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Photos: Toddlers "Enlisting" with Basij Militia in Tehran

12/13/10 Photos by Abolfazl Salmanzadeh, Mehr News Agency

These photos show some of the Iranian toddlers participating at a ceremony enlisting with the Basij militia at Imam Sadeq mosque in Tehran. Basij played the leading role in the recent suppression of widespread protests in the aftermath of the June 2009 presidential elections.

The Basij (literally "Mobilization") is a paramilitary volunteer militia founded by the order of the Ayatollah Khomeini in November 1979. The Basij are now under the command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Consisting of young Iranians who volunteer to join this force, often in exchange for official benefits, the Basij are most notable for their loyalty to the supreme leader Khamenei. Currently Basij serve as an auxiliary force engaged in activities such as internal security as well as law enforcement auxiliary, the providing of social service, organizing of public religious ceremonies, and more famously morals policing and the suppression of dissident gatherings. They have a local organization in almost every city in Iran.[7] They have a record of involvement in many cases of human rights abuses.


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