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News ID: 215
Revolutionary Gatherings According to US Embassy Documents
Political protests against the Pahlavi regime had begun many years ago, but it was the protests of the 1970s, and especially the protests of 1977 and 1978, that bore fruit and led to a major political change. What were the characteristics of these protests that distinguished them from their previous uprisings?
Publish Date : 11:13 - 2021 March 27
Irdc.ir: Every political or revolutionary movement is formed with different causes and factors, but it manifests itself in various forms. The formation of protest demonstrations and the chanting of revolutionary slogans is one of the common features of many revolutions and political movements, which the extent and manner of its formation is different in each revolution, in such a way that some revolutions are won by the protests of small groups and some revolutions by large popular participation and widespread protests, the recent example can be seen during the formation of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. Before the Islamic Revolution, there were several large-scale popular demonstrations in which individuals and protest groups were chanting various slogans and expressing their demands. These protests, which usually took place in crowds of hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions, have been narrated in various photographs, documents and writings. Meanwhile, US embassy documents in Iran are one of the important sources that have explained some of the important popular protests and their slogans.

The beginning of large-scale popular protests
Political protests during the rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi took place many times and at various political events. The people's uprising of July 21, 1952 and the uprising of the people on June 6, 1963, are among these protests. Although these uprisings were successful in their own kind and even gave rise to protest thoughts in later years, but they were cross-sectional and related to their own time, and on the other hand did not cause any particular political changes. But the political protests in the 1970s had a different color and flavor than the previous uprisings; this means that the protests that took place in this decade, especially since 1977, had several important and common features. First, these protests took place in very large forms. Second, they continued in a hierarchical manner and third, they had high political cohesion. In such a way that political slogans expressed the same and common demands of large sections of the protesters.

Accordingly, the protest uprising of 1963 and the protest gatherings formed after that can be considered as the ground for political protests of the people in the1970s; as some have said in describing the impact of this uprising: "The Organized movement of religious people; has been their most powerful movement against the government since 1963. Muslims in general do not have complete unity, but it seems that the Iranian government is showing a lot of insecurity to deal with it." Following this political movement, several other large demonstrations took place until the victory of the revolution, which had certain characteristics.

Popular demonstrations in 1978

Religious and Anti-colonialism slogans in the demonstrations
In general, the demonstrations that took place in 1978 were mainly large demonstrations led by religious groups, and the protesters' slogans were mainly based on anti-oppression. Of course, the issue of oppression and the fight against foreign interference had been in the spotlight of the fighters before, but in the 1970s, this issue became the most important political demand of the people. In more than these slogans, people emphasized Imam Hussein (AS) as a model of liberation by emphasizing the event of Karbala; in a way, it was an emotional and popular slogan that people implicitly and sometimes explicitly were comparing the Shah to Yazid, who was responsible for the assassination of Imam Hussein. The use of religious culture and symbols, which was revealing a new dimension of political Islam, also included the struggle against foreigners and colonial powers. Hence, an important part of the popular demonstrations and their slogans were dedicated to the struggle against Western countries, especially the United States. One example is: Several demonstrations took place in Tehran, involving groups that passed in front of the embassy and did not stop. Some participants chanted anti-American slogans and were carrying Flags with slogans against America and Carter.
Slogans during this period, in addition to the government, also targeted people like Bakhtiar. According to reports from those days, demonstrations and placards in Mashhad in December 1978 were against Bakhtiar, and some officials, including the official of the US Embassy in Tehran had seen two examples of anti-Bakhtiar slogans on the walls of Tehran.

Continuation of gatherings in the months leading up to the revolution
It should be noted that the reason for the formation of large-scale popular demonstrations in 1977-1978 was also influenced by the political situation in the country. This means after Carter came to power, the Shah took some political actions because of the Democrat Party's pressure about human rights to reduce the volume of criticism and pressure from Democrats.

This policy created an ideal opportunity for the opposition. Under these circumstances, "newspapers which had suddenly freed from censorship and government surveillance, with the publication of large photos of Ayatollah Khomeini on the front page and the reflection of news, demonstrations and clashes were accompanied by a new wave. Sensing danger, the generals finally succeeded in forcing the king and the prime minister to reconsider their policies and enforce a decree banning demonstrations and gatherings without prior permission".


Earlier, during the September 8 demonstrations, the government concluded that the policy of creating an open space was not a good policy and that there was no choice but to confront the people directly and establish a military government. But in all these cases, the protesters continued their protest, regardless of the military threats; As on September 8, when the military commander called on the demonstrators to disperse, the demonstrators responded with anti-government shouts and slogans. Also In other political gatherings after September 8, 1978, people continued to protest, ignoring government warnings.

After the outdoor policy showed its inefficiency, pahlavi decision-makers decided to retain power by adopting their former methods, but this had no effect on popular communities, and the opposition continued to protest. As in one example, we can refer to the demonstrations of the people of Mashhad. Mashhad went through the inflammatory days on December 30, 31 and January 1, 1978.
It has been said: "The march of these three days in Mashhad caused a lot of killings. There were widespread strikes, and when the provincial government clerks joined the strike, a march took place, and when the militant cleric [Ayatollah] Khamenei spoke, tanks and armor began to attack the people. About five hundred people were killed and nearly a thousand were injured.

Popular mobilization by religious leaders and market representatives
Another thing about the popular demonstrations at that time is that in most of these demonstrations, the protesters were mobilized by religious leaders and market representatives. Although in some cases the Pahlavi government organized large-scale government gatherings, their numbers were very small and few. However, the opposition demonstrations were very cohesive and the government's extensive efforts to stop it went unanswered; Despite the Bakhtiar government's tireless efforts to promote seemingly rational and useful programs, the protests continued until the last days leading up to the Islamic Revolution. This situation eventually led to the government's efforts being summarized in several key areas, these points were:
- Support for Bakhtiar's government and help for Stability of the situation.
- Putting an end to strikes and demonstrations and investigating the possibility of military occupation of sensitive places, government institution and vital economic centers and arrest of leaders and active opposition. 
- Confronting the growing tendency of the army to the people and the revolution.
- Planning for the days after the Shah and preparing for an effective military operation.
But these strategies also had little effect, and since the situation had reached an uncontrollable state, the government and political, security and military institutions failed to stabilize the political situation.

Concluding remarks
Extensive political gatherings of opponents of the Pahlavi regime were the most important practical step in igniting the flames of the Islamic Revolution. Some believe that the Pahlavi regime used a policy of appeasement in the face of People's demonstrations; because the king did not want to kill people, but based on surviving documents, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Government institutions did their best to stop the people and in some cases carried out large-scale killings. However, the regime was practically unable to take action because the people's gatherings had caused a political crisis in the government.
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