A representative from the Russian LGBT Network – a Russia-based NGO that advocates for LGBT rights – has told NPR that her organization has rescued dozens of men from persecution in Chechnya, the Muslim-majority entity located in Russia’s south.
As Impact Tap previously reported, harrowing accounts have emerged from the region detailing the abduction, torture, and murder of gay men. Throughout Russia, LGBTQ people face oppression, exemplified by the country’s 2013 federal law essentially banning any expression of LGBTQ identity in public spaces. The horror and violence in Chechnya – which features detention centers eerily reminiscent of concentration camps – is an atrocity of unparalleled dimensions in recent history, however, and has brought widespread international condemnation. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has directly appealed to Russia’s autocratic leader Vladimir Putin to intervene.
Talking to NPR, an anonymous advocate from the Russian LGBT Network discussed the organization’s recent efforts to rescue men facing the threat of death in Chechnya. “They’re telling us that they are beaten. Sometimes some people are beaten to death,” the unnamed woman said. “And also people are saying that they’re tortured with electric current, they are not fed properly and they don’t have any water.”
Her organization has been secretly communicating with gay men in the region concerned that they may be targeted next, coordinating escape from the region and even Russia, as the unnamed source explains:
we are also working to evacuate them . . . out of Russia because for most of them it’s just deadly dangerous to stay in Russia because some of them are already hunted by their relatives outside of Chechnya.
To add to the horrors of state persecution, reports also indicate that families in the deeply conservative region are murdering gay relatives.
While organizations like the Russian LGBT Network engage in dangerous and essential work rescuing people from these heinous human rights violations, you can do your part by pressuring US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to raise the atrocities happening in Chechnya on the international stage.