Help An Artist LGBTQ Refugee On the Verge of Deportation and Meeting Persecution

This is Sarah, a refugee recognized by UNHCR, but on the verge of deportation, writing to you, for you are my final resort. If you would be kind enough to publish my story, I could be rescued. I have only 1.5 months. I'd really appreciate it if you could grant some of your precious time to read this message up to the end.

This is a woman, starved of her every single right in every sense of the word, writing to you, for, I firmly believe that you will understand. You are a beacon of hope in a dark-pitched gloom. Literally, I'm behind the closed doors to which I don't hold the key. I'm totally fenced-in, with my wings clipped, with my voice confined and with my life and future being left at the mercy of the merciless authorities. I don't know how to start penning the whole traumatic conditions that I've been so ceaselessly subjected to. I don't know whether to air my grievances as a woman, as a human being, as an individual, as a gender minority or as a sexual minority, as a religious minority, as an activist-to-be, as an artist, or just simply as a member of the society.

Back in March 2016, as an LGBTQ person, I fled Iran in fear of persecution and signed up with UNHCR in Ankara, Turkey. I was recognized as a refugee by UNHCR in October 2017 and my case was sent to the resettlement agency in February 2018. Around that time back in 2018, there had been a newly-appointed prerequisite for the resettlement process; that the cases up for resettlement, should be interviewed by Turkey's DGMM (Directorate General of Migration Management), or in another words, the government of Turkey, despite its overt hostility towards LGBTQ community. Negligent of the fact that Turkey is also a suppressive prison-like anti-LGBTQ country like Iran with thinner bars. Previously the whole resettlement process was carried out by UNHCR, but since 2018 the laws have changed and ever since the determination of the refugees eligible for resettlement is done by the government of Turkey. If the government of Turkey accepts a case, only then UNHCR resettle a refugee. If the government of Turkey rejects a case, like my case, UNHCR cannot do anything but giving consultation. The government of Turkey has blocked and suspended my resettlement process and by doing so it has also blocked my access to USARP. I was interviewed by (DGMM) almost 3 times. First in August 2018, then in February 2021 and finally in March 2022. The officers in DGMM told me time and time again that they can prolong the results for as long as they wish and that not me nor UNHCR can do anything about it. They emphasized over and over again that my fate lies solely in their hands and without their decision I cannot be resettled to a third country. The results came out in April 2022 and turned out to be negative; that I should leave the country to go back to Iran or petition against the results within 30 days. I had no financial means to hire a lawyer, so I visited the Ankara Palace of Justice and they helped me retain a free lawyer from the Ankara Bar Association. Then my lawyer petitioned against DGMM's decision. The whole legal process has three stages and I have already been rejected from the first two. The negative results of the first stage of the court came out on 28th of November 2022 and issued to my lawyer on 3rd of January 2023 way earlier than legally expected. He filed a suit against the results. The results of the second stage of my appeal also arrived prematurely in May 2023 and were issued to my lawyer on the 12th of June 2023. This was the last legal step that I could take against my deportation and afterwards, that will be the end of the road. This time I filed a suit to the Constitutional Court of Turkey. It's a matter of a 1.5 months before the results come out and I meet my persecution in Iran. My case is being reconsidered and assessed by Turkey's Government. Aren't they the very same people that I should be shielded from?

The laws in Turkey require that when a refugee signs up with UNHCR in any city of Turkey, they should also register with the DGMM of the same city and seek International Protection from the government of Turkey to be granted a status in the country. After the registration, the DGMM issues an ID card which is called Kimlik to each refugee so that they can live in the country and do their legal activities with that. With the issuance of the DGMM's negative results, my Turkish ID card (Kimlik) was cancelled and an inactive version of the ID card was reissued upon the expiration, but no address registration could be done with it. But after the second negative results of the court, I have been denied even the canceled version of my ID card. My landlord has asked me to move out and now I am living in a friend's flat, but with an inactive ID card (Kimlik) my address is unregistered. Now I am residing in a place with my address unregistered and my status penal and prone to deportation. This is a pernicious built-in ramification of the cancellation of the ID card (Kimlik). This is the charter to a hasty deportation.

UNHCR has recognized me as a refugee and declared in the refugee certificate that I should be protected from forcible return to a country where I would face threats to my life and freedom. But now, when I share my situation with them, they say that they are not authorized to take any action against the government of Turkey and that their hands are totally tied on the issue. UNHCR has categorically declared that they are not authorized to do anything for me at this stage and it is 100% lies with the government of Turkey to decide on my case. UNHCR referred me to UNFPA for consultation about finding a safe way out of this quagmire. I have met with UNFPA and UNHCR and every single lawyer and personnel working within the organizations and they have all made it clear that it is absolutely outside of their sphere of authority to help me in the resettlement process until the government of Turkey accepts my case. They have urged me to apply for the humanitarian visa and that was the reason that I applied for Humanitarian Parole. UNHCR has asserted that they are not going to be responsible for what might happen should any negative results come out and I get lined up for deportation. They told me back in April 2022 to apply to all the humanitarian visas around the world and not waste time. I have contacted many countries' embassies but they all require a sponsor. I have also contacted every single humanitarian organization around the world that I possibly could, but they all have a reason to walk out. Some organizations in the US got back to me, but told me they can only provide assistance if I get into the United States. Some organizations told me they only accept people who are referred by UNHCR. IRAP told me that they can only provide consultation services.

The government of Turkey has denied my identity, decided that I'm not eligible for protection and should be deported back to Iran. My case is being reconsidered and assessed by Turkey's Government. Aren't they the very same people that I should be shielded from? Both Turkey's and Iran's stand on the LGBTQ community is as plain as day. Government of Turkey suppresses its own LGBTQ people remorselessly, much less an alien refugee having sought refuge on the same grounds. Needless to say, even Turkish sexual minorities don't have the right to stand up for themselves and they often tend to seek asylum in other countries in fear of persecution. President Erdogan has recently declared war on the whole LGBTQ community in his presidential victory speech. And as you know, in Iran the penalty for being a member of LGBTQ community is torture and capital punishment. I believe that you are well-aware of all these facts. But in my case, I'm not in a danger that is posed to a whole community; I have been personally targeted and attacked by the government of Turkey.

I'm an artist; a woman; a non-Muslim in a Muslim country; I'm a sexual minority. On WHAT grounds do they see fit to hold me here in Turkey or much worse send me back to Iran, the country from which I have fled?! Just because no one has put a knife on my throat and slit it, doesn't mean that I am safe. That knife has been thrust at my soul and it keeps twisting and twisting and bleeding me up inside every single moment. Every single morning that I wake up into a suppressive country; with every single word or move that I have to repress in fear of persecution; with every single act of alienation and ostracization; with every single fraction of my authenticity that I have to hide. Even among the minorities, I am a minority of one! Because I bear little resemblance to my associated groups, they fail to see my pain and my very fragile condition as a member of LGBTQI+ community.

I will forever be grateful to UNHCR for the shelter that it has provided me and softened the dangers of persecution that 'was' and 'is' imminent. But they are not acting upon the values and ideals that they assert. My rights are being egregiously ignored under their hands. This is the outright violation of human rights that they claim to uphold. What is their profession of "threat"? What is their profession of "danger"? What is their profession of "suppression"? What is their profession of "persecution"? It is absolutely NOT beyond the wit of anyone in the UN to assimilate and evaluate the happenings and the culture and government in this country and its perilous consequences for someone like me. And now to compound my plight, repatriation to Iran is also on the cards; repatriation to Iran equals immediate persecution! How can they so blatantly deny me my right to freedom and to live?! In fear of persecution, I have been able to veil my authentic identity painfully and corrosively. But I've been wailing, grieving and mourning inside with a paralyzing silence, invisibility, alienation and suppression. What saddens me the most is the fact that blind eyes are being turned to my inaudible but still howling torment; that my status as a tormented and torn-apart minority and individual is being ignored and neglected. How long am I going to hide myself? How long am I going to be harassed? How long am I going to not live and just exist? Do I not have the right to have a relationship? To have a family? To have children? To have a community? To have a presence in society? An indescribable pain is piercing through me that is really impossible to tolerate. I live in such a condition that I have to suppress ALL of my desires, skills, feelings, tendencies, attitudes, goals and my WHOLE entity. As a person never being one of the crowd and having unacceptable and different tendencies and ideas, I haven't ever had the merest chance to express myself and live the life that is my inalienable right neither legally nor among people and I ended up being deemed as an outcast, condemned as unqualified and immoral and be treated as a throwaway.

My situation and circumstances as an endangered refugee are getting worse and worse each day. In my recent brain MRI, I was diagnosed with a large brain cyst which should be checked regularly and get treatment. Oppression has already gifted me a brain cyst. I hope the next casualty won't be my life. Keeping me here in Turkey is an act of murder! Sending me back to Iran is an act of murder! An insidious act of murder. I'm living under adverse circumstances. I'm eking out an existence. I'm dying inside. The air around me is thinning. I'm at the end of my rope. My death would be at their hands and I might be just a statistic or maybe a tick off of their to-do list.

I'm an epitome of an oppressed artist. The content to some of my art pieces is totally against the bigoted norms and laws of the Middle Eastern societies. In particular, I want to point to my LGBTQI-centric art pieces which would drag me into persecution, imprisonment and death as an immediate fate, just like how it has prompted the Turkey's authorities to punish me. Some of my pieces also deal with social maladies which are considered highly contentious in this part of the world. Therefore, I can't publish or share my art pieces. During my first interview with the DGMM, I pointed out to my English poems and Turkish movie scenario and let the officer read them. After reading my poems, he was filled with anger and did not hesitate to spew the hatred my poems had inflicted on him. He told me that the nature of my poems is to lead people astray and I have no place in Turkey and I'm not welcome here. He also mockingly told me that I'm not a good person and I deserve to be punished and silenced in order not to cause harm. I am a victim of hatred; biased and subjected to hatred of an officer and an institution which are bent on denying me my rights based on their personal attitudes. I have never attempted to market myself through social media platforms on various grounds. Firstly, I couldn't have shared my craft online because it could have been considered as sedition and consequently put a target on my back and eventuate to my imprisonment. Secondly, I have always intended for my art to speak first, not my physical appearance or femininity. I want my art to attract an audience, not an audience attracting my art. Thirdly, I am a perfectionist and I have a deep bond with my craft. My art pieces are my babies. I have done all that is needed on my part, writing the lyrics, story-boarding the videos, designing the costumes, coming up with the melodies and the whole creative details. I have always wanted my art to be finished and marketed in the most dexterous hands with the finest supervision. I want to make such melodies that have never been heard before; so luxuriant that once they hit the ears, they pierce an irrevocable etching on the hearts and souls. I want to create visions so spectacular that no span of time could erase them from the eyes and the minds. I want to introduce an altruist that is a model of a diligent doer, not a heinous piece of lip service. I want to tell stories that set fire to the bellies and arouse people so that their flame never subsides. My art is not only a piece of music to be published and listened to and be forgotten in the course of time; it's a piece of magic, a piece of revolution, a piece of history. I want my voice to reverberate in the air for evermore. Not for a split second, have I ever thought of compromising my art in exchange for money or fame. Throughout the last 14 years, I have been offered some roles in movies and some modeling jobs.But all of them were subjected to casting couch against which I have always stood so firmly. I have always rejected bowing down to misogyny and sexism. I have always fought the molesters and predators. I have NEVER EVER played the woman card to ease my way to my dreams. I am paying the penalty of not having played the woman card and not having conformed to the crowd. Instead of getting rewarded, I'm getting punished. With due respect to all the women around the world, so far, a lot of female stories have been the likes of #meetoo. But mine would be one heralding a new era of standing foursquare in front of male predators and not budging an inch until you get what you want in the manner that you deserve. It would be a documented, never-told-before story of a strong teenage girl with grand dreams who defied the odds and prevailed as a 33-year-old mature woman for the sake of her lofty ideals. It would be a great example and a beacon of hope for young girls. The young girls would be assured that they not by any means have to compromise themselves as women to reach success. I want my art and myself to be the voice of the voiceless and the face of the faceless. I've been working as an English teacher for the last 8 years to earn a living. When I exchange it to USD, it comes to almost nothing. But I'd rather lose my head than compromise my art or integrity. I'd rather be hated and die for who I really am than be loved and accepted and climb the career ladder for a shadow of myself who has little resemblance to my real self. And what has sustained me throughout the heavy storm is my legitimate sense of integrity and vocation.I'd rather be hated and die for who I really am than be loved and accepted and climb the career ladder for a shadow of myself who has little resemblance to my real self. And what has sustained me throughout the heavy storm is my legitimate sense of integrity and vocation.I'd rather be hated and die for who I really am than be loved and accepted and climb the career ladder for a shadow of myself who has little resemblance to my real self. And what has sustained me throughout the heavy storm is my legitimate sense of integrity and vocation.

Ever since I was a young teenager, my mind has been occupied with humanitarian issues. I have always craved to heal the world and make it a better place, but now death is hanging around my neck. I have always believed that one day a gleam of justice would pierce through my world and I would be granted the right to be my real self. I have always wanted to be one of the hardest working activists of human rights and service the minorities and people in various crises. I have always wanted to do my best to make the world a better place from the bottom of my heart. It hasn't ever been a mere sense of ambition's fulfillment; it has been a profound and genuine sense of vocation that has always made me feel obliged to strive for standing up and persevere and devote my life to make a difference and to try as hard and ingeniously as possible to relieve the ordeals that the world is suffering. . But now, I cannot even save my own life and no one lifts a finger to do so either. Every single path to my life and liberty has been blocked by my nationality as an Iranian and my gender and sexual preference. My life and future have been floating in suspension. I deserve to shine in society as my real self and cease being concealed under the shadows of an unlawful culture and oppressive laws. I have the right to be myself without the fear of persecution; to be visible, to have a voice, to speak up my authenticity, to be socially meaningful, to have a presence in society, not to be marched to demise right before the eyes of UNHCR.

I'm fully aware of the requisite of representing solid evidence to every statement that I make, but some parts of the circumstances that I'm in are an intangible tangle that cannot be tested or documented and it only needs a perceptive and righteous conscience to be validated. If I hadn't been in a fragile condition, I wouldn't have become a refugee; I would have become a regular immigrant. Whoever you are reading this message, I don't know you. I don't know your sex, your age, your background, your beliefs or your values. I have no idea from what kind of perspective you are judging me; I don't know what sort of angel you will take by reading this; but there's something I know for sure that you are a human being as myself. I'm secure in the knowledge that you know the position you occupy is not one that could be executed with a semblance of negligence or insensibility. People's lives, safety, liberty, future, dignity and human rights all lie in your hands, including mine. You can save lives. I'm lost for words. You are my first and last resort, and I can only turn to you. With all due respect to the protocols and procedures, I implore you to grant me the courtesy of reconciling me with my life and freedom; a life where upon I can live and not only exist; an existence on the road to a brutal non-existence. I have only 1.5 months until the very final results come out.

I have written an autobiographical fiction named "The Black Rose" under the pseudonym "Seleseoss" in the hope of recognition and salvation. I have published it through online self-publishing platforms. The links to my e-book are below:;jsessionid=A118CA3EE00C729F2DAC89C76C9FE54D.prodny_store02-atgap15?ean=2940179534570

Pardon me if I'm too verbose; it's the outbursts of a wounded soul. I would really appreciate it if you could be of assistance for me by publishing my story and help me get some attention from the authorities.

Sincerely yours,

Sarah (Seleseoss)

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