Afghan security personnel stand guard in front of the Iranian embassy as civil society activists hold banners and shout slogans against the Iranian government during a protest, in Kabul on May 11, 2020. (AFP)

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.

Demonstrators hold banners and shout slogans against the Iranian government during a protest in front of the Iranian consulate in Herat on May 11, 2020. Afghanistan on May 01, 2020 has recovered 18 bodies of migrants who were allegedly beaten and tortured before being forced into a river by Iranian border guards. (AFP Photo)

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.

Arab News

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.