Feeling of suffocation in runnel

Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


Saturday and Sunday, 9th and 10th of Dey 1357 (December 30 and 31, 1978) had coincided with the first days of the lunar month of Safar 1399. It had been four or five days since we left the sit-in. The regime showed terrible and intimidating behaviors and confrontations. On the other hand, we also prepared a big rally, which ended at Khorasan Governorate. From the first days of the Dey, the Pahlavi regime used tanks to intimidate the people in the streets and alleys, and the agents of the regime attacked shops and people who were in the queue for oil or bread.

In those days, the people of Mashhad were hard-pressed for winter fuel and even bread supply, and for this reason, long queues were usually formed in front of shops related to these items. The agents of the regime attacked these people for the purpose of intimidation, and several people were killed and many injured in these attacks. In protest against this behavior, we formed a rally that was extended to the front of the Mashhad Governorate. Some demonstrators wanted to extend the demonstration to the governor's office so that if possible, step inside the governor's office and show their power to the regime.

That day, the protesting crowd stopped in front of the governorate building and some of them entered the governorate. There was no accountability authority in the governorate. Perhaps it was natural that no one was in the governor's building, because in those days martial law had been imposed and the military governor was all-powerful. I was also in the crowd. When I got to the Governor's office, I entered there and together with my friends, set up a speaker and I started giving a speech to the crowd from the balcony of the first floor of the Governor's office.

During the speech, I was constantly reminded: "Sir! Army jeeps are arriving now. A certain person entered the crowd in an army jeep. The tanks are on their way to the governorate..." I was still talking to the people from behind the loudspeaker and from there I was watching the movements of the people or the military jeeps among the people. At first, the people and the soldiers inside the jeeps showed no reaction, and maybe they were even ready to declare solidarity, because such a thing had happened before, but I don't know what happened when they suddenly got involved. Angry people poured on an army jeep and smashed it. With this, the soldiers started shooting from the side of the tanks. The helpless people were fleeing in different directions. Many people were injured and it is possible that some were killed. I was not in the mood and was still giving a speech. Consciously or unconsciously? I do not know! I was giving a speech until someone came, took my hand and said, "Sir! What are you doing up there, come down, you'll be shot and thrown down. Come down! Down!" And he pulled me down. There was no way down. I had climbed the ladder when I came up, and now there was no ladder in that mess. I said: "Then, where is the ladder?" How do I get down?" He said: "Come down in any way you want!" Just come down!" I looked down at the balcony. There was no distance; one floor. I thought to myself that the aba might wrap around my hands and feet and create a problem, so I furled my aba and threw it down. I also jumped down behind the aba. When I got up, I saw that the aba had fallen on Mr. Seyed Kazem Mara'shi's head, and I had almost fallen on his head, and he had not moved. It was a funny scene in the hustle and bustle! Whatever it was, it went well.

At the same time, I saw one of my sit-in friends in the hospital. I said: "Where are the other friends?" He said: "Everyone has gone somewhere and taken shelter." I said: "Where should we go and which way should we take shelter?" "Follow me," he said. We went to a corner of the governor's compound and reached a street from the top of the wall and the ladder, and if I'm not mistaken, we went back to the hospital right away! Yes, we went back to the hospital. Many injured people were being brought to the hospital. I saw one whose back was broken and another one whose leg was amputated when a tank had ran over his leg.

That day, my wife was also among the demonstrators. She was one of the women who had gotten caught in a street and hidden herself in the runnel by the side of the street so that the agents of the regime would go away with their jeeps and tanks. Later, she told me that when they were caught in that street, they had no choice but to hide in the water. She said: "We lay down inside the runnel, but we were suffocating. We did not know what to do. We endured the feeling of suffocation inside the runnel until the officers left there." That day was a very bad day. The next day, there were demonstrations again, and shots and guns, and many were injured and killed. It was a disastrous and terrible day, yet the people did not give up. That same night, at 8 or 9 o'clock in the evening, they were supposed to chant "Allah-o Akbar" (God is greater) on top of the roofs.

The implementation of this decision was interesting to me. Honestly, I didn't think that with the terrible events that the regime had brought about, it would be implemented so well and firmly, in a way that made people happy and hopeful; however, this was not all the visible and hidden reactions of the people.


Source: Qobadi, Mohammad, Yadestan Dowran (remembering the period): Memoirs of Hojjat al-Eslam Valmoslemin Seyed Hadi Khamenei, Tehran, Sooreh Mehr, 1399 (2020), PP. 559-562 

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