Iran 14 May 2019

Kurdish border porters (Kolbars) suffered another deadly week. On Thursday, near the Nowsud crossing with Iraqi Kurdistan, Iranian border guards ambushed a group of Kolbars, which resulted in the death of a 50-year-old man who fell from a cliff while trying to escape. The victim, identified as Hadi Mosazada, is from a village in Javanrud (Jwanro), Kermanshah province. On Friday, near Piranshahr crossing point, Iranian border guards attacked and severely injured 21-year-old Assad Burka. Burka later died in Piranshahr hospital. On Saturday, Iranian security forces fired on a vehicle on the main road between Bokan and Shahin Dej city, killing one Kurdish businessman and severely injuring another.  On Sunday, Iranian guards shot and wounded a Kolbar on the Beyuran heights of Sardasht city. 29-year-old Mohideen Rahimi was carrying goods into Iraqi Kurdistan. According to the Kurdistan Human Rights Association (KMMK), 36 Kurdish Kolbars and businesspeople have been killed and 73 injured since the beginning of 2019.

A group of municipality workers protested poor living conditions and unpaid wages in front of the governorate of Khorramabad city. The protesters chanted slogans calling for social justice from the Iranian regime. On Sunday, taxi drivers in Urmia held a one-day strike protesting the high prices of auto parts due to the devaluation of the Iranian rial and declining economy. The taxi drivers also complained about low income resulting from strict regulations imposed by the Iranian regime.  Since last year, dozens of strikes and protests have occurred in the Kurdish region and across Iran in response to the deteriorating economic situation.

On Wednesday, Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) arrested a Kurdish labor activist named Ishaq Roohi in Sanandaj. The reasons for his arrest were unknown. Meanwhile, two Kurdish environmental activists were transferred to jail for trial after spending six months in Ettela’at detention following their December 2018 arrest. Sirwan Qurbani and Hadi Kamangar were among eight activists arrested for social activism. The fate of the other six activists remains unknown. Also in Sanandaj, the Islamic Court of Appeals postponed a ruling on the sentence of two prominent Kurdish activists: Mokhtar Zeraai and Khaled Hosseini. Both activists were sentenced to three years in prison in March 2019 for “organizing protests and cooperating with enemies against national security.” In Urmia, the Islamic Court sentenced three Kurds to between eight months and one year in prison for “membership of opposition parties.” The fate of several Kurdish activists jailed by the Ettela’at remains unclear, as Ettela’at detainees can be held without trial or the possibility of release.