The Associated Press (AP) recently reported that over 100 men suspected of homosexuality have been arrested and tortured in Chechnya, offering disturbing details of their abuse. Three of these men have been murdered in an orchestrated anti-gay purge with the alleged goal of ridding the small quasi-independent Russian state of all homosexuals by Ramadan (May 26).
Anzor, a gay Chechen, told the AP that a man in combat boots repeatedly jumped on his back shortly before torturers shocked him with electricity. Another anonymous gay man said that the electrocution continues for 20 or 30 seconds until the victim loses consciousness and added that the torturers inflict these abuses on each individual prisoner up to seven or eight times a day. Often these methods get used as a way to force victims to utter the names of other gay men so that they too may be detained and abused.
A French news program recently released the following video in which an LGBTQ survivor of Chechen torture shares their experiences. The report mentions that some families will murder their suspected gay family members in “honor killings” after being released by Chechen authorities.
Chechnya’s leader is undoubtedly behind the violence
All of these abuses come at the hands of Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov “the de facto commander of [Chechnya’s] sprawling security forces and arbiter of much of its oil flow,” according to a grisly 2009 New York Times report about the country’s ongoing use of torture against political opponents.
A recent backgrounding on Kadyrov recounts numerous instances of political violence committed by his personal security force (the Kadyrovtsy) including kidnapping political adversaries, electrocuting them, sodomizing them with shovel handles, beating them to death, publicly displaying their decapitated heads, burning down their homes with families still inside and leaving mass graves filled with tortured bodies, civilians and children.
Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly raised concerns over the persecution of gay Chechens in a public appearance with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last Friday, the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. issued a statement denouncing Chechnya’s anti-gay purge several days after a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson dismissed questions from American journalist Katie Couric by stating that an investigation is underway. Considering Russia’s laws forbidding so-called gay propaganda, it’s unlikely that their investigation will stop the arrests and torture.
How can international LGBTQ people help?
In the meanwhile, a Canadian LGBTQ group is trying to help gay Chechens escape and the international LGBTQ human rights group Alturi is also raising funds to help others escape. Concurrently, others are asking LGBTQ people and allies around the world to apply international pressure and awareness regarding the continuing violence.
(Featured image by innovatedcaptures via iStock Photography)