A man reportedly persecuted in a secret anti-LGBT Chechen prison is speaking out about the torture, interrogation and murder of gay and bisexual men.
Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported claims that over 100 men in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya were rounded up, suspected of homosexuality. At least three men are now dead, and one survivor has come forward to speak about his experience.
“They tell parents to kill their child,” the man told FRANCE 24, choosing to remain anonymous in fear of his safety. “They say, ‘Either you do it or we will.’ They call it, ‘Cleaning your honor with blood.’”
The man is afraid to go home in fear his family will kill him — revealing an account of a fellow prisoner’s death.
“They tortured a man for two weeks,” he explained. “They summoned his parents and his brothers who all came. They said to them ‘Your son is a homosexual. Sort it out or we’ll do it ourselves.’ They replied, ‘It’s our family, we’ll do it.’ The family took him and killed him in the forest. They buried him there. They didn’t even give him a funeral.”
According to the survivor, people are tortured with electricity and deprived of food. They are also lined up and forced to give themselves a woman’s name.
“We’ve always been persecuted, but never like this,” he said. “Now they arrest everyone. They kill people. They do whatever they want. They know that nobody will come after them. Because the order has come from above to ‘cleanse the nation’ of people like us.”
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the persecution of gays. In a meeting with Vladimir Putin, Kadyrov claimed the reports were “unfounded accusation against our republic,” according to a translation by FRANCE 24.
A spokesperson for Kadyrov has also denied the gay purging, claiming “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic.”
The British government reports Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov wants to “eliminate” LGBT Chechens by the start of Ramadan on May 26. He made the threat in Russian language media, PinkNews reports.
“Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov,” said Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Alan Duncan according to PinkNews. “He has carried out other violent campaigns in the past, and this time he is directing his efforts at the LGBT community.”
Check out the FRANCE 24 video below.
If you want to help gay men flee Chechnya, you can participate in this Facebook fundraiser here.