May 4, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8733

Iran Accused Of Drowning Afghan Migrants, Taliban Say: '57 Afghans... Were Initially Tortured By Iranian Border Guards'

May 4, 2020
Afghanistan, Iran | Special Dispatch No. 8733

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Reports have emerged in the Afghan press that the Iranian security forces arrested 57 Afghan migrant workers, tortured them, and threw some of them into a river in which many died.[1] Afghan nationals routinely try to enter Iran in search of work.

It is understood that the incident occurred on April 29 on the Iranian border along the western Afghan province of Herat. The victims were allegedly arrested in Zulfiqar Valley, which is on the border. The incident was reported by some survivors and family members of some of the victims, according Afghan news website[2]

Officials at the Herat district hospital confirmed that some of the dead bodies were brought to their hospital. According to eyewitnesses, out of the total of 57 people who were thrown into the river, 23 of them are still missing, the report noted.[3]

Shah Wali, One Of The Victims: "We Were Driven In A Minibus At 1:00 AM Towards The River"; They "Took Us To The River And Threw Us In"

Shah Wali, one of the victims, said: "We were taken to a camp, then we were driven in a minibus at 1:00 AM towards the river. They did not release us in a residential area, but instead took us to the river and threw us in."[4] Ghulam Yahya, the brother of another victim, said: "My brother left for Iran three days ago. Later on, I heard that they were drowned in the river. The Iranians have drowned them, one of them was my brother and another was my cousin."

"This is one of thousands of incidents. The government did not help the people even one single time," said Mohammad Jan, the relative of a victim.[5] Hanif Atmar, the acting foreign minister of Afghanistan, has appointed a delegation to probe the incident. "We request the neighboring country Iran to have mercy on those going there because of poverty and do not fire at them," said Mohammad Sardar Bahaduri, member of the Herat provincial council.[6]

Iran refused to accept any involvement of the Iranian border forces. Seyyed Abbas Mousavi, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry of Iran, said in a statement: "This incident occurred on Afghan soil, and the Islamic Republic of Iran's Border Police has denied that any such incident has taken place on the soil of our country."[7]

However, the Afghan news website reported: "Certain of the survivors of the incident have claimed that the Iranian border guards initially arrested the migrants from a bordering region and later threw them in to Harirod River."[8]

Afghan Taliban: We Request "Officials Of The Islamic Republic Of Iran To Launch A Comprehensive Investigation Into The Killing Of Our Countrymen"

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, i.e., the Taliban organization, which has developed close ties to the Iranian state in recent years, expressed sorrow and asked the Iranian government to investigate the incident. The Taliban statement is as follows:[9]

"It is with great sadness to have learnt that 57 Afghans on their way to the Islamic Republic of Iran for work were initially tortured by Iranian border guards and 23 of them later brutally martyred. We express our deep sorrow at the martyrdom of our compatriots and raise serious concerns about the case with Iranian officials.

"At a time when our country is under the American occupation and majority of our people are facing poverty and a host of other issues, some of our compatriots leave for neighboring countries to find work out of destitution. On this basis we urge officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to treat our fellow countrymen with compassion and in line with the principles of Islamic brotherhood and neighborly relations.

"Afghans seek friendly and good relations with their neighbors and such incidents have a deeply negative impact on the good relations between the people of both countries.

"The Islamic Emirate requests officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to launch a comprehensive investigation into the killing of our countrymen, to strictly punish the perpetrators and to prevent such future occurrences."


[1] (Afghanistan), May 2, 2020.

[2] (Afghanistan), May 2, 2020.

[3] (Afghanistan), May 2, 2020.

[4] (Afghanistan), May 2, 2020.

[5] (Afghanistan), May 2, 2020.

[6] (Afghanistan), May 2, 2020.

[7] (Afghanistan), May 4, 2020.

[8] (Afghanistan), May 4, 2020.

[9] (Afghanistan), May 3, 2020.

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