Gus Kenworthy
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Gay Chechens Detail Abuse in New Human Rights Watch Report


Six gay and bisexual men who were detained and tortured in Chechnya detail their stories in a report released by Human Rights Watch Friday, titled "'They Have Long Arms and They Can Find Me': Anti-Gay Purge by Local Authorities in Russia's Chechen Republic." 

The men who spoke to Human Rights Watch described being arrested, subjected to beatings and electrical shocks, and outed to their families, who were encouraged by Chechen authorities to carry out "honor killings" of gay and bisexual members. 

“They turn the knob, electric current hits you, and you start shaking,” a survivor said of the electroshock torture. “And they keep turning the hellish machine, and the pain is just insane, you scream, and scream, and you no longer know who you are. ... Finally, you faint, it all goes dark, but when you come to your senses, they start all over again.

“And once they’re done with you and you get your bearings, you hear other inmates screaming, and the sounds of torture are just there all day, and at some point, you start losing your mind.”

“Men subjected to these gay purges have endured a gruesome ordeal in Chechnya,” said Graeme Reid, director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights program at Human Rights Watch. “The Kremlin has a duty to bring to justice those responsible for the violence and protect all people in Russia, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Human Rights Watch is calling on Russia to take action against Chechnya and protect the lives of gay and bisexual men. The report from Human Rights Watch comes as Russian authorities are saying that they will be looking into reports about the treatment of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, a semiautonomous republic within Russia. Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta was the first to report that at least 100 men had rounded up and detained in camps. The newspaper inititally reported that at least three men had died; it now puts the number at 26. 

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