Afghanistan probes report Iranian border guards forced migrants into river, many drowned | World Defense

Afghanistan probes report Iranian border guards forced migrants into river, many drowned

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Afghanistan probes report Iranian border guards forced migrants into river, many drowned
May 3, 2020
Storay Karimi

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HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghan officials on Sunday launched a hunt to retrieve bodies of Afghan migrants from a river in a western province after reports that Iranian border guards tortured and threw Afghans into the river to prevent their entry into Iran.

Afghanistan’s foreign ministry in a statement on Saturday said an inquiry had been launched and a senior official in the presidential palace in Kabul said initial assessments suggested at least 70 Afghans who were trying to enter Iran from bordering Herat province were beaten and pushed into the Harirud river.

The Harirud river basin is shared by Afghanistan, Iran and Turkmenistan.

Doctors at Herat District Hospital said they had received the bodies of Afghan migrants, some of whom had drowned.
“So far, 5 bodies have been transferred to the hospital, of these bodies, its clear that 4 died due to drowning,” said Aref Jalali, head of Herat District Hospital.

The Iranian consulate in Herat denied the allegations of torture and subsequent drowning of dozens of Afghan migrant workers by border police.
“Iranian border guards have not arrested any Afghan citizens,” the consulate said in a statement on Saturday. Iranian embassy officials in the Afghan capital Kabul were not immediately available for a comment.

Noor Mohammad said he was one of 57 Afghan citizens who were caught by Iranian border guards on Saturday when they were trying to cross into Iran in search of work from Gulran District of Herat.

“After being tortured, the Iranian soldiers threw all of us in the Harirud river,” Mohammad told Reuters.

Shir Agha, who said he also survived the violence, said at least 23 of the 57 people thrown by Iranian soldiers into the river were dead.
“Iranian soldiers warned us that if we do not throw ourselves into the water, we will be shot,” said Agha.

Local Afghan officials that it was not the first time that Afghans had been tortured and killed by Iranian police guarding the 920 kms (520 miles) long border.

Herat’s governor Sayed Wahid Qatali in a tweet to Iranian officials said, “Our people are not just some names you threw into the river. One day we will settle accounts.”
The incident could trigger a diplomatic crisis between Iran and Afghanistan at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has seen a mass exodus of Afghan migrants from Iran with many testing positive for COVID-19.

Up to 2,000 Afghans daily cross the border from Iran, a global coronavirus hotspot, into Herat.

As of Sunday, at least 541 infected people are from Herat province, which recorded 13 deaths, with the majority of positive cases found among Afghan returnees from Iran, said Rafiq Shirzad, a health ministry spokesman in Herat.
 

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HRW Calls For Investigation Into 'Shocking' Allegation Of Iranian Border Guards Drowning Afghan Migrants
May 04, 2020
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Family members of the Afghan migrants gather to collect their bodies on May 2.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for a "thorough investigation" into "shocking" allegations that Iranian border guards beat and then forced a group of Afghan migrants into a river.

Afghan officials said up to 70 migrants last week illegally crossed into Iran, where they were beaten, tortured, and then forced into a river by Iranian border guards.

Authorities in the western province of Herat, located along the border with Iran, said they had retrieved 12 bodies from the Harirud River that crosses both countries.

Dozens of Afghan migrants are still missing and Afghan authorities have launched an operation to locate and retrieve the bodies.
"The allegations are indeed shocking," Patricia Gossman, an associate director for the Asia division at HRW, told RFE/RL on May 4. "It really requires a very thorough investigation into what exactly happened."

Gossman said that if proven, the actions of the Iranian border guards would amount to "a very serious human rights violation."

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi said the "incident" took place on Afghan soil.
"Border guards of the Islamic Republic of Iran denied the occurrence of any events related to this on the soil of our country," he said in a statement on May 3, adding that Tehran would launch an investigation into the incident.

Abdul Ghani Noori, governor of Herat's Gulran district, where the migrants crossed, accused Iranian security forces of throwing the group of Afghan migrants into the Harirud River.

Afghan officials said it was not the first time that Afghans had been tortured and killed by Iranian security forces guarding the 920-kilometer-long border.
"I haven't heard of a case like this in recent memory, although we have previously documented abuses by Iranian border officials against Afghans for some time," Gossman said, adding that there had been past incidents of Iranian border guards beating and firing on Afghan migrants.

Decades of conflict, extreme poverty, and high rates of unemployment force thousands of Afghans to illegally cross the border into Iran every year.

There are currently up to 1 million registered Afghan refugees in Iran, while the country hosts another 2 million undocumented Afghans, according to the United Nations.
 

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'They Were Laughing': Iranian Border Guards Accused Of Torturing, Drowning Afghan Migrants
May 06, 2020
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Afghan health officials said they had so far received the bodies of 12 Afghan migrants, saying most had drowned.

HERAT, Afghanistan -- To escape war and poverty, Shah Wali left his village in northwestern Afghanistan in search of a better life in neighboring Iran.

As the 28-year-old set off on his journey, he was gripped by fear.

Iranian border guards beat, shot at, and even killed Afghan migrants who illegally crossed the border. And even if he reached Iran, he would be subjected to the violence and injustice suffered by many members of Iran’s sizable Afghan community.

But for Wali, it was worth the risk.

Even if he earned a meager living, he would be able to send money back home to his impoverished family in Afghanistan’s Faryab Province, a poor, remote region that has long been the scene of intense fighting between the Islamic extremist Taliban group and Afghan government forces.

Soon after crossing into Iran last week, Wali’s fears were realized.

He was among dozens of Afghan migrants who were illegally smuggled into Iran from the Gulran district in Afghanistan’s Herat Province, located along the border with Iran. But after crossing the 900-kilometer border on May 1, he said the group of around 50 Afghans were stopped and detained by Iranian border guards.

For the next several hours, they were questioned, repeatedly beaten, and then tortured. The guards, he said, then transported the group by bus to the banks of the Harirud, a 1,100-kilometer-long river shared by Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan.
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Relatives of the victims wait to claim the bodies on May 2.

"After torturing us, Iranian border guards fired their guns and ordered all of us to jump into the river,” Wali told RFE/RL.

"While we were struggling for our lives and drowning in the river, they were laughing," he said.


The river took them downstream toward Afghanistan.

Wali said he and 11 others swam to safety. He said 23 others drowned. He helped retrieve the bodies of seven of them.

'Very Serious Human Rights Violation'
Afghan authorities on May 2 launched an investigation into the claims and started a hunt to retrieve the bodies of the many still missing. Officials said there were 70 Afghans in the group.

Afghan health officials said they had so far received the bodies of 12 Afghan migrants, saying most had drowned.

On May 3, Abbas Musavi, a spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, denied the "incident" took place on Iranian soil, although he added that Tehran had launched an investigation into the claims.
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Gulran


But Afghan officials pointed the finger at Iran, with which Afghanistan has deep cultural, linguistic, and historical ties.

Abdul Ghani Noori, governor of Herat's Gulran district, accused Iranian security forces of beating the Afghan migrants with shovels before sending them into the river.

Herat Governor Sayed Wahid Qatali blamed Iranian security forces in a tweet on May 3.

"Our people, who you put in the river, were not Osama [bin Laden]. One day we will settle this."

Qatali was referring to the late founder of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group. Afghan migrants and refugees in Iran are often blamed for insecurity or of being terrorists.

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Civil society activists in Herat staged a demonstration calling for justice for the victims.

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission said it had spoken to survivors who accused Iranian forces of beating and torturing them.

"They were made to cross the Harirud River. As a result, a number of them drowned and some survived," it said in a statement on May 3.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said on Twitter on May 4 that it shared “the concerns of the Afghan government, civil society, and people about reports of killings and abuse against Afghan migrants along the border with Iran.”
We share the concerns of the Afghan government, civil society, and people about reports of killings and abuse against Afghan migrants along the border with Iran.
— U.S. Embassy Kabul (@USEmbassyKabul) May 5, 2020
"Iran's cruel treatment and abuse of Afghan migrants alleged in these reports is horrifying," Alice Wells, the acting U.S. assistant secretary for South Asia, added on Twitter. "Those found guilty of such abuse must be held accountable."
Iran's cruel treatment and abuse of Afghan migrants alleged in these reports is horrifying. We support calls for a thorough investigation. Those found guilty of such abuse must be held accountable. AGW AIHRC on Twitter
— State_SCA (@State_SCA) May 4, 2020
If proven, the actions of the Iranian border guards would amount to “a very serious human rights violation,” said Human Rights Watch, calling for a “thorough investigation" into the "shocking" allegations.

History Of Discrimination
International human rights groups have documented violations against Afghan refugees and migrants in Iran, including physical abuse, detention in unsanitary and inhumane conditions, forced payment for transportation and accommodation in deportation camps, slave labor, and the separation of families.

In December 2018, a viral video appeared to show an Iranian police officer slapping, insulting, and humiliating a group of Afghan migrants.

The United Nations estimates the number of Afghan citizens in Iran at just under 1 million. Tehran puts the figure of documented and undocumented Afghan refugees and migrants closer to 3 million.

For decades, Afghans weary of war and poverty have turned to Iran to earn a living. Tehran has expelled many Afghans, who are often blamed for insecurity and unemployment, and periodically threatens those who remain with mass expulsion.

Many other Afghans moved to Iran following the decade-long Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the long civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal.

Others sought refuge in Iran after the fundamentalist Taliban took power in Afghanistan. After the U.S.-led invasion that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, some Afghans left for Iran in search of jobs, although hundreds of thousands of them returned last year amid a crippling economic crisis in the country.

So far in 2020, it is estimated that some 270,000 Afghans living in Iran have returned home due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Iran very hard. But as the outbreak has eased in Iran in recent weeks, Afghans have begun returning to Iran.

Many Afghans take on menial work that is of little interest to Iranians.

In 2015, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a decree allowing all Afghan children to be allowed an education. But Afghans are still denied basic services, including access to health care, jobs, and housing.

Written by Frud Bezhan based on reporting by RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Shapoor Saber
 

!eon

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I posted this news in "Iranian Affairs" thread, and later seeing this thread.

Strange, Afghan nationalists in Afghanistan and Pakistan never bark at Iran.
 

BATMAN

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All what comes from Iran is holy for Pakistanis and Afghani, be it Corona death or Shelling or drowning.
 

Khafee

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Afghans Protest Outside Iranian Consulate Over Drowning Deaths
May 11, 2020
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The protests took place in Afghanistan's western city of Herat.

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the Iranian consulate in Afghanistan's western city of Herat on May 11 over the deaths of migrants who drowned after allegedly being forced into a river by Iranian border guards.

Afghan officials have said the migrants died while illegally trying to cross into neighboring Iran from Herat Province earlier in May.
Abdul Ghani Noori, the governor of the province's Gulran district, says 18 bodies have been recovered from the river so far and that some of the bodies show signs of torture and beatings.

According to Noori, a total of 55 migrants were forced into the river. He says six of them are still missing.

Iranian authorities have dismissed the claims that its security forces were involved in their deaths, saying the incident occurred within Afghan territory.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has ordered a probe into the drownings, forming a 10-member team to carry out the investigation.

A decree issued by Ghani orders the team to carry out a “thorough investigation into reports about the deaths of several countrymen along the Iranian border."

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on May 4 described the alleged actions of the Iranian border guards as “shocking.”

Decades of conflict, extreme poverty, and high rates of unemployment force thousands of Afghans to illegally cross the border to Iran every year.

There are currently up to 1 million registered Afghan refugees in Iran. According to the United Nations, there also are as many as 2 million undocumented Afghans in Iran.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP
 

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