Gay men That were arrested in a ‘purge’ in the Russian region of Chechnya are being held in concentration camp-style prisons, reports have alleged.
Early reports emerged earlier this month that gay people are being targeted in the region, which is part of Russia but has substantial autonomy.
Russian newspapers and human rights groups report that more than 100 gay men have been detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” as part of a purge. Several people were also reportedly feared dead following violent raids. The Kremlin has since denied any knowledge of a purge.
But reports have since emerged that the men arrested are being kept in horrific concentration camp prisons, where violent abuse and torture is common.
Based on interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports that a secret prison has been set up in the town of Argun to detain the men arrested in the purge.
One man who was released from the camp told the newspaper that he was subjected to violent “interrogations” at the camp, as Chechen officials attempted to get him to confess the names and locations of more gay men.
The officials also seized his mobile phone, targeting his network of contacts regardless of whether they were gay or not.
The detainees face electric shock torture and violent beatings, while some of them have been held to ransom and used to extort their families.
The Russian LGBT Network, which is running a support line for those fleeing the region, has confirmed the reports.
LGBT activist Svetlana Zakharova said: “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.
Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch wrote: “For several weeks now, a brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya.
She continued: “Law enforcement and security agency officials under control of the ruthless head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims.
“Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began.”
“LGBT people are in danger not only of persecution by the authorities but also of falling victim to ‘honour killings’ by their own relatives for tarnishing family honour.”
when asked if the stories of these camps had any truth, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s spokesperson denied the claims on the grounds that no one in Chechnya is homosexual. “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”.