Hundreds of Afghan refugees forcibly removed from Iran
Amnesty International is urging the Government of Iran to immediately
stop the forced return of Afghans from Iran without giving them the chance
to apply for voluntary repatriation or have their individual claims for
continued protection assessed in a fair manner.
'The Iranian authorities have a duty to ensure that Afghans are
treated with dignity and respect, not rounded up and herded out of the
country to face possible persecution,' Amnesty International urged.
Entire families are reported to have been arrested by Iran's
Disciplinary Forces in southern Tehran and put in camps near the city
before being bussed over the border to the Nimruz region of western
Afghanistan. Afghans are picked up indiscriminately from the streets and
buses are reportedly stopped and searched for Afghans.
The arrest and transfer of Afghans has taken place despite an
agreement in February betwen the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees and the Iranian authorities. The agreement allowed Afghans
without proper papers six months to register their presence. They could
then either ask to be sent home or request further protection in Iran. This
policy was to stop forced repatriation of Afghans from Iran. However, large
numbers of Afghans have been deported against their will.
An Iranian official reportedly said yesterday that the authorities
would concentrate on voluntary repatriation, implying that a wave of
forcible deportations may be over. However, even if these arrests are
stopped in Tehran, Afghans living in other parts of the country are likely
to be still at risk.
As a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and under the customary
principle of non-refoulement, Iran has an obligation not to return anyone
to a country where they could be subject to serious human rights
Amnesty International also calls on the Iranian government to set up
an impartial, independent and competent body to investigate report of
forcible repatriation and bring those responsible to justice.