Memoirs of Mohammad Majidi from resistance years against Saddam army, Part III

The visits and conditions for freedom

Interviewd by Mehdi Khanbanpoor
Edited by Sara Rashadizadeh
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan

2016-9-26


Mohammad Majidi, freed and beside her parents coming home

 

Note: During the sacred defense years, Mohammad Majidi went to the war fronts in order to take part in one of the phases of Karbala 5 Operation. But only ten days after his presence in the front, he was taken as captive by the Iraqi Ba’thist enemy forces and spent four years out of the best years of his life in the camps of Saddam’s army. In the first and second parts of the interview, we talked about the details of the days when he was dispatched to the battle fronts, the events of Karbala 5 Operation, how he was taken as captive as well as the memorable stories which he had weathered during captivity. And now this is the last and final part of interview:

 

*In view of the fact that the soldiers of Saddam’s army harassed you a lot, how did you respond to their insults and sarcasms?

*There was an Iraqi commando in our camp who was very stylish and euphonious. After every missile operation, he read a poet admiring the operation. I who had learnt Arabic very well, was thinking continuously to make the response of this poet. One day when I was thinking and walking in the compound, one of my friends known as Haji Yek Dast (one-hand Haji), put his hand on my shoulder. I was very surprised and shocked. Because Adnan who was an Iraqi sometimes put on the clothes of Iranian POWs, revolved around us and caught us red-handed. For instance, he came and said, “You have insulted Saddam.” He treated in a way that you could not deny because he himself had hard and we could not do anything.

That day I thought that Adnan had put his hand on my shoulder. But I saw that it was Mohammad Farisat or the same Haji Yek Dast. He said, “Crazy, do you know what you were saying?” I said, “Yes. I know what I am saying.” He said, “What about if Adnan was here instead of me?” I said, “I was buried here.” Farisat said with anger, “You know well. Why do you say again? Be careful a little.”

 

*Tell us about Mohammad Farisat.

*Mohammad Farisat’s leg had been amputated from the knee. He was the translator of many of us during captivity. When his leg was cut, he had no sense and did not understand that his leg had been amputated. He stood up to come down his bed, but the edge of his knee hit the rod of the hospital’s bed and started whining. Instead of sympathy and injecting a tranquilizer, the nurse went out and brought a cement block and hit on his head so that he did not whine anymore.

 

*How was your situation in the final years of your captivity?

*It was the year 1989 and some two months before the passing away of Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul), we were transferred from ward 2 to ward 4 and our restroom was changed. In that period, Camp 11 had four wards and every ward 3 restrooms which had been located with 100 to 150 meters distance from each other. There was a pool filled with water which we were longing for touching it. But in the winters, the Iraqi broke the ice on the water to torture us. In this way that they undressed and forced us to go to the pool in order to freeze then they beat us with sticks.

The restroom commander was a sergeant who had an inharmonious and dirty face. One day this sergeant went on leave and another guard named Mustafa was replaced to him.  Mustafa who had been known as Mustafa shesh kableh or six-cable Mustafa ordered us to stand in line and started talking that you had no right to drink this water, you had no right to look at him, you had no right what to do or not to do. Everybody look at the opposite ward and know that you should not come here. Here is a prohibited area. As soon as he ordered us to be free, just like a bomb blew off among a population, all of us were scattered. Some ran toward the next wards and some others toward the pool, and as they plunged their heads into the pool, started drinking water. Some went toward the opposite wards and started talking to other POWs and some other spread their clothes on the adjacent barbed wires which were completely banned to approach them.

That morning, my friend from the ward 3 had washed his blanket and I was going toward him to help him spread the blanket. I didn’t know at all that Mustafa was watching us. Some half a meter remained to the window of the room of my friend that one of my friends who was from Hamedan, he stretched out his hand form the window and said, “Hi, Mr. Majidi, how are you?” I too took my hand out of the window, greeted with him and talked a little that, “What’s up? How is your restroom? What do you do with Ziyarat Ashoura? Do you have the Ziyarat to give us? As we were talking about a series of cultural works, suddenly, Mustafa said, “Hey come here! What are you doing?” And with a furious face, he stood up to run toward me. I also started running at him. A few steps remained to reach other, he told me in broken Farsi, “Get out of here…” I said, “Let me say a few words”. But Mustafa was getting angry every moment and finally grabbed his fist to hit me. I saw that if I stay he’ll blow my head off.

On the other hand, I had worn white underwear and the entire members of the two wards had worn yellow dresses and if I escaped, they would find and beat me. As soon as i saw that Mustafa had become angry, I started running around the camp. All the guys applauded me and I saw that Mustafa with his huge body was running behind me.  He ran a little and found out that he could not catch me. He took out his watch and smashed it on the ground with anger. I found out that I should not bother him, I’d better stop or else he would certainly kill me later. I stopped and Mustafa came to me and said with broken Farsi, “Why did you run? Did I tell you to go?” I said again, “Let me talk a few words.” Suddenly I did not understand what happened and what he did? I just saw that my underwear was filled with blood.

Mustafa told me, “Go and sit in that poll”. The pool about which Mustafa was talking was at the size a desk in which the wastewater of the Iraqi guards gathered so that the rest of the compound remained clean. I went and sit in that pool and said to myself that it was now the time to pretend something else. As I had been sitting in the pool and put my head on my knee and looking at the ground, the drops of blood were dripping. I rubbed every drop of the blood to my body in a way that my whole body was drenched in blood.

At the same time, Mustafa came back and sit beside me and said, “Now come and see what you wanted to say.”  As I got up slowly and stood in front of him, suddenly he saw my bloody face and was panicked. He said with horror, “What has happened? Who has beaten you?” I dared to insult him and said, “Don’t you know who had beaten me?” I said, “If someone wants to shake hands with you, do you take your hand out?” If someone wants to say hello, you don’t respond to him? He said hello and shook hands and I was forced to raise my hand unwantedly.” Mustafa said, “Strange, was it unwanted?” Then he said, “Now tell me what you want? Say whatever you want! Of course provided that you should not tell the guard that I have beaten you.” Because he knew that the officer on duty would come to the camp for counting the POWs one hour later. I used the opportunity and said, “I want to visit my friend”. Mustafa said, “You are free for one hour and can do whatever you want.”

At any rate, I used the opportunity and greeted with stranger and familiar captives and exchanged information as much as three years. Finally, I talked to everybody for some three hours in a way that i became tired but told everybody, “Since I have been beaten, the visits were very pleasant.”

 

 

*In what year were you freed from the captivity of the Saddam’s army finally?

*I was freed on 15th of September 1990. Certainly you have heard that a series of the POWs were brought in the border and returned them to the camp again?

 

*Yes, I’ve heard the story to some extent. What is the story and were you among those captives?

*Yes, when the story of the swap of the POWs happened, 500 Iranian POWs were picked up by a bus by the Iraqi forces and sent to the border. I and those famous 160 opponents who had been sentenced to 99 to 400 hundreds years in prison were among them. We were transferred from Tikrit to Molhaq in Ba’quba near Baghdad. The third base of Saddam’s special force was located there and we were told that you would be sent to Iran. We were there for a few days until the day they wanted to free the POWs came. One day earlier, when the guys had gone to behind the camp secretly to bring food, they saw Colonel Mohammad Varasteh. He was a jetfighter pilot who was also in camp 11. The guys asked him what he was doing here. Varasteh said, “I and ten others including Haj Aboutorabi are here and the Iraqi forces are turning us round in the camps where the Red Cross is present so that we see the Red Cross vehicles and rest assured that we would be swapped certainly, but they are going to keep us in Iraq. Go and tell the camp’s guys.” After returning, they told us the story, and we along with friends such as Khaledi, Haj Aqa Rahim Qomeishi, and Ali Golvandwe, changed our camp in order not to be kept in Iraq.

 

*So, Ali Golvand was with you in captivity?

*Yes. Ali Golvand was a member of the strategic council of the camp, and anything happened in the camp, he told us and we did it unquestionably.

 

*Another question, you mean the change of camp was so easy that you were able to change your camp so fast?

*No. that day, after we were informed of the story, we said, “What should we do?” we thought a little and after noon praying, we said to ourselves that best way was to riot since we wanted to save our friends in addition to this. By chanting Allaho Akbar or the God is greater, we went up the camp’s wall and stood on the roof and then started opening the barbed wires, because we knew that the Red Cross was present. We knew that by doing this at least we were not killed and eventually would be punished and tortured. Moreover, we knew that the tanks behind the barbed wires were in alert and the guards inside the turrets had no right to shoot. The officer on duty came and said, “What’s wrong with you?” We said, “We want our friends.” The Iraqi officer said, “There is nobody there.” We said, “”Yes, there is. Either bring them or we set on fire the camp” and we gathered bricks and stones in front of the restroom and were ready to throw them. We had stood against everything. However, we knew that they would not deliver our friends to us with this trick.

Haj Mustafavi came and talked with the officer on duty and said, “We obeyed everything you had asked us to do until now, this time you listen to us and deliver our friends.” Caught in a bad situation, the guard officer found out that he had no other way and said, “Ok, I agree. Go and open the door and come down and we will bring back your friends.” We said, “No. we must come with you. If you go now, you will transfer them to somewhere else and we must be beside you.” At any rate, finally they had to take a group of our guys including Mr. Mustafa Mustafavi who was the battalion commander. The guys went and brought back our friends on their shoulder.

The guys took back Haj Aboutorabi and gathered around him and he started preaching. He had become very happy that we were very consistent and unanimous and caused them to bring back with unity and solidarity. Then, we put conditions for Iraqi forces and said, “If we are supposed to be freed, we have several conditions.” Our conditions were that there should be ten buses first and all of us should get in. we meant that if even one did not get in, nobody would do. Moreover, the buses should drive one after another and without any space, otherwise we set on fire the buses.

 

*Tell us about the story of the separation of Colonel Mohammad Varasteh.

*It was in the holy month of Ramadhan that Colonel Mohammad Varasteh was separated from us and taken. The story was that one of the guys was the spy of Iraqi forces. Under the pretext of receiving breads, he disclosed what had happened inside the camp and told a lie that for example somebody was a member of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) or someone else had stripped wire to kill the guards. The Iraqi forces especially one of the guards named Adnan under such pretexts used different kinds of tortures.  

 

*Do you have any memory about Adnan that you would like to tell us?

* Yes, Adnan tortured us in any way he liked. Physically he was vey huge and tall and had a stylish body. He was always an orderly and well-dressed man. According to him, before the war, he was a blacksmith.

Sometimes he swore and said, "I do not beat you. I swear God that I beat to the extent that you do no riot and do not set on fire here and in general I can control you."

Adnan beat us very badly. But he treated with us so cruelly that finally like Yusef (mentioned about him in this interview) came down with a serious disease and came and said, "Forgive me."            



 
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