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Amnesty Accuses Iran, Turkey Of Firing At Afghans Trying To Reach Safety

Afghan refugees gather at the Iran-Afghanistan border in August 2021.

Amnesty International has accused Iranian and Turkish forces of “repeatedly” pushing back Afghans who attempt to cross their borders and opening fire on men, women, and children trying to reach safety.

In a new report released on August 31, the London-based rights group said Afghans who manage to enter Iran or Turkey are detained and subjected to torture and other ill-treatment before being forcibly returned to Afghanistan, despite the poor human rights situation there.

Amnesty said it has documented the killing of 11 Afghans by Iranian security forces and three Afghans by Turkish security forces.

The rights group said none of those killed represented an “imminent threat of death or serious injury” to security forces or others that would meet the threshold for the use of firearms under international law and standards.

“We documented how Iranian security forces have unlawfully killed and injured dozens of Afghans since last August, including by firing repeatedly into packed cars. Turkish border guards have also unlawfully used live ammunition against Afghans, firing into the air to repel people, and also shooting at them in some cases,” Marie Forestier, researcher on refugee and migrants rights at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

The rights group called on Turkish and Iranian authorities to immediately end all pushbacks and deportations of Afghans, end torture and other ill-treatment, and ensure safe passage and access to asylum procedures for all Afghans seeking protection.

“Security forces must immediately end the unlawful use of firearms against Afghans at the borders, and perpetrators of human rights violations, including unlawful killing and torture, must be held accountable,” Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International said it is also calling on all countries not to forcibly return Afghans not only to Afghanistan, but also to Turkey or Iran, where Afghans would be at risk of deportation to Afghanistan.

The rights group also called on countries hosting Afghans to support safe passage and evacuations from Afghanistan for all those at risk of reprisals from the Taliban.

The hard-line group, which returned to power in August 2021, has been accused of serious human rights abuses, particularly against women whose rights have been crushed.

In past months, hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled the country as the Taliban militants took power.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says there are 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees in the world, of whom 2.2 million are registered in Iran and Pakistan alone.

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