Post submitted by Brian McBride, former HRC Digital Strategist
The Russian LGBT Network published a new report this week exposing the alleged atrocities endured by gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. The dossier not only breaks down the Russian and Chechen politics that led up to the brutal human rights violations, but also contains horrific testimony from more than 30 survivors.
Since news first broke in April, reports indicate more than 100 gay and bisexual Chechen men have been arrested and detained without charge. Chechen leaders have denied these accusations, going so far as to deny the very existence of LGBTQ people in Chechnya. Nonetheless, there have been numerous verified reports of torture and at least three and possibly as many as 20 men have been killed. HRC continues working closely with the Russian LGBT Network, the primary organization leading efforts to evacuate people in danger in Chechnya.
Here are five personal accounts from LGBT Network’s report highlighting the disturbing conditions gay and bisexual men faced at the hands of Chechen authorities and the culture that encourages families to ostracize or even murder their LGBTQ family members. These victims gave anonymous testimony.
- "Every day, I was transported to the premises for torture. It was situated underground. I was beaten there every day. Every new day. <...> It was impossible to sleep there; you could be captured anytime and thrown into another place. There were no windows, nothing. It was always as dark as night. <...> They put plastic bags on my head, and when I was running out of oxygen, they tore the bag away and hit my legs at the same time. <...> We had no water inside. The only water we could drink was when we were going out of the cells.”
- “One day, all my relatives were informed about the fact that I was detained. “The Lord” came to us, the chairman of the parliament — Magomed Daudov. We were all set down before the Lord. The Lord approached us, took pictures on his phone, and asked if each of us was gay. We had to answer “yes”. This all happened in front of our relatives. He talked to our relatives, saying that we brought disgrace to the nation and to our families. He told them that if they honor the traditions, they must kill us. And that if they did everything, they would not be punished for it. After all this talk, a few people were released to their relatives.”
- “On February ** of 2017, my friend called me late at night and offered to come over. I agreed. When he arrived, I went outside the house to see him. I saw him with other people and immediately realized that it was a set-up. The people who were with him were wearing camouflage uniforms. They said that they were taking me away. They started beating me up and saying humiliating things. They said that I'm not a man, just some creature, that I am nothing. That I should rather be a terrorist than a faggot. That a dirty piece of cloth was worth more than me.”
- “We were forced to lie on the floor with our bottoms up, and each person in the cell would hit us with a pipe 3 times. As the week went by, there were already 18 LGBT people being detained and tortured. The youngest was around 17 years old, and the oldest was about 47 years old. We were not allowed to wash. Some detainees developed open-cut wounds, and the cell smelled like rotten meat.”
- “One day, when all of us were tortured, the head of the ROVD had a "conversation" with us about the deadly sin of homosexuality. He said that we should be ashamed, and that we are a disgrace for such a proud nation. That there had never been such people among the Chechens. One of us said that there is no way we can change who we are, and he replied that they would continue their efforts to clear the Republic of such contamination. There was a question about our constitutional rights, and he answered: “We have our own laws, and the law is what the current government of the Republic says to do.”
HRC through its #EyesOnChechnya effort is continuing to take action to stop the atrocities and help the victims. Click here for background information and actions that individuals can take to help end the violence.