Anti-gay camps are nothing new in the world, but the disturbing revelations about the ones currently operating in the Russian region of Chechnya are above and beyond anything we have ever seen before. The gay conversion camps and “pray the gay away” retreats as we know them use controversial methods with an aim to alter a gay person’s sexuality, but Russia has gone a step further by opening the world’s first concentration camps for homosexuals since the ones set up by Hitler during the Holocaust.
Russia is well known for its human rights violations, particularly where the LGBT community is concerned and these camps are the latest example of the country’s disturbing ignorance and hatred towards homosexuals. The camps exist simply to humiliate, torture, and kill gay people. Prisoners are brutally beaten in order to reveal the names of other members of the gay community. Those lucky enough to survive are reportedly forced to promise that they will leave Chechnya for good. How this disgusting level of homophobia is still happening in 2017 is mind boggling.
News of these gay concentration camps in the Chechen Republic broke in early April. Since then, deeply disturbing details have come to light about how these concentration camps operate and how inhumanely the prisoners are treated simply based on their sexual orientation. A month on, officials in Chechnya continue to deny reports of torture and even go as far as to deny the existence of any homosexuals in the region. Here are 15 disturbing truths about these gay concentration camps.
15. Gay Citizens Told By Officials To Leave Chechnya Or Be Killed
The real repression against homosexuals in Russia began back in 2013 after President Vladimir Putin introduced the controversial “gay propaganda” law, which punished homosexuals for “promoting” their sexuality for fear that it would corrupt the youth. Since then, Russian authorities have begun cracking down on gay rights and have arrested hundreds of protesters at gay rights marches and campaigns in the country.
Mix the general intolerance Russia has for homosexuals with a deeply conservative and mostly Islamic region of Chechnya and you begin to see why this utter hatred and extremist view towards homosexuals has escalated so quickly in recent years. This is no longer a case of cracking down on the right to free speech and behavior as a homosexual – Chechnya is leading a movement to wipe them out completely and it’s terrifying. It’s believed that at least six of these concentration camps now exist in Chechnya and authorities are warning all gay people to flee the republic or face death.
14. “Gay Children” Threatened With Death By Chechen Police
The more we hear about the gay concentration camps, the more disturbing the revelations get and this recent development may be the most despicable of them all. Chechen police have reportedly ordered parents to kill their gay children, threatening that if they don’t they will “do it for them.” An escapee from one of the persecution camps has spoken out about these threats that he witnessed first hand towards a fellow prisoner. “They tortured a man for two weeks, then they summoned his parents and brothers who all came. The authorities said to them: ‘Your son is a homosexual – sort it out or we’ll do it ourselves.’”
The escapee added that homosexuals in the area “have always been persecuted, but never like this.” Being gay is considered such a disgrace in Chechnya that authorities believe the only way to rid families of the shame is for them to perform “honour killings” on their own children. Insane.
13. At Least Three Have Died So Far
It’s feared that at least three men have died since the concentration camps were opened in Chechnya. These three deaths are the only ones to be confirmed by human rights groups, based on eyewitness accounts. Dozens of men are believed to be dead as a result of the camps themselves or the police brutality that is currently sweeping through the Chechen Republic. One victim who spoke to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, revealed that some camp inmates were “beaten to death and returned, like a bag of bones.”
If victims don’t succumb to the relentless beatings and other torture methods within the camp, survivors are pretty much left for dead. It’s believed that many men have been returned to their families “barely alive” from the abuse. Others have managed to flee Chechnya and escape to safe houses in Moscow, or else have been forced to pay huge amounts of money in ransom to prevent their torture while they remain in the camps.
12. Over 100 Men Have Been Detained
Since news first emerged of the camps in early April, it’s been reported that more than 100 men have been detained so far and the number is no doubt growing by the day. The arrests have been made as part of a mass purge of LGBT people in the region of Chechnya. When early reports were published of men being taken to the camps, the press secretary for the Chechen Republic dismissed the story straight away as “lies” while a spokesperson for Chechnya’s Interior Ministry simply attributed the whole thing to an “April Fool’s joke.”
Repressive and hostile attitudes towards the LGBT community fired up in Chechnya after an application was sent to the authorities to request a gay rights march in the capital of Grozny. The gay rights group known as GayRussia.ru had applied several times in the past for permits to hold gay pride events – all of which have been denied.
11. Men Beaten So Frequently That They Became Numb To Pain
Inside the camps, prisoners are subjected to various forms of torture, one of which includes regular physical abuse. Of the victims that have managed to survive their ordeal and escape, some have described that they no longer felt pain after the first few days, because the beatings were so frequent. The abuse men must have had to endure to become almost numb to further pain is a sickening notion and not unlike the ruthless torment under the Nazi regime.
Specific details about the daily physical abuse suffered by inmates is still unknown, but a former prisoner sheds some light on the cruel and brutish treatment of its victims. A gay Chechen man – simply known as “Anzor” for his own protection – was made to lie on a filthy floor while one of his captors proceeded to jump on his back while wearing heavy army boots. The victim described it as “feeling like they are breaking every bone of every joint in your body at the same time.”
10. The Chechen Leader Denies The Existence Of The Camp (And Homosexuals)
Astonishingly the President of Chechnya has not only dismissed the existence of these concentration camps, he has also denied that gay people even exist in the region. A spokesman for President Kadyrov has told news agencies that “you cannot arrest or repress people who don’t exist in the republic” adding that “if such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”
Are they serious? This ridiculous answer doesn’t deny or condemn the persecution of gay people, it almost justifies it and is a thinly veiled warning to all homosexuals. Despite his strong denial of persecution in this instance, President Kadyrov certainly has a record for it – he has been accused of past human rights violations that have documented torture and extra-judicial killings of Salafi Muslim opponents. Each time, these acts were carried out by Kadyrov’s security forces. Unbelievable.
9. Prisoner Tortured In “Homemade Electric Chair”
You may have heard that gay conversion camps like to use electricity as a form of controversial “treatment” to convert gay men and women? Well, the camps in Chechnya take this to a whole other level of messed up. Far from using electricity as a form of electroshock “therapy,” the captors in the Chechen camps have used it for regular torture, including one instance in which a gay man was strapped into a home-made electric chair.
A story has surfaced about one gay man who was forcibly placed in an electric chair that had been designed on site and was repeatedly beaten and hosed down so that he would reveal the names of other gay men. Reportedly, the man was also made to share a room with 30 other prisoners and was barely fed. Other forms of electric torture in the camps involved forcing inmates to attach electric wire clamps to their fingers and toes while their captors subjected them to 20-30 seconds of shocks.
8. “Stripped And Filmed” While Suffering Beatings
Physical abuse and torture are widespread within the concentration camps in Chechnya, and one victim has bravely spoken out about his vile treatment within the camp that left him humiliated and physically and emotionally broken. A 23-year-old man named “Khasan” – to protect his identity – revealed that he was set up by a friend he met on the social networking site Kontakte, which is popular with Russians.
Khasan was apparently lured to a forest in Grozny by his friend when he was ambushed by three uniformed men. He recognized them straight away as officers of the rapid response team from the Russian Interior Ministry, but by then it was too late to make his escape. Khasan reveals that the men began shouting homophobic slurs, before stripping him naked and beating him mercilessly – all while filming it. “They kicked me, broke my jaw. They said that ‘This is a gay and there shouldn’t be defects like this in Chechnya’.”
7. Russian Newspaper Staff Were Threatened For Reporting About The Camp
Staff working at the Russian newspaper have faced aggressive threats of “retribution” for simply doing their job and reporting these atrocities. The Noveya Gazeta newspaper in Russia is known for its fiercely independent take on the country’s political affairs, and after publishing an article about the mass detention of gay men in early April, they have feared for the safety of their writing staff. The Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has since labelled the newspaper “enemies of our faith and our country.”
This worrying level of hatred and barring of free speech is reminiscent of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo case in Paris, where 12 journalists were killed for printing supposedly blasphemous Islamic content. As Chechnya is a Muslim-majority region of Russia (and deeply anti-gay), the Noveya Gazeta feel they will always be a target for Islam extremists. A spokesperson for the paper has said admirably that “Silence and inaction in this situation makes everyone complicit. That is why we continue to work in Chechnya. But we are aware of the high price we have to pay.”
6. Chechnya Aims To Eliminate Gay Community “By The End Of May”
It has been reported that the Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, wants to eliminate all gay citizens from Chechnya by the end of May. Why? Because May 26th marks the beginning of Ramadan (the holy month of fasting for Muslim citizens) and Chechnya is a Muslim-majority region. Under Sharia law, homosexuality is viewed as a sin and a punishable offence, which has prompted the Chechen leader to order a mass purge of all LGBT citizens from the area.
Despite fervently denying that these gay concentration camps even exist, President Kadyrov has expressly set a deadline for the end of May for the elimination of the gay community from its borders. Whether he acknowledges the existence of these camps or not, he is “ridding” homosexuals in some form. Amazingly, President Vladimir Putin has backed the Chechen leader’s denial of the concentration camps and is content that Mr. Kadyrov is telling the truth when he claims that no one is being persecuted due to sexual orientation. I’m speechless.
5. Men Are “Rounded Up” In Gay Clubs And Homes
For a gay citizen living in the barbaric region of Chechnya, there is no hiding place from the authorities, as they are hell bent on purging every trace of homosexuality from the region. Over 100 men were initially kidnapped and detained in the Chechen concentration camps and authorities have left no stone unturned to round more up. Gangs have reportedly taken men during mass raids in underground gay clubs in the area and many have even been abducted in their own beds.
In some cases, it is not always Chechen police and officials behind the kidnappings, but close friends of the victims. One gay man known only as “Said” revealed that he was set up by friends he had known for years, who suddenly blackmailed him for being gay. He was allegedly told to hand over 2.5 million rubles ($44,000) or have video evidence of his homosexuality published online. This led him to flee the country and his family, who he still fears could kill him if he ever returned.
4. Victim’s Phones Are Seized To Round Up Potentially Gay Friends And Contacts
As part of their mission to completely purge the Chechen republic of the LGBT community, the phones of detainees are reportedly searched extensively to hunt down and trap other homosexuals to ensure every gay individual is held to account for their so-called “crimes.” As well as mass kidnappings of homosexuals in gay clubs and similar hangouts, others are lured individually in sting-like operations using the phones of tortured, sometimes even dead victims.
One gay prisoner recalls how his ordeal began when he was arrested in a crowded public place. Speaking to the Associated Press, he revealed that he was arrested simply because his number was found in the phone of another gay man who had been arrested previously. Once taken to the camps, his captors were “beating information” out of him and others to track down as many gay people as possible. Heartbreakingly, inmates continue to suffer torture and even death to protect those in their social circle.
3. Prisoners Held Captive In Stone Room For Weeks And Months
Some details about the conditions within the concentration camps have surfaced, and they are nothing short of inhumane. Some of the victims who have managed to escape from their abhorrent captors have stated that, in some cases, large groups of the detainees were kept together in the same cold stone room (some 30 or 40 men) and were forced to remain there for weeks and months at a time – only leaving for daily beatings and electric torture.
One brave camp survivor spoke to Novaya Gazeta about his day to day life within these cramped and horrendous conditions. “We sat in a large room with other prisoners. In it, we were given a small piece in the corner, about two or three meters, beyond which we were not allowed to get out and would sit there for days, weeks – some – for months.” This man and fellow prisoners were also only permitted to use the bathroom three times a day, which was on the street. As well as this, the inmates were barely fed.
2. Escapees Likened To Holocaust Victims
The gay torture camps in Chechnya are being compared to the Auschwitz concentration camps under Hitler’s regime for a reason. The treatment of men within the camps is comparable to the mass starvation, torture, and murder of innocent civilians during WW2. Led by the Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov, authorities are purging the region of all LGBT people, just as Hitler targeted and tried to eliminate a specific group.
Men taken to the camps in Chechnya are being starved, interrogated, and tortured on a daily basis. It’s no wonder then that any escapees return emaciated and with their health hanging by a thread. Their treatment has even been condemned by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, who reminds us of the chilling echoes Chechnya has with Nazi Germany for “purifying” their people and hiding behind a so-called “moral crusade.” “The Nazis persecuted homosexuals because they believed them to be carriers of a ‘contagion’ that weakened society”, the Museum Director has said, “and did not contribute to the growth of the Aryan population.”
1. Some Prisoners Forced To Pay Bribes To Chechen Police To Survive
As well as subjecting camp inmates to daily torture to gain information about other members of the LGBT community, the authorities in Chechnya have apparently gained financially from prisoners. One victim, in particular, revealed that, before he was incarcerated in one of the camps, he and other prisoners were forced to pay Chechen police thousands of rubles worth of bribes every single month in order to survive. The unnamed man in question eventually managed to flee but others have not been so lucky.
Prisoners unable to bribe their way out of further torture within the camps were beaten into submission by their captors to reveal the names and location of other gay people in their social circle. The fact that inmates had to pay bribes in order to be spared from daily beatings and other forms of abuse within the camp is astonishing. It really is hard to grasp that this barbaric attitude to homosexuality still exists.