HRW: Ankara's soldiers shoot at Afghan migrants fleeing the Taliban
The activist group collected testimonies and stories of several fleeing families. The Turkish military violates human rights and fuels the suffering of a population already in misery. Smugglers abandon them at the border, while the military turns them away. The appeal to governments and international agencies.
Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Turkish soldiers are pushing Afghan refugees back across the border to Iran, violating human rights and causing suffering to a population already in misery because of the violence in the country of origin, controlled by the Taliban and scene of bloody attacks.
This is what activists of Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounce in a report, who met and interviewed refugees and documented the abuses suffered.
Several refugees, some of whom were rejected, say that the Turkish military beat them and expelled them in groups while they were trying to cross the border. In the confusion triggered by the deportation procedures, several families were separated and now struggle to find each other.
Belkis Wille, an analyst at Hrw, says that the authorities in Ankara "are denying asylum to Afghans trying to flee to safety." And the soldiers, he adds, "treat the refugees brutally."
Turkey is home to the world's largest number of refugees; 3.7 million are Syrians with temporary protection status and more than 400,000 refugees and migrants come from Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. With the Taliban taking over Afghanistan in August, Turkey faced a new wave of refugees.
Between September 25 and October 11, Hrw interviewed six families who fled Afghanistan after the fall of Kabul on August 15 and were hiding on Turkish soil to avoid being deported to Iran. They reached Turkey by traveling through Pakistan and Iran. The smugglers escorted them to the mountainous border with Turkey in the middle of the night and then left them to their fate as Ankara's soldiers fired over their heads.
One man told of being beaten with the butt of guns and that several people suffered fractures in their hands, arms and legs. Another reported military "beating people they crossed" until they bled. Finally, Hrw activists appeal to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), governments, and other actors asking them to monitor, document, and counter refoulements at Turkish borders.
"Governments with embassies in Turkey - the note concludes - should support the country to register and protect Afghan asylum seekers" and put pressure on Ankara to "allow all agencies working with refugees to assist, help and protect all Afghans, including those not registered."