By Jubin Katiraie
The Iranian people daily witness many migrant workers who have been recruited in hard labor like construction, cleaning, and cargo transfer. Afghans constitute most of Iran’s migrant working force who desperately bear hardships to make ends meet.
Furthermore, hundreds of underprivileged people annually migrate from disaster-torn Afghanistan to Iran, hoping to earn meager money for their expecting families. However, they face many obstacles in this context, and a significant number of them lose their lives.
For instance, they are exposed to ill-treatment on behalf of the Iranian border guards. In this respect, the guards chase Afghan groups to arrest them and force them to return to Afghanistan. In mid-April, over 50 Afghan migrants, including 12-14-year-old teenagers, were detained by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in Salehabad district.
Migrant workers were compelled at gunpoint to pass the Harirud river and return their country after being beaten with shovels and pliers. According to Afghan authorities, at least ten workers drowned, and more went missing. A survivor said, “The guards beat and harassed us. Later, they transported us in a vehicle and took us to the sea and threw us into the water in an outlaying place.”
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission reported, “Workers were exposed to torture and ill-treatment by the guards and forced to enter the Harirud river without equipment. The event contributed to the death of ten migrants and the disappearance of 15 others. Twenty-one managed to rescue themselves.” The commission highlighted that “the victims and survivors were between 12 and 40 years old.”
Of course, Afghans’ problems at the borders are just the beginning of the story. Furthermore, migrants who have passports must struggle to gain licenses and work permits. However, the government earns dramatic privileges through migrants’ struggle for obtaining official permissions as the director of foreign citizens’ affairs of the Labor Ministry Mohsen Ebrahimi said that the country met a decrease in hiring foreign workforce in the past year. “The government managed to earn rising income through identification and the fining of foreign workforce,” he added.
In 2019, the Iranian government gained $3.14 million through the issuance of work permits, temporary allowances, and fining employers. In this respect, in an interview with Shargh newspaper, Ebrahimi said, “According to article 181 of the labor law, employers who recruit illegal workforce will be fined fivefold of the minimum daily payment. This year, the government applied $17 for recruitment illegal workforce per day, including foreign citizens.”
“The fine will be doubled if employers repeated the act. Also, employers’ cases will be referred to judicial authorities if they defy the law,” Ebrahimi explained. However, he implicitly admitted that each worker receives one-fifth of $17 per day while employed in hard jobs like “constructing labor.”
In other words, each migrant worker earns $3.3 per day and near to $100 monthly in the best scenario. Notably, most of them do not enjoy insurance and are designated as illegal while they have to do hard work for an insignificant salary. Moreover, these poor people must hide or be hidden by employers to earn negligible wages for their families in their homeland.
In Fact, despite the ayatollahs’ rhetoric over the rights of underprivileged people, the Islamic Republic has institutionalized exploitation from workers in its constitution. Not a day passes in Iran without working families complaining about their livelihood conditions. This matter turns into an absolute calamity when it reaches migrants and foreign workers.
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