An investigation by Novaya Gazeta has found that 100 gay men were kidnapped and imprisoned in the world’s first concentration camp for LGBT people since Nazi Germany. Reporters discovered that three men have been killed in the Chechen camps. And footage from inside one of the camps has finally triggered a response from outside the country.
The concentration camps
An investigative report by Novaya Gazeta states that Chechen authorities have set up several concentration camps for LGBTQ+ citizens. Human rights activists in Chechnya, a quasi-independent state on the border of Russia, have echoed the allegations:
- Following an anti-gay campaign, Chechen police rounded up suspected LGBTQ+ people and imprisoned them in the camps.
- The camps are responsible for the deaths of three men.
- Authorities have ordered LGBTQ+ people to leave the republic or be killed.
Former inmates claim to have been tortured. The guards allegedly electrocuted them, forced them to sit on glass bottles, and beat them with pipes. One former inmate told reporters:
You stop thinking and start screaming. All the time you sit and hear the cries of people who are tortured.
More than 100 gay men are allegedly being tortured in secret Chechen prisons. pic.twitter.com/tLhZwafxgb
— AJ+ (@ajplus) April 12, 2017
The veracity of the allegations
The newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which is owned by Alexander Lebdev, made the allegations. Lebdev is a vocal opponent of the Russian premier Vladimir Putin. He is also the father of Evegny Lebedev, who owns The Independent and The London Evening Standard in the UK. And the story has been independently verified by multiple liberal and conservative sources across Europe, from Al Jazeera, to the Daily Mail.
Chechen authorities deny the camps exist. But the denial itself raises concerns. Kheda Saratova of Chechnya’s notional Human Rights Council told Russian radio:
I haven’t had a single request on this issue, but if I did, I wouldn’t even consider it.
In our Chechen society, any person who respects our traditions and culture will hunt down this kind of person without any help from authorities, and do everything to make sure that this kind of person does not exist in our society.
Finally, some reaction has begun to take place in wider Europe. Labour MP Clive Lewis has tabled an Early Day Motion on the issue in UK parliament. And people are also planning protests outside the Russian embassy in London. While the UK government has issued a statement of condemnation and opened an investigation into the camps.
These torture camps echo the treatment of LGBTQ+ people by Nazi Germany. The Nazis ordered Jewish people to wear a yellow star, disabled people to wear black triangles, and LGBTQ+ people to wear pink triangles. They later forced all of these people into concentration and death camps. In 2017, history is repeating itself in Europe.
– Join the protest at 5.30pm on Wednesday, April 12, at the junction of Bayswater Road and Ossington Street in London.
– You can also sign Amnesty’s petition to stop the abduction and killing of gay men in Chechnya.
– And furthermore learn about the LGBT Holocaust at Stop Homophobia.
– Write to your MP to make your voice heard on the matter.
Featured image via screengrab