Réseau Syndical International de Solidarité et de Luttes

jeudi, 7 juillet 2022



In Iran, Kolbars should not be forgotten

Accueil > International (Engl) > Asia > In Iran, Kolbars should not be forgotten

West of Iran, the Kurdish regions, called Rojhelat and populated by 8 to 10 million Kurds, are subjected to a discriminatory and repressive policy from the iranian regime, which fiercely suppresses all political contestation and identity claims. To keep the population in precariousness, it restrained the economic development of the region, installing hardly any industry there and redirecting the production of resources mainly in the interest of the central regions of the country. Unemployment is endemic there, with no job opportunity for young people who have to massively exile in the big persian cities.

The Iraq-Iran border offers the only economic alternative for thousands of inhabitants of Rojhelat : the kolbari, that is to say the cross-border exchanges of goods, through the mountains, carried on the back of a man or a mule. At high risks, all kinds of goods thus transit from Iraq to Iran : from baby diapers to household appliances, including clothes, blankets, car tires, tea ... and also, products banned in Iran : satellite antennas, alcohol, cigarettes. These goods will then supply the markets of big cities, as far as Tehran. All along the border, thousands of workers, including children and elderly people, make the journey every day risking their lives to barely earn enough to support their families from day to day. Only businessmen who hire the kolbars get richer. The activity of the kolbars is in a gray area, subject to political vagaries and the goodwill of the authorities : sometimes legal, sometimes tolerated, sometimes illegal.

Besides the dangers of the mountains, freezing in winter and scorching in summer, and whose soils are infested with mines, they are under fierce repression from the Iranian government. According to their good will, and to the bribes paid to them, the border guards can decide to turn a blind eye on the activity of the kolbars or, on the contrary, to shoot on sight, under the pretext of "state security. " and "the fight against smuggling ". In 2019, 79 kolbars died, including 57 shot dead, murdered by border guards, and 165 were injured. Many are sentenced to prison terms or heavy fines that they cannot paid. If the Iranian authorities ended up putting in place work permits, they were distributed in a largely insufficient number and under conditions that were too restrictive, in particular on the number of authorized trips so that their holders could earn a decent living. In fact, it gave above all an additional legal argument to suppress the major part of the Kolbars, who work without a license.

The fate of the kolbars synthesizes both the impact of the nation-states and their assimilative policies on the Kurdish people, the extreme drifts of neo-liberalism to fuel the Iranian consumer society at all costs while maintaining a population in the most extreme precariousness, and the harmful effect of the sanctions of the USA on Iran, which only make more precarious populations already kept under pressure by the regime.

As trade unions, we denounce the repressive policies of the Iranian regime towards the kolbars and more generally the Kurds. We draw the attention of workers and the international community to the humanitarian and social disaster of the situation of the Kolbars. The Iranian government must stop the repression of the Kolbars and the assassinations, respect human rights and allow the development of real economic alternatives for the people of Rojhelat.

Also supported by Kurdistan Human Rights Network