Isfahan Student’s Movement (7)

An interview with Mohammad Ali Haj Moniri

Mehdi Amani Yamin
Translated by Mohammad Bagher Khoshnevisan


*We talked until the beginning of November 1977 the last time. We also found two 44-people and 13-people lists of students who had been arrested by the police. Out of the 13-people list, 12 of them were detained. Can we check out their names together?

*Yes, Mohammad Fadaee was among those who were fired from the university. According to the charges taken against Mohammad Fadaee, he was a given a verdict in the first year of the university who was fired for ever. Ali Enayat Zadeh and Abdolreza Abolhassan Choubdar were sentenced to one year of exclusion from education. Mohammad Ali Haji Moniri was the fourth one. Gholamreza Khoshbakht was the only one among the list who had left leanings. His condemnation was also one year. I think there were also Abdolhamid Khawjeh Mougeh’ee, Farzad Shahbian Moghaddam, Kamran Sarmadi, and Hamid Reza Farhang Darreh Shouri.

However, the last one was never arrested, because he was of the Bakhtiari origin. He escaped and went to his tribe. He had left leanings. Now I don’t know too, but he was not arrested in 1977.


*Was he arrested in 1981?

*I do not know whether he was arrested in in 1981, but he was not arrested in 1977. He went to Bakhtiari tribe and was disappeared.


*Was Homayoun shayanfar present too?

*Ali has approved this. His main name was Homayoun but known as Ali Shayanfar who was executed.


*It is said that Vahaj Mohajeri had left leanings?

* Yes he was among left guys.


*And what about Shahram Va’ezi?

*It is not clear whether he was executed or is still alive.


*News reported on 27th of November 1977 that the students stimulated by Sattar Goudarzi and Ezatollah Vosoughi had broken the glasses, and staged demonstrations. Do you have any information in this regard?

* I think this might happen in the university’s restaurant on 27th of November 1977. This is the story I say, perhaps the one you say is correct, of course if I say the date correctly, but it was before the demonstrations happened in November. I think the protests on 27th of November were for food and were not organized too. In fact we did not know anything about it.  The protest started form there and the glasses of the restaurant were broken. We were not present at that time, and think it had not been organized. I did not know Goudarzi and Vosughi until that time. We knew them later.


*Had they come from Isfahan University?

*I do not know. However, there were a number of guys who were in relation with Isfahan University especially those who were from Isfahan or those who had relatives or friends there. They had closer relations with Isfahan like Kazem Fotouhi, a religious guy who was thrown off from the mountain and killed.


*Who threw him off?

* I do not know. He was thrown off form the mountain in Yazd. He was from Yazd. He was a very religious man and a political activist. He was also a close friend of us in 1977. That year, i and Kazem were in charge of the film room. We were coming to Tehran and filmed the Poly Technique students. In general, Kazem was a very active man. In addition to the film room, we launched a mountaineering team. We sang old songs in the mountain. Of course we prayed at noon. A lot of guys were interested in the mountaineering plan. There was “Seyed Mohammad Mountain” behind the university and was a good place for mountaineering. I myself was engaged in mountaineering from there which has continued till today, and mountaineering has become one of the serious plans of my life and continued until the operation of my foot. I have climbed many world mountains with the same feet. Mountaineering became a new philosophy for my life and lifestyle in a way that I attached an importance to it apart from other sport fields.  Not giving up, and following the aims have become a philosophy of life for me. I found out that achieving big goals has difficulties and big goals will not be achieved easily.

Mountaineering caused me to climb mountains ranging from Himalaya and Nepal to European Alps and South America mountains, and as an Iranian I was the first one who could climb these peaks until today. The founder of this mountaineering was me and Kazem.


*Did Mr. Ali Ashraf Afkhami come to climbing since that time?

*Yes, I think he came with us almost from the beginning.


*There is a report concerning 2nd of December 1977 that the students did not take part in the classes while Tehran's Aryamher Industrial University had not allotted guards for Isfahan Industrial University. 

*Yes, these moves were organized. I mean the organizations were shaping and the plan of closing the classes was among the organized ones. Religious guys also cooperated in such plans. Of course I think we did not know anything about the leftist plans, but they cooperated in such events. I thing the story started from the religious guys who fixed special dates for closing the classes. His was carried in protest to the events in the universities and their isolation, and finally there was the pretext of the anniversary of 6th of December.


*So, at first, it was the issues of the university and the guild ones and then the anniversary of 6th of December?

*Yes, the occasions of the 6th of December was raised. But the guys concluded that all the universities should make a move on the occasion of the 6th of December. We should make a move. We said that we were brought in the middle of the desert in order to forget the 6th of December event. Thus we had to make a test and find out what would happen. So we closed the classes. The classes were closed but n reference had been referred to the event in the communiqués. The students held demonstrations the night before in the dormitory.

There was no news of boundaries between the leftists and religious guys when the demonstration was held at that night. I think there was no organized coordination. It was unclear at least for me. I do not whether they coordinated their plans at nights. It is very weak that they coordinated their plans in advance, but this happened in practice. I mean when a communiqué about the closure of the classes was released, everybody was coordinated. I think the event of the 2nd of December was started by the religious students because the communiqués were written by one of them whom I knew.

Later, the leftists helped and cooperated in closing the classes, but I think there was no organized coordination between them and the religious students. But I remember that the religious guys said that we had to prepare for 6th of December and that we should make a test to see what would happen. The incident of the 2nd of December happened so that the grounds were prepared for demonstrations or the closure of the classes on the occasion of the 6th of December.


*Then we reach to 3rd of December of 1977 during which 44 students were arrested by the guards.

*Of course I do not remember the date exactly. Oh, yes, it was the 3rd.


*The reports show that the event happened on this day. Did the students throw stones toward the guards or broke the windows and chanted slogans?

*Yes, they chanted slogans such as "Death to Shah" and I remember that it was chanted on that day. Of course we were not arrested but those who were arrested were not among the most active ones. I was in South America last year and one of the guys in his memoirs had written that Ali Haj Moniri was the leader of the revolt.

Later, the guys had said who was Ali Haj Moniri? Then he had said, "This is Ali." [He had shown my photo.]

Let me tell you about that morning. When we woke up in the morning, we witnessed that two guard buses had been brought inside the campus. When we went out we saw that guards had been sitting inside the buses. The classes were closed. Of course a number of them had taken part in the classes, but eventually the guys coordinated and the classes were shut down. In the morning we saw that the guards had been sitting in the bus with batons in their hands and this provoked the students to some extent. As a result when we reached to Amphitheater building, the classes were closed immediately and they had prepared for this. They came back toward the dormitory together and reached to the campus of the dormitory. But I think the guards had not gotten off the buses yet or they might had gotten off and stood around the buses. They came to the dormitory and the first slogans started from the dormitory no. 1o. All went to the dormitory no. 10. Our room was in dormitory no.9. We were about 30 who were chanting slogans in the dormitory's gateway. I don't remember with what slogan it began but the slogan "Unity, Campaign, Victory" was the easiest one. Both the leftists and religious student chanted this slogan. The leftists chanted the slogans of the religious students and vice versa. As I said before, this unity happened in practice. When the students started chanting slogans, the guards attacked and they escaped and went into the building and the guards came back. After ten or fifteen minutes, the students gathered again and started chanting slogans and a number of the students returned again inside the campus of the dormitory. All the dormitories had the same map and all the buildings had different entrances and exits. As far as I remember, each dormitory had five entrances. However, in 1977, just dormitories of 9 and 10 had been prepared, and the dormitories of 4 and 5 were added in 1978. The campus was full of stones and soil, and this is clear if you look at the photos of that time. The students threw stones toward the guards and there was nothing else. They had batons. When they were throwing stones, the guards went back and started throwing stones toward the students and retaliated. The two sides threw stones toward each other for a while. The students managed to organize the demonstration, and brought stones from the entrances located behind the campus. Before the noon, the guards attacked dormitory no. 10 with the shields and batons although they continued to throw stones. We were among those who were down the building, standing in front of the entrance. A lot of students were inside the building. When the guards attacked, we went inside but did not go up. We guessed we might be arrested. So we went again inside dormitory no. 9. We were some 8.


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