Yavar Veisi, a 27-year-old Kurdish porter, or kolbar, embarked on a perilous journey from the Iranian city of Paveh, in western Kermanshah province, to the Nosud border crossing with Iraq on the evening of November 26.
His return was marred by tragedy. The young man was found dead and carried back by fellow kolbars who had witnessed his fatal encounter with Iranian border guards.
Hours before the tragedy, another kolbar, 17-year-old Farooq Alizadeh, met a similar fate hundreds of kilometers away.
The incidents highlighted the plight of the kolbars, porters who hauls goods on their back across the borders of Iran and over long distances, mostly in the impoverished, mountainous Kurdish areas adjacent to Iraq, to make a living.
The Iranian authorities label kolbars as "smugglers,” but human rights organizations maintain that their activity is a form of survival for many men living in impoverished border regions where economic opportunities are scarce.
Yavar, a football enthusiast who dropped out of school after graduation due to financial constraints, was struck down by a bullet.
He was a devoted father to two children aged two years and five months.
According to his companions, Yavar was unarmed and was not even carrying a cargo when he was shot.
Human rights activists condemned his killing and the security forces’ blatant disregard for human life.
"Yavar was shot by forces of the [Nosud] border regiment despite not having crossed the Iraqi border or carrying any cargo,” a source tells IranWire. “He succumbed to his severe injuries an hour after being transferred to the medical center in Nosud."
"His brother and several others were there and saw that he did not even have a load with him. They targeted an ordinary passer-by," the source adds.
On the morning of September 26, Farooq's life was cut short by Iranian border guards near the Baneh border crossing, leaving behind a family grappling with grief.
The bullet hit Yavar's chest, while Farooq was struck in the head.
A video of a smiling Farooq struggling to carry the load his companions had put on his back highlights the harsh realities faced by kolbars.
Photos of Yavar and his children captured the tender bond between the young father and his family.
According to human rights organizations, at least 594 kolbars have been killed by Iranian border guards in the past 12 years. The victims have either been shot or fell from heights while avoiding gunfire.
Additionally, 1,364 kolbars have been injured, while five others have been reported as missing.
As many as 36 of those killed and wounded were under 18 years old.