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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)

Next Story

Twitter Blocks Accounts of Major Iran News Agencies

The micro-blogging site said all the account sets were originated in Iran

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Twitter, India, Smartphone
Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Twitter has blocked accounts of some major Iran news agencies over alleged harassment of people who follow the Baha’i faith.

The agencies speculated the blocking of their accounts occurred after British-flagged oil tanker was seized by the country in the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions in the Gulf.

Persian language Twitter accounts of the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Mehr News agency and the Young Journalists Club (YJC) news outlet were suspended due to Twitter rule violations, Sputnik News reported on Sunday.

Some media reports said the accounts were suspended for targeted harassment of people associated with Baha’i — a minority faith in Iran.

According to the English edition of Mehr News, the two agency’s accounts (@MehrDiplomacy and @MehrNews_FA) were blocked for unknown reasons.

Twitter users noted that state-run media IRNA (@irna_1313) and the YJC (@yjcagency) accounts have also been suspended.

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FILE – A man reads tweets on his phone in front of a displayed Twitter logo. VOA

Twitter was yet to issue an official statement on this.

The accounts were blocked after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz for violating international maritime regulations.

In June, Twitter pulled down almost 5,000 accounts suspected of being directly run or linked to the Iranian government.

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The micro-blogging site said all the account sets were originated in Iran.

Twitter cracked down on a total of 4,779 pages and it took down at least 1,666 accounts in set one that originated in Iran. Cumulatively, these accounts tweeted nearly two million times. (IANS)