Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) forces killed at least eight fuel porters (Sokhtbars) and injured dozens more after shooting at them in Sistan and Baluchistan province on Monday, February 22.
The IRGC dug massive ditches near the Iran-Pakistan border to stop fuel porters crossing and when the porters protested, the IRGC opened fire. They then dumped several victims’ bodies into a canal and prevented anyone from going near them.
At least 40 protesters have been killed on February 22 and February 23 in brutal attacks, and over 100 people wounded and hospitalized, some in critical condition. The IRGC also set fire to dozens of vehicles with which the porters transferred their fuel.
Sistan and Baluchistan is among the poorest Iranian provinces. Even some regime officials are acknowledging how bad things are in Sistan and Baluchistan.
In September, MP Ali Khezrian said: “We travelled to the city of Iranshahr, the second-largest city in southeast Iran, and visited its villages. Unfortunately, the people of this area are deprived of facilities, such as showers and toilets. There were no suitable electricity facilities in the villages.”
But the Baluchi ethnic minorities face additional financial stresses due to discrimination against them. This means that many are forced to carry fuel over the border, in highly dangerous conditions, in order to put food on the table.
Even then, the IRGC take most of the money earnt by the porters and shoot them rather than pay them. They claim this fights smuggling, but the Iranian Resistance challenges this.
They wrote: “Iran’s largest mafia and smuggling network is under the IRGC’s control… The IRGC controls the majority of this smuggling network and controls nearly 90 ports in Iran, which are nearly 45% of Iran’s 212 official ports. The IRGC’s imports and exports from these ports is evaluated at nearly $12 billion each year.”
Even the state-run Tasnim news agency wrote in 2017 that Iran sees some $15-20 billion worth of smuggled goods per year, which costs jobs and hurts the economy.
Sometimes, the IRGC kills the porters to intimidate the public. This is also the case in northwest Iran, where border porters (Kolbars) are systematically killed. Border provinces have high rates of unemployment and deprivation because of regime corruption.
Maryam Rajavi, the Resistance’s President, said: “The clerical regime plunders the wealth of the people of Iran or wastes it on war and suppression. Children of the regime’s leaders are living lavish lives in Europe and the U.S. while deprived Iranian children have to work as porters.”
The clerical regime plunders the wealth of the people of #Iran or wastes it on war and suppression. Children of the regime’s leaders are living lavish lives in Europe and the U.S. while deprived Iranian children have to work as porters.— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) December 21, 2019
The Resistance have always said that the only way to end theses egregious human rights abuses is for the people to overthrow the clerical regime, which is their desire.