Nikki Haley, the US’ ambassador to the UN, said that reports of gay men being detained, tortured and killed in Chechnya cannot be ignored by the world.
She said that the allegations stating that officials under the control of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov are collecting dozens of men thought to be gay deeply disturbed her. So far, at least three are feared to have died.
Haley said: “If true, this violation of human rights cannot be ignored – Chechen authorities must immediately investigate these allegations, hold anyone involved accountable, and take steps to prevent future abuses.”
“We are against all forms of discrimination, including against people based on sexual orientation.
“When left unchecked, discrimination and human rights abuses can lead to destabilization and conflict.”
The freed victims are scared that the authorities will “out” them which will lead to their relatives attacking or even killing them. One man told CNN: “They started beating me with their fists and feet. They wanted to get names of my gay friends from me.”
“Then they tied wires to my hands and put metal clippers on my ears to electrocute me. They’ve got special equipment, which is very powerful. When they shock you, you jump high above the ground.”
Earlier this month, the ruthless campaign supposedly conducted by law enforcement and security officials was exposed by a Russian newspaper. It was denied angrily by the Chechen government, while the Kremlin’s denial was more ambiguous.
Despite the Chechen interior ministry dismissing the report as an “April fools’ joke”, threats of “retribution” have been sent to Novaya Gazeta’s staff for their work.
Former militia leader and ally of Vladimir Putin Kadyrov said through his spokesman that there were no gay people in the Russian republic, therefore the report was impossible.
Alvi Karimov said: “If there were such people in Chechnya, law-enforcement agencies wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”
Forced disappearances occurred to more than 100 suspected gay who had allegedly been held in secret detention centers, while others returned to their families after undergoing severe torture and humiliation.
Threats to those who exposed it:
According to Novaya Gazeta, police held the men for periods ranging from one day to several weeks, most of the time at an unofficial detention center near Argun. Police also “outed” the men to their relatives and encouraged them to carry out “honor killings”.
A probe has been opened by Russian investigators into the threats made against the Novaya Gazeta’s journalists over their work. After a gathering of Chechen Muslim clerics, the newspaper appealed to the Kremlin for protection.
Chechnya’s press minister required that journalists have to release the names of the victims they interviewed and to apologize for their “filthy provocation”.
Kadyrov claimed to have met with the region’s human rights council last Sunday and stated that rights had a “grandiose” improvement.
He claimed that international organizations are conducting a “massive information attack…using the most unworthy methods, reality is distorted, attempts are being made to blacken our society, lifestyle, traditions and customs”.
The Kremlin “did not have any reliable information” on the alleged abuses, according to Putin’s spokesman. The abuses come after an anti-LGBT “propaganda law” 2013 came into effect in Russia.
Condemnation for Chechnya’s campaign of abuse, came from the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the EU and US.
The UN asked Russia to condemn statements from official which incite hatred and violence, and to release all the detained men.
A group of human rights experts said: “It is crucial that reports of abductions, unlawful detentions, torture, beatings and killings of men perceived to be gay or bisexual are investigated thoroughly.”
“These are acts of persecution and violence on an unprecedented scale in the region, and constitute serious violations of the obligations of the Russian Federation under international human rights law.”