Iran summons Afghan envoy after protesters attack Herat consulate

Demonstrators took to the streets after videos surfaced purportedly showing Iranian border guards beating Afghans trying to enter Iran

Iran on Tuesday summoned Afghanistan’s ambassador in Tehran after protesters threw rocks at the country's consulate during a protest, Iranian media reported.

The move comes after dozens of Afghans rallied on Monday outside the Iranian consulate in Herat, the country's third-largest city. They were protesting against the alleged ill-treatment of Afghans by Iranian border guards and mobs. Videos purportedly showing the abuse had circulated on social media at the weekend.

It was not known when the alleged assaults took place and the authenticity of the videos could not be independently verified.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry announced that the consulate would be closed until further notice. It also asked the Afghan charge d'affaires to send a request to the new Taliban rulers to provide adequate security to the diplomatic outpost in Herat.

“Full security and a necessary guarantee for safe activity of the embassy and representatives of Iran in Herat and other cities of Afghanistan should be provided,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

The protests spread to other cities in Afghanistan.

Iran, which already had more than five million Afghan refugees, became home to more after the Taliban returned to power in August.

One of the purported videos appeared to show Iranian border guards beating Afghan refugees in a room, while other footage allegedly showed a group of Iranians dragging and beating refugees in a compound in Iran.

Protesters burnt the Iranian flag and broke CCTV cameras installed at the consulate before dispersing.

“Death to Iran! Iran is a killer state!” protesters chanted as they gathered outside.

“Where are the human rights organisations? They are beating our people … but nobody is raising a voice,” Shakib, a protester in Herat, told AFP.

The Iranian embassy in Kabul dismissed the claims of abuse of Afghans, saying they were “baseless and invalid” and were designed to harm the relations between the countries.

It also said that Iran's border forces had the authority to prevent any foreigner from illegally entering the country.

On Monday, a similar anti-Iran protest was held in the south-east city of Khost and a demonstration was staged outside the Iranian embassy in Kabul.

Since the Taliban assumed power, Afghanistan has plunged deeper into economic crisis, pushing even those without links to the former western-backed government to look for a way out.

Thousands of people try to cross into neighbouring Iran daily in search of work, or in an effort to reach Europe in the hope of asylum.

Iran, which shares a 900-kilometre border with Afghanistan, has not recognised the Taliban government.

Updated: April 12, 2022, 11:40 AM
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