HERAT -- The Iranian regime in recent weeks has ramped up deportations of Afghans back to Afghanistan, even as the country faces a potential humanitarian disaster and tightening Taliban rule.
An increasing number of Afghans have migrated to different countries to escape the Taliban's atrocities and find work.
An average of 2,000 to 3,000 Afghan refugees are entering Afghanistan daily from Iran through the Islam Qala border in Herat province, and almost 90% of these refugees are deported by the Iranian authorities, according to official data.
Iran expelled 33,893 undocumented Afghans within a week, the International Organisation for Migration said in its September 3–9 report, the most recent available, on 'Return of Undocumented Afghans'.
So far in 2021, Iran has expelled 858,956 Afghans, the report said.
While non-Muslim countries are providing shelter for Afghans during this difficult time, the Islamic Republic of Iran is deporting them ruthlessly, said Ali Ahmad Hussani, a resident of Ghazni province, as he crossed the Islam Qala border crossing into Afghanistan on September 19.
The majority of Afghan youth and families migrated to Iran because of potential security threats or unemployment, but instead of providing them with some sort of shelter, the Iranian regime takes their money and forcibly returns the to Afghanistan, he said.
Other Afghan refugees recently deported by the Iranian regime have reported torture and mistreatment by Iranian security forces.
Iranian police treat Afghan refugees like animals; they beat them up and torture them, Mirwais Yawari, a resident of Herat province, said at Islam Qala on September 19.
"The Iranian regime calls itself the Islamic Republic, but in reality, they are the Republic of Infidels," he said.
"Desperation among Afghans has been growing over the years as there are fewer job opportunities at home," Yawari said, adding that few can make it to Iran and earn a living because Iranian authorities seize Afghans' wages, torture them and deport them to Afghanistan.
Sayed Ahmad Ahmadi, who was deported on September 19, said that the Iranian police tortured and beat up him and his friends after arresting them.
"The Iranian police forced us to make animal noises," he recalled, adding that they severely beat the Afghan youth.
He said Iranian authorities did not let them sleep and forced them to stand on their feet for hours.
"The Iranian police took away all our money; we did not have enough money to even buy a bottle of water," Ahmadi said.
Mohammad Fahim Kamrani, a resident of Zindajan district who was recently been deported from Iran, said he spent eight days in an Iranian prison without food.
"They detained us all -- around 10 people -- in a small bathroom," he said, adding that the bathroom was full of water and that they spent the night there until the dawn of the next day.
Iranian security forces extorted money from Afghan refugees under various pretexts, beating anyone who protested, he said.
Many Afghan workers did not receive their wages from Iranian employers, and Iranian security forces confiscated the cash that some of them had managed to bring with them, he added.
Violating refugees' rights
The torture, mistreatment and extortion of Afghan refugees by Iranian authorities are a clear violation of international human rights norms and should be investigated by relevant international organisations, say human rights activists.
Based on internationally accepted humanitarian laws, countries may not torture or intimidate refugees, said Wazir Ahmad Haqjo, a civil society activist in Herat.
"The Iranian security forces have repeatedly committed horrific crimes against Afghan refugees, but neither the Iranian regime nor any international organisations has prosecuted them," he said.
He accused Iranian authorities of constantly violating the legitimate rights of the Afghan refugees.
Religious studies suggest that in difficult circumstances, Muslims can migrate rom one Islamic country to another to seek refuge, said Mawlawi Abdul Rahman Hanifi, a religious scholar in Qala-e-Naw, the capital of Badghis province.
Based on the principles of Islam, Islamic countries are obligated to shelter Muslims who flee oppression, he said.
"The misbehaviour toward or torture of Afghan refugees by authorities in any of our neighbouring countries is absolutely against Islamic values," Hanifi said, adding that oppressing and torturing non-Muslims who seek refuge in an Islamic country because of war and hardship are unacceptable too.
Many Afghans have no choice but to migrate to other countries in search of a safer place to live, he said, emphasising that the governments of these countries have no right to mistreat them.