In 2017, Amin Dzhabrailov was being held in a torture facility somewhere in Chechnya, unsure if he would ever make it out alive.
Now, after escaping with the help of Rainbow Railroad, Dzhabrailov has bravely gone public with his story, in a Time article entitled “A Victim of the Anti-Gay Purge in Chechnya Speaks Out: ‘The Truth Exists.'”
Very few of those who survived the 2017 crackdown against gay men in Chechnya have dared speak out with their name and face attached. Many live in fear that, even safe in a new country, Chechen authorities will hunt them down.
“I hope this helps save lives,” Dzhabrailov, who now lives in Toronto, says about speaking to Time. “There are so many people in Chechnya still so scared to talk about what happened to them. Scared that it may happen again. We must demand justice for them.”
Since news of the atrocities in Chechnya first broke in 2017, Rainbow Railroad has worked closely with the Russian LGBT Network to help more than 70 individuals escape to safety in Canada and Western Europe.
As Dzhabrailov explains in Time, Chechen officials encouraged families to murder their LGBTQI relatives, who they deemed to be a “shame” on them and their country.
Rainbow Railroad executive director Kimahli Powell says he is in awe of Dzhabrailov’s bravery in going public. Dzhabrailov first told his story to 60 Minutes earlier this year, under a pseudonym and with his face hidden.
“Amin’s story is a powerful reminder of the work Rainbow Railroad does every day,” Powell says. “We get requests for help from all around the world, from the numerous countries with laws criminalizing same-sex intimacy, and many where people still face the death penalty. Our work is urgent, and the need keeps increasing.”