Activists to protest Russian Embassy over Chechen concentration camps for gay men
Activists are preparing to protest the Russian Embassy over claims of concentration camps for gay men in Chechnya.
It was revealed yesterday that gay men have been arrested in a ‘purge’ in the Russian region of Chechnya and are being held in concentration camp-style prisons, according to reports.
The Chechen Republic is a federal subject of Russia, but has its own head of government and courts and is predominantly Muslim, unlike Russia.
Russian newspapers and human rights groups report that more than 100 gay men have been detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” as part of a purge.
Several people were also reportedly feared dead following violent raids.
Now British activists have arranged a protest outside the Embassy of the Russian Federation in London, Wednesday, calling on leaders to confront the atrocity.
Organiser Steve Taylor says: “London fails if it does not challenge this inhumanity.
“We must stand up to this. Bring banners, flags and most importantly bring yourselves to challenge this oppression and show solidarity with LGBT+ people in Russia.
“It will be a peaceful and legal protest. The Metropolitan Police have been informed and we will work with them in coming hours to ensure a safe event.”
— Steve Taylor ?? (@danophile) April 10, 2017
The Kremlin has denied any knowledge of a purge of gay men in the region.
A spokesperson for the Chechen government also denied that they were abusing and imprisoning gay people, insisting that “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”.
UK Foreign Office minister Baroness Anelay has called on Russia to investigate the mass detention of gay men in Chechnya and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
In a statement to PinkNews, Baroness Anelay said: “The detention and ill-treatment of over 100 gay men in Chechnya is extremely concerning. Reports have also suggested that at least three of these men have been killed.
“The statement by the regional Government, implying that such treatment towards LGBT people is acceptable, is particularly abhorrent.
“We condemn any and all persecution, and call on the authorities to promptly investigate and ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.”
Based on interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports that a secret prison has been set up in the town of Argun to detain the men arrested in the purge.
One man who was released from the camp told the newspaper that he was subjected to violent “interrogations” at the camp, as Chechen officials attempted to get him to confess the names and locations of more gay men.
The officials also seized his mobile phone, targeting his network of contacts regardless of whether they were gay or not.
The camp was reportedly set up by Chechen forces in a former military headquarters in the town.
The detainees face electric shock torture and violent beatings, while some of them have been held to ransom and used to extort their families.
The Russian LGBT Network, which is running a support line for men fleeing the region, has confirmed the reports.
LGBT activist Svetlana Zakharova said: “Gay people have been detained and rounded up and we are working to evacuate people from the camps and some have now left the region.
“Those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept altogether, around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death.”
Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch wrote: “For several weeks now, a brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya.
She continued: “Law enforcement and security agency officials under control of the ruthless head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims.
“Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began.”