Thirsty Sands (Part 6)


Thirsty Sands (Part 6)

Jafar Rabiei

Design: Ali Vaziri

First published in 1991

Publishing House, Islamic Propagation Organization

Printed at the Aryan


The camera man took permission to take films of me. For a moment it crossed my mind that this good treatment towards me was a prelude to a propaganda operation. As soon as the cameraman started his work, I turned away, averting my face from the camera on the excuse of being in pain. The cameraman took up another posture to get my face on full. I turned my face away again. All realized that I was purposely hiding my face from the camera. The cameraman got angry and stopped his work and murmured something in Arabic incomprehensible to me. Soon I saw one of the soldiers came angrily towards me and strongly kicked with his boot on my face and head and yelped at me in a harsh and loud voice. When he saw I did not show any reaction, he sat over my head and beat me on the mouth with his first and chided me. I knew why he had got so angry and therefore continued to remain in the same position motionless and sightless. I even did not budge. The camera­ man again started his work and took films of me and of all those standing there from different angles.

At this stage the senior commander together with the attendants moved towards our positions to see the situation of the minefield and of the frontiers. With their departure the Iraqi and Sudanese soldiers who had become angry with me began harassing me. Each of them tried to strike some blows whether with fists or by kicking or inflicting psychological torture by insulting the Imam and other officials. After a lapse of nearly an hour, those who had gone with the senior officer to visit the positions returned and for 20 minutes took films of themselves. Then they embarked on the helicopter and left the area. The sun had not yet reached its zenith, and the Ira4is were carrying some injured troops. I tried to see carefully where the injured were coming from. When they came near enough I realized that they were Iranians from their armbands. They were three. Two POWs' legs were bleeding and the other was injured in the head. The third one who came before the other I immediately recognized.

He was Nazari, one of the combatants of the Ashura Army who had completely lost his memory. Later on we were room made in the same camp. Two others named Ahmad Quurchi and Vaji-ullah, had their legs broken and were settled in the same camp. Now we were four; four POWs on the Iraqi frontline. Due to severe thirst we constantly demanded water from them. After one or two times quenching our thirst by giving us some water in a bowl, they brought water in an ewer yet we finished up all. Extreme thirst did not allow us to notice whether what was in the ewer was water or something else. The sun was gradually going down. A vehicle called “IFA” turned up with food and other supplies for the Iraqis. Since morning they had promised us that in the afternoon they would take us by a vehicle to hospital. After giving us some tomatoes they loaded us onto the IFA vehicle which proceeded towards hospital. This was the beginning of our imprisonment in its real sense. On the way, at every post, the military police came up to us on the excuse of checking the cargo jabbing the butts of their rifles in a show of strength and spiting and muttering what seemed like abuses, they gave us permission to pass on.

To reach the field hospital taking about 45 minutes, we passed several other constable posts. When we reached the hospital they discharged us and left us near a bunker. Several supposedly doctors and nurses came towards us briskly. They asked us if we knew Arabic, or English or Kurdish, or Turkish. I said I knew a little Turkish. One was called; he came running, and introduced himself in Turkish as Rahmat and said: “They want to take you to Al-Aamreh hospital. But first of all bandage of your wounds have to be changed.”

Except for me, they dressed up the wounds of all the others. As for me, they said that since my wounds were deep, there was a possibility of bleeding and my wounds would therefore have to be dressed in a hospital. In any case they kept us lying near the field hospital in an open, cold area for almost an hour and then we were ready to move on. An IFA vehicle arrived. They boarded us on to it, and along with three Iraqi soldiers we set out for the hospital. At first we thought they would take us directly to Al­Amareh , but this was not what in fact happened. The driver took the truck along at high speed over a rough graveled road. The ground was hardly smooth and the vehicle rocked up and down as it vaulted over potholes in the ground. We were constantly thrown up and down and finally started to wail. We tried to ask the driver to drive slowly but he would take no notice.

The terrible situation destroyed our resistance and to make matters worse the severe cold which hit us as a result of the vehicle's motion had be numbed us. I can say truly that at that time we were all quite ready to die instead of suffering all this torture. The only answer we had in this situation came in the form of cries and curses of an Iraqi soldier who sat on top of the vehicle with all supplies including warm doting, overcoat headgear and armed with a Kalashnikov. It was clear that he hated us.

After about an hour we reached a protected area which had a constable’s office. Stopping awhile the driver opened the back door of the vehicle, dragged us out one by one and threw us on the ground. I did not know how·1 was hurled on the earth. I only know that they piled all of us four on one other. As soon as I looked around, I saw holes in the ground dug up by loaders. At that time I surmised that these holes were those very mass graves in which the Iraqis buried our combatants and thought we would also be most certainly victims of the same crime. I was lost in these thoughts when two Iraqi soldiers came to us. One of them without any preliminary talks asked in Arabic, “Is Saddam good or not?”

Our friends recited Zikr and pretended they did not understand their words. The Iraqi soldier angrily repeated his question, and we murmured our Shahadatain. Two Iraqis, after they saw there was no response from us, started harassing and torturing us. They placed their military boots on our wounds and turned 180 degrees their body on them. Our cries of pain echoed the whole region. Each of us groaned in one or other way, wailing from pain. The two Iraqis persistently asked us to say that Saddam was good! But nobody gave in to this demand; we only cried Allah-u-Akbar, this making the Iraqis more angry. One of the two pulled out his pistol showing that if we did not say what they wanted us to say he would kill us. He started counting: one, two, three, ... and placed his colt on my head and continued with his counting.

To be continued …

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