Reports are coming out of Chechnya that a large group of gay men are being held by the government in concentration camps and have been subjected to violent interrogations.
Human Rights Watch has reported that one of these concentration camp prisons is located at a former military base approximately 19 kilometers outside Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.
Just last week reports of an alleged round-up of gay men in the former Russian territory of Chechnya sparked international outrage. The Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, reported last week that they had evidence to prove that Chechen authorities targeted and apprehended 100 gay men. The same report states that during the “round up” at least 3 men were killed. Although the allegations only come from one source, human rights activists in the region report that they have heard similar rumors over the past few weeks.
Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch wrote in an online statement that “It is difficult to overstate just how vulnerable LGBT people are in Chechnya, where homophobia is intense and rampant.”
Chechnya, a republic of Russia, is known as a highly conservative Muslim state under the leadership of current President Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov has been criticized by human rights activists for encouraging polygamy, passing laws that force women to wear hijabs in public, and subjecting members of the LGBTQ community to discrimination and even violence.
Although the Chechan government has not yet released a statement concerning the most recent allegations, they did release a statement when rumors of the round up began. The spokesperson for Kadyrov stated that the accusations made by the Novaya Gazeta were “absolute lies” and went on to claim that “you cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.”
American based human rights groups are calling upon the newly appointed secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, to speak out against Chechnya’s human rights violations in targeting members of the LGBTQ community. Similarly, Members of the European Parliament are calling upon UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to call a meeting with the Russian ambassador and condemn the actions of the Chechan government.
Media Resources: PinkNews 4/12/17, 4/10/17; Huffingotn Post 4/11/17; Telegraph 4/11/17; Human Rights Watch 4/4/17; FMF 4/3/17; Feminist Majority Foundation 4/3/17