“Kolbari kolnader” – Kolbars don’t bend.

This photo story by Loez explores the everyday experiences of the Kurdish population living along the Iran-Iraq border – focusing specifically on those people, the kolbar, or kolber in Kurdish, who risk their lives transporting goods across the border.

Loez has been exploring the lives and the struggles of the Kurdish people since 2014, and started this particular story in 2017, returning again in 2019 to complete it. The name Loez is a pseudonym used by the photographer to protect his identity and allow him to continue to document life in Kurdistan.

The story behind the photos:

The situation of the Kurds in Iran is less known than that of other parts of Kurdistan. Yet there too the state’s repression strikes down ferociously any voice that rises against the regime of the mullahs. The colonial management of the Kurdish margins by the central state is reflected in particular in the fate
of kolbars.

These women and men are risking their lives carrying on their back goods from Iraq to Iran. In addition to the dangers of steep and mine-infested mountains, they’re facing each day the repression of border guards who do not hesitate to open fire on them. The deaths are in the hundreds, while thousands of people are forced every day to resume the paths of the mountain, because of the lack of other economic alternative in areas maintained voluntarily in precariousness by the regime.

The life of kolbars synthesizes both the impact of the nation-states on the Kurdish people, the excesses pushed to the extreme of neo-liberalism to fuel the Iranian consumer society at any price. The detrimental effect of the sanctions of the USA on Iran, only makes things more precarious for populations already maintained under pressure by the regime.

All Images © Loez