334TH Night of Memory -4

Sepideh Kholoosian
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


The 334th show of the Night of Memory was held in Sooreh Hall of the Art Center on Thursday 1st of Ordibehesht 1401 (April 21, 2022) titled “Men of Enthusiasm Tribe”. It was attended by a number of freed POWs and the families of the martyrs and hosted by Hossein Behzadifar. In the ceremony released also online, misters Reza Abbasi, Amir Mahmoud Najafipour, and Colonel Ahmad Heidari, freed POWs from Tikrit Concentration Camp recounted their memoirs.

In continuation of the show, the host introduced the book “The Hell of Tikrit”. The book is the memoirs of the respected freed POW, Mujtaba Jafari from the captivity period in the camp. It has been published by the Office of Resistance Literature and Art of the Art Center (Sooreh Mehr Publications) in two hundred and ten volumes.

The book’s author said, “There are friends here who spent ten years in the enemy’s concentration camps each of whom has lots of memoirs about those days. But there is a big distance between us and those who risked their life!? We have no complaint from the great God. But distancing is a hard event. Particularly, those who have been captives for ten years know that both during the war on the front and during the captivity, what dear friends were separated from us during this long journey and left this world, and their memory will always be with us. I don’t want to tell memoirs. I would just like to say that in the prison camps, it was rare to find two brothers being prisoners together in the same place. But in our camp, by chance, we had two pairs of brothers. Yari and Jafari brothers. But really, may God help the mothers of these people, what they have suffered from the separation of their children.

Then, Mohsen Jafari, a captive in Tikrit Camp narrates the final chapter of “The Hell of Tikrit”: The Iraqi guards brought a list on 19th of Shahrivar 1369 (September 10, 1990) and read the names of the people from it in the four-people and five-people forms to prepare to be exchanged from the camp to get on the bus and go to the border. When the name of my brother Mujtaba Jafari was called with some other people to leave for the exchange, he refused and said, “I will not go without my brother. Finally, with the help of the camp’s commander, Mr. Negarestani, we convinced him to go to the border. Two days later, they called my name and we moved to the border.

We were taken to Ba’quba Garrison after leaving. I saw my brother again there but I did my best to be with him but to no avail because the Iraqis had found out that we were brothers and they did not allow two brothers to go with each other. In fact, they wanted to annoy us in the last moments. We were in Ba’quba on 21st of Shahrivar (September 12). Almost two groups came after us and this meant that we were among the last persons who were exchanged. We arrived in Iran on 23rd of Shahrivar (September 14). The swap took 27 or 28 days. In the last days in Ba’quba, different voices could be heard from solitary confinement and cells, shouting: "Don't forget us. We are here. We are pilots, we are senior officers and...” These 60 remaining people clamoured for attention.

Mr. Negarestani said that apparently a number of pilots and senior officers are inside the camp and Iraq does not want to exchange them. So we decided to do something because all those who came to Ba’quba in the last days were among the missing. None of these were on the POW list and Iraq was able to keep them. Like Brigadier Hossein Lashgari who entered Iran after 18 years. We had coordinated with Mr. Negarestani, the commander of the camp. There, 20 officers were taken to the Red Cross officers, and when their names were registered, they boarded the buses and headed to the border with 980 other soldiers, a total of 1,000 people.   When our names were called, 20 of us went to the people who had come from the Red Cross and filled out the forms they gave us. There were 3 or 4 papers and their first question was: Do you want to return to Iran? The answer was usually "yes". We filled out the forms and gave them to the Red Cross. They asked us to get on the bus. But all of us had coordinated to say: We are not going to Iran. They said: You have signed, so why don't you want to go? We said: We will not leave until you register the names of our prisoners and our pilots and senior officers who have been in solitary confinement for a long time. The column of the soldiers was ready. Iraqi officers came to see what was going on and when they understood our request, they said: Take them to the prison and bring 20 other people.

On the way, there was an Iraqi officer who was very awkward. The late Mr. Shirvani was with us. On the way, he used to say: Saddam is a traitor and the Baath party is a traitor and... these don't need to be translated into Arabic anymore. When the officer heard this, he said, “take him to the prison and repay his bad deed, so to speak!” Mr. Ahmad Heidari was there with us. They took us to the prison and closed the doors and left. Mr. Heidari started reciting the Qur'an in that strangeness that had been created for us there and in the last moments of captivity. That recitation, in that big hall and conditions, really gave us life and we were assured by the Quran that we would definitely succeed. After about an hour, one of the Iraqis came and said, “Go. They wrote the names of the pilots and the ten-year prisoners”. We said, “We do not accept you.” Mohammad Mouchani was sent to the same prison where we were. He said that Mr. Negaristani said: "The Red Cross has stated that we recorded the names of all the officers that you wanted and were missing." Then we came with Mr. Mouchani and boarded the buses and were transferred to the border along with 980 other soldiers.

Brothers; a captive can do things for his fellow countrymen with empty hands in exile. Now that we are in our own country and our hands are open, we can certainly do more. Let's do everything we can for our fellow man.  The show was held with the presence of the freed POWs of the 19th camp and a group of the families of the martyrs. Some of the freed POWs present in the 334th Night of Memory were: "Reza Ebrahimi", "Saeed Ahrari", "Parviz Ehsani", "Mansour Estaki", "Farshid Eskandari", "Reza Oskoui", "Ali Afshari", "Qorban Ali Akbari", the disabled veteran "Ata’ullah Amini", Brigadier General "Mursal Ahangari", Brigadier General "Jamshid Oshal", Brigadier General "Mohammed Ebrahim Babajani", "Reza Bayat", "Sadeq Parandoosh", "Davood Pouraraghi", "Abbas Jaberi", "Masoud Jafarieh", "Seyed Mohammad Ali Jaladati", "Ahmad Heidari", "Siavash Khabbazpour", "Masoud Khazaei", "Ali Khairi", "Hamid Dorsareh", "Morteza Delavar", "Behruz Rahmani", "Shamsullah Rezaei" , Brigadier General "Mohammed Zare", "Hassan Zarei", "Nezam Soraghi", Brigadier General "Hamid Salmani", "Abdul Hossein Shojaei", "Abbas Sheibani", "Alireza Ashuri", "Sarem Abbasi", "Mahmoud Abdullahi", "Arsalan Abdi", "Alireza Abdi", "Khalil Oroujzadeh", "Ahmad Alinejad", "Hamid Fallahdoost", Brigadier General "Abdol Majid Fanudi", "Qurbanali Kazemi", "Ala’uddin Kaveh", "Jalal Karimi", "Mustafa Keshavarz", "Habibullah Kalantari", "Kambiz Kamalvand", "Ali Gohari" , "Hossein Mobaraki", "Reza Moradi", "Mohammed Hasan Maleki", "Jamshid Mousavi", "Asghar Mirzaei", "Issa Mirzaei", "Hamid Mirmolaei", Saeed Nadali", "Mahmoud Najafpour", "Habib Nasrollahi", "Morad Nowrozifar", "Mohammed Nouri Asl", "Manouchehr Navid Moghaddam", "Shahab Vahidi", "Qassem Varzdar", "Mohammed Yarahamdi" and "Khajeh Amiri".

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