The following is the full text of the speech delivered on November 21, 2021, by Imam Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the officials in charge of conducting the Martyrs of Ilam Commemoration Ceremony. Imam Khamenei's statements in this meeting were broadcast on Thursday, December 2, at the site of the Martyrs of Ilam Commemoration Ceremony.
In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Praise God, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master, Muhammad, and upon his pure Household.
You are very welcome here, dear brothers and sisters. I thank you very much for organizing this Commemoration Ceremony and for making this very valuable move. I saw the exhibition before coming into the Hussainiyyah, and the services rendered are very good. Of course, these peripheral, promotional activities should be carried out very much at such commemoration ceremonies, and I hope God will help you to do so.
During the Sacred Defense, Ilam was like a strong fortress. Although some cities of the province were lost for a short period of time – some areas of the province were occupied by the vicious Munafiqeen [MEK] – the province stood firm like a mountain, similar to the Meimak Summit which I stood on and where I witnessed the magnificent work done by our dear soldiers. The province of Ilam stood up to the vicious enemy, Saddam and his collaborators, just like that summit.
First of all, the province was attacked sooner than other provinces, as mentioned by the gentlemen in this meeting. The enemy attacked Ilam before it officially attacked Tehran and other parts of the country. And the first martyr – martyr Shanbei, as pointed out by one of the gentlemen – was actually martyred before the outbreak of the war in Ilam. In other words, the entire population of the province of Ilam were among those involved in the Sacred Defense.
Later on too, some unique events took place in Ilam. Unfortunately, our own people are not aware of these events, let alone other nations which are interested to know about the incidents and events that have taken place in our country. Even our own people are not aware of these events, much less those nations. One of those events was the bombardment of a soccer match where children were playing soccer in the year 1365 AH [1987 AD].
On February 12, 1987, two young teams from Ilam played in a soccer match in commemoration of the 7th victory of the Revolution. The people had gathered there as well as spectators, 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. This is not a minor incident. This is a very important event.
It is necessary for these events to be made known to people on a global level. They should be repeatedly mentioned here and there, because this is the message of the innocence of our athletic martyrs whose only crime was that they had organized a soccer match for the Islamic Republic. With the support of which power did the malicious Saddam commit that appalling, brazen crime? Who was behind him?
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. There is so much brazenness and shamelessness in the actions of these powers. Who should reveal their true colors? Who should reveal these truths? Our artists and our writers have a heavy load on their shoulders. They have a heavy duty. These things 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 match, they should write stories, make films and compose memoirs. These actions should be taken.
One of the unique characteristics of the province of Ilam is that there are families with two, three, four, five, six or ten martyrs – as pointed out by the gentlemen. There is one family with ten martyrs, another with nine, another with eight and some with five or six martyrs. This is only easy in words, but it is truly difficult to even think about it. Ilam is like this. There are such families in Ilam. It was mentioned that some members of these families are present in this Commemoration Ceremony. I hope that God will bestow His mercy and grace on all of you.
Another characteristic of Ilam was the wholehearted presence of people from all social backgrounds, from scholars to the common people. For instance, the late Sheikh Abdulrahman Heidari (may God’s mercy be upon him) was with me on the Meimak Hills. He was with me at the top of that summit. He was with me everywhere I went. I visited Ilam several times, both before and after my presidency. He was always present in the field of battle as long as he was alive. He would take his gun and was ready to fight at all times in the true sense of the word.
The same is true of the common people and the numerous tribes in Ilam. Those who could fight were present in the field and the masses of the people helped in the resistance. One of the gentlemen in the meeting stated that the people did not leave the city. I myself saw this with my own eyes in the city of Ilam. The enemy planes would regularly strike the city repeatedly. In those times, no one would remain on the streets and the people would go to one of the deserts or forests around the city. After the bombardment had finished, they would go back to the city. That is, this way of leaving and coming back to the city had become a routine activity for the people. But they never completely left the city or the province, and they stood firm.
It was during the time of those bombardments and in that difficult situation that a genius, namely Martyr Rezaei-Nejad, grew up. 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 small daughter. That young scientist had spent his youth witnessing those bombardments and those difficult circumstances in Ilam. In other words, the pressures brought by the enemy and the war could not stop the people of this province from showing their talents. This is very important. People like this dear martyr – Martyr Rezaei-Nejad – have a high spiritual status as well as a scientific status. The reason for their high spiritual status is the fact that they were martyred, because martyrdom is not achieved easily. Martyrdom and obtaining this rank require the existence of certain prerequisites in the nature and actions of individuals. Without these prerequisites, martyrdom is not granted to anyone. That young scientist possessed that high spiritual status, and that was why he was martyred. Otherwise, one will not become a martyr without these qualities.
An important point is that the province of Ilam has given over three thousand martyrs. Other provinces too have each given many martyrs in proportion with their population and their situation. We should understand the concept of martyrdom correctly because martyrdom does not mean merely being a victim of the 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 and are remembered as patriots and heroes. Of course, some are mercenaries, but the rest are remembered as I’ve said.
However, our martyrs are not like this. Those of our soldiers who were martyred or disabled were not just trying to defend the geographical borders of the country. They were also struggling to defend the borders of belief, morality, religion, culture and the spiritual borders. Of course, defending the borders of the country is a valuable act in itself. This has value, but it is not as important as both fighting for these important concepts and defending the borders of the country. Our martyrs are like this.
If we want to look at this at a higher level, our martyrs are in fact the manifestation of this verse, “Indeed Allah has bought from the faithful their souls and their possessions for paradise to be theirs.” [Holy Qur’an, 9:111] In other words, they have dealt with their lives with God. This is how martyrs are. There is another holy verse which says, “Among the faithful are men who fulfill what they have pledged to Allah. Of them are some who have fulfilled their pledge, and of them are some who still wait.” [Holy Qur’an, 33:23] They were true to the pledge they had made with God, the Exalted. A martyr is like this. Martyrdom is an act of making a pledge and dealing with God.
That is why you see that the soldiers who are fighting in the way of God are different from other common soldiers in the world. Those of you who have witnessed the Sacred Defense and those of you have read books on this topic surely know that the pious soldiers in the Sacred Defense, or the soldiers who have defended in other areas such as defending the Holy Shrines and the like, are purer during fighting and in the field of battle than at other times. They also rely more on God, show more humility and observe the divine limits more carefully.
It is common in the world for a victorious army to loot, plunder and inflict great cruelty in a city, but this is not the case for our soldiers. Even if those who fight in the way of God win, not only does their piety not decrease and they do not stop observing the divine limits, they are even more careful to observe God’s limits because of their gratefulness for their victory. Our soldiers would take some of the enemy captive. This was the same enemy who would torture and harass our captives from the time they took them captive up until the time they entered the camp where they were to be kept. And it is clear what they did to them in those camps. But if our soldiers took those same people captive, they would heal 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. So, these are very important points.
The Islamic lifestyle seen in the behavior of our soldiers and our martyrs is too important to be disregarded. There are so many inspirational points to be seen in the lives of our martyrs that our artists should truly portray an artistic picture of this for the whole world. They should introduce the Iranian soldiers to the world. They should place our soldiers in front of the eyes of the people throughout the world with their great artistic works.
Well, the Commemoration Ceremony that you have organized should open our ears to the message of the martyrs. They tell us, “[The martyrs are] rejoicing for those who have not yet joined them from [those left] behind them that they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.” [Holy Qur’an, 3:170] This path is one that is free from any fear, worry and concern because it is the path of God.
We should be steadfast on this path and move with strength. We should not falter on this path with the temptations of the enemies. The Iranian nation should increase its unity, solidarity, motivation and efforts when it hears the martyrs’ message. This is the message of the martyrs to us. When hearing the message of the martyrs, the officials of the Islamic Republic should feel more responsible toward society and ensure security in the way the martyrs did. Everyone should feel responsible. And all of us should pay attention to this fact that no nation will get anywhere without diligence, struggling in the way of God and enduring hardships. If there are any hardships, enduring those hardships will help the Iranian nation reach the peak, God willing.
I hope that God, the Exalted, will bestow success on all of you, that He will grant His mercy and forgiveness to the dear martyrs of Ilam and all martyrs of the country, that He will associate our magnanimous Imam – who opened this path to us and who brought guidance to the people of the country – with His Friends, with the great guides who have come throughout history, with the prophets and with the Imams (greetings be upon them), and that He will bestow success on you as well.
The subjects discussed by the gentlemen – the suggestions and requests they put forward – are primarily related to the executive organizations. These should be submitted to them, but I will ask them to pursue the matter. You too should pursue the matter as well. I will do so as well.
May God’s greetings, mercy and blessings be upon you.