Memoirs of Mohammad Ali Pardel

Harassment of captives

Compiled by: Faezeh Sasanikhah
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


On the way to Al-Qurna, some soldiers who wore black hats and were probably Jaish al-Shaabi, expressed their love to us and comforted us. When the Jaish al-Shaabi soldiers handed us over to the red hat officers, one of the Jaish al-Shaabi soldiers shook his head and said to us: »They are army dog[1]

On this way, the Red Hats were cursing some people who came near the truck carrying the prisoners. A cyclist was coming next to the car with a distance of one meter. One of the soldiers quickly pulled Glangden and cursed him, forcing him to step away from the truck. When they cursed, they used the word »club« most of all.

In the middle of the night, we reached a barracks in the city of Basra. They took us into a small room. Of course, it was not very small, but it did not have the capacity of about four hundred prisoners. The crowd was so tight that if anyone got up, he would not find a place to sit.

For prayer, everyone would put their hands on the back of the shoulders of the captive in front of them and do ablution with the same dirt clothe. We asked the Iraqi soldiers for the direction of praying. They had no problem with praying and showed us the direction. At bedtime, everyone leaned on the prisoner behind him and slept.

They kept us in Basra for several days. Every morning, when going out, the soldiers would stand by the stairs with cables in their hands and give everyone a few blows. Then they would line us up; so that each prisoner was three meters away from the prisoners who were in front and behind him, and two meters away from the prisoners who were on his right and left side. At first I thought they wanted to interrogate us by not letting us sit together, but then I realized they were doing it for publicity. They want the number of prisoners to appear large when they film.

After a number of "sit down, stand up", Iraqi and non-Iraqi cameramen would come and film for about two hours. During these two hours, we were comfortable, because no one was beaten while filming. When the cameras went, the beatings started. At the very beginning, they used to hit us on the side and lift us up.

During breakfast, the soldier would come with a bag of sandwich bread, stand at the door, slowly pick up the bread and throw it one by one among the prisoners to humiliate them. This takes about an hour. Bread was scarce and not enough for everyone. Of course, the prisoners themselves divided the bread among themselves and gave each one a piece.

They gave a meal at noon. However, food was not an important issue. More important than that was the lack of a toilet. Two soldiers would take a prisoner by the shoulders and take him to the bathroom and bring him back and take the next person. They were deliberately delaying so that the children would be more annoyed. In this way, taking the bathroom to the bathroom was not the answer for four hundred captives. Behind the prison window was the desert. The children broke the glass. Several people would stand next to each other behind the window and the one who was urinating would go and pour his urine out of the window. In order to defecate, a number of children lined up with their backs to the corner of the prison so that no one with a toilet could be seen.

I had an expensive Seiko 5 watch. In order to prevent the clock from falling into the hands of the Iraqis, I decided to break it. The glass was broken, but the hands were still spinning. I cut the hands one by one. Then I threw it through the window into the desert.

At noon on the second day, some rice with a little celery stew, which was empty of water, was poured into a "koseh" for the eight captives and given to them. The bowl was a dish similar to a tray with handles on both sides, and the bottom was about seven centimeters deep. Soldiers also ate ten people in one story.

Because we were not taken to the bathroom during this time, we agreed with the children not to eat. We said: "No one should eat." If Iraqis say why you don't eat, we say because you don't take us to the bathroom. Shall we eat, then where shall we go to the bathroom?"

The colonel came forward and said to the prisoners in broken Persian: "Lish? Why didn't I eat?"

He didn't say why you don't eat, because he didn't know Farsi well. He said: "Why didn't I eat?" In response, we said: "There is no toilet."

He said: "I agree."

We said: "Then we will not eat."

All of a sudden forty, fifty Kabul soldiers came and fell on us. They beat so much that they got tired. Sometimes you saw that two soldiers had fallen for the life of one person, and they were beating and beating like cotton balls. When the soldiers got tired of whipping, the colonel turned to the children and said: "Have you eaten?"

We saw that there is no choice, either we have to eat or be beaten. We started eating. The rice grains were floating in the celery juice. Nobody was given a spoon and we had to eat with our hands. We could not eat with our hands. We would bring the morsel to our mouth, half of it would fall down. Celery juice was dripping from the hands and lips of the captives. When the food was finished, the colonel ordered to fill the dishes again and bring them. They brought the dishes again and ordered you to eat. Some who could, ate and some did not[2].



[1] They are army dogs.

[2] Source: Zangoui, Majid, Memoirs of Mohammad Ali Pardel, Avesta Ali, Tehran, Surah Mehr, 2019, p. 279.


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