Iranwire – Abolfazl Ghorbancheli, a 22-year-old Iranian Baluch man living without documentation in Iran, is facing imminent deportation to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
Ghorbancheli was arrested by Iranian authorities in Semnan province on February 2 and sent to a border camp ahead of his planned deportation to the neighboring country.
Many residents of the impoverished Sistan and Baluchistan province, which is home to Iran’s Sunni Baluch minority of up to 2 million people, seek work in other provinces despite the many risks they face.
That’s what Ghorbancheli did, and he found himself ensnared in a Kafkaesque ordeal as he navigated the labyrinthine bureaucratic process of obtaining a birth certificate.
“When Abulfazl was at the Semnan camp, officials examined documents confirming his Iranian citizenship and that he had launched a process to secure a birth certificate,” a source told IranWire.
“However, they demanded money for his release from the camp. Since the requested funds were not provided, they transferred him to the border camp for deportation,” the source added.
The source said that Ghorbancheli was the primary breadwinner for his wife, parents and siblings.
Despite ancestral ties to Iran, his family’s quest for official recognition faced numerous hurdles, prolonging their vulnerability and increasing the likelihood of desperate measures.
The Sefidsang border camp stands as a stark symbol of the Islamic Republic’s treatment of undocumented Afghan immigrants, with many reports of abuse and neglect having emerged from the camp over the past years.
In a poignant audio recording, Ghorbancheli’s wife expressed her anguish as she contemplated the unthinkable: her husband could be kicked out his homeland because of the Iranian authorities’ failure to provide him with official documents.
There are no official statistics on the number of people without IDs in Iran, but the official IRNA news agency reported in August 2022 that “approximately 1 million people in the country lack identification, including about 400,000 children.”
“Among this total, 4,500 reside in Sistan and Baluchistan province,” the report said.
Many undocumented immigrants in Iran acquire birth certificates from impoverished Iranians living in border areas.