In Early April, though public reports have dated their existence as far back as February, it was reported that a number of concentration camps had been established in the Republic of Chechnya. Officials were said to be specifically targeting homosexual men, going to such lengths as torturing detainees with the purpose of obtaining information on the whereabouts of other homosexual citizens. As of April 11, the numbers have been rumored to be upwards of 100 men, with the reported deaths of at least three individuals thus far.
According to former detainees who have volunteered information by reporting the ongoing abuse in these camps via the LGBT support hotline, inmates have been subjected to physical abuse, including, humiliation, beatings, the electrifying of their hands, and other methods of torture, while others have been held for ransom to exploit their families.
This is the first publically reported concentration camp since Hitler’s during WWII. People are actively being beaten and tortured, in some cases murdered, and it isn’t making nearly enough headlines, so here is what you need to know:
According to the Novaya Gazeta, one site has been spotted, specifically in the town of Argun. Kidnappings of “suspected” homosexuals have been reported since the beginning of April. Thus far, the only response from higher government officials has been that it is not possible for this to be happening. In fact, According to Crime Russia, they claim,“[Y]ou can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic. If there were such people in the Chechen republic, law enforcement wouldn’t have a problem with them because their relatives would send them to a place of no return.”
Members of the LGBT community have been persecuted and tortured globally ever since we can recall. Our current level of comfort in the U.S., due to recent developments that have shifted rights in our favor, though not perfect, has made us complacent and we must not forget that there are other countries currently facing worse hardships. While we are still fighting a battle in other parts of the world, members of the LGBT community are fighting an outright war against blatantly shameless governments that have little to no concern in bringing the worst moments in history back, all the while denying their actions and downright denying the existence of their victims.
“People in the ‘Terek’ uniform [Special Rapid Response Team] put a young man in a car and took him to an unknown location. Family was not informed about the reasons of detention. The young man was detained and tortured for several days. The relatives managed to identify the place of detention. The father was told that that his son would be publicly ashamed on TV and then released. The young man was indeed released, the conditions are unknown. His whereabouts are unknown. But there is an information, that he never left Chechnya.” (Quote from Russian LGBT Networks)
This is real and it’s happening now. So what can you do to help? People are actively being evacuated, so if you know someone who might benefit from this information, there is a hotline which is free throughout Russia: 8 800 555 73 74. You can also write to the Russian LGBT Networks with any relevant information or reports on the situation here.
The Russian LGBT Networks recommend treading carefully with spreading this information to Russian citizens as well as with collecting any sort of contact material on people needing refuge and those willing to help as lives can potentially be put in danger. For more information, visit the Russian LGBT Networks web site. In Addition, there is currently an online Petition to get the UK Amnesty involved. Most importantly, the best course of action is to spread this terrible news here in the U.S., make people aware, do not allow it to remain a whisper underneath the shouting of every move Trump makes. The same way we want the world to know that our civil liberties are in daily danger, we need to speak for those who can’t be heard right now. These people matter and they need to know you stand with them.