334th Night of Memory - 1

Sepideh Kholoosian
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan

2022-7-5


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.

 

The show started with the recitation of the Holy Quran by Ahmad Heidari, a freed POW from Tikrit camp and after condoling the days of the martyrdom of Amir al-Momenin (PBUH), the host said: "The Night of Memory has been reviewing the golden pages of the book of Holy Defense and the bravery of the men of this land who have bleached their hair for many years so that we can learn lessons from ancient times and face the burden of experience to continue the ups and downs; because as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution said, “Khorramshahr is on the way” and the youth of our country must be determined to take this dangerous path and learn from what has happened in the past years.

 

In continuation of the show, the host invited Mr. Abbasi to tell his memoirs as the first narrator.

 

Abbasi: It is a great honor that I meet my comrades and cellmates after some 33 or 34 years and the memoirs of the captivity period was revived for me. Mr. Ahmad Heidari, who was reciting the holy Qur'an, took me unconsciously to Farvardin 1367 (April 1988). I was captured with him in the heights of Shakh-e Shemiran in Marivan and in Operation Beit al-Moqaddas 5. Two or three days after our captivity, when I saw him in Sulaimaniyah, we talked and realized that we are fellow citizens and both are from Boroujerd. Our captivity begun since then.

Before they took us to the camp, we were in Sulaymaniyah for a while and then we went to the al-Rasheed camp in Baghdad. In the solitary confinement that barracks, both of us were in the same cell, and when we felt very homesick, Mr. Heidari began to recite the Qur'an. There was so much noise in the cells that an echo was created. But he recited the Qur'an so beautifully that I witnessed even the Iraqi garrison guards often came behind the cell and listened to his voice when reciting because it was really enjoyable. In a situation where captivity had just begun and it was not clear how long it would last, the verses of the Qur'an were both a source of encouragement and a relief to endure the difficult period of captivity.

Here, all the loved ones have gone through all the periods of captivity and shortages, beatings, insults, and being under food siege, and so on. When we broke our fasting tonight, I recalled the Iftar during captivity. I said to myself, “There is a sea difference between this Iftar and that one in captivity.” When we were captured, we were taken to Tikrit’s 11th camp right before we went to the 19th camp. I remember it was May. There, during Ramadan, the food they gave us had to be kept both for Sohur and for Iftar. The families of the freed POWs must have heard about the quality and quantity of the foods.

We had to provide water inside the sanatorium with buckets before the Iraqi guards closed the doors of the sanatoriums; for example, we would take five or four buckets of water into the sanatorium; because after taking the statistics, the door of the sanatorium was closed and the door was not opened until the next morning when the daily program started. Sometimes, when the Iraqi guards wanted to measure the prisoners and, as they say, test their faith, they reduced the water in the camp. At that time, there were about 140 people in each sanatorium. We had people from all walks of life, including the Basijis, the servicemen, the IRGC members, ordinary people, young or old, and so on. I remember one day there was not enough water and finally the children were able to get one or two buckets and bring them into the sanatorium. The Tikrit in the month of Ordibehehst (May) is also different from that of ours in terms of heat. That day, the water we had prepared was used and consumed at night. It was around 10:30 or 11:00 at night when I saw that the guys had been impatient with thirst. There was no electricity and the fans were out of order. It was so hot that I saw all the guys had become wet all over as a result of sweating. Those who were younger had lower tolerance and those who were older had more tolerance.

We had a guard there who was comparatively more Muslim than the others and if I am not mistaken his name was "Seyed Ahmad". Seyed Ahmad was one of the Shiites of Najaf. When he saw the thirsty condition of the children from behind the window, he pointed and said: "Bring two buckets." Since the buckets were made of plastic and flexible, they bent through the window bars and passed through the bar. We gave him two buckets and he left. When he came back, he had half-filled these buckets and brought them to us. Think about how two half buckets of water should be divided for 140 people so that all their thirst will be quenched and become satiated! We gave each person half a glass of water, not to the point of quenching their thirst, but to the point of moistening the throat. Then, we asked Seyed Ahmad: "The water is cut off in the camp and we don't have electricity either." Where did you get these waters from? He said: "To tell you the truth, since I saw that the condition of the guys was very bad, I brought water from the cooler of the guard's office, which was working." Believe me, this half glass of water that he gave us was so pleasant that it made everyone out of that mood.

 

To be continued …

 



 
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