Memoirs of Seyed Nasser Hosseini about al-Rashid Prison

Selected by: Faezeh Sassani Khah
Translated by: M.B. Khoshnevisan


Saturday, 18th of Tir 1367 (July 9, 1988) – Baghdad – al-Rashid Prison

Out of the five injured brought from al-Rashid Prison, one was in critical conditions. His intestine had been torn down as a result of mortar shrapnel, like Ahmad Saeedi. His chest and head had also been harmed. He had a Mazandarani accent. He looked 45. He was a member of Karbala 25 Division. He had a blond and yellow beard. Whenever I saw him, I recalled my brother Seyed Ghodratollah. His pants were Korean. The Iraqis had torn his uniform shirt. The prison guard had cut some of his beard with a gas canister. He had a long and beautiful beard. Even though he was injured, every Iraqi who passed by taunted him in some way and tried to humiliate him. Sabah wrapped his hand around his head and pointed at him and said: Where is your turban?!

Some guards thought he was a cleric. I had the same idea myself. He was a quiet and modest person. He spoke very little. But when he spoke, he angered the Iraqis. He was a member of IRGC and was not willing to hide this under any circumstances for the sake of expediency.

The deputy of the prison, who was the first lieutenant, said to him: Are you Khomeini's guard?

In his answer, he said: Yes, I am Khomeini's guard!

The lieutenant, whose words were translated by Fazel, said: "Are you still committed to Khomeini in this situation?"

In the lieutenant’s response, he said: Everyone loves his own leader. I mean, you want to say that you don't like Saddam, captivity does not change the belief. It strengthens it!

The lieutenant, who spent most of his idle time arguing with the prisoners and trying to learn more about the Iranian prisoners, said: "You are sorry, I'm sure."

In response, he said: If the end of Hazrat Zainab's captivity was not more than martyrdom, it was not less than it too. I am not sorry; these conditions are normal in war!

The weather was very hot. The guards were preparing for the arrival of their senior officers. Usually, one or two Iraqi officers entered the prison every day. The first five or six days were for recording the personal and military information of the prisoners. In the following days, they would come to visit and identify the commanders who had not yet been identified.

The lieutenant informed the prisoners about the arrival of one of the senior officers who supposedly came from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. When the wounded Iranian spoke about the mission of Hazrat Zainab (SA) in the captivity of the Yazid people, the lieutenant continued to say: The commander comes to visit, if you want him to order to take care of you, don't act like a hero and express your remorse in front of him. Tell the commander you are sorry. This is how he feels sorry and orders to take you to the hospital!

The lieutenant addressed me and the rest of the wounded who were sitting with our backs against the wall and said: I am with you, whoever expresses regret will go to the hospital! But he was lying: Even if we expressed regret, they would not take us to the hospital. The intention of the lieutenant was to humiliate us in front of the senior Iraqi officer. He enjoys expressing the remorse of wounded prisoners. He said: Last month, the same colonel came here to visit, two wounded Iranians expressed their regret, one of them kissed Saddam's picture in the presence of the other prisoners. The same colonel ordered to take him to the hospital. When he said this, I was sure he was lying. I don't believe that any Iranian prisoner kissed Saddam's photo.

The wounded man from Mazandaran, while lowering his head with a sad face, said to the lieutenant: You can't want us to be humiliated, to express our regret, to kiss Saddam's picture! We adhere to a principle, even if I die, I will not say I regret. If someone thinks that by saying sorry and kissing Saddam's photo, Saddam feels sorry for us, he is very wrong! When the wounded Iranian said this, he was trying to make us understand that I will not do this, you should also be careful, don't make a mistake, and don't play with your country's pride and honor.

Half an hour later, a military man who was waiting for the guards entered the prison yard. He was a stout man with hollow eyes and a dicey head. He was wearing glasses and a tight-fitting short-sleeved leopard print uniform, he looked like he was in his fifties. When he entered the prison, he inspected the prisoners. When he reached the wounded, he paused and stared at us. He asked the injured people various questions. The long beard of an injured Mazandarani caught his attention. He stood in front of him and said: Are you Khomeini's guard?

The injured Mazandarani replied, yes, I am Khomeini's guard!

The colonel asked him: "Aren't you a cleric?" Iranian wounded said: No, I am a guard!

The deputy of the prison had told the colonel that this wounded man told him that he still loves Khomeini, captivity is not less than martyrdom, the mission of these prisoners is like the mission of Zainab (SA) and... the Iraqi commander who tried to blame the Imam for all the troubles and introducing the tortures of Iranian prisoners, he sarcastically said to the wounded Mazandarani: What message are you going to convey to us in Iraq? Now where is Khomeini to help you? What do you want to do with all this pain and injury?

The wounded Iranian, who had no strength, pressed his thirsty lips together, swallowed the moisture in his mouth forcefully, and answered the colonel, "I worked at the front for a long time in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps." I used to teach Nahj al-Balagha to children. I can only answer you with a poem from Nahj al-Balagha. Imam Ali (PBUH) says:

If you ask me how you are, know that I am patient with the problems of the time, it is difficult for me to be seen with a sad face, so that the enemy blames and the friend gets upset.

The Iraqi colonel stunned by Mazandarani's answer just looked at him. It was clear from his looks and expressions that he did not expect such a beautiful answer from him. I felt that the colonel was punctured like a deflated balloon! They did not hit him. The colonel did not argue with any of the prisoners. The injured Mazandarani was reciting the noble Quran in that burning heat. The next day, it was near evening when the essence of his voice reached the end and he was martyred. He was purified and developed in the school of Imam Ali (PBUH) and was a loyal guard of the Imam. The door and brick wall of al-Rashid prison in Baghdad will never forget his enemy-recognition and resilience. The noble Quran and Nahj al-Balagha flowed in his arteries and capillaries.


Source: The tears that turned into mortars; Memoirs of the first Sacred Defense Memory-Writing Festival; Kohkilooyeh & Boyer Ahmad Province, 3rd of Khordad 1360 (May 24, 1981), Isfahan Province, Hakim Qashqaee Publications, 1390 (2011), p. 9.


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