Rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran have a real obsession with bones of dead people. 21 years after the Iran-Iraq war ended, IRI continues to bring home what is said to be remains of Iranian soldiers killed and buried on the Iraqi side. This is a customary and honorable thing to do for dead soldiers of any country, and it is really important for families of those soldiers to actually have a respectful burial and a burial site to which they can go to honor and remember their young brothers and sons who gave their lives for Iran.
But who are these “nameless” soldiers whose purported bodies are now emphatically buried inside Tehran universities and parks? Why can’t they be identified? Why can’t they be buried in Behesht-e Zahra’s decent and suitable veterans memorial site where they, too, may be honored appropriately? Why do they have to be pushed upon unwilling academic citizens of Tehran universities who protest turning their campuses into burial grounds?
The truth is that this policy of IRI’s rulers is not at all to honor the Iran-Iraq War veterans, but it is to claim religious and ideological ownership over Iranian universities, to ensconce requisite “guards” and “caretakers” for the sites who might come in “handy” if student protests break out, and thus to arrange pro-regime (basiji) presence where they have been resisted for three decades.
Not only are university students disenchanted with the newly-developed practice, most Iranians feel disgusted with the act, for Iranians treat their dead with utmost respect. Having a gravesite where passersby are ordinarily careless about paying respect to the dead is not at all reverent to the dead according to most Iranians.
There is glaring contrast between what has been happening at Amir Kabir university today, turning the epicenter of dissent among Iranian universities into a victory ground for the regime’s hardliners over the most outspoken university students of Iran, and what has been happening to Khavaran Cemetery, also in Tehran.
A graveyard for thousands of Iranian political prisoners who were executed en masse and buried in mass graves in Khavaran in 1988, Khavaran is in danger of complete obliteration in an effort to deny that those cold-blooded executions and burials ever happened. As long as that cemetery exists and families of the murdered prisoners show up to remember their loved ones, a constant reminder to one of the most heinous acts of the recent decades will sit there for all to see. If the cemetery is razed and covered in cement and “a park,” as officials so brazenly have declared sits in its place, maybe nobody will ever attempt to conduct forensic research into the area to determine just how many people were laid there.
The bones of those at Khavaran must be razed and hidden, hoping that history will forget them, too. The bones of the dead Iranian soldiers must be paraded through town and buried amidst protests in places of learning and thought to force ideological will in another attempt on the part of IRI to re-write history, twisted, macabre, and faithful to the very nature of IRI vis a vis the Iranian nation.
Bones really do matter to IRI.