He survived Chechnya’s LGBTQ purge. Now, he’s ready to tell his story

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08/09/2019

Amin Dzhabrailov shivered as the cold air hit his sweat-drenched body. It had been two weeks since he began sleeping on the floor of the tiny, windowless room, but he still wasn’t used to the rush of breeze whenever the door opened at four or five in the morning each day. It was the only chance to freshen the room that reeked of sweat, body odour and tears. He shared the cramped space with 16 — maybe 20 — other men. Their legs were bound together, but they kept their eyes averted; there seemed to be a shared understanding not to look at each other or utter a single word. On his first day, he was beaten by his captor. Dzhabrailov begged him to stop, even calling to God for help, but the man told him not to use the Lord’s name: he wouldn’t help him anyway, because he wasn’t worthy of mercy. The other men in the room had the same bruises as Dzhabrailov. He knew they all expected to die in this place because he thought he would die, too.

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