A Look at the Book "Salam Agha Seyyed"

Memories of Liberated, Disabled Veteran Alireza Mahmoudi Mozaffar

Fereydoon Heidari Molk Mian
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


“The most important thing that was mentioned in his and my talks was that I said, ‘Look, lady! I am a teacher, but I am fully at the Revolution and the Islamic Republic’s disposal. I may not be at home for one day, a few days or maybe five years during our lives.’ She also accepted my condition.”

When there is such an excerpt from meaning of the memoir text on the book back cover in the form of a small box, so everything gets clear for us about this narrative from the very beginning; especially, since the book cover is designed with a picture of the narrator as if he deliberately stared at the audience and displayed this emphasis well in his face and eyes, and ironically, the same cover with all the details ( The image and words of the title and the author) is placed also on the title page under the background of a fence (fence net) and evoke a newer concept.

The order of content after dedication is as follows: the foreword by the Culture and Resistance Studies Department of North Khorasan’s Hozeh Honari, the author's preface, the five chapters of memoirs, the beauty of captivity, and photos. It should be noted that although black and white photos are not of good quality, instead captions are complete and we encounter extensive explanations about camps of captives in Iraq.

The first chapter; it begins with memories that the elders have told him since the birth of the narrator. He was born of hardworking, religious parents in Bojnurd on January 7, 1958. His father was a retailer in Palandouz County. In the summer of 1964, once, his father packed all the furnishings and put them on a hand cart and went to the new house almost two streets away. Alireza was registered at Vahdat Elementary School on Jaleh Street. Being the older child of a family, a family where parents are illiterate, has its own problems. The father would leave the house at 7 a.m. and return eight or nine at night, and the mother was busy with housework. That's why they couldn't influence much his education. After the fifth grade, his father sent him to Maktab to learn Qur'an. Then he continues his education at Dehghan School and Hemmat High School, and the academic year 1976-1977 is in grade 12. He tried to be accepted with a high GPA so that if he couldn’t enter the university, he would join Sepah-e Danesh[1] (1), but he was accepted in Mashhad’s training college, and going to military service was officially and legally cancelled. Since September 1978, although universities and scientific centers had been reopened in Mashhad, class and education was not our priority. Groups of students discuss and analyze events, popular movements, etc. That was scent of revolution throughout the country, and no one care homework or class...

Chapter 2; after that the Revolution realized, most people pursued political activities. However, the narrator passed his final exams one by one, and began teaching in one of the villages from September 1980. He and some of his friends were sent from Mashhad to the front on July/August (Mordad), 1981. In August/September (Shahrivar) 1981, When Bostan was liberated; they went to the heights of Allah Akbar after Susangerd. When they were discharged and the narrator returned to Bojnurd, he thinks about starting a family. After marrying a believer and observer daughter, he started to work as a teacher in September 1982. In February/March (Esfand) of that year, his first child was born. In July/August 1983 he was in charge of educational affairs of education.  When his wife got sick on May 25, 1984, according to the doctor's diagnosis, they had to go abroad for open-heart surgery. On December 4, 1984, they went to Switzerland, and came back to Iran on January 22, 1985. Alireza made a vow that if his wife makes a recovery, he would go to the front and this also happened. This time they were dispatched from Basij of Bojnurd. There was an operation in northwestern Iran from Marivan to Sulaymaniyah in the form of the Specific Martyrs Brigade, which was specific to Greater Khorasan. In this operation, Alireza was wounded and taken captive by Iraqis along with some of the warriors.

Chapter 3; this chapter refers to buses carrying Iranian captives who take them to Camp Ramadi. When they reached their destination (Camp 10), the narrator clapped eye at two groups of soldiers, each holding cables or hoses, standing opposite to each other. The prisoners had to get off the bus and pass through this tunnel of terror and death. Each one that went down was bombarded by hasty cables, hoses, batons, fists, and kicks… Captivity was beginning to show its literal and original face...

Season 4; almost a month after their presence at Camp 10, they moved the narrator and a number of guys to Camp 9. It was May 19, 1986. Once again, they entered a bare sanatorium with only a few dusty buckets, brooms, and mops. Everyone would choose a place for oneself and spread his blanket on chilly mosaic floor. They were totally 48 people, perhaps only eight of whom were healthy. Alireza thought to himself, “I wish there was one to depict how the wounded to sit and lie down...

“The dirty bandages who were used for several days; one or two people were in plaster from the waist to claw. Ramadan, a third-grade at the vocational school (equivalent to high school junior) was always lying down due to a quiver hit the most sensitive point of his body (between the testicles and anus) and folded his legs at his knees. He was so serene and modest that no one heard the least sigh or moan from him. Four people moved Hossein Kermani with blanket. At the end of the sanatorium, we had several people with spinal cord injuries who were not in good condition at all. Every time I looked at them, I remembered the candle and end of their lives in a painful condition. Martyrdom was enjoyable, the warriors were at all in the best mood when they went to the front; we were just thinking about “ عند ربهم یرزقون(finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord)”. But it is right that alas Zaynab bint Ali’s heart. The captivity has its own story. But injury and captivity have many accounts. The sanatorium’s candle, all slowly and without tears and smoke, grinned and bore, and flew. Those loved ones melted and purified.”

Most of guys of this camp were injured and had been taken captive in Valfajr 8 and 9.

This chapter, which alone accounts for more than half of the book, describes the events witnessed by the narrator from late May 1986 to mid-July 1989 in Camp 9.

Chapter 5; in this chapter, the narrator tells of the transfer to Camp 17. It was in the last days of the first month or the early days of the second month of their presence in Camp 17 that it was diffused by word of mouth-mouth among friends that they had brought Hajj Abu Torabi to Camp 1; the news, which was first circulated among friends as a rumor, gradually became real.

“Many friends had been in their captivity with Hajj Abu Torabi or some humble like me had heard stories of his virtues, magnanimity, and self-esteem...”

Thanks to the presence of Hajj Abu Torabi, friendships, fraternities, coordination and harmony between captives of different camps increased more and more. The religious, moral, and political teachings that Hajj Agha expressed in his relationships with friends were heard by the captives, and everyone was fully obliged to hear and follow orders of Agha Seyyed, including this order of Hajj Agha:

“Maintaining healthiness of soul and body of the prisoners is one of the first priorities because the Islamic Republic needs healthy (mentally) human beings; so, take care of you.”

However, finally Saturday, August 25, 1990 coincided with the last hours of captivity. At last, during exchange of prisoners, the narrator, along with another group, boarded a World Red Cross plane at Baghdad Airport, and hours later landed at the home at Mehrabad Airport, etc. ... Finally, after a long period of homesickness and captivity, the moment of visit and confrontation with the family arrived...

“My older daughter, Nasiba, had finished second grade at primary school and looked at me amazingly. As I sat down, she opened her hands and hugged my neck tightly and wept together. I fondled and kiss her. I took her a moment away from myself and looked at her face well. Mashallah he was a lady! I hugged her again tighter than before.

When I clapped eye at my wife, we didn’t burst into laughter and gulp. I just said, “Did you see that the five years I said on the night of the proposal were almost right.” She sighed and smiled and said, “Thank God you return.”

A four-year-old girl was fidgeting around my wife and asked, “Who is this sir?”

I found out that she was my younger girl, Attieh. I insisted on hugging her, but...

Someone said, “Your parents arrived.” My father's first sentence that was with crying was: “my dear Oghlu (son)! Are your legs healthy? Are there yours? Roll up your pants leg!”

My mother didn’t let anyone to greet with me, and she didn’t unhand me!

Ah, my four sisters shed tears and mourned, they raised hell along with my mother on the day. I asked for my brother Hussein...

In an interesting and exemplary initiative to compile these memories, at the closing of the book, some of beauties of captivity are defined in the form of several terms: finding knowledge, self-knowledge, people and sociology, the best master, a purgatory before purgatory.

For example, we read about the last term (purgatory before purgatory):

“The period of captivity was in fact a purgatory for all the freedmen because we neither knew when we would be released nor knew about the future of our captivity.

I swear that captivity, being tortured, hunger, homesickness, were the very beautiful.”

“Salam Agha Seyyed”, written in the form of a memoir by Alireza Mahmoudi Mozaffar for the Center for Culture and Resistance Studies of North Khorasan’s Hozeh Honari. Its first edition was published in 2021 by Sooreh Mehr Publication in 496 pages, 1250 copies, and with a price of 900,000 Rial in soft and medium octavo size.


[1] Sepah-e Danesh was a special corps within the Iranian Army that consisted of soldiers doing their obligatory military service with a high school diploma.

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