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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 14, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 15
We will evacuate Chechen Gays, Russian activists say

Refugees charge that government runs two prisons for Gays
Section One
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We will evacuate Chechen Gays, Russian activists say

Refugees charge that government runs two prisons for Gays

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Russian human rights activists say they will help evacuate Gays from Chechnya, where local police have reportedly murdered more than 100 Gay men.

Chechnya is a republic in the Caucasus Mountains federated with Russia. After unsuccessfully fighting to become independent of Moscow, it is now under a puppet regime led by former warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of Vladimir Putin.

The murders of Gay men first attracted international attention April 1, when the New York Times published reports originating in the Russian dissident newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Later the watchdog group Human Rights Watch confirmed reports that Chechen police were arresting, torturing, and killing Gays in the country.

Although initial reports said the killings began recently, after LGBT groups applied for permits to hold Pride marches, Gay refugees said that police attacks on Gay men have been going on for at least a year.

The Chechen government runs two secret prisons for Gay detainees, according to Crime Russia, a dissident publication dedicated to exposing corruption. In addition, Chechen activists say that 'several internment camps' have been set up where Gay detainees are killed or tortured until they promise to leave Chechnya.

Reportedly, dozens of Gay prisoners are being held in Argun, Chechnya. One detainee who was able to flee from the former military headquarters claimed Gay prisoners were forced to pay bribes to Chechen police 'to be left alone.'

Another former inmate has said he was beaten to force him to name other Gay men. He was also electrocuted in a 'homemade electric chair,' he said.

The Russian group LGBT Network said it was 'ready to evacuate people' from the country.

'No national and/or religious traditions and norms can justify kidnapping or killing of a human being,' the group said in a statement. 'Any references to 'traditions' to justify kidnappings and killings are amoral and criminal.'

The Russian group has joined forces with All Out, an international human rights group, to raise money to help LGBT people escape Chechnya.

'What is happening in Chechnya is outrageous. Our priority now is to help get as many people as possible to safety, before it's too late,' said Matt Beard, executive director of All Out.

'Our team is doing everything possible and impossible to achieve that. And we want Russian officials to intervene, to stop the killing, and to start proper investigations. There are no excuses for silence when people are being kidnapped, tortured and killed,' added Svetlana Zakharova, communications manager for the Russian LGBT Network.

Meanwhile, European LGBT groups held a protest rally outside Russia's London embassy on April 12.

'More government action across the EU needs to be taken immediately to stop these atrocities,' Steve Taylor, communications director for European Pride Organizers Association (EPOA), said.

'We are seeing very little response to this in the mainstream media, and government action so far is poor. We must not be bystanders, and we must challenge this inhumanity.'

Diplomats from the US, UK, and EU have also lodged official protests with the Russian government over the atrocities.

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