More than 100 queer men have been rounded up this month in the Russian region of Chechnya and sent to "gay concentration camps," where many have been tortured and at least 3 killed, The Huffington Postreports.
Related | Gay Men Continue to Go Missing in Chechnya
Novaya Gazeta, a Russian opposition news publication, first reported that men between the ages of 16 and 50 were being gathered and arrested "in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such." The paper published the names of three murder victims, and speculated many more had likely been murdered, as well.
Speaking to the New York Times, though, Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov dismissed the claims, and further denied that any gay people even exist within the region at all. "You cannot arrest or repress people who just don't exist in the republic," he said. "If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return."
Related | Russian Activists Call for Moscow to End Chechnya's Violence Against Gay Men
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.
So, what can be done to help stop this monstrous breach of human rights?
GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis called upon US ambasador to the UN, Nikki Haley, to condemn the attacks in Chechnya and demand action to stop them:
Join her by spreading her call on social media and contacting Haley directly with this form.
A Change.org petition created by Russian activist Igor Yasin calls upon the Prosecutor General of Russia to investigate the attacks immediately. So far it has more than 31,000 signatures. Support the call to action by signing here.
The Human Rights Campaign is already calling on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to condemn the attacks, as well:
Amplify their call by sharing.
Another petition, with more than 65,000 signatures, from Amnesty International is calling for an end to these atrocities. Sign it here.
Email the Russian embassy to your country using this contact form.
This email will put you in direct contact with the Russian LGBT network: email@example.com. Use it to find out how you can do more to help.
Get involved in your community by finding out about local protests of the horrors currently happening in Chechnya. Do not stay silent. Activate.