One month ago, the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, reported an anti-gay purge in Chechnya. According to it, more than a hundred men suspected of being homosexual or bisexual, would be tortured in secret prisons, not far from Grozny, the capital. « Three of them were reported to have died, but according to witnesses, there would be many more, » reports Courrier International.
According to testimonies collected by the Russian daily, detainees would be tortured and forced to reveal the names of other homosexuals around them-which reminds us of the witch-hunts in the USA.
One victim says he was beaten « several times a day », beaten with polypropylene pipes or otherwise targeted by electric shocks, reports L’Obs. According to the investigation, the abuses would be committed by the police and the army, not by militias.
This wave of repression by the authorities was due to the willingness of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) militants to organize gay pride in several cities in the North Caucasus. An initiative which caused a great controversy. « It was from this moment that the order was given to undertake a preventive cleaning, » the newspaper said. In early April, the New York Times reported rumors of kidnappings of men aged 16 to 50 a few weeks ago in Chechnya, FranceInfo said.
Members of the Russian LGBT network confirmed these persecutions and thus opened an emergency telephone line to help those who could need to be safe and run-away from the country. Currently, the Russian LGBT Network has 3 main aims:
• to evacuate people, whose lives are still in danger
• to attract as much attention to the cause as possible
• to collect the evidence about the mass homicide of homosexuals in Chechnya
According to R.Kadyrov, president of Chechnya, the existence of these prisons is absolutely impossible since there would be no homosexuals in Chechnya:
« You can not stop or repress people who do not exist in the Republic. Homosexuality does not exist here, » he said.
However, Human Rights Watch said in a statement that « the information published by Novaya Gazeta is consistent with the reports recently received by Human Rights Watch from many sources of trust, including sources in the country. Consistency of cases leave no doubt as to whether these events actually took place « .
Chechen homosexuals who fled to Moscow told AFP that they were beaten and detained « in a non-official prison », and today live the fear in the belly of being identified and tracked by their families
Five diplomatic leaders from European countries, including France and Germany, wrote to their Russian homologue Sergei Lavrov to express their « deep concern » over the fate of homosexuals in Chechnya in a letter dated 28 April.
« We call on the Russian government to use its influence on the regional authorities in Chechnya to immediately stop any persecution, to provide assistance to the victims and to bring the perpetrators to justice, » wrote Sigmar Gabriel, Boris Johnson, The Frenchman Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Dutchman Bert Koenders and the Swede Margot Wallstrom. As a matter of fact, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had already asked Vladimir Putin « to use his influence » so that homosexuals could be respected in Chechnya.
Futhermore, NGOs call on all countries that recognize the rights of homosexuals to offer refuge to the persecuted Chechens. In Canada, LGBT rights groups are calling for emergency visas.