ILGA-Europe was gravely concerned to read this article. In the days following its publication, we (along with other human rights organisations) have been working to determine the facts and assess what the most helpful response would be to best support the victims.
Due to the nature of the overall human rights situation in the region, and the bleak conditions for LGBTQ people even prior to this crisis, it is incredibly difficult to monitor what is happening.
According to sources from the North Caucasus to date, over 100 people have been detained for arbitrary reasons in unofficial prisons, where victims are being tortured by electric current, cruelly beaten, and forced to disclose personal contacts of other gay men in Chechnya. The Russian LGBT Network can confirm at least 3 murders so far – out of a reported 20 murders.
The Russian LGBT Network has set up a 24-hour confidential hotline to collect further data, reach victims and arrange evacuation support for victims. 20 calls been received, and evacuations of a number of people are in progress.
The Novaya Gazeta article has attracted considerable attention. The Russian LGBT Network has reported that (according to their information) murders of those detained have been suspended, indicating that international pressure is helpful to the situation. However, many people remain detained, facing torture and inhumane treatment in horrific conditions.
Support for those living in Chechnya from the international community is needed – urgently.
ILGA-Europe are calling for an immediate halt to the violence against the LGBTI community, the release of those detained, and for the proper investigation of the arbitrary detention, torture and extra judicial killing of (perceived) gay and bisexual men in Chechnya.
We strongly urge the international community to use any means it has to defend victims of detentions. The Russian authorities must end these horrific abuses of the human rights of gay and bisexual men. The victims must be urgently released from illegal detention camps, where they live in terrible conditions, being subjected to brutal beatings and torture.