Thirsty Sands (Part 18)


Thirsty Sands (Part 18)

Jafar Rabiei

Design: Ali Vaziri

First published in 1991

Publishing House, Islamic Propagation Organization

Printed at the Aryan


The next morning when our representative - who was an Arabic-speaking brother from the south of our country - went to the sergeant in change of the Oate and asked him to take him to the camp commander to talk “bout the current situation and to convey the viewpoints of the boys to him. The Iraqi officer rejected this proposal and asked our representative not to intervene. To convince him the sergeant said, “Iranian POWs have attacked our commander and this is against the regulations of the army. They must be punished. In the meantime, you had better not to interfere. Whoever you may be, you are an Arab and should side with us in this issue.”

Our representative said in reply, “Before being an Arab, I am a Muslim and an Iranian and cannot watch the punishment you have decided about being carried out against my fellow countrymen. Anyhow, since I represent others I cannot express my personal view. Therefore, I must ask you to take me to the camp’s commander so that I can deliver the message of the POWs to him.”

The senior sergeant of the Qate stood his ground        stubbornly and asked our representative to get back        to the hall. With his return it was clear that the Iraqis did not intend to change their mind. But as we had decided      previously, the rest of the camp also would refuse taking food. At 5 p.m. the whistle for food was blown - the whistle meant to collect one’s food, and the boys hearing it would stand in a queue to take their food. Each person was responsible for collecting the food of ten people. After a while the whistle was again blown and yet no reaction from the boys. Another time the Iraqi guard blared out in Arabic with the word: “Hasten, otherwise there will be no food!” Our      boys mockingly listened to his words.     But after calling several times the guard felt that his cries had no effect. The other guards also gathered and were now talking to each other. The senior sergeant of the Oate came to our representative, and asked him: “What is the matter? What are you going to do?” Our representative said, “I told you today what the demand of     the prisoner was but you ignored it. Now they intend to launch a hunger strike.” The Iraqi sergeant asked for some time to convey the issue to the commander. Our representative said in response: “There is no time, the POWs arc resolute in their decision.”

The Iraqi sergeant returned to the other guards and after a brief talk quickly left the camp area. After about half an hour all the commanders of the camp including the chief commander and his deputy accompanying the sergeant entered the camp and walked straight across toward Oate three. One of the guards came         to our representative and        took  him to the commander. Their talks lasted for some         time. Then  our representative,         his face overwhelmed in happiness, came towards the boys. It was clear from his face that success had been achieved. As soon as he reached he said: “The commander has decided to forget the punishment for the POWs provided the POWs do not   launch their strike.”

This proposal was welcomed by everyone. To make sure that the Iraqis did not        have          some trick in mind         the boys demanded that the first free time should be given to our brothers in Oate two and that they receive their food earlier than us. The Iraqis accepted.

A great victory had been achieved in light of unity and solidarity of the POWs. They were happy that again they were able to compel the Iraqis to submit to their just demands. The boys had found the secret of their victory in the following Ouranic verse.”

I t was natural that the Iraqis were not entirely happy with this setback and wriggled like an injured serpent. The flexibility shown this time by the Iraqis was unlikely and perhaps unprecedented. Except for the firing incident in the camp the Iraqi had for several weeks now begun to reduce their pressures on prisoners. This flexibility continued for some days.

On the night of Bahman 8, 1362 the doors of some of the halls opened and the Iraqis read some names and took away several of the boys. From their behavior it was clear that these prisoners were to be taken back to Iran. On the 8th day, these persons were taken out of the camp. In the 9th day through Iraqi newspapers we learnt that a total of 190 POWs had been handed over to Iranian authorities. Considering the exchange of POWs, we realized that the leniency and flexibility shown by the Iraqis in the past several weeks were owing to the exchange of POWs. And even acceptance of the POWs’ terms in the issue of hunger strike had been a tactical retreat employed by the Iraqis. It was because any form of pressure and threat at that period of time prompted our country’s officials to lodge protest after the POWs were exchanged and this news reached them. Anyhow, the Iraqis plan had become known.


To be continued…


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