Afghans deplore Iran police over car fire death of refugees


Afghans have expressed anger and denounced the Iranian police for the deaths of three Afghans in a car fire after it was shot at. The incident happened just weeks after Iranian border guards were alleged  to have drowned a number of Afghan migrants in Harirud river.

Three Afghans were killed and four others injured in Iran’s central Yazd province after their vehicle was shot at by police, triggering the fire.

A video footage of the incident has been posted on social media, including that of a boy escaping from the blazing car with burns on parts of his body and begging for water.

The boy pleading “Give me some water, I am burning”, was widely circulated on the internet and taken up by rights group demanding justice.

His plea is now a hashtag, used by Afghans to express their anger online.

The Afghan ministry of foreign affairs said the video was genuine and Afghans in Iran were trying to identify the victims.

“Iran has no right to kill Afghan refugees, they can seal their borders, expel all Afghans but not kill them,” said Ali Noori, a lawyer and rights activist said on Facebook.

The incident comes just a month after Iranian border guards allegedly tortured and killed a group of Afghan migrants.

Afghan officials said 45 migrant workers were killed when the border guards forced them at gunpoint into a river. Iran denied the allegations.

Afghans have for decades sought refuge in Iran from war and poverty in their homeland.

The deputy governor of the central Iranian province of Yazd, Ahmad Tarahomi, told local media that police officers suspected the car was carrying drugs and undocumented migrants.

When the car failed to stop at a checkpoint, they opened fire, he said. After its tyres were hit, the car continued to drive on its wheel rims, causing sparks that started the fire, Mr. Tarahomi added.

An Afghan delegation was being sent to Iran to support the victims and investigate the incident, Abdul Ghafoor Liwal, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Tehran, told the BBC on Friday.

There was a wave of outrage online after the video went viral on social media, adding to long-standing anger about alleged mistreatment of Afghans in Iran.

About three million Afghans – including refugees and migrants – live in Iran.

Some Afghans made comparisons with police brutality in the US, which has triggered protests in recent days.

“A boy screams for a drop of water but no one gives him. He is burnt. Where is humanity? #shameful,” tweeted Javid Ahmad Qaem, Afghanistan’s ambassador to China.

“Afghans are burnt to death and thrown into water by the Iranian regime. There are tens of Afghan #GeorgeFloyd every week in Iran. Human rights violations by the Iranian regime are extremely alarming,” tweeted Hamid Hatsaandh, who describes himself as an activist. (Source: BBC)