The memory of Amir Aslan Afshar, Chief of court ceremonies:

How Was the Shahs Message, "Iranian People, I heard the Voice of Your Revolution!" Written and Broadcast?

Jafar Golshan Roghani
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad

2021-03-16


Amir Aslan Afshar, the son of Colonel Amir Massoud Afshar Ghassemlou (one of the militants of the king Reza Shah's era) was born on November 22, 1919, in Tehran. he went to Germany In 1935, and after four years graduated from Hindenburg High School in Berlin. He then received a bachelor's degree in law from the University of Geneva in Switzerland and a doctorate in political science from the University of Vienna in Austria. After returning to Iran, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran in March 1958. From 1949 to 1954, when Iran filed a lawsuit against the British-Iranian Oil Company, he was affiliated with the Iranian Embassy in the Netherlands, and in the same position worked with an Iranian delegation to defend Iran's position before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In the years 1957 to 1961, he was present as a representative by the people of Maragheh in the 19th and 20th terms of the National Assembly. His marriage to the daughter of Mohammad Saed Maragheh (as a prime minister and minister several times) had a great influence on this election. He became Iran's ambassador to Austria From August 1967 to October 1969 and published a magazine called Vox persico (the voice of Iran) by the embassy, which reflected the progress and developments of Iran during the Pahlavi era. At the same time, at the embassy in Vienna, he was elected as chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors. Then, from October 1969 to March 1972, he was appointed to the Iranian Embassy in the United States and from July 19, 1973, to July 1977 in Germany. He was then summoned to Tehran and in August 1977, he was appointed by Amir Abbas Hoveida, Minister of the Pahlavi Court, as the head of all court ceremonies. As the last chief of ceremonies at the Shah's (the king’s) court, he witnessed first-hand the events, concerns, and conversations of the Revolution during the Iranian royal court. On the same day, September 8 in 1978, and the massacre of people in Jaleh (Martyrs) Square, he, along with some army leaders, tried to persuade the Shah to appoint an Oveyssi general to severely suppress the people's protests. He is considered one of the most loyal people to the Shah, who until his death on December 20, 2016, at the age of 101, always speaks about him with great respect. Farah and Reza Pahlavi also sent messages on his death.

Memoirs of his life have been taken and published at least three times. Mahnaz Afkhami interviewed him for three hours for the first time in 1988 in Nice, France, and published it among the works of the Iranian Studies Foundation. Ali Mirfatrous interviewed him for the second time during a 180-hour interview from April 2010 to October 2011 in Nice, France; he published in a 700-page book entitled The Memoirs of Dr. Amir Aslan Afshar by Farhang Publications in Canada. For the third time, Ehsan Manouchehri interviewed with him in August 2016 and broadcast in less than an hour by Radio Farsi (RFI) in France.

In addition to how the Shah chose Azhari as the Prime Minister, as mentioned in Afshar's memoirs as well as in an interview with William Shukras (July 1985), undoubtedly one of the most important parts of his memoirs is related to his condition and the actions of the Shah during the Islamic Revolution in 1978. In the meantime, his memoirs of how he gave a speech and read the Shah's message on November 6, 1978, entitled "Iranian people, I heard the voice of your revolution!"" He is the only one who witnessed the details of the story and remembers the memories of that day well. On that day, after military and security forces attacked the University of Tehran on November 4, killing a number of students, angry students and ordinary people took to the streets, dragging down images of the Shah and setting them on fire. Government and security centers on Enghelab Street were captured by the revolutionaries and many of them were set on fire. The statue of the Shah at the entrance of the University of Tehran was overthrown and pulled down with great difficulty, and the revolution, protest, and comprehensive and open struggle reached the peak of martyrdom and victory. According to memoirs published by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who was meeting with the Shah at the time, the Shah asked him and Reza Ghotbi, the head of Iran's National Radio and Television, to prepare a speech for him. Of course, the king gave the outline and topic to them. Thus, after a few hours, Shah received the text and read it live on television at 2 pm on November 6, 1978. Afshar, who witnessed this incident himself, described how it happened in each of the three memories. According to his published memoirs in an interview with Ali Mirfatrous, the incident took place as follows:

■ Question: "I heard the voice of your revolution" is a message that, according to the experts, encouraged the revolutionaries and gave Ayatollah Khomeini power. Were you aware of writing this message by the Shah?"

Answer: "Yes. When Mr. Azhari introduced his cabinet and left, the Shah without having said a word about it before told me at about 11 to 11:30 in the morning that I was going to send a message to the people of Iran, and this message would be sent to me very soon and would be broadcast on radio and television news at 2 p.m.

The journalists and videographers who came to report on Mr. Azhari's cabinet stayed there to record the king's message. It took a while and there was no message. I asked:" why they are late and do not bring the message?" They called me and said: "The message was brought by Mr. Seyed Hossein Nasr and Mr. Reza Ghotbi and they took it for Farah Pahlavi. I said to the Shah: "Sir, the message is ready and they have given to Farah. The Shah said with a little anger: "why do you give it to her? Does she want to speak? Why do you go to her? Go and take the massage here soon! "At about half-past twelve, Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Reza Ghotbi came to my office, brought the message, and sat down. As a precaution, I asked Mr. Aslani, who is living in Canada, and Ms. Soodabeh Ansari, the secretary of ceremonies, who is living now in London, to come and be present if anything is to be written or done.  Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Reza Ghotbi waited in my office and I went to see the Shah and said: "Sir! The message is brought." He replied: "Very well, I will inform you. As usual, the Shah was supposed to call so that the massage would take the to him and read it behind their desks. While we were all waiting for him to summon us, the Shah suddenly opened the door and came to my office. I immediately got up so that the Shah could take my place. But they said:" no, no. Sit down! The Shah sat in the chair in front of me. Then Mr. Ghotbi gave the message to the Shah. The Shah read the message carefully and reviewed it, and it lasted a few minutes, and then angrily threw the message on my desk and said twice: "I should not read these words. I should not read these words." Mr. Ghotbi and Mr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr said to the Shah: "Sir, you should say things that are acceptable to the nation, and the nation is ready to listen to what the Shah is going to say. "It is the time for you, the Shah, to put himself in the ranks of the nation and order the nation to accept it. The Shah said nothing and went to his room and this message remained on my desk.

Then, the Shah found that it was getting late and there was no time until the news broadcast. The Shah called me again and I took the message behind their desk and the Shah started reading that message. Mr. Seyed Hossein Nasr said: I have read this message to the Shah several times before and he accepted and then read, it is not true at all. At eleven-thirty in the morning, when the message was to reach the Shah for reading, the Shah said to me: "Why do not I receive the message?" Where is this message?  Bring it. Because I have to read it at least once or twice so that I do not clap while reading." So, it is clear that the message should review it. Why did the Shahs throw the message away, if it was good and acceptable for him? And then said:" I should not read these words." So, it is clear that Mr. Seyed Hossein Nasr's words and claims are completely baseless. In that message, the Shah had to talk about his activities and services to Iran and Iranians, and they had to show determination and resistance against the revolutionary waves.

■ Question: "Usually, the Shah's speeches were written by Dr. Shojauddin Shafa. Wasn't he at the court that day?"

Answer: "No, he was not there. No one knew about this message at all. Even after the revolution, no one knew who prepared this. I have heard several times that this speech was prepared by Ardalan, Entezam, Dr. Amini, Sharif Emami, etc., while all of these men were unaware of this message. In any case, the message was broadcasted, as you said, it [encourage] Mr. Khomeini and his supporters. An hour after the broadcast of the Shah's message, the Shah said: "Sharif ‌ Imami called me and said that the message was excellent." I called the US ambassador and asked: "Did you listen to the Shah's speech or not? And what is your opinion? Mr. Sullivan told me:" no, I did not listen. The massage is being translated." I talked to Mr. Abdul Karim Lahiji and he said: The speech was excellent. Of course, this speech was in accordance with the wishes of the National Front, which wanted to remove the Shah. After the revolution, the Shah was very upset to read that message under pressure. Mr. [Houshang] Nahavandian, who had come to Egypt, said: "It was done in a hurry." radio and television's advertisement in those sensitive days was not appropriate at all. Without wanting to accuse anyone, I must say that it was a kind of revolution in the management of radio and television, which may have been caused by waves of revolutionary sentiment in society, otherwise what was the need to show the film "Shooting Mexico's King"  in those critical days?" (Pp. 479-482)

 


 
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