‘This was our very last amayesh.’ Agha-ye Hosseini pulls a piece of paper from his wallet and smooths it out against his knee. The paper is torn along the creases and the edges have the soft, ragged appearance of a document that has been frequently handled. ‘See the date.’ He holds it up towards me and I peer closely, attempting to decipher, in the interior gloom of the unlit basement apartment, the Persian script. Agha-ye Hosseini – a forty-something-year-old Afghan refugee living in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, along with his wife and five children – is showing me a photocopy (black and white, of negligible quality) of an ‘amayesh seven’ card. Released by the Islamic Republic of Iran in mid-2011, the ‘amayesh’ seven was one in a series of refugee identity documents issued on a prima facie basis from 2003 onwards to Afghans who had arrived in the country prior to autumn 2001. In mid-2014 the ‘amayesh’ (meaning, literally, ‘logistics’) was in its ninth iteration.1 As such, the ‘amayesh’ seven was long expired and the Hosseini family, having failed to keep up with the re-registration process, had become, to all intents and purposes, illegally resident non-persons – joining the ranks of unseen Afghans living beyond the reach of bureaucratic surveillance.
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