Reports say that state security forces killed a young man identified as Reza Ebrahimi. Another porter was injured in the same incident. On another occasion, border patrol agents in the city of Sardasht in the western part of the country shot and injured a young porter. The relatives and friends of this victim identified as Younes Pirooti took him to the hospital for medical attention. He lives in a village close to the city of Sardasht.
In a nearby area – Khoy district – a group of porters were targeted by IRGC and border patrol agents. A young man named Naji Abu-Bakri was severely injured when a bullet went through a massive artery on his thigh. He lost a huge amount of blood and had to be taken to a hospital in Urmia – a nearby city.
Over the past few years, many porters have been killed or injured by the regime’s suppressive forces. As well as being deliberately targeted by violent agents, the people that work as porters are also at risk because of a number of other factors. Some porters have died after stepping on landmines that are still around since the Iran-Iraq war of the eighties. There are also the risk factors that come from working in the mountains, such as extreme weather, falling rocks, uneven terrain, and so on.
The Iranian regime has tried to justify its killing of porters. Officials have said that the porters are effectively smugglers and should be treated as such. Unfortunately for the porters, this means that the regime will carry out shootings on porters with impunity. No legal implications affect those that carry out such atrocities.
Being a porter is a physically tough and demanding job. It is not a desirable profession, but many fall into it because they have very little choice because of social factors. In the province of Kurdistan, the unemployment rate has reached 40 per cent in some areas for the young people. Instead of willingly working as a porter, it is seen as an obligation for many. It is a profession that is concentrated across many areas on the Iranian border with Turkey.
In its annual report on the human rights situations in Iran, Amnesty International expressed its deep concern about the discrimination that ethnic minorities face. It said that the organisation is worried about the unlawful killing of tens of Kurdish kulbars (porters) over the course of the year 2018.
The regime’s treatment of these porters is just one more example of its blatant disregard of human rights.