The revolution warms up the churches

Ayatollah Khamenei Visits
The Family of Martyr Yora Sardarian
Visit Date: 2/1/1995


Martyr Yora Sardarian
Martyred in Haaj-Omran, Kurdistan
Martyred on 30/8/1986



Brothers and sisters of the Armenian martyr write about him.
When a comrade of my martyred brother came to see us, he was most surprised because we were not mourning at all; there were no black flags on the walls of our house. He knocked at the door and said: Is Vartan at home. Among us, the seven brothers, I am not the eldest but people know me as the most outspoken and the most sympathetic of them! I went to the entrance-door and there stood William, Yora’s very close friend. I embraced him and said: I’m very glad to see you alive!
He wondered whether to counter me with a Joke or tell me what he had come to tell me. Well, after some introducing words and unrelated narrations, he said: To tell you the truth, I think Yora was martyred about two weeks ago! I don’t know why you have not yet been informed. Perhaps there was not a number-plate around his neck and his identity has not yet been certified. If you go to the front-zone he was fighting in, you may know the facts.
There were nine of us, seven brothers and two sisters and Yora was the youngest. The eldest brother was Shahin and I was next in age. So I told Shahin about this and he advised that we should not tell father anything about this and that we together with Vohen and Serzhik, my younger brothers, travel to the battle-zone and find out. Father liked Yora, the youngest, very much and he used to say that God had granted this youngest son to him so that he could be like his walking-stick in old age and take care of him. Yora himself was also the most handsome and the kindest among us; he had the highest respect for our parents too. So we didn’t inform father and set out.
All the time on the way we worried lest his body be already buried, because then we couldn’t take his body to Tehran; he was martyred 10 days before and this was quite possible.
But when we reached Haaj-Omran, we saw his body still deposited in the morgue. His friends and comrades said that he never stopped working and that he didn’t know tiredness. Indeed when I looked at his dead body, his face showed that only now he was resting.
We owe the finding of his body to Imam Hussein because two days after his martyrdom, there were mourning ceremonies on Tasua and Ashura (Imam Hussein’s martyrdom anniversary) and so they had not buried him; we thanked Imam Hussein again.
Yora was a master expert in preparing dynamos, and generators; he could repair and make functional all sorts of dynamos, coolers, cars, etc. when his daily duties were over, he would continue his work to repair military cars.

As I was born after Vartan, my parents named me Vartuhi which in Armenian is the female form of Vartan. My parents did agricultural work in Shazand, Arak province; they came to Tehran only in winters. So, in their absence I played the roles of both the elder sister and mother. I used to take care of him, send him to school and saw to his needs. Yora possessed two conspicuous qualities; he was both a really handsome young man and a very quiet, shy person.
When he joined the army and was sent to battle-fronts, he sent me letters in short intervals; he didn’t want me to miss him too much. And whenever he came back to us on leave, he would describe what he had done and how once he had captured a few Iraqi soldiers alone!

He always did his own work and never let me wash his clothes or iron them. The very last time he went back, I sent a sack full of clothes and things, but after his martyrdom, when his sack was brought to us, I found out that he hadn’t had the time to even pull the sack’s zip open; everything was untouched!
The night before his martyrdom, I dreamed that he was standing on a hill; there was a big curtain there; he pulled the curtain across and I could see the other side where some soldiers were smiling and having a good time. I asked Yora: who are they? And he answered: the other side is the residence of martyrs; I also wish to join them!

From among seven brothers four finished their military service and came back home safe and sound; only Yora, the youngest brother never returned.
The Visit
Eight years had passed since Yora’s martyrdom when one evening we were hosts to a great personality. It was Christmas Eve. We were told that some people would visit us to talk about Yora’s martyrdom. That evening three of my brothers, my parents and I were at home. The guests arrived but they were mostly silent and did not ask any questions. But suddenly we were informed that in a few minutes the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, that is, Ayatollah Khamenei, comes to meet us!
My parents were astonished and although the room was clean and in order, mother started cleaning and wiping things. My brother still couldn’t believe it. If I was not an eye-witness that evening, I wouldn’t have believed it either, but it was he in person who stepped in our house.
I remember that the Leader, after saying ‘salaam’ and enquiring after our health, asked us to show him a photo of our martyred brother. So father got up and handed him a framed photo of Yora. He studied the photo for a while and asked us about the date and place of Yora’s martyrdom and asked us all to accept his condolences:
ـ May God Almighty grant hopes rewards, to you parents, to you brothers and all your relatives, and may He bring happiness in your hearts. this young man, who went to war in the path of God, for his people and for his country, who fought bravely and was killed, was a great person and performed a great job; this is called martyrdom. Departing from this world in this way is most valuable. He is a source of pride for the parents who brought him up and then let him sacrifice himself for his patriotic country. If we did not have such courageous, selfless youth and families such as yours, the independence of our country would not have been guaranteed and the Iranian nation would not be known as a great, independent country.
If today our country is known for its integrity and independence, if our people can hold their heads high throughout the world, we owe them to these young men.
These are outstanding people who went to fronts to fight because they felt that their country was in danger. Of course, as you know, there are also some people who, when there is no risks but there are profits to gain, they say that they are ready for everything; in comfort they’re ready! But when there are dangers and risks to life, it’s only selfless, outstanding people like your son who defend their country and the nation. Well, I pray to God to grant you His proper rewards, make you happy and illuminate your hearts.

I still remember that in this meeting Mr. Khamenei spoke separately with each one of us asking our occupations, our status of marriage, our children, our church-going and the like. The most interesting thing to me was how patiently and meticulously he listened to our answers and how warmly he commented about them. Of course he talked to my parents more than each one of us. As an example, he asked father: well, what’s your occupation, dear father?
ـ We used to do agricultural work and after that I worked in a factory for a few years, replied father.
ـ Where do you come from?
ـ We are residents of Arak province.
ـ Are there many Armenians in Arak?
ـ Well, I think there are 100 or 150 Armenian families there.
ـ Where are they in that province?
ـ Mostly in Shazand, because there are many factories there, oil, petrochemicals and related plants.
ـ Is your lady-wife also from Arak?
ـ Yes, we all come from there.
Then the Leader says: That’s interesting. I knew that we have Armenian in Isfahan, Urumia, Tabriz and Tehran but I didn’t know that there were Armenians in Arak too. Well, I hope that the Armenian community, wherever they live in Iran, will be happy and prosperous.

I also remember a sweet joke the Leader said. But I must explain it:
Before Mr. Khamenei’s arriving, I had poured cups of tea for the Leader’s companions and for all of us but when Mr. Khamenei arrived, we forgot to bring tea for him because of the exited atmosphere. Now in the middle of the meeting when Mr. Khamenei was talking to mother, my father who noticed there was no cup of tea in front of the Leader did slowly push his own cup of tea towards Mr. Khamenei. When the Leader finished his conversation with mother, he looked at the cup of tea in front of him and said humorously: firstly this tea has gone cold, secondly it’s not my cup of tea, whoever it belongs to must drink it and thirdly this is a large cup, if you don’t mind bring me a cup half as much!
Altogether Mr. Khamenei’s meeting with us was so warm, intimate and kind that we all felt we were talking to a member of our own family; he seemed to have come to his own sister’s house.
Another subject of conversation with us was a discussion about the condition of churches in Iran after the Revolution and our interest in them. At one point Mr. Khamenei talked about priests and preachers and commented: Well, if a priest knows what to say, the youth will be attracted and would go to churches more often, but if he repeats some old stuff or matters the young could hardly understand, then he cannot absorb the youth.
At this point I said: Fortunately after the Islamic Revolution, the atmosphere in our churches has dramatically changed; the young people’s attendance has increased and it’s daily increasing.
The Leader then said:
ـ This is a great aspect of a religious revolution. Although it is an Islamic Revolution, it has affected all religious beliefs and faiths. This is a global phenomenon, not only in Iran. The Iranian Revolution brought about the importance of religion and so you see now that there is a new outlook toward religion. As you may remember I was a member of our Revolutionary Council in the years 1979 and 1980. Then we heard news about the solidarity movement in Poland whose mottos were in support of the Polish church. This happened in a country where the Communist governments had fought the church and Christian churches for some 40 years but the new generation who was brought up under Communism, this new, young generation supported the church heartily. At the Revolutionary Council there were different analyses about this Polish movement. I was of the opinion that our Revolution had somehow left its marks on the Polish movement, in other words, our religious movement which attracted attention to the possibility of a religious state had that effect. What you said about increasing number of youth attending church ceremonies must be true. Of course there are all sorts of entertainments for the young people but going to church helps them spiritually.
When the Leader rose to say good-bye, we found out how warm and sweet his presence was because none of us had noticed the passage of time.
We all thanked him a lot for his visit and father thanked him more than others: You came to our humble house and illuminated it. May God keep you in good health for Iran, for all of us, we hope we shall continue to live under your pleasant shadow and may God grant you a long, long life.
I had never heard father speak so sweetly and fluently!
Finally Mr. Khamenei said: Our purpose of this meeting was to congratulate you on the occasion of Christmas, to congratulate you, your wife and the whole family as well as paying respect to the high status of martyrs including your young son who chose to fight for his country and was martyred; in one word, we come here to honour him.
The Leader, before departing, gave a precious gift to mother and said: this is just a keep-sake for you, madam, may God bless you and good-bye.