An interview with Mohammadali Hajimoniri

Isfahan Student’s Movement (5)

Mehdi Amani Yamin
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


Study and intellectual leaders

  • Had the Intergroup course of study been formed before events of Azar 56(December 1977) or after it?

No! It had been formed before 16th Azar. Declaration writing among the people of Mashhad and related movements had been formed before 16th Azar. These adventures happened in last days of Mehr (October), and these adventures were instead of declarations that were glued on the wall whereas we have not glued them yet. We knew that "professor"[1] glued the declarations. After all, it caused the students to be more related with each other.

Reading the book was a work that we did it and we spoke with friends to select a book. I remember that we planned to a courses of study, and later, one of the friends who is alive now and is one of the intellectual friends from Mashhad city, became one of the university religious leaders, and now he is professor of National University (Shahid Beheshti). Of course, I was not at the University after years of 57 (1978), but he liked to study books and was one of religious friends in there, and I was his roommate.  Since we were living in one room, he really guided me in course of study. This course of study has been written as well.


  • Did you have specified and organized programs?

We had a plan to read the books with priority of prerequisites that needed to be studied first. I remember that there also were some leftist books in the course of study that we studied them, and we also had a reason to do it, and it was to know their stories and thoughts to use them in discussions. But I think, reading the leftist books, during the course of study, was kind of opposition somehow. I think, the current linear course and its features have come from Hojjatieh Society.


  • Do you mean the time when you started the course of study?

Yeah! Of course, there are a lot of books of Shariati in the course of study, and leftist individuals did not study these books. I mean that the reading of leftist books during the course of study was for knowing the opponent´s course to counter him.


  • Was it a method of Hojjatieh Society members to know the opponent´s thought first and then to counter him?

Yeah! It was. Because they did this course in their study, they use of this method, and it was taken from there. Actually this method was taken from Hojjatieh Society. The course of study was performing at nights, in which some leftist books were also available.


  • What kind of books did you study?

The books of Doctor Shariati were more available in the group where we were involved.  Books of Shariati were the basis of our study and then we tended to the books of Abuzar Vardasbi and doctor Peyman. The books "Interpretation of Quran" by Mr. Taleghani, “Tafsir Al-Mizan “by Allamah Tabataba'i were not available in there, but the book "beam of the Quran" was in there. Two or three of the leftist books were also available, such as the book “Elementary Principles of Philosophy” by Georges Politzer[2] that I still remember. Among the books of Karl Marx, only the book “Das Kapital” [Capital] was available, Of course there were no more two or three leftist books, and not like that the leftist books prevailed upon our course of study, and we follow the course of study in the leftist thoughts. Therefore, we limited the reading of the leftist books in two or three books, and instead of these books, I cannot remember the other ones, or maybe I didn’t read them.     


  • What books did you read about philosophy and history of Islam?

In this case, sociology books of doctor Shariati was the only book that many of the friend and I read it.


  • What about the books of Motahhari? (Did you read them?)

Yes, we did. We also read the books of Shaheed Motahhari. The books "Divine Justice" and "philosophy of Hijab" were what I had read. The book "The epic of Hossein" was available. I remember because I read them. There were a lot of books of Motahhari, and friends tended to read them very much. There were also a lot of books of Shariati as well as books of Abuzar Vardasbi as "Dogmatism and political philosophy". Now, I do not remember any books of Doctor Habibollah Peyman. He had a book that was somehow deal of opposition to leftist. I think there were both tendencies to religion and to the left in the course of study, and as I mentioned, studying of leftist books was due to be able to discuss with leftist opponents.


  • So, were always debates and discussions going on?



  • How did you find the books? Naturally, there were not in the library.

No, we came from Isfahan to Tehran and bought the books in front of Tehran University or Nasir Khusrow Street.  Under any situation, each week one of the friends went to Tehran, and we said him: “If you find the book, buy it!” If one of the friends went there and found four books, he would put them on his bag and brought us.


  • Have you ever been felt fenced or arrested by SAVAK?

Yes, we have been felt fenced in it,  

So, we hid the books into clothes or something else. We did not directly search the books in the libraries that were in front of university. There was a resort in front of libraries of university, and when we went there and saw one person was speaking about this, or two persons were speaking together, we could understand that they would be persons who were able to provide our books. We came close to them, and said that we were looking for a certain book. We could get the books in this way, and they also trusted us. We were also looking for the books in Nasir Khusrow Street, because it was center of Printing & Publishing of these books, or Printing office of Shahabad Street, Mahmoudi and Zahir Al-Islam alley, and Shapur Street, then we found them. However, we could rarely get the book from the Printing offices, because workers said that he didn’t know where the books have been printed.

Under beds and mattresses of university were suitable places to keep books from SAVAK and Informers. We opened the zip of mattresses and placed the book in it. We actually put the foam of mattresses out and placed the books in there, as, if the zip of mattresses to be opened or it became return, it could not been realized or found due to its weight. So it was the maintenance of books. We kept the books even on the outside of rooms. When it was not rainfall, duo to desert surrounded us, we went to a corner and make a stile and also poured the soil on it, so it was as a place for our books. There was a box that we put a bag within it. Ten friends knew its place, and when we wanted to employ new friend, we said him that go there and take a book. Therefore, he did not know someone, and no one did give him a book, and friends did not borrow the book from each other. Only someone, who had introduced the book to him, knew the issue, and his knowing was limited to providers of book. After studied, the book should be put on the determined place, so the person could not been seen and known by another one, and it kept the person from catch and arrest. We have also done it at university.


  •   When you were a student of university and were dealt with SAVAK, and were careful to write declaration, and should be careful to provide, purchase, carry and maintenance of books not be revealed, in addition of all strategies that you used to keep from prohibition, Basically, How much did you know the frameworks of SAVAK at the university?  How do you know that you might be controlled by SAVAK? In early days, did you know SAVAK at the university? Were the framework and office of SAVAK and security institutions as Protective Association?

No, it was as Protective Association, and there wasn’t such an Association. At university, even at Ariamehr University of Tehran and Polytechnic University have a unit as guard that were police forces and came directly from the Shahrbani (Law Enforcement force).  They were located in one unit or room at Tehran University of Technology, Isfahan, and Polytechnic and at all universities. Guard never came on campus. If the university was busy and if student crowded or protested in there, they would quickly come there and closed it down, and they didn’t mess with Security of university. It was their only duty, and they were not involved in entry and exit of students and security, the Campus guard used to close and open the door. Guard was only responsible in security issues, SAVAK did also act secretly. When Ariamehr University of Technology established in Isfahan, the Guard did not come inside it until they had come from Tehran on certain day.  But there wasn’t any Guard and Security for the university. Campus Security was not involved in these issues.  It was only responsible to discipline the university, and its kiosk was located in front of gate, and only used to control the entries and exits.


  • In your opinion, were Campus Security forces as informers?

No, they weren’t. A few nights ago, I was talking with one of the friends, and he said that a list of students, who had cooperated with SAVAK organization, was provided by Isfahan SAVAK´s documents after revolution. It showed that three and four persons were informer. But I don’t exactly how much they had cooperated. Last week, I spoke with one of the friends who were suspected to cooperate with SAVAK, and one of the friends was also very insistent on that he had cooperated with SAVAK, but the friend also said that when a list of student who cooperated with SAVAK, was provided and published by university, there was not his name on the list. When we were with him, we would be very careful, but he was not SAVAK´s member.


  • Who was and was not member of SAVAK organization?  Was the person who gave news about the list of SAVAK members, himself one of SAVAK member?

No, he wasn’t. I remember that he was really athletic man during the university days. I was also an athletic man, and we were players of university football team that it was selected among all of students, and we very often played together. I was practicing for ship, and so he was. I was practicing for track and field, and so he was. We were together. The person, who was suspected to cooperate with SAVAK, was also with us, and then we

He hadn’t any political line, but had some own shenanigans that we do not know. He was too athletic man, and so was I, Even when he was suspected to cooperate with SAVAK, we were together. I was going to get close to him and wanted to know how he was. I closed to him intentionally. Of course, our sport was not intentional. I went to his room and saw that he was praying. There were no bodies in his room that seek to attract them. He looked the room and prayed. Once I went to his room and saw he has locked the door. I knocked the door. He didn’t open it. I was standing next his door, and “why didn’t he open the door?” I said to myself. After few minutes, he opened the door. “Amir! Come in” he said. I went to inside and I found he was praying.  He has finished first part of his pray when opened the door, and then he continued his pray. “Wait, until I finish my pray” he said, when I went to inside. I said to myself that he was praying, while we thought he was one of SAVAK members and destitute man. So I said to other friend that he was not a false friend, although he was athletic and very attractive. Many girls of university tended to him, but he did not pay attention to them. All of student believed that he was a destitute man and as it is, he was known in the university, but he wasn’t one of SAVAK members. He always prayed, and he did never to seek the pursuit of girls. When I got closed to him, I found that also he was not a politician. He wouldn’t be a politician. He has older brothers and sisters that were also student that used to help him, and they have said him: “Do not follow the political currents that you will become poor”. He has tended to education, and did want to know he was a religious man. Because he did not like that religious student tended to him, nor did leftist ones. He revealed himself as though he did not tend to any parties. It is as if he was SAVAK member, but he was not. SAVAK, who controlled the university, was at university insensibly and never acted to specific way.


  • For example, did SAVAK act as student at university?

Yes, it was possible. When the twelve members’ team was arrested, we all thought about how it was arrested. In fact, all of students, who were political Activists at university, were arrested. SAVAK was very precise to set purpose, and it showed that how accurate was SAVAK in security and intelligence tour, and really it were very accurate. If we look for the history of student now, we will find what they did. SAVAK would detect the students insensibly.


  • Did you understand who may be involved in insensible controlling, even after that incident?

You see, so I did not know, because I did not relate to SAVAK. We recognize the SAVAK system after revolution about how it was working. SAVAK member particularly were among students, but they have never raveled who SAVAK members are. They would get close to student and also approached to leftist and religious activities, and they were also informers. It was possible they determined an informer in the Security Guards of university, although they have barely relation with the students. That is why I say that Security could not be active, because it was not close to student environment.

I remember one memoir. Someone introduced herself as Social worker, and the friends who have problem, could be drawn up in psychological consultation with her. The Social worker has been come to rooms of university. The boss of room had also invited him. She was a young lady who was older than us, and was about 24 years old, and also was wearing a miniskirt. She looked good for us to talk about our life problems and some such problems. It seemed that the young lady have been come there to shut us down. We said that they invited a young lady here for us to talk with her about our life problems, instead of study.

I want to say a point that religious students, but I don’t sure about leftist students, took a stand against staffs of university, and we did not tend to issues that related to university, and knew it as strange issue, and we didn’t relation with it. As result, naturally on the other side of story, they understood our behavior. So, an informer or agent could not be useful in this environment, because students didn’t get close to them. There was not any informer among staffs of university. But there might be attended some informers among workers of university restaurant, because they were sympathetic. If the workers said about something, we simply would get close to them and talk. For instance, when we went to restaurant to take our food, it was possible the worker said: “Hang him!” If the worker said these words, we would become friend with him. He could also draw information out of us easily, and so relationship to be established. But leftist and religious students never got close to staff of university.


  • Finally, did you go to the social worker for consul, or not? How about leftist students? Did they go?

No. I don’t know. Perhaps, leftist students went to her. But I think she was there every day. Several years later, one of the friends, told a memoir: “I bet that if I go to her and pull her leg, I would win a dinner”. At that time, the social worker lady was standing up and back to window, and he did it. We were not along with these students. Now, the students who did these behaviors retell their memoir after 30 years. It was true that we were religious students and they were not and so forth, but eventually all students are human being, and there remained only friendship for us after 36 years.

The point is that I want to say, the religious students never got near to staffs of university. The story of the social worker was also part of this concept. The students didn’t easily accept her intellectually. We never visited him, and as far as I knew, religious and Mashhad students didn’t go to visit her, and we never went to see him during that one year.


  • So, you didn’t agree that the staffs of university were in same goal with security officials and SAVAK, were you always in opposition to them?

So, we had the assumption that SAVAK was there, but we had were so inexperienced persons that we did not know how they act. We, however, came close to workers and persons who tended to religion. SAVAK also could be attended in there or in leftist group and acted in same way to other situation.

The leaking of the Mujahedin organization and identifying their systems was an extensive intelligence operation that SAVAK was able to do it. Mujahidin of the Islamic Revolution of Iran Organization was established in 1344 (1966), but was not useful and effective until in 1350 (1972), and just paid attention to explain ideology and ideological works. They used to send some persons for military training to Palestinian, and it has been continued until 1450. But sixty members of Mujahedin organization were arrested during 48 hours after the Iran 2500 year’s imperial celebration, before 1350. How were they arrested?  The answer is, SAVAK had influenced in the decisions of organization by getting close to one of organization members called «Nasser Sadeq». SAVAK attracted the confidence of Nasser Sadeq and thus operational teams were looking for him, and then recognized the all places and individuals that it has been done in a period of one year. It wasted long time to be done. However, the organization had not done even the smallest operation, but all their systems and decisions have been revealed. See! SAVAK acted such as such, and we could not understand it. When we read the history of organization, we found how inexperienced person we were, and how recklessly we acted. By the way, we tented to person who used to pray, and we went toward him, and we visited him for four times, and we said ourselves: “is he a good friend?”, then we said: “sir! Do you like to read this book?”, then we gave him book, and also we were sometime revealed, and SAVAK usually acted correctly in these situations. Naturally, we wanted to work, but because we haven’t done certain activities yet at this stage of the relation, we might be revealed to bring other on this side. So, when twelve persons were arrested, it turned out SAVAK security tour has done a good job and knew the student's affairs and has arrested the all of revolutionary and student activists, both religious and leftist ones, during one month.


To be continued…


[1] It means “Vahid Badiyi Sabzavari” that we will speak about him more in the following interview,

[2] Georges Politzer, Elementary Principles of Philosophy (Principes Élémentaires de Philosophie), notes taken in the course taught at l'Université Ouvrière from 1935–1936.

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