Etilaat Roz (Translated by RAWA), May 7, 2020
Abdul Baari never returned, his mother: “Iranian border guards have no mercy”
The mistreatment of Afghans who cross the border illegally by Iranian border guards is nothing new Rea
By Wajid Rouhani
The sound of crying from a poor hut in the Tanke Maulawi area of Herat has not been silenced for several days. They lost their only breadwinner in an accident. Iranian border guards allegedly threw Afghan refugees into a river after torturing them. Abdul Baari was 19-years-old and gathered his courage to smuggle himself into Iran to find work. Little did he know that he was not to return and his trip would bring back his dead body for his loved ones and a world of grief for his mother.
Abdul Baari was 19-years-old. His family claims that Iranian border guards beat him and his friends severely and then forced them to jump into the Harirud river. (Photos: Etilaat Roz)
Abdul Baari was the eldest child and only breadwinner of his family. His relatives told Etilaat Roz that his mother experienced a huge shock because of the incident.
Abdul Baari’s mother, Bibi Hora, has been in tears since the news of her son’s death and is burning with grief and heartbreak. “My child had gone to Iran to work and the Iranians killed him," said Bibi Hora, who is now unable to speak normally. “They beat Abdul Baari a lot. I wish he hadn't gone to Iran. They are ruthless.”
The outbreak of the coronavirus in Herat is bad and the negative effects of the quarantine and poverty are two of the main reasons for Abdul Baari’s trip to Iran. Abdul Baari’s family says that before corona and the lock down in Herat, Abdul Baari had a cart in which he sold “salt puffs”. But from the day the corona restrictions had stopped his cart, Abdul Baari was forced to travel to Iran to support his family.
Bibi Gul, Abdul Baari’s aunt, told Etilaat Roz that there was no bread in their house for several days and nights so her nephew and four of his friends decided to go to work in Iran, “Abdul Bari’s friends called us on Saturday and said there was an issue. My brother went and brought Abdul Baari’s body.”
According to her, the Iranian border guards had severely beat her nephew as parts of his body were bruised and his body was bleeding until he was buried.
Abdul Baari’s relatives are urging the Afghan government to seriously investigate the incident and ensure justice. A few days have passed since Abdul Baari was drowned in the Harirod river and his family, who is in dire need, has not received any assistance yet.
Accounts given by survivors who were with Abdul Baari
Abdul Baari’s fellow travelers have a sad account of the journey. They say that after entering Iran from the Zulfiqar crater in Herat province, Iranian border guards arrested them and after severe beatings, transferred them to the border strip and forced them to throw themselves into the Harirod river.
Hamidullah, a companion of Abdul Baari and one of the witnesses to the incident, told Etilaat Roz that Iranian border guards threatened to shoot at them, forcing them to throw themselves into the river, “Iranian border guards asked me why I had come to Iran. I told them because of hunger. They said they would show us hunger. They brought us to the river and fired a few shots so that we would be scared and throw ourselves into the water. We tried so hard not to be forced to throw ourselves into the water but they refused. Only seven or eight of us came out of the water alive.”
Karzai, another eyewitness to the incident, told Etilaat Roz that Iranian border guards were happy with their struggle and laughed, “Iranian border guards were not Muslims. If they had been Muslims, they would not have committed this crime. We were drowning and they were laughing at us.”
Eyewitnesses claim that more than 50 Afghan citizens were smuggled into Iran. Twenty-three people went missing or were killed Friday after being thrown into the Harirod river. The bodies of five people drowned were taken to Herat District Hospital on Saturday.
The mistreatment of Afghans who cross the border illegally by Iranian border guards is nothing new. Torture, ill-treatment and even direct shooting by Iranian border guards have already been reported by Afghan migrants.
Civil activists protest
Civil activists in Herat accused Iranian border guards of human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. On Tuesday, a number of civil society activists and Herat residents staged a protest in front of the local administration building in response to allegations that Afghan refugees had been drowned in the Harirod river.
“Iranian border guards and Iranian forces have repeatedly committed crimes against Afghan refugees and Iranian border guards must be prevented from firing and killing Afghan refugees,” civil activist Sayed Ashraf Sadaat told Etilaat Roz.
The protesters called on the Afghan government not to remain silent in the face of Iran’s actions and for Iran to pay compensation to the families of the victims.
Sayed Abdul Wahid Qatali, the governor of Herat, said a team was investigating how the country’s citizens drowned in the Harirod river, “Afghanistan will respond to this incident”.
Reactions: “Unforgivable Crime”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar reacted strongly in a tweet, calling it an unforgivable crime, “The atrocious torture and martyrdom of our oppressed people on the Afghan-Iranian border have left our nation in grieving. We share this grief. I assure our compatriots that we will pursue this unforgivable crime with all the diplomatic means of the country until we achieve justice and fairness.”
The Iranian government has denied reports that Afghan citizens were tortured and drowned by Iranian border guards along the Harirod river. The Iranian Border Guard Department said that after reviewing the released videos it was concluded that the incident did not take place on the Afghan-Iranian border.
Afghanistan and Iran have formed a joint delegation to investigate the incident. The Foreign Ministry said the investigation into allegations of torture and drowning of Afghan citizens by Iranian border guards was ongoing and that progress had been made.
The incident has received a lot of reactions. Reacting to the incident, the Taliban said it was “cruelty” and that Iran should treat Afghan refugees “in the right way” and in accordance with “neighborhood principles”. The Taliban said in a statement on Sunday that Iran should deal with Afghan refugees “with compassion, Islamic brotherhood and neighborly principles”.
Alice Wells, the US Deputy Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, called the torture and drowning of Afghan citizens by Iranian border guards “horrific” and called for an investigation. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has called the torture and drowning of a clear violation of human rights principles and values and called for a comprehensive investigation.
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