The 20TH January Greek boat accident is still fresh on the minds of thousands of Afghans and the families who lost their loved ones in the accident. A father lost his wife and children, a child lost his mother, and a man lost his whole family when the Greek coast guards started towing the migrants’ boat with 28 people mostly Afghans an board, back towards Turkish waters. The dead and missing include three women and nine children under the age of 12.
Thousands are fleeing Afghanistan due to reasons that are well-known by now: insecurity, uncertainty, unemployment and poverty. And yet the conditions of Afghan refugees around the world is devastating – they are being rejected and returned from many different countries. This is happening on weekly basis from some countries and on monthly basis from most of the other European countries. They are abused, tortured and treated like animals during deportation.
Sweden is one of those countries that abuse and even torture and if they have to against the vulnerable Afghan refugees. Recently Sweden was accused of mistreating deportees during deportation by the European Union, But Sweden ignores all criticism and regularly breaches humanitarian laws.
Deportations on February 11th 2014 from Sweden provide a clear example of this kind of inhumane treatment. 10 Afghan asylum seekers were forced on to a plane heading for Kabul and during the journey, while handcuffed they were beaten and abused.
I met Mahdi and Ali Bahrami in a small restaurant in the heart of Kabul city. A week after their arrival, they are still finding it difficult to adjust. Neither of them had been in Afghanistan for years and they have no one in Kabul or Afghanistan. Ali Bahrami and his grandmother had left for Sweden together, but Ali is now alone in Kabul and his grandmother is alone in Sweden. All of Mahid’s family are living in Iran. Without family or contacts here they won’t be able to stay long.
While listening to their stories, I was distracted by Mahdi pulling a scarf up over his nose, trying to hide the black circle around his left eye. I asked him about it. Mahdi took a deep breath and told me: this is Sweden’s gift to me!! Mahdi and 3 of his friends were at home when police entered the house to arrest them and take them to the detention center. When Mahdi refused to go with them, 4 or 5 of the policemen beat him. He fell and hit his head hard on the ground. According to Mahdi the police continued to beat him while he was on the ground until he could hardly breathe.
According to Mahdi and Ali, one of the others deported was taken directly from a hospital despite the advice of doctors who said he needed to stay in hospital for a further six weeks. Another man on that flight, a member of the Sikh minority, had tried to end his life with an overdose rather than return to Afghanistan. Other Afghan refugees tried to help him in the deportation center, but even though he was still unwell, he was deported. He left the receiving center a few days ago and his companions have had no news of him.
Mahdi and the other Afghan refugees did not expect that the flag bearers of democracy and human rights would treat them this way and would go to such extreme lengths to remove those refugees who have fled persecution and were hoping for a safer and better future.
Most of those deported to Afghanistan can barely survive in Kabul for very long. Security is getting worse all around Afghanistan especially Kabul, civilian casualties have jumped by 14 % in 2013 and unemployment has increased sharply in a country where if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Uncertainty, insecurity, poverty: these are the reasons people are fleeing Afghanistan. It is not a crime to seek a better, more secure, more peaceful future. It is not a crime to seek Asylum.
Everyone has the right to Seek Asylum