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Protests In Baneh At The Killing Of Two Border Porters

People of Baneh in Kurdistan Province protest at the killing of border porters.

Residents in the Western Iranian city of Baneh in Kurdistan Province continued protests and went on strike on September 5 to voice their outrage at the killing of two porters by border troops.

The porters were shot dead as they carried merchandise across the porous border with Iraq. A lot of consumer merchandise is smuggled across the Iran-Iraq border, often by human carriers to evade patrolled roads and border crossings.

On September 4, two porters were shot dead by Iranian border guards and one of them was a village chief.

Families of the victims and residents in Baneh began their protests on Monday and continued to voice anger on Tuesday, demanding the government deal with this incident.

The Iranian Labor News Agency, ILNA, reported that people in the region believe the reason for the smuggling is a lack of jobs, which drives young people to the dangerous work. They insist that security forces should refrain from opening fire at “porters,” as they are called in Iran.

Baneh’s representative in the parliament, Mohsen Biglari, told ILNA that he will follow up on the issue with all relevant national authorities and demand justice for the two victims.

He also said the work of these laborers should be regulated and authorities should refrain from use of force against this underprivileged class.

Another member of parliament had earlier announced that there are around 70,000 border porters in Iran and had asked for regulating and organizing their work.

It is not clear what these members of parliament mean by regulating cross-border unsupervised merchandise transfers, if it is in essence illegal.

Iran has strict and complicated import laws, especially for highly desired and banned or restricted consumer items, such as alcoholic drinks and foreign fashion merchandise. This leads to strong demand, which is fulfilled by various methods, including smuggling.

Government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht has also told the media that a draft law is being prepared that would essentially allow porters to continue their work.