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Sacred Defense era; Great example of Iran's national unity

On September 22, 1980, the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein, fully supported by the West, invaded Iran. The war imposed by the Iraqi dictator Saddam’s Baathist regime against Iran began 19 months after the Islamic Revolution’s victory. The attack was not unexpected because the arrogant powers of the world were extremely angry with the victory of the Islamic Revolution. 

With the imposition of war on our country by Iraq, a unique unity was formed. Minority group representatives asserted their communities’ desire to defend their country. Zoroastrian, Assyrian, and Christian communities not only offered their support and contributions but also took action.

The enthusiastic presence of Christian compatriots and other religious minorities portrayed Iranian unity at that time. Religious minorities also contributed cash and non-cash donations and dispatched technical, medical, and engineering teams to support the soldiers.

Sacred Defense era; Great example of Iran's national unity

The war, which lasted for eight years, is known as the Sacred Defense or Holy Defense in Iran. The Iranians commemorate the memory of the martyrs who lost their lives for the sake of defending the country by holding Sacred Defense Week on the anniversary of the beginning of the war.

Reasons behind launching the imposed war against Iran

In one of his speeches in 1991 that was delivered on the occasion of the Sacred Defense, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei touched upon the reasons behind the attack imposed on the country. 

Sacred Defense era; Great example of Iran's national unity

Ayatollah Khamenei said that Saddam’s regime and his supporters started the war to destroy the Islamic system or to force it to surrender.

“This made no difference to them. They wanted to bring about the downfall of the Islamic Republic with the troubles due to the occupation and war. Or if this didn’t bring its downfall – like most of the countries that have suffered from such calamities and eventually ended up turning to one of the world powers – maybe the nation of Iran and the great Imam [Khomeini] would end up surrendering to their enemies too. Maybe they too would reach out to them [for help] and say, “Alright, we give up. Don’t let Iraq trounce on us like this anymore.” That was undoubtedly their goal, but this wish was also in vain,” he cited.

Sardasht chemical attack

In 1987, almost seven years after the regime of Saddam Hussein waged a war on Iran, Saddam’s army launched a chemical attack on the northwestern Iranian city of Sardasht, leaving 8,000 people of the city’s 12,000-strong population maimed.

Sacred Defense era; Great example of Iran's national unity

During the war, which lasted eight years, the Iraqi army continuously employed chemical weapons against Iranian combatants and civilians, leaving tens of thousands dead on the spot and many more suffering for years to come.

Over 100 people were killed in the Sardasht attack and thousands more were exposed to chemical agents.

After three decades, many of the survivors of the chemical attack still have to live with the long-term respiratory and even psychological effects of inhaling mustard gas used in the attack.

In a message issued on the occasion of the anniversary of the Sardasht chemical attack in June,  Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that Iran has undeniable documents that indicate the involvement of several Western governments including the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany in those massacres by equipping the Saddam regime with chemical weapons.

Sacred Defense era; Great example of Iran's national unity

Although 36 years have passed since this crime, Iran’s international legal pursuits on punishing the perpetrators and the supporters of the Sardasht disaster have not led to reaching the desired results due to the obvious irresponsibilities of the Western governments, he added, naming the West’s medicine embargo against Iran as another inhumane crime against humanity.

Iranian women in the Sacred Defense era

Sacred Defense era; Great example of Iran's national unity

The role of women in eight years of Sacred Defense against foreign aggressors both on the streets and on the battlefield was remarkable. Though not utterly neglected, their deeply effective contributions to resistance in various capacities certainly deserve much more attention.

During the imposed war era, Iranian women regardless of their gender and some social restrictions, took on defeding their homes along with men and soldiers, creating many great epics.

Although, women combatants were fewer in numbers in comparison to male combatants; throughout all those years of the defense of a nation against enemy troops, history tells us that the presence of men on the battlefields was not the only factor that secured victory for Iran.

Sacred Defense era; Great example of Iran's national unity

In the Sacred Defense, Iranian women handed over their jewelry and precious belongings to the combatants, they participated in political, social, and cultural activities, and showed the glorious presence of women in the eight-year Sacred Defense.

Taking care of their families and moral support for men who were dispatched to the front; migrating from war zones and becoming familiar with other social environments; and becoming involved in economic issues that had arisen due to the war and international economic sanctions were among the other challenges that Iranian women faced them during the wartime. 

Sacred Defense era; Great example of Iran's national unity

Ayatollah Khamenei also pays special attention to the books written by Iranian female authors about that era. 

“Faranguiss” [a book compiled by Ms. Mahnaz Fattahi containing the memoir of Ms. Faranguiss Heidar-Pour on the 8-year Saddam imposed war on Iran] is among the most known books that were paid heeded by the commendation of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution.

“The books that these ladies have written–those I have read and seen–are among the best stories in terms of imagery and the like; they are not novels; rather they are memoirs. But they are truly beautiful. I really thank you for your work,” said Ayatollah Khamenei on the sidelines of a meeting with the publishers of the book “Faranguiss” in 2018.

In a meeting with the publisher and production team of ‘One Woman’s War: Da’ [a memoir by Seyyedeh Zahra Hosseini detailing her experiences during the Iran–Iraq War] in 2010, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution stated, “The book ‘Da’ which is actually a fine book and presentable to the world, is related to a small part of the history of the imposed was and this shows that our 8-year holy defense has to potential to produce thousands of books in order to convey Islamic culture and values to society and to the world.” 

He also appreciated Ms. Zahra Hosseini, the narrator of ‘Da’, and Ms. Azam Hosseini, the author of the book.

Victory of Iran in the imposed war

With the resistance of Iran’s armed forces and people, the enemy was defeated after eight years, and the memory of the sacrifices remained in the Iranians’ hearts and minds as the Sacred Defense.

Sacred Defense era; Great example of Iran's national unity

After eight years of Iraq’s invasion of Iran, the world witnessed that even the smallest of the enemy’s goals was not accomplished.

“It (the enemy) wasn’t able to overthrow the Islamic government nor was it able to weaken it. Rather, the Islamic government became even stronger in the world with the amazing, divine management during the time of the war … It appeared even stronger in the eyes of the people of the world. They weren’t able to change our borders by even the size of a needle. They weren’t able to weaken our sovereignty. Rather, we were able to further consolidate our sovereignty over the areas that they wanted to weaken. They weren’t able to dissuade us from our principles either,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in September 1993, addressing the issue.

Compiled by Mohaddeseh Pakravan

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