Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The US embassy in Turkey (take 2)
The American Golden Gate doesn't open to Iranians unless in Ankara, or Abu Dhabi.
I wrote about my share of Turkish grief last time
Here's a new and even more distressing account:
We need to obtain emergency visas for family members who are in Iran. We need all of us together, united, pulled in one pool of faith and energy, to unwrap the whirlwather that is dragging our loved one to the under.
The US Department of State has provisions for family emergencies; they honor such requests and at least on the front page of their web site, have procedure to expedite such visa applications. However, the story in Turkey is different!
We have been on the phone, fax, fed-ex with the US embassy in Ankara contacting the "Emergency application" line. We are repeatedly told, not only by the embassy, but also by the congress representative who looks into such constituent affairs, that we should just make an appointment and then call them back with our appointment date, so they can expedite the application! (My siblings have money, plenty of it, and ties in Iran, plenty of them, and a genuine lack of interest to uproot themselves from Iran, to guarantee they won't become 'illegal immigrants', burdening the American system. Therefore, it is no skin off of anyone's back to support their visit to the US).
To make an appointment, Iranian applicants have "only" between 8:30-9:00 AM Ankara time (Local east coast 1:00-1:30 AM), on the first Monday of a month. It took over 20 minutes to make an appointment for a family of four. In the meanwhile, and after the first call, the line was not available for another appointment. The line became available only after 9:00 AM, but the operator adamantly refused to make another appointment despite our "emergency pleas".
We called the Emergency line again; and they insisted that we COULD make appointments between 8:30-16:00. However, the appointment line was refusing to, denying such possibility, and refusing to let us speak to a supervisor. After a few calling back and forth between the two units of the same embassy; we were told that we should fax our request.
However, the fax numbers did not receive anything through.
This experience has made me wonder about the kind of reputation representatives such as these Turkish staff beget America.
We are residing in one of the most conservative ridings of the USA, however we have seen nothing but compassion, care and cooperation from the local population and their representatives (R). Also, the department of State has provisions for cases like ours; so at the policy level, the US government is sympathetic and humanitarian too.
So why is it that an Iranian cannot benefit from what the US government has provisioned to help people in need? Why is the bottleneck in Turkey? Why is it that we are advised "get an American staff of the embassy on the line", but we are stuck behind the Turkish operator who contradicts their policies and offer no sympathy or accountability?
This has made me wonder HOW MUCH should Americans trust the "local" people representing their policies and their values? Isn't this perhaps why things in Afghanistan and Iraq have gone awry? Fundamentally, is it possible for people growing in oppressed cultures to exercise democracy and respect when it is imported to them in an American bureaucratic box?
Why go as far as Turkish staff of the American embassy in Ankara when we can talks about the RUDE and disrespectful treatment our families receive in the Canadian and European consulates in Iran when interacting with the IRANIAN staff of these consulates. It's as if once in the "power" house, all the inferiority complexes turn into tyranny, and everyone else becomes a suspect unworthy of human dignity. If they wish to travel to the "cradles of civilization", they must be beaten to humiliation.
Desperate, we have resorted to famous Iranians with a foot at the door of the US State department. None have been able to do anything about Turkey expediting appointment. But in these interactions I have made another interesting observation:
The Washington crocodiles who shed tears of liberation for the oppressed people of Iran have been far less sympathetic (and perhaps even scorning) to our plea for help. Next to their apathy, the NIAC (which is often chastised by the first group) has shone a touching ray of attention.
I must add, American friends who hear about this are absolutely outraged and some of them have even called Turkey! No avail yet.
Posted by Naj