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A glimpse into Iran's powerful paramilitary force Basij

Yusef Jalali
Press TV, Tehran

Basij is a Persian word that means to be prepared and mobilized; it is the name of a paramilitary force in Iran that was formed in 1979 upon a decree by late founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini as a popular and voluntary force that is tasked with serving the Islamic Republic’s ideals.

In the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of civilians volunteered as Basij forces to go to the battlefield to defend their country in the Iraqi imposed war.

Today, the Basij manpower has grown to over 20 million members, with a range of responsibilities that transcend the military circle and include scientific, social and medical services.

Here in Imam Khomeini’s Mausoleum, hundreds gathered to celebrate the 42nd birthday of the organization.

Members of the Basij Organization are called Basiji. Depending on their skills or field of interest, Basijis are assigned with tasks that they carry out voluntarily, without any payment.

There is no age or gender limit for anyone who wishes to enroll as a Basiji.

The Basij is an affiliate of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. It has many sub-divisions, including Basij-e Sazandegi or the Construction Basij, which is engaged in building or renovating schools, houses and hospitals in low-income areas, or the Medical Basij which is tasked with providing free of charge medical service in low-privileged areas.

The Basij says it has had an active participation in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. It dispensed free of charge masks and disinfectants during the early days of the pandemic and now it has turned its facilities into vaccination centers.

Starting out as a voluntary military force, Basij is today a powerful multi-tasked organization, whose activity covers many areas, from economy to culture and urban development.

Basij says it will continue to grow with the needs of the time be they military or civilian.

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