First they came for the gay people, now Chechnya ‘purges’ drug users
There have been fresh reports of disturbing human rights violations in Chechnya.
Human rights monitors reported last year that authorities in Chechnya – an autonomous region of Russia – were carrying out a homophobic purge, which the Kremlin failed to intervene to prevent.
Gay people in the region allegedly faced arrest, torture and execution – as the Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov publicly insisted that homosexuals are “not people” and should be removed to “purify” the blood of the region.
This week, more disturbing reports have emerged from Chechnya.
An investigation by Russian-language news site Republic.ru says a crackdown as part of an anti-drug campaign was directly ordered by Kadyrov in August last year, and reached its peak in November.
Authorities “resorted to torture” in order to get victims to confess to crimes and to procure more names of potential targets, according to the Moscow Times.
Kadyrov has previously called for drug addicts to be shot.
Chechen authorities have denied the allegations.
A statement says “The information disseminated by one of the publications about allegedly illegal actions of police officers is untrue, and is nothing more than another attempt to slander the employees of the internal affairs bodies of the Chechen Republic in the eyes of the public”.
And in a statement picked up by Russia propaganda agency RT, Kadyrov said the region has “nothing to hide”.
He said: “We have nothing to hide… and our enemies understand this perfectly and come up with all kinds of myths about human rights violations in our republic.
The leader blamed Western media for fanning the flames of the controversy, and claimed that reporters were “trying to divide Chechen society” by asking questions about human rights violations.
Initial reports of gay men being detained in the region, which is an autonomous region of Russia, were revealed by the newspaper Novaya Gazeta last April.
Journalists who exposed the purge have been forced into hiding as they have received numerous threats from the largest mosque in the region, which has declared jihad against the newspaper.
Following the initial exposure, it was revealed that authorities were forcing gay men into camps, sparking an outcry from LGBT and human rights activists across the world.
A number of heart breaking stories from the region have been shared, including stories of parents of gay people who were issued a warning to kill their children before police killed them in torture camps.
Tanya Lokshina, from the Human Rights Watch, said that Chechen authorities had been conducting “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and cruel and degrading treatment” over the span of the last two decades.
Novaya Gazeta later confirmed the names of 27 men who were killed on one night in the region.
Kadyrov directly called for gays to be purged last year when he was challenged about the homophobic purge in an interview with HBO.
The 40-year-old tyrant said: “Why did he come here? What’s the point of these questions? This is nonsense. We don’t have those kinds of people here.
“We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada.
“Praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.
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“They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people…. they will have to answer to the Almighty for this.”
France’s President Macron raised LGBT rights and Chechnya in his first meeting with Vladimir Putin last year.
He told the press: “I reminded President Putin of the importance for France of respect for all peoples, all minorities, and all opinions in civil society.
“We have raised the case of LGBT people in Chechnya but equally the case of NGOs across Russia.
“On these subjects, I have thus very precisely indicated to President Putin the expectations of France, and we have agreed to have an extremely regular follow-up together.”
He added: “President Putin has also indicated to me that he has taken several initiatives on the subject of LGBT people in Chechnya, with measures aiming to bring out the whole truth on the actions of the local authorities and to fix the most sensitive issues.
“Regardless, I will, for my part, be constantly vigilant on these issues, which correspond to our values.”