Interview with head of Abdanans Basij Women Unit during Holy Defense

A Report on Rear Activities of Abdanan Women in Holy Defense

Interviewed and Adjusted by Faezeh Sassanikhah
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


The first years of Esmat Ghazanfari's youth coincided with outbreak of the imposed war. She is one of the girls who were active in the eight years of Holy Defense who served in the fronts from the first years of the imposed war, and after being recruited to the IRGC, expanded her career as a Basij officer for Women Unit of Abdanan, Ilam.

Ghazanfari was born on August 1962 in Abdanan, Ilam and has memories of that era. The Iranian oral history website's correspondent has interviewed with him.



Where were you when the war broke out?

We were in our own city, Abdanan. I remember we stood in the backyard at the right moment when suddenly March was broadcast and our hearts sank.


When did your activity for the war begin?

My father was very active from the very beginning of the imposed war. Jihadi groups, who after the start of the war came to Abdanan and brought supplies to the front or poor people, mostly came to our house. They brought so many things that there was no room in our house. My father managed the affairs. My father was a businessman and had a simple shop, but he was a revolutionary because my grandfather was also a cleric and my father had studied before him, but he did not wear cloak. There was always a Quran recitation session in our house, and when no one knew what the proclamation was, my father would travel and take imam Khomeini's leaflets or somehow reach him and he distributed them in Abdanan. Some of the revolutionaries would come and took sneakily leaflets from my father. Our house was near the gendarmerie and we were completely monitored by them, even from the turrets they watched our house.

In 1982, I entered IRGC. First, we went to Shahid Bahonar Camp in Tehran for training, and after returning from Tehran, I became responsible for Abdanan’s Women Basij.


Were you a student when the war broke out?

No. I had dropped out.


What did your activities in Basij include?

We hold military and doctrinal training for the sisters. We were very active in schools and taught military training to students. In fact, we taught forces at the Basij Resistance Base, but on special occasions such as February 11th or the anniversary of start of the imposed war, we went to schools and taught students.

They brought us public aids on behalf of Basij. We were directly under supervision of mosque and IRGC. They said what was needed, and we prepared what they needed and gave them. In winter, women weaved warm clothes, hats and scarves for the warriors, and in the summer, we made syrup or jams or things that were needed. Once we made a lot of sekanjabin drink that became a few 20-liter gallons and we delivered them to the Basij and they took them to war zones. The area where we lived had not rich people, and they were under economic pressure, and before the revolution and during the time of Taghut (Pahlavi Reign), people were more in distress, but, however, the same families were more likely to cooperate. For example, we didn't really see those families who were more prosperous and in good situation to help significantly.

One of our jobs was also that IRGC inform us at the time of force deployment and we would go to the base. There they gave us flags, banners and manuscripts. We would pass the warriors under Qur'an, pray for them and boosted them morale. Well, when we ourselves have a passenger and want to escort him/her, that we are one, two or more is different. When more people escort you, you feel good.


In addition to supporting the Front, did you do cultural programs too?

Yes; on various occasions, such as all Imams' births, martyrdoms and Qadr Nights we held programs for people. We invited good speakers; held Du'a Kumayl and Du'a Nudba. Sisters who attended in the meetings helped in doing things like baking syrup or weaving clothes, etc. For example, they brought sugar cubes or sugar and even sugar powder.

Sometimes we held theatres and photo exhibitions. The theme of theatre was more about the war or we held photo exhibitions, for example, about pre-revolutionary demonstrations that people were very welcoming. Sometimes delegations came from Tehran and visited our workplace. On one of the visits, they said, how long have you been working here, you work very well. Try not to increase number of main forces, if you increase the force, you no longer do anything useful like that, they're really right. Another work that we did was to visit families of the warriors and the martyrs.


How many women worked with you?

Fixed forces of us were few, but other forces were voluntarily coming to work, which almost they were also fixed forces. Some of the women’s spouses were at the front and they themselves also helped or, for example, they were family of the martyr. Even women living at the air force base were very welcoming, both bringing devices and were active.


As a woman, did you have no problems with your family, especially your father, when you were working in Basij or elsewhere?

No. My father was open-minded and on the other hand, he knew his children and we had no problem.


Other than you, were your siblings active, or just you were eager to do these activities?

I had entered these jobs and my family sometimes cooperated. For example, we sometimes performed a theatre in the gym and used high school students where my sister was there to help us.


During these years, people of Abdanan were forced to leave the city?

Yes, in early 1985 it was almost close to Esfand (February) when a few aircrafts suddenly came and broke the sound barrier. Now I don't remember for what occasion there was a march when we suddenly saw aircrafts got too close and bombed a few parts of the city. One moment we saw a lot of shoes left in the street and people had fled barefoot.

Then we went and see some areas of the city had been bombed, most of which were people's houses, or, for example, they had bombarded deprived areas and families had been injured. I visited some schools, Air Force and went elsewhere to see what was going on. We had a clinic that was actually a high school in the middle of the town and I went there. They had brought there a large number of martyrs. People didn't know what to do. It was a tough day, very hard. I would go to see where I could do anything. Wherever I went, I saw there was not much I could do. I went Morgue. The door was closed and no one of the authorities was there to open the door with key. The morticians had escaped. Head of men Basij was a muscular sir who went back and hit himself to the door and kicked it, maybe the door to be opened, which finally became opened. First, the men martyrs were washed. We didn't know what to do. For example, we didn't know how to wrap martyrs in shrouds, it was very difficult. Head of Martyr Foundation was there and he told us ladies what to do.

We helped wash the martyred women as much as we could. There I saw a little kid whose head skin was peeled off or a woman whose body was perforated like a colander. His brother, who was our relative, came and identified him and said, "This martyr is my sister." I didn't know that lady!

We put their bodies in only some cloth. I don't remember how many martyrs we washed, but we finished at night. I was sad for a long time due to the scenes I had seen.


Other than that, did it happen once again that you go to morgue and wash and wrap a martyr in shroud?

No. I think we had just this bombardment and then people left the city. I don't remember exactly. I think they came back after the war and we also went to the Posht Ghale Village, which was in a few kilometers from Abdanan.


When you left Abdanan, did you have a special activity to serve the fronts in Posth Ghale Village?

All the forces had been scattered and we didn't have access to each other. A short while later, in an area almost a little further away from our village, in another village women Basij was formed. Of course, before end of the war, when things got better, we came back in late summer of 1985 and started our programs again.


Thank you for giving your time to Iranian Oral History Website.

I thank you, too.


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