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Murder of Young Afghan Girl in Tehran Stirs Protest

Varamin, Near Tehran, Iran
Varamin, Near Tehran, Iran

The rape and murder of an Afghan refugee girl in Iran has fueled outrage in Afghanistan and drawn diplomatic protest from Kabul.

The six-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and then murdered by her Iranian kidnapper last week in Varamin, a poor suburb of Iran’s capital, Tehran. The incident sparked protests in at least one Afghan city over the weekend.

The alleged killer is reported to be a 17-year-old student who lived in the same neighborhood and had contact with the girl and her family.

“I urge Iranian authorities to exert justice,” the girl’s father, Shir Agha Quraishi, a well-digger, told VOA’s Persian Service.

An Iranian reporter in Tehran who has been following the case said local sources confirmed that the girl was raped, killed and her body doused with acid in an attempt to conceal the murder.

“The authorities did not show us the corpse because they told us that her face features had vanished due to the acid effect,” the father said.

Afghan outrage

Afghan rights groups condemned the killing and asked the Afghanistan government to follow up on the case.

“[Her] case shows the plight of Afghan refugees in Iran whose conditions are worrisome,” Sughra Attaye, the head of the Afghan Women Network organization in the central Afghan city of Bamian, told VOA.

The Afghan foreign ministry has said it is meeting Iranian authorities to make sure that thorough investigations are carried out.

“We are aware of the tragic incident. Our embassy in Tehran has been assigned to follow up the case so that the case is thoroughly investigated and that justice is served.” Khairullah Azad, the deputy spokesperson of the Afghan foreign ministry, told VOA.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission condemned the incident terming it as a “barbaric and inhuman act.” The commission said the murder highlights the insecure situation Afghan minors are facing in neighboring countries.

“Iran is bound by international human rights treaties as well mutual treaties between Afghanistan and Iran to protect the rights of Afghan refugees living on its soil,” Rafiullah Baidar, spokesperson of for the commission, told VOA.
Iranian empathy

Iran says the suspect is in custody and will face trail.

Iranians have taken to the nation’s social media to express sorrow.

“There is no difference between Iranians and Afghans in terms of equality before the law…we feel ashamed as hosts that such a thing happened to our guest,” Hassan Khomeini, a reformist and the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, said on his Instagram page.

Iranian Maryam Abtahi, 32 and a mother of two, told reporters at the girl’s funeral that she would sell her gold bangle to pay for an attorney and have justice served.

Iranian police, however, banned further vigils saying protesters did not have permission for the rally.

VOA’s Masih Alinejad contributed to this report.