Afghan rights body urges Iran to punish culprits in migrants’ drowning

An Afghan policeman stands guard in Kabul, Afghanistan, on June 2, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 04 June 2020

Afghan rights body urges Iran to punish culprits in migrants’ drowning

  • Last week, Iran sent a diplomatic team to Kabul, where they finally agreed to investigate and share their findings with Afghanistan

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.


India says Indian, Chinese troops disengaging from standoff

Updated 11 July 2020

India says Indian, Chinese troops disengaging from standoff

  • Indian officials say a standoff between the two armies began in early May
  • The situation turned deadly when the rival troops engaged in hand-to-hand fighting in the Galwan Valley

NEW DELHI: India’s external affairs minister said Saturday that Indian and Chinese troops are disengaging from a monthslong standoff along the countries’ undemarcated border following a clash last month that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s remarks came a day after China’s ambassador to India said that Indian and Chinese front-line troops are disengaging in accordance with an agreement reached by their military commanders.
“It’s very much a work in progress,” Jaishankar said, adding that both sides agreed on the need to disengage because troops are deployed very close to each other.
The Chinese ambassador, Sun Weidong, said Friday that the two countries should be partners rather than rivals and handle their differences properly to bring their ties back on the right track.
Indian officials say a standoff between the two armies began in early May when large contingents of Chinese soldiers entered deep inside Indian-controlled territory at three places in Ladakh.
The situation turned deadly when the rival troops engaged in hand-to-hand fighting in the Galwan Valley, where India is building a strategic road connecting the region to an airstrip close to China. India says that 20 of its soldiers were killed in the June 15 clash and that there were casualties on the Chinese side as well.
China hasn’t confirmed any casualties on its side.
Through video conferencing on Friday, senior foreign ministry officials from the two countries reviewed the progress made in the disengagement process by the two armies at the disputed border, known as the Line of Actual Control.
The disputed border covers about 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) of frontier and stretches from Ladakh in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim in the northeast.
India and China fought a border war in 1962 that also spilled into Ladakh. The two countries have been trying to settle their border dispute since the early 1990s, without success.