40 Detained, 2 Dead As LGBTQ Persecution Continues In Chechnya

A year and a half after over 100 gay men were detained and tortured, some killed, by a secret police force in Chechnya, a new wave of LGBTQ violence has occurred, reports the Russian LGBT Network.

“We know that around 40 people were detained, both men and women,” Igor Kochetkov, program director for Russian LGBT Network, said in a statement. “At least two people died as a result of tortures. We also know that the detentions are conducted by the law enforcement officers, and the victims are detained in Argun.”

“Persecution of men and women suspected of being gay never stopped,” added the LGBT activist. “It’s only that its scale has been changing.”

According to a social media post on January 10th, activists are urging LGBTQ Chechens to flee immediately. “We ask anyone still free to take this message seriously and leave the republic as soon as is possible,” the statement read.

Since 2017, Russian LGBT Network has helped to evacuate approximately 150 gay men out of Chechnya.

Reports of the anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Chechnya first came in December 2016.

Chechen authorities, most of whom are former military members who serve as Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s secret police force, reportedly detain suspected gay men under the pretense of drug charges. 

Once detained, police search the men’s phones contacts for other suspects, using torture to get as much info as possible.

In the past, Kadyrov has vowed to kill all gay men.

Russian LGBT Network has reported that the torturers use “electrocution, beatings, starvation, dehydration, isolation, forced nudity, homophobic insults and misgendering” to punish detainees, confiscating their personal belongings and only allowing them to sleep three hours a day on cold concrete floors. The men are not allowed to bathe or use toilets and they receive no medical care.

The victims have no where to turn as filing a complaint could make them a target for future harassment and violence.

Women have been caught in the crackdown too, though they’re often left to their families be abused, imprisoned or killed. 

The Russia LGBT Network has helped approximately 119 gay and bi men escape the purge and flee to Moscow, Canada Lithuania, France and Germany.

Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports least 27 people are believed to have died in the first wave of the crackdown. 

And as with the first reports of the gay purge, Chechen officials deny any and all allegations.

Ty Cobb, director of Human Rights Campaign Global, released the following statement regarding the resurgence in detainments:

"Nearly two years after reports first surfaced of anti-LGBTQ violence and killings in Chechnya, we are once again hearing disturbing accounts of state-sanctioned detentions and abuse. We have repeatedly called on the Trump-Pence White House to speak out and help bring an end to this persecution, but instead the White House has largely ignored the actions of the Russian-backed regime in Chechnya. Human rights violators in Chechnya must be held accountable and be brought to justice. Lives are hanging in the balance."

(h/t Russian LGBT Network, HRC)

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