Leader's Address to Families of Martyrs, War-Disabled Veterans and Ex-POWs

The following is the abridged text of a speech delivered by the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei in a meeting with a large group of the honorable families of martyrs, war-disabled veterans and ex-prisoners of war (POWs) on May 24, 2005. The meeting was held on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the liberation of the southern city of Khorramshahr from the Iraqi occupation.
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

This is an auspicious and very valuable gathering, and I am grateful to Almighty Allah for the opportunity to meet the honorable parents and wives of our dear martyrs, a group of our esteemed war-disabled veterans who devoted their youth to the revolution and spent the best years of their lives in the way of the Almighty, a group of venerable ex-prisoners of war and also a number of political activists who suffered torture and long prison terms before the victory of the Islamic Revolution under the former regime. Those present at this gathering are the spiritual elites and luminaries of our nation.

Today is a very important day in our history: it is the 23rd anniversary of the liberation of Khorramshahr. The day has also been designated as the National Day of Resistance, Devotion and Victory. It is a symbol of the devotion, resistance and victory of the Iranian people, a victory achieved as a result of their deep faith and earnest struggle against the enemies.

We should not stop in the past. The past should always be used by nations as a ladder for ascension toward a bright future and further progress. Still, the past should never be forgotten; the memories of the past should be kept alive. Those bearing ill-will toward Islam and the Iranian nation are trying to make the glorious past of our nation fall into oblivion; they are trying to estrange the Iranian people from their glorious past. This is an act of treason.

The glorious past of our nation and our honorable history should be preserved. The victories achieved by our brave and faithful youth in the course of the eight years of the Sacred Defense should never fall into oblivion. These victories bear great significance, since they were achieved not just over one aggressor regime, but actually over a circle of arrogant powers. These powers, noticing that all their calculations had proved wrong because of the uprising of a nation in a sensitive part of the world like Iran and its achieving independence under the banner of Islam, extended all kinds of support and assistance to the Iraqi regime in its military aggression against the Islamic Republic.

The victory of the Iranian nation in various arenas over the past 26 years has been the Iranian nation's victory over all these enemies. This serves as a lesson to other nations and to our future generations. The lesson is that if a nation combines efforts and perseverance with strong belief and determination, it will definitely achieve victory over all kinds of enemies. We should also make the most of this lesson, which should never fall into oblivion, in the years ahead.

We still have a long way ahead. This is because we are aiming to build our country and society in conformity with the Islamic precepts. What are the characteristics of an Islamic society? It is a society characterized by justice, freedom of expression, the development of talents, morality, dignity, honor, noble aspirations and the absence of poverty, corruption and discrimination.

Islam calls for the establishment of a society in which science thrives and advances and all social institutions are built on scientific foundations, a society which serves as an example to other nations. The establishment of this society is also the main objective of the Iranian nation.

Valuable efforts have been made in our country following the revolution to accomplish this objective, and today we can see the results of these endeavors. We have made considerable progress in various areas of science and technology, and the self-confidence of our talented youth in different scientific and technological areas has greatly increased.

Before the revolution, attempts were made to convince the Iranian people that they could not make progress, and that they had to beg for and obtain what they needed from other nations. But today, the Iranian people have attained self-sufficiency in most areas and opened up new horizons in science and technology.

We have made considerable progress, but we still have a long way ahead and should make much greater progress. We should try to dispense social justice, promote moral values and make our society Islamic in its real sense. Achieving this objective requires more efforts combined with faith, piety and the struggle in the way of Allah.

Is the struggle in the way of Allah effective? Does it bear any concrete results? Of course it does. The most important evidence proving this is the liberation of Khorramshahr from the Iraqi occupation, or the victories achieved by our faithful and valorous youth during the eight years of the Sacred Defense.

Our brave and devoted youngsters had no previous military training, nor were they equipped with modern weapons and advanced military equipment. The Iraqi aggressors who were supported by the United States and other Western powers, those falsely claiming to advocate human rights, were equipped with modern tanks and aircraft and sophisticated military equipment. But our youngsters did not even have R.P.G.'s (rocket-propelled grenades). They fought the enemy only with rifles.

However, our youngsters were characterized by deep faith in the Almighty and strong determination. Consequently, they achieved victory over the enemy, despite the fact that they did not have any advanced weapons or any previous military training.

On Khordad 3, 1361 (May 24, 1982), just a few hours after Khorramshahr had been liberated from occupation, the late army commander Major General Sayyad-Shirazi telephoned me to present a report on the condition of the battlefield. I was the Islamic Republic's president then. He told me that thousands of Iraqi soldiers and officers had lined up to surrender to the Iranian forces!

This is the manifestation of the spiritual power of a nation. This power was manifested not only in the liberation of Khorramshahr but also in other military operations such as Karbala-5, Valfajr-8, Khaybar and Badr operations. Indeed, our great nation displayed its spiritual power during all the eight years of the Sacred Defense.

What is clear is that sincere efforts and struggle combined with faith will always result in victory, not only on the battlefield but in various economic, political, social and academic arenas as well. When a nation decides to be self-reliant and when it combines faith with pious deeds and struggle in the way of Allah, it will achieve victory in all arenas. This is the lesson that we learned from the liberation of Khorramshahr. The Iranian nation should never forget this lesson.

The enemies have realized what your strong points are and are also aware of their own weak points. Your strong points include your deep faith, devotion, struggle in the way of Allah and also your solidarity and harmony. The weak point of the enemies lies in the fact that they have no way to overcome the power of a nation that is characterized by firm belief and strong will and determination.

The enemies know that military equipment is of no use and value in overcoming your power. Therefore, they are trying to undermine your resistance, faith, national solidarity and harmony. Whenever you see that someone is weakening the faith, unity and resistance of our nation, you should know that he is intentionally or inadvertently following the line of the enemies.

The next presidential election will be held in our country just a few weeks from now. The scene of elections is one of the important scenes on which the Iranian people display their solidarity and freedom of choice. Before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the Iranian people were deprived of their right to choose. The right to choose and the opportunity to take part in handling the affairs of their country were vested in the Iranian people by the Islamic Revolution.

Before the revolution, the Iranian people were mere onlookers on the political scene of the country. Outside powers usually installed our high-ranking officials. One day the Iranian officials were installed by the Russians, one day by the British and one day by the Americans. The Iranian people had no role in deciding their political fate.

The freedom of choice and democracy that has been vested in our nation by the Islamic Revolution did not exist even at the time of Prime Minister Mosaddeq, the time that has been described as the time of relative freedom and democracy in our country. Dr. Mosaddeq dissolved the National Consultative Assembly, which was superficially the symbol of democracy but was in reality devoid of any democracy. During his nearly two years in office, he ran the government with absolute power. He enacted the laws and endorsed them himself and then carried them into effect.

This is not comparable with the Islamic Republic system. During the past 26 years since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the Iranian nation has not lived even a single day without the Islamic Consultative assembly and its parliamentarians. During this period, elections have regularly been held. During the past 26 years since the formation of the Islamic Republic, almost 26 elections have been held in our country. The Iranian nation was provided with this opportunity only by the Islamic Revolution.

The United States and other enemies of the Iranian nation are trying to restore in Iran the same dark dictatorship that existed under the Pahlavi regime, but in a new and modern guise, and make this country once again dependent on outside powers. However, our nation is going to keep its presence on the scene and, as always, foil the enemies in their attempts.

The Iranian people should be thankful to Almighty Allah for enjoying the freedom of choice and the opportunity to take part in handling the affairs of their country, the privileges granted to them by the Islamic Revolution. We should all be grateful to the Almighty for enjoying these divine blessings. The real gratitude can be expressed through a massive presence on the political and social scenes and by creating an amicable and brotherly atmosphere in our society.

I would like to sincerely call on all presidential candidates and their supporters to abstain from engaging in disputes and other activities that are harmful to the friendly and peaceful atmosphere in our society. A cordial atmosphere should prevail, and every candidate should have an opportunity to express his views and talk about his future plans and programs.

The Iranian people, for their part, should try to find out which presidential candidate is the most competent and suitable for the office through necessary investigations and consultations.

Today, there exists a vast area in the country for constructive measures. It is quite possible to solve most of the problems currently facing the people, especially those problems that are of an economic nature. Fortunately, the previous governments have taken many positive measures and built an appropriate infrastructure in the country.

Any competent and efficient candidate who is elected president by the Iranian people should follow up the positive measures taken by the previous governments and make those measures show their positive effects on the lives of the public through increased efforts. He should also try to eliminate poverty from the country, administer justice and launch an all-out campaign against discrimination and corruption by removing corrupt individuals from state organizations.

What we should feel sure about is that if we endeavor in the way of Allah, seek assistance from the Almighty and try to do our best, favorable results will be granted by the Almighty. By divine assistance, the Iranian nation will also emerge from this great trial with honor and glory.

I pray to Almighty Allah to associate the blessed souls of our martyrs and the heavenly soul of our magnanimous Imam Khomeini, who led and guided us on this path, with the hallowed souls of the prophets and infallible saints, and to bestow His grace and favor and immediate cure on our honorable war-disabled veterans. I also pray to the Almighty to make His Holiness Vali-ye-Asr (Imam of the Age) - may our souls be sacrificed for his sake - pleased and contented with us and to hasten his auspicious reappearance.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings