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Editorial: Brutalizing Afghan migrants

Regrettably, the government of Iran has always treated Afghan refugees with discrimination and the country continues to do so against the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic as well. Since the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, in an uncivilized series of actions, Afghans in Iran infected with coronavirus were denied care at hospitals and thus tens of thousands of Afghan migrants were forced to leave Iran and return to Afghanistan. But it doesn’t end there. In a recent harrowing act of savagery, it is reported that Iranian border guards have beaten, tortured and thrown into Harirud River around 50 Afghan migrants. Some 25 men have reportedly drowned or have gone missing. The Afghan government has said it’s looking into the allegations and has ordered a delegation to investigate the incident whereas Iran is issuing brazen, yet emphatic denials, saying the incident ‘occurred on Afghan soil’; nonetheless, eyewitnesses and video footages reveal otherwise. Dehumanization of Afghans by Iranians has turned into a trend now, given how they have condescended and brutalized Afghans over the years. But this recent case is on a whole new level – which is tantamount to a major violation of human rights. Due to unemployment in their home country, it is unfortunate to say that around 1.5 to 3 million Afghan refugees live and work in Iran, many as wage laborers on construction projects. So as Iran began easing some coronavirus restrictions, many have begun heading back to Iran in search of work. However, our neighboring country responds to this misery of Afghans by drowning them and on the other hand, speaks hypocritically of being a friendly neighbor and trade partner with sound bilateral relations. At this juncture, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) should strongly pursue and follow this act against human rights and humanitarian principles. Also, the issue should be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the United Nations Committee against Torture and thus the perpetrators should be brought to justice. The Iranian government should cooperate in finding the truth of the matter. If this time around, this gruesome case of killings isn’t addressed and justice is not served, the ill-fated Afghan people would continue to be victimized, tortured and now even killed at the hands of Iranians with nobody bothering to defend their rights.  

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