This day last year, Zelim Bakaev (pictured above) was dragged into a car by a group of security officials in the Chechen capital of Grozny.
Bakaev, who had been living in Moscow since 2012 and enjoying popular success both there and in Chechnya, had returned to Grozny for his sister’s wedding. After his disappearance his mother filed a report with Chechnya’s police, but they found “no grounds” for opening a criminal investigation.
Early sources reported that Zelim was tortured and murdered within ten hours of his arrest, as part of the anti-gay purge in Chechnya. During the purge some of the men who were arrested and tortured were interrogated about the pop star’s sexuality.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW): “There is little doubt he was targeted because of his sexual orientation.”
In September last year, a video of a man who looks like Zelim surfaced on YouTube last month before being broadcast on Grozny TV, with the man saying that he had moved to Germany.
The video’s authenticity was the subject of debate amongst friends of Zelim, with the staged nature of the video and speech patterns unlike Zelim’s own leading some to believe that Zelim was not the man shown in the video.
In January of this year, the Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov suggested on state television that 25 year-old Bakaev was murdered by members of his own family because they were ashamed of his sexuality.
But Zelim’s mother continues to appeal for answers about what happened to her son, and one year later no answers have been given.
On the anniversary of his disappearance, LGBT+ rights group All Out is promising to remember Zelim and to keep fighting.
Here are 3 things you can do today to help find justice for Zelim and his family
1. Sign the petition demanding a thorough investigation of Zelim’s disappearance.
2. Share this facebook page to keep Zelim’s memory alive.
3. Tweet the following to join people around the world, demanding to know exactly what happened to Zelim:
Exactly one year ago Zelim Bakaev disappeared in Chechnya, never to be seen again. There are STILL no answers about what really happened. We refuse to forget Zelim. We will not stop fighting for justice! RT to join the digital vigil to commemorate Zelim's life. #JusticeForZelim pic.twitter.com/NDOWuQsy7E
— All Out (@AllOut) August 8, 2018
© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.