37 kolbars died, 82 others injured in 6 months

Kolbars are load carriers for daily wage who earn a living at the border between East and South Kurdistan.

According to Kolbarnews, 37 kolbars have lost their lives and 82 others got wounded at Rojhilat (East), Bakur (North) and Bashur (South) Kurdistan borders since March 2019.

29 of the slain kolbars were killed by Iranian regime forces, 2 fell off the cliff, 4 were buried under avalanche and 2 died in traffic accidents.

Of the 82 wounded kolbars, 72 were injured in attacks of Iranian forces, 3 fell off the cliff, 2 as a result of mine explosion and one in traffic accident.

Of the slain and wounded kolbars, 85 are reported to be from Urmia, 22 from Sine and 12 from Kermanshah.

On the other hand, RojNews reported that 22-year-old kolbar Xalis Hemidzade was shot by Turkish soldiers at the border on Thursday. According to reports, Hemidzade was taken to Erzurum Public Hospital where he later lost his life.

Yesterday, kolbar Xidir Biluke from Serdesht city of Rojhilat was wounded in an attack of Iranian border guards.

Eastern Kurdistan has descended deeper into poverty through the years due to deliberate policies by the Iranian regime and stands out as one of the poorest regions in Iran. Compared to other regions, the area has seen significantly less investment and development has been deliberately curbed. Agriculture and industry weren’t allowed to develop, and as a result unemployment rose to highest in Iran.

Faced with policies of discrimination, oppression and impoverishment, carrying smuggled goods is not a choice but a must for survival.

Kolbar comes from the Kurdish words, “kol” (back) and “bar” (load). Kolbars make their living carrying loads along the perilous border line. Their loads include cigarettes, mobile phones, cloths, housewares, tea and seldomly alcohol. They walk through dangerous terrain to continue this trade between Southern and Eastern Kurdistan. The goods they bring are sold at high prices in Tehran, but the kolbars who risk their lives for them are paid very modestly.

The intermediaries who take the deliveries and find buyers in cities are called kasibkars.

Kolbars and kasibkars range from 13 to 70 years old. Some only finished elementary school, while others are university graduates. They carry loads, because they can’t find any other employment. In the last 5 yearss, some 300 kolbars and kasibkars were killed in cold blood. There are no absolute statistics available for the deaths.