It’s been over a year since Chechnya began placing gay men in concentration camps, systematically exterminating them just as Hitler did over 70 years ago. However, the worldwide community has been mostly silent.
In April 2017, Russian newspapers broke the story that over 100 men had been rounded up and placed in 12 detention centers throughout Chechnya. At the time, there were three confirmed dead. A year later, the information coming out of Chechnya has been limited, and the true death toll as a result of the purges has been hidden.
The purges started in an effort to purify the Chechen state from gay men and women. Ramzan Kadyrov, the current head of the Chechen Republic, has publically remarked that Chechnya has no LGBTQ+ people.
[bctt tweet=”It’s been over a year since Chechnya began placing gay men in concentration camps.” username=”wearethetempest”]
In an interview with HBO, Kadyrov said, “if there are any [LGTBQ+ people], take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far away from us. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”
Chechnya’s anti-LGBTQ+ behavior is majorly supported by the homophobic support of its primary ally, Russia. Russia has been under fire in recent years due to its strict gay propaganda laws. These laws allow the state to detain anyone who is seen supporting an LGBTQ+ lifestyle.
Under Russia’s gaze, Chechnya has found the freedom to continue arresting and torturing men for their sexual orientation. Men are subject to beatings, electrocution, and having food and water withheld during their detention. While they are tortured – the victims are coerced into providing names of other gay men so the government may continue its systematic deletion of an entire population.
[bctt tweet=”In the year and a half since the purges started, only one survivor has come forth and called for an investigation by the Russian government.” username=”wearethetempest”]
In the year and a half since the purges started, only one survivor has come forth and called for an investigation by the Russian government. Survivors are often afraid to report because they fear retaliation from their families.
Few western countries have spoken out publically against Chechnya. The ones that have, such as Germany and Canada have offered asylum to Chechen LGBTQ+ people.
Despite wanting to be a member at the table of the western world, Russia has not sought to extend protections to these people. Many western countries have condemned Russia for its homophobic policies as well as it’s support for Kadyrov’s despicable extermination of gay people.
In April of 2018, Amnesty International called attention to the lack of action taken against the Chechen government. “A year ago,” Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International said. “This shocking news from Chechnya was ridiculed and dismissed by the Russian government. Since then we have witnessed a shocking display of denial, evasion, and inaction by the authorities, who have repeatedly refused to launch an official investigation into the reported heinous crimes and ignored credible evidence provided by Novaya Gazeta and others.”
Since acknowledging the events in 2017, the only statement the United States has made about the atrocities continuing in Chechnya today appeared in a small section about Russia in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017. Neither President Donald Trump or former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have condemned the actions of the Chechen government or the support from the Kremlin. This is despite repeated criticism from other western leaders, such as Angela Merkel or France’s President Emmanuel Macron.
[bctt tweet=”In order for LGBTQ+ people to be safe across the globe, all western nations need to speak out against the atrocities of our neighbors.” username=”wearethetempest”]
In order for LGBTQ+ people to be safe across the globe, all western nations need to speak out against the atrocities of our neighbors. The leaders of the United States have never publicly condemned Vladimir Putin for his homophobic policies, or his support of Kadyrov. It is instrumental that human rights investigations be done, and Chechnya held accountable for its crimes.
Without our governments ensuring others are safe, it means that everyone is at risk.