Iranian conscripts rebelling against army
One night last year at an army barracks in Tehran, a tormented young conscript rousted his sergeant from bed and marched him outside at gunpoint.This appears to be happening before they ever get to a combat unit. It looks like a serious morale problem that will probably get worse if these troops are put into a combat situation. I suspect it is a reflection of the disdain much of the population has for despotic Islamic religious bigots who rule Iran.
The private made his superior writhe in the dirt for an hour, mimicking the exercises he had been forced to do for two months after he was drafted. The private would soon disappear; soldiers later heard he was imprisoned for three years.
Ahmad, a 25-year-old draftee who had just reported to the base, recalled that incident this summer after a series of deadly shootings by conscripts focused national attention on the struggles faced by those completing Iran’s mandatory military service.
“I sympathize with the shooters,” said Ahmad, who like several recruits interviewed for this story requested that his last name be withheld because he could be punished for speaking out. “Something or someone must have been torturing them so deeply. That’s why they did what they did.”
In July, a 23-year-old draftee holed up in his room at a barracks in southern Iran with a loaded weapon after his superiors turned down his request for leave. He shot and wounded a police officer before killing himself.
A soldier in northern Iran who was denied a transfer to another base opened fire on service members, killing three and injuring six. The shooter was hospitalized.
In August, a conscript from the country’s poorest province gunned down three troops at a garrison in Tehran and wounded at least eight others before he was shot. He died on the way to the hospital.
Reports of trouble inside Iran’s secretive security forces are rare. While scant details have emerged from officials or state media, many young draftees said the violence was not surprising.
They described Iran’s military training as a 21-month ordeal of physical humiliation, psychological stress and petty corruption, where mental health problems fester and socioeconomic grievances are magnified. Many said superiors often trample on poor and disadvantaged recruits while the wealthy and well-connected avoid the toughest tasks — or dodge the draft altogether.
“Almost everyone is a victim of hazing and mistreatment,” Ahmad said. “I am educated, so I don’t have it as bad. But I hate the service and I hate my surroundings. I don’t feel any patriotism in my heart.”