Rights Group: Security Agents Killed At Least 20 in Sistan and Baluchistan Province in 2017
At least 20 ethnic Baluchis were killed and 19 wounded after being shot by law enforcement agents who were allegedly pursuing suspected traffickers in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province in 2017, according to a local human rights group.
“Because of the security situation and the complexities of the region, we don’t have access to all the information… but in 2017 we were able to document at least 39 casualties,” Habibollah Sarbazi, the director of the Baloch Activists Campaign (BAC), told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on February 6, 2018.
Sarbazi also told CHRI that the families of the victims have extremely limited means of obtaining justice.
“We have not been informed of any cases being resolved in a meaningful way after the victims’ families complained,” he said. “In one case, the authorities announced the arrest of an agent who had shot one of the victims but his arrest or prosecution were never confirmed.”
He continued: “In one case, we heard from a family that the agent who killed their son had been dismissed from his job. But in all other cases, the families were not able or willing to file complaints.”
Sarbazi noted that there were 26 casualties in 2016 and 25 in 2015.
Sistan and Baluchestan is one of Iran’s poorest provinces. In December 2017, Hosseinali Shahriari, the member of Parliament (MP) representing the city of Zahedan, said 80 percent of the province’s 2.8 million people live under the poverty line.
Due to the lack of job opportunities, eligible workers are drawn towards trafficking the drugs that are pouring into Iran from bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan—the main reason for the heavy security presence in the province.
However, BAC’s 2017 annual report focused on people who were killed by security forces while allegedly carrying non-drug-related contraband, such as gasoline and foodstuffs, mostly to and from the city of Chabahar’s free trade zone. These traffickers are also forced into the dangerous work due to the lack of jobs.
Mohammad Naim Aminifard, an MP representing Sistan and Baluchestan, brought up the issue in an interview with the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) in July 2017.
“In Parliament, we raised the issues facing fuel carriers and asked the authorities to find a solution for the province’s problems because if they don’t, more fuel carriers will lose their lives,” he said.