In a sunny September day in 2014, Homayoun Zaran, a self-proclaimed Iranian political dissident, fled Iran for Afghanistan expecting to ‘find a safe place to live.’ Homayoun, who plays setar, a musical instrument, says he found himself trapped in horns of serious dilemma as he crossed the border. In Afghan soil, the Afghan intelligence agencies arrested him on charges of espionage.
Having spent nearly a year in Afghan detention center in the western Herat province, Zaran was finally declared innocent by a court. Life was not easy for Zaran in Herat. He struggled to earn a living in country where unemployment was on the rise. His Esfahani accent, longhair and fashionable French cap made him marked as foreigner in the conservative city of Herat where some were teasing his accent and dressing style.
An art graduate as he claims, Zaran left Herat for Kabul where he was registered as a refugee by the United Nations. He stays in a US-funded underequipped camp in eastern part of Kabul. He says most Iranians in Afghanistan are seen as Iran spy by the Afghan intelligence agencies and judicial organizations, an experience that has made life more difficult for him in the Afghan capital Kabul.
The 35-year-old Zaran says that he will be happy if the Afghan government grants him Afghan national status, but as the country is struggling with a dwindling economy and increasing unemployment, it seems almost impossible for asylum seekers like Zaran to get Afghan national status.
For Zaran life is a routine struggle for survival as it is for millions of the Afghans in the war-torn Afghanistan. He calls upon refugee rights organizations to help him get settlement in safe place.
According to figures published by the Afghan ministry of refugee and repatriation, as many as 821 foreign nationals—Pakistani, Iranian, Iraqi, Chinese, Tajik and Banglashi—are registered as refuges in Afghanistan.