KABUL: The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on Wednesday urged Iran to identify and punish those border guards who coerced a group of Afghan migrants to cross a river at gunpoint, resulting in a number of them allegedly drowning.
“The government of Iran needs to identify the perpetrators of this human rights violation as soon as possible and ensure justice,” AIHRC spokesman Zabihullah Farhang told Arab News.
He said the AIHRC wants the UN to “supervise the investigation,” and Kabul to “enter into discussions with the government of Iran for paying compensation to those affected.”
The May 1 incident, involving 46 migrants, angered Kabul and sparked fresh tensions between the two historically uneasy neighbors.
Last week, Iran sent a diplomatic team to Kabul, where they finally agreed to investigate and share their findings with Afghanistan.
The AIHRC began its investigation days after Kabul said in its probe that the migrants, who had crossed illegally into Iran for work, were detained by Iranian border guards, beaten and forced at gunpoint to cross the Harirud River, which forms the border between the two nations.
The migrants “were subjected to inhumane treatment by the Iranian border guards,” said the AIHRC.
Most of the victims were from the western Herat province, which lies near the border with Iran.
According to the AIHRC’s findings, based on accounts of two separate groups of people, up to 27 migrants had drowned, but it said it could not verify the claim.
The AIHRC, which was created in a UN-sponsored move in 2002, said its observers interviewed local officials, survivors, members of civil society, and next of kin of those affected.
It added that the investigation had documented and followed up “the brutal incidents from the very beginning, and has tried to obtain accurate information from various sources.”
Afghan government officials had no immediate comment about the AIHRC report, saying Kabul is waiting for Iran’s investigative team to submit its findings.
In recent years, Iran and Afghanistan have had an uneasy relationship, with Kabul accusing Tehran of using Afghan Shiite migrants to fight its proxy wars in the Middle East, as well as providing cash and arms to Taliban insurgents fighting the Afghan government and US-led troops.
“Kabul is under public pressure, but … since it’s a weak government, it can’t push Iran much on the issue except by following it through diplomatic channels,” Afghan analyst Shafiq Haqpal told Arab News.