ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Merchants and shopkeepers across several towns in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat) have continued their protests against the government’s months-long closure of its northwestern border with the Kurdistan Region.
The central government in Tehran has continued a crackdown on Kurdish border couriers (Kulbar) and has been blocking paths they use to carry goods to and from Kurdistan since December 2017.
Government officials claim the border closures have been done so in coordination with the Iraqi government to bring order to border trade and preserve security in border areas.
Residents in Kurdish-populated cities of Iran rely on imported products and trade to make a living. The border closures have affected their businesses as there is now a lack of goods available to sell in stores.
Merchants and shopkeepers have vowed to continue their strikes until their demands are met as demonstrations enter the fourth week.
The cities where protests are active include Baneh, Javanrud, Mahabad, Marivan, Piranshahr, Saqqez, and Sardasht.
In Baneh, one of the main towns where protests are active, the Iranian government has deployed anti-riot police and cut internet connection so coverage of the strikes stops, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) said.
It also reported that a “vast number of military forces” are stationed at the entrance of Baneh, preventing people from leaving their homes.
There are also reports that security guards have arrested dozens of strikers during the recent days of demonstrations, KHRN said.
Footage posted and shared on social media show dozens of shops with their gates shut and large groups of people marching in protest of the current Iranian government’s policies.