Two more kolbars killed by Iranian forces

Iranian regime forces continue their attacks on kolbars (load carriers for daily wage) at the border between Eastern and Southern Kurdistan.

Granted full impunity, Iranian border guards have once again targeted load carriers at the border.

According to Kurdistan Human Rights Association (KMMK), Iranian soldiers opened fire on kolbars on Saturday.

35-year-old İskender Mihemed from the Pishder region of Southern Kurdistan and 36-year-old Ebubekir Mihemedi from the Goreshir village in Serdesht city fell into the Kanimereş river after being hit by bullets.

According to KMMK, the body of one of the kolbars has been found, while the other is still missing.

The tragedy of the kolbars

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 years, some 300 kolbars and kasibkars were killed in cold blood. There are no absolute statistics available for the deaths.