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Kurdish porters trek through the night to earn living in Iran

By Hunar Ahmed 8/1/2019
Jobless in Iran, Kurdish porters known as kolbars carry 35-60 kilograms of goods on their backs to earn a livelihood for their families.

They risk their health and lives for a journey that pays 50,000 Iranian tomans, or about the price of a 2-kilogram chicken.

The mountains of Kurdistan are packed with snow in the winter months. It makes using carts impossible.

"Is this a suitable job for someone like me at this age? We are forced. What would we do if we couldn’t? ... We do not have any other jobs. We are forced to do this job," says one older kolbar.

Among them are also university graduates.

"The route is extremely dangerous as mines are everywhere. Sometimes when the Iranian guards run after us, some of us fall off due to rocks and others run through landmines," said another kolbar, Iqbal Mohammed.

In addition to Iranian guards, landmines are a second danger to their lives while carrying their packs, particularly during snowfalls.

"May Allah have mercy on us! My knee suffers from a landmine wound, yet I have been doing this job for two years now. I am doing it because I am jobless," he added.  

CORRECTIONS: Kolbars earn about 50,000 tomans per trek, not rials as previously reported. Also the Hangaw Human Rights Organization should have been cited in the video, not the organization, Iran Human Rights.


John Bird | 9/1/2019
The great tragedy here is that they are crossing an artificial border, created by foreigners, and are risking their lives while traversing one part of Kurdistan into another part of Kurdistan. My heart aches when I remember that some of them are actually university graduates. Only an independent Kurdish state will bring dignity back to all of us and forever erase that cursed border that separates us.

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