Gay men come forward with new accounts of being tortured in Chechnya concentration camps

Two young men have come forward to open up about their experiences in Chechnya, where both were detained and beaten for being gay.

Unwilling to give their real names for obvious reasons, they’re calling themselves Gregory and Arnie.

“I was kidnapped and kept for 12 days in a basement,” Gregory, 21, tells NPR“I was beaten and interrogated.”

Stories like Gregory’s began circulating this April after Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over 100 had been rounded up and detained under suspicion of “untraditional sexual orientation.” Three men had already been killed in the antigay purge,  the paper reported.

Here’s how Gregory describes his ordeal:

“When I was detained, the police went through my phone and social media,” Gregory says. “They forced me to contact someone I was dating.”

Related: Chechnya authorities to parents: “Kill your gay sons or we will”

And so he did, setting up a date. Later, authorities drove him to the location.

“They put a black plastic bag over my head and put a gun to my head. They made me call the other guy and tell him to come the car. Then they kidnapped him as well.

They told me I wasn’t a human being and deserved to be murdered.”

Gregory was eventually released for reasons he doesn’t know. (He suspects it’s because he’s not originally from Chechnya but another part of Russia.) Authorities handed him a bus ticket and told him to leave Chechnya immediately.

The St. Petersburg-based Russian LGBT Network operates a 24-hour hotline and figured out how to get Gregory to Moscow, where he wound up in a safe house operated by the Moscow Community Center, an organization serving the LGBTQ community that’s already provided shelter to over 30 men from Chechnya.

Most of the men who managed to escape will never be able to return, as in the case of 18-year-old Arnie.

“I don’t remember anything,” Arnie says of his kidnapping and torture, which left him in a coma for two weeks. . “I can only tell you what my cousin told me.”

According to his cousin, Arnie went missing and then was suddenly deposited on his family’s doorstep. He was unconscious and inside a burlap sack.

“Some guys came to the house and told my relatives, ‘This is your son, he is a homosexual,’” Arnie tells NPR.

Related: New short film demonstrates the horrors gay men face in Chechnya

His uncle grabbed Arnie by the throat and was ready to throttle him to death, but allegedly stopped since he was already on the verge of dying.

When he woke up weeks later in the hospital, his family came into the room and said they were in the process of disowning him. He suspects it’s because of their Muslim faith.

He thinks he’s safe for now since it’s the holy month of Ramadan, but fears his uncle will hunt him down and kill him once it’s over.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has allegedly called for an investigation into the claims of gay men’s torture and murder in Chechnya, while Human Rights Watch is conducting its own investigation into the “antigay purge.”

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov continues to deny any sort of antigay campaign exists, telling Interfax news agency:

“In Chechen society, there is no such thing as nontraditional orientation. Our people have for millennia lived by different rules prescribed by God Almighty and dictated by the moral and ethical norms of inter-personal relations.”

Human Rights Watch also reports families that families are being “indirectly encourag[ed]” to kill gay members, in order to restore honor.

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  • Xzamilloh

    But, yeah, let’s keep ignoring the big Islamic elephant in the room. Addressing it would be racist… against those WHITE Muslims rounding up gay men and torturing them, and then returning some of them to their family only to have some of their family members further traumatize them or even kill them… but thank White Muhammad that it’s the holy month of Ramadan, as the one man said, because after it’s over his uncle may try to kill him. Do you get it now? Is this ISIS at work, or are we seeing a serious problem that barely anyone on the left is willing to address?

    But let’s bring up Christians and what they did centuries ago as if the Crusades, Salem Witch Trials, and the KKK have any relevancy in today’s world. At least we can combat Christians and their made up gobbledygook here in America.

    • OzJosh

      Multiple surveys show that 90% of Muslims in the UK (and it would be the same in the US) believe homosexuality should be criminalised and punished. Many would happily support prison sentences, or traditional punishments (such as whipping) if that were an option. Very few ever accept family members who come out. In most respects I’m all for multiculturalism, but sooner or later most western societies need to face the fact that many of our values are irreconcilable with Muslim attitudes and beliefs – and I’m not talking Muslim extremists, but the vast majority of Muslims.

    • JK 1984

      The guy saying he is glad it is Ramadan, the way I read that was he has already escaped to Moscow but was glad it was Ramadan because that gave him the chance to escape without further violence (violence id’s supposed to be forbidden during Ramadan).

      And yes I am going to raise Christians, but you don’t need to go back to the crusades et al to discuss their crazy, there are still preachers today who preach death to gays, want to either “convert” us or have us removed from this earth in one way or another. Plus in recent history they have (for the most part) been hostile to our very existence.

      Just as plenty of Christians now support LGBT rights, there are many people of Islamic faith that do as well (albeit a smaller percentage). I know several people in my circle of friends alone.

      Do I think that issues like what is happening in Chechnya (and in ISIS held territory, etc.) is acceptable in any way?

      Do I think that we should lump all Islamic people together ad one amorphous blob and say they are all the same and want to kill/harm us?
      No, because that is exactly what other groups have tried to do to “the gays”.

    • Xzamilloh

      “Do I think that we should lump all Islamic people together ad one amorphous blob and say they are all the same and want to kill/harm us?
      No, because that is exactly what other groups have tried to do to ‘the gays’.”

      I specifically try to avoid speaking in generalities because I have to deal with this lazy ass strawman of “not all.” Who said “ALL Muslims” believe X or Y? Clearly, Shiites and Sunnis don’t believe the same stuff because they are the biggest victims of Islamic violence… perpetrated by each other. NOT ALL, though… but it’s enough to where it’s a problem worth addressing without smokescreens and silly false equivalencies. Name a pastor in America that preaches death to LGBT people that is held in high esteem or that isn’t roundly ridiculed.

      America isn’t perfect, but you don’t see anyone risking their life to go to the middle east or West Africa, do you?

  • DCguy

    Putin’s boy and his reign of anti-lgbt terror in one of Russia’s states. Make no mistake, this is a test run, if the world doesn’t come down hard on this, the exact same thing is ready to happen throughout all Russian states.

  • fur_hunter

    I find it so disgustingly interesting is that no one has learned $H!T from history. The loving and Christ-like Christians in the US, during the Second World War, totally ignored the situation in Germany with the Jews and took none in. I don’t care what they say, but those hypocrite @$$HOLES hated the Jews and didn’t care if they were being murdered in concentration camps or not. Now we have a repeat performance, but this time it is gays in Russia. AGAIN…..those F-ing hypocritical loving Christian @$$HOLES in the US don’t give a F-ing rat’s @$$ about the gays so they will not allow asylum for them. Yeah. Those Christ-like, loving, Pat Robertsons and Franklin Grahams. Wonderful, upstanding Pieces of $H!T as far as I’m concerned. I pray they burn in that Hell they keep telling us we are going to. (OK…Did anyone reading my post sense how P!$$ed off I am with those loving POS Christians??)

  • jhon_siders

    Why not some one adopt a gay from there ?? bring him into the US ??

  • cinderron

    These are the people Canadian Pime Minister Justin Trudeau should be letting into the country . They truly need to be saved from the monsters in this barbaric backwards country .

  • kent25

    I don’t know why some people the they are taking both Gay and Bisexual men. They only want the gay men, the bi guys all woman up.
    They’re no gay, They aren’t gonna take one for the cause.

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