Border trade is banned for Kurds but free for Iranians

In the Kurdish border city of Van, many Kurds were arrested and prosecuted because they sold goods which they had bought from Iran. But Turkish officials turn a blind eye on Iranians doing the same thing.

For the cities in Turkey’s border region, trade is the number one economic activity. One of these cities is Van, which borders Iran and has been a trade outpost between Iran and Turkey-Ottoman Empire for centuries.

For the past few years AKP government has tightened the control over border trade. People are banned from selling the goods which bring from Iran. Several Kurds were arrested and fined for just trying to sell their goods.

Turkish army also tightened the security in border region. After several people were shot and killed by Turkish soldiers while trying to enter Turkey, border trade stopped.

On the other hand, Turkey has recently started to allow Iranian citizens to sell their illegal goods. Turkish officials turn a blind eye on the markets set up by Iranians in Van city centre. Hundreds of Iranians sell Iranian goods to local shops.

Iranians sell cigarettes, tee and sugar for a very low price compared to those produced in Turkey. The volume of the illegal trade is so big that it now effects local businesses.

A local store owner, who asked to be mentioned anoynmous, says that in the past Kurds were selling Iranian goods in Turkey and Turkish goods in Iran. “But today the border trade, which is forbidden for us, is free for Iranians. They store Iranian goods in the hotels and they sell it to the shop owners” he said.

“It’s almost impossible to bring Iranian goods to Van. But Iranian citizens can do that easily because they bribe Turkish soldiers on the border. The AKP officials and soldiers get their share from border trade. Therefore Iranian citizens can bring Iranian goods to Van and sell it like it is legal. But for Kurds its strictly prohibited” another local shop owner said.