Tehran: A visit to the Basij Iran Iraq War cemetary

A visit To the Basij War Cemetary

This is part of human understanding and a reminder of a rather sad result to a horrible and senseless war which happened between Saddam's Iraq and Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran. This grave city in South Tehran is a sober reminder that war is a terrible thing and there are no winners.

A sad part of Iran's history which happened over a decade ago but still felt deeply today as the country still hasn't recovered from the scars and the economic disaster from the war.
Wandering through this somber grave city where each family who had lost their Basiji son ( Basij means group) as he became a "shahid" martyr with other members of his group in the killing fields. Each family has a small shrine box set up by the grave. Inside the metal shrine box is usually a photo, a candle and some small possession of the shahid which helps remind them of him and his heroic death.

 Just after Ayatollah Khomeini had the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Saddam Hussein in Iraq decided to invade, thinking that Iran was disoriented at the moment, and  tried to claim the "Shatt Al- Arab," a passageway for important shipping and other transport.
Groups of young boys were sent out to fight the enemy and if they were killed during combat, would be sent directly to heaven. 
What is especially sad are the memorial grave sites which are set up for the unknown shahidi whom are unnamed. It is highly emotional to walk past and watch a lonely woman wash the memorial grave stone in hopes that she washed her martyred son's grave. To show respect and to pray for the martyr, one taps two fingers on the grave stone. People walking around would pass small sweet biscuits to us asking that we take and eat the biscuit and pray for their martyred son at his grave. It was very painful and all of our eyes were moist during the whole visit.

When walking in the grave area a recording of solemn Islamic revolutionary music which has sounds of whipping which is symbolically done to one's back when mourning for the dead, as well as haunting songs sung by a man in the traditional Persian style. Photos of Basiji in their groups during combat were prevalent throughout the memorial area.

Probably the saddest part of this story is after the long war with great losses of life, economic resources, collateral destruction as every city in Iran was bombarded, that after a peace settlement with Iraq the disputed border area was set back to it's original spot before the war began. It was especially embarrassing to realise that the USA was covertly supporting Saddam's army during this long horrible war. Our money was paying for the blood shed of some of the family members of the people we rubbed shoulders with and / or accepted prayer biscuits from in this sad place. What a horrible waste.
Although very sad, I did feel I had learned a lot more about Iran and could feel and empathise with Iranian people more after this somber insight into Iranian life.


  1. Thanks for your post, Beheshte Zahra is very special place, hosting a huge amount of emotions specially Fridays. every person pass there will be effected, unfortunately many young people were wasted during 8 years war.

    1. motashekeram for writing to me and sharing your thoughts!

  2. motashekeram for reading and writing me!