Human Rights

'An unforgivable crime': Kabul vows probe into drownings by Iranian guards

Salaam Times

The Afghan government on May 6, 2020, called the drowning of Afghan migrants by Iranian border guards 'an unforgivable crime' and vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter. Iranian guards reportedly tortured and then forced dozens of Afghans into a river on May 1, 2020, after they illegally crossed into the country from Herat Province. [Omar]

KABUL -- The Afghan Presidential Palace Wednesday (May 6) called the drowning of Afghan migrants by Iranian border guards "an unforgivable crime" and vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.

The Afghan Foreign Ministry said it was investigating claims that the migrants were beaten and then forced into a river on May 1 after they illegally crossed into the country from Herat Province.

"The brutal and inhumane acts that have resulted in the martyrdom of a number of our oppressed citizens on the border with Iran are unforgivable crimes," Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said on Twitter.

The Afghan Foreign Ministry will take all steps to ensure justice in the incident that has outraged Afghans and the international community, acting minister Muhammad Hanif Atmar vowed May 6.

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Abdolrahim Mousavi, commander of Iran's army, visits a military university in Iran on May 3. The Iranian military has denied any responsibility in the drowning incident, despite the overwhelming evidence. [Iranian Ministry of Defense]

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The bodies of two Afghan migrants who drowned after Iranian guards reportedly forced them into a river can be seen in this undated photo in Herat city. [Muhammad Hanif Atmar/Twitter]

"The oppression and terror that have resulted in the torture and the martyrdom of our oppressed people on the Afghan-Iranian border have deeply saddened our nation," Atmar said in a tweet.

"We assure our fellow Afghans that we will follow up on this unforgivable crime through all diplomatic channels until justice is ensured," he added.

Tense meeting

The Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of parliament, May 6 summoned high-ranking government officials to brief them about the incident.

Among those was Atmar, who told lawmakers that their discussion with Iranian officials on Tuesday (May 5) evening was tense.

Sixteen bodies of migrant workers who drowned have been found and 18 to 20 are missing, said Atmar.

"Those found guilty of such abuse must be held accountable," said outgoing US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells on Monday (May 4).

Tehran has denied responsibility, saying the incident happened on Afghan soil.

A number of Afghans who survived the incident spoke of the violent behaviour of Iranian soldiers.

"We were 57 people, and 23 drowned," said Shah Wali, one of the survivors. "All of us were crying and begging the Iranian forces not to throw us into the water, but they did it anyway."

One of the drowning victims was a 13-year-old child, said Wali.

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To be honest, Afghans are killed every day because of their own ignorance and folly. If they were clever, why would they travel illegally in this emergency situation of corona to Iran? Even if they went to Iran, they would have lost their lives due to the corona virus in Iran, because the situation in Iran is very critical. Hundreds of people die every day in Iran because of corona virus, and these Afghans would not be admitted to Iranian hospitals if they were infected with corona virus, because they did not have visas, passports, or any other evidence. Didn't they know that all people of the countries of the world were living in quarantine? Didn't they know that they wouldn’t find work in this situation where all people have been quarantined? Didn't they know where they would get food if they were going there? Because the restaurants are all closed. There are tens of other questions that one should ask himself when going to another country.

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The brutal and inhumane acts which caused martyrdom of a number of our oppressed citizens on the border with Iran are unforgivable crimes. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan should seriously pursue this pitiful event in order to ensure justice.

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The Afghan government will never take actions against Iran, because half of the Afghan government’s officials and political leaders are the spies and mercenaries of Iran. There are many leaders, including Muhammad Mohaqiq and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who are the spies of Iran. You saw that after the death of Qasem Soleimani, Dr. Abdullah went to the Embassy of Iran and expressed his condolences to the officials of the embassy. I am astonished that why people of Afghanistan still support these miscreant leaders. Every day, Abdullah Abdullah, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Karim Khalili, Abdul Latif Pedram and others go to the Embassy of Iran in Kabul and discuss Afghanistan's internal affairs with them. There are dozens of media outlets which are funded by Iran, and they are working to provoke ethnic divisions in Afghanistan. They are spreading Iranian culture in Afghanistan, but unfortunately, the government does not take any actions against them. If the government does not attend the issue of torturing and drowning of Afghans, people will be disappointed from government.

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