Gay men detained and interrogated violently in Chechen concentration camps after over 100 reported to have been arrested
Following the detention of over 100 gay men and the alleged murder of three detainees in Chechnya reported earlier this month in Cuppán Gay, new reports indicate that gay men are being imprisoned in concentration camps.
At these concentration camps it has been disclosed that detainees are the victims of physical abuse and torture.
A secret prison has been set up in a former military headquarters in the Chechen village of Argun, reports Novaya Gazeta, to detain the men arrested earlier this month because of their sexuality.
A man who was released from the concentration camp told the Gazeta that he suffered violent “interrogations” at the prison with Chechen officials torturing him in an attempt to get him to reveal the names and locations of other gay men.
The paper said that the goal of Chechen authorities is “the complete cleansing of Chechnya from men of non-traditional sexual orientation.”
The man’s phone was seized, with authorities targeting the man’s contacts without restraint.
Although the region of Chechnya is officially under the rule of Russia, it has quite a large amount of autonomy.
A spokesperson for the Chechen leader denied that they could “arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic”. The Kremlin has also denied any knowledge of the reports of a purge on gay men from earlier this month.
Human Rights Watch representative Tanya Lokshina wrote: “For several weeks now, a brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya.”
“Law enforcement and security agency officials under control of the ruthless head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims,” she wrote.
“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.”
Climate of Fear
Lokshina highlighted the fear which pervades life in Chechnya and reiterated the vulnerability of LGBT people in Chechnya.
“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,” she wrote.
“Filing an official complaint against local security officials is extremely dangerous, as retaliation by local authorities is practically inevitable.
“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.”