HERAT -- With the number of Afghan refugees deported from Iran continuing to rise, more and more are reporting being brutally beaten and tortured by police as well as ordinary Iranians.
The violence is happening primarily to those who lack residence permits, according to Afghans recently deported.
Naqibullah Ghafoory, 23, a resident of Takhar who worked in a shop in Tehran, said he was arrested and beaten by the Iranian police, who broke his leg.
Iranian soldiers detained Ghafoory in a local jail as he was bleeding from his wounds.
He repeatedly asked Iranian soldiers to let him go to the hospital, but instead of getting treatment, he was severely beaten.
The soldiers mockingly said Iranian doctors do not have enough free time to treat Afghans and that undocumented refugees should seek treatment in their own country, he said.
Iranian authorities then transferred Ghafoory to a camp, where he and other Afghans were held and continued to be harassed and beaten, he said.
"I was in pain on the way to the camp, but they did not give me water or food on the way or in the camp, and I was eventually deported," he said. "I endured the long journey back to Afghanistan on an empty stomach while I was in great pain."
At the time of the interview, on April 10, Ghafoory was undergoing treatment in the United Nations (UN) refugee camp in Herat.
"The police have also arrested dozens of my friends and ... shocked them and beat them with cables," Ghafoory said.
"It took me four days to reach Herat city from the time I was injured," he said. "I was in great pain and could not go to sleep for even an hour."
Violence against undocumented Afghans
The Iranian regime, with the co-operation of some of the local population, has recently launched a public campaign to arrest and prosecute Afghan refugees who lack residence permits.
Iranian forces and some locals have started a search across Iranian cities to locate such Afghans, said several Afghan refugees who have been recently deported.
After Iranians identify them, the Afghans are beaten and held in jail for a few days before being deported.
Kalimullah Noori, 74, from Kapisa province, says he suffered serious injuries in a beating in Isfahan.
Noori had gone to Iran for work and spent a few days on a poultry farm but was expelled after his arrest without receiving his wages.
Several young Iranian men beat him with a stick, he said from the UN refugee camp in Herat on April 10.
His head, legs and back were injured. Noori said he was bleeding from his head and leg injuries and that Iranian soldiers jailed him without medical treatment for several weeks.
He reached Herat after 10 days. His wounds have healed, but scars were still visible on his body.
"Iranians treated Afghans like animals. They said Afghans were sheep and must stay in a barn. They locked up some 50 to 60 people in a tiny room," he said.
Noori, who went to Iran because of poverty and unemployment, said he has decided to never return to Iran, even if he faces starving to death in Afghanistan.
The violence has made some Afghans in Iran go into hiding, fearing arrest or harassment even if they have residence permits.
Abdul Qader Behbodi, a resident of Herat who lives in Yazd, Iran, said on April 12 that he has not left his home for a week.
He and his family have lived in Iran for over two decades.
"I have been working for a construction company in Iran for 20 years, but I fear if the police arrest me, I would lose everything -- my job," Behbodi said.
Life has become a nightmare for Afghans after two Iranian clerics were killed in Mashhad early in April, he said. Police arrested a suspect of Uzbek descent, but the slaying unleashed a wave of anti-Afghan sentiment.
Behbodi's four children do not attend school for fear of being expelled and handed over to the police, he said.