Afghans fleeing Taliban ‘kidnapped, tortured by gangs’ on Iran-Turkey border
Gangs in Iran are kidnapping mainly Afghan migrants and torturing them while holding them for ransom, in what the investigation called 'a growing criminal enterprise'.
Video purportedly taken by the captors show refugees pleading that ransoms of thousands of dollars be paid to free them.
Another video shows the refugees being beaten with a whip as they crawl through the snow, before one of the men is sexually abused at knifepoint.
Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled their country since the Taliban seized power from the former US-backed government. The hardline Islamist group seized control of the capital Kabul in August 2021.
Those moving across the Iran-Turkey border walk across inhospitable mountainous terrain. The BBC team heard stories of torture from at least 10 locations along the border.
The journey has been made even harder with the construction of a wall across the border with Iran.
Turkey said soon after the exodus that followed the Taliban takeover that it would speed up construction of the border wall, construction of which began in 2017 to keep migrants out.
The wall, which snakes across half the Turkey-Iran border, is fortified with barbed wire and sensors, and comes complete with EU-funded watchtowers.
Human rights groups have expressed concern over conditions at the border.
In November 2022, Human Rights Watch said Turkish border guards had pushed tens of thousands of Afghan refugees back into Iran at the border.
"Although Turkey has rightly earned international acclaim and support for hosting the largest number of refugees of any country in the world, it is simultaneously pushing many Afghans back at its borders or deporting them to Afghanistan with little or no examination of their claims for international protection," Bill Frelick, refugee and migrant rights director at Human Rights Watch said.