11 May 2020 :
2 Afghan lawmakers say 45 migrants drowned after Iranian guards forced them into river (see HoC May 2). The incident has triggered a diplomatic crisis between the neighbours, who share trade, economic and cultural ties. Iran has denied that such an event took place on its soil. Afghan authorities said on May 7 they had recovered 12 bodies in the past two days from the Hari Rud River, which forms much of the northern, mountainous section of Afghanistan’s border with Iran, taking the confirmed death toll to 17. Afghan officials and survivors say the incident took place on May 1. Habiburrahman Pidram, a lawmaker from the westerly Herat province who spoke with survivors, said a group of 57 men trying to enter Iran from Herat had been detained by Iranian border guards. “These workers were kept in custody by Iranian forces and, after 24 hours, the Afghan workers were brought to the bank of the river, beaten and ordered to jump in the river to go back to Afghanistan,” he said. Those who could swim then jumped into the deep, fast-flowing mountain torrent, while the others were beaten up and threatened with being shot before jumping or being pushed in, said Pidram, part of a 16-strong team appointed to investigate by President Ashraf Ghani’s government. “Of 57 workers who were forced into the river by Iranian security forces, only 12 managed to survive,” Pidram said, meaning 45 must have died. Five bodies were pulled out by a shepherd, downriver in Turkmenistan, he added. Lawmaker Abdul Satar Hussaini, who is also investigating the incident, said some of the dead workers had come from his province, Farah, which adjoins Herat.