Kurdish men protesting stand up to Iranian security forces in this undated photo released on September 9. Photo: Komala
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Iranian intelligence agents have arrested another Kurd described as a cultural activist in the Kurdish provinces on the heels of the killings of Kurdish cross-border porters, human a rights monitor reported.
“[S]ecurity forces raided the home of a Kurdish cultural activist known as Rasoul Sayyadan Manesh in the village of Sayadyan from the Gilan-Gharb city,” reads a statement from the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) released on Thursday.
The Iranian government considers the unlicensed kolbars to be smugglers involved in an illegal economy, bringing weapons and drugs into the country and posing a threat to Iranian security.
KHRN added that Manesh was detained and then transferred to a detention facility in Kermanshah on September 10.
“They arrested Syyadan Manesh and transferred him to one of the intelligence detention centre in Kermanshah while confiscating some of his personal belongings,” detailed KHRN.
Manesh is described as “a cultural activist in Kurdish language who posted comments in one of Telegram channels,” referring to the encrypted messaging application.
Rudaw previously reported on the deaths of two kolbars, 41-year-old Ghader Bahrami and 21-year-old Heydar Faraji, near Baneh on September 4 by Iranian forces and subsequent growing protests.
KHRN added that on September 7, “five activists who had attempted to rally in protest to the killing of the Kurdish kolbars in Kermanshah’s Koudak Park were arrested by Iranian Disciplinary Forces.”
“These five activists have been identified as Farzad Safre (poet and cultural activist), Foad Mozafari (writer, literary critic, cultural activist), Shahriar Rostami, (writer and translator), Arsalan Abbasi (musician and tanbur tlayer) and Shahriar Tahmasbi (cultural activist),” the monitor stated.
The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) confirmed the arrests on September 8, naming four of the five individuals.
The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan (Komala) described the measures taken by Iranian forces against the protestors.
“Government forces responded by using tear gas to disperse these protest and by arresting dozens of Kurds,” reads a Komala statement from September 9.
Komala blamed the uptick in arrests on President Hassan Rouhani’s policies.
“Unfortunately, five years after the appointment of president Rouhani and three years after the nuclear deal, it is fair to state that human rights abuses in Iran have increased significantly.”
Komala believes the kolbars resort to smuggling because “the Kurdish region is economically underfunded and exploited by the central government.”
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.