Twenty-one border porters or “kolbars” in Farsi were injured or killed by direct fire of security forces in northwestern Iran.
According to Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights website, in September alone, 81% of the injured and killed kolbars in northwestern Iran were directly targeted by border security forces. Most of the victims were targeted on the West Azerbaijan border. Six kolbars were killed by direct fire, and 15 were wounded. There were also two cases of driving accidents, and three cases of deaths and injuries from natural disasters. The kolbars were from West Azerbaijan province, Kurdistan province and Kermanshah province.
Kolbars are workers who are hired to carry heavy loads across the border for a meager pay. Due to the lack of economic development, increasing poverty and unemployment in western Iran, more and more Iranians are forced to take up this dangerous and harsh occupation. The regime categorizes kolbars as “smugglers” and routinely shoots and kills them.
If not killed by security forces, kolbars die from avalanches, falling off mountains, hyperthermia, and hypothermia.
Many kolbars are university graduates and several are national athletes who have been forced into the life-threatening job for a meager pay.
If injured, most kolbars cannot pay their hospital bills. According to Hengaw, from 2016 to July 2020, at least 937 Kurd kolbars were injured or killed.