Amnesty calls on Russian government to intervene as persecution of gay men in Chechnya continues
Amnesty International has 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 self-governing southern Russian republic continue to emerge.
The group has 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 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 the campaign to end the dire situation currently facing gay men in Chechnya here.