The disturbing news coming out of Chechnya of the internment and torture of gay man in what have been called ‘concentration camps’ by the media is shocking to read, although it’s hardly surprising. Being a member of the Russian republic, Chechnya is firmly under the iron thumb of the Kremlin, and their recent history of anti-gay sentiment explains their lax attitude towards the horrific treatment of LGBT Chechnians.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for Vladimir Putin has said he has no information about the allegations, advising any people with complaints to contact the authorities in Chechnya; an almost laughable position to take given the atrocities are being carried out by the authorities. Stories are now beginning to surface of the few who are lucky enough to escape the country, although they are truly are the minority; there are no clear numbers on how many people have been imprisoned, estimates run anywhere from a hundred upwards.
Rounded up, Tortured, Killed
Most of the stories heard so far follow the same chain of events. Gay men are tricked into meeting another gay man which turns out to be a set-up by the authorities. They are captured and taken to the camp where they are beaten and both physically and psychologically tortured. After enduring anywhere from a week to ten days worth of abuse, the authorities ‘out’ the men and hand them over to their families. Chechnian values condemn the entire extended family of a known gay man, deeming the entire dynasty tainted. It is not uncommon for families to conduct so-called ‘honour killings’ on LGBT members of the family, and it seems the few who have managed to flee Chechnya have done so before an honour killing can take place.
Human Rights groups have also stated that authorities at these camps have gone as far as killing some of the prisoners, although so far there has been no concrete evidence to support these claims; although it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to think there could be some truth to their allegations.
What’s The Next Step?
It’s very clear that Russia has no intentions of intervening in Chechnya, and there is zero chance of anything happening from within the borders of the small country. It looks then that the burden rests on the shoulders of foreign countries to put an end to these atrocities. Whilst many politicians have tweeted or publicly condemned the events, no plans have been even suggested as of yet. Its highly unlikely that any form of intervention can take place without incurring the wrath of Putin and the Kremlin, and with many countries already on edge over the Russian president, many people will be very wary about intervening at all.
That being said, something has to give. This conflict is not going to resolve itself, it can only get worse. It follows an alarming trend of attacks of the LGBT community around the world in the last year or so, and eventually someone is going to have to throw towel in and say enough is enough. How many more innocents have to die for action to be taken? It wouldn’t be allowed to happen in Sweden or England; I don’t even think we’d let it happen in Northern Ireland which is saying something, why should it be allowed to happen anywhere else?