by Elisabeth Tingdal
An article from the Swedish publication ”Miljömagasinet”, February 21, 2014
Translated from Swedish by Anita Amott for Hazara People International Network
Last year about a hundred of Afghans were deported by force to Kabul. It was a painful business involving special police force, dogs and barricades. Demonstrators showed their loathing of the fact that young people, some of them without any form of identification, were to be dumped in Kabul.
Many of the deportees arriving in Sweden are children on their own, they have found security here and have attended school. They all have stories to tell about the threats they face in their native country – honour violence, threats from religious fanatics or conflicts with relatives – threats that could cost them their lives.
This situation is not taken seriously enough by the Immigration authorities. Personal threats are of no interest to them. And ”armed conflict” is no longer relevant, says the Immigration authorities who recently have had representatitives visiting Afghanistan. By talking to various groups they have come to the conclusion that an ”armed conflict” does not exist in the provinces. This statement is very hard to understand if you follow news reports.
The Immigration Authorities go as far as to say that ”severe antagonism” prevails in the country as a whole, apart from in Kabul and the province capitals. So the authorities feel that Kabul is a suitable choice for placing deported Afghans. The fact that the foreign department advise Swedes from traveling to Afghanistan, due to the risk of terror attacks and kidnapping, is a blatant case of double moral. It has never been more obvious that the Swedish authorities regard an Afghan life less worth than a Swedish one.
Since 2010 there is no longer any Swedish-Afghan retract agreement which is alarming. Swedish police accompanying the transportation of refugees to Kabul, negotiate directly at the airport with Afghan authorities. As a bystander you naturally wonder what is said in these negotiations. What kind of offers are made and what kind of contrary offers?
Until now, the Afghan border authorities have let all the deportees from Sweden into Afghanistan – even if they lack passports or identification papers. The lack of identification makes it, of course, extreemely difficult to start a new life in Kabul or to apply for a passport to travel on to other countries.
The many young men that are deported to Kabul have often lost contact with their families, should they be alive at all. These youngsters may not have grown up in Afghanistan at all, but in neighbouring Iran or Pakistan, where their families have fled to escape persecusion in their native country. Those returning to Afghanistan are often regarded with suspicion. Are they really faithful muslems, these young people coming back here?
This depressing chain of events will continue if the Immigration Authority does not change its assessment policy. Afghanistan is a lawless country due to many years of war. It has a corrupt police force and corrupt authorities, where everything can be bought for money and young people do not stand a chance. The conflicts they tried to escape from will strike them at once when they arrive in Kabul, a city where most of them have never set foot. And, if they are not killed – what chances do they have to survive in Kabul?
The unemployment figure in Kabul is approx 50 percent, so it is not difficult to figure out how hard it will be for young, uneducated people without family or any form social network to get a job and be able to support themselves in this city. What remains as a means of support is criminality or begging or joining one of the many armed groups or war lords.
There is very little research made concerning what really happens to those that are deported by force to Kabul. Annette Rosengren, ethologist and writer, refers in a blog to a unique Australian investigation. Of 40 men that were deported from Australia, a country where many have fled to, approximately 25 percent have been murdered on their return to Afghanistan. The rest had, to a large extent, left the country once again or had intented to do so.
Most of the young Afghans that come to Sweden today are from the Hazar folk group. A group that have been a target of persecution and discrimination in Afghanistan for a long time. They are ethnically different and often Shiite Muslems contrary to the majority of Afghans who are Sunni Muslems. Under the Taliban regim regular massacers and genocide where made on the Hazars.
But even before and after that regim, the discrimination and persecusion continues. To look like a Hazar could involve life threatening danger if you, for instance, take a bus ride to another part of the country. Buses are stopped by armed men and the Hazars are taken off, shot on site and the bus continues to its destination. This is why it is so important to implore the Immigration authority to take great care in investigating an asylum seeker who is of the Hazar folk group.
An unconditional demand is that the deportations by force to Afghanistan are stopped immediately. It is an operation involving deep personal tragedy and is not worthy of a country that claims to have a humane immigration policy. Noone can today predict what happens in Afghanistan when the foreign troups retreat at the end of the year.
At last, a minimum demand is that an independent investigation is appointed whoes aim should be to look into what really happens to these young people who are deported by force from Sweden.