40 Gay Men Saved From Chechnya's Alleged Purge By Russian LGBT Group
Photo: Russian police arrest activists protesting Chechnya's anti-gay violence. (Dave Frenkel/Twitter)
40 gay men have been saved from Chechnya's alleged relentless anti-gay purge, due to incredible work of an LGBT organization based in Russia.
NPR's David Greene spoke to a representative of the Russian LGBT Network, today on Morning Edition.
There is an NGO that has been working to get gay men who've been targeted out of Chechnya. It is the Russian LGBT Network. And I spoke with that group's communications manager via Skype. We should say we are not using her name because of the sensitive and dangerous nature of her work. She started by telling me how these men have been treated.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, they're telling us that they are beaten. Sometimes some people are beaten to death. And also people are saying that they're tortured with electric current, they are not fed properly and they don't have any water.
GREENE: You have confirmed that some people have died during these - this torturing.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes, that's what was reported to us.
GREENE: And the reporting - this is coming from men who have contacted your network and told you about other men who they say have been killed.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, yes. Like, in the very beginning when we just got the first information about that, we started the hotline specifically for this purpose. And we publicly stated that, like, any person, if this person feels threatened or if this person were imprisoned or something happened to this person in Chechnya, they should contact us and we are providing help.
GREENE: And how have these men gotten in touch with you and connected with your organization?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, they're writing in emails. And in the very beginning, the first people who contacted us, they were terribly scared. And they wanted to ensure, like, if we can be trusted, if we are going to kill them or help them. But basically then we started the evacuation process, and by now we evacuated around 40 people.
The spokesperson goes on to explain that the group evacuates the men out of Chechnya to other parts of Russia and elsewhere, when possible, since family members are turning men in to authorities.
GREENE: They're being hunted by their relatives, did you say?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes, they are being hunted because, like, homosexuality in Chechnya is considered to be a stain on the whole family. And it is believed that the only way to kind of wash away this stain is to kill this person.
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