On Tuesday Iran held a passionate funeral for 175 divers who had been buried alive 29 years ago during Iraq’s war against Iran in the 1980s.
The 175 were part of a caravan of 270 martyrs found in areas at the Iran-Iraq border in the river Arvand a few weeks ago.
The divers had been killed by Iraqi forces during the ‘Karbala-4’ military operation in December 1986. With the hands and feet shackled, they had been choked to death.
Iraq, under former dictator Saddam Hussein, invaded Iran on September 22, 1980, imposing a bitter eight-year war on its eastern neighbor.
Secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei, who commanded the IRGC at the time of the operation, delivered a speech during the funeral.
He said that the martyrs’ return has given a new vibe of sternness and resistance to society.
Once more the voice of the martyrs reached to the youth, who, although not seen the war, proved on social media that they are true followers.
“We will stand against those who make excessive demands,” Rezaei stressed in an indirect reference to Iran’s nuclear talks with great powers in which Tehran has insisted that it will not give in to excessive demands by some Western countries in the 5+1 group.
The martyrs come at the right time to boost the vitality of the Iranian society as Iran is holding talks with world powers, he pointed out.
Brigadier General Mohammad Bagherzadeh, the commander of the Missing in Action Search Committee of the Iranian Armed Forces, had stated upon the martyr’s arrival in the country that some of the retrieved bodies bore no scars indicating that the divers might have been buried alive.
Once the news of the homecoming of the martyrs broke in the news in Iran, millions of people mourned for the fighters on social networks.
In posts including hashtags #hand-tied and #175 – the Iranians invited fellows to join the online mourners and remember the martyred divers.
A host of Iranian celebrities wrote a line or two each expressing their heart-felt emotions about the return of the martyrs.
Famous soccer player Farhad Majidi on his Instagram page invited people to attend the funeral.
Renowned actress Mahnaz Afshar posted a photo and captioned it as, “In respect to all who served our country, those who left us and those who remained alive unassuming in their dedication to their country.”
The House of Cinema in a statement said Monday they attend the occasion.
Also, many art works from poetry to visual arts have been created on the occasion.
A piece of design by Abbas Emad Haghi, a graphic designer, was shared on social media in memory of the divers who finally came back home, but not in one piece.
The work depicts a single diver underwater with the number 175 on his chest. A caption to the picture reads, “When I was working on this design, initially I tied the hands. I got scared. It is horrible to tie somebody’s hands even in virtual world, let alone in reality!”
In an interview with Fars news agency in 2011, Gen. Abdullah Araghi, who participated in Operation Karbala 4, called it “the most anguishing and difficult operation of the Sacred Defense.”
The operation set the stage for Operation Karbala 5 in 1987, which became the largest battle of the war, with both sides losing hundreds of soldiers.
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who served as chief of the Supreme Defense Council during the war, said on Sunday that although the operation was a failure, Iran used it as a tool to fight Iraq’s psychological war and prepare the ground for a following operation – Operation Karbala 5 – which was a huge success.
MP Esmail Kosari, a military commander in the war, recently said that a number of people had been arrested on the charge of having betrayed the operation at that time.