"Iran says U.S. navy video is fake," the headline reads. Fair-minded people find the question hard to answer:
Which side to believe?
Both sides lie. Neither side has any credibility with the rest of the world, and you just hate to be suckered by either side’s shameless propaganda machine.
This recent naval incident in the Persian Gulf between the US ships and Iranian speedboats reminded me of another event more than twenty years ago : It was the forth or fifth year of Iran-Iraq war when some horrible images surfaced, depicting Iranian troops, or Revolutionary Guards, committing an unspeakable act, to an Iraqi soldier. I never get to watch the video, but the still pictures, which I did see, were enough to give me nightmares. ”Please tell me these animals are not Iranians”, I remember asking God. The video , to our relief, was soon dismissed as fake by the Iranian side and I didn’t hear much about it any more. Since then, as an Iranian, I have heard and read about savageries committed by Iraqi forces to Iranian civilians and military personnel. I am probably being very naïve and biased, but I like to think we didn’t do, the atrocities they have accused us, to have done.
* * * *
A few days ago, I came across a blog called “Baghdad Burning”( //riverbendblog.blogspot.com), written by an Iraqi woman who did -and may still do- live in postwar Iraq. While writing about the misery of living under the occupation, she had a flashback about that footage, and what she was told by her government at the time. It’s sad, and chilling. I just thought it may be interesting for us Iranians to see, at the time, how things looked from the other side:
“I believe everyone remembers a movie or two, seen during childhood, that remained ingrained in their memory for years. For me, there were two such events. One was a movie, the other was a recording or documentary- I can’t remember which.
In my memory, neither of them have a name and neither of them have a place- I don’t remember where I saw either one. The images, however, play themselves over in my head with the clarity of an original DVD being shown at the highest resolution.
The first one, I remember, was a movie about the Holocaust. It was fictional but obviously based on actual events. I saw that film sometime in the mid-eighties. The image that horrified me most was of a little girl, no more than six or seven years of age, being made to run by Nazi guards and try to scale a very high wall. She was told that if she could scale that wall, she would be free. As soon as she started running towards the wall, her little feet stumbling in the rush to cover the distance between her captors and freedom, the guards set free three large, ferocious, black dogs on her. I don’t remember exactly what happened next, but I remember a symphony of terror- her screams, the barking dogs and laughing guards.
The second movie/film/actual footage had no actors- they were real people acting out atrocities. I was around 8 years old. I walked in on someone, somewhere, watching what I thought at first was news footage because of the picture quality. It showed what I later learned was an Iraqi POW in Iran. I watched as Iranian guards tied each arm of the helpless man to a different vehicle. I was young, but even I knew what was going to happen the next moment. I wanted to run away or close my eyes- but I couldn’t move. I was rooted to the spot, almost as if I too had been chained there. A moment later, the cars began driving off in opposite directions- and the man was in agony as his arm was torn off at the socket.
I never forgot that video. Millions of Iraqis still remember it. Every time I hear the word “aseer” which is Arabic for POW, that video plays itself in my head. For weeks, I’d see it in my mind before I fell asleep at night, and wake up to it in the morning. It haunted me and I’d wonder how long it took the man to die after that atrocity- I didn’t even know human arms came off that way.
The horrors of what happened to the POWs in Iran lived with us even after the war. The rumors of torture- mental and physical- came back so often and were confirmed so much, that mothers would pray their sons were dead instead of taken prisoner in Iran- especially after that video that came out in either 1984 or 1986. Every Iraqi who had a missing relative from that war, saw them in the agonized face of that POW who lost his arm.”
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