A bus traveling from Zahedan to Abadeh hit a parked truck and overturned on June 24, killing five people on board. All five were reported to be soldiers preparing to take part in a training operation and had worked for the Ministry of Education. Thirty-nine passengers were on board the bus when it crashed.
Independent media named the dead as Yadollah Nahidi, Nasser Golestanzadeh, Tayeb Shahbakhsh, Rashid Pahang and Abdolrahman Daliri, although this information has not been confirmed by Iranian state media.
According to law enforcement officials, the fatal accident, which happened outside the village of Deshir in Sistan and Baluchistan, was due to a technical defect in the Volvo bus’ brake system.
The news broke just hours after it was announced that journalists Reyhaneh Yasini and Mahshad Karimi had been killed in a bus crash near Lake Urmia.
Some media initially reported that five further passengers were in critical condition, while others put the death toll at seven. Official outlets reported the five fatalities, but have released no names, only stating that three of the dead were Baluchi teachers who had been serving in the military.
Human rights activist and editor of the Rasanak website Massoud Raisi reported that while three of the men killed were teachers who had currently been serving in the military, one of those killed worked for the NAJA unit of the police force and the fifth was an “assistant driver.” There was no indication that he had been driving the bus at the time of the crash, and it was not specified whether he would have been tasked with driving for part of the journey.
Raisi told IranWire he had obtained the names of those killed. Yadollah Nahidi was the NAJA officer, Nasser Golestanzadeh was the driver, and Tayeb Shahbakhsh, Rashid Pahang and Abdolrahman Daliri were all soldiers.
IranWire journalists reported that the three soldiers were all from Sistan and Baluchistan. Tayeb Shahbakhsh was from Zahedan, Rashid Pahang was from Kant village in Sib and Suran County and Abdolrahman Daliri was from the village of Rudakan Bamposht.
Baluchi activists assisted IranWire in identifying the Instagram accounts of those who lost their lives, and added that they were victims of neglect and that the Iranian government did not value the lives of people living in Iran’s border regions. What can their Instagram posts tell us about these men and what sort of lives they led?
Abdol Rahman Daliri
Only one photograph could be found of Abdol Rahman Daliri, and that was his profile photo on Instagram, where he had only published two posts, possibly because internet access in the area is so dire. He was from the village of Rudakan Bampasht, which has a population of just 261.
Abdol Rahman's last post on Instagram was in early May, a short video in which he asks God to grant his loved ones sustenance, health and goodness. His other post was a photograph of him wearing a green jacket over traditional Baluchi clothing and holding a hookah. His profile includes a hadith:”O God, protect me from the fire of Hell."
Rashed Pahang was from the village of Kant in Sib and Suran county. His photographs suggest he had a passion for life: they show a bright-eyed young man wearing traditional Baluchi clothing, and hugging friends in various settings. Accompanying one selfie showing him with his hand on a friend's shoulder are the words from a poem: “I write in my heart that a master of art should sit with a master,” and then the caption: "A photo of me and the professor and other friends in cyberspace."
Teacher and solider Tayeb Shahbakhsh, originally from Zahedan, was a graduate of Sistan and Baluchistan University. He too seems to have led a full, active life. ”We live on Earth to enjoy life," he wrote in one of his posts, posting a photo of himself at the seaside, hands on his knees, after evidently drawing a heart in the sand. "Do not listen to those who tell you otherwise."
In another post, he can be seen in a car with two young children, a boy and a girl, along with a caption expressing his love for them. Both bear an unmistakable resemblance to him, and there are a lot of comments below the photograph, including many that say "May God protect them." It is not known whether these are Tayeb Shahbakhsh’s own children or perhaps his niece and nephew. There’s another photograph with romantic words, the words of a lover addressing his sweetheart, telling her how much he values her love.
Exactly five years and one day before the tragic accident that took the lives of Tayeb Shahbakhsh and at least four others in Sistan and Baluchistan province, a bus traveling in the Neyriz valley came off a cliff in Fars province, killing 19 soldiers.
A photograph taken by one of the soldiers from the “05 Barracks” in Kerman has been shared online often since the fatal crash. The photo shows a group of young people who were supposed to return to normal, happy lives after completing their military service. They are all smiling, some of them making victory signs with their fingers for the camera.
Two years and six months ago, there was another bus accident, killing 10 students from the Science and Research Branch of Azad University. The bus was still on campus when the tragedy occurred.
And of course, there are the sad deaths of journalists Mahshad Karimi and Reyhaneh Yasini, who were on a Scania bus traveling from Tehran to Urmia when it overturned. The two journalists, who reported regularly on the environment, were traveling to cover a restoration project for the lake.
That crash happened just 12 hours before the bus carrying the soldiers crashed en route to Zahedan.
These sad stories seem to repeat themselves. Abdol Rahman's good prayers for his loved ones, the youth and energy of Rashed, and Tayeb’s expressions of love could not protect them, and the same can be said for the hundreds of people who have needlessly died as passengers on Iran’s dangerous buses, so many of them death traps in need of maintenance and upkeep.