Locals find bodies of 5 Kurdish couriers from Iran killed in Turkish avalanche
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The bodies of five Kurdish couriers known as Kulbars have been found, just over a week after they were killed in an avalanche in a rural mountainous region between the Turkish provinces of Wan and Hakari, not far from the borders of Iran and the Kurdistan Region.
"Eight days after the death of five border crossers from the village of Goran in the Soma and Bradost region in (Iran's) Urmia province, their bodies were all found yesterday by the people of the region and they were brought back to their hometown," reported Hengaw, an Iranian Kurdish rights watchdog.
The term "kulbar," as they are referred to in Kurdish, are individuals who carry goods on their backs through rugged mountains to transport them from between Iran, Turkey, and the Kurdistan Region.
A resident of the village of Goran told Kurdistan 24, "Throughout the past week the Iranian political and security authorities did not provide any kind of assistance to the families of the victims in finding the bodies," noting also that "Turkish armed forces also threatened to shoot people who went to find the bodies of the victims."
Kulbar (“kul” meaning "back" and “bar” meaning "carrying") is the Kurdish term for individuals who smuggle small amounts of goods across the border. Though illegal, it is a local practice that has long since been accepted as normal in the economically undeveloped areas where many residents depend on it for their livelihoods.
With little to no other sources of income, they trek through risky mountain roads carrying tobacco, clothes, tea, and other items in heavy packages strapped to their backs, often towering more than one meter above their shoulders.
Kulbars carry an average of 75 kilograms (150 pounds) as they journey across the Zagros Mountains, back and forth, to make a living amid rampant local unemployment.
Editing b John J. Catherine