Stop Killing Couriers and Revise Border Closure Plan
(August 30, 2012) In a letter sent to Iranian officials, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran urged Iranian authorities to revise the Border Closure Plan immediately to prioritize the life and well-being of the residents of Iran’s border regions. The Campaign also urged Iranian authorities to put an end to the use of lethal force against unarmed cross-border couriers.
The letter accompanied a report the Campaign released today, “Dangerous Borders, Callous Murders: Documenting the Killings of Couriers in Iran’s Western Provinces,” which documents extensive human rights abuses in the predominantly Kurdish border provinces of Iran. These include numerous cases of border security forces killing cross-border couriers, often called kulbar, without cause, in what appears to be a growing pattern of excessive use of lethal force.
Both the letter and the report lay out specific recommendations to the separate branches of the Iranian government, officials, and authorities.
In 2006, Iranian authorities began implementing a new border security program intended to prevent terrorists and smuggled goods from crossing its borders. In the months between March 2011 and April 2012, at least 74 low-income Iranian citizens working as cross-border couriers were killed in the border regions, and at least another 76 were injured, largely by security forces. These killings and injuries all occurred within the context of Iran’s Border Closure Plan.
“Extensive human rights abuses have been documented in the border provinces of Iran, including numerous cases of border security forces killing kulbar and kasebkar without cause,” the Campaign wrote in the letter. “Our organization has documented the killings of at least 70 low-income Iranian citizens working as cross-border couriers at the hands of security forces in its recent report, ‘Dangerous Borders, Callous Murders.’ This number includes only those cases which we were able to independently verify; the true number of victims is undoubtedly much higher,” the letter continued.
“This growing pattern of excessive use of lethal force appears to be an outcome of Iran’s ‘comprehensive project of sustainable security,’ as Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs Ali Abdollahi called the Border Closure Plan. The growing list of victims of border security violence and exposure to the inhospitable conditions of the less-patrolled areas of Iran’s southwestern, northwestern, and western borders is unacceptable,” the Campaign added.
The report features a growing list of victims of border security violence and exposure to the inhospitable conditions of the less-patrolled areas of Iran’s southwestern, northwestern, and western borders, which PressTV reported as “the Interior Ministry’s priorities.”
The recommendations are reproduced below.
To the Government of Iran:
- Put an end to the use of lethal force against unarmed kulbar and kasebkar.
- Uphold promises to enhance the economic situation of the residents of border regions.
- Adopt policies respecting economic and social rights and create conditions favorable to legal employment at livable wages in the border regions.
- Clear the landmines in border regions.
- Stop harassing local human rights activists who shed light on abuses committed by border security.
To the Iranian Judiciary:
- Investigate those killings that have occurred and hold perpetrators accountable.
- Stop using illegal methods to intimidate and silence victims and their families.
- Stop harassing the families of those who seek accountability and justice.
To the Iranian Police:
- Train border security officials to respect domestic and international law, human dignity, and life.
- Adopt clear policies to stop unlawful and unnecessary killing.
To the Iranian Parliament:
- Review border security measures and the growing pattern of border security forces killing kulbar and kasebkar without cause.
- Craft legislation to stop unlawful and unnecessary killing.