Iran cracks down on Kurdish protesters: report

Dozens of Iranian Kurds have been arbitrarily detained in the aftermath of peaceful demonstrations across the region in protest to the unaccountable killing of Kulbar.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Dozens of Iranian Kurds have been arbitrarily detained in the aftermath of peaceful demonstrations across the region in protest to the unaccountable killing of Kulbar, a rights organization said.

The arrest of over 30 activists has been reported, said the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN).

Last Thursday, thousands took to the streets in the city center of Sanandaj in a peaceful protest to the continuous and random killing of Kulbaran (border couriers) by Iranian regime soldiers. 

The move was also in solidarity with the protests that started in other Kurdish cities, particularly Baneh and Mariwan. 

Demonstrators in Baneh on Tuesday asked the governor to bring the killers of the Kulbaran to justice or resign.

In response, Iranian authorities militarized the city and temporarily detained several protesters.

Thousands in military uniforms and plain clothes have been deployed in Kurdish cities to intimidate the crowd into stopping their democratic demands, as shown by footage and images shared on social media.

Civil activists in Syrian Kurdistan showed solidarity with Iranian Kurds, as declared in a tweet by Ilham Ehmed, co-chairperson of the Syrian Democratic Council, and a gathering of civil activists in Kobane.

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also declared support for demonstrations by the Kurds in Iran.

“I, as a Kurd from Bakur [Turkey’s Kurdistan], am with all our people in Rojhelat [Iranian Kurdistan]. They are not alone,” HDP’s spokesperson Osman Baydemir told Kurdistan 24.

People in the Iranian Kurdish cities of Baneh, Mariwan, and Sanandaj have been on the streets protesting the killing of two civilian couriers: Ghader Bahrami, 41, father of four, and Heydar Faraji, 22.

“Those engaging in hostility against the Kurds have been defeated. Those who befriended the Kurdish people have succeeded,” he said.

The Kurdish term “Kulbar” consists of “kul” meaning back and “bar” meaning carrying. “Kulbaran” is the plural form.

Finding no other means to earn a living, Kulbaran climb impassable roads for long hours, sometimes days, while carrying goods such as tobacco and tea to make as little as $10 a day.

Shooting unarmed border couriers is a violation of Iran’s own laws as well as international laws.

Lawyer Sara Mohamadi 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, speaking on the phone.

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.

However, she mentioned her colleagues in other parts of Iran have been able to receive compensation for some of their clients.

“Even in rare cases when fair judges rule that the families of dead border couriers can receive compensation, the money is paid by the government,” the Kurdish lawyer said.

“It is unheard of that a border guard be questioned for killing a human,” she added.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany