Since February, Chechnya has been accused of kidnapping and imprisoning over 100 gay or bisexual men, purely based on their sexual orientation. There have been reports of an unknown number of these captives who have already been killed in captivity. They have reportedly faced torture and humiliation.
Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechnyan Republic, has a long history of brutal policies. He noted his approval for honor killings toward women, stating that they are the property of their husbands whose main purpose is to have children–in this spirit, he is also a long time supporter of polygamy. Chechnya had a problem with young Chechen women turning up dead, but he went on to defend their killing as they had “loose morals” and somehow deserved their fate. The list of accusations against Kadyrov is long, with a myriad of human rights abuses including torture and death squads. In the past months he has seemed to shift focus directly onto the LGBT community.
In an interview with “Real Sports” on HBO, he claimed that there are no gay people in Chechnya, and if there are then they should be taken away.
In this interview, he literally calls gay men “subhuman” and that “they will have to answer to the Almighty for this.”
These detainment facilities have been described as concentration camps. Here they are reportedly tortured and interrogated in order to learn the names and locations of other homosexual men. The men that are released, are released when it is believed their families would perform an honor killing on their own.
In an interview with Interfax news agency, he said that, “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic… if there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”
One such captive has recently come forward, saying that he was held for just under two weeks in a cell stained with blood from the last occupant. “The only charge they made was that I was gay,” Maxim Lapunov said, and in that cell they would beat him regularly and act as if they would eventually kill him. The only reason Lapunov was able to come forward was because he is not even Chechen and his family does not live there either. This seems to insinuate harsh reprisals for survivors of these camps that have something to lose within the borders of Chechnya, should they decide to speak up.
The United States Department of State has expressed deep concerns regarding the abduction of these men and have urged Russia, of which the Chechen Republic is a federal subject, to investigate these claims and put a stop to the human rights abuses.
Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.