Ayatollah Khamenei Visits
The families of Martyrs Piyir Maron-Adeh,
And Odishu Badel-Davood
Visit Date: 1/1/1987 & 12/1/1991
The Photo of
Martyr Piyir Maroun-Adeh
Martyred in Soumar, Kermanshah
Martyred on 11/8/1987
The Photo of
Martyr Odishu Badel-Davood
Martyred on 18/5/1983
Please, come and sit down, lady mother, how are you? The Leader asks.
ـ I’m fine, thank you very much.
ـ Please bring me a photo of your martyr, how old was he?
ـ Twenty years exactly.
ـ Was he your eldest son?
ـ He was younger than a daughter; I have another son younger than him.
ـ How about this gentleman?
ـ He’s my son-in-law and this is my daughter.
The Leader then says: May God Almighty reward you properly. Your son fought in a good cause and was martyred; he fought for the independence of his country, his patriotic home, in defence of the Revolution and in fact in defence of the whole nation. Certainly it’s hard for you, for a mother, it’s a great sorrow, grief for a young man is heart-breaking, but if you are patient, you’ll have great rewards with God Almighty.
The mother of the family and son-in-law are sitting on the left side of Mr. Khamenei and the brother and sister of the martyr on his right. And Branco, the 4 year old niece of the martyr is playing in the room. The martyr’s mother seems to be very happy for this meeting but the martyr’s brother and sister just look on and couldn’t believe the Leader is there.
The mother seems to have known about the Leader’s visit; since this morning when she received a call informing her about a guest this evening, she somehow felt that she’ll have an important guest. Thus when, a couple of minutes before the leader’s arrival, she was told that the guest was Mr. Khamenei, she was happy but not suprised. The brother and sister didn’t know anything. Mother had telephoned his son at the Electricity Department asking him to come home earlier and the sister had telephoned her mother by chance to say that she and Alfred come to see her this evening. And when they arrived, mother did not tell them anything. Besides, it was Christmas time and preparations had already been made.
The Leader asks the brother who’s silently sitting on an armchair:
ـ Well, what do you do, dear son?
ـ I work at a branch of the Electricity Department.
ـ Why didn’t go on with your studies?
ـ I finished the first three years of my high-school but I couldn’t continue.
The Leader asks the son-in-law the same question.
He says he works at a gas company.
Then Mr. Khamenei asks the martyr’s mother, whose face looks older than she really is, have you had any occupation yourself?
ـ No, I just keep and run the house.
ـ Where is the martyr’s father?
ـ His brother was ill; he went to Qazvin to visit him. He’s had to stay at home since 6 years ago because he was badly injured in a car accident.
ـ What was his job?
ـ He was a driver, he had his own car and then he had this accident.
ـ Is he now suffering from any bodily defect?
ـ No, only his sight is very weak. In that accident he received a hard blow on his head; it affected his brain and his sight. He was treated for 4 months at Imam Khomeini Hospital.
Well, we were told that martyr Piyir was a high-school student when his father suffered in that accident and he, as the eldest child, stoped his studies to work and earn some money, he worked in many workshops as a technical hand.
Then when he reached the age of 18, he said: I must go to the war-fronts to defend my country and my honour; as his father was invalid, he could be exempt from ordinary military service but he did not take advantage of this.
Now there is silence for some moments, because mother, after narrating about his husband and his martyred son, could not go on talking. Then Mr. Khamenei looks around the room and a framed photo of a child attracts his attention; he asks: is this little one the martyr’s photo?
ـ No, he’s Branco, my grand-son.
The son-in-law gets up to bring tea and Mr. Khamenei says: Don’t trouble yourself, let’s be together, we can go on without drinking tea!
ـ No, sir, it’s some fine, fresh tea.
Mr. Khamenei then asks mother about her origin and about Assyrians who live in different places in Iran. She says that she’s originally from Kermanshah.
ـ The martyr’s name was Piyir, wasn’t it?
ـ Yes sir.
ـ Could you tell us a little more about him?
Mother, in a voice that is fading, says a few broken words: whatever I say, will not be enough, he was…a good, good…boy.
Mr. Khamenei shakes his head and says: He must have been. And he stops for a few moments for the mother to become calm, but she starts weeping loud and tears run down her cheeks and the sister and the brother, watching mother, begin to weep too: they have a common grief. The son-in-law tries to stop them but the leader says: Let them weep, weeping is not a bad thing, weeping makes the heart lighter, the kind of weeping that makes you faint is not good but if one sometimes sheds tears, it is not harmful.
Then Mr. Khamenei asks the son-in-law about their church in Tehran. He says: It is here.
ـ You mean it is near?
ـ Yes it’s here!
Mr. Khamenei notices that he is a little confused and worries about three other people weeping; so he asks his companions; What’s the name of the street we’re in?
They answer: it’s Ghaffar Street.
ـ I see, so your church is located in this very street.
Yes, says the son-in-law
ـ Who’s your priest, preacher or bishop in Tehran?
The martyr’s mother who now feels better after her weeping answers: he is Priest Artur.
ـ Does he also come from Kermanshah?
ـ No, Haaj-Agha, he’s from Urumia.
As Urumia is mentioned, the Leader tells them about his memory of meeting an Assyrian family from there about 5 years ago and so changes the atmosphere in the room:
ـ We went to visit an Assyrian family years ago about Christian time, they were also from Urumia. They told me about their fasting traditions and that they were then fasting to beg God for the health of a new-born boy.
The martyr’s mother says: they must have been Assyrian dervishes.
True, says the Leader, and adds: they showed us the photos of some sheep they had sacrificed for this special boy, the very boy who was later sacrificed in the path of God.
The Previous Visit
The visit remembered by the Leader goes back some 5 years when Mr. Khamenei visited the family of martyr Odish Badel-Davood at about Christmas 1987.
This visit turned into a warm and friendly meeting. Although the martyr’s father had also passed away a few days after his son’s martyrdom, the spiritual mood of this family was most firm and strong. The ones who did talk most with Mr. Khamenei were the martyr’s mother and martyr’s younger sister and brother.
The Leader began the conversation by asking the mother:
ـ Are these your children, lady?
ـ Yes, they are the martyr’s sister and brother.
ـ Do you have any other children?
ـ Yes, I have two other daughters, they are married and live in Urumia, I had 5 children, Odishu was my eldest son.
May God Almighty keep them for you under His protection, prays the Leader, and then asks the brother:
ـ What do you do, young man?
ـ I’m a student.
ـ At which stage are you studying?
ـ The first year of high-school.
Then Mr. Khamenei notices that the sister is still standing and says to his companion: Why don’t you bring a chair for this lady?
He then asks her: Well, what do you do?
ـ I’m also studying.
ـ What grade?
ـ Second year of junior high-school.
The Leader, who had already prayed for the martyr’s mother, adds: May God protect and bless these children for you and bring happiness into your hearts.
He then says to the mother: You said the martyr was your eldest son?
ـ Yes, he was.
ـ Was he married?
ـ No, he was a dervish!
The mother sensed that Mr. Khamenei does not know much about ‘dervishes’ in Assyrian tradition for he asked the mother: Tell me exactly what this ‘being a dervish’ is in your Assyrian traditions.
They all explained something about this but their explanations were not clear. The Leader then said:
ـ You mean that you begged God to grant you this son and you vowed that he’ll be a dervish up to the age of seven?
Yes, yes, they reply.
ـ And one of the requirements of a dervish is that he should not marry?
ـ No, only we never cut his hair for seven years, then when he reaches 8, we cut his hair, weigh the hair and give bank-notes of the same weight to our church.
Then the mother brought a few photos of his son in different ages and Mr. Khamenei carefully looked at each photo.
Then she talked a little more about his martyred son: You know, he was like a prophet, he really worshipped God, he was also a patriotic person, he used to fast frequently.
That is wonderful, says Mr. Khamenei.
She adds: I swear to God that we did not fast often, but he did.
Then the Leader asked the brother and sister about the Assyrian way of fasting: any particular month, how long?
The brother had already mentioned one case but his sister who often fasted like her martyred brother had a fuller narration:
ـ We have a 3-day fasting in the name of the prophet Jonas, 15 days in the name of Holy Mary, 25 days for the birth of Jesus Christ, 50 days for the Resurrection of Jesus plus all Wednesdays and Fridays in the calendar. Our fasting means not eating anything that relates to animal such as meat, eggs and dairy products.
Finally it should be said Odishu,s body was never found.
The martyr’s father died shortly after his martyred son. The family of Odishu, on the recommendation of their priest, decided to bury something belonging to the martyr in a grave in his name; that was the bunch of his hair up to the age of 8 which the mother still kept in a safe place.
The last few pages concerned the Ayatollah visiting the family of martyr Odishu which the Leader remembered and we described it further according to our notes; that’s why we inserted its narration here. Now we go back to Mr. Khamenei’s meeting with the family of martyr Piyir Maroun-Adeh.
After Mr. Khamenei told them about his meeting with Odishu’s family, he talked with the mother about Assyrians living in Tehran. He asked: how many Assyrians live in Tehran, how many families, do you know?
The mother says: I don’t know exactly, perhaps 400 families, possibly more.
ـ Do you marry among your own community or you could marry others?
ـ Whatever is one’s destiny.
ـ How about other Christians in Iran, such as Armenians, do you have good relations with them?
ـ Yes, we do.
ـ Of course their Christian beliefs differ from yours, don’t they?
ـ Yes, there are certain differences.
Ayatollah Khamenei then comments: Well, no matter what your particular religion is, if one possesses good, moral characters, if one behaves responsibly, if one’s relations with other creatures of God are based on humbleness, if one doesn’t tell lies, if one avoids vices such as deceit, back-biting and vile acts, then he or she will be a good servant of God. Of course each religion thinks that it is the rightful one, not others; yet one must enhance one’s behaviour, practice and morals; this is most important.
Now it seems the presence of Mr. Khamenei and his narration of events have really changed the atmosphere and brought gladness to the mother’s face; little Branco has also contributed to the changed atmosphere by running around and making noise; he grabs the Leader’s walking-stick and Branco’s mother get up to take the stick from him but Mr. Khamenei says: let the boy go on with his game and have fun. The Leader then picks up his cup of tea and says to mother: you told me what an excellent boy your son was.
He was wonderful, the mother says and adds: After his martyrdom, all people in our district, Muslims and non-Muslims took part in his funeral and mourning ceremonies, they all felt their own sons had been martyred; the prayers leader of our district mosque was there too. I can’t really describe what a gentle, good person he was. Then she hesitates and can’t go on because she remembered how he was martyred. We, of course, knew that he was martyred after a chemical attack in Ahvaz and the mother had seen his son’s burnt-out blackened body; the family members tried to prevent her from seeing this tortured body but she refused: she saw his body, her heart burned and it is still burning, so she can’t speak about it.
The Leader tries to change the discourse for the mother to be a little calmer and so asks the martyr’s brother and sister: Well, now, this language of yours, is it very difficult to learn?
ـ No, sir, it’s just like Arabic.
ـ Okay, what’s the word for water in your language?
ـ We, say: Miyah.
ـ How about bread?
ـ We say: Lah.
And Mr. Khamenei points at the lump of sugar in his hand and asks: What do you say for “ghand”?
ـ We, in Assyrian, use the same word for it, ghand.
The Leader says: this is understandable, for there was no word for ‘ghand’ (a lump of sugar) in ancient times, it’s a new word.
Mr. Khamenei goes on asking questions about the Assyrian language in an exact method and then asks them about their script.
They say: It’s very much like the Arabic script.
ـ Do you have any books for me to look at?
The martyr’s brother brings one of his books and hands it to the Leader and he pages through the book carefully and asks some further questions about it.
Then he asks the sister: who is your representative in the Iranian Parliament?
ـ He is Mr. Khenanushu.
ـ Does his surname mean anything in Assyrian?
They look at each other; they don’t know its meaning.
Mr. Khamenei then talks with all members of the family of martyr Maroun-Adeh: with the son-in-law about the new parliamentary elections, with the family’s son about the Assyrian way of writing, with the sister about the Assyrian alphabet, and with the mother about Assyrian origins and their history.
He has been talking with them so patiently and intimately that no one notices the passage of time but this rather long meeting has now brought smiles to the face of the martyr’s mother. Finally the Leader gives a gift to the mother and says:
ـ Well, madam, our intention was to meet you and glorify the memory of your martyr and to appreciate your patience and endurance, to appreciate for the pain and suffering you went through for your country, for losing your son in the path of God Almighty, may He bring happiness to your heart and grant you the best of rewards in His infinite mercy and may your heart always be illuminated by the thoughts of God.
All four members of the family thank Mr. Khamenei for taking the time to go to their house; they all say: thank you, you were most welcome. The Leader then says farewell to each member of the family: God be your protector.