This is an editorial for The Daily News, by a man who survived the deadly crackdown on gay and bi men in Chechnya. Earlier this year, Chechnya police began rounding up suspected gay and bi men and locking them away in reported concentration camps. The man whose identity we have hidden, has, asked to be identified as “Sam”.
It was like something straight out of a terrifying horror movie, myself and four friends were minding our business in March when we were stopped on a main road Chechnya. Thinking that maybe we were mixed up with someone else, we, stopped for police not realizing it would be the last time we saw each other alive. They had a mission, and, that mission was to eliminate as many gay people as possible.
“You are to come with us immediately, all of you” the Chechnya officer said. Frightened at the time, we, agreed to go with the officers that surrounded us walking down the street. Before we knew it, we were led to a storage building about 7 blocks away — where four of my friends would never see themselves alive again.
We were told that we had been reported to police for suspected homosexuality. Although uncommon in Chechnya, we, had never heard of being rounded up by police over a private matter in your life. But, but, this was different. “You will change your ways here, or, you will die here today” one of the officers said.
This was when we were told that the only way we would be saved is if we “were cured of the disease that is homosexuality” and that “the only people who can save you is your parents”. A notion that would be repeated again after they killed my four friends.
I was chained to a wooden pole, starved of food and water, forced to watch my four friends get beat before it was my turn. I’ll never forget the screams; the shouts, the terrifying shrieks of fear that came from the people I love the most. The youngest died first, probably no sooner than 14 minutes into the attack. They used this sort of bludgeoning device that I would imagine punctured his heart/lungs after being hit in the chest six times.
I vomited. It was the first time I had ever seen someone get killed, let alone, someone I cared about so much. An innocent life taken, because, of no other reason than police butting into the lives of private citizens and seeking total control.
They turned to me. “Now you see we come with seriousness. Homosexuality will be ceased in Chechnya” he shouted in my face. He proceeded to hit me in my face with the bludgeoning device he used to murder my friend, so hard, that I felt dizzy for a long while. When I couldn’t answer his shouts, he, knocked me unconscious entirely after he hit me again with the bludgeoning device but this time on the side of my head. I instantly blacked out.
I will never know what happened during the time that I was unconscious, and, that terrifies me. I woke up; blood flowing down the side of my head, still dizzy, faintly struggling to come to. But now, things changed. I woke up and had been freed from being handcuffed to the pole, but, was locked in the storage building they killed my friends in.
I knew if I was ever going to tell our story, for my friends and I, I had to find a way out of that building. And a way out, I did, and did so quickly. I discovered a loose part of the wooden door that they had locked with a padlock of sorts and a chain, the loose part, only slightly came to just enough for me to slither through (even though I cut; scraped, and scratched myself severely).
I’ll never forget the moment I ran as fast as I could; blood on my face, tears down my eyes, what I had assumed was a broken leg to the nearest street I could find. Screaming for help; anybody, anything to take me to freedom.
It was a woman, dark haired; pale skin, who noticed me running towards the street while driving by. Not realizing I had been attacked, she, let me into the car and eventually drove me to the nearest hospital.
I decided to come forth with my story and the deaths of my friends to let people in Chechnya know this is an act of war. Our human rights are being violated, destroyed, crushed. We are being rounded up and killed by Putin and his billionaire cronies who think that they know what’s best for Chechnya.
Putin thinks this is okay, Putin thinks we are not humans, Putin would rather we die.