June 6, 2000
Don't question Iranian hospitality
Let us not loose perspective about the Afghan refugee issues ["Not welcome"].
The war in Afghanistan created a devastating humanitarian crisis for
the Afghan population. Millions of people found themselves under Soviet
occupation and those lucky to survive were succumbed to a senseless bloody
civil war which still rages on in the northern part of Afghanistan. Many
were forced to leave their homes searching for food and shelter. When
the Soviet aggression started, Iran was emerging from a bloody revolution,
just to find itself bearing the full assault of an all out war imposed
But as noble and great the Iranian nation is, it could not bear to be
indifferent to the massacre of the Afghan civilians just across its eastern
borders. One just needs to look at the way Europeans treated the Bosnians
when they were being decimated by the Serbs to appreciate the hospitality
and selflessness of Iranians.
Iran was bleeding from the wounds of its own revolution and almost overwhelmed
with a war it was not prepared to handle. But yet Iran lent a helping
hand to hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees irrespective of their
language, ethnicity, or their religious sect.
Refugees were settled down in cities and in camps. They were provided
food, medicine, and education for their children. The Iranians accepted
them in the work force without discrimination, providing them with jobs
they were qualified to perform. Iran was also a haven for the Afghan families
while their men fought against the Soviets with a peace of mind.
Iran even went so far as to tolerate the menace and the inconvenience
the refugees brought with themselves into the country. Narcotics and weapons
were often smuggled in with the refugees; especially those entering the
country illegally. This perpetuated a new wave of imported crime and insecurity.
Yet Iranians were rewarded handsomely when their unarmed diplomats and
a reporter were cowardly massacred in cold blood in the Iranian Consulate
in Afghanistan. Iranians are being handsomely rewarded everyday by the
Afghans smuggling tons of narcotics into Iran killing and maiming countless
Iranian law enforcement personal in the process, as well as poisoning the
youth of not only Iran but the rest of the region and Europe.
Let us now put on our objective spectacles and analyze the situation.
Iran is not an immigrant accepting country. In fact Iran is ill prepared
to even provide housing, education and work for its own population. Some
mildly optimistic accounts place the number of Iranians unemployed at the
current time well above 20% in some parts of the country. The Afghans were
accepted as refugees and will always be refugees. That means they ultimately
must be repatriated to Afghanistan to build a life for their family and
a future for their country.
The Afghans are being voluntarily repatriated under the auspices of
the United Nations. Their situation is individually assessed and they
are provided transportation and basic necessities to be settled in part
of Afghanistan which is not involved in their civil war. They are treated
fairly and with respect. They have been given a safe haven and provided
for in Iran for more than 20 years by the noble people of Iran. No one
should dare question the hospitality of the great Iran nation.
In the eve of volunteer return of a small group of Afghans to their
country a small gesture of gratitude would have gone a long way. I challenge
The Iranian to print this feedback in the same page the original
article was printed and I also invite the readers to comment on this issue.
Dr H. Atabakksh