We assist impoverished LGBT refugees to prepare and submit their asylum claims and respond to the UNHCR’s requests for follow-up information as the claims wind their way through the assessment process and a successful resettlement.
The IRQR helps each refugee with his/her asylum claim by meeting with the refugee, explaining the process for asserting the claim, discussing his/her situation, documenting that situation in support of the claim, helping the refugee to complete the paperwork required to make a claim, and responding to the UNHCR’s questions and comments about the claim, including collecting and submitting follow-up information requested by the UNHCR. The IRQR also assists those refugees whose claims are granted and who are referred to Canada for resettlement with completing the immigration application forms that the refugees must submit to immigration officers at the Canadian Embassy in Turkey.
These activities are personally conducted by Arsham Parsi, an Iranian gay who fled to Turkey from Iran because of persecution and was granted asylum in Canada, Mr. Parsi is the founder and Executive Director of the IRQR and its sole employee. He conducts these activities with the benefit of ongoing input by the IRQR Board of Directors and subject to the Board’s continuous oversight.
Approximately every three months Mr. Parsi flies from Canada to Turkey and stays there for approximately two weeks to check on the condition of refugees being assisted by the IRQR, to confirm that they have the bare necessities, to consult with the UNHCR on the status of their asylum claims, and to take any actions necessary to move the claims forward. The refugees assisted by the IRQR are located throughout Turkey, with approximately 85% of them located in the cities of Denizli, Eskisehir, and Yalova, and during his visits to Turkey Mr. Parsi travels to these cities and other locations to meet with the refugees. Mr. Parsi also conducts some of these activities from Canada between visits to Turkey by communicating directly with refugees via telephone and email.
Mr. Parsi receives some assistance in Turkey from 10 to 12 local volunteers. For confidentiality reasons, no volunteer interacts directly with any refugee on his/her asylum claim. Mr. Parsi alone handles that work. The volunteers assist by organizing and conducting public informational meetings at which LGBT refugees newly arrived in Turkey may learn about the IRQR and the assistance it provides. Volunteers also help the organization with its efforts to increase public awareness of human rights abuses of LGBT Iranians and to promote respect for those rights.
Arsham Parsi uniquely qualified to serve these refugees. He is personally familiar with their plight, he has walked in their shoes, and he speaks their language figuratively and literally. In addition, because of Mr. Parsi’s background the IRQR is viewed by the UNHCR and other important players, as an expert – indeed, the expert – when it comes to helping LBGT Iranian refugees. Currently Mr. Parsi is the IRQR’s most valuable resource and for the reasons just stated, the most effect use of that resource is to serve LGBT refugees. So it can be said that there is a direct relation between the IRQR’s current capabilities and its focus on providing relief to this population.
Since IRQR was registered as a charity in Canada, they are able to provide assistance not only to Iranian LGBT refugees but those from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries.