Sunday, October 22, 2006

"The men belong to a word-of-mouth burial society for the unclaimed dead, formed during the 1980s war with Iran, starting small and growing with the need. Today, about 500 men — laborers, professionals, clerics and tribal leaders — are members of the legation of the dead in this country where deep piety and terrible brutality have repeatedly intertwined. The society has no name and no officers. It adheres to no religious sect or political agenda. Thirty to 60 men make each trip. Some go every time; those who have to take time off from work may go only once every few weeks. They pay their own expenses and have rejected government compensation."