Since 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan which was followed by destructive civil wars in the 1990s, millions of people desperately fled the country and were refugees to the neighboring Iran and Pakistan via illegal and dangerous trafficking routes. An estimated 3 million people from Afghanistan, most of who are undocumented refugees live in Iran. Indeed, with the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, the statistics changed. With the emergence of the Taliban on the scenes last August, journalists, former government staff and affiliates of international organizations, civil activists, political figures and millions of ordinary citizens fled Afghanistan to escape the possible torture and persecution by Taliban rebels. According to statistics, approximately, one million people have reached Iran via land borders since August 2021. At the same time, Iran’s policies toward foreign nationals have dramatically become more hostile and aggressive.
There have been reports recently indicating that the Iranian government has been deporting thousands of Afghan refugees on a daily basis. The move comes after an Uzbek-Afghan terrorist affiliated with Jihadi groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan stabbed two Iranian clerics to death at an Iranian shrine in Mashhad city. Although the terrorist and six others were arrested in connection with the incident, the incident provided grounds for the harassment of refugees’ community in Iran. Afghanistan’s diaspora community has not only been unloved by the Iranian government, but has also been harassed by ordinary Iranians. Following the terrorist incident that took place in the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, all security personnel and ordinary people of Iran have been torturing the Afghan refugees for the sack of revenge. Photos and videos footages on social media show bloody scenes in which groups of police and Iranians beat and torture immigrants across the country. The persecution of refugees in Iran is so severe and inhumane that all international humanitarian and immigrant laws are violated in the process.
Crime is solely a personal act and it is against the law to punish someone else for the crime he/she is neither involved nor knows the culprit. Punishing the entire population segment on the basis of hasty generalization is a violation of human rights, which is going on in Iran these days. Recently, the Interior Minister of Iran has declared that the incident has not connection with Afghanistan’s population, but still the angry Iranian civilians continue torturing and harassing Afghan immigrants in different parts of the country.
A Hell on Earth
According to Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdullahian, an estimated five million Afghan refugees currently reside in Iran. The reason why Iran is a primary destination for Afghanistan’s poor, homeless and miserable immigrants is cultural, linguistic and religious commonalities. The people of Afghanistan, due to the fact that Iran is the easiest and most cost-effective way to flee the country in times of war and crises, have long been oppressed and tyrannized by the people and government of Iran. The citizens of Afghanistan in Iran have been abused, beaten, humiliated, mistreated, unjustifiably detained and deported in the most cruel and brutal way possible.
The harassment of Afghanistan’s diaspora community in Iran is not a new drama. This dilemma has existed deeply throughout history and has been widely reflected in the literature and poetry of Afghanistan’s artists. Since 2001, one of the major problems between the governments of Iran and Afghanistan has been the issue of refugees. Iran misuses the refugee issue, using it as a wining card in dealing with governments in Afghanistan. The tyranny of the Iranian people on Afghanistan’s diaspora community is well reflected in the videos that have recently gone viral on social media. These videos were released solely to intimidate the people of Afghanistan. The severity of the violence perpetrated by the Iranian people on Afghanistan’s diaspora is just a reminder of the atrocities committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Iran has always sought to take advantage of the issue of refugees. For example Iran is gaining access to cheap labor by employing Afghanistan’s people, receiving millions of funds annually from international community and when it comes to any obligation by Iran, they start the political game of deporting refugees so as to bypass the obligation on international level and gain negotiation power on the table. The harassment of foreign nationals in Iran is extremely violent and systematic. This is not only rooted in the fabric of Iranian society, but is a legal act in Iran. Iranian people and politicians usually argue that the rate of economic and job crises in Iran is due to hosting Afghan refugees. Therefore, the Afghan diaspora community is facing serious challenges in finding jobs. The policies adopted by the Iranian government are also severely restrictive and have legally deprived foreign nationals from any economic opportunity. Foreigners can only do 18 hard jobs in Iran, including agriculture and construction.
Violence against people who have sought refuge in Iran simply to escape the Taliban and starvation shows the narrow-mindedness of uncivilized Iranian people. Simultaneously, for the sack of proxy political games played in the region, no other nation, human rights defenders and international community has taken any practical action to prevent persecution and tortures of Afghanistan’s refugee community in Iran that is going on the last couple of days.
Source: Hasht-e Subh Daily