LOS ANGELES, United States (Kurdistan24) - Viral images of Kurdish kulbar (border courier) shot dead or injured by Iranian guards ignited a Twitter storm on Sunday to raise awareness about an ongoing issue that has been affecting Kurdish and Baluch minorities in Iran.
The Kurdish term “kulbar” consists of: “kul” meaning back and “bar” meaning carrying. “Kulbaran” is the plural form.
#KurdishLivesMatter is the hashtag inspired by the Black Lives Matter protest in the United States that condemns the disproportionate killing of African-Americans by the police.
Finding no other means to earn a livelihood, Kurds in the impoverished Kurdish region of Iran, known as Rojhelat among Kurds, risk their lives to smuggle goods across Iran-Iraq border.
They climb impassable passages for long hours, and sometimes days, while carrying goods such as tobacco and tea to make as little as $10 a day.
IMPUNITY FOR MURDER
United Nations’ last March report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran states that the arbitrary killing of the unarmed kulbar is “in violation of Iran’s domestic laws and international obligations.”
In response to the UN concern with the plight of the border couriers, Iran said “[I]t is very difficult to distinguish drug traffickers and armed bandits from real Koulbaran [sic] at [the] borders.”
Iranian laws dictate that the border guards can fire their weapon only if they believe the trespasser is armed and dangerous and only after following these steps: first, an oral warning, second, by shooting into the air, and third, targeting the lower body if they must fire.
But activists say that border guards fire at anything that moves among the trees and bushes, be it a human, an animal, or breeze, and they enjoy impunity for it.