Iranian Kurdistan: Protest Arise Following The Killing Of Two Porters
Photo courtesy of Stefan Juergensen
After two Kurdish kolbars have been killed by Iranian authorities, many people have closed their shops and went onto the streets to protest the killings in the Kurdish city of Baneh. Kolbars – porters carrying goods across the border from Iraqi Kurdistan to Kurdish provinces in Iran – are frequently being killed by Iranian security forces. The work of transporting goods is sometimes the only chance of income people in the border region have, forcing them to risk their lives every day. The killings, as well as the unjust treatment of porters have been an ongoing issue for the people of Iranian Kurdistan.
The article was published by Rudaw.net
In wake of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards killing two Kurdish porters for carrying goods across the Iran-Kurdistan Region border, a large number of people in the Kurdish city of Baneh have closed down their shops in protest and have taken to the streets confronting Iranian authorities.
Upon a call from Baneh activists, people shut their shops earlier this morning [5th September 2017] and took to the streets in front of the city’s municipality condemning the killing of Kurdish kolbars from Baneh who have frequently been targeted by the Iranian government on the borders, Rudaw has been told.
Simultaneously, Mariwan city’s civil activists also have called on shop owners to close down, in protest against the Iranian government’s acts against the kolbars.
An eyewitness told Rudaw on Tuesday that two protesters were wounded as police and security forces used tear gas to disperse them.
Kolbars are frequently harassed by the Iranian authorities and many have been killed. The kolbars are semi-legal porters who carry goods on their backs, across the mountains from the Kurdistan Region to Iran’s Kurdish provinces.
Villagers on the border had been doing this work illegally for years. In mid-2016, Iranian authorities announced they would issue special licenses to allow the transport of goods on foot without the risk of being stopped by border guards.
Only heads of families, who have finished their military service and live within 15 kilometres of the border, qualify for the special permit to transport legal goods.
The French-based Kurdistan Human Rights Network has reported that it documented 42 kolbars shot to death by the Iranian security forces in 2016 alone, and at least 30 people have been injured and some others killed thus far in 2017.
The Iranian government considers the unlicensed kolbars to be smugglers involved in illegal activities, posing a threat to Iran’s security.
The Kurdish regions of Iran are some of the poorest in the country. Kolbars see the work as an opportunity to provide income.