The 315th Night of Memory

We Did Not Think Captivity Would Last Ten Years

Elnaz Darvishi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


The 315th Night of Memory session was held online on the Aparat website on July 23, 2020. In this session, "Seyyed Ahmad Gheshmi" and "Dr. Hamidreza Ghanbari", two liberated of the war, recounted their memories of captivity. In this online meeting, Davood Salehi presented as a presenter.

The first narrator of the 315th night of memory session is a released from Hamadan province, born on September 11, 1957, who spent 10 years of his youth from September 23, 1980 to two years after the war in Ramadiyeh and Mosul camps. He has narrated his memories in two books of "Seyyed's Quotations" and "Hard Test", which will be published soon.

The first narrator began his memories as follows:

"I take you to the first days of victory of Islamic Revolution, I’m talking mostly to our dear youth. A few months after victory of the revolution, some groups and parties from all over the country rose up and stood against the system as opponents of the Islamic system.

[He says in narrating his captivity memories] we were inevitably captured; they tied our hands behind our backs and also our eyes, because the story is long and we have little time let’s go ahead. On the way, we were introduced as Magi, and while they were acclaiming took us in trucks that regrettably were for carrying sheep -we called them animal-tour- and people while were acclaiming throw all sorts of objects at the captives. During these two or three days, when we were transported in the most difficult conditions, we had to do our prayers in this state, because our hands were tied behind our backs, we performed tayammum and prayed with a qibla that we imagined. After a few stations, we were taken to Abu Ghraib prison; a prison which was very scary and terrible. It was not clear day and night as if we did not know which prayer we should do, and we performed our prayers in precautious untill we were there.

When we entered Abu Ghraib prison, there were nine people there, including Mr. Agha Kermani, Mr. Muharram Ahangaran, and Haj Ahmadi, who had been captured nine months before us.  Faces of these 9 people shone like snow because they had not been in front of sun, and among a thousand who were captured, their faces shone like lights.

It is good to remember a dear martyr in this memory night session, who has been introduced as standard martyr in Hamadan this year. In Abu Ghraib prison, there was one of IRGC guys named Alireza Allahyari who was from Islamabad. One day he came to me and said, "Mr. Seyyed, I will be martyred." He said this with an aflame face and literary manner. I said to him: What are you saying? We have just been captured, Insha’Allah, we would be released. At that time, the guys made a table and drew a cross on it every day passed. We thought we would be imprisoned for forty days or finally two or three months; We never thought this captivity would last ten years. I told Alireza now that nothing is clear and thank God we are all safe. He said with tears in his eyes" No." When I asked him what was going on and why did you say that? He said: “last night I had a dream that I went home, my wife was dressed in a black clothing and took hand of a ten-year-old child [Alireza had just gotten engaged and a few months had passed since his marriage when he was captured], when I asked who was this child? I said she is your daughter and is ten years old. The little girl was also dressed in black. It was raining heavily when I put backpack for the front on my shoulder. When I came out, my wife and daughter also came out to escort me. The rain was so heavy that I sank knee-deep in water. They shook hands and said goodbye to me and left. So I will be martyred." How much I talked to him, it was useless. He felt martyrdom in his heart and stood next to me with the same aflame face and went. A few months passed and we were taken to Ramadiyeh camp. Among the prisoners, 16 were selected, one of whom was Alireza. We were taken to Baghdad prison, and after being much tortured and harassed, they took us to an iron shed and took Alireza out of 16 people. They asked him, "Are you an Army or IRGC officer?" He said I am an Army officer. We did not introduce ourselves as an IRGC officer at all, because they killed IRGC’s officers immediately. Several of the guys boldly declared that we are Khomeini's amulet and we are proud, so they were martyred in the very first days. In the iron shed, they told Alireza to go on a parade, and in order to crack down on us, the third lieutenant in the shed put his rifle on Alireza's cerebellum and implausibly fired as we watched. Alireza's blood was spread in shape of sun on wall of the shed, which was white cement, and Alireza was martyred in front of our eyes. That night, when Alireza described his dream to me, he finally said that if I became a martyr, my wife, and if God had given me a daughter, I would leave her to you. Mr. Ismaili, one of the prisoners of Rasht, narrated that the night before martyrdom of Alireza, he had narrated to him too the dream he had had and said that if God gave me a daughter, I would like to name her Fatima. I had narrated this dream to several people. When Alireza was martyred, a part of dream came true. Time passed and we found ourselves and saw that our captivity lasted ten years. When the war ended, I and a number of released fighters decided to go to Alireza's house before going to our homes. We got address of Alireza's house from governorate of Islamabad and went there. We had some coins and decided that if the last part of his dream came true and he had a daughter, we would give those coins as a gift to his daughter and if there was not a girl, we would give them to his wife. When we got to his house, Alireza’s wife was standing in front of the door with her ten-year-old daughter. All the guys were in a strange state. I was all of a sweat. Finally, we went inside and when we asked name of Alireza's daughter, they said her name is Fatima. Alireza had entrusted his family to us. While we did not justice his right as we should do, we have been in connection continuously. "Fatima is now a registrar, married and has two children."

[Haj Seyyed Qeshmi continued his speech with memories of Hajji Abu Turabi] "Hajji Abu Turabi was clever and had a good management. Despite his humility, the guys loved him. Just as Imam Khomeini in Iran was Imam of Ummah, Hajji Abu Turabi was also Imam of the captives. His leadership and management helped the released to come back safe mentally, physically and spiritually. I think if there was not Hajji Abu Turabi and his leadership and management, we would had given five thousand martyrs instead of 500, and there wouldn’t have been this relative health of the liberated and that they returned with pride. Friend and foe were interested in him.

We had an officer in Mosul camp named Masha’al; When Masha’al shouted, made out hair stand on end, we were frightened heartily. We recited this verse: “Unquestionably, God’s friends have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Yunus: 62) Masha’al had a horrible and violent face, there were few prisoners who were not harmed by him. With all the descriptions I mentioned, Masha’al had a kind of interest in Hajji Abu Turabi, and when he saw Hajji, he put his hand on his chest and greeted him.

Hajji mostly traveled with those who, in our opinion, had weak faith and were sinners. The very way of thinking of Hajji and his attraction caused physical and mental health of the guys to be remained. Dr. Beheshti had a beautiful sentence that Hajji performance was its example. He said, "Attraction must be infinitely; repulsion as much as it is necessary.” Presence of Hajji Abu Turabi was attraction.

Let me make a short memory that is worthwhile to know. As usual, the Iraqis sometimes attacked the camp with a large number of their soldiers and officers, and beat the guys with all kinds of whips, cables, irons, and so on. This happened once before the Red Cross people arrived.  Iraqis did not know that Cross Red guys were coming. Bodies of Hajji and a number of prisoners had been severely bruised and blackened. When they became aware of arrival of Cross Red people, Hajji and a number of those who had been severely injured were taken to prison so that Cross Red staffs not too see them. When Red Cross forces entered the camp, they followed Hajji Abu Turabi and looked for him. As much as the Iraqis dodged, Cross Red forces insisted and pursued hard to see Hajji, so Iraqi forces were forced to bring Hajji from the prison to the camp. The commander of the camp thought that as soon as Hajji arrives, he would take off his clothes and show signs of beating to Cross Red forces, but Hajji did not speak. After Red Cross forces left, the Iraqi commander came to Hajji and said, "Why didn't you say anything about the guys in prison? Hajji said, "We and you are Muslims and we should not give our complaint to infidels." Haj words had a great impact on the Iraqi officer, and he told Hajji I am at your service whatever you want and as much as I can. Hajji said I do not want anything for himself, but if possible I would go to other camps so that I could organize situation in other camps as well. The commander agreed on condition that he would not be upset if he was beaten. Hajji said, "I will not be upset. You just give this opportunity." This caused Hajji Abu Turabi go to most of the Iraqi camps and prisons. All the captives became acquainted with thought that Hajji presented of pure and true Islam in that limited period of captivity. This relative freshness and youthfulness of the released is due to his existence."

Offer for souls of the pure dear martyrs, dear martyrs who were martyred during oppressive captivity and with the worst possible conditions, and martyrs of eight years of the holy defense, may God have mercy on those who recite al-Fatihah with Salavat. Peace be upon you and may God have mercy on you and bless you.

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