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Kabul Alarmed By Iran's Executions Of Afghan Prisoners

A screen grab of materials from a conference on Afghan youths executed in Iran in October 2009
A screen grab of materials from a conference on Afghan youths executed in Iran in October 2009
By RFE/RL
In Koshan, along western Afghanistan's border with Iran, Arbab Zarif has just buried his brother.

"Look how they hurt us," he says. "Look what is happening to us."

Zarif's brother was executed in Iran for allegedly trafficking drugs. He says he had no defense lawyer and that Iranian authorities then added insult to tragedy.

"[The Iranians] asked for [$100] to get the body back," he tells RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan. "So I borrowed [$100] and we gave it to get my brother's body back."

In Ghorian, a different district of Afghanistan's Herat Province abutting Iran, Mohammad Naseem Rahmani tells a similar story.

Rahmani says his brother Abdulqaium was buried this week in Ghorian after Iran executed him and returned his body to the family.

He says Abdulqaium was convicted of drug trafficking and that he wasn't able to visit his brother in prison because he lacks documents.

"Yes, my brother was 33; his name was Abdulqaium; he had four children," Rahmani says. "After he was arrested, there was no one to help him and finally they gave him a death sentence."

Afghan officials say three Afghan prisoners alleged to have been involved in drug smuggling have been executed in Iran in recent weeks.

But worry and anger has been growing in Afghanistan over allegations that Iran sent the bodies of more than 40 executed Afghan prisoners back to Afghanistan.

Source Of Embarrassment?

Iranian officials have not yet commented on the issue, while the Afghan government says it is investigating the reports.

Speaking at a press conference today in Kabul, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Zahir Faqiri said a high-ranking ministry delegation will travel to Iran shortly to address the issue with Iranian officials.

"These reports shocked the Afghan government and the Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan is seriously following the issue through diplomatic and security sources," Faqiri said. "The preliminary investigation shows that those numbers of executions are a bit exaggerated. This matter, however, concerns the Afghan government, and the diplomatic and consular officials of Afghanistan in Iran were tasked to raise the issue with Iranian authorities with total seriousness."

The allegations were echoed nationwide on April 12, when Gul Ahmad Amini, a lawmaker from Herat, addressed the lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga.

Amini said the bodies of 45 executed Afghans have been repatriated.

"I think this is a cruel act and people expect that talks on this issue should not stop and should be taken seriously," Amini said, adding that 30 bodies arrived in Afghanistan one night and 15 others the next night. "These are the nationals of Afghanistan -- they execute them outside the country and then send the bodies in [to Afghanistan]."

Mulawy Gulam Farooq Huseni, a spokesman for the Council of Religious Scholars of Herat, tells RFE/RL that his own information suggests 42 Afghans* have been executed.

But he adds that 18 more Afghans are awaiting execution in a border area.

"The exact number of Afghan youth martyred by Iranian government executioners and vampires is 42, and according to other reports, 18 other honored sons of Afghans were moved to Tayebad area to be martyred [executed]," Huseni says. "My request to all human rights groups around the world is to help the oppressed Afghan nation, and to convince these executioners and vampires not to execute Afghans any more."

The head of the Experts' Council of Herat, Mohammad Rafiq Shaheer, says it's not the first time that Iran has executed Afghan prisoners.

But this time, he tells RFE/RL, the issue has gained particular resonance and is causing embarrassment to the Afghan government:

"This number was big in the past, too, but there was no problem; now we're sure that the numbers are big, that's why this issue was raised," Shaheer says. "The government doesn't want to confirm [that] because Iran's relations with [President Hamid] Karzai are very close, and perhaps President Karzai doesn't want to make the issue very big. At the same time, defending the rights of Afghans living abroad is under the responsibility of the government. If such a big number of [Afghans] are executed at once and the government doesn't take action, the government would be blamed."

Thousands More On Death Row

The reports on the execution of Afghan prisoners are yet another cause of concern for many people in Afghanistan who have relatives living in Iran.

Economic hardship and insecurity have led many Afghans to look across the country's porous 1,000-kilometer border with Iran. There are nearly 1 million documented Afghan refugees in Iran, and estimates suggest that more than half a million more undocumented Afghan refugees live there.

Some are employed as manual laborers. But many find themselves ferrying narcotics from Afghanistan, which feeds much of the world's heroin trade, to Iran.

Traffickers are routinely sentenced to death in Iran, one of the world's leading executioners.

In recent days, Iranian news agencies reported that a total of eight men convicted of drug trafficking had been executed -- three in the central city of Isfahan on April 11 and five in the northeastern city of Mashhad on April 10. The identities of the executed inmates were not revealed.

It is unclear how many Afghans have been jailed in Iran or how many of them are on death row.

Last month, a delegation of Afghan lawmakers returned from Iran with news that 5,630 Afghans were imprisoned there, more than half of them -- 3,000 -- on death row.

Iranian authorities denied that figure, but Afghan lawmakers debated the issue and sought ways to ensure the fair treatment of Afghans living in Iran and to secure the return of prisoners.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, Nader Naderi, of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), expresses concern about the treatment of Afghans by the Iranian judiciary.

"If the execution of this high number of Afghans is true, we are really concerned about it," Naderi says. "The main question is whether these people were tried in a fair and just court, whether they were allowed to obtain attorney[s], and whether the attorney has defended their rights in the presence of an Iranian court."

The prisoner issue was also raised with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad during his recent visit to Kabul. Afghan lawmakers say Ahmadinejad promised to advocate the handover of Afghan prisoners to Afghanistan.

* CORRECTION: The original version of this story mistakenly made a reference to executed Iranians when it should have said Afghans.


Written by correspondent Antoine Blua with contributions from RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan
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by: masoud from: canada
April 15, 2010 22:10
first of all it is so sad that Afghans have no voice thats why Irananian govt with arrogance killing so many people it is like they are not human beings it just makes relation of 2 neighbors worse and i wish they stop killing Afghans and stop and please stop it is not right we are also humans and Muslims

by: Roya from: California
April 16, 2010 02:40
I think this is ridicules what happened where is the Human RIGHTS.....Iran should have never messed with Afghans I guess there are not smart enough to know that nobody has defeated the Afghans and that the brothers and fathers of those Afghans that have been executed will not let them go off the hock like that...well they should have send the Afghan prisoners back to Afghanistan and let the Afghan Government deal with them Out of Respect but I guess the Iranian Government doesn’t know how to Respect other Countries that’s why they can’t even keep their own people under control.
In Response

by: fazal from: london
May 01, 2010 17:51
yh brothere ur rite

by: anthonio from: canada
April 17, 2010 04:51
this not right... every human have thier rights.... Iran please stop hanging our afghan brothers...

just made a group.... in face book...for our afghan brothers/sisters

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=118680778143113&ref=ts
_____________________

not all of those prisoners are criminals.. they dont have the money to get a lawyer or they are not allowed to have lawyers..

khuda bebakh she shaan

by: saeed hashemi from: Uk
April 18, 2010 15:24
i think this is inhuman. setencing a human to death because of 200 gram of drug, the iran government should think carfully about this. afghanistan might be a lowless country but the people of afghanistan will never forget the acts of history on their brothers. iran has to think of his enemies such as israeel and western countries which they are getting closer to iran. afghans might stand on their way if iran behave humanly. otherwise afghans not just let americans to punish iran but will also support them in order to take reveng from the heartless iranian dectators.

by: Afghan from: Afghanistan
April 21, 2010 04:13
I can just say this is not right at all and believe that the will be paid back, soon or later.

by: Michael from: USA
April 21, 2010 08:26
I have an idea. Since Iran is executing all these Afghan prisoners whose offenses were drug related instead of sending them back home, why doesn't Afghanistan do a tit-for-tat and start executing Iranian citizens that are in Afghanistan, then dump their corpses in front of the Iranian Embassy? Do it since Iran is covertly supplying weapons to Afghan insurgents.

by: Najia Sharifi from: Boston USA
April 22, 2010 22:41
NOBODY DESERVES TO DIE FOR SELLING DRUGS...they should have just send the afghans to afghanistan prison...iran just wants IRANIANS in iran...not anyone else like afghans...but it doesnt mean that they should kill afghans!

by: Frishta tarin asafi from: Sweden
April 23, 2010 20:26
Enough is enough, Iran should stop executing the afghan citizens. It is not right according to human rights and since Iran goverment dose not know anything about HUMANRIGHTS !! Then they should go back to Quran and read there. It is not right accordign to Islam either. All these people even if they are criminels has right to have a lawyer and defend them selves!!!!
Iran should be ashamed with how bad they are treating thier muslim neighbor.

by: Javad from: Tehran
April 25, 2010 19:10
There are over 3.5 million Afghans in Iran right now, mostly uneducated, while Afghans living in USA and Canada are much better educated so less crime by them. It is intersting for some of you to know that Afghani kills themself for money more than Iranian government. Iranian or American don't kill Afghans, this is Afghan bring hardship on themself. Never forget a religious man such as Hekmatyar killed more Kabulis by bombarding Kabul than Russians.
In Response

by: MANSOOR from: CALIFORNIA
April 28, 2010 00:52
You need to get you facts straight before posting a comment javed. Just becuase Hikmatyar bombed kabul in soviet times, it doesn't give Iran the right to hang people. Iranians are killing their own just to stay in power. Remember the Iranian girl they shot in the middle of the street. Iran unfortunetly is ran by bunch of mullah lunatics. The sad part is that Mr. Karzai is not doing anythiing about this. When Taliban killed two Iranian diplomats, Iran brought their whole army to the afghan border, but when Iran hanged 45 afghans, nothing is happening. Mr. Karzai is still asleep unfortunetly.
In Response

by: Sayed from: Toronto
May 13, 2010 10:45
Mr. Mansoor, Javad is talking about the bombing after USSR left Afghanistan. Truly Hikmatryar is a criminal. About the Iranian girl who got shot was a set up by anti Iranian governments (read about it on your own time). Most important of all is that those mullahs that you call lunatic has proved to be better leader than most leaders of the world and truly they deserve respect. And in comparing drug traffickers with diplomats really explains how you study a circumstance.
Note.. we need a strong government that fully backs its people.. But don't blame other governments. America kills enough afghans by the name of taliban.. STAND UP STOP whining

by: sohail saeed from: UAE
April 28, 2010 05:52
This seems to b another trick of American (Jews Supported) government coz if u all c the recent history they use to do such things by killing few people or sects of that country & raising sense of infiority in them so that they start protesting or becomes rebilious & then America (Policeman of the world) use to attack that country self appointed saviour of that ignorant sect who infact either created by America it self or attacked & killed by Americans secret agencies to create such tension situation & same formula they r applying again so that they should first turn Afghanistani & Pakistani muslims against Iran & when Iran will left alone or accussed they will then attack them and justify it as human rights voilation or any other fake reason as they have given in Iraq for weapon of mass destruction and then later on they confessed that they have lied, so wake up all muslims its nothing buh same dirty trick to make us fight wz 1 an other and then to attack us 1 by 1 & finish us all. Remember together v stand, divide v fall.
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