LGBT refugees who were spared Chechnya’s anti-LGBT crackdown have found that they’re not even safe in the West.
Human Rights Watch reports:
Chechnya’s Long Arm of Retaliation Against Gay Men
LGBT Refugees Find that Safety in West is Far from Absolute
By Boris Dittrich
I recently met two Chechen gay men living as refugees in Western Europe in a bustling café. Both were in their early twenties, both looked around nervously. After we shared some pleasantries, Bula and Zelim cut to the chase.
“We were abducted, tortured in Grozny. The police extorted us for money because we are gay. They threatened to disclose our sexual orientation to our families. We paid them a lot to avoid that,” Bula and Zelim said. They had fled Grozny before this year’s purge against gay men. Bula, handed me his cell phone, showing me a picture of himself with a broken nose and a black eye. “This happened in Moscow where I was hiding after I fled from Grozny. I was attacked by two Chechens who came to look for me. After that I escaped to Western Europe in 2016.”
Even then, the threats continued. “A few days ago,” Bula said, “the police came to my parent’s house in Chechnya. They demanded that I come back. If not, they said they would return to take revenge and arrest my father. Arrest means torture or worse.”
I tried to grasp at something positive. “This is really terrible for your mother, but fortunately you are safe here.”
That proved naïve.
“We received text messages from people we met only once or twice in Grozny. They say they want to meet with us here in this country or elsewhere in Western Europe. But we suspect they want to trick us and abduct us to Chechnya.” Bula wiped the sweat from his palms with a napkin.
They had fled far from home. But it seemed Chechen authorities knew where to find them.
Bula’s eyes filled with tears. “We violated the honour and reputation of our country by asking for asylum based on our sexual orientation and now they want to punish us. If not the government, then our families are expected to kill us. This happened to some of our friends.”
We were quiet for some time, letting these words sink in. Then Zelim said: “I miss my mother.”
Canada, France, Germany, and the Netherlands all accepted gay refugees from Chechnya after pressure from human rights organizations. It’s a small success, but safety is relative. Although Bula and Zelim have escaped immediate danger, their problems are far from over.
- Canada welcomes 22 to 31 gay Chechen refugees (September 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Many bash Russia for Chechen abuses; few help gay victims (August 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Chechnya’s anti-gay crackdown resumes, activist says (July 2017, 76crimes.com)
- “They Have Long Arms and They Can Find Me” (May 2017, HRW)
- $300,000 to rescue LGBT Chechens; next event: Hong Kong (May 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Video: International protests oppose Chechnya repression (May 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Chechnya investigators told: 26 illegal killings in 2017 (May 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Protests, pressure seek to end abuses in Chechnya (May 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Silence about Chechnya from ‘family values’ defenders (April 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Chechnya — What can you do? (April 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Chechnya: Where making a call could cost your life (April 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Chechnya threatens journalists for reporting mass arrests
- Chechnya anti-gay violence: Newspaper fears ‘retribution’ for reports (April 2017, BBC)
- No ‘reliable information’ on Chechnya gay persecution, says Putin spokesman (April 2017, The Guardian)
- Chechens tell of prison beatings and electric shocks in anti-gay purge: ‘They called us animals’ (April 2017, The Guardian)
- Report: Chechnya opens concentration camps for homosexuals (April 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denies massacre of gay citizens saying ‘such people do not exist’ (April 2017, The Independent)
- The State Department Issued A Strong Statement On LGBT Kidnappings In Russia (April 2017, BuzzFeed)
- Russia leaves LGBT Chechen victims in danger (April 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Report: Mass arrests of gays in Chechnya; 3 or more killed (April 3, 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Russian LGBT Network seeks to rescue imperiled gay Chechens (April 3, 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Chechen police ‘have rounded up more than 100 suspected gay men’ (April 2, 2017, The Guardian)
- Chechen Authorities Arresting and Killing Gay Men, Russian Paper Says (April 1, 2017, The New York Times)