A review of the book "The Bitterness of Liberation"

Memoirs of Ali Bigleri, Iranian Prisoner Released from Camp Ashraf

Fereydoun Heydari Molkmian
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


The worn-out muddy boots, embroidered with chains on a gray background, with the black birds, form the contemplative cover of the book. The same birds fly behind the cover around a small,    cloud-like gray background that contains excerpts from the text of the book:

      "His words was like hot water being poured on my body and burning all over my feet. I stared at his mouth, but I could hear nothing more. It was as if I was deaf. "I, who had taken refuge here with the aim of escaping from the camp and going to my homeland, was now in disbelief a member of an organization that was going to fight Iran!"

     The book begins with a handwriting by Ali Bigleri, the narrator of the memoirs. Next is the table of content page, followed by the author's introduction, which tells how the book was formed in four pages. Then it is the turn of the text of the memoirs, which is narrated in nine chapters, referring to the movements and events in which Biglery was present. Also at the end of the narration, there is a section of documents and photos that are in black and white and have good quality. The end of the book is assigned to the announcement list as usual.

     The author of  the book"The Bitterness of Liberation" notes in the introduction that he introduces the reader to a new world of sustainability literature, because his mood is not like the books published under the title Memoirs of Prisoners of War (freedmen) during the war; Just as Bigleri's life is not like the lives of other freedmen." "At the age of seventeen, he was captured by Ba'athist forces on the western fronts, and after enduring three and a half years of hardship and bitterness in Iraqi camps, especially in a children's camp, he took refuge in Camp Ashraf as a teenager to escape suffering. But contrary to expectations, he is literally captured and imprisoned there for about thirteen years ..."

     Thus, the author states his purpose in writing this book: "Addressing a particular dimension of sacred defense that has hitherto been less explored."

      In the first chapter, the narrator begins his memories from where he was transferred to a children's camp and spent about a year. He had previously spent two and a half years in Ramadia. In other words, he was imprisoned by the Ba'athists for a total of three and a half years, but in the last year, due to the special conditions of the children's camp, he became more and more influenced by the conditions and green lights of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization and longed for a false future. The members of the organization wandered in the camp every day and talked about the goodness of their own camps. They tried to obscure the fate of the captives by declaring membership in their own organization the only way to escape captivity. Little by little, even some of the narrator's friends are attracted to the organization. Over time, he also feels a change within himself. In a situation where he felt that he was far away from everyone, especially his family, and that his communication was completely cut off and that there was no way out of his release from the camp, he inevitably chose to join the organization to escape the captivity like his friends so that members of the organization can plan to transfer him to their own camp.

        When it was prepared to transfer them, they were first taken to a place far from Camp Ashraf, where they were to be stationed for a few days. The first week was very good for him and his friends who joined the organization. They even gave each of them a private room. With all facilities; such as refrigerators, toilets and baths and bath accessories to beds and mattresses and comfortable pillows. And all this was in stark contrast to the hell of the Ramadiyya camp, which had experienced the scourge of captivity in the terrible heat and inadequate nutrition and lack of sanitation.

      The second chapter describes their transfer to Camp Ashraf, and during it, the professional representative of the organization and at the same time the reception of the comrades. Ali Bigleri and his friends, who had entered the organization with the intention of escaping from captivity, decided to get rid of it at the earliest opportunity and return home, but they were told that they were no longer part of the organization and should fight for Iran. Be ready. It is only then that the narrator thinks that he came to the front and was captured for the victory of his country against Iraq, but now he has to stand up to his friends and compatriots and take up gun to destroy them.

   Because the narrator had a special mental state, he sometimes sat down and subconsciously reviewed his past memories: from the time he was born on March 11, 1969 in the village of Banirivand, 60 km from Kermanshah, to 1985, when he left for the front. He remembers with regret all that he had spent in those years and regrets the past days he spent in the village with his family. Now that he was in Camp Ashraf, he did not know what awaited him.

   Gradually, he and his friends had to get used to their environment and events. The early days really had a special respect for them. However, the comrade's culture was different from that of the organization, and sometimes they did things that were not to the liking of the members of the organization, but they were still treated with composure and kindness, until they were finally told some time later that their free time was over. And should be present in all programs like everyone else; both morning and military training programs. They were given special clothes and accessories and then entered a new arena in Camp Ashraf.

     The third chapter begins at the end of the fourth year of the narrator's captivity. They woke up at four in the morning every day and quickly put on their boots and lined up in military uniform in the yard. The morning march was followed by morning exercise. The morning program ran from six to seven o'clock. Then it was time to perform the songs. Following that, the flag of the organization was raised as a sign of authority and the ceremony ended with a short speech by one of the commanders of the divisions. At that time, they would return to the location of their unit and resume their daily routines. However, the narrator points out a special point at this stage: They would not let us. They did not look at us as an organizational force at all; because by bringing us in, both their organization was exposed and it seemed that most of us would not be permanent. I found out about it in the very first meeting."

However, the organization decided to work on the prisoners ideologically.

      The fourth chapter is a clear description of the change that the narrator feels in himself: "For a while, we were caught up in ideological issues, and I was gradually changing from within." I thought to myself what ignorant views I had before and I was committed to issues that had no value ..."

       But his friends had a different view, believing that they had fallen into the trap. Their professions even frightened him and made him feel very bad. He thought to himself that he had no way back. Nevertheless, with each passing day, it melted into the space and system of the organization. The atmosphere in the camp was such that it had no choice but to become a member of organization. Although he still could not satisfy himself with this situation: "The first few months of joining the organization were good for us, but gradually everything changed. We were not physically abused, but we were in the worst condition mentally; we did not dare to return to Iran because of their poisonous propaganda."

       Chapter five begins with the issue of ideological revolution and the issue of divorce. It was decided that all those who were in the organization would get divorced. But the result was that the camp was whistling and blind after the divorce debate. It was as if life was not flowing in it. The rules of the organization were such that it gradually dried up the human roots. The narrator explicitly admits: "We were drying up every day like a plant growing in the desert." We spent a year or two like that."

      In the sixth chapter, the narrator speaks of the great ignorance in which they all lived. The members of the organization treated them however they wished. Their authority was in the hands of the organization, and they dragged the children wherever they wanted, and they had to go. For example, one of the things they always said was that the forces in Iran were waiting for People's Mojahedin Organization to revolt against the government, but the narrator thought this was a big deception.

      But from 1956 and 1997 onwards, all the relations of the organization really broke down. It was as if he changed the rules. This change in the behavior and performance of the organization had even been questioned by many and plunged people into strange confusion. Its  works and activities were strange to everyone. Everything had faded at once. In the organization, everything was going strangely. Even the logo of Azadi TV was transformed into a lion and a sun. Everything was boring and messy.

      Chapter seven begins by re-discussing the revolution. The narrator felt he was bored. He said to himself: "God!" How far can I go?" He missed Banurivand village. He was remembering his crazy past memories. He wanted no one to have anything to do with his work and return to his previous condition. But they did not let him go, nor did they let him go.

      The principles of the organization were that whoever separated or was cut off from it, they would say that you are an infiltrator and a spy for the Iranian intelligence service. Ironically, Bigleriۥ surname in captive was Basij, and they knew it very well.

      From 1993 onwards, the doors were closed and no one had the right to leave. There were many people who had worked with the organization for years, but had finally reached a point where they saw the other steps behind them broken and did not know what to do in this organization without any affiliation. Although comrades in the very bad situation when they have arrived, the organization later showed more of its dreadful face.

      In the eighth chapter, the narrator tells of his imprisonment in Abu Ghraib for leaving the organization. The prison was on the outskirts of Baghdad, an hour from the camp. The prisoner organization sent him there. It was a dreadful prison and a strong and impenetrable fortress known for its violence, rape and cruelty and disregard for the most basic human rights.

      However, one day Bigleri and the other comrades were suddenly told that you were free. They could not believe it. "Where are they sending us?" The Iraqi guard was asked. He replied: " we negotiated with Iran, you will exchange." Hearing this, John Bigleri trembled. He said to himself: "I will return to Iran again! I mean, I get rid of all this pain and suffering? "If I go to Iran, will I not be executed?" He felt the joy of sadness ingrained in him.

     Chapter nine is the chapter on the exchange of prisoners and the different events that follow. The narrator finds himself with others in the yard of Abu Ghraib prison, waiting for the buses to arrive to transport them to the Iranian border. After hours of waiting, the buses finally arrived and they boarded. There were about two hundred people. One hundred and fifty miscellaneous prisoners, fifty prisoners of the organization. "Bigleri had strange morality and kept saying it:" I had signed the death sentence myself. I do not care where I die ..."

    The narrator said heartily goodbye to the sad world of captivity. On the way of return, he reviewed all the difficult conditions of captivity and the ups and downs of his stay in Camp Ashraf; That he had lived through such tragedies for several years, but when the buses left and entered Iran, there was no news of the execution. He did not know what would happen in Iran, but whatever it was, it was no harder than enduring seventeen years of exile and loneliness.

     The first edition [of the book] " The Bitterness of Liberation", written by Javad Kamour Bakhshaish for the Office of Literature and Art of the Resistance, was published in 1400 by Surah Mehr Publications in 322 pages and 1250 copies with a regular cover, in octavo format,  and at a price of 75,000 Toman [Iranian currency]. It has been sent to book stores.

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