Gay men are being illegally imprisoned in at least six concentration camps in Chechnya.
It is alleged that at least 300 people have been detained and tortured in the government-backed crackdown on the LGBTI community. At least four have been killed.
Despite Chechnya first denying knowledge of a ‘purge’, President Ramzan Kadyrov now wants to eliminate all gay men from the autonomous Russian region by the ‘start of Ramadan’ – or 26 May.
Novaya Gazata newspaper reported on 1 April that at least 100 men had been imprisoned in two former military jails in the Chechen villages of Argun and Tsotsi-Yurt.
But now they have discovered at least four more concentration camps have been discovered.
The men, who face physical beatings, starvation and shocks in homemade electric chairs, are forced to promise to never return to Chechnya or be killed.
An online petition asking for a full investigation into the matter so as to ‘uphold the values of justice and tolerance’ has also been signed by more than 1.3 million people.
Human rights groups such as the Russian LGBT Network together with global organizations such as All Out have launched donation drives to raise funds to evacuate those who are affected. The Russian LGBT Network is working to evacuate gay men and get them to safety.
Global leaders such as US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and UK Foreign Office minister Baroness Anelay have also expressed concerns of the happenings in Chechnya.
Kadyrov’s spokesperson Alvi Karimov has claimed gay people ‘simply do not exist’ in the republic.
He said: ‘If there were such people in Chechnya, their relatives would send them somewhere from whence they could not return.’