Homosexual men are being tortured with electric shocks and beaten to death in concentration camps in Chechnya. This is the first concentration camp for homosexuals since Hitler’s camps in 1930s.
Reports have emerged that 100 gay men were detained and three killed in these camps last week. Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper known for its critical and investigative coverage of Russian politics and social affairs, said that several camps have been set up in Chechnya where gay men have been forced to promise to leave the republic.
The report in Novaya Gazeta said that those arrested include well-known local television personalities and religious figures.
President Ramzan Kadyrov, a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, allegedly ordered the clampdown and is known to have previously encouraged extrajudicial killings of homosexual men as an alternative to law enforcement. Kadyrov claims that there are no gay men in the republic and denies the arrests ever took place. He described the allegations as ‘absolute lies and disinformation’. He, instead, claims that such people would be killed by their own families. In some cases, gay men in prison have been released early specifically to enable their murder by relatives.
In October 2017, the BBC had reported about a young Chechen man, Maxim Lapunov, who had escaped illegal detention and torture in Chechnya. He had described being held for 12 days in a blood-soaked cell, beaten with sticks, threatened and humiliated by the police. He was released only after his family members and friends started putting up missing posters around the Chechen capital and his family reported his disappearance.
MailOnline talked to Svetlana Zakharova, from the Russian LGBT Network, who said: “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 together—around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death.”
A prisoner who escaped told Novaya Gazeta that prisoners were beaten to force them to reveal other members of the gay community. Another said that before being incarcerated in one of the camps, he survived by bribing Chechen police thousands of rubles every month in order to survive. By creating these camps, the survivor said, the regime had taken another step against gays.
Alexander Artemyev, from Amnesty International in Russia, told MailOnline: “We can only call on the Russian authorities to investigate the allegations. Homosexuals in Chechnya are treated very harshly and prosecuted daily, and they are afraid to talk about it.”
Artemyev said homosexuals are forced to hide or leave the country. He said they were keeping in touch with the LGBT network that helps people in Russia find shelter. People there cannot talk to anyone about it as it puts them and those they speak to in danger.
Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, Russia project director for the International Crisis Group, told MailOnline: “The story is very much developing…victims are escaping.”
A brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya, said Tanya Lokshina from Human Rights Watch in Moscow. The climate of fear is so overwhelming that people do not dare to speak to human rights monitors or journalists even anonymously, she said. “Filing an official complaint against local security officials is extremely dangerous, as retaliation by local authorities is practically inevitable,” she said.
“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,” she said.