Border security and shooting to kill
Iranian law stipulates various penalties for smugglers depending on the value of the smuggled goods. E.g., 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.
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.
The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, which records violations committed against Kurds in Iran, told Navanti that from the beginning of 2019 until August, the IRGC killed 51 kolbers, including 4 people under the age of 17. In the same period, Iranian authorities injured 119 kolbers.