BFF-33 18 bodies of drowned Afghans recovered at Iran border

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BFF-33

AFGHANISTAN-MIGRANTS

18 bodies of drowned Afghans recovered at Iran border

HERAT, Afghanistan, May 8, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Afghanistan has recovered 18
bodies of migrants who were allegedly beaten and tortured before being forced
into a river by Iranian border guards last week, a senior Afghan official
said Friday.

Afghan authorities are investigating claims the migrants drowned while
illegally crossing into neighbouring Iran from western Herat province.

“Out of 55 Afghan migrants who were forced into the river, we have so far
recovered 18 bodies,” Abdul Ghani Noori, the governor of Gulran district
bordering Iran, told AFP.

He said six migrants are still missing while others survived.

The bodies “bear signs of beating and torture,” Noori said.

“Based on the accounts of survivors and the marks on the bodies of the
victims, they were first lashed with wire cables by the Iranian border guards
and then forced at gunpoint to jump into the river,” he said.

The Afghan Human Rights Commission said last week the Iranian guards made
the migrants cross the Harirud river and “as a result a number of them
drowned”.

Iranian authorities have dismissed the claims, saying the incident occurred
inside Afghanistan’s territory.

The United States, which frequently trades threats with Iran and has
imposed strict sanctions on the country, has backed the Kabul
administration’s decision to investigate the incident.

“Iran’s cruel treatment and abuse of Afghan migrants alleged in these
reports is horrifying,” US Acting Assistant Secretary for South Asia Alice
Wells said on Twitter earlier this week.

“Those found guilty of such abuse must be held accountable.”

There are between 1.5 million and three million Afghan refugees living and
working in Iran, most of them as wage labourers on construction projects.

Tens of thousands returned to Afghanistan after the coronavirus outbreak,
but as restrictions ease in badly hit Iran, many are again seeking work
there.

BSS/AFP/MRU/1910hrs