An Army of 20 Million

An Army of 20 Million

In November 1979, after the capture of the US embassy, Khomeini declared the need to establish a popular army, “Artesh-e bis million” (“An Army of twenty million”). This became the basis for the Basij military force established in April 1980. Many people, including many women, received military training and guns were brandished at many demonstrations.

The mix of weapons and children is potent and poignant. In one image, the male photographer is also hunting the perfect shot. Before the ubiquity of mobile phones, it was often quite amusing to take photographs of other photographers!

As one of the stencilled images on a wall in Julfa, Isfahan, suggested, Armenian women had been armed long before.