In late February or early March, Ali was in his apartment in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, when he got a phone call from a local police officer. “Get dressed, we have to take you in,” the man said. Ali took the sim card out of his cell phone, inserted it into a spare, blank phone, and hid his regular handset. By the time he was done, two police officers were knocking on the door. They put him in a car and drove to a nearby street, where two cars were waiting. The men put him in the back seat of one of the vehicles and got in with him.
Ali was taken into a room. “Their boss is sitting there, sprawled out,” he continued. “He says, ‘You take it up the ass.’ I start denying everything.” The boss asked Ali about another man, whom Ali knew to be gay. That morning, the man had called Ali and suggested that they meet. “I knew that if they tortured him he’d break and give everyone up,” Ali told me. He said to the police that he knew the man only as a business client. “They started beating me. I kept saying that I don’t know anything, I’ve never even heard that there were gays here in Chechnya.”
The jailers tortured Ali and then brought him back upstairs to face the boss, then back to the basement for more torture, then back up. Eventually, he was thrown into a cell and left there without food. Ali counted the days by the number of times he was allowed to perform his ablutions, then to drink the dirty water. He had seven drinks of water in all, which means that his captivity lasted more than a week. (Source: New Yorker)
The secret mass execution is thought to have seen up to 56 people killed – all without trial. Novaya Gazeta, citing two high level sources in Chechnya, reported on July 9 that dozens of people were unlawfully detained across the republic during unannounced raids that began in mid-December 2016. Twenty seven of them were allegedly killed on the night of January 26 without being formally arrested.
The outlet has spent months investigating illegal detentions in the area.The same newspaper broke the story that the region is rounding up and persecuting gay people earlier this year.
According to Novaya Gazeta, who published a series of articles about the persecution of gay men in Chechnya, these executions are not linked to the anti-gay campaign in the republic. The mass arrests are believed to have been triggered by the killing of a policeman on 16 December 2016. The executions were all carried out in Chechnya’s capital, Grozny, on the night of 25 January, the newspaper claims.
The newspaper has published the list of names it claims President Ramzan Kadyrov’s government killed.
It reports that the victims were shot without trial, then the bodies were “taken to various cemeteries, including Christian ones, where they were buried in hastily dug graves”.
The Russian LGBT Network confirmed that a number of the men killed were gay and bisexual, but some are believed to be heterosexual.
“As far as we know, the information in the Novaya Gazeta regarding 27 people being killed is true,” a representative for the group said.
“With regards to the sexual orientation of those killed, as far as we know there are homosexual people in this list, but not all of them at all.”
- Amnesty International’s reaction
Following these reports in Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper that security forces in the Russian republic of Chechnya killed 27 people on the night of 26 January 2017, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, said:
“These allegations come from a credible source and as horrendous as they are, appear totally plausible for Chechnya, where the authorities enjoy complete impunity for human rights violations.
“Amnesty International has documented the practice of extrajudicial executions in Chechnya and elsewhere in the North Caucasus for many years, and these allegations are consistent with our past findings. They must be investigated immediately, and if proven to be true, all perpetrators must be brought to justice.
“In addition, a full and thorough investigation needs to be carried out into allegations of the secret imprisonment and torture and other ill-treatment of more than 100 gay men in Chechnya in April.
“The security forces cannot be allowed to get away with torture and murder simply because they wear the badge of the state.”
The Chechen government has denied allegations of a gay purge in the region, despite many victims coming forward to reveal their ordeals.
European leaders Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have both raised the issue publicly during meetings with Vladimir Putin, and the UK government has also expressed concerns.
Activists in Russia say Chechen authorities have re-started the detaining of gay and bi men following on from a “gay purge” this year.
Now, according to Enrique Torre Molina of All Out, Chechens have contacted the Russian LGBT Network hotline to say that arrests are again being made once again.
These are the 27 men said to have been killed:
Abdulmezhidov Adam Isaevich, born May 27, 1987
Abumuslimov Apti Hasanovic, born June 2, 1989
Abdulkerimov Side Ramzan Ramzanovich, born March 25, 1990
Alimhanov Islam Aliev, born July 6, 1998
Abubakarov Adam Dzhabrailovich, born May 5, 1995
Bergan Ismail Shadidovich born August 19, 1998
Dasaev Adam Ilyasovich, born June 16, 1988
Dzhabayev Zelimhan Hizirovich, born December 18, 1993
Ilyasov Adam Huseynovich, born September 22, 1997
Lugano Rizwan Saeed-Hamzatovich, born September 13, 1987
Malikov Rizwan Agdanovich, born January 6, 1990
Musk ICYE Turpalovich, born July 19, 1988
Muskhanov Temirlan Ahmadovich, born April 28, 1986
Ozdiev Usman Vahaevich, born December 24, 1989
Rashidov Doc Ibrahimovic, born May 30, 1995
Siriev Magomed Musaevich, born February 23, 1993
Soltahmanov Ismail Ezer-Aliyev, born March 30, 1994
Suleymanov Magomed Arbievich, born January 3, 1987
Tuchaev Ahmed Ramzanovich, born February 23, 1987
Habu Khamzat Slaudinovich born February 14, 1993
Khakimov Alvi Aslambekovich, born November 16, 1992
Hamidov Shamil Ahmedovich, born November 14, 1986
Tsikmaev Sultanovich Ayoub, born April 2, 1984
Shapiev Muslim Isaevich, born November 28, 1989
Eskarbiev Sayhan Vahamsoltovich, born May 23, 1992
Yusupov Sahab Marshak, born January 19, 1990
Yusupov Shamhan Shayhovich, born June 17, 1988
UN: Stop the Kidnapping and Torture of Gay Men in Chechnya:
CHECHNYA: STOP ABDUCTING AND KILLING GAY MEN
1.Russian authorities must investigate new allegations of extrajudicial executions in Chechnya. Amnesty International. Retrieved 12th July 2017.
2.Это была казнь. В ночь на 26 января в Грозном расстреляли десятки людей. Novaya Gazeta. Retrieved 12th July 2017.
3. Batchelor, Tom (1 May 2017). “Russian police round up LGBT activists demonstrating against persecution of gay men in Chechnya”. The Independent. Retrieved 12th July 2017.
4.Kramer, Andrew E. (1 May 2017). “Russians Protesting Abuse of Gay Men in Chechnya Are Detained”. The New York Times. Retrieved 12th July 2017.
5. “Information uncovered about a second prison for homosexuals in the Russian republic of Chechnya”.
6.Smith, Lydia (10 April 2017). “Chechnya detains 100 gay men in first concentration camps since the Holocaust”. International Business Times UK. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
7.Reynolds, Daniel (10 April 2017). “Report: Chechnya Is Torturing Gay Men in Concentration Camps”. The Advocate. Retrieved 12 July2017.
8. Milashina, Elena (1 April 2017). “Murder of honor: the ambitions of a well-known LGBT activist awake a terrible ancient custom in Chechnya”. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
“Novaya Gazeta” became aware of mass detentions of residents of Chechnya in connection with their unconventional sexual orientation – or suspicion of such. At the moment, more than a hundred men have been informed of the detention. “Novaya Gazeta” knows the names of the three dead, but our sources say that there are many more victims.
9.Kramer, Andrew E. (1 April 2017). “Chechen Authorities Arresting and Killing Gay Men, Russian Paper Says”. Retrieved 12 July 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
10.Analysis – She broke the story of Chechnya’s anti-gay purge. Now, she says she has to flee Russia.”. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
11.“Reports Of New, Terrifying ‘Gay Concentration Camps’ Where Men Are Getting Tortured And Murdered”. ELLE UK. 2017-04-13. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
12. Masha Gessen (3rd July 2017). The Gay Men Who Fled Chechnya’s Purge. New Yorker– Retrieved 12 July 2017.
13.Lizzie Dearden.Chechnya gay purge: Footage taken inside prison shows where men were ‘detained and tortured‘.The Independent. Retrieved 12th July 2017.
Featured Image Credit:A demonstrator holds up a picture depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin with make-up, during a protest by the gay community.Cris Toala Olivares/Reuters