ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - 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 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 kilometers 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.