Iran's Loyal Defenders Start Young

Images of adolescent paramilitaries from the Basij movement.
  • Teenager on the march at a major gathering in Isfahan, held each November during Basij Week. November 2009. (Photo: Hosein Fatemi)
  • Basij wargames in Qom, November 2007. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
  • Armed schoolgirls at a Basij Week ceremony in Tehran, November 2006. (Photo: Hosein Fatemi)
  • Young Basijis undergoing military training on the outskirts of Tehran, May 2008 (Photo: Javad Moghimi)
  • Secondary school pupil in a mock combat situation. (Photo: Javad Moghimi)
  • Both sexes are taught how to fire a Kalashnikov. August 2007. (Photo: Javad Moghimi)
  • High school students on the march at an army base in Tehran, May 2010 (Photo: Rauf Mohseni, Mehr News Agency)
  • Ordering the ranks. (Photo: Rauf Mohseni, Mehr News Agency)
  • Instructors look on as schoolboy prepares weapon. (Photo: Javad Moghimi)
  • These are older school students from the Basij units known as Pishgaman. (Photo: Javad Moghimi)
  • Target practice. (Photo: Rauf Mohseni, Mehr News Agency)
  • Officially, this boy is in training for the planned “army of 20-million”. (Photo: Rauf Mohseni, Mehr News Agency)
  • The Basijis mount street patrols in Tehran to stop cars whose occupants are wearing “bad hejab”. (Photo: Danial Shayegan, Fars News Agency)
  • Basij students protest outside United Nations headquarters in Tehran, following Islamophobic remarks by Dutch politician Geert Wilders. April 2008. (Photo: Danial Shayegan, Fars News Agency)
  • Teenage Basiji compete in contest called “Young Martial Artists in the Soft War”. Mellat Park, Tehran, June 2010. (Photo: Majid Asgaripoor, Mehr News Agency)
  • Launch of “Devil Den” computer game, designed to win over young Iranians. The game pits Iranians against the Israeli military. (Photo: Hamed Malekpoor, Fars News Agency)

These photos show school-age members of the Basij movement, which started out as a volunteer force in the 1980s war with Iraq, but these days acts more as a domestic security force.  

Teenagers are shown undergoing military training, an important part of the Basij's training programme, and also taking part in anti-western demonstrations, patrolling the streets to catch other young people engaged in "immodest" behaviour, and taking part in highly ideological forms of recreation. For an article about the Basij's increasing focus on younger children in the schools, see Teenage Paramilitaries in Iran.

Also in this issue

Images of adolescent paramilitaries from the Basij movement.
Basij movement hopes to catch children at early age and train them up for “army of 20 million”.