Voices

The Crisis Unfolding in Chechnya

There is a crisis unfolding in Chechnya. It has been going on for some weeks now and is gaining some much needed international media attention. Chechen gay men are being hunted. They are being lured into traps via social media and chat rooms by government authorities. They are then arrested at the location they have agreed to meet a date or a friend. These men are being held for days or weeks at a time in makeshift cells and are being tortured via beatings and electrocution until they agree to give up the names of others like them. These beatings and sessions of torture are being carried out by Chechen authorities in an effort to eradicate homosexuality from Chechen life.  Once an individual has given up the information the authorities seek they are released to a male family member.

The Chechen authorities are said to be advising these male family members to carry out an “honor killing,” ending the victim’s life.

This is happening in 2017.

Human Rights Watch has reported that of the three gay men killed, two were murdered by relatives upon return from their detention. Others live under the threat of imminent death from their families.

The Chechen government has been asked and denies this is happening by saying, “such men did not exist in Chechnya.” This international crisis must be confronted. We cannot remain silent.

LGBTQ people are among the most marginalized people in the world. The events taking place in Chechnya are cloaked in a darkness that makes it very hard to see any light. These men live in a society that they are desperately trying to escape from to save their own lives. They have few if any resources depending upon their location. They don’t know whom, if anyone, they can trust and their lives are in constant danger.

I wish I had some words of encouragement and hope to offer here.

What I can do is challenge you to stay informed and use your voice to tell someone else about what is happening in Chechnya. Share your humanity, be open and be kind to the people you encounter. Oppression against one group is oppression against us all. 

Jesse Kramer
Creative Director
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center