The second narrator of Memory Night of May 2020

A Review of Difficulties of Captivity by Mehdi Tahanian

Maryam Asadi Jafari
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


According to Iranian Oral History Website, the 313rd session of memory night was held virtually on the website of Aparat on the evening of Thursday, May 21, 2020. In this session, “Mehdi Rafiei ", one of the defenders of Khorramshahr, and "Mehdi Tahanian", a freed fighter of the war period, recounted their memories.

The second narrator of this memory night session, "Mahdi Tahanian", the narrator of the book "All My Thirteen Years Old", began his memories as follows: “thanks a lot for God that afford we review and remind occasionally our unforgettable and sweet sacred defense memories, that aroma of spirituality, atmosphere, space, and those special spiritual conditions prevailing on the fronts of the war of truth against falsehood, and those morale and bravery of the warriors, and to some extent we can represent it. God willing, we would able to get a trivial benefit by expressing them, even though it is also valuable in my idea. It can certainly be fruitful, informative and inspiring for people. I made a point that it was really unbelievable to the enemy what a teenager at my age would do in those war situations, and it was very strange and attractive to them. So I remember when we were captured, even though there was a lot of fire from our forces, [they were firing pre-attack fire on Iraqi forces and their positions so that maybe have another operation at night], and there was such a heavy bombard that everywhere I looked, I saw that the cannonballs were exploding, and Iraqis who were eager to see us were roughhousing. They put me in the middle and made a huge circle around us. I saw that many of them who were trying to pass through each other's legs hardly. You could see that a person split the path for a few meters through their legs, so that for a moment would crane and would glimpse at us and then disappear. I saw the heads craned through these legs for a moment, glimpsed and again another head ... and were roughhousing. It was really weird for them. I remember that whatever their commander shouted, "scatter… scatter [in Arabic Tafarraghoo ... Tafarraghoo]," they didn't pay attention. In short, there was a heavy gunfire, and they were constantly wounded and killed, and yet they didn't pay attention, and all their attention was on that being able to somehow get themselves to us and see us. Anyway, they had a commander who, at that moment, was so eager to see me, then he came and took my hand and quickly mounted me on a tank and turned around so much until find a camera and have a souvenir photo with us. Shortly, a lot of major and trivial events happened, until that day when we were captured, it was at the evening and there was getting dark when we were taken to a prison and settled there. I remember, on the first morning of our captivity, which was exactly May 10, 1982, I found out that no, it was as if the Iraqis had hatched a plot for us and had prepared the atmosphere for themselves, and with the plans and mechanisms they had, it was clear that they wanted to take some measures and would not want to let it go easily. They came every day, tied our hands, put us on jeeps, and took us to the front lines to be able to strengthen their forces. Say come on, don't be afraid! You see, Iranian fighters are all children of this size. Their great men do not dare to come to the war. Or they just forced these little kids, and could cheat and bring them. They created such an atmosphere and tried to insinuate to their soldiers that you should not be afraid, stay, resist. Your opponent is the kids of this age, in this way they tried to elevate their force. But Alhamdulillah, thanks to that thought and the Islamic and Quranic way of thinking that we had, and thanks to the faith that all our fighters had in their divine promises, with the help of the love we had for our great Imam and our country and nation, it wasn’t possible that someone to pay ransom its enemy a bit and do something that even in less than a second, his enemy will be satisfied with him or, for example, happy with his work. It didn't even come to mind that one wanted to pay the enemy a ransom. No matter how much they threatened you, no matter how much you felt threatened, you could easily face that danger, and easily, with that view and thought, encounter your enemy face to face and insist on your request and pay ransom a little bit to your enemy. Don't give up. The enemy thought it was against small creatures and could easily achieve all its plans and goals. But they took and brought us a few days. Now these people who took us were as old as my grandfather, and they were in Intelligence Service of Baghdad and political justification department of the Iraqi army. They were really experienced and they didn’t bring them without planning. But despite the fact that we were young teenagers and were not worldly and had no experience, Alhamdulillah, thanks to this view and thinking, in all these encounters with the enemy's plans, we were always victorious, and we saw that how did the Iraqis become more beleaguered every day. Believe me, as many as these skilled old men in political justification department of the Iraqi army were consumed with rage due to what we I did that threatening me again and again with the worst kind of death, saying, "We will kill you like this. Tonight, if you want to say that again, if you want to repeat what you said yesterday, and if you want to make these gestures and moves, we will cannonade you." However, they tried to face us very hard deaths and sometimes they did it practically. It may not be an opportunity to tell everything in detail, but in many places we were just one step away from death so that frightened us in order to relent. But, thanks to God, this never happened. They saw no! It is useless. All the plans and efforts they made, were of no use and was even totally to their detriment. When we entered the camp, the enemy was so greedy and worse, and I remember that there was a constant flood of foreign journalists entering the camp, and as soon as they came, they always looked at us. They would take us in front of these foreign reporters, so that they would finally hit or do something in the interviews with us and from the questions and answers they asked us. I remember that at that time, the Ba'athist army really insisted that putting extra pressure on the Islamic Republic internationally by showing figures like me and others like me in captivity, and deprive our country from many things. Because of this, they tried very hard to maneuver on this issue and tried to show our so-called oppression to the world. To say see this Iranian child at this age, is his place a prisoner of war camp? Should this child be in captivity at this age? Who did this? Who did send him? After all, in this view, they were trying to feed the world. But thank God, with the view we had, as soon as we met the reporters, we tried to correct their way of thinking in this limited opportunity; now at any cost. There was an Iraqi Kurdish commander. He also knew Persian and was alongside me in all the interviews. He also understood Persian beautifully. He spoke Persian even better than us. Believe me, every time we talked to these reporters, he would also stand and listen to these words, and in short, the flood of threats would start that he told say these things now! Think at night too! Think also that two second later these reporters go out. Alhamdulillah, these did not affect our hearts, and we did our job, said our word, and endured all the persecutions and tortures. Believe me, the Iraqis were so sensitive to our encounters with reporters and they were so embarrassed and defeated. Because they saw the reporters who came to extract something from us and have global propaganda for Saddam from these camps, they are attacking us. Imagine for a second you were transposed into the karmic driven world of Earl. Praise be to God, these did not affect our hearts, and we did our job, we kept our word, we endured all his persecutions and tortures. Believe me, the Iraqis were so sensitive to our encounters with reporters that they were so embarrassed and defeated. Because they saw the reporters who came to take something from us and have global propaganda for Saddam from these camps, they are attacking us. Imagine for a second you were transposed into the karmic driven world of Earl. Praise be to God, these did not affect our hearts, and we did our job, we kept our word, we endured all his persecutions and tortures. Believe me, the Iraqis were so sensitive to our encounters with reporters that they were so embarrassed and defeated. Because they saw the reporters who came to take something from us and have global propaganda for Saddam from these camps, they flung their arms around our necks, hugged us, kissed our heads and shoulders, and caused them to burst into tears. When we told them about our love and insistence and how we came to the war, about our love to the revolution and country, God knows they would change so much that it is indescribable. Although these were great reporters and people, I could see that all their faces were filled with tears, and they showed strange behavior that the angry Iraqi commanders grabbed collars of their coats and shook, shouted: “Hey, wake up! What is your job? Why did you come here at all? It's as if you've come here forget everything!" But they saw it was useless. Eventually, these reporters were gathered and taken out. Over and over again, Iraqis have harassed us again and again because of this kind of confrontation. Well, the Iraqis wouldn't let it go. Once upon a time, at midnight, around 2:30, they attacked like Mongols. In the same sleepy mood and appearance, they took us to individual or the same public baths, and naked our bodies under cold showers. They beat our guys so hard that within 5 minutes later that we looked at each other's faces, even though we were friends and together and knew each other, it was impossible to understand who this was and who that was. That was just beating. The Iraqis put more crushing pressure on us in terms of food, health, psychic and mentally. They did these maybe can break our backs, break our resistance. But, thank God, with the help of the view and way of thinking that our fighters had, there was no bending to them at all, no breaking at all. Believe me, the more enemy closed circle of pressure and torture and harassment, the more the enemy's violence increased, the more we felt resistance in ourselves, and the enemy also saw it. For this reason, despite the fact that they were Ba'athists, executioners, and bloodthirsty, God knows that they themselves repeatedly confessed and told us: “Who the hell are you?" By God, you are not human. You are superhuman. Or, "By God, you are not our captives, we are your captives." Now who did say that? They had taken over our heads the most vicious, filthy, bloodthirsty and vindictive Ba'athists. 

Now, because these days and nights coincide with days of the holy month of Ramadan and nights of Qadr, the friends said let's make a reference to conduct and worship of our freed fighters in captive. I remember that the first holy month of Ramadan, in the first year of our captivity in Iraq, was exactly coincided with July and August; that is, at the height of heat; heat of Iraq and the Ramadi region, which was both its heat and coldness; added to this hardships of captivity. The guys insisted Iraqis that, sir! Now that it is month of Ramadan, at least for God's sake, don't give us this morning meal of Aash in the morning. Give it at the time of Iftar. Or postpone the meal you give us for lunch to another time that would be finally in line with our dining hours and Iftar time. But Iraqis said no. This is law of the army. Fasting is strictly forbidden under military law. Religious activities were not allowed by anyone in so- barracks. Anyway, they objected and said, "You aren’t forced to fast. Who told you to fast?" I remember Aash they gave us was as if foam had been spilled on it when we wanted to eat at the Iftar. We didn't have a refrigerator or storage facilities. Anyway, this was our Aash! Let alone what was happened for our other foods. I adore to say that God graced us much. What calamities befell us, what we were fed, and in what circumstances we lived; It was really impossible to survive one day ... two days ...  in these three days in these situations, but God kept our guys alive. We used to say, my God, is it possible for a person to eat these foods and be healthy? I don't have time to narrate those memories one by one. But whatever it was, it was all thanks to the God’s grace. So we really have to appreciate Islam. If we want a strong and powerful Iran and we want to always be proud and victorious against all our enemies, we must resort to dear Islam. We must invoke Qur'an. We must preserve this Islam and Qur'an alongside our Iran, which at that time we would be able to keep both ourselves and our future safe. When a nation is confronted with such thinking and spirit, nobody does not dare at all to look dragger at such a nation and even invade its territory. I bid all you adieu. Peace be upon you, as well as the mercy of God and his blessings.”

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