The 331st Session of ‘Night of Memorials’ - 1

Sepideh Kholousian
Translated by: Zahra Hosseinian


The 331st Session of ‘Night of Memorials’ was held on Thursday, December 23, 2022, with the subject of ‘Memorial of Mehdi Khanbanpour’ in the Soureh Hall of the Hozeh Honari, performed by Davoud Salehi.

The session began with playing videos of Mehdi Khanbanpour[1] on the previous ‘Night of Memorials’ events, and also in memory of Shahid Qasem Soleimani. In the beginning, the presenter shared a memory quoted from one of Khanbanpour’s friends, and said: ‘When a friend went to see Mehdi for the last time, he asked him to advice or to mention a point.’ Mehdi had replied: ‘Only the Night of Memorials.’ The presenter then shared the memory of Haj Qasem Soleimani: ‘in one of the sessions, Haj Qasem patted Mehdi on the shoulder and said: “you’re so lucky to work for the martyrs.” The presenter continued: ‘Indeed, the late Khanbanpour gave his life to keep the memory of the martyrs alive, and we, too, have followed him, and on his anniversary, we have invited narrators of the ‘Night of Memorials’.’ In addition, we invited all those who were somehow the executives of the ‘Night of Memorials’ or guests during these years to share a short memory about Mehdi.

Mr. Moradian, the first narrator of this session, was one of the warriors of the 8-year holy defense, who accompanied Martyr Soleimani for many years. After commemorating the martyrs, especially Martyr Soleimani, he told his memories in Syria: ‘The shrine of Hazrat Zainab (PBUH) in Syria has a main gate on the main street and a gate on the back alley, which we called the entrance from the place of Dr. Shariati’s tomb. The day we deployed to fight ISIL, the forces of ISIL invaded through the main street and were close to the shrine. If we were not shot, and our comrades were not injured by the shell-60, about six or seven ones could visit the shrine during the day. The enemies had taken up positions in ‘Fadqa al Safir, which overlooked the shrine and aimed at anyone who entered the shrine. We built an alley with concrete blocks and called it ‘Martyrs' Alley’. The reason for building that alley was to be away from ISIS’s sight. At night they could not spot us, so we could visit the shrine by crossing the alley. Sardar Soleimani commanded that ISIL should move away from the shrine first of all. He had the first and final word in the war strategy and had strange views. He joined us in the early years of fighting against ISIS when the newly Fatemiyoun and Zainebiyoun formed.[2] The Shiites of the patriotic defense and the Syrians and the Lebanese Hezbollah joined us at the same time, and the main command was with the Iranians and the Hezbollah. We started the operation on the first of Muharram and kicked out ISIL from the holy shrine of Hazrat Zainab (PBUH). At the beginning of the war, it was always said that the clashes took place in the Reef province of Damascus, in western Ghouta and eastern Ghouta. The shrine of Hazrat Zainab (PBUH) was located at East Ghouta, where had to be liberated. The fighters pushed ISIS back ten kilometers. They had to advance house by house in order they come forward. When things calmed down, we arrived at the shrine of Hazrat Zainab (PBUH) at noon of Tasu'a with the Lashkar-e-Hezbollah and the Iraqi Heydarioun. We are operational forces, but someone who knew cultural strategy set up a dynamic echo sound system along with some bands, and at noon, when Iranian, Lebanese, Afghan, and Iraqi people entered the shrine, they heard Mahmoud Karimi’s maddahi. At the same time, they announced that they wanted to install the flag on the dome of the shrine of Imam Hussein (AS). One of the Hezbollah members went and hoisted the flag. But when he was climbing down, he was shot by the enemy sniper and got martyred. This young man was martyred just at noon of Tasu'a.

The presenter then invited the second narrator, Mr. Asghar Naghizadeh, to recount his memories on the anniversary of Mehdi Khanbanpour's death. After expressing his condolences, Mr. Naghizadeh shared his memories of the late Khanbanpour online: “When I remember him, I do remember someone who worked hard for ‘Night of Memorials’ with and love from the bottom of his heart for several years. He worked with love for the sacred defense and the warriors and tried to innovate in his work every day. We had many memories together in war zones such as Dukoheh and Shalamcheh barracks. I remember that he was very happy the year we went there. I asked, ‘what happened?’ He replied, ‘God gave me a son’. I think now his son is ten or twelve years old. I congratulated him and wished him and his family long life and health. I would like to offer my condolences on the anniversary of his death to his family and friends.’

Then, the Mihrab Tawashih group, which was from Mr. Khanbanpour's neighborhood, was invited to perform. After that, ‘The Last Meeting’ documentary was screened, which depicts different aspects of Khanbanpour's life from his childhood and youth.


[1] Mehdi Khanbanpour was the executive director of the ‘Night of Memorial’, who passed away in the winter of 2020.

[2] The Liwa Fatemiyoun consisted of Afghan Shiite volunteers, and Zainebiyoun Brigade consisted of Pakistani Shiites, who were defending the shrine in Syria alongside the Quds Force of the Islamic Republic.

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