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Thursday, 19 April 2007

Gay Iranian Writer and Activist Seeking Refugee Status Returned to Iran by Turkish Police

Source: UK Gay News

An urgent appeal on behalf of a courageous Iranian gay activist and writer who was deported back to Iran from Turkey two weeks ago was made last night by the Canadian-based Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO).

For security reasons, we call him Babak in this report.

He is 27-years-old, and has been working as a translator/writer for Cheraq magazine, the Iranian Queer Organization’s on-line monthly magazine for the last year.

Babak is also a gay blogger/writer, who actively pursued gay rights through his resourceful articles, had received suspicious threats from the under-cover Iranian police.  So he fled his country and crossed the mountains into Turkey.

Unfortunately, he was stopped by the Turkish police and arrested for not having the required travel documents.

Before he could claim refugee statutes at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Arsham Parsi, Executive Director of IRQO who was in Turkey at the time to prepare a report about Iranian gay asylum seekers’ situation in Turkey, called the UNHCR and informed them about Babak’s case.

“The UNHCR office in Ankara immediately called the Turkish police, telling them that Babak must be released so he could go to the UN offices and make his claim,” Mr. Parsi said.

“However, by then he had most probably been deported back to Iran the police,” he pointed out.

Back in Iran, he was promptly arrested and taken to jail where he is alleged to have been badly beaten and tortured.

Only when a fried had stumped-up $1,500 was he released from prison – and now awaits a court trial.

“Only one person has contact with him,” Mr. Parsi said.  “Babak has no access to internet or phone services.

“It is very important that he is smuggled out of Iran as soon as possible – and before he is summoned to report to court.”

Babak was born in Iran and send to Bahrain as a child labourer.  He returned to Iran as a young man, but with a “cause” to follow.

Fluent in both Arabic and Farsi he, was a precious source.  He translated and wrote vigorously for the LGBTQ community in both Arabic and Farsi newspapers.

His research in Persian and Arab classics produced countless evidence of the long history of the existence of gay men in both nations.

“This gave the identity of gay men in Iran a more legitimate presence, in contrast to the government’s claim that labelled homosexuality: a disease imported from the West in order to attack Persian social values,” Mr. Parsi said.

Individual activists, like Babak and Mani (see CBC panel above right), who have been persecuted for the way they love and for the crime of defending the rights of our brothers and sisters, desperately need help, he continued.

“We at IRQO have scarcely any financial resources ourselves, since we do not ask dues from our membership.  And while we have sent Babak a few paltry dollars, our treasury is bare.

“Please consider making an urgent donation to IRQO to help Babak, who needs to flee to Turkey again, and other Iranian queer asylum seekers residing in Turkey at present and needing financial help to survive until they are granted official refugee status by the UNHCR and find asylum in a gay-friendly country.

“To bring Babak out of his hiding and across the border to Turkey, money is urgently needed. Please give your support.

“Even $10 or $20 would be enormously helpful,” he concluded.

You can help now by clicking on the “Donate” button on the homepage of the IRQO website and using your credit card via the secure PayPal system. Or, you mail a check to us and mark it “Refugees” at:

Arsham Parsi
41 Waddington Cr.
M2J 2Z9
Toronto, Ontario,
Canada

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