Photographer Sadegh Souri is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this article. From his project ‘Smuggling Victims‘. To see Sadegh’s body of work click on any photograph.
Eesa, 29 Eesa was a helper in a fuel vehicle. They were going to the border with 2500 liters of diesel when the police fired at them. Their vehicle was shot by a few bullets. The driver lost control of the car and the car capsized outside the road. Eesa was shot and lost his leg.
Behrooz, 26 To cover the expenses of his sister’s wedding, Behrooz and his brother decided to smuggle fuel. They took 2000 liters of diesel to the border. On the way and around Lake Hamoon, they encountered the police. The police fired, Behrooz was hit in the leg, and he was taken to the hospital. The bullet had destroyed his pelvis and he has not been well even after a few surgeries.
Hajar, 22 Hajar’s father kept diesel in his house, and their house was the diesel depot where the smugglers loaded. Hajar was playing near the diesel barrels when they caught fire. She was burnt severely. Hajar has had a few surgeries, but her father cannot cover the hospital expenses any more. The father lost everything in the fire. Hajar and her father have become seriously depressed after the fire, and they seldom leave home.
Mohammad, 31 Mohammad lives in a border village. He was grazing the sheep on Lake Hamoon bed 8 years ago. When the police fired at the escaping fuel smugglers in the place Mohammad was grazing his sheep, he was accidentally shot in the left eye, and the bullet exited through his right eye. He lost both eyes in the surgery. The officer who fired at Mohammad was never identified. He has two daughters and one son, and earns a living in a small shop in the village.
Six million litres of diesel and paraffin oil are smuggled from Iran to Pakistan every day, which amounts to about two billion litres every year. Joblessness, drought, and the low price of fuel in Iran compared to Pakistan are the main reasons for fuel smuggling, which have led most of the young people in Sistan and Baluchistan Province to choose this profitable and dangerous job. More than 3000 vehicles in the province are smuggling fuel.
To prevent the fuel smuggling, the police do not allow the smugglers to cross the border in various ways. Therefore, the drivers of fuel vehicles drive very fast to escape from the police. As a result, the vehicles crash, capsize, and catch fire.
Crossing the border is forbidden for the vehicles without permission. If vehicles enter the border zone, the police have the right to shoot. In many cases, the officers shoot at the tires and stop the car, and in many cases, the bullets hit smugglers in the leg. According to the statistics, smugglers are mostly wounded in the leg. An average of 10 to 20 people are maimed or killed every month in the shooting or accidents.
Dadmohammad, 45 Dadmohammad lives in a border village in Iran. He used to be a farmer. After the droughts in Sistan, he could not go on farming. He says they didn’t have even bread to eat. He and other villagers decided to smuggle fuel with their donkeys 8 years ago. They took 4 cans to Iran Afghanistan border every day and earned a living. One day the police fired at them and he lost his leg.
Lal Khan, 35 Lal Khan took 2000 litres of diesel to the Pakistan border. On his way back, there was a shooting. He was shot and taken to the hospital after bleeding severely for half an hour on the road. His spinal cord was damaged. Lal Khan does not know who shot him. He is now paralysed in two legs.
Naser, 26 Naser and his father started smuggling fuel to earn a living. On the first night of their work, they went to the fuel depot with 50 empty barrels. The police fired at them. Naser was hit by the bullet in his spinal column and was seriously wounded. Naser and his father sued the police and after two years, they succeeded in getting 30 million for compensation. But Naser is confined to the house and cannot work.
Ahmad, 38 Ahmad used to be a fisherman and earned a living on Lake Hamoon. After the lake dried up, Ahmad decided to carry diesel to the eastern borders on his donkey. The police stopped him and confiscated his load. On the way back, the police shot him in the leg, and his donkey was shot to death. People took Ahmad to the hospital. The bullet had destroyed his leg bone and the doctors amputated his leg.