Ahmad Ahmad Memoirs (4)

Edited by Mohsen Kazemi

Ahmad Ahmad Memoirs (4)
Edited by Mohsen Kazemi
Soureh Mehr Publishing Company
(Original Text in Persian, 2000)
Translated by Mohammad Karimi

Teachers' Strike and Dr. Abolhassan Khan'ali Murder
In 1960 I was in 6th grade of high school for the second time. In May 1961 a cultural protest was made by the leadership of Mohammad Derakhshesh. In the continuation of this protest, teachers gathered in protest in Baharestan Square for their low salaries and bad economic situation and went on strike.
The protest trend speed up and there were clashes between the teachers and the military. They started to shoot and a teacher, Dr. Abolhassani Khan'ali(1), who was a teacher of Jami High School was shot dead. Two others were wounded. Many protestors were also injured among the crowd when running away while being scared from the fires.
This tragic event resulted in prime minister Sharif Emami censure and then he resigned. Teachers' wages increased and Mohammad Derakhshesh, leader of strikers, became Ministry of Education.
I was acquainted with Abolhassan Khan'ali when I was passing the first 3 years of Jami High School. He was a warmhearted, good believer and with good morals. He was also well-educated. He would go to Imamzadeh Davoud(PBUH) Shrine and voluntarily  would manage the affairs over there.(3)
This event had a big impression on me. At those young ages these events were eye-opener for me and would show me the right way. This feeling in me was shaped at a time when many of the youth were led to miserable and corrupting affairs. Unwholesome fares, sports as Football and wrestling, watching cinema and theatre and … were leading the youth to misery. Thank to God, I was raised in a place that made me to be non-ignorant to my surroundings.

Sina Teachers Training Center
In an atmosphere that most of the youth were eager to go and educate in money maker disciplines such as topography, construction or working in land registration offices. But I was interested in teaching and would consider it as a good way to propagate. So, I participated in entrance exam of Teachers Training centers and then I was accepted in Sina Teachers Training Center which was located in Sina Street and I passed one-year course of Teaching Training Course there. I also took part in land registration offices entrance exam and passed it.
Once I was at home that a friend came and told me: "Ahmad, you are among the first twenty people who are accepted for Physical Education (PE) teacher." First, I was not ready for this discipline. However after some hesitation and consulting other friends I found out that if I wanted to fight for Islam, it would be a good fortune, because I would have the chance of being in contact with more students in different schools and bigger chance for propagation.
By this thought I entered teaching career and direct contacts with the youngsters. It was a new page in my life.

Affection Umbrella for the Rain of Soil
In September 1962 a big earthquake shook Boien Zahra in Qazvin province and killed and injured thousands of people. People spontaneously and immediately hurried there to help the victims of earthquake. I was sadly impressed for this catastrophe and along with a group of my pals in Abbassi Quarter we collected people’s donations for the victims. People had trust to us and despite their poorness they gave us lot of things to take for the victims. When we collected all, we decided to carry them by ourselves in order to be sure they would to hands of earthquake victims. So, 7 of my friends and I rented a bus and moved toward Qazvin.
When we were passing Boien Zahra, the ruins of earthquake were horrible. You would not see a one-meter tall wall. Three days after earthquake with reached to a village called Roodak. Our bodies trembled of what we were seeing. Horrified people had taken shelters in foothills. Almost nothing was left from the village houses.(4) The ruined walls had made the gardens fenceless.
We passed a bad night. The next morning we found out the people over there were Turk and that village had about 500 families. Before the earthquake the village population had been about 2000 people. Some of them had died or injured and some had moved to other places in search of their unclear destiny. Unofficial reports would show there were only 200 people left and were mourning for ruined homes. We could make close relations with people and could observe what had happened to their lives. They were horrified. They were horrified and confused. After each aftershock they would run to foothills. Their eyes were dry of weeping and looking at us dumbstruck. There was a strange situation. Watching these scenes made us sad and confused.
The government was shouting that lot of help had been sent there, but up to that day there were only the help received from Bazaar.
We gave the things with to others to be distributed and then we began to look for corpses under the ruins. Those days there were no equipment to help us find the bodies underground and we would find them by looking at vultures and other animals.
We would help people with love and affection. In some diggings we would see corpses with foul smell. Some of them had been smashed and when bringing them out they would fall apart. After one week, our hands took the smell of human oil, since we had no soap to wash them.
For our food we would use the fruits on the trees particularly walnuts and plums. Almost every day, after morning prayers, we would take the shovels and mattocks for digging the ground and finding the corpses.
One day, I saw a woman who was digging the ground by her bare hands; her fingers’ skin was abraded. She had been in coma for few days and had found out that she had lost her husband and three daughters. This scene impressed me so much. I could see a cat that was wandering over there and crying.
We began looking for her family and bringing them out of soil. We smelled and spotted the point to dig. While we were digging to find the corpses, that lady would come and go and cry. She would stand and watch for some moments and then would run away scared and horrified.
I asked her: “Why this cat is doing like this?”
She said: “Her kitten is also under the ground!”
While we were digging, a hole was opened and the cat ran inside and the shortly later came out and ran away with a strange cry. We found the corpses of three kittens. We dug another hole and searched for the man his daughters. We found them finally. It was a strange and shocking scene. The father had passed away while keeping her daughter in his arms.
In the last days of our presence in Roodak village, gradually some people and groups came from Army and Red Sun & Loin Society. When they came the affairs were organized. They fired some places to cleanup.
When people anxiety and grievances simmered down, we came back with agitated and disturbed minds.

(1) Abolhassan Khan’ali, was officially a teacher in Education Ministry and also a PhD candidate of Theology in Tehran University. On May 2nd 1963 he was shot dead in the head during teachers strike protest by the fire of Major Nasser Shahrestani, commander of Police Station Number 2 of Baharestan.
(2) Mohammad Derakhshesh was born in 1915 in a poor Tehrani family. He had BS in history and geography. He had taught for years in capital high schools. Before being minister he had been president of the Office for Sending Students Abroad and High Inspector of Education Ministry. He was also founder of Mehregan Teachers’ Club. He was famous for his anger. (Kermanshah Newspaper, No. 3887, June 1962)
(3) About this event, the press wrote: “Teachers’ strike began in Tehran… there was a clash between them and the police and teacher named Abolhassan Khan’ali was shot dead and 6 others were injured. Capital teachers after 11 days of strike ended it by a statement and the schools and classes which were closed during these days began their work again.
(4) In this village and other villages around, most of the houses were built by cubic dry clay and wooden rolling-pins and had not enough strength. Human and animal would live in the same place; animals in the basements and people on top of them.

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