Sit-in at Shahreza Hospital in Mashhad

Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


During daily rallies in Mashhad, the mercenaries with the cooperation of regime agents attacked the people, and in the midst of this, some people were injured and even killed. Since Shahreza Hospital was the most important and largest hospital in Mashhad, most of the injured or killed people were transferred there. On the 22nd of Azar 1357 (December 13, 1978), the regime agents invaded there to identify and arrest the injured of the rallies and to prevent them from providing medical services, and brutally threw some patients from their beds to the ground, and even more disastrously, innocent children were thrown from their beds in the children's ward, and a baby was also killed in that ward; of course, they caused human and financial losses to the hospital staff. The news of this incident soon spread everywhere and even foreign correspondents came to Mashhad and reported the news of this tragedy and the sit-in that followed.

When the news spread in Mashhad, the people rushed to the hospital. Mr. Akhavi, I, Mr. Hasheminejad, Mr. Va'ez Tabasi, and Mr. Mahami, and a large number of political activists, both clerics and non-clerics, went to the hospital to help and take any action against the attack of regime agents. Seyed Abdullah Shirazi made a statement. The scholars of Mashhad got to work. Scholars of different cities made statements and expressed sympathy.

We first gathered at Shahreza Hospital and then started a sit-in. It was the first time that the regime attacked a hospital. The disaster committed by the regime was very deep and the sit-in we set up in protest against this disaster caused the whole world to notice Mashhad and Shahreza Hospital.

The sit-in in those circumstances was to prevent the regime's agents from attacking Shah Reza Hospital again, and at the same time, to make everyone aware that the Shah and his agents are criminals and murderers, which we shouted every day in the rallies. Otherwise, we would not have dragged our protest and political activities into the hospital; moreover, if we did not sit in the hospital, it was not known what would have happened to the wounded and their families, even the non-political patients who were hospitalized there.

On the other hand, there was no official in the city who wanted to say why you attacked the hospital. Anyone who had a responsibility in the city was either a military officer or had been appointed by a military officer. In those days, the influential person of Mashhad was the military governor of Mashhad, Lieutenant General Ali Akbar Yazdjerdi, who was executed after the victory of the revolution due to his atrocities. He was a brutal and murderous man who constantly threatened to kill, arrest and imprison the entire city, and he had nothing else in mind except using force.

Police encounters brought more people to the scene every day. Things happened so fast that it was unimaginable. The demonstrations had become widespread. Slogans against the Shah had become natural and public. With the events that were happening, this slogan had become very exciting. In general, people's reaction to the slogan "Death to Shah" was different from all other slogans. In the rallies, the people chanted the "Death to Shah" so uniformly and in tune that you thought the ground was shaking under your feet. To me, this slogan was one of the things that God put in people's hearts. Death to Shah means death to the foundations of the regime, death to SAVAK, death to injustice, death to oppression. I don't know when the slogan against the Shah first came to the hearts and tongues of the people, but it finally came and was very effective. On the day when the regime's agents stormed the hospital and attacked the pediatric ward in particular, people chanted slogans in the rallies with the following phrases: "The Shah set the patient's house on fire/The Shah set the infant on fire." This slogan was very exciting in those circumstances. The person who took the lead in chanting these slogans was a cleric named Agha Sheikh Hossein Safaei, he had an Azeri accent. I didn't know him before 1356 (1977), but later, I saw him appearing bravely in the rallies, shouting slogans and managing the people in a sense. He was the commander of the IRGC in Mashhad army for a while.

In parallel with the decision taken to sit in the hospital, a planning and operational headquarters was formed and settled in part of the administrative department of the hospital. In fact, two or three large halls and several rooms were provided to the sit-in protesters. Since the hospital was big, our presence did not cause any problems in providing medical services to the hospital.

We had one speech program every day; mornings and evenings. It was just like the sit-in that took place in Tehran University a few weeks later, although it was more extensive and influential in Tehran. People gathered and chanted against the regime. They even came to Mashhad from Tehran and other cities to show solidarity with the protesters. None of the protesters left the sit-in, everyone was at work, of course, they left occasionally and fulfilled the needs and necessities of their life and families and returned again.

Although the hospital was surrounded by regime agents, we knew which door we should go through with the help of the hospital staff. The hospital had several doors, while some days when the regime's agents tightened the siege ring and the coming and going was cut off, we called for help from the people from behind the loudspeakers that we had installed in some parts of the hospital and announced that we were surrounded by the regime's armed forces and need your help. This happened several times and the people protested in front of the hospital and around it. With this, they put pressure on the officers and partially broke the siege of the officers to some extent and created an opening.

One of these programs was to deliver a speech at the hospital. Every time one of the clerics gave a speech. My speech took place on the 1st of Dey (December 22) and I read Imam Khomeini's message on the occasion of Christmas. At night, we gathered in one of the halls of the hospital and talk about the events of the day. Decisions were made there, for example, to do this or not to do that tomorrow. If I am not mistaken, it was during these night sit-in decisions that some people decided to walk in the neighborhoods at night and use the darkness of the night despite the military rule and chant slogans to weaken the morale of the regime and strengthen the morale of the people.

These decisions were in addition to coordinating outside the sit -in and the small and large rallies of the city that were being held every day.

On the second of Dey (December 23), the day after the text of Imam Khomeini's message was read on the occasion of Christmas, the clashes in the city intensified. In Shohada Square, or the same Shah Square, the regime's agents invaded the people with tanks and opened fire to the people with machine guns and some were injured and martyred. Some of the injured were brought to Shahreza Hospital. I remember that two bodies were transferred to the hospital. Two of the injured that day were martyred a day or two later. There was a bad situation in Mashhad and Shahreza Hospital in Mashhad! There were martyrs and injured people who were carried and delivered to the hospital. One of the martyrs had his head cut in half and he had no brain left. Apparently, a high-caliber bullet hit him in the face. He was martyr Hasan Lakzai, whose name became popular in those days.

The People lamented like mothers who have lost their young child. It is painful to remember. It cannot be described at all.

On the same day that martyr Lakzai was transferred to the hospital, or the next day, they brought a martyr named Mohammad; If I'm not mistaken, Mohammad Monfared. His wife had come with the dead body of the martyr's husband and was sitting on top of him and crying. All the people around were excited and crying because of this woman's cries and tears. In those days, I heard that the serviceman who sat on the tank and opened fire at the people and killed and injured countless people, was a sergeant major whom the people pulled him down from the tank and beat him to death. His body was brought to the hospital and taken to the morgue. I went to see his body. His body was almost smooth and skin and bones. The ID card was in his pocket. I don't remember his name, but he was from Gilan. I was very upset. He did not have a high military rank and of course he should have had a normal or even low life, but he martyred several people in defense of a regime like the Pahlavi without enjoying his life and sent himself to hell.

During the period when we had taken sanctuary in the hospital, in addition to the speech sessions, we had two other programs; one was morning exercise and the other was continuous guarding of different parts of the hospital, especially at night.

The sit-in at the hospital lasted for about twelve or thirteen days, after which the it was called off. The course of events outside the hospital and the conditions of the sit-in were such that we had to end the sit-in. Considering the record that Mr. Akhavi, Mr. Hasheminejad, Mr. Va'ez Tabasi, I and some other political fighters had and the recognition that SAVAK had found on us, we could not continue the sit-in and we were not safe. Thus, we decided to leave the hospital.


Source: Qobadi, Mohamamd, Memoirs of Hojjatoleslam Seyed Hadi Khamenei, Tehran, Sooreh Mehr, 1399 (2020), pp. 550-557.


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