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Two dozen Afghan refugees blindfolded, handcuffed and displayed in cages in Shiraz,Iran

The caging of Afghans has angered some Iranians and the Afghanistan's Ministry of Refugees and Returnees strongly condemns this inhumane treatment

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This photo released by the Iranian Students' News Agency shows 'foreign nationals' who were displayed alongside contraband items - including weapons - by police in Shiraz, Iran Image Source: VOA
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  • Afghan refugees were displayed in a large metal cage
  • The refugees were among some 200 foreign nationals who entered Iran illegally and were arrested
  • The Afghan government is protesting Iran’s decision to blindfold several Afghans and put them in cages

September 11,2016: The Afghan government is protesting Iran’s decision to blindfold several Afghans and put them in cages in the center of Shiraz this week.

Nearly two dozen handcuffed Afghan refugees were displayed in a large metal cage. Police also exhibited confiscated items, including weapons, explosives, drugs, alcohol and smuggled soft drinks.

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The deputy police chief of Shiraz, Nasser Keshawarz, said the refugees were among some 200 foreign nationals who entered Iran illegally and were arrested. Pictures of the public detention went viral on the internet, drawing outrage from Afghans and human rights activists, and an official diplomatic protest from Kabul.

The Afghan government is protesting Iran’s decision to blindfold several Afghans and put them in cages. Image Source: VOA

The Afghan government is protesting Iran’s decision to blindfold several Afghans and put them in cages.

“Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Returnees strongly condemns this inhumane and humiliating treatment and violation of human dignity of Afghan refugees by the Shiraz city police,” the Afghan government said in a statement. “This behavior undoubtedly contradicts Human Rights, the 1951 [Refugee] Convention, and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and stands against the bilateral refugee agreements between the two countries.”

There was no response from Tehran or on official state-run media.

Criticism of Iran

Mohammad Reza Khoshak, an Afghan parliament member from western Herat province, which borders Iran, denounced the Iranian regime.

“In Shiraz, a city well-known for its poet Saadi, who asks for equality for all humans, my fellow citizens are put in cages and mistreated in a way similar to what militants of the Islamic State do to their prisoners,” he told an Afghan newspaper.

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Well-known Afghan poet Mustafa Hazara criticized Iran on his Facebook page. “How low a human could go?” he asked. “Look, my Iranian friends, if you travel outside your geographic location [country], you would realize that the value of humans is different than what you think of.”

‘Systematic prejudice’

Roughly 3 million Afghans live in Iran. Most of them settled there after fleeing war and conflict in their homeland, and many lack basic rights and live without a formal status. About 950,000 Afghans in Iran are classified as refugees.

Iran has sent thousands of Afghan refugees, mainly ethnic Shi’ite Hazaras, to Syria to fight alongside forces of Hezbollah and Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard forces in support of the Syrian government. Dozens of Afghans have died in the Syrian war.

In his online post, Hazara asked educated Iranians to fight what he termed a systematic prejudice by Iran against Afghan refugees.

In general, Afghans living in Iran try to keep a low profile so as to not anger the regime.

“They [Iranian authorities] are very tough on us, and even one of my colleagues got a threatening message to not talk with foreign media about the incident,” Afghan journalist Kazem Sharafuddin told VOA from Mashhad.

The caging of Afghans has angered some Iranians, as well. Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s spokesperson, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, condemned the move.

“We are ashamed before Afghan people, ashamed before humanity,” Ramezanzadeh said on his Instagram account. (VOA)

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All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border.

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Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma

  • The Chabahar Port is of great strategic importance for India
  • It is in Iran and is being built and operated by India
  • This port will increase India’s trade with Central Asia and Europe

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border. Chabahar is the trans-shipment and logistics hub for the Makran Coast and Baluchistan province of Iran.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The tension between India and Pakistan is nothing new. There are several instances where both the countries have tried to obstruct each other’s political or economic agendas. This obstruction, along with other strategic reasons, resulted in the India and Iran’s deal on the Chabahar Port, which is crucial because of several reasons.

Here are few things about it you may not have known before :

  • Under the Trilateral Transit and Transport Agreement of 2016, the Chabahar port is the gateway to the Transport Corridor between India, Iran and Afghanistan, which allows multi-modal goods’ and passengers’ transport.

Also Read: India and Iran sign agreement to develop Chabahar Port

  • The agreement also states that India will develop and operate two berths in the first phase of the port. The contract is for 10 years and extendable. This time period excludes the first two years as they will be used for construction.
Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port’s first phase, which was developed by India, and inaugurated by Iran on 4th December 2017, is of great strategic importance as it makes it easier for India to conduct trade with Central Asia and Europe.
  • Iran’s Chabahar port is also important for India’s trade because of Pakistan’s reluctance in allowing India to send goods to Iran and Afghanistan through its land territory.

Also Read: Gwadar Port: China Turning Pakistan Port Into Regional Giant 

  • The development of Chabahar Port will increase the momentum of the International North-South Transport Corridor whose signatories include India, Afghanistan and Russia. Iran is the key gateway in this project. It will improve India’s trade with Central Asia as well as Europe.
    The Chabahar Port has also reduced Afghanistan’s dependence on the transit road, which went through Karachi. Now, trade can be conducted via Chabahar Port too. Islamabad has accused India of trying to use this development as a means to destabilise Pakistan.

    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port also acts as a counter to the barely 100 km away, Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is developed by China. However, Iran has defended that Chabahar is not a rival to Gwadar and Pakistan is invited to join in its development.
  • In October 2017, India sent its first shipment of wheat to through Chabahar to Afghanistan, in order to test the viability of the route.
  • India will also construct a 900-km Chabahar-Zahedan-hajigak railway line that will connect Port of Chabahar to Hajigak in Afghanistan. It will also connect Mashad in the north, providing access to Turkmenistan as well as northern Afghanistan.This project is worth $1.6 billion.

    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehrain. Wikimedia Commons
    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehran. Wikimedia Commons
  • It is being said that India will supply $400 million of steel rails to Tehran. There are also possibilities of setting up a fertilizer plant through a joint venture with the Iranian government.