The apathy of Government about lives of thousands of Afghans on death row in Iranian detention centers shows utter disregard for miseries of Afghan refugees abroad. Despite heavy media criticism, the silence and inaction is beyond understanding.
According to a group of lawmakers from both houses of the parliament who visited Iran recently, there are about 2000 Afghans in custody in Iranian jails waiting for capital punishment. Despite the fact that under a cooperation agreement, Tehran is bound to inform the government of Afghanistan about arrested Afghans and their crimes, Kabul does not know about exact number of those waiting to be executed.
Last year when 45 Afghan refugees were executed during three days, anti-Iran protest demonstrations erupted across the country. However, the recent executions have not been widely reported, nor any reaction is shown by the Government. Families of the victims have been stranding to receive their bodies on border, but in vain.
Other than the fact that families of those executed plead they were guilty, there are serious doubts about their involvement in alleged crimes. How could one believe in the court preceding which was not reported? Victims were not given rights to challenge the allegations against them in court. They were not provided with or access to lawyers.
Afghans are living in worst conditions in the Iranian detention centers and jails. Two years ago, a parliamentary delegation had confirmed the number of those in detention centers at 5, 630. And 3,000 of them had been sentenced to death. Nobody hear anything about their prosecution process. They are not allowed to have access to their family members in Afghanistan to get help with a lawyer. Their rights under detention are totally denied, already being kept in places worst than Guantanamo Bay.
The Karzai administration does not bother to pressurize Iranian officials about the executions. The Government must take up this issue on high levels and demand an immediate halt to all the execution and their repatriation. If Tehran insists on alleged crimes of those in detention, the government should push to provide them with legal assistance to defend themselves in Iranian courts.
Afghans are living in worst conditions in the Iranian detention centers and jails. Their rights under detention are totally denied.
There is a prisoner exchange agreement between Afghanistan and Iran, but Tehran has never let it be acted upon.
Death of ordinary laborers by Iranian border security guards comes to media attention once in a while. There have been several incidents when those who attempt to cross the border illegally for work are fired upon by security forces and killed.
What is more outrageous to Afghans is the silence and inaction of the government in Kabul. The issue is beyond capacity of our ineffective and careless rulers. The United Nations Human Rights Council needs to take notice of the situation of Afghans in Iran, particularly over two thousands prisoners who are waiting their turn to be hanged.
Last month, in twin reports issued by the UN, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Special Investigator on Human Rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed have expressed concerns about the increased executions of prisoners including juveniles.
"The Secretary-General remains deeply troubled by reports of increasing numbers of executions, including of juvenile offenders and in public; continuing amputations and flogging; arbitrary arrest and detention; unfair trials, torture and ill-treatment; and severe restrictions targeting media professionals, human rights defenders, lawyers and opposition activities, as well as religious minorities," Ban reported.
The report by Ahmed Shaheed focuses increasing abuses of human rights activists and political dissidents. In a page about the case of famous blogger Sattar Beheshti who was arrested last October after receiving death threats and died some days later in prison, Shaheed says, "An informed source communicated that Mr. Beheshti was tortured for the purpose of retrieving his Facebook user name and password, that he was repeatedly threatened with death during his interrogation and that he was beaten in the face and torso with a baton."
The reports also says there has been escalating of executions in Iran and the use of capital punishment for offences that do not meet international standards for the most serious crimes, including “alcohol consumption, adultery and drug-trafficking”. Most Afghans executed were accused in drug-trafficking cases.
Shaheed’s report says the number of executions last year is about 500. The UN report says that drug-related crimes account for 80 percent of executions and smugglers are denied the right to appeal against the death penalty.