After we returned to Iran, we were taken to the shrine of Imam Khomeini. We, the self-sacrificing children of Imam Khomeini, after years of captivity, now had to see the vacancy of our leader and Muqtada, our eyes were raining from this grief, we shed tears all over our faces, and we loved to open our eyes and see his luminous face and hear his voice once again.
Ashraf Fassihi Dastjerdi
Javan Online Sacrifice and Resistance Service: Mohammad Ahmadi Dastjerdi is a veteran and freedman (azadeh) of the Holy Defense who was captured in the first phase of the liberation of Khorramshahr and spent eight years of his life in enemy camps. He, who has memorized eight parts of the Qur'an during his captivity, has interesting memories of being on the front lines, being wounded and then being captured, part of which he shared with us in interview.
- How old were you when you went to the front? What motivated you to take the path of jihad?
- When I reached the age of ۱۷, Operation Fath al-Mubin was underway. At that time, Imam Khomeini (may God bless him and grant him peace) said in one of his speeches that young people who are capable should go to the fronts and fill the fronts. I wanted to continue my studies. I remember it was exam time at the end of the year. I told myself that if I go to the front, I will miss school and be rejected, and if I do not, I will have ignored the words of the Imam.
I was desperate what to do. Anyway, I told myself that I could not ignore the voice of the Imam of my time, "Who will help me?" So I shared my decision with my parents, who agreed. The next morning, I went to the local mosque and with about ۱۰ other friends went to the headquarters of Malik Ashtar District ۷ and registered to be sent to the front..
-Did you reach the Fatah al-Mubin operation?
-No; When the operation was over, they took us to the front line. We were supposed to be line-keeper and be replaced with the forces that were retreating for refection. We remained on the front until Operation “to bayt-al-muqaddas” began, which was the liberation of Khorramshahr.
- Were you captured during the conquest of Khorramshahr? How was your captivity?
- Yes; I was in the front for ۴۰ days at the beginning of the operation “to bayt-al-muqaddas”. We progressed with a group of fighters to reach the enemy artillery. There, a bullet hit the top of my left thigh and I was injured. I started shouting that I was shot; One or two of the forces came to me and said, "Nothing has happened! You are making so much noise! Some forces are wounded by several bullets and do not make so much noise! ”. Then they tied a bandage over my thigh so that the wound would not bleed, and they took and put me in a trench so that I could take refuge. The Iraqis had also patrolled the other side. One of my comrades reached out to me and said that the Iraqis were advancing and wanted to take me back with himself. I told him I was injured and could not move my injured leg. My friend insisted on staying, but I insisted more on him and I was able to convince him to go back. Because I could not move my leg, my leg was numb from morning to afternoon. I stood up and dragged myself to a loophole to see what was going on outside the trench. I thought that at night I would find a way to go back, but I saw an Iraqi tank standing next to each stronghold and there was no escape route at all. In the evening my legs gradually warmed up and I was able to shake my legs. At that moment, the Iraqi forces arrived and I was captured. They closed my eyes and put me in a car, and on the way, about ۱۰ or ۲۰ Iranian fighters who had been captured and had their eyes closed, got on board and took us to Basra.
- Did you think of captivity?
- Honestly, not only captivity, but I had not thought about martyrdom and becoming a veteran. I had not even written a will. Because Imam Khomeini said that any young person who can, should go to the front and help! I left too. The Iranian forces were present on the fronts with their faith and beliefs, and the media only showed a corner of the front, for example, the operation was carried out and the military marching song was broadcast and did not show the details of the war.
One day in the trenches, we were sitting together with our comrades when one of the fighters turned to us and said: You will become a martyr and told the another comrade that you will become a veteran. One by one he told the fate of the children until it was my turn. He said: You will be captured! He had no intention. He said ordinarily these things, and as he had guessed, our destiny happened.
- Was the captivity an end for our fighters, or did you continue the line of struggle there as well?
- I spent most of my captivity in camps ۳ and ۴ in Mosul. I became a senior at the sanatorium for a while. But then I decided to do more cultural activities. The Iranian forces in the camps did everything they could to use their time and increase their abilities. They would sit in a circle and read a book, and then they would explain the book and their knowledge would increase. Of course, the guards did not allow this. The children worked quietly out of sight of the Iraqis. The Iraqis did not even allow us to pray in congregation, saying that everyone should pray alone. In the beginning of captivity, we did not have a book to read. We only had a small Qur'an that I did not sleep and sit and read after my morning prayer. I succeeded to memorize eight parts of the Quran.
-What was the bitterest memory of your captivity?
-Hearing the news of Imam Khomeini's death was one of my bitterest memories of my captivity.
When we heard this news, we mourned in private and cautiously for a long time and shed tears of grief. That time was very hard and there was a heavy atmosphere in the camps. Of course, captivity is full of bitter and hard memories. Iranian forces were often tortured. At times, they locked the prison door and beat the captives with whatever they could. Sometimes they opened the prison door and wanted us to go to the bathroom. When we went out, we saw two rows of Iraqi soldiers standing with whips and cables in their hands on both sides of the path, hitting the captives on the head and face with the cable wire. Returning to prison for several hours the captives twisted in pain. I remember one of the Ba'athist soldiers hit such a whip on the eye of one of the prisoners that his eye fell out.
-What was your sweetest memory?
- Pilgrimage to the holy shrines was an event that happened to us at that time and it was really a great happiness. Late in captivity, we were taken one day to visit Najaf and Karbala. At that time, the courtyard and porch of the shrine of Imam Hussain (AS) was more like a mosque than a shrine. When we got close to the entrance of the shrine, we all slept on the ground and crawled on the ground with all our being and tears in our eyes to reach the shrine, where we had been waiting for years and how many warriors were singing and beating their chests and saying Karbala Karbala. Really, in that pure and unique moment, the place of all our comrades was empty, as well as the memory of the martyrs whose pure blood was shed on the ground to free the way to Karbala. We stood up and like a butterfly turned around the candle of our gentle master and kissed the hexagonal grave of our Imam Hussain. With the pilgrimage of our Imam, we forgot about years of separation and captivity. After five days, a team came from the Red Cross and the preparations for our release were made. They took us by bus to the city of Mosul, then took us by train to Baghdad, and from there they took us by bus to the border of Khosravi. After that, they transferred us from Gilan-e-Gharb and Kurdistan to Kermanshah, and from there we were transferred to Tehran by plane. Our captivity ended with pilgrimage and our freedom began with pilgrimage.
- After your release, where did you go when you said that your freedom started with pilgrimage?
- After we returned to Iran, we were quarantined for three days in the barracks of Qasr-e-Firoozeh. Then they took us to the shrine of Imam Khomeini. It had not yet been built and had only an iron shrine with a very simple and free of any luxurious atmosphere. When we arrived at the shrine, our chests were heavy with pain. We, the self-sacrificing children of Imam Khomeini, after years of captivity, now had to see the vacancy of our leader and Muqtada, our eyes were raining from this grief, we shed tears all over our faces, and we loved to open our eyes and see his luminous face and hear his voice once again; but it is a pity that such a thing was not possible. After leaving Imam's shrine and the welcome of the people, they took us to meet the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, Grand Ayatollah Imam Khamenei. He had just become a leader a year ago. This meeting was essentially a kind of renewal of the pact with the successor of Imam Khomeini and the holy ideals of the revolution. It was a really memorable memory for us. Those days were truly divine.
When I arrived at our place of residence in Tehran, a large crowd was greeted there. I saw my mother in the crowd after years, but I could not go to her in the crowd and see her closely. God, I prayed I could reach and hug her. Finally that moment came. My mother was so happy that the moment could not be described, and she thanked God that she would see me again after eight years.