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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
  • 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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Iran Installing New Centrifuges, UN Confirms

The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency said Monday its inspectors confirmed Iran is installing more advanced centrifuges

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Acting Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Cornel Feruta from Romania waits for the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, Sept. 9, 2019. VOA

The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency said Monday its inspectors confirmed Iran is installing more advanced centrifuges that can be used to refine uranium.

An International Atomic Energy Agency statement said the equipment includes several types of centrifuges prohibited under the 2015 nuclear deal Iran reached with a group of world powers that limited its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

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Iran says it will continue to work with the IAEA to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities.. Pixabay

The confirmation comes days after Iranian officials announced the move.  It was the latest step Iran has taken away from the nuclear agreement as it complains European nations are not doing enough to help Iran’s oil sector deal with U.S. sanctions.

Iran earlier decided to break the limit on the amount of enriched uranium it is allowed to hold at one time, and a limit on the level to which it can enrich.

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The United States imposed its sanctions after abandoning the agreement last year.  President Donald Trump has said he wants to negotiate a new deal, but one that also includes limitations on Iran’s ballistic missile program and a longer timeline than the original agreement struck under the administration of his predecessor Barack Obama.

Despite openly taking steps to go against limitations specified in the agreement, Iran says it will continue to work with the IAEA to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities. (VOA)