July 21, 2020
Afghan lawmakers and experts said on Monday Tehran could no longer “cover up” the drowning of Afghan migrant workers who had tried to cross into Iran in May, a day after Iran’s deputy foreign minister denied Iran’s role in the incident and accused Kabul of having “no control” over its border.
Afghanistan says Iranian border guards killed at least 46 Afghan migrant workers trying to enter Iran by forcing them into a raging mountain torrent at gunpoint.
The incident has triggered a diplomatic crisis between the neighbours, who share trade, economic and cultural ties. Iran has denied that such an event took place on its soil.
In an interview with an Afghan private TV station on Sunday, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sayed Abbas Araghchi had said: “The problem is…no border control from Afghanistan; all control is by our side. The problem is that Afghan nationals have illegal roaming,” adding that human traffickers had forced the Afghan nationals to cross the Harirud River, which forms much of the northern, mountainous section of Afghanistan’s border with Iran.
Araghchi’s comments have drawn stern criticism from Afghan experts and officials.
“They can not hide their cruelty this way, Afghans will never forget what Iranian forces did to our migrants,” Abdul Sattar Husseini, a lawmaker from western Afghanistan, told Arab News.
Nasratullah Haqpal, an analyst, said Iran had long mistreated Afghan migrants.
“He [Iran’s deputy FM] is trying to cover the crime Iran has committed,” he told Arab News.
Gran Hewad, a spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry, said the Iranian foreign minister had said the country’s investigation into the incident was ongoing: “We are still waiting for the completion of their investigation and to receive its results.”
The drowning incident was followed by the killing of another three Afghan migrants three weeks later after Iran’s police in the Yazd province fired at a car, claiming the driver refused to stop for routine police checking.
The two events sparked anti-Iranian protests in Kabul and among Afghans living overseas. Iran subsequently summoned the Afghan envoy and demanded an end to the protests, with officials from both countries saying they would work toward legalizing the nearly three million Afghan migrants in Iran.