Rights group says Chechen officials humiliated gay detainees

"Six gay and bisexual men who were detained and tortured in Chechnya detail their stories in a report released by Human Rights Watch Friday, titled "'They Have Long Arms and They Can Find Me': "Anti-Gay Purge by Local Authorities in Russia's Chechen Republic".

They have long arms and they can find me and the others anywhere in Russian Federation, just give them time...

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin on Monday in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described reports the US has discouraged Russian LGBT rights advocates from helping men who have fled Chechnya apply for visas as "greatly disturbing". "The Kremlin has a duty to bring to justice those responsible for the violence and protect all people in Russian Federation, regardless of their sexual orientation". On May 26, the Guardian, citing Novaya Gazeta, reported that Kremlin officials are believed to be actively investigating claims of the purge, likely motivated by the global outcry to the crackdown.

According to Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper that exposed the abuse of gay people in Chechnya, police have refused to take part in an official investigation which was approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

They also fear their families will be made to suffer a "stain on their honour" for having a gay relative, according to the HRW. Introduced by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Darrel Issa (R-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Ed Royce (R-CA), and Chris Smith (R-NJ), the bipartisan resolution calls on the Russian government to condemn the violence, conduct a thorough investigation, and bring perpetrators to justice.

The Russian LGBT Network has said it has helped 40 people leave the region, with some receiving visas to live overseas.

Several allegedly died and some are still thought to be in detention.

But a recent The New York Times story included first-hand accounts of beatings of gay men at the hands of authorities.

Reid also said victims who have fled Chechnya after their ordeal remain in danger elsewhere in Russian Federation, with threats continuing against them. The captors also encouraged and sometimes forced other detainees to beat and humiliate the men presumed to be gay.

"These members of Congress recognize that ending Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov's human rights violations requires bold action". Law enforcement and security agencies under Kadyrov's de facto control have abducted people from homes, work places, and the streets, held them in secret locations, and carried out enforced disappearances, torture, extrajudicial executions, and collective punishment practices. "There is no connection to the Chechen police".

The United States-based advocates at Human Rights First created the video "Eyes on Chechnya" to show numerous recent protests, which have been staged in Argentina, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, France, the Netherlands, Iceland, the United States, Mexico, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium, Canada, Israel, Austria, Spain, Australia, Chile, Russia and many other countries.

Chechnya is a highly conservative majority-Muslim society and homosexuality is generally viewed as severely tainting family honor - an attitude fueled by high-level Chechen officials who have publicly condoned honor killings of gay and bisexual men.

Novaya Gazeta wrote earlier this week that federal investigators dispatched to Chechnya have faced sabotage by local law enforcement officials allegedly involved in the anti-gay purge.

A protest outside the Russian embassy in London, in April, following the human rights allegations about Chechnya.

"The men who survived Chechnya's gay purge ordeal are caught between two fires: their well-grounded fears of official retaliation, and fear of violence from their own families", Reid said.

Russian officials do not appear to acknowledge the depth and legitimacy of victims' fears about coming forward.

  • Leroy Wright