By Amir Taghati
During the month of May, it has been reported that at least five porters died and more than a dozen wounded. It is thought that four of the porters were shot dead.
Becoming a porter is not an easy decision in Iran and it is not a choice profession. It is one that people turn to when they are suffering under extreme poverty. Unfortunately, in Iran, more and more people are living under the poverty line, and those in the border regions face the highest levels of unemployment.
Porters – some of whom are extremely young and some of whom are very elderly – carry huge loads on their back (between 100 and 150 kilograms). They have to navigate through some very rough terrain in the mountains, cross tricky rivers and work through the harsh winters and sweltering summers.
On May1st, Taher Hekmati, a 33-year-old porter with a wife and four children was shot and killed by armed security forces. On 3st May, another porter named Kamal Mohammadi was shot and killed by armed forces at the Baneh border.
It is estimated that there are between 350,000 and 500,000 porters in Iran, although the Iranian regime’s official figures downplay the extent of the crisis stating 68,000.
The regime was supposed to be taking action to address the problem, but nothing has changed. It had suggested creating “free zones” in border areas and insuring the porters. It was also suggested that they could be given special prices for customs charges so that they would head towards the legal borders.
Instead of improving their conditions, the Iranian regime has made them worse by closing walkways and ensuring that they are still targeted by regime agents.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main opposition to the Iranian regime, has mentioned on numerous occasions that the situation of porters needs to be addressed urgently by the regime. These people are already facing a tremendous burden of economic hardship, but they have to endure physical and emotional trauma, just to make a small living to support their families. It is very unfair that they are pursued by authorities.
The NCRI has been working towards a free and democratic Iran for decades and it is the only viable opposition group that exists. It has exposed the regime’s nuclear activities and corruption and defended the human rights of the people.
Porters are only one section of society that is targeted by the Iranian regime. Ethnic minorities, religious minorities, women and students are also targeted. Reporters, journalists, artists, human rights activists and free thinkers are also victim to the Iranian regime’s cruel campaigns of terror and oppression.
A huge number of political prisoners have been executed over the years with the most horrific crime against humanity being the 1988 massacre in which 30,000 political prisonerswere killed in the space of one single summer.
All countries that uphold human rights for their own citizens must speak up about the denial of human rights in Iran.
This article was first published by ncr-iran