Two gay Chechen men have been arrested by Russian police and forcibly returned to their homeland.
20-year-old Salekh Magamadov and 17-year-old Ismail Isayev have been handed over to the Chechen authorities and detained.
The pair had previously fled persecution and torture in Chechnya and taught refuge in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.
Last June, both Magamadov and Isayev were forced to leave Chechnya after being tortured by Chechen special police for running an opposition Telegram messaging channel. The police made the men publicly apologise in a recorded video.
The men were abducted last Thursday, according to the Russian LGBT Network, The Guardian reports that the men were being detained for “aiding terrorism”.
Once again, the Magamadov and Isayev have been forcibly detained by the Chechen police. In response to the news, All Out and the non-profit US organisation Freedom House are campaigning for the release of both men.
In an online statement, Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House, has said: “When Russian authorities detained and delivered Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev to the Chechen security services, they demonstrated their complete disregard to the rights of citizens and the arbitrariness of justice in Russia, especially as it concerns Chechnya and particularly when it targets members of the LGBT+ community.
“That fully three days passed between their detention and transfer to Chechnya and the opening of a terrorism investigation demonstrates the illegitimacy of the entire operation, and the complete disregard the Russian authorities have for their well-being.
“Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev are in grave danger in Chechnya. Freedom House demands the two should immediately be examined by independent health professionals and receive unfettered access to their lawyers per the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.”
All Out is running an online campaign to draw attention to Magamadov and Isayev’s kidnapping. The organisation is sharing a petition calling on President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken to ensure the safety of both men.
Mathias Wasik, Director of Programs at All Out, issued a statement following the news of the men’s arrest: “On the same day as U.S. President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum directing all US overseas diplomatic and foreign assistance programs to do more to protect the human rights of LGBT+ people, Salekh and Ismail two Chechen LGBT+ people, 20 and 17 years old respectively, have been arrested, handed back to Chechen authorities, and forcibly returned to their homeland.
“This is an illegal arrest that puts these two young men in grave and immediate danger of further torture and even death. President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken must live up to their promise of protecting LGBT+ people and make an immediate demand to the Russian Government that Salekh and Ismail be released unharmed.”
We are troubled by reports of two Chechen siblings in the LGBTQI+ community who were detained in Russia and returned to Chechnya on dubious "terrorism" charges. They reported torture during a previous detention, and we worry they may face additional abuse. #StandUp4HumanRights
— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) February 9, 2021
‼️ Saleh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev were detained by the police in their apartment.
Russian LGBT Network helped Saleh and Ismail leave Chechnya and move to Nizhny Novgorod. Now they are being taken by car back to Chechnya.
Read on ➡ https://t.co/v3Bb1SFnPt pic.twitter.com/g8YS4UNxLS
— Russian LGBT Network (@rulgbtnet) February 4, 2021
You can sign All Out’s petition here.