Gay Men Across Chechnya Are Sharing Stories of Kidnapping and Torture
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The reports of targeted violence, massacres, and concentration camps for gay men in Chechnya are growing more horrifying by the day. Now, as the story is beginning to gain traction among mainstream American media, new, revolting details are coming to light.
On Friday The New York Times reported the story of Maksim, the pseudonym of a gay man who was recently arrested and assaulted repeatedly for nearly two weeks. After being tricked by officials online in a sting operation in a gay chat room, Maksim was interrogated and tortured by agents who demanded he reveal names of other gay men. “It was unbearably painful; I was hanging on with my last strength, but I didn’t tell them anything,” Maksim said.
Chechen authorities have taken to staking out online forums and chat rooms that have, until now, provided a platform for gay men to meet each other. Typically, men us aliases and speak in a coded language before deciding to meet in person. Now, however, these chat rooms and online forums aren’t safe for gay men either.
Maksim was lured into the trap by a friend who gave him up after having been previously kidnapped and tortured himself. The police beat him and many other men that night, before transferring them to a holding cell in an abandoned building.
"After 11 days, he was released to a male relative, who was told that Maksim was gay," the Times reports. "The security officers told the captives’ male relatives that, if they had any honor, they would kill the young men, Maksim and Ilya said."
Maksim’s father threatened to beat him but refrained when his son showed him the bruises he already had. Instead his father said, “I should kill you.”
The attacks and kidnappings take place as Chechnya’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov (photo), vowed to "eliminate" all gay men by Ramadan, the Muslim holiday which begins on May 26. Gay Star News reports Sir Alan Duncan, the British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and a Member of Parliament, relayed the plans during a session.
Speaking about President Kadyrov, Chechnya’s leader, Duncan said, “He has carried out other violent campaigns in the past, and this time he is directing his efforts at the LGBT community.” Kadyrov is closely tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Governments around the world have condemned Chechnya’s actions and United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called them a “violation of human rights that cannot be ignored.” On Thursday former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged the Trump administration to "demand an end to the persecution of gay men in Russia."
Amidst all of the statements, though, calls for a multinational intervention have not yet been heard.
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Image via The Kremlin