Warning: distressing content
Authorities in Chechnya are reportedly sexually assaulting women from the LGBTIQ community, according to activists who are working to evacuate those targeted to safety.
The Russian LGBT Network said last week a “new wave” of arrests and violence against gay Chechens had begun in December last year, with at least two dead after being tortured and a further 40 detained since December.
Igor Kochetkov, programme director of the Russian LGBT Network, said survivors had told them victims were being subjected to “increasingly cruel and violent” forms of torture.
The Network said both women and men were being targeted, with some women raped with “electric shock sticks”.
Men who have been detained have their heads shaved and they are forced to wear women’s clothes, Kochetkov said.
One survivor told the Network, “They did not feed us. Sometimes they gave us some water, dirty water that was left after mopping. They gave us clean water only for prayer.”
Kochetkov said in a statement, “We know that there are a few places where people suspected of being homosexual are detained. One of them is the police office of Zavodskoy district of Grozny.
“Once again, it proves that all the detentions, tortures and murders are committed by the law enforcement officers.”
The allegations of the violence have been repeatedly denied by Chechen authorities and leader Ramzan Kadyrov (pictured), who has previously claimed no gay people exist in the region.
Chechen Minister of National Policy Dzhambulat Umarov told the Daily Beast the new purge reports this month were “fantasy” and “nonsense”.
“Considering the fact that [gay people] have sick imaginations to start from, I am not surprised that they can write nonsense like that,” he told the publication.
A Russian LGBT Network campaigner told the Daily Beast that in some cases Chechen authorities “demanded that relatives punish their gay family members by executing them.”
“We have heard dozens of stories from Chechens who we helped about local government officials ordering relatives to execute their family members,” they said.
“These so-called ‘murders of dignity’ are popular in Chechnya.”
The Russian LGBT Network has said since April 2017 it has evacuated around 150 people out of the region, with 130 finding safety outside of Russia.
Last week, Amnesty International Australia called for the federal government to condemn the reported violence against Chechnya’s LGBTIQ community.
In December, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) published a damning report into abuses in Chechnya and called on Russia to investigate.
The OSCE report confirmed “very serious human rights violations” in Chechnya including “clear” and “indisuputable” crimes against the LGBTIQ community.