Gay man who fled Chechnya for ‘normal life’ in France talks of his experiences

A 26-year-old gay man who managed to escape Chechnya and who this week was granted an emergency visa to stay in France has opened up about his experiences.

Azmad (not his real name), spoke to AFP on the promise of anonymity.

‘If it becomes known, you are in danger, and so are those close to you. People are killed over rumors there,’ he said.

Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta was the first to reveal that authorities in the country were arresting and detaining gay men in the Russian Muslim-majority region in March.

Human Rights Watch issued a 42-page report in late May, based on interviews with men who had been detained and released, detailing the ‘gruesome ordeal’ that they faced in Chechnya.

It said that between over 100 men had been arrested, with many tortured to reveal the names of other gay men. There mobile phone contacts and computers were also often trawled.

Some of them were electrocuted to give up names. Many were turned over to their families after being detained for days or weeks, and told that they had bought shame on their families.

At least three are thought to have died – one as a result of the treatment he received while being detained, and two at the hands of their families in so-called honor killings.

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