Border police raided homes on February 10 in Baneh County in western Iran, shooting and injuring three Kurd men, a human rights group said today.
According to the Hengaw Organization, the border police were searching for goods meant to be carried by Kurd border porters or kolbars across the border. The Iranian regime categorizes kolbars as “smugglers” and routinely shoots and kills them.
The three injured Kurd men were identified as Mohamad Rahmani, Mohammad Saleh Esmaelzadeh, and Zanko Esmaelzadeh. According to an informed source, the man who shot at the civilians was identified as Rastgou and is nephew to the border Police Chief. Rastgou, who was identified in the recorded footage of the shootings, publicly apologized from a local mosque’s loudspeakers the next day. However, the locals filed complaints against him.
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.
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.