HERAT -- Iranian authorities are allegedly using promises of residence permits to lure undocumented Afghan refugees for deportations.
The Iranian regime starting May 4 began offering six-month residence permits to undocumented Afghan refugees to encourage them to take part in a census.
Officials have extended the census until June 22.
However, the latest move is just a trick to arrest and expel refugees from Iran, according to Afghan refugees.
Hassan Qurbani, a resident of Daikundi province who was recently deported from Iran, said Sunday (June 5) at a United Nations (UN) refugee camp in Herat city that his employer asked him to apply for the permit.
"I was standing in queue to get the residence card, but the police came and arrested all [60 of us], and took us to prison. We spent one night in detention, and were deported the next day," he said.
Iranian forces confiscated their money and mobile phones, Qurbani said.
Iran's true purpose in distributing residence permits was to obtain funds from the UN, said Jawad Khademi, a resident of Bamiyan province also at the camp.
Like Qurbani, he said he applied for a residence permit but was detained when waiting in line to retrieve it.
"The distribution of residence permits is just a trap for Afghan refugees. Most of those who were recently deported claim that they were arrested as they were waiting in queue to obtain the permits," Khademi added.
The Iranian regime is deporting between 2,500 and 3,000 Afghan refugees each day, according to local Afghan authorities.
Meanwhile, those who received the residence permits say they are of little value.
Iranian police have detained and expelled Afghan refugees even though they had valid residence permits, said Abdul Rahman Rahimi, a resident of Ghor province living at the refugee camp in Herat city.
"Iranian police destroy the refugees' residence permits after they arrest them," he said.
Ali Ahmad Azizi, a resident of Badghis who was recently deported along with his wife and three children, said at the UN refugee camp that he had received his six-month residence permit just two weeks ago.
Still, the Iranian police arrested and deported him and his entire family.
"Despite enormous challenges, I managed to get a six-month residence permit. However, I could not find a job. After a long wait, when I eventually got a job at an orchard in Tehran, the police came, handcuffed me and took me to prison," he said.
"When I showed our residence permits, the Iranian police tore them up and said there was no place for us in Iran," he said.
Iran distributes the permits solely to extort money from the refugees and then to deport them, said Azizi.
Oppression and extortion
The latest scheme also comes amid continued reports of torture and extortion at the hands of Iranian authorities.
Habibullah Sadaat, a resident of Ghazni province who was recently deported from Iran, said that Iranian forces had extorted 2 million IRR ($47) from him.
"When the police came after me at a construction site in Tehran, they tortured, handcuffed and imprisoned me," he said.
"I was detained in a toilet for three days. They gave me a piece of bread with a small can of yogurt and a bottle of water every 12 hours. I was forced to have my meals in the same bathroom where I defecated," he added.
Iranian police repeatedly extorted money from him, leaving him with no cash when he was deported to Afghanistan, he said.
Mohammad Qasim Usmani, a resident of Herat who was deported from Iran on June 5, also said that he witnessed Iranian police brutally torturing Afghan refugees.
"Iranian police used whatever they had at hand to beat refugees. They have mercy on no one and even torture children and teenagers with electric shocks and cables," he said.
"I could not recover my wage of 6 million IRR ($141) from my employer. I begged the police to allow me to get my wages, but they would not let me. They even did not let me collect my clothes and shoes from my room," he added.
His employer did not pay his one-and-a-half month salary, and on top of that, the police took 300,000 IRR ($7) of cash that he had on him at the time, added Usmani.