Human Rights

US concerned over 'horrifying' reports Afghan migrants drowned at Iranian border

Salaam Times and AFP

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This screenshot from a Salaam Times video shows the bodies of three Afghan migrants who drowned after Iranian guards reportedly forced them into a river on May 1 near the Afghan border.

KABUL -- The US Embassy in Kabul expressed concerns Tuesday (May 5) over claims that several Afghan migrants drowned after being forced into a river by Iranian border guards last week.

The Afghan government has launched an investigation into claims that the migrants drowned May 1 while illegally crossing into Iran from Herat Province.

"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," the embassy wrote on Twitter.

It expressed support for Kabul's decision to launch a probe into Iran.

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A Salaam Times cartoon depicts Iranian border guards throwing Afghan migrants into the river while other Afghans on the other side try to save their lives.

"Iran's cruel treatment and abuse of Afghan migrants alleged in these reports is horrifying," outgoing US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells added on Twitter.

"Those found guilty of such abuse must be held accountable," she added.

Child victims

The Iranian consulate in Herat has dismissed the reports.

An Afghan government official, who did not want to be named, said after the incident that seven migrants had died and 30 were missing, quoting survivors who returned to Herat.

A number of Afghans who survived the incident said that they were beaten by Iranian soldiers before being thrown into the river.

Victims of the drownings included children, they said.

There are between 1.5 million and 3 million Afghan refugees living and working in Iran, most of them as wage labourers on construction projects.

Tens of thousands returned to Afghanistan after the coronavirus outbreak, but as restrictions ease in badly hit Iran, many are again seeking work there.

Late on Monday (May 4), the Afghan Foreign Ministry urged Tehran to launch its own investigation and share the results with Kabul.

"The incident occurred on Afghanistan's soil and Iran's border patrol has denied anything related to this happened on our country's territory", said the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

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Iranians are not that courageous. During the era of Taliban, Iranians were threatening that they want to take revenge of their assassinated spy diplomats killed in Mazar. Taliban prepared 300 pickups and said that they will launch attack on Iran because our country is already destroyed, let's see who sustain loses. When Iranians saw, they were scared and remained calm. Now as Afghanistan has support of NATO and the United States, the country should take weapons from the international coalition and ask Iran's dirty regime about these martyrs.

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The heart of anyone can be shattered into pieces by seeing the images of these poor Afghans. The Iranian government has committed unforgivable atrocities against these young people. If I were in the place of the Afghan government, I would have suspended my diplomatic relations immediately with Iran and asked Iran to punish within two days all the soldiers who were involved in the killing of these young people in an open court.

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I swear in God that, no actions will be taken against Iran because of the incompetent government that we have. The government will neither sever ties, nor will it ask for the death of these lost beloved youths. Shedding the blood of us Afghans and Muslims is the same as shedding the blood of sheep. They are the western countries which support their 100 year-old citizen, and according to some medical institutions they receive billions of dollars compensation for a natural disaster, but we can’t do that, because we still don't have that ability to do so.

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All know that Iran is enemy of Afghanistan from the era before that of Mirwais Hotak, and it is a country that violates the human rights, but didn't American forces, who represent a developed and democrat nation, piss on the dead bodies in Afghanistan? Didn't Pakistan support the Taliban militias to conduct attacks at the hospitals, mosques, schools, … in Afghanistan? Didn't they kill women and men and children? Didn't NATO forces launch bombardments at wedding parties in Shinwari [district] of Nangarhar, Helmand province, Aziz Abad [neighborhood] of Herat province, and in Laghman province? Imagine, how many people they kill!!! When one looks at the earth from a regular aircraft, they can see humans clearly; however, NATO aircrafts bombarded wedding guests including the bride in Shinwari same as if they are playing a computer game. A Pakistani terrorist in Kabul Bank's Jalalabad branch killed more than 40 Afghans same as if he is playing a computer game. I mean that no one showed mercy toward Afghans all have killed them.

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