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"Martyrdom does not mean merely being a victim of war"

The officials in charge of holding the Martyrs of Ilam Commemoration Ceremony met with the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in the Imam Khomeini Hussainiyyah on Sunday, November 21, 2021. Imam Khamenei's statements in this meeting were broadcast on Thursday, December 2, at the site of the Martyrs of Ilam Commemoration Ceremony.

In referring to the role of the province of Ilam, which is located in Western Iran, during the Sacred Defense, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution said, “The enemy attacked Ilam before it officially attacked Tehran and other parts of the country. And the first martyr – martyr Shanbei – was actually martyred before the outbreak of the war in Ilam.”

Imam Khamenei also referred to the crimes committed by Saddam’s regime such as dropping bombs on a soccer match in the city of Ilam and stated, “On February 12, 1987, two young teams from Ilam organized a soccer match in commemoration of the 7th victory of the Revolution. The people gathered as spectators there too, but an Iraqi plane struck them from up close. In other words, it knew what was happening there. It is not the case that it dropped bombs by accident. It dropped them on purpose, and as a result, 10 of those soccer players were martyred. The referee, a number of children and some spectators were martyred as well.”

Imam Khamenei emphasized that Saddam did not commit these crimes on his own and that he was supported by the world’s superpowers, “The same people who used to support that bloodthirsty wolf on that day are claiming to be advocates of human rights today! They describe themselves as the guardians of human rights throughout the whole world.”

He also highlighted the role of artists in depicting the crimes that were committed, such as attacking athletes on a soccer field, and stated, “These events should be presented to the world using art as the medium. They should make films about these events. In the case of the massacre at the soccer game, they should write stories, make films and compose memoirs. These actions should be taken.”

Imam Khamenei stressed the importance of the role of the nuclear scientists who were martyred, such as Martyr Rezaei-Nejad. He had grown up in the province of Ilam under difficult circumstances including the Iran-Iraq war. The Leader stated, “Martyr Rezaei-Nejad was a nuclear scientist who was martyred. His scientific importance was so immense that the enemy felt his existence would help the Islamic Republic progress, and so they assassinated him. They martyred him in front of his wife and his small daughter.”

In explaining the concept of martyrdom, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution said, “Martyrdom does not mean merely being a victim of war. Well, there are many people who participate in wars and who are killed in their countries’ wars. Many of them are killed in defending the geographical borders of their country. However, our martyrs are not like this. Our soldiers did not fight just to defend the geographical borders of the country. They were also struggling to defend the borders of belief, morality, religion, culture and spiritual borders.”

Referring to the Islamic lifestyle of Iranian soldiers and martyrs – in particular, their purity and their observance of the divine limits – His Eminence added, “When our soldiers would take some of the enemy captive, they would nurse them if they were injured and they would give them water if they were thirsty. They would treat them as if they were one of themselves.”

At the end of his statements, Imam Khamenei described the message of martyrs as being a movement with steadfastness and strength in the way of God. He declared that everyone should feel responsible for the security that has been created by the martyrs. The Leader stated, “No nation will get anywhere without diligence, struggling in the way of God and enduring hardships.”