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Iran: Information on the relationship between the Revolutionary Guards (or Pasdaran) and the Basij between 1979 and 1988

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 September 1996
Citation / Document Symbol IRN24478.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Iran: Information on the relationship between the Revolutionary Guards (or Pasdaran) and the Basij between 1979 and 1988, 1 September 1996, IRN24478.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad452c.html [accessed 13 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

For general information on the administrative structure of the Iranian security forces and on the Sepah-e Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards), please consult Response to Information Request IRN23878.E of 18 April 1996. Attached to this Response is a copy of a report prepared by the Federal Department of Justice and Police of the Federal Refugee Office (FDJPFRO) in Switzerland. The FDJFRO report states that

The military structure of the Pasdaran arose from the national emergency created by the outbreak of war between Iran and Iraq. Strong in its national structure and ideological charisma, the Pasdaran army was instructed to mobilize, in cooperation with the Basij, the "Army of 20 million men" to show the strength of the Islamic Revolution. The military structure was set according to a conventional battle order, although primarily comprising land and irregular volunteers, the Basij. Fighting forces (large and small units) reflect the geographic organization of the internal security structure. Thus, a soldier residing in Tehran belonged to the troops in his region (13 Jan. 1995, 5).

The report mentions that the Pasdaran were involved in maintaining domestic security by fighting armed groups including Kurdish rebels, opposed to the Islamic regime (ibid.). The report states that the Pasdaran and the Basij played a key military role during the Iran-Iraq war (ibid.). In 1986 the Pasdaran mobilized 3 million Basij (ibid.).

A 29 June 1988 Financial Times report states that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was in charge of the Sepah-e Basij (Mobilization Army), which provided the manpower for Iran's human wave attacks on Iraqi lines between 1982 and 1984.

The following information was provided during a 7 August 1996 telephone interview with a professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, who is a specialist on the Kurds.

The source stated that the Basij were under the control of the Pasdaran. Basijis, who received benefits from the government, had to go to the front just one time, after which their military duties were finished.

The following information was provided during a 10 September 1996 telephone interview with a specialist on Iran at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

The source stated that the Basij were under the supervision of the Pasdaran. The Pasdar were also in charge of the Basij's military training.

The following information was provided during an 11 September 1996 telephone interview with a specialist on Iran in England.

The source stated that the Basij were trained by and were under the command of the Pasdaran.

The following information was provided during an 18 September 1996 telephone interview with a representative of the steering committee of the Committee for Humanitarian Assistance to Iranian Refugees (CHAIR), which is based in New York. CHAIR is committed to empowering Iranian immigrants so that they may promote and protect their rights, and also helps facilitate the asylum determination processes. CHAIR gathered the following information from interviews with Iranian political refugees in the United States and Canada.

The Basij is a military organization created in 1979 and led by the Sepah-e-Pasdaran to suppress political opposition. Members of the Basij are volunteers who have access to service in the Pasdaran, which counts as compulsory military service. In remote areas where the Pasdaran is not present, the Basij carries out the duties of the Pasdaran.

The following information was provided during an 18 September 1996 telephone interview with a specialist of the Iranian military at St. Mary's College in California.

The source stated that the Basij was activated in 1982-1983 for the war with Iraq. During the period 1982 to 1988, the Basij were under the control of the Pasdaran.

The following information was provided during a 16 September 1996 telephone interview with a French journalist in Paris who was posted in Tehran from 1991 to 1996.

The source stated that the structure of the Iranian security forces is difficult to establish clearly. Generally, the Pasdaran were the architects of the Iranian war effort against Iraq. The Pasdaran were in control of the combat units, of which the Basij was one component. The Pasdaran had control over the Basij through military and ideological training. The Iranian army had no control over the Basij between 1979 and 1988.

For information on the call for mobilization within the Basij, please consult the attached 14 November 1987 Xinhua report.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Federal Department of Justice and Police, Federal Refugee Office (FDJPFRO). 13 January 1995. Theme Paper: Iranian Security Forces. Givisiez, Switzerland: Federal Department of Justice and Police of the Federal Refugee Office.

Financial Times [London]. 29 June 1988. Andrew Gowers and Scheherazade Daneshku. "A War Machine Split Into Two Competing Camps." (NEXIS)

French Journalist, Paris, France. 16 September 1996. Telephone interview.

Professor specializing on Iran, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. 10 September 1996. Telephone interview.

Specialist on Iran, England. 11 September 1996. Telephone interview.

Specialist on the Kurds, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 7 August 1996. Telephone interview.

Specialist of Iranian Military, St. Mary's College, California. 18 September 1996. Telephone interview.

Committee for Humanitarian Assistance to Iranian Refugees (CHAIR), New York. 18 September 1996. Telephone interview a representative.

Attachments

Federal Department of Justice and Federal Refugee Office (FDJFRO). 13 January 1995. Theme Paper: Iranian Security Forces. Givisiez, Switzerland: Federal Department of Justice and Federal Refugee Office, pp. 5-6.

Financial Times. 29 June 1988. Andrew Gowers and Scheherazade Daneshku. "A War Machine Split Into Two Competing Camps." (NEXIS)

The Xinhua General Overseas News Service. 14 November 1987. "Iranian People Urged to Join Militia." (NEXIS)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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