Gay men flee Chechnya as others are tortured

Chechnya gay concentration camp horror

People protest outside the Russian Embassy in London, following reports of the torture and murder of gay men in Chechnya, Wednesday April 12, 2017.

It was reported that more than 100 gay men have been detained "in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such".

The Chechen Interior Ministry branded it an "April Fools' joke", with Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov saying there were no homosexuals in the republic for them to persecute.

Natalia Poplevskaia, worldwide advocacy officer and monitoring program coordinator with the Russian LGBT Network, told NBC News of the "increasing pleas for help from people who have been targeted". "They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death".

"We condemn any and all persecution, and call on the authorities to promptly investigate and ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice".

The site of the alleged gay concentration camp in Chechnya. Kheda Saratova, a Human Rights Council member under the Head of Chechnya, argued that the Chechen justice system treats honor killings "with understanding".

"Nobody can detain or harass anyone who is simply not present in the republic", Alvi Karimov told the Interfax news agency.

Young man from Grozny, gay. The individuals claiming to have survived the torture have also said the Chechen guards are attempting to make them promise to leave the republic if set free.

"You can not detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic", said Alvi Karimov, a spokesman for Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadroyv.

Russian LGBT Network said it was "highly disturbed" by the reports and called for the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation to intervene.

Human Rights Watch later confirmed the horrific reports, adding that the information coming through was "consistent" with "numerous trusted sources" they had spoken to on the ground in Russian Federation.

"If there were such people in Chechnya", he said, "their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning".

The sweep of arrests was prompted by a gay rights groups, GayRussia.ru, applying for rights to celebrate a Pride parade- rights which, unsurprisingly, were immediately denied, and met with severe authoritative backlash.

"Poplevskaia said the Russian LGBT Network has begun helping gay and bisexual men flee Chechnya but did not want to describe details of the evacuation program out of safety concerns".

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