Thirsty Sands (Part 13)


Thirsty Sands (Part 13)

Jafar Rabiei

Design: Ali Vaziri

First published in 1991

Publishing House, Islamic Propagation Organization

Printed at the Aryan


The sewer naturally became full and use of the toilet became next to impossible. Anyone who even passed by a guard was either beaten by baton or abused verbally. Most important of all, in that day there was no trace of the Iraqi’s propaganda; that is, newspapers were not distributed. The experience of the old POWs showed that something extraordinary had happened with regard to the war, which made the guards change their views on this were diverse. Every one of our friends presented a special analysis of his own. Meanwhile, all were unanimous that movements had taken place in the warfront. Two day later the Iraqis broke their silence. The guards remonstrated with us asking why Iran had resumed its attacks. In the afternoon of the same day they gave the newspapers to our brothers. No sooner had the guards left us than we all moved eagerly towards the newspaper stand in a round circle. Even though most of our friends were unable to read the news, the attack by our combatants on enemy positions proved to be an event of great interest to all of us. As it was loudly read out the news of war for others and the rest gazed at the mouth of the reader with all their senses concentrated on this. Quoting the newspaper he said, “the name of the enemy’s operation was Val-Fajr I ... and the enemy launched its attack at the central front ... the number of dead and injured of the enemy (i.e. the Iranian forces) ...”

At that time everyone obviously expected the Iraqis to exaggerate the figures of the dead and injured on our side. And the reason for that was clear. Whenever the Iraqis gave out false detail of casualties among our forces we would begin to estimate the extent of our attack and understand that a deep and heavy blow had been inflicted on the Iraqi Baathist army and the entire system. On the days in which the operations were carried out by the forces of Islam, the camp would acquire a new face, fresh morale and a strengthened willpower among us. Even the degree of love and affection expressed by the boys towards each other was increased with the implementation of the operations. After the passage of a few days, they transferred the injured POWs of the new operations to the camp and old friends, by obtaining news, of the condition of new offensive and extent of advance into the enemy territory through these new dear ones, informed others of the latest developments.

With the coming of new POWs, the Iraqis changed the composition of the camp and displaced a few of the POWs already there. These changes in the camp in which we were stationed included the transfer of about 90 men to other camps. At internal level the halls 18 and 17, in which the injured were housed were emptied and filled up with healthy POWs. The injured POWs were transferred. I to “Oate one”, which had four sleeping halls reserved for the injured. The Iraqis dad their best to see to it that no contacts were made with the newly arrived injured POWs, thus passing the good news and information on to our friends in other halls. Yet they never succeeded on any occasion in this aim. After the operation Va1Fajr the Iraqis exerted more pressures on the POWs; that is, once in a while they investigated some of our dear POWs and took them outside the compound of the camp harassing and torturing them, and bringing them back after a while with bloodstain bodies.

Days passed in this manner. The Val-Fajr 2 and 3 operations were also launched. The news of each of them like that of the previous one came as a tremendous morale booster to us.

A relatively long stay in the hospital of the camp had dejected and depressed us to a certain extent. The following factors were responsible for this mental state of depression. A very harsh, tight control exercised over us by Iraqi guards banning coming together of over two or three injured POWs and preventing the POWs in the halls from establishing contacts with the injured. Also with the presence of sold-out persons who were known among our friends as the fifth column, disturbed our group programs occasionally conducted at night. Moreover, news successively trickled through from inside the halls to the injured POWs to the effect that there were concrete organized programs. These which were carried out in the halls, uplifted out friends spiritually, enhancing their resistance against the enemy’s physical, mental and propaganda pressures. They had jubilated out friends who hastened to win the doctor's consent authorizing them to be transferred to the halls. In most cases, however, the doctor in change rejected such requests. The reason was clear the doctor invariably said, “Iraqis here do not exert bodily pressure on you while those in the halls experienced maximum pressure. So you are going to the halls in such a state will do you no good. The Iraqi always tried to use this differentiation of treatment in the hospital and in the halls as a punishment for the injured. As soon as they saw that an injured person was not obedient to their threatening orders, they threatened the injured to send him into the halls.

They were, however, ignorant of the fact that this was the ultimate desire of every one of us. Hence such threats and lies were never effective. Gradually as their wounds began to heal the boy were transferred inside the halls. The four sleeping halls given to the injured were reduced to two. It was Shahrivar 1362, when some of my friends and I were transferred to a hall in a span of several days. Hall number 17 in Oate three became our new home. This hall a few months ago was in the hand of those injured including us but was now being used to house healthy POWs. As the hall was newly established and the personnel inside it inexperienced, our dear friends circled as butterflies round us and made constant contacts with us passing on needed information to us.

The Iraqis adjusted to the varying situations at each stage, adopted a special method to run the camps and introduced change in the camps given the varying conditions and considering special goals. Sometimes these changes were made in relation to the guards whose province of mission was inside the camp. They were interchanged among the three Oates from time to time and sometimes the POWs were gathered and mixed into the various halls. For instance, Army brothers including the soldiers and non-commissioned officers were kept separate from Baseej forces and yet sometimes were brought together in the same place. Sometimes they kept those taken captive form inside Iranian cities in one hall and the other times they were mixed in with other POWs. Those who were stationed in border towns and whose women and children had been taken prisoners together with them in the early advances of the enemy forces at the outset of the war were kept separate from their women and children, introducing all of them as war prisoners by issuing identity cards bearing the mark of Red Cross on them. These people were called “civic” in the sense of “urban” inside the camps.


To be continued …

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