Several porters in Iran’s western border region, especially in Kurdistan province, have been murdered or injured by the State Security Forces (SSF), Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and Border Guards over the past few weeks.

On October 25, two porters were wounded after the Border Guards shot them between the cities of Baneh and Piranshahr.

On October 18, father-of-two Amin Shams was killed in the Chaldoran border area of West Azarbaijan province by SSF units who opened fire on a group of porters.

On October 17, a porter was wounded in Baneh after Border Guards started shooting at a group of porters.

On October 13, three porters were wounded when Border Guards opened fire on them.

In total, including several incidents not listed here, at least 12 porters were murdered or injured in October because regime forces started shooting at them. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident.

On September 8, the state-run Jahane Sanaat daily wrote that almost 15 porters have died in the border regions of Piranshahr and Sardasht in the previous two months, even though they were in areas where “passaging was previously free and legal”.

The commanders of these forces defend the brutal and often deadly attacks on porters with the unfounded claim that they only target those breaking the law, but even if this was true, is death the true punishment for smuggling in Iran? No, of course not.

Summary of Repression and Human Rights Violations in Iran – October 2020

The porters, who are carrying heavy loads across dangerous terrain, take on the job because of a lack of economic opportunities – the result of the regime’s disastrous policies – and they barely even make ends meet. They’re clearly not doing anything illegal or they would make more money. Yet, the regime is trying to kill them.

Border Guards chief Ahamd Ali Goudarzi even claimed that his forces were protecting the porters, but protecting them from what? Returning home to their families?

The regime officials are trying to whitewash state-sanctioned murder when it is obvious that the regime is deliberately killing porters in order to protect the illegal smuggling operation run by the regime.

Indeed, roughly $30 billion in smuggled goods are transferred from Iran to neighboring countries, but it is mainly moved state borders and customs that the security forces control.

Kurdistan porters in Iran

In fact, just days ago, 17 trucks filled with hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of contraband medicines were delivered to Iraq through the same border where the porters were killed.

“Such institutionalized smuggling is mainly carried out through the country’s unofficial and shadow economy, largely by state organizations, the military and security institutions, more specifically the IRGC and entities affiliated to the office of regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei,” the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) stated.

These are the most corrupt sectors under the mullahs’ rule… Such institutionalized corruption allows different types of corrupt individuals to plunder and rob billions of dollars of Iran’s revenue and wealth,” the statement added.