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Arrested Afghans Put On Display By Police In Iran, Sparking Anger

Afghan schoolchildren attend a class at the Shahid Nasseri refugee camp in Taraz Nahid village near the city of Saveh, some 130 kms southwest of the capital Tehran (file photo).

Some Iranians and Afghans have taken to social media to condemn authorities in the Iranian city of Shiraz for putting arrested, blindfolded Afghan refugees on display.

The criticism came after Iranian media, including the semi-official ISNA news agency, published a series of photographs of Afghans -- who had been detained on suspicion of illegally entering the country -- sitting behind barricade fences wearing white blindfolds.

A sign on one of the fences said: “Arrest of foreign nationals.”

The photos were published as part of a series of images depicting items confiscated by the police in Shiraz, including drugs, stolen cars, weapons, and alcohol.

Many expressed outrage that the Afghans were put in “cages” like animals and humiliated.

“I’m ashamed of being an Iranian,” wrote a woman on Facebook in reaction to the photos.

On Twitter, an Afghan posted a picture of the arrested refugees alongside a sign for a street in Afghanistan that is named in honor of Iranian diplomats killed by the Taliban in 1998.

“I don’t have anything to say. Look at the photos; one in Afghanistan, the other in Iran,” the social media user wrote.

Afghan lawmaker Mohammad Reza Khoushak also criticized the move on his Facebook page.

“It’s been [reported] that in the city where [Iran’s great poet] Saadi wrote: ‘If you have no sympathy for human pain, the name of human you cannot retain’, its people have displayed humans…in cages,” he wrote.

Khoushak wrote that to display people in such a manner was to behave “like Daesh” -- a term for the extremist group Islamic State, which has committed severe atrocities.

The move also prompted criticism from a former Iranian presidential spokesman, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, who served as a spokesman for former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

On his Instagram account, Ramezanzadeh described the decision to put Afghans on display as “shameful.”

“I‘m ashamed for humanity. I’m ashamed for Afghans,“ Ramezanzadeh wrote.

Iranian authorities have been long accused of mistreatment and harassment of Afghan refugees who travel to Iran illegally in search of jobs.

Iran says it has hosted more than 3 million registered and unregistered Afghans for three decades with little help from the international community.

Speaking in June, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on the UN refugee agency and donating countries to ramp up investment in Afghan economic projects to pave the way for the voluntary return of Afghans to their country.

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