I received this from a refugee rights activist working in Belgrade who got in touch to say that all groups of Afghan refugees who had come in contact with Iranian border guards were met with serious violence, including being shot at and beaten. Here Yasmin Ali describes some of the heart wrenching stories:
“These people…the Afghans are not real refugees,” said a journalist. The parks near the main bus station in Belgrade are constantly visited by journalists, who want to talk to the refugees gathered there, waiting to move on. I vaguely recalled having previously met the man, who had strolled up to me.
“Excuse me?” my immediate reaction was one of confusion. What did he mean? Why were they not ‘real ’? Were they just an illusion?
“They just want to move to Europe because the Turkish border is open. They have no passports. They come with smugglers. They pay them a lot of money. There is no war in Afghanistan,” he insisted.
Since 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, there has been nothing but war in Afghanistan.
“You are quite mistaken. There is a war in Afghanistan,” I could not say anything more. It was obviously futile to argue with a ‘journalist’ who was oblivious to the situation in Afghanistan.
I remembered the Afghan from Kabul, who was previously employed at the US embassy.
“I had a good salary. But in Afghanistan you don’t know if you are going to be alive the next minute. It is very stressful. I know life and death is ordained by Allah but it is the constant worrying that I find difficult to handle. I have nobody in Afghanistan. My parents are dead and my only sister lives in Sweden. She wants me to join her.”
It is mostly young Afghan boys and men, on average from 15 to 23 years of age, who are forced to flee.
“We have no choice. The Taliban want to recruit us. If we refuse they kill us. If we dare to work for the Afghan government or army the Taliban treat us as traitors and hunt us down and kill us.”
“I used to work as an assistant for a man who drove NATO supply trucks. I was kidnapped by the Taliban and imprisoned with a few other boys for 10 days. They tortured us. We managed to escape.”
“We were refugees in Pakistan. But Pakistani police keeps arresting Afghans and deports them back to Afghanistan.” [Read more…]