Men Who Escaped Deadly Gay Purge Arrested & Returned To Chechnya

Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya, denies reports of the deadly gay purge in his country
Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic in ‘Welcome To Chechnya’

Two gay men who escaped from the deadly gay purge in Chechnya in April 2020 were discovered in Russia, detained by Russian police and are being returned to their country.

From Pink News:

Salek Magamadov and Ismail Isayev escaped homophobic Chechnya, the site of deadly so-called gay purges, in June 2020. The Russian LGBT Network helped them relocate to Nizhny Novogorod, a city around 400 kilometres east of Moscow.

According to their lawyer Alexander Nemov, Magamadov and Novogorod had been arrested in April 2020 and tortured by the Chechen special police for running an opposition Telegram channel.

On Thursday (4 February), the Russian LGBT Network reported that the pair had gone missing.

The network’s assistance coordinator had received a call from one of the men that day around 3pm and heard screaming in the background. Nemov arrived at their apartment 30 minutes later and described seeing evidence of a scuffle.

Upon submitting a missing persons report, the lawyer found out that the two men had been handed over to the Chechen police. They are now being forcefully returned to their hometown, Gudermes.

Sadly, Novogorod and Magamadov were found to be missing on the same day that President Biden called for LGBTQ rights to be promoted and respected around the world.

Since 2017, there have been hundreds of reports of the deadly gay purge in Chechnya consisting of abductions, detentions, and torture (sometimes resulting in death) perpetrated against those in the LGBTQ community..

Ramzan Kadryov, the leader of Chechnya, has casually denied such reports while denying the very existence of any LGBTQ people in his country.

In 2017, the United States placed sanctions against Kadyrov due to the hideous atrocities.

Chechen President Banned From U.S. Over Reports Of LGBTQ Torture

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (screen capture via HBO Sports)

I expect the Trump administration will tout this as part of its “great record” on LGBTQ issues, but in the end, I’m not sure it actually DOES anything of consequence.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that Ramzan Kadyrov, president of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, has been banned from entering the U.S. under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020.

Section 7031(c) “requires the Secretary of State to bar from U.S. entry” foreign officials about whom the Secretary has credible information indicating that they have been involved, directly or indirectly, in “gross violation of human rights.”

You’ll note the statute says “requires” so let’s not give Pompeo too much credit here.

Today’s announcement also affects Kadyrov’s immediate family members. That said, it’s not clear Kadyrov or his family had any plans to visit the U.S. any time soon.

Plus, Section 7031(c) will expire on September 30, 2020, unless Congress extends it by a continuing resolution or restated in a new law.

A statement issued by the State Department says this action is being taken “due to Kadyrov’s involvement in gross violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic.”

The Department says it has received extensive credible information that Kadyrov is responsible for numerous human rights violations including torture and extrajudicial killings.

In 2018, the United States joined fifteen other nations in creating a fact-finding mission into “horrific reports of abuses against LGBTI persons” and others who were targeted by Kadyrov. The subsequent report found that “harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions” had taken place.

The State Department says it is now concerned Kadyrov may be “using the excuse of the coronavirus pandemic to inflict further human rights abuses on the people of the Chechen Republic.”

Kadyrov, who was appointed president of Chechnya in 2007 by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has repeatedly denied not only the allegations of torture and murder but that gay people even exist in his country.

Human rights activists have been sounding the alarm for years that Kadyrov had launched a series of state-sponsored anti-gay purges across the highly conservative, traditional Muslim country.

In May 2017, the Human Rights Watch shared one detainee’s description of the horrific treatment he’d been subjected to in an unofficial prison: “They electrocuted us, beat us with pipes, kicked us, and punched us, they made other inmates beat us, they called us names, spat in our faces.”

The U.S. announced sanctions against Kadyrov in December 2017, including visa bans and asset freezes, under the 2012 Magnitsky Act.

The BBC reported at the time that Kadyrov responded by “mocking the US move in an Instagram post in which he said ‘a sleepless night is waiting for me.'”

He added he was “proud” to be “out of favor with the special services of the USA.”

The new film Welcome to Chechnya, which debuted on HBO June 30, documents the horrific persecution of LGBTQ people in Chechnya.

New Wave Of Detainment & Torture For LGBTs In Chechnya

A year and a half after over 100 gay men were detained and tortured, some killed, by a secret police force in Chechnya, a new wave of detainments has occurred reports the Russian LGBT Network.

A year and a half after over 100 gay men were detained and tortured, some killed, by a secret police force in Chechnya, a new wave of detainments has occurred reports the Russian LGBT Network.

Igor Kochetkov, program director for Russian LGBT Network, said in a statement “that it is impossible to name the precise number of victims.”

“However, we know that around 40 people were detained, both men and women,” said Kochetkov. “At least two people died as a result of tortures. We also know that the detentions are conducted by the law enforcement officers, and the victims are detained in Argun.”

“Persecution of men and women suspected of being gay never stopped,” added the LGBT activist. “It’s only that its scale has been changing.”

According to a social media post on January 10th, activists are urging LGBTQ Chechens to flee immediately. “We ask anyone still free to take this message seriously and leave the republic as soon as is possible,” the statement read.

Since 2017 Russian LGBT Network has helped to evacuate approximately 150 gay men out of Chechnya.

Reports of the anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Chechnya first came in December 2016.

Chechen authorities, most of whom are former military members who serve as Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s secret police force, reportedly detain suspected gay men under the pretense of drug charges.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov

Once detained, police search the men’s phones contacts for other suspects, using torture to get as much info as possible.

In the past, Kadyrov has vowed to kill all gay men.

Russian LGBT Network has reported that the torturers use “electrocution, beatings, starvation, dehydration, isolation, forced nudity, homophobic insults and misgendering” to punish detainees, confiscating their personal belongings and only allowing them to sleep three hours a day on cold concrete floors. The men are not allowed to bathe or use toilets and they receive no medical care.

The victims have no where to turn as filing a complaint could make them a target for future harassment and violence.

Women have been caught in the crackdown too, though they’re often left to their families be abused, imprisoned or killed.

The Russia LGBT Network has helped approximately 119 gay and bi men escape the purge and flee to Moscow, Canada Lithuania, France and Germany.

Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports least 27 people are believed to have died in the crackdown.

And as with the first reports of the gay purge, Chechen officials deny any and all allegations.

Ty Cobb, director of Human Rights Campaign Global, released the following statement regarding the resurgence in detainments:

“Nearly two years after reports first surfaced of anti-LGBTQ violence and killings in Chechnya, we are once again hearing disturbing accounts of state-sanctioned detentions and abuse.

“We have repeatedly called on the Trump-Pence White House to speak out and help bring an end to this persecution, but instead the White House has largely ignored the actions of the Russian-backed regime in Chechnya.

“Human rights violators in Chechnya must be held accountable and be brought to justice. Lives are hanging in the balance.”

Indonesia: Two Men Publicly Flogged For The Crime Of Homosexuality

A young gay man is given 80+ lashes with a cane in the province of Aceh in Indonesia for being gay

Hundreds of people cheered as a gay couple were flogged more than 80 times in a public square in Indonesia’s Aceh province, where Sharia Law is observed.

A vigilante mob, suspecting the men of homosexual behavior, apprehended the men in a beauty salon earlier this year and handed them over to authorities.

AFP reports:

A crowd of about 1,000 people, including tourists from neighboring Malaysia, snapped pictures and shouted “flog them harder” as a hooded figure rained down lashes from a rattan cane on their backs.

The unidentified men were the second gay couple whipped in public this year in Aceh, underscoring the increasing discrimination faced by Indonesia’s small LGBT community.

Aceh is the only region in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, that imposes Islamic law. Public flogging is a common punishment for a range of offenses including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.

Officials in Aceh had previously announced an end to the practice that has been described as “medieval torture” but, to date, there has been no change in policy.

Florida: Broward County Commission Bans “Ex-Gay” Therapy

The Broward County Commission voted unanimously today to ban conversion therapy (also known as ex-gay torture), becoming the 16th and largest Florida municipality to outlaw the harmful practice.

Other municipalities in the Sunshine State with similar bans include Palm Beach County, Boca Raton, Miami, Tampa, Wilton Manors, Key West, and Oakland Park.

To date, nine states have banned the abusive practice as well as several major cities including Philadelphia, Washington DC, Seattle, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Dayton, and many more.

(h/t JoeMyGod)

Azerbaijan Follows Chechnya In Rounding Up And Torturing LGBTs

(photo credit: Ghvinotsdaati, Wikimedia Commons)

After months of reports of gay men being rounded up and tortured in Chechnya, now the neighboring country is Azerbaijan seems to be following suit.

From Eurasianet:

Police have detained dozens of gay and transsexual people in Azerbaijan following a number of raids around Baku, with reports of torture and beatings, local LGBT activists have reported.

It’s unclear what prompted the roundup, or how many people have been affected. Lawyers working on the cases say that at least 100 people have been detained over a period of several days.

“Suddenly, without any clear reasons to us, police officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs organized raids against gay and transsexual people,” said Javid Nabiyev, the president of the Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance, in a video message published on September 22.

Nabiyev said that the raids took place in private homes and public places where gay people are known to congregate. Some of those detained have been forced to inform on their friends. Family members and lawyers have been denied access to the detainees.

The Sweden-based human rights group Civil Rights Defenders spoke to several activists in Baku on condition of anonymity.

“Activists report that the detainees were subjected to beatings, verbal abuse, and forced medical examinations, as well as transsexual women’s heads being forcibly shaven,” the group said in a statement. “Many were released only after giving up the addresses of fellow members of the LGBTI community, who were then in turn arrested and subjected to the same treatment. An undetermined number of those detained have been sentenced to either 20 or 30 days of administrative detention.”

Azerbaijan has a terrible record on LGBT rights and ranks near the bottom of European countries in terms of laws and practices regarding the LGBT community.

Chechnya Resumes Rounding Up/Torture Of Gay Men

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov

Buzzfeed News is reporting that the rounding up and torture of gay men in Chechnya has resumed according to LGBT activist group, Russia LGBT Network.

The independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta first reported that around 100 people had been kidnapped in the crackdown in April, but Russian activists reported that sources in the region said the detentions had stopped following an international outcry.

Igor Kochetkov of the Russia LGBT Network, which is working to evacuate people targeted in the purge from the region, now tells BuzzFeed News the organization has gotten around 10 calls reporting new detentions since Ramadan ended on June 24.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has not only denied that the torture has taken place, he says that gays don’t even exist in his country.

No word as to whether or not President Trump brought up the issue to Russian President Putin during their meeting today at the G20 summit.

The White House has not addressed the issue since the first reports began in April.

House Of Representatives Unanimously Passes Resolution Condemning Torture & Killing Of Gay Men In Chechnya

After months of news that gay and bisexual men of Chechnya were being rounded up, tortured and, in some cases killed, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution condemning the actions of the Chechen government.

Via press release:

The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus commended the House of Representatives for passing H.Res.351, a bipartisan resolution condemning the detention, torture, and murders of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. H.Res.351 was introduced by LGBT Caucus founding member and former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) on May 23rd and passed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 25th by unanimous voice vote. H.Res.351 has 83 bipartisan cosponsors. H.Res.351 passed by voice vote.

“I’m proud that the House passed this strong resolution condemning the recent violence targeting gay men in Chechnya. Now, it’s critical that we do more to ensure those fleeing horrific violence can relocate somewhere safe,” said LGBT Caucus CoChair Rep. David Cicilline (RI-01). “This is an important step, but there is much more work left to be done.”

“We will continue to stand united with the LGBT community and shine a bright light on these atrocities, which are encouraged by the evil Putin regime in Russia, in order to help ensure that those who are responsible for these crimes are held to account for their despicable actions,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27)

“The People’s House has now made its collective and unanimous voice known: the situation in Chechnya cannot stand,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47). “We as a nation must lead the world in acting. It is our duty and responsibility to be the beacon on the hill that leads the way. It is now up to President Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson, and our United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley to follow through on the consensus of the House and bring as much domestic and international political pressure as possible on the Russian government to rein in these deplorable human rights violations.”

French President Macron To Putin: We Need “Complete Truth” Regarding Torture Of Gay Men In Chechnya

President Putin of Russia (L), President Macron of France (R)

While President Trump has yet to address the horrific torture of gay men in Chechnya, newly-elected French President Macron brought up the subject immédiatement in his first face to face meeting with Russian President Putin.

From the New York Times:

On human rights, Mr. Macron said he had raised the troubles facing gay and transgender people in Chechnya as well as those of nongovernmental organizations.

Mr. Macron said that he had discussed the reports of collective punishment of gay men in Chechnya with Mr. Putin and that they had agreed on a “very regular monitoring” of the situation.

Mr. Macron said Mr. Putin had told him he had taken measures to “establish the complete truth on the activities of local authorities” in Chechnya, but he did not specify what those measures were. Chechnya is under the control of a pro-Kremlin leader, Ramzan A. Kadyrov.

“As for me, I will be constantly vigilant on these issues, which are in keeping with our values,” Mr. Macron said.

Although he did not dispute Mr. Macron’s characterization, Mr. Putin did not mention gay people during the news conference.

In related news, Joël Deumier, president of French LGBT rights organization SOS Homophobie, told FranceInfo that France has started taking in gay refugees from Chechnya.

Earlier this month, Buzzfeed reported that the U.S. State Department has denied visas to gay Chechens fleeing persecution.