continues
The group have called on the Russian government to intervene to end human rights abuses against LGBT people in the region.
Amnesty International have called for an end to the detention and killing of gay men in Chechnya as horrifying reports of widespread human rights abuses against the LGBT+ community in the southern Russian republic continue to emerge.
The group have launched a new campaign calling on the Russian government to intervene following reports by Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta that over 100 men aged 16-50 have been detained by local authorities over the last few months.
At least three men are known to have been killed, though the paper estimates the real figure to be higher.
Witness and survivor testimonies have alleged that detainees have been hunted down via social media over the last few months before being imprisoned together in large groups or ‘camps’, where they have been beaten and tortured – sometimes to death – by official authorities.
Svetlana Zakharova, from the Russian LGBT Network, told MailOnline: “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.”
Despite the growing evidence of mass targeting of gay men in the region, a spokesperson for Chechnya’s Russian-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied the reports, insisting that gay people do “not exist” in the republic.
The spokesperson added: “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.”
The legal status of homosexuality in the predominantly Muslim region of Chechnya is unclear, but authorities have historically turned a blind eye to anti-gay violence and murder, while Kadyrov has previously said he approves of honour killings.
As human rights groups continue to condemn what is fast emerging as the largest state-sponsored persecution of LGBT+ people since the Nazis, Amnesty International has launched a petition calling on Chechen authorities to end its systemic persecution of and for the Russian government to urgently intervene end the brutality.
In a petition signed by over 8,700 people as of Tuesday morning (April 11), Amnesty International called on Aleksandr Ivanovich Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation, to:
- Carry out prompt, effective and thorough investigations into the reports of abductions and killings of men believed to be gay in Chechnya and to ensure that anyone found guilty or complicit in such crimes will be brought to justice in accordance with the laws of the Russian Federation;
- Take all necessary steps to ensure safety of any individual who may be at risk in Chechnya because of their sexual orientation and to condemn in the strongest terms possible any discriminatory comments made by officials;
- Stand by your international human rights obligation to prohibit discrimination and to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, the most invidious form of discrimination.
You can sign the petition and lend your voice to calls to end the dire situation currently facing gay men in Chechnya here.
Source: attitude, Will Stroude, April 10, 2017
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