It has been 23 years since the war between Iran and Iraq came to an end; a war that lasted eight years during which about one million people from both countries were killed or injured.
The Iranian authorities, who believe that the war ended with Iran’s victory, always try to keep the memories of the war alive. One way they do this is through programme in which groups of ordinary people visit the former front lines of the conflict.
They call these trips pilgrimages and they take a few days. Usually, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij organise the trips around the time of the Iranian New Year, in the first days of spring.
Visiting these former war zones last year, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, praised the organisers of the pilgrimages. “Iranians should never forget about the sensitive, historical and honourable time of the Sacred Defence because it was a priceless experience,” he said.
Dispatching the first group of Karevan e Rahian e noor (caravan of light pilgrims) this year, one of the heads of Tehran’s municipality said that more than 32,000 of the capital’s residents are going to visit the war zones.
The pilgrims include the families of dead and disabled soldiers and Basijis.
According to Ali Fazli, one of the Revolutionary Guard commanders who oversees the Rahian e Noor centre from where the pilgrims are dispatched, “In addition to the great number of pilgrims, 600,000 volunteer students are visiting the war zones this year.”
An important part of the close-quarter battles between Iranian and Iraqi forces during the war took place in the marshy border regions, where, Ali Fazli said, special facilities for the visitors are being prepared.