Abdolrahim Saeedi Rad, the poet of Islamic Revolution and sacred Defense

The Bayonets of Shahs agents could not cope with communiques of Imam (God bless his soul)!

*Interview and compilation: Seyyedeh Pegah Rezazadeh
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


Tall and thick chest. He was born in Dezful in 1966. But despite his tender age during the victory of the Islamic Revolution (12 years old), he has memorable memoirs in chest from Dezful during the revolution. He narrates for us the images witnessed by him that are the inseparable parts of the oral history of the revolution. He for years put up his arm during the scared defense as a warrior and stood against the enemy in the battle fronts. Abdolrahim Saeedi Rad is a poet who visits the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in his Night of Poem every Ramadhan and presents his poem in the leader’s presence. The poet of “Stone Lanterns” and “The Sun in Fist” has so far written 33 books in the area of war and revolution and received more that tens of literary prizes. He talks about his eyewitness narrations during the revolution which are very fascinating for the audience to read. Join us in this conversation which is full of memories.

*How old were you amid the revolution? Where were you and what did you do at that time?

*I was born in Dezful in November 1966. I was 12 when the revolution started in 1978 which is naturally a very young age. I was spending the border between childhood and adolescence during the revolution. But you may not believe or I’d better say that it’s hard to believe that I played a role in revolutionary activities. I was working in a tailoring shop in 1974 a few years before the victory of the Islamic revolution. In that period and in the midst of revolution, I saw revolutionary guys who were going and coming in our tailoring shop. They played a major role in shaping and occurrence of the glorious Islamic revolution. I should say that the first steps of my activities for the Islamic revolution started from the same seemingly tailoring shop.

*What did you in the shop? Did you have a master? What did he do? Did he supervise the activities of the revolutionary guys?

*We in that small shop distributed religious books among which also existed prohibited books in the Shah's regime. In that tender age, sometimes I even did not know who they were exactly and what they were doing and what their goal was. Regarding my master about whom you asked, I should say that he gave me the books written by the late Dr. Shariati at that time. I hid his books under my clothes. I was emphasized not to talk to anyone on my way and to reach it to the considered person and come back soon.

*Was the SAVAK (Shah's secret police) looking for your master, or those who were going and coming in that tailoring shop and those who distributed the books and leaflets?

*I did not see but had heard numerous times that many people had been arrested. One night, the Shah's agents attacked the Maqoomi Mosque in Dezful and detained many people. I have another memory from another mosque where they arrested a number of people. "Gholamali Rajaee" who was one of well-known political figures before the revolution was arrested by the SAVAK. I heard that he was tortured severely. The news of his arrest and torture by the SAVAK was circulating and heard among the people. Naturally, I did not know some of the names due to my young age and was new for me.

*What other revolutionary activities did you do in that adolescence period?

*Quranic sessions were held in Dezful's Najafieh Mosque for the children in 1974. I remember well that once, I along with teenagers my age collected money and bought a holy Quran to finish reciting it. The sessions continued until 1977 and then, they kicked us out of the mosque very easily!

*Who did they do this?

*The SAVAK agents infiltrated there and said publically that they did not want us to come to the mosque. Sometimes and concurrent with the publication of Imam Khomeini's leaflets, the authorities of our Quranic sessions were saying words against the Shah's regime which naturally was unsavory for the SAVAK agents. Such activities started and were somehow the whispers for the revolution which we felt it very clearly and the more we approached the final years of the Pahlavi rule, the more we accustomed to it and was becoming part of our existence and life. 

*When did you hear the name of Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul) for the first time?

The 15th of Khordad (5th of June 1963) uprising had happened before my birth and the people had been familiarized with the name, works and views of Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul) more or less. But I heard the Imam's name for the first in the Quranic sessions. First, he was not called as Imam Khomeini and everyone referred to him as "Ayatollah Khomeini". We heard somethings in the mosque secretly and slowly became more and more familiar with the concepts of Imam Khomeini. 

*What did you do when the activities in the mosque was shut down?

*After we were kicked out of the mosque, we held the sessions in the houses. After a while, we found another mosque in the winding alleys and again found the opportunity to continue the Quranic sessions.

*What other issues did you learn in the Quranic sessions?

* We were taught that the dances and songs broadcast on national television were corrupt. They taught us not to watch such programs that are ill-trained. The advice and suggestion was to play with the kids in the alley instead of watching television or to spend our leisure time reading useful books. Valuable books were always available to us. According to this routine and initial training, when I returned home at night, I didn't even watch the low-quality TV serials and did not pay attention to them. Soon I was intrigued to read books instead of watching television, which was very pleasant for me. One night, I was supposed to go out and play with the guys. I came out but none of my friends were there. I returned home and started reading a book. After reading the whole book, I had still additional time. I again read the book until midnight. This happened many times for me. Once, I had a book that I had read it for several times. I did not want to watch TV and a new book was delivered to me tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. I decided to go to bed and sleep. At the age of 12 and before that, I was confronted with such internal struggles and conflicts that apparently such seemingly small and minor struggles caused me to be built. At the age of adolescence and when the whispering of the revolution was heard, at the time when I was learning how to tailor before the master in the tailoring shop, I also wrote leaflets; leaflets such as inviting the people to demonstrations and the places of popular gatherings. The reason for this was very simple. Since I had a beautiful handwriting, the master and those who were going and coming in the shop ordered me to write for them. I wrote on a white paper with magic marker. Most of the times, I went to farther neighborhoods and streets and stuck them on the wall. Once, I saw a poem that I later followed it in the cyber space. The poem starts like this, "Oh commander, oh soldier, listen/ I want to talk to you briefly/ do you give my response with bayonet?" The poem written by master Hamid Sabzevari, went on to say, "You make me silent under the shower of machine gun/ you will respond me with boots or slap me in the face/ I gave you flowers/ I prayed for you/ but in response, you shot me instead of flower and attacked me with bayonets instead of that praying/ you killed my son/ you killed the sons of thousands of sad mothers …" I remember that I wrote the poem many times, bringing and sticking it to various neighborhoods.

*You had already said that the Shah's agents tore down the leaflets. Can you explain fully what happened to some of the leaflets that you stuck on the walls?

*At night, when the martial law was in place, sometimes as the Shah's agents passed through the streets, I saw with my own eyes that they tore the leaflets and communiques I had stuck to the walls. Those bayonets themselves are full of stories. At that time, the clichés of the Imam's image were also marred by bayonets. Mohammad Ali Momen was the name of one of the revolutionary guys who was arrested during the distribution of Imam's communiques by the Shah's agents and was martyred by bayonets. Just a day after his martyrdom, I went to their neighborhood and saw an alley empty of his steps. His blood was still flowing on the ground. People would take pictures of his body and hang them on the wall in different neighborhoods. Soon, the photos of martyr Momen were in the hands of the demonstrators as a symbol. I remember that the mosques were very crowded for congregational prayer, especially for Maghrib and Esha (evening and night) prayers. When we were praying, the leaflets were distributed among the worshippers. The reason for this was that it did not become distinguishable who had distributed the leaflets and communiques among the public. After the congregational prayer, the people rapidly put the leaflets and communiques inside their clothes and took them out. The communiques included the Imam’s lectures or the fresh news happening in the country’s political course and upon the Imam’s request, the people should become aware of them. As I said, the mosque of our neighborhood was named as Maqoomi which was among Dezful’s active mosques and is still the same.  The Quranic sessions are still held in the mosque and the people welcome them. In that period, the mosque was very effective in revolutionary activities. But in general, our base was the same Maqoomi Mosque and the bayonets of the Shah’s agents could not cope with the Imam’s communiques.  

*Narrate the history of the revolution from your poetic viewpoint. Certainly, your narration has signs and elements which are different with others.

*Allow me to continue narration in the same form of memoirs. Taking part in the demonstrations was our other activity. Presence in the demonstrations was very pleasant and enjoyable for me in that young age. Sometimes, I carried a flag in the street demonstrations. Those moments gave me a sense of pride that sometimes I would like the moments to be repeated.

*Weren't you afraid of the presence of the SAVAK agents in different parts of the city?

*Honestly, yes! I also had a sense of fear. But the feeling of fear was mixed with the excitement that I loved it in general and, as I said, it was pleasant for me, especially when we approached the military forces. I participated in one of the popular demonstrations before 22 Bahman (11th of February) and the victory of the Islamic Revolution. After a short while, we reached the tanks and army forces. The troops were given flowers so that they could join the people. A few nights earlier, a number of people were martyred in a street demonstration and the people were angry. In the same demonstration, within a few steps away from me, I saw a man chanting “Death to Shah”. I heard his slogan with my own ear. Upon hearing the slogan repeated by some other people, the army commander fired shots into air. I saw the scene with my own eyes. Upon hearing the firing sound, the people were scattered and ran away. I had taken part in the demonstration with slippers. I took them off, put them under my armpit and ran away along with the population. I entered an alley that I did not know where it was. Finally, I could find the city’s main street called Shariati by asking the people. I had to cross the street. I was exactly in the northern part of the street when the Shah’s agents started firing live rounds at protesters and a few people were martyred there. I had to go to the southern part of the street. I was a teenage and had scared a lot in a way that I was afraid of crossing the street. At the same time, I saw a man crossing the street hurriedly and quickly and was not shot. I also hurried up to reach home as soon as possible. It was noon and y family did not know that I had taken part in the demonstration; If they knew they would worry about me in vain. Suddenly, I made a decision, and at an indescribable speed, like a bullet fired from a gun, I went across the street and stayed away from the officers' eyes. I don't think I've ever run that way in my life!

*How was the city seized by the revolutionaries?

*It was unbelievable for me. The Dezful's Police Station was seized by the people. I reached to the police station along with the people. I reached near a street which is called today as Taleqani. The huge crowd wanted to enter the police station and pull out the troops. I encountered a scene in the back alley. I had not yet stepped into the police station. I saw a Shah's serviceman holding a pistol and pointing at the people and warning that if you went one step further, I would pull the trigger and shoot! Suddenly in the crowd, a man in a loud voice said, "We have not come here to harm you or your family." Apparently, the families of the military men lived in the same alley. The man spoke with the Shah's military man in his soft, quiet language, but it was clear that he had been frightened at first. The man who spoke loudly did not believe he would give up after a while and throw his gun to the ground. The person we heard his voice a few moments ago, grabbed his rifle and hugged him, and soon after that, he joined the people sooner than we could imagine! The poor soldier was still worried that he would not have anything to do with his family. People assured him that they had nothing to do with his family. It was such that the area of the police force was seized by the people in less than an hour.

*How did the "Black Friday" in Dezful happen?

Dezful had no black Friday. Unlike other cities, it had a black Wednesday. If I am not mistaken, in January 1979, at the height of the revolution, the Shah's tanks entered the city at night, overtaking the people's cars parked beside the streets. Many cars were crushed by the tanks' chains on that black Wednesday. We noticed this when we went out in the morning. A number of people were also martyred. There is a place in Dezful known as "Shahid Abad". The former name of "Shahid Abad" was Masum Abad. Some of today's citizens of Dezful may not know this. "Masum Abad" was a small cemetery located in the outskirt of the city. Concurrent with the martyrdom of the first persons who lost their lives during the revolution and were laid to rest there, the name of the cemetery was changed to "Shahid Abad". 

*What did the people do when they saw the army’s tanks? Didn’t they have any reaction?

*The people of Dezful could disable the tanks only with a device called three-way. The three-way acted like a grenade and in addition to Molotov Cocktail which was common in all cities, several other materials were added to it so that its explosive power is multiplied. The three-way was made from old pipes. Three pipes were connected together. Explosive materials were poured into it and when it was thrown, wherever it was hit, a grenade-like explosion was created. Today, there are people who live in Dezful that I know them. They have lost their hands or fingers while making the three-way. We must accept that any struggle for gaining freedom has literally such consequences.

*What was the reason for the discontent of the people during the Second Pahlavi era? Why had they lost their patience?

* Naturally, the people were unhappy with many issues and problems. Dezful has long been known as the city of Dar al-Momenin or the place of the faithful, and has still this name. Dezful is a purely religious city that the Shah's regime, with its actions, behavior, and policies, caused and tried that the religious dimension of the city was seen less. In one word, the pressure and oppression in the country caused the people’s discontent. At that time, government corruption was rampant not only in Dezful but in most cities. Dezful was no exception, of course. In Dezful the culture of the people did not welcome such things. The 1979 Revolution was considered a full-fledged cultural and religious revolution. Today, when I think of those years, I realize clearly that people did not revolutionize for bread, water, food, clothing, cars, and homes. The people wanted Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul) to be in power as the leader of the country where the religious government would be established.

*In your poetical and research view, what is the historical reason for the popularity of Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul) among the people after more than four decades? 

*Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul) started his revolution in 1963 with his candid and historical lecture. The Imam asked the people to save Islam. The major point was that the Islam was destroying in all cities. The Imam rose for Islam and for divine distress violated by the previous regime. Iran was and is a Shiite and Muslim country and the people had realized that the Imam’s lectures were true. In fact, the people accepted the Imam’s words from the bottom of their heart. In the historical context of that period, no one had the courage of the Imam to defend the people and speak the words of the people. I can honestly say that Imam Khomeini was the only person who came up with an expressive statement, and all of which led the Shah to exile him to Turkey and then to Kuwait, Iraq, and eventually France. The Imam spent 15 years in exile. They wanted to get rid of him but could not harm the Imam because they were afraid of the people and the reaction of the community. Any harm to him would make the people increasingly angry and overthrow the government sooner. Therefore, the Shah shrewdly expelled the Imam to distance him from the people.

*Your revolutionary poems are the written narrator of the oral history of the revolution. In your viewpoint, what is the difference between your poems and those of other revolutionary poets? In what poems and lines have you written the climax of the revolution?

* Critics should, of course, comment in this regard. But I write what I believe in wholeheartedly. I always try to write my poems real. I am still trying to be myself in my poems. Someone who is involved in important life scenes is like a combatant who has seen and touched the front. I believe that this person can write poems deeper the front and war. The Islamic Revolution of 1977 is no exception. Even though I was very young in the heat of the revolution, the revolution flows in my blood and I have understood it moment by moment. The revolution started for me from the same Quranic sessions, so that to this day, it has not faded away for me with any reasoning, and words. Being a revolutionary, which of course, if I can call myself with such a title - because I do not consider myself to the extent of such a big and great name - means to me that giving up on the beliefs and attitudes that I have adopted is by no means unthinkable.       


*This interview has been recorded on 6th of Feb. 2020 on phone.

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