Chechen Government To Parents Of Gay Men: Kill Your Sons Or We Will
Early last month, Russian reporter, Elena Milashina, broke the story of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya being rounded up and sent to former military barracks to be tortured and killed. Milashina, has since gone into hiding along with hundreds of men in Chechnya’s LGBT community. Contrary to leader, Ramzan Kadyrov’s statements that there are no self-identifying LGBT members in Chechnya.
As of this week, four men have lost their lives at the camps in Chechnya and hundreds have been rounded up.
In the month since the story was first reported, a handful of Chechnya’s gays have come forward with their stories on what is swiftly unfolding in their country. The most unsettling running narrative: The Chechen government is putting pressure on the parents and relatives to kill their gay sons, brothers, nephews, and cousins. Should these families be found not in compliance with their orders, the threat of state officials intervening is imminent.
One story in particular that has since come forward is that of a seventeen-year-old boy being pushed to his death off a balcony by his own uncle. A victim who escaped the camps spoke to French reporters saying:
“They tell the parents to kill their child. They say ‘Either you do it, or we will. They call it: ‘Cleaning your honour with blood.’”
United States Holocaust Museum Director, Sarah Bloomfield, said in a statement late last month, “The Holocaust teaches us what can happen when state-sponsored, group-targeted violence is allowed to go unchecked. The reports about the targeting of LGBT persons in Chechnya combined with statements from Chechen officials seemingly endorsing violence are cause for great concern.” Gay men were also targets of the Third Reich, with nearly 15,000 having been sent to concentration camps across Europe.
Speaking from an undisclosed location last month, Milashina spoke to reporters at WorldViews, saying: “The Russian government should be pushed more. They haven’t done anything. They haven’t started the investigation; instead they say they are waiting for the names of victims. But they know very well that people in Chechnya are scared to death, and they won’t tell their names unless the government offers them protection. The international pressure needs to be really hard on the federal government to start the investigation. We know facts but we can’t talk for them. If the Russian government will offer protection, people will talk.”
The onus is now on Russia to protect the LGBT community, their families, and the reporters working to uncover truth. With their less than stellar human rights record, however, trusting Russia to lend support or justice would be ill advised.
The Russian LGBT Support network has helped to evacuate over 40 men from Chechnya. You can support their efforts through donations. Additionally, you can sign the Pink News petition to put pressure on surrounding governments to intervene on this issue.