Nearly 150 Iranian Kurdish Kulbar killed, wounded in 2017
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A total of 144 Kurdish couriers (Kulbar) were killed or wounded in Iranian Kurdistan in 2017, according to Hengaw, a website which tracks human rights violations in Iranian Kurdistan.
The website said 47 Kulbar were killed “as a result of direct gunfire of the Iranian security forces and 23 others were killed due to falling off mountains or other accidents.”
It added that 53 of the 97 Kulbar who were wounded were shot by Iranian border guards while 44 “fell off heights and other incidents.”
Hengaw recorded death and injury statistics for the first seven months of 2017.
Finding no other means to earn a living, Kulbar climb impassable roads for long hours, sometimes days, across the Iran-Iraq borders, while carrying goods such as tobacco and tea to make as little as 10 USD per day.
Shooting unarmed border couriers is a violation of Iran’s laws as well as international laws. However, hundreds of Kulbar lose their lives every year at the hands of border guards.
Lawyer Sara Mohamadi previously told Kurdistan 24 Iranian laws dictate that the border guards can fire their weapon only if they believe the trespasser is armed and dangerous, but “must never shoot to kill.”
“There are also specific steps they must follow: first, an oral warning, second, by shooting into the air, and third, targeting the lower body if they must fire,” Mohamadi said.
She said crossing borders without paying tariff is breaking the law, but Iran’s handling of legal cases in Kurdistan and Baluchistan is very different from the rest of the country where the judicial system is tainted by perceiving these minorities as a threat to “territorial integrity.”
Mohammadi, who has represented several Kulbar families in Iran, said none of her cases were ever received fairly in a court of law.
A 2016 United Nations report on the situation of human rights in Iran stated the arbitrary killing of the unarmed Kulbar is “in violation of Iran’s domestic laws and international obligations.”
Iran responded to the UN’s concerns claiming it was “very difficult to distinguish drug traffickers and armed bandits from real [Kulbar] at [the] borders.”