Maryam Namazie
Published in Hambastegi English
October 24, 2001

By now we are all familiar with heart-wrenching images of Afghan refugees trying to seek safety from the reactionary and criminal Taliban, other Islamic gangs like the Northern Alliance, US-led bombings, civil war, repression, starvation, drought and misery. Hundreds of thousands to over a million Afghans are expected to cross borders joining the 3.5 million already in camps and detention centres around the world. Over two million are expected to be internally displaced. Around 400,000 are thought to have run out of food altogether, while 7.5 million are at risk of starving to death. Yet still, the borders remain closed.

Thousands are trapped inside Afghanistan or languishing along the Pakistani or Iranian borders. Pakistan has forced refugees to wait in a 200-metre strip of no-man’s-land between the two countries. Up to 15,000 Afghan refugees are camped out at the Chaman border crossing. At least 50,000 people are believed to have gathered in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province hoping to cross into Pakistan. The Pakistani government has set up barbed wire fences and begun shooting at refugees. Today, Pakistani border guards shot dead a 23-year-old Afghan refugee and wounded a 13-year-old boy when they opened fire on thousands pushing towards the border with Pakistan pleading to get in. The Islamic Republic of Iran has also kept its 900-kilometer border with Afghanistan closed. The regime has put up barbed wire fences, amassed troops and dug trenches to stop Afghans from entering. They have not even ceased their program of hunting and deporting Afghans; three busloads of Afghans were taken to the border and sent back to Afghanistan recently. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have also effectively sealed their borders with Afghanistan.

We mustn’t allow this human tragedy to go any further. We have to keep pressuring bordering governments until Afghan refugees are allowed entry, until their right to asylum is recognised, and until they are given proper shelter, food, security and medical attention.

The International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR) calls on all groups and individuals to join our campaign in defence of Afghan refugees and in condemnation of reactionary governments that have and continue to play with their lives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.