Iran’s ‘anti-human’ migrant plan sparks anger in Kabul

Afghanistan has condemned an Iranian plan to impose jail terms on anyone deemed an “illegal migrant” while also giving officials authority to fire on vehicles suspected of carrying asylum seekers. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 28 November 2020

Iran’s ‘anti-human’ migrant plan sparks anger in Kabul

  • An unknown number of exiled Afghans lack identification documents such as passports, visas and permits
  • If approved by Iran’s parliament, the move could affect nearly 2.5 million Afghans

KABUL: Afghanistan has condemned an Iranian plan to impose 25-year jail terms on anyone deemed an “illegal migrant” while also giving officials authority to fire on vehicles suspected of carrying asylum seekers.
If approved by Iran’s parliament, the move could affect nearly 2.5 million Afghans who have fled their homeland since the start of the conflict over four decades ago and are now living in Iran.
An unknown number of exiled Afghans lack identification documents such as passports, visas and residential permits.
“We are highly concerned about this. We hope that Iran will not resort to such a move,” Abdul Basit Ansari, an adviser for Afghanistan’s ministry of refugees, told Arab News.
“We can jointly work to solve this issue, and we insist on voluntary repatriation of Afghans,” he added.
Iran’s Sharq newspaper, citing the country’s Islamic Council, said recently that the parliament was working to “regulate illegal migrants” and would put its proposals up for approval “very soon.”
Under the plan those entering or living in Iran without a permit will be jailed for 25 years, and will face hefty fines and confiscation of property.
An Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman said Kabul has conveyed its concerns to Iranian authorities through its ambassador in Tehran.
“There are serious efforts underway to deal with this issue through diplomatic channels,” Hamid Tehzeb told Arab News.
The proposed plan comes amid a surge of violent attacks in Afghanistan and a likely rise in the number of Afghan refugees in the region after the US completes its troop withdrawal by next spring.
If approved, Iran’s proposals could further strain already uneasy relations between the  neighbors following a series of incidents earlier this year.
Ties between Kabul and Tehran have been especially strained since May 1 when 13 Afghan migrants drowned after they were reportedly forced to cross a river at gunpoint by Iranian forces.
In another incident, which took place in the Iranian city of Yazd on June 5, three Afghans died after their vehicle was hit by police gunfire.
Police claimed the vehicle failed to stop for a routine check.
The two incidents angered Kabul. However, Iran later promised better treatment of Afghan migrants with a pledge to extend their residence permits.
Aryan Youn, an MP from Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, said that the latest move is part of Tehran’s “wider pressure” on the Afghan government to abandon the building of dams that will eventually reduce the flow of water to Iran.
The two countries have been locked in a dispute over water since the 1990s.
“Both of our neighbors, Iran and Pakistan, use the issue of refugees to pressure our government whenever they see their interests in danger in Afghanistan,” Youn told Arab News.
Mirwas Khadem, an MP from southern Helmand province, described the plan as “shocking, anti-human and anti-Islamic.”
“You do not hand down such a punishment for even a major criminal. These people have fled because of the war and do not deserve such a punishment. There is no precedence for such a thing in any corner of the world,” he said.
Experts accused Tehran of “taking advantage” of Kabul’s domestic issues.
“Iran is doing whatever it can to frighten or expel the refugees,” Fazl Rahman Orya, a political analyst, told Arab News.
Shafiq Hapal, another analyst, said Iran’s move could be a result of a “larger fear” in Tehran that fighting will escalate in Afghanistan after foreign troops leave, forcing hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in Iran.
“I think Iran is making its preparations now to prevent a sudden flow of uncontrolled migration to Iran. It wants to frighten any Afghans who are thinking of escaping there,” he said.


Bomb kills two policemen in Afghan capital

Updated 16 January 2021

Bomb kills two policemen in Afghan capital

  • Two policemen were killed and one wounded
  • The two warring sides are currently in the Qatari capital Doha discussing the agenda items of the talks

KABUL: A roadside bomb targeting a police vehicle in the Afghan capital killed two policemen Saturday, officials said, as violence continues unabated in Afghanistan despite peace talks between the Taliban and government.
The vehicle carrying the policemen was struck by the bomb in the center of the capital on the road to the prestigious Kabul University, police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said.
Two policemen were killed and one wounded, Faramarz said.
Violence has surged across the country in recent months, especially in Kabul which is also rocked by a new trend of targeted killings that has sown fear in the city.
The bloodshed comes even as the Taliban and government negotiators engage in peace talks to end the nearly two decade war in the country.
The two warring sides are currently in the Qatari capital Doha discussing the agenda items of the talks.