In Takhar, rising human trafficking fuels concerns
TALOQAN (Pajhwok): Human trafficking of youth and children to Iran has escalated because of poverty and government’s inability to control the wrenching practice in northern Takhar province, residents complained on Sunday.
Khwaja Aain, hailing from Char Toot village, said smugglers often lured boys into trafficking narcotics to Iran. People aged between 14 and 18 were used for illegal activities, he said, blaming the local smugglers for having links with cartels.
The smugglers promise them handsome cash, cars and palatial houses in return for trafficking drugs in their bodies to Iran. “Smugglers have their enablers who made group of five to 10 people for trafficking heroin, opium, hashish and other drugs to Iran.”
A number of drug smugglers have been arrested in Afghanistan and put in Pul-i-Charkhi jail, according to the 60-year-old, who said scores of Afghan youngsters had been imprisoned in Iran.
Khwaja Aain cited working on rain-fed farms as the only source of income for the people in Kalafgan district. Consequently, young people are easily trapped by drug smugglers because of poverty and joblessness.
Abdullah, a resident of Char Toot village, said one of his brothers was hanged recently in Iran on drug smuggling charges. The smugglers have been enticing youth into trafficking contraband to the neighbouring country.
“After five days, we came to know my brother has reached Iran illegally. The smugglers handed him drugs and police detained him there. He was hanged after spending three years in jail. We collected his body from Iran”, Abdullah recalled.
Young people from Kalafgan district are mostly poor and can be easily trapped by mafia and gangs. A number of youngsters have been missing for five to 10 years. No one knows their fate.
Nasima, a mother of five, screamed has been living a miserable life. Her spouse has not contacted her for the past five years. “My husband has been working in Iran but has been out of touch for five years. I ask the government to help Afghan prisoners languishing in Iranian jails.”
Officials in Takhar, condemning human smuggling, pledged concrete steps to address the issue without further delay. “We despise human trafficking. Smugglers have trafficked many young men to Iran, where they have been in a predicament. We plan to arrest human smugglers,” Sunnatullah Taimouri, the governor’s spokesman, told Afghan Pajhwok News.
Many Afghan go abroad in search of work, but those travelling to Iran, often go through assorted ordeals -- hanging and life imprisonment included. A Kalafgan dweller said over 100 residents of the district had been hanged or awarded life imprisonment on drug smuggling charges.
There is no official data of Afghan prisoners in Iranian jails but reports put the figure at more than 5,000. Most of those hanged in Iran belonged to Kalafgan district. Iran has enforced strict laws to counter drugs trafficking.
Over the past five years, there has been a noticeable surge in the persecution of Afghans in Iran, drawing strong reaction from the people on this side of the border.
In Kabul, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the government of Iran has been asked to commute the execution of death-row Afghans into life imprisonment but the demand has not been met yet.
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