Anti gay pogroms continue in Chechnya

Reports coming out of Chechnya in recent weeks have been deeply concerning for anyone invested in human rights in general and LGBTQ+ rights in particular . It seems that gay men are being rounded u and detained in large numbers as part of a government sponsored and systematic purge. These men are only being released once their relatives pay substantial bribes to police. Last week Sir Alan Duncan, deputy to foreign secretary Boris Johnson in the UK, reported to Parliament that “Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.”
Kadyrov has promised to eliminate the gay population by the end of May to coincide with the beginning of Ramadan.

28 Apr, 2017

It seems that the crackdown began when GayRussia applied for permits for a pride parade in the Caucasus. Since then, a mass panic has engulfed the government of Russia and allied nations and “prophylactic” pogroms have begun. This is one of many human rights abuses that have occurred in Chechnya in recent months but it does seem to be occurring on a petrifyingly large scale.

Respected Russian newspaper Respected newspaper Novaya Gazeta has reported that there appear to be 6 different concentration camps in which gay men are being held. Many staff at the newspaper now fear for their lives and have received death threats. Kadyrov himself denounced the reports as libellous and called the publication’s staff “enemies of our faith and of our country”. Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s Press Secretary, claimed that investigators have found no evidence to support reports of the purge. However multiple Human Rights groups and the British Foreign office disagree. Duncan, who is himself a gay man, has termed the actions of the Pro-Russian leader of Chechnya as “utterly barbaric” and “despicable”.

It seems that authorities in Chechnya are using social media sites and apps to lure young men into being captured. The New York Times carried a report of a young man who was lured into an apartment by a friend and then tortured. The BBC added testimony of torture victims that suggested electric shocks were used to encourage young men to give up the names of other members of the LGBTQ+ community ““They have a special black box and they attach wires to your hands or ears. The pain is awful. It’s terrible torture.” It seems that at least one young man has died of this torture and at least two more have been killed by their families when authorities return them home with the instruction that their own loved ones should murder their innocent children to retain “honour”.

Canadian LGBTQ+ organization Rainbow Railroad is directing funding and resources to help smuggle people out of the region. The group, which takes its name from the “underground railroad” which smuggled freed slaves out of the Southern USA, helps people under threat get to countries where they can be safe and claim asylum. “Since we first received initial reports of gay concentration camps being established in Chechnya, Rainbow Railroad immediately re-classified Eastern Europe as a priority region,” Executive Director Kimahli Powell said in a press release.

This situation is very close to home for many of our readers and we wish them the best. Please be safe and vigiliant. Those wishing to help can make a donation to rainbow railroad on the organization’s website www.rainbowrailroad.ca