Iran makes those who step on landmines pay for 'damage to government property'

Discussion in 'Middle East' started by kazenatsu, Mar 19, 2021.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    May 15, 2017
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    Another example of the harsh nature of the justice system in Iran.
    This is totally unmerciful and cruel.

    If a smuggler steps on a landmine and injures themselves in the explosion, the government forces them to pay for "damage to government property" (the landmine). Even after that person is disabled for life.

    Sounds similar to what the Communist Chinese used to do up until the 90s--shoot protesters, and then while they were still in the hospital that injured protester would be sent a bill requiring them to pay for the cost of the bullet.
    To add insult to injury. (And because the society was very poor, so the cost of a bullet actually represented a pertinent expense)

    Iranian Kurdish men have turned to smuggling in order to make a living amidst rampant unemployment along sections of the 1,450 km Iraq-Iran border. But these kolbers, as the porters are known, face grave danger with every trip they take, and often end up wounded or dead over the course of their careers.

    Kolbers carry an average of 75 kilograms (150 pounds) on their backs as they journey across the expansive Zagros Mountains, back and forth from the Iraqi Kurdistan region into the Iranian Kurdistan region. They mainly smuggle tobacco products, auto parts, and home appliances. In Kurdish, 'kol' means back and 'ber' means bearer--though it is a simple word, it has come to represent the adversity and tragedy facing Kurdish families in northwest Iran. These people inhabit border villages and towns in Kurdish-majority districts that have been forgotten or marginalized by Iranian authorities. Residents are left with the dangerous kolber job as their only option to make money, walking long distances in mountainous terrain through extreme weather conditions.

    Stories of kolbers killed after falling from heights, or being exposed to the elements are common: in one incident in April of this year, three kolbers died from the cold in the mountains near Piranshahr. In addition, landmines planted during the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s routinely injure kolbers, while Iranian border patrols do not hesitate to shoot live ammunition should they spot the porters.

    Those smuggling consumer goods into Iraq, such as food and cigarettes, are fined or detained for a short period of time if they are caught. However, on the Iranian side the consequences are often more severe.

    Iranian law stipulates various penalties for smugglers depending on the value of smuggled goods. For cargo up to 10,000,000 IRR ($238 ), the smuggler is jailed from 90 days to 6 months and fined up to 3 times the value of the goods. The highest penalty, reserved for loads worth more than 1,000,000,000 IRR ($23,750), includes up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to 10 times the goods' value.

    This is how the law works on paper. But in practice, kolbers often face one penalty--execution--regardless of their cargo.

    The Kurdistan Human Rights Network has accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and border patrols of indiscriminately shooting at kolbers. "They killed kolbers without warning, most of the victims were killed in daytime when they [IRGC or border guards] can see clearly," said the Human Rights Network’s Rebin Rahmani. "The routes taken by smugglers are known to the border patrols and people. Moreover, they [kolbers] have been killed at a short distance. They have been killed near the southern city of Ahwaz and northwest of Mariwan city, which is about 15 kilometers from the Iraqi border…no investigation or prosecutions of any Iranian security element are being carried out," said Rahmani.

    L.W. is a kolber who spoke under the condition of anonymity to Navanti. He lost an eye and a leg on one of his journeys after a landmine exploded under his feet. He had been working as a kolber for 24 years, after he stopped going to school in sixth grade in order to help support his family. Now he is in his thirties, married with two children, and lives in Shinay village northwest of the city of Piranshahr.

    Why did L.W. decide to work as a kolber for 24 years? "I must provide food for my family. There are no other jobs in our region," he said. "I did not smuggle any forbidden goods such as alcohol, I used to bring cigarettes and appliances…for the past two years I have been handicapped [because of the landmine accident]. I spent everything I saved during the years [of work] for treatment on my injuries."

    Iranian authorities' actions against kolbers do not stop at the border. Iran forbids the use of government health programs to treat anyone who is injured in an "unlawful" act, and in fact fines kolbers for damaging government property when they detonate landmines.

    "I am not able to provide 4 million Rials ($95) for rent. A few days ago, I received a warning from the court, fining me 11 millions Rials ($261 USD) for the damage caused by the detonation of the government's landmine that cut off my leg."

    Iranian Kurdish Porters Face Death With Every Trip Into Iraq — Navanti (

    "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
    Matthew 5:7

    Of course, this is an Islamic country, where Christians face all sorts of persecution.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2021
    DennisTate likes this.
  2. scarlet witch

    scarlet witch Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Feb 26, 2016
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    Wow this is horrible, the poor man.... I'm not complaining about anything anymore
    DennisTate likes this.

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