ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Four environmentalists have died and 11 were wounded in the wreck of a minibus on Friday morning near the city of Saqqez in Iran’s Kurdistan province, an activist told Rudaw English.
Sirwan Fattahi, the head of medical emergencies in Saqqez, said the death toll could rise, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). Witnesses said the minibus driver went off-road after trying to avoid hitting an oncoming truck.
The group of 15 environmentalists from the Green Mountain (Chya Sabz) Organization, which is based in the city of Mariwan, was on their way to Baneh to hold a protest on a mountain peak to highlight the devastating impact of recent fires that have ravaged the Zagros Mountain Range.
“Sadly, four died and 11 were injured,” Iraj Qaderi, a fellow environmentalist, told Rudaw English via WhatsApp. “Fortunately, the 11 wounded are in stable condition.”
The activists Kawa Khosrozadeh, Arsham Aziz, Davoud Bakhish and Sholeh Qaderi were killed in the car wreck.
The accident occurred in an area called Soitah near Saqqez.
Chya Sabz is a major grassroots environmental group in Mariwan that has played a critical role across the region by raising awareness of illegal logging, wildfires and threats to the famous oak tree forests in the Kurdish areas of Iran (Rojhelat).
The group’s activists had been planning to meet with another group from the city of Baneh to bring attention to devastation caused by recent fires. The two organizations were expected to hold a protest on the peak of Arbaba Mountain near Baneh.
Four members of the same group were killed in a fire in August 2018 in Mariwan, which was widely believed to have been caused by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Sharif Bajura, a prominent civil activist and environmentalist, died while trying to put out the fire near the village of Salas.