Four men who fled conservative region say they were beaten and humiliated for up to 20 days with limited water.
Gay men are being electrocuted and strung up by their legs in a new wave of torture in Chechnya, according to a human rights group.
Human Rights Watch said it interviewed four gay men who claimed they fled the conservative, predominantly Muslim region after police allegedly beat and shocked them with electric currents while they were strung up by their legs.
The international group, headquartered in New York, said the accounts made by the men, who were allegedly detained for between three and 20 days between December 2018 and February 2019, were consistent with a complaint an LGBT+ activist filed in January.
Also, in January this year, a warning appeared on social media urging all vulnerable men and women to flee Chechnya as it was feared a new “anti-gay purge” was underway.
In 2017, activists said more than 100 gay men were detained and tortured in Chechnya during a “purge”, and that some were killed.
There was no immediate comment on the report from Chechen officials, who rejected the allegations in 2017.
Human Rights Watch said in a report on Wednesday that the men it interviewed reported being beaten, humiliated and held for up to 20 days with limited water.
The four said interrogators also demanded information about other gay men in Chechnya, according to the organisation.
One man said he had been living elsewhere but returned to Chechnya to attend a family wedding.
In the evening, he met a man he’d connected with through a dating app, and police arrived and took him away. The man said he believed he was set up.
Human Rights Watch said it thought the 2017 mistreatment of gay men was not adequately investigated.
Tanya Lokshina, the organisation’s associate director for Europe and Central Asia, said: “The absolute impunity for the anti-gay purge of 2017 emboldens the perpetrators.
“We have absolutely no evidence these round-ups were sanctioned by top-level Chechen leadership, but the police officials clearly felt at liberty to hold and torture those men.”
Homosexuality is decriminalised in Russia, but animosity towards sexual minorities still widely persists.
Warning: This article contains details of torture that some readers may find distressing.
Back in 2017, chilling reports of young gay men being murdered by their own family members came to fruition, as authorities told parents to kill them – or they’ll do it themselves.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Chechnya had launched another crackdown on LGBTQ people in the region, with activists claiming that two people have been killed and a further 40 have been detained because of their sexual orientation.
Speaking to CNN in 2017, one man recalled the torture he went through, saying: “They started beating me with their fists and feet. They wanted to get names of my gay friends from me.
“They tired wires to my hands and put metal clippers on my ears to electrocute me. They’ve got special equipment which is very powerful. When they shock you, you jump high above the ground.”
And now, a new report from the Human Rights Watch has detailed the torture that four men, who were detained between December 2018 and February 2019, went through.
The men said that when in the camps, they were kicked with booted feet, hit with both sticks and polypropylene pipes. Three out of the men were electrocuted and one of them was raped with a stick.
All four of the men said they were tortured for other information on gay men, and one of them said when he was handed back to his family the officer implied that they should kill him.
They also confirmed that they were denied access to food and only had limited access to water. They were outed to other inmates as gay, and given what officials described as “women’s work” i.e. cleaning toilets and washing floors, as a form of humiliation.
The men also described their cell conditions, with two saying they were held with up to forty other men in a police compound, another being put in a garage before being moved to a lock-up cell with eight to ten other men, and the last being held in isolation in a basement.
Speaking about the torture, Anzor, not his real name, said: “They screamed at me. One of them started kicking me, I dropped to the floor, flat on my stomach.
“Another one then beat me with a stick, from the waist down, he was hitting me very hard for some five minutes. Then they made me kneel on the floor and put metal clips on my thumbs [the wires were hooked to a device delivering electric shocks], he turned the knob [of the device], first slowly and then faster and faster.
“With every turn, my hands bounced up and excruciating pain went through them. He stopped when I screamed my heart was about to burst. They took the clips off and my hands were heavy and felt dead.”
He continued, saying: “They were three or five [police], I don’t quite recall but one of them, Maga, had a stick with a black handle. They yelled, ‘Where are the pansies?’
“They ordered [Aslanbek, another detainee, and me] to get up. They began to humiliate us, verbally, using obscene words, calling us fags, asking which one of us is active, which one passive, whether we derived pleasure [from having sex with a man].
“And all the inmates were watching. They hit [us] on the head with their sticks. Then, they left but another three officers walked in. They were coming in groups for a long time – smaller groups and bigger groups… They entertained themselves by mocking us, beating us.”
Another man, Khussein, whose detention overlapped with Anzor’s also spoke of torture, saying he was beaten and told to give information on where other gay men in the region were.
Movsar was electrocuted while detained, and at one point suspended upside down. When he was released, authorities said they’d kill him if he ever spoke about what had happened.
Albert was electrocuted and beaten with a pipe, and forced into isolation in a basement. He was released in March, something he puts down to having friends among authorities who may have intervened on his behalf.
And something else worrying emerged from the Human Rights Watch report. In 2017, it was confirmed that Chechnya authorities sanctioned the detaining of gay men, however it could not be confirmed whether they had sanctioned the new wave of detentions.
It is thought that the police now feel they have the freedom to detain, torture and then release gay men in the region.
Men were suspended upside down while given electric shocks.
Graphic new evidence has emerged of the torture of gay men at the hands of authorities in Chechnya. The new evidence comes from the most recent crackdown of the LGBTI community.
Earlier this year new reports revealed Chechnya had conducted another round up of LGBTI people in its ‘gay purge’. Authorities rounded up about 40 people and detained them at the Grozny Internal Affairs Department in the region’s capital. Two people died as a result of torture.
Chechnya, a Russian federal subject in the Northern Caucasus, began its ‘gay purge’ in 2017. It is a highly conservative majority-Muslim society and homosexuality is generally viewed as severely tainting family honor.
But a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed the accounts of four men detained. The men were detained between three and 20 days. Police officials kicked them with booted feet, beat them sticks and polypropylene pipes. Three of them were tortured with electric shocks. One was raped with a stick.
‘They screamed at me. One of them started kicking me, I dropped to the floor, flat on my stomach… Another one then beat me with a stick, from the waist down, he was hitting me very hard for some five minutes,’ said Anzor*, 29.
‘Then they made me kneel on the floor and put metal clips on my thumbs [the wires were hooked to a device delivering electric shocks], he turned the knob [of the device], first slowly and then faster and faster… With every turn, my hands bounced up and excruciating pain went through them…
‘He stopped when I screamed my heart was about to burst. They took the clips off and my hands were heavy and felt dead.’
Anzor described how police beat and humiliated him and Aslanbek in front of the other inmates:
‘They were three or five [police], I don’t quite recall but one of them, Maga, had a stick with a black handle,’ he said.
‘They yelled, “Where are the pansies?” [and] began to humiliate us, verbally, using obscene words, calling us fags, asking which one of us is active, which one passive, whether we derived pleasure [from having sex with a man].
‘And all the inmates were watching… They hit [us] on the head with their sticks… Then, they left but another three officers walked in.
‘They were coming in groups for a long time – smaller groups and bigger groups…[T]hey entertained themselves by mocking us, beating us.’
The other men described being deprived of food and water, with some chained to radiators in blacked-out rooms.
They all said police interrogated them under torture. Police also demanded they identify other gay men in their social circles, in some cases showing them photographs. Police seized the detainees’ cell phones for the same purpose.
One man said the police handed him over to his family, exposing his sexual orientation and indirectly encouraging his family members to kill him. Some of those interviewed said this happened in at least two other cases. In at least three cases, police demanded large sums of money for the men’s release.
‘There wasn’t anything remotely resembling an effective investigation into the anti-gay purge of 2017, when Chechen police rounded up and tortured dozens of men they suspected of being gay,’ said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
‘Impunity for the 2017 anti-gay purge has sanctioned a new wave of torture and humiliation in Chechnya.’
Three of the men said the police shaved off their beards and hair or forced inmates to shave each other’s heads.
Police officers also humiliated them by probing into the details of their lives, using homophobic slurs, exposing them as gay to other inmates, and forcing them to undress. Police also forced several of the presumed gay inmates to clean the toilet and wash floors and doors along a corridor, making it clear to them and the other inmates that the gay detainees were given ‘women’s work’ as a form of humiliation.
Chechen authorities have continued to deny reports of the new wave of persecution.
‘This is an absolute lie… There were no detentions on grounds of sexual orientation in the indicated periods in the Chechen Republic,’ said presidential spokesperson, Alvi Karimov, in January.
Human rights groups and LGBTI advocates have called on Russian authorities to speak out or act against the ‘gay purge’. But Russian authorities have not commented on the allegations nor investigated.
In May 2018, Russia’s justice minister, Aleksander Konovalov, told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC): ‘The investigations that we carried out… did not confirm evidence of rights’ violations, nor were we even able to find representatives of the LGBT community in Chechnya.’
International outcry has continued over Chechnya’s actions. In November 2018, 16 participating states of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) invoked the “Moscow Mechanism”. They also appointed a rapporteur to look into allegations of abuses in Chechnya.
In March, 30 countries supported a joint statement at the UNHRC. The statement expressed deep concern about reports of the persecution and called for a thorough and impartial investigation.
‘Russian authorities should immediately investigate the new wave of torture and humiliation by the Chechen police of men they believe to be gay and, finally, carry out an effective investigation into the purge of 2017,’ Denber said.
‘The investigations should be conducted at the federal level with security guarantees provided to victims and witnesses who come forward, and their families. Otherwise, we can expect further episodes of this depraved abuse.’
The US State Department has banned Muslim Khuchiev and his wife Sapiyat Shabazova from entering the country, the head of the Chechen government, according to the Ministry’s website.
The State Department believes that Khuchiev was involved in a gross violation of human rights. “The department has reliable information that Muslim Khuchiev was involved in torture,” the ministry’s statement said.
The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, called the decision of the State Department “a humorous number” and advised the US authorities to “live with us in peace and harmony.”
Muslim Khuchiev headed the government of Chechnya in June 2018. Prior to that, he was mayor of Grozny in 2007-2012 and 2015-2018.
In July 2017, the former head of the Chechen municipal enterprise “Heat Supply” Lom-Ali Elbiyev said that the guards of Muslim Khuchiev were tortured with a stun gun. After the incident, Elbiev left for Europe.
Earlier, human rights organizations and the media reported on torture in Chechnya, which homosexuals and suspected drug users were subjected to. Chechen authorities denied this.
ANDREA Di Giovanni has spoken out about the dark reality of living as a LGBTQ+ person in Russia. Below is a link to the song (YouTube).
The rising star recently released new single Forbidden Love, to shed light on the rampant inequality he saw in reports of hate crimes and even killings in Chechnya.
“The song is about the purge on gay people in Russia. I was so shocked because we’ve seen purges historically, but to see it in 2019, that someone like me or who wants to be like me can be jailed or abused, really struck a chord with me,” he explained.
“I want people to know what it’s like to feel insecure and drown in shame just because you want to love somebody.”
Andrea, who is from Italy, graduated from the British Institute of Modern Music in 2017 and has been releasing music consistently in the years since.
Last year he played a series of Pride performances, including the London main stage – an opportunity he hopes to take advantage of again this year, as well as the LGBT Awards.
While Andrea’s look may be high-glam and flamboyant, a keen sense of right and wrong is at the heart of his ambition.
“I understand personal agenda, but I’m allergic to injustice. When I see things I’m unhappy with I feel compelled to speak with the platform that I have, rather than be oblivious,” he continued.
“It’s important because that’s how you change society, by disrupting it. That’s my mission and I love it, it’s a cool way of speaking to not just my own community, but those outside of it.
“Music is a universal language and it can offer insight into how we live today.”
On an aesthetic level, Andrea credits his fabulous style to a mix of different influences.
“I like weird, quirky fashion like Balenziaga and Alexander McQueen. I’m also a fan of retro or vintage pieces,” he added.
“On top of all that I love Italian fashion – that old school sense of glamour. When I was a kid I’d soak up the classic beauty in Vogue magazine.”
You can get pleasure from creativity now, below link to YouTube: