Gay men arrested in the Russian region of Chechnya are being held in concentration camp-style prisons, according to allegations made by local activists and media outlets.
Early reports alleged gay people were being targeted in the region, with more than 100 gay men claimed to have been detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” and several were feared dead.
A spokesman for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (pictured) denied that there are any gay people to detain, insisting that “you can’t arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”
But it’s now been claimed the detained men are being kept in prisons described as “concentration camps” and subjected to violent abuse.
Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports that a secret prison has been established in the town of Argun to detain the men.
One man who was released from the camp told the Gazeta (via the Daily Mail) that he was violently “interrogated” at the camp, with Chechen officials attempting to force him to name other gay men.
The Russian LGBT Network said in a statement they’re helping men who are fleeing the region and said the reported arrests are “amoral and criminal.”
Svetlana Zakharova from the Network told the Daily Mail: “Gay people have been detained and rounded up and we are working to evacuate people from the camps and some have now left the region.
“Those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept altogether, around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death.”
Alexander Artemyev from Amnesty International told Metro information was very difficult to verify because people “are too afraid to talk” in the climate of extreme homophobia.
“That’s why we have called on Russian authorities to take all measures possible to investigate the allegations made by the Novaya Gazeta informants, meanwhile we make every effort to obtain as much information as we can,” he said.
The American, European and British governments have also condemned the reports.
In a statement, the US State Department said: “We condemn violence against any individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis.
“We urge the Russian government to conduct an independent and credible investigation into the alleged killings and mass arrests, and hold the perpetrators responsible.
“We were likewise deeply disturbed by local authorities statements that apparently condone and even incite violence against LGBTI persons.”
The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office also “condemned any and all persecution” of gay men.
“The human rights situation for LGBT people in Russia has deteriorated significantly in recent years and we have voiced our serious concern over these developments with Russian authorities at all levels,” the office said.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajan confirmed the parliament’s “absolute condemnation of any form of persecution and discrimination” against people because of their sexuality, race or religion.
(Photo via Kremlin.ru)