Drowning of Afghan refugees in the Hari River

On May 1, 2020, a group of Afghan refugees tried to enter Iran and drowned in the Hari River on the border between Iran and Afghanistan.

Reuters and other new agencies reported, quoting Afghan lawmakers, that Iran's border guards killed the migrants by forcing them into the river at gunpoint.[1][2]


50 to 70 Afghan refugees tried to enter Iran by crossing the Hari River, which borders Herat Province with Iran, on May 1, 2020. These Afghans, according to some Afghan officials and the survivors, were arrested by Iranian border guards and after being beaten and tortured they were thrown into the Hari River.[3][4][5]

The Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that an investigation had been launched into the incident and that initial assessments indicated that at least 70 Afghans trying to enter Iran from the border province of Herat had been beaten and thrown into the Hari River.[6]


By May 7, 2020, the bodies of 17 drowned immigrants had been found. According to Abdul Ghani Nouri, the governor of Gulan in Herat Province, there are signs of torture on the bodies.[7][8]


Reuters has quoted Noor Mohammad, one of the survivors of the incident, that “After being tortured, the Iranian soldiers threw all of us in the Hari River,”[9]

One survivor told reporters the guards hit him with a pipe and pushed him into the river. Another said they had beaten him before throwing him into the river.[10]

Statements by Iranian officials denying the chargesEdit

Due to the slope of the Harirod River, Iranian officials have denied the allegations, as the bodies must have been found in Iranian soil, but according to the Afghan workers comments, the bodies were found on Afghan soil, so it would not be acceptable for Iranian border guards to throw the Afghans into Hari. Afghan officials blamed that the Iranian guards had entered well into the Afghan territory.

The forensic doctor of Herat city declared that there is no evidence of torture on the bodies. Also, due to the muddy nature of the Helmand River, no traces of mud have been seen on the bodies.[11][1] [2]


Former President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan had ordered an investigation into the incident. Ghani formed a ten-member team to check the recovered bodies. Signs of torture on some of the bodies have been observed.[12] On 11 May, hundreds of Afghans gathered in front of the Iranian Consulate in Herat to show their anger towards the death of their fellow citizens who were allegedly drowned by Iranian border guards. The crowd chanted, “Death to Rouhani, Death to Khamenei,”[13][14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Exclusive: Afghan lawmakers say 45 migrants drowned after Iranian guards forced them into river". REUTERS. May 7, 2020.
  2. ^ "Iranian border guards accused of forcing Afghan migrants into Harirud river, causing some to drown". au NEWS. May 3, 2020.
  3. ^ "Kabul in bid to retrieve bodies of Afghan migrants forced into river by Iran guards". Alarabiya. May 3, 2020.
  4. ^ "They Were Laughing': Iranian Border Guards Accused Of Torturing, Drowning Afghan Migrants". Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. May 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Ayaz Gul"Iran Accused of Drowning Dozens Afghan Refugees". voa news. May 3, 2020.
  6. ^ "Afghanistan Investigating Claims Migrants Were Killed by Iranian Guards". New York Times. May 2, 2020.
  7. ^ "Afghanistan Finds 17 Bodies of Migrants Drowned by Iran Border Guards". ASHARQ AL-AWSAT. May 7, 2020.
  8. ^ "Afghans angered by alleged drowning of migrants by Iran". ASIA - PACIFIC. May 4, 2020.
  9. ^ "REFILE-Afghanistan probes report Iranian border guards forced migrants into river, many drowned". REUTERS. 3 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Reports: Iranian Border Guards Beat Afghan Migrants and Throw Into a River". voanews. 3 May 2020.
  11. ^ "واکنش وزارت خارجه بر فضاسازی درباره اتباع افغان". 11 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Afghan President Calls For 'Thorough' Investigation Into Drowning Of Migrants After Crossing Into Iran". Radio Liberty. 9 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Hundreds protest Afghan migrant drownings at Iran border". English Alarabiya. 11 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Hundreds Protest Afghan Migrant Drownings at Iran Border". ASHARQ AL-AWSAT. 11 May 2020.