334TH Night of Memory -3

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 invited Mr. Ahmad Heidari to recount his memoirs of the captivity period as the third narrator.

Heidari said, “The main feature of captivity, after being away from the family, was the beatings. When we were in Iran, we had heard that our prisoners were beaten with sticks and cables and tortured. Of course, in the camp where we were, when they seized the area and captured the combatants, because there was no room, they brought us to another part of the 11th or 12th camp. That is, in the section where Kambiz was there earlier than us. We saw there that their situation was better than us because we were being tortured. They even said once there that they brought a diver to our camp and beat him so much in that toilet corridor and that space that he was martyred in the same diving suit. So much so that one of the guards said that if we beat and kill someone from you, they won't tell us why! In our camp, there was a person named "Qais" who had a handsome appearance, but his morals were evil. After some time when they separated the teenagers and young people and took them to another sanatorium, the guys said that if they put Qais' picture there, no one would move to breathe or do anything, lest they beat the others. There we had a prisoner named Alireza. Alireza was from the north of Iran. Shrapnel hit his head and his eye was blinded. He was also brought to Al-Rashid prison where we were. He said sometimes, “Hey guys, I have been healed by God, I can see”. In fact, the shrapnel had moved a little in his head and he was in such a state. He was a thin young man who was very happy when he walked in the camp and sang a song; but as soon as he was hit by a blow, he chanted the zekr of "Ya Imam Reza". One day when we had been standing in line, a guard, who I think was Qais, beat Alireza with a stick and he fell to the ground. This blow was so painful that one of the guards said in Arabic, “Don't beat. It’s painful”. He himself was heartbroken for that captive. I am saying this to prepare the grounds for the seven verses of the ode that I wrote.

The narrator continues:  Some ask in the cyberspace whether these are true?! Yes, these are true. We have forgotten some things. We were beaten for four hours in the night when we entered the camp. We were less than 15. There were also some wounded people among us. Mr. Abbasi was beaten severely because he had helped one of the captives. Before that, we had been punched, kicked and beaten by them, but not cable! We could see the cable in their hands, but we had not been beaten by it. Of course, the moment they tied my hand, I saw that a Toyota car was on the other side. Then, an officer beat me with a stick and it was in that moment that I just found out that I was in the garrison. I saw nothing else anymore. I didn’t understand how I had gone there!

When we reached the Al-Rashid Prison, we had become very tired. The prison only had room for me and Mr. Abbasi. It had a metal door and a very small window. We couldn't even use the bathroom that we were allowed to go to once a day. In short, when we entered the solitary cell, I fell asleep because I was sleepy. When I woke up, I saw that Mr. Abbasi was sleeping. In this situation, I, the speedy, playful football player had become like a chicken in a cage. I don't know why it was like something started in my stomach and came up. I felt like it was going to pop out of my sternum and if that happened I was going to die. The speed of thinking is very high. As soon as I reached such a situation, I remembered Imam Kazem (PBUH) who was in prison for seven years. I said to myself, “You at least have a blanket under your feet and a lamp above your head. It is just the first day of your captivity what has happened to you?!” As soon as I remembered him, my mood changed. The fact is that imams and remembering them are not just sineh-zani (chest-beating); rather, it means that he should be a role model for us. Just as our battle was modeled after Ashura, our model in captivity was Imam Sajjad (PBUH) and Imam Kazem (PBUH) and this was a great help for us. Finally, we were taken out there, and after a while, an Iraqi colonel came and asked a question from me and Mr. Abbasi, “Do the people get angry when we bombard Tehran?!” I took a look at Sarem who had played with the Iraqis. He was asked what your name was. He said, “I am Abbas Goodarzi and have two twin sons.” But God gave him two twin daughters that it meant you should not decide for God. And we even didn’t know too. Later, when we came back, we saw that he lied about everything. It was not clear whether he was joking or serious. But in one scene, I really felt for him. I had not been beaten with cable. When they took us from al-Rashid, I was the last one to board the minibus because I was helping the injured. When I put my foot on the footboard of the minibus, one of the guards beat me diagonally on the back with a cable. The place of the cable was burning a little at that moment, but when I was sleeping at night, I felt like a shovel was placed under me and I was moving on it. I said there, this is the cable about which they were talking!

The next day, we were taken from the Baghdad camp to Tikrit with our hands tied in the burning heat. Outside Tikrit, the bus stopped sideways. I was the fourth or fifth person to get off. I saw someone standing down and beating the prisoners with a cable. At that time, I had already been beaten with cable. I said to myself, “I will cause you trouble …! You know?” there were a few speedy footballers in the world. One of them was “Thierry Henry”, the French footballer, the other was “”Khodadad Azizi”, I was the third person, and the fourth person was "Roben" and "Messi" and so on. When the Iraqi officer's cable went up, I dodged and raised my closed hand and showed him a like! Like was a bad sign at that time!

Finally, we went to the camp and got rid of the officer, but it was full of the persons who had cables in their hands there. They said, “No one can escape from the government.” They had built a horrible tunnel, and when I saw my comrades being beaten, I forgot that they wanted to beat me too. I still remember those scenes. When the evening came, my hands were no longer working. For about ten days, when they said: "Attention!” I would bring one of my hands forward with the other and it would come back in slow motion again! My other hand was not folded at all. It was a bad situation. I prayed till night to die; it was in a way that if there was a fly on the nose, you couldn't push it away.

After a few months, a pen had reached the 19th camp. The pencil was cut into pieces and a piece fell in our sanatorium. At that time, Youssef Samandarian, the F5 pilot was in charge of us. I came to him and said, “I feel like writing poetry.” can you give me the pencil? He gave the pencil. I saw that I had no paper. I said to one of my friends, “Can you put this cigarette in the packet and give me the wrapper?” In short, I went behind the window and asked no one to come near me and joke with me. Behind the window, I turned the atmosphere that I had heard and seen into a poem. 


To be continued ...


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