Taliban Raise Concerns Over ‘Brutal Treatment’ Of Afghan Refugees In Iran

Taliban authorities said on Wednesday they were deeply saddened by reports of the mistreatment of Afghan refugees in Iran, after videos circulated on social media showed civilians being manhandled by men appearing to be Iranian security forces.

The videos made the rounds over the weekend, showing men in Iranian border guard uniform and civilians beating Afghan refugees. When the footage went viral, it prompted a wave of protests targeting Iranian diplomatic missions in Kabul and Herat on Monday. In Herat, angry demonstrators chanted “death to Iran” as they pelted the consulate with rocks.

While Iranian authorities denied the mistreatment of Afghans, the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations in Kabul said it was investigating the matter.

“We are deeply saddened by the videos of the brutal treatment of refugees in Iran, which are circulating in the media,” Abdul Mutalib Haqqani, the ministry’s director of information and public relations, told Arab News.

He said representatives of the Iranian Embassy had been summoned by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Kabul’s envoy on refugee affairs had spoken to authorities in Tehran.

“We were assured that this kind of behavior would stop.”

Haqqani added that officials from Kabul were planning to visit Iran, meet with the Afghans there, and hold a trilateral meeting with Iranian authorities and the UN refugee agency to discuss the matter.

Following the violent protests in Afghan cities, Iran also briefly suspended consular services in the neighboring country and summoned the Afghan charge d’affaires in Tehran.

Several allegations of mistreatment of Afghans in Iran have emerged in recent years. In August 2020, reports that dozens of Afghan nationals were tortured by Iranian border guards and thrown into a river that flows between the two countries made headlines worldwide.

Jawad, a 26-year-old who was deported from Iran last month, said he had experienced “inhumane” treatment.

“They don’t give us visas at the first place, and when we enter the country illegally, they beat us and treat us like animals,” he told Arab News. “The security officials close to the border beat us and warned us that they will shoot us next time.”

Iran has for decades hosted millions of refugees from Afghanistan. The foreign ministry in Tehran said last week that the number had jumped to 5 million, from nearly 4 million before the Taliban regained power in August.