The 292nd Session of Memory Night

Memory-telling about Dr. Chamran and Dastmal-Sorkhha

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


According to Iranian Oral History Website, the 292nd session of Sacred Defense memory night was held in Sooreh Hall of Hozeh Honari on Thursday, June 28, 2018. In the session, Abdullah Nooripour, Maryam Kazemzadeh and Mehdi Zomorrodian expressed their memories of Iraq's imposed war against Islamic Republic of Iran.


Abdullah Nooripour was the first narrator of the program. He said: "at the very beginning of IRGC in Vali Asr garrison, there were people who test newcomer forces and then divided them among battalions one to seven. In Battalion-3, there were forces that were chosen because of having a military background. They were escapees of Javidan guard, such as martyr Reza Moradi, Ismail Lesani and others who were athletes. They had formed different teams, and the teams undertook a civil mission. Early in the revolution, Forqan group assassinated the revolution leaders. Imperial Guard and SAVAK forces were still in streets and assassinated Pasdars (guardians) especially at night. Forces of barrack-3 were missioned to detect them and arrest them through pursuit and evasion. The battalion continued its work until they were undertaken guarding the Gulf Complex, which was already club of American Officers. They operated there nighttime combats and special exercises, when Asghar Vesalabi showed up. He introduced himself and we realized that he was an anti-Pahlavi fighter who had been imprisoned and sentenced to death. We found out that he had a lot of detective experiences and was skillful in urban wars. He was relatively an interpreter of Nahj al-Balagha, instantiate from Quran for works of the guys, and we realized that our commander is not an ordinary person.



It was case of Kurdistan; we were about 100 to 150 people. Our first deployment was to Marivan. We traveled to Kermanshah by plane. Then we moved on road and arrived in a place like a garrison that was in control of gendarmerie. We did not have provision and clothes, and generally weren’t in a good situation. Ramadan had been also started. In short, commander of the gendarmerie quartered us. After Iftar, we went with some of our friends to take some supplies for the guys, such as magazine and cartridge-box and baldric. The commander showed us a shed and said there is everything. We went to the shed along with martyrs Majid Jahanbin, Reza Moradi, Jahangir Jafarzadeh and Ansari. We searched the shed in darkness. Meanwhile martyr Moradi found a flashlight. I saw a few wooden boxes. We opened them hardly and saw that they had foil. We put them aside and saw there were many red triangle handkerchiefs. They had been arranged in order. I was busy with these handkerchiefs that I remembered a narrative from Imam Ali (AS). In operations, he scarcely started fought, and when he wanted to fight tied a yellow or red handkerchief on his head by which others understood that he was going to fight. I said this to martyr Alireza Shoja davoodi who was a theologue (religious sciences student), and asked him was the handkerchief that Imam Ali tied yellow or red? One person said jokingly "yellow," and the other said "red." They were very joking there and said that I forged a hadith, but after a short talking, we made a treaty with each other, and gave the handkerchiefs to rest of them and they tied them on their neck. Thus they became known as Dastmal-Sorkhha (red handkerchiefs). In next operations, we tied the handkerchief on our head. When there was dusty, we put it upon our mouths. Sometimes we cleaned sweat and dust from our faces. In case of Paveh we tied it on neck and forehead and in the imposed war on our forehead.

To liberate Baneh, we wanted to take to Baneh a huge armored file- about 7 to 10 mobile homes, each with two to three ironclad, several trucks full of provision and ammunition, a few jeeps and armored and non-armored vehicles. There were several ambushes in road of Marivan to Baneh to reach Shiler Valley. We had passed them. Task of Dastmal-Sorkhha was to protect this armored file. We had become fully acquainted with the region. Of course, a number of young chivalrous Kurds and those who were familiar with the road were with us until we reached Gardaneh Khan with some covert and twisted notches. There, we were shot at each side. On Gardaneh Khan, we were crippled totally. It was here that Dr. Mustafa Chamran, as usual, came up with a helicopter and set up an emergency meeting aside the road. Someone had betrayed us and this movement had been exposed. Martyr Chamran said that a small group to mount Shiler to create a firing line, and the file could pass firing line safely. He called Asghar Vesali, me and Jahangir Jafarzadeh, and we got into a helicopter. We crossed the hill. The helicopter stood on drainage divide and we jumped. We were shot from three sides and we did reaction too. The file was able to move and go, and we stayed with an enemy who shot us from three sides. As bullets passed through my hair, and I felt that bees were circling around us.

When air became dark, I realized that Jahangir Jafarzadeh had been died a martyr there, and there is no news about Asghar too. I was left alone. I went down the hill next to a fountain. I did Wudu and prayed. I saw that on the other side a file was coming. I thought he was Ismail Lesani. I called him loudly so that one behind shrubs said: they are not insiders, do not call them. I saw that Asghar had taken shelter behind a tree. His leg had been shot. He had undressed his shirt and closed by it his leg. Highland was cold at night. We limped. At midnight, we felt our underfoot was grass and water. We used that water. Then we found a small cave and went there. We were hungry and tired. We slept a short time until I was woken up with whisper of Asghar during night prayer. In the morning, the helicopter came above us, turned around but didn't see us. Then we realized that we were more ahead of the file. Then we stayed until the file came from behind us. They saw us and gave us a hoist from bottom of the valley. We moved a bit so that we faced third ambush. In short, on the way to get Baneh and martyr Chamran they waited in ambush for us several times. Wherever the combatants were in a hardship and involvement, martyr Chamran appeared."


He wasn't indifferent

Maryam Kazemzadeh, wife of martyr Asghar Vesali, was the second narrator of the program. She said, "I met martyr Chamran in Marivan. About 48 hours before he arrived, I had entered that town. Dr. Chamran, along with general Falahi, had come by helicopter and there wasn't a calm atmosphere. Before that Asghar Vesali entered the area, Mr. Mostafavi was commander of IRGC. Major Sheibani and Mr. Mostafavi were in Marivan garrison. Those were restless days. When general Fallahi came, Maj. Sheibani, as commander of the garrison, should report situation to his superior commender, and did it too. He complained IRGC. Mr. Mostafavi was of great commanders of IRGC. When general Falahi heard complaints of major Sheibani, the atmosphere became controversial and Mr. Mostafavi entered room angrily and asked to hear report of IRGC commander too. Quarrel of commanders of IRGC and the army was not good for that period. Martyr Chamran saw me and asked others: Who is she? They said: a reporter. He said, "Get him away from here." He supposed that I would quickly report news of collision between the army and IRGC. Some Pasdars came to me and told me to get away from there. I became very upset and told martyr Chamran that if you came now, I've come before you and you cannot tell me to leave here!



When Mr. Mostafavi came out of the room, the doctor put his arm around his neck and said him tell me events of these days. General Falahi returned by the same helicopter before sunset, but Dr. Chamran, who had come as deputy of prime minister, stayed in the area to evaluate Marivan conditions. For Maghrib prayer, I also stood in line of congregational prayer and I prayed. After praying, when Dr. Chamran saw that I was also in congregational prayer, he was surprised. Notable attribute of Dr. Chamran was that he was not indifferent to anyone. He came and picked up my camera and asked whether my camera is a canon one? My camera was also canon. That night, he said on nights in Lebanon, of wars with Israelis, and he recorded those moments with his camera. He talked, and all my sense and effort at that moment was causing him to talk more. He talked about Amal movement, of Imam Musa Sadr, Dr. Shariati, and of his paintings in Lebanon. They brought dinner and took it, and the doctor spoke and I became thirstier. He spoke less of himself and I wished to hear about him. The next morning, the doctor requested people who have something to say to be gathered in Marivan Governorate. That day, Dr. Chamran changed his dress for the same meeting in which opposing groups attended. I was surprised and told him the doctor! You said last night of candles, of love, silence, and God! Why did you wear this dress?! The doctor said, "I'll answer you tonight."

We went to the governor along with Dr. Chamran and the garrison people. There was a large table, and all cabals had gathered there such as MKO, OIPFG, Democrats, and a union for peasants (its name in Kurdish:یه‌کیه‌تی جوتیاران ) that was an agricultural group. When the cabals introduced themselves, as group of Peykar wanted to introduce itself, Dr. Chamran became angry and beat the table and said that wherever you are, I wouldn't be there! The doctor said that I don't have anything to tell you, you have to leave the meeting so I can talk to others. The representative left the meeting, and each group made his speeches and demands. Peykar group was never fan of the revolution, and they always killed revolutionaries; this was part of their policy. Some had left the city through instigating by Democratic Party and armed; so main task of Dr. Chamran was to force them to disarm. After two hours of serious talk, the doctor said you had to disarm so that we can take the next step and can examine your requests in Tehran and proceed measures. The meeting ended and a number of people went and there became more private. The doctor wanted to be in direct contact with people without any intermediary as an official. He entered the city and saw all people were armed. He came to a young and asked him, "Why do you have a weapon in your hand?" He said I heard Chamran has come to the town, I want to kill him; the doctor asked, "Do you know Chamran?" He said: "No, but I have heard he is calvous, the doctor said my head is also calvous, the young man said, "No, Chamran eyes falls blood!" The doctor asked again, "Why do you have gun in your hands?" He said gun is my whole being. Gun was very important for Kurds. It was night and the doctor, as he had promised, had to tell me why he wore formal clothes? He said that night many hours on Hazrat Ali (AS) and that man should not be one-dimensional in different situations; Ali (AS) fought during the day and prayed at night; construct your own soul by praying. Chamran taught me that human should be ethical at every level."

Kazemzadeh told in response to a question of presenter of program of the memory night about how to get acquainted with Asghar Vesali, "I was in Marivan before group of Dastmal-Sorkhha. I was in charge of asking Dr. Chamran for events of Paveh. I did not attend in Paveh and arrived 48 hours later. The doctor told me that I should ask Asghar Vesali about this story, who was commander of IRGC and was along with him in the same night. When I went to Asghar Vesali, he treated me very bad and said that you are a journalist, aren't you? I said yes. He asked, "Why weren't you in Paveh that night?" I said what did you expect me?! He said, "When reporter's duty is to attend, when you consider yourself as eye and ear of people, you have to be there." I returned, and in response to Dr. Chamran I said Asghar Vesali was not there and the doctor told me about Paveh event in details. The next day, it was intended that Asghar Vesali, group of Dastmal-Sorkhha and Kurds who knew the area well go to identify Marivan border areas. Dr. Chamran asked me if I want to go with them. I was very enthusiastic and accepted. In time of going, Dr. Chamran told Asghar Vesali, "I gave her to you alive, you must give me alive."


We spent hardships laughingly

The third narrator of the program was Mehdi Zomorrodian. He said, "We were a team including 40 people. We arrived at Paveh when they had slaughtered patients at the hospital, and corpses were in the hospital. We were a group called Fada'iyan-e Islam, and we had barricaded around a trailer. We arrived in the second day of Paveh warfare and we were missioned to be stationed at Paveh Hospital in which many had been killed and wounded. From there, my service started as a popular force and continued to this day. We always spent hard times laughingly. I have passed courses of using gun, ammunition and services, but the courses were empirical. Along with these courses, I prayed Dua Tawassul and Du'a Kumayl in Khatam-al Anbiya (PBUH) Construction Headquarters, and warriors sat down in a crowd more than crowd of the salon we are today and listened to these prayers. I didn’t afraid of nothing in the war. I just scared of solifugae! Once I was praying for the guys, I saw a solifugae was approaching me; I took my Keffiyeh and put it on it. I gave microphone to side person and said, "Continue so that get it out and come." I shook Keffiyeh and saw there wasn't any solifugae! When I returned, I saw that one who was praying prayed with special sincerity! I gave microphone to someone else and asked: what's up? He said: "something is inside my leg." In short, that solifugae had gone inside his pants!



Warriors in the front knew Asghar Vesali as "Asghar Cherik (guerilla)". There were a group of Ray's guys like Mahmoud Ataei who never received any gun and said that we would provide our own weapons. They attacked the enemy overnight, took their weapons, and also provided a few weapons for guys of logistic and told give weapon to each of the guys whom we said."

Zomorrodian continued, "We once said that we would not just serve in Khatam headquarters, go to battalion of Habib ibn Madhahir and serve there too and be along with Basij guys. Haj Hasan Mohaghegh was commander of Habib battalion, and I insisted on not telling the guys that I read prayers. Living with those warriors was peculiar. Some Basiji guys brought their martyrs who had died a martyr in previous operations whenever they wanted to have a ceremony. They bought themselves bread and cheese and vegetables in Ahwaz and spread a table and distributed that food among the guys. We had supplies officer that whenever we told him give us a lemon juice and some sugar to make lemonade in this hot weather, or we told give us canned fish or haricot, he said we don't have. That night, during ceremony of warriors of Haj Hasan, he told me if these guys would die a martyr tomorrow, you wouldn't have had read even one time for them; as you can read for them. I put a Keffiyeh upon my head in darkness in order not to being recognized and I read. Finally, I put microphone aside and sat in a corner of darkness. Next day I again went to logistics officer and asked sugar and lemon. I saw he gathered all supplies and put them in front of me! He said, you read last night and I enjoyed it! Believe me, after that, in the battalion, our tent logistic was better than all tents and everyone wanted something, came and get from us."

At the end Zomorrodian said, "Old guys of destruction worked in laying and clearing mines. This is a special expertise. A destruction that we did after the revolution was on explosive traps and defusing bombs. In Syria, if we had one hundred of martyrs, 90 of them died by explosive traps. When we arrived, because it was our expertise, we did it at best. After retirement, I did not like to serve, and I wanted to spend my time with my family. Since we went to Syria for 10 days in days of martyrdom of Ruqayyah bint Al-Ḥusayn each year and gave food, this time, when it was over and we wanted to come back by plane, we understood that plane had stopped. I looked at out through glass and saw they had hold two Benz near airplane. They told me that I should stay and a few days later come back with Haj Qasem Soleimani. Haj Qasem told his driver that I have some works to do here, take Haj Mehdi and show him the line. As we were going side the road to look at the lines, I saw that they had laid explosive traps next to the road, and fighters were walking there. Briefly, during the two hours that Haji had left me alone, I neutralized 40-50 of these roadside bombs with a diagonal plier. Since then, I've stayed with the guys. Once there was a battle in Ishaqi road to Samarra, and I had to go quickly. A soldier said I want to come with you; I first asked him, "Whether you do night prayer? He said yes. I said: "Your wire is now connected, if you come with us you would die a martyr and take us with yourself, stay here, we do not intend to die!"

The 292nd program of series of sessions of memory night of Sacred Defense was held by the Center for Studies and Research on Resistance Culture and Literature, and the Office of Literature and Art of Resistance in Sooreh Hall of Hozeh Honari on Thursday, June 28, 2018. The next program will be held in July-August.


[1] A group of IRGC warriors during Iran-Iraq War commanded by Ali Asghar Vesali who were called Dastmal-Sorkhha because of wearing red handkerchiefs.

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