Untold words about the book "Untold Words" (last part)

How is the book "Untold Words: the Memoir of martyr Haj Mehdi Iraqi" written?

Interviewer and editor:
Jafar Golshan Rughani & Mohammad Mahdi Musa Khan
Translated by Fazel Shirzad

2016-10-10


From right: Mahmoud Moghaddasi, Hamid Reza Shirazi and Jafar Golshan Roghani

 

Note: A lot of discussions and opinions are provided for quality, content and how the book "Untold Words: the Memoir of martyr Haj Mehdi Iraqi" is written when the book was published by Rasa press in 1370 (1991). Finally it is published for interested group in the contemporary history of Iran and the Islamic Revolution. It has been written and spoken repeatedly that one of the most valid and unique memoirs is the book "Untold Words" that the martyr Hajj Mehdi Iraqi, after the revolution, told these memoirs in the special situation based on his pure mind, belief and memoirs without any personal and special judgment, and he did not take any notice to political climates. As a result of these memoirs, we tried to understand how, when, where and in which situation these memories are occurred as it has been paid attention by professional and interested group in contemporary history and the Islamic Revolution. After many years, we became able to meet and interview with two people among three ones who were involved in this work, and they were doing political activities as a member of the Islamic Association of Iranian Students in Paris, when Imam Khomeini and the Haj Mehdi Iraqis were stayed in Neauphle-le-Château. The following text, as you read the first and second parts, is the result of more than four hours of interviews with the two friends; Mr Mahmoud Moghaddasi and Hamid Reza Shirazi in Tehran, in the Persian date 3th Bahman 1394 (27th February 2016). Now you read the last part.

 

Musa Khan: Meanwhile Imam Khomeini came to Paris; the members of Islamic Association of Paris were holding weekly meetings and working in a house called "Nasim". How did you hear the Imam came to Paris?

Shirazi: All the people heard his arrival in Paris through public media.  

Moghaddasi: Of course, later I heard that Mr. Kasra Eftekhar Jahromi, first of all, was informed and then he informed Mr. Turkaman to go airport to see Imam Khomeini. But they heard that Imam Khomeini had exited from airport and then Mr. Turkaman, for more accurate information, ask Mr. Banisadr about Imam, and he found that Imam Khomeini have gone to  home of Mr. Ghazanfarpour.

 

What did you do?

Shirazi: We held a meeting about what we should do, on the campus of university in the afternoon. At first, we should meet Imam. We decided to inform all the active members of the Association and next day, the people, about 25 to 30, came to see Imam in the house of Ghazanfarpour. On the second floor, Mr. Ghazanfarpour, his wife and Mrs. Sudabeh Sadifi, were standing in the doorway.

 

At the time when Imam Khomeini wanted to go inside the home of Ghazanfarpour, do you remember who was there?

Shirazi: I remember that Ghotbzadeh was managing everything there.

Golshan: Was Doctor Yazdi there?

Shirazi: No, he wasn’t. He came there later. I remember that Seyed Ahmad Agha, Mr. Ferdosipoor and Amlai (who was killed in a car accident in 1358(1979)) I remember.

 

 

Moghaddasi: I think, Dr. Yazdi was there too.

Musa Khan: How was the meeting?

Shirazi: Turkaman spoke a few minutes, and Imam thanked us shortly. After visiting, the members divided the works among themselves by a meeting of Central Association's members. For example, the members, who knew the French language, became as a relators between Association and imam.

Moghaddasi: Of course, Mr. Turkaman had prepared, last night, some statements to read them for Imam as an agent of Association, but Mr. Ghotbzadeh said: "Give them to me, and I will give to Imam!" Mr. Turkaman did not agree. No one read the statements; so, it was finished as an introduction meeting.

Golshan: How did you feel when you saw Imam?

Shirazi: We were happy to see a religious and political leader.

 

Did you expect to see Imam in France?

 Shirazi: No, we did not expect. But it was nice to see the Imam for us. I remember Mr. Rezagholi kissed his forehead and his hands and kissed some of us too. I remember that Mr. Rezagholi kissed the forehead and hands of Imam, and some of us kissed his face. Imam has a quit face and spiritual eyes.

Moghaddasi: It should be noted that the news of Najaf came from Paris by Mr. Ghotbzadeh and freedom movement. Mr. Ghotbzadeh used to travel Lebanon and Najaf. He was related to doctor Yazdi in America and Ayatollah Sadegh Tabatabai in Germany. I think, Ghotbzadh said the news of the arrival of Imam Khomeini in Paris to the members. Mr. Ghazanfarpour was friend with a Ghotbzadeh. I have a memoir of meeting with the Imam. When I was going inside the house of Imam, one was checking all visitors in front of door. One of the friends complained that why you were checking them. These people have been doing Islamic activity here for so long. I think, some of the works of the house were managed by supporters of Banisadr, because Mr. Ghazanfarpour was a close friend with Banisadr. When I entered into the room, I kissed the face of Imam. When I was kissing the other side of Imam's face, Mr. Ferdosipoor prevented me to kiss, and he said that Imam was tired; it was better to kiss the hands of Imam. But I kissed Imam's face, and then I said that I would rather kiss the face than the hands.  

Musa Khan: Did you say these words in front of the Imam?

Moghaddasi: No, we didn't. I kissed Imam and I talked with Mr. Ferdosipoor in the next room.

 

After dividing the works, were you stationed at the home of Ghazanfarpour?  

Shirazi: No, we didn’t. In fact we have implemented the divisions of works in Neauphle-le-Château

Moghaddasi: As the group of Banisadr was responsible for housework, the members did not like to cooperate with them. Of course, Mr. Turkaman went to the home of Mr. Ghazanfarpour time and time again.

Shirazi: After a week, Imam moved to village Neauphle-le-Château where there was a garden in front of the Imam's house, and it belonged to Mr. Askari who was a member of the group "JAMA". People from Iran and other countries came to see Imam in Neauphle-le-Château a lot. The meetings were doing in the garden and, later, in tent due to cold weather, and Imam used to go there only for prayer.

Golshan: Do you have a photo of Neauphle-le-Château?

Shirazi: Yes, I have. Mr. Hassan Meshkinfam, who was brother of Abdul Meshkinfam (one of the central members of Mujahidin Organization) and was a photographer, gave some of the slides me.

 

Was there any photographer to take photo of the people and the members?

No, there wasn't. Actually, There was no a professional photographer to take photo.  

 Moghaddasi: Taking photo was doing there a lot. But, Abdul Karim Sanai Farokhi (Ambassador of Iran in Spain from Persian date Tir 1361(July 1982) to Bahman 1364(February 1986)) was the only one shooting there and has an 8 mm video camera.  

 

When Imam went to Neauphle-le-Château, what did you and the members of association do in there? 

Shirazi: We regularly went there, and we helped and guided those who came there to visit Imam. A hunger strike for five days to protest conditions of political prisoners in Iran was another action that we did in the church of "San Hippolyta" in the Persian date Azar 1357 (Decamber1978). During the strike, the late Ayatollah Motahari met the strikers.[1]

Moghaddasi: Of course, to release political prisoners in the church of Saint Meri, we went on a hunger strike one year before in 1356 (1977). It was the first hunger strike of the friends in Paris. The hunger strike was done in cooperation with the Union of Islamic Organizations in Europe and some of combatant clergymen such as Mohammad Montazeri, Mohammad Gharazi and others. In this church, we had installed the photos of Ayatollah Montazeri, Ayatollah Taleghani, Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ezzatolah Sahabi on the wall that they were interesting for foreign journalists and published in the newspapers.

Golshan: Did you kept imam informed of the strike?

Shirazi: Yes, he was informed. In my opinion, the Union Islamic association was more active than other groups under the Paris association. Besides the strike, the members also helped in tasks such as shopping, cooking, and protecting Neauphle-le-Château. For example, Mr. Homatash and others were responsible for protecting the home.

Musa Khan: How did you become familiar with Haj Mehdi Iraqi?

Moghaddasi: When the imam came to Paris, several people also came there to visit him, we thought, people who coming from Iran have a lot of information and it was better to meet them and use their comments and memoirs. So, we made an appointment with them to come the apartment "Nasim "at night, because they were working during days, and talk to the audience and we would record their speech.

Golshan: How far was Neauphle-le-Château to apartment "Nasim"?

Moghaddasi: It was about 45 to 50 kilometers. We usually went to Neauphle-le-Château in the morning and in the evening we came back to "Nasim". We hold two kinds of meetings in the apartment "Nasim". One of them was public one that holds in different halls and all came there. But we had some meetings in association which these meetings were holding in the house "Nasim" and we invited a person to give lectures, and we record some of his lectures.

Musa Khan: Who came there to listen to the lecture in the house "Nasim"?

Moghaddasi: For example, Mr. Mousavi Khoeiniha made a series of lectures about the interpretation of the Qur'an. Of course, he made both public lecture, and private one for the members of association in the house "Nasim", and we recorded them. Doctor Kazem Sami spoke there about imperialism.

Shirazi: Doctor Gholamabbas Tavassoli spoke in the public meeting at House of Italy.

Moghaddasi: In those days, we thought that these lectures will be used later, that is why we recorded them. Mahmoud Kashani, the son of Ayatollah Kashani, who was living in Paris, spoke at the public meeting. Hajj Mehdi Iraqi in the apartment "Nasim" told his memoirs to the members for ten sessions.

 

Did other speechmakers tell memoirs to you?  

Shirazi: No, they didn’t. Haj Mehdi Iraqi was only one who told his memoirs. We were able to record each meeting on two tapes. They were in 30 or 45 minutes.

 

How did you know that late Iraqi has a lot of memoirs?

All of us knew that he was an old fighter.

Moghaddasi: Because the future was not clear yet. Nobody could predict the future, and so he did not want to tell a lot of information. Late Iraqi ordered to Mojahedin organization's members to turn off the recorder. Because it was possible they would run into trouble if wanted to go to Iran.

Shirazi: He was very active in Neauphle-le-Château, because he was as an expert and efficient manager. It is no exaggeration to say that he almost was doing all works of Imam's house and communications, Because Imam put his trust in him. One of the members always drove him to the meeting, and got him back to Neauphle-le-Château at the end of the meeting.

Musa Khan: What time did Mr. Iraqi came to made lecture?

Shirazi: The first meeting was about 10 o'clock at night, and spoke until four or five in the morning. At the first meeting, he should determine the topic of the speech. That is why he stayed in the house "Nasim" until the morning. At the first meeting, the issue "Mashrūtiyyat" (Iranian Constitutional Revolution) was suggested, and finally we agreed on the issue" the event in Shahrivar 1320 (August 1941)". Because he had seen this period in history. The association's members   had bought a yellow Volkswagen van at the price eleven thousand francs which they transported the guests by this car. Abdul Karim Sanai was the driver of the car. And he became Iran's ambassador in Spain after the revolution. Later, Abdullah Goudarzi became the driver of Volkswagen. In that meeting, there were about 25 people such as Mr. Mohammad Hashemi, Kahlil, who was of died fighting businessman, Karim Khodapanahi and the members of association.

Golshan: Did all of friends believe Iraqi as a veteran?

Moghaddasi: Yes, absolutely. These divisions were emerged among friends later.

Musa Khan: In the next meetings, what time did late Iraqi attend in place?

Shirzai: He came at 8 to 9 pm and spoke until 1 am. Although he was doing a lot of work during days, but when he wanted to tell his memories, he used to tell the memories with a strange power. As it is clear in the book, Iraqi had told date, time and name of the persons accurately.

Moghaddasi: One of the successes of the book is that Haj Mehdi Iraqi was honest to tell his memoirs. Second, he had a very good memory. As I was too young, I wondered how Iraq kept in mind these memoirs in details. The value to the book is increased by saying these details. Another factor of this book is the events are ordered by Iraqi well. I think his memoirs include expressional characteristics of a historical memoir.

Golshan: Were you just a listener or ask questions?

 Moghaddasi: No, we did not just a listener, but we asked him questions. In the book, the questions that we generally named as "audience". Because we could not recognize the sound of questioner when we were transcribing the tape.

 

Who were asking questions more than other?

I think, the most of members of the Paris association were asking questions, such as Mr. Rezagholi, Mohtadi and Turkaman.

Moses Khan: At the end of the ten meetings and returning to Iran, what was the fate of the tapes?

Moghaddasi: Tapes were left in Paris. After the revolution, many of the members stayed in Paris and the rest came back to Iran; brother of Mr. Shirazi named Mohammad Reza Shirazi who was almost responsible for all affairs of Paris Association. Therefore, documents of association and the tapes of lectures were left for Mr. Shirazi.

Shirazi: My brother was responsible for Islamic Association of Paris. Due to activity of Mujahidin organization, some struggles took place in their Association. My brother came back Iran in 1986. Mr. Moghaddasi, Dahshur and I said Mr. Shirazi to bring these tapes Iran. The tapes of his memoirs were about a process of events of the Iranian contemporary history and other tapes did not have such feature that is why it was very considerable of Mr. Iraqi. However, when he arrived in Iran, I took him some of the tapes of Association at the airport. Fortunately, the tapes of Haji Mehdi Iraqi were kept out of trouble and we took them. Then three of us went to transcribe the tapes, but, in last step, we made some modifications in tapes that are mentioned in introduction of the book "Untold Words". After prepared final text, there was a problem to publish. Publishers wouldn’t prefer to publish it, because there were some problems with disagreements between Devotees of Islam Organization and Ayatollah Boroujerdi etc. Finally, we found Mr. Naji who was director of cultural services "Rasa", and after reading the text, he showed it to Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mr. Asgaroladi. Mr. Hashemi was agreed that we published the memoirs, but Opposition Coalition wasn’t agreed on it. So it was a problem for Mr. Naji.

 

How did you transcribe the tapes? Did you listen to each tape in a threesome?

Moghaddasi: No, we didn’t. We divided the tapes, and everyone tried to transcribe several tapes. In the end, we controlled each other's texts and we wrote the preface in a threesome. It should be noted, when we finished the transcription of tapes, we initially showed it to Mr. Ezzatollah Sahabi who was in charge of Stock Company of publication. Before, three of us had a research book entitled as "Design and Principles of Economic" that was published by Stock Company of publication. So, we went also there to publish the memoirs of Iraqi. The late Shabani took the book, and after 20 days I went there again. I ask his opinion about the book. He laughed and answered. This book is very interesting, but Ministry of Culture would not allow you to publish it, unless you removed some parts of the book and replaced them with some dots. "Is it possible to do that? I said "This is a corruption in the text". "This is the only way" Sahabi said. "If one word of this book is removed, the memory will lose its value. I'd not rather publish this book and retake it" I said. Then I went to Amir Kabir Publication where was under the Proselytizing Organization. After ten days, I went to visit the manager of the Publication, and he said. "The book is interesting, but there are some words that would not be allowed to publish. Let us remove those materials and publish the book." When I saw the late Shahabi, and as I had greatest respect for him, I spoke to him very respectfully. But, in that time, I had not respected enough, so I said:" If a word is removed from the book, I will prefer not to be published, and it is better to be remained in manuscript until it will be published." then, I decided to go to see Mr. Najian.

 

How did you know Mr. Najian?

Moghaddasi: I became familiar with him by Mr. Mohammed Turkaman, because Mr.Turkaman had published some books in Rasa publication. I took the manuscript of the book him and I said the story of two publications where I went previously there, and as we, three persons, promise ourselves that we would never allow even one word of the text to be deleted. After the reading the book, he agreed to publish the book completely.

 

As you said that the Coalition was opposed the book to be published. So, how was the book "Untold Words" published?

Shirazi: First, Mr. Najian is brother of martyr. His brother was commander of Ministry of Agriculture (Jihad) headquarter during the war. Mr. Najian was well known for his brother. Second, Mr. Najian, at the beginning of the book, wrote the biography of Hajj Mehdi Iraqi, and added some photos in the end of it. This caused the book to be allowed to publish. We should remember that publication of Rasa, in those days, published the books of Vazini. Mr. Najian insisted to see the tapes. He was right, because if someone claimed the book was wrong, the tapes would be an evidence for the book.

 

Where are the tapes now?

Shirazi: Mr. Najian has the tapes.

Golshan: How was the mood of the late Iraqi when he was telling his memoirs?

Shirazi: He spoke in a calm way, not excited, because he was an eyewitness for events. He was calmness sometime and with a laugh.

Moghaddasi: As I mentioned, when he was telling the memoirs, listeners could imagine the history. I think he experienced enough ups and downs in his life; therefor, there was not any sense for him to be excited. He has an affable and cheerful face. He always see himself as same level as the audiences and did not see the issue from a high perspective. If you consider the book, you will find that he, besides respects, had some criticism against Devotees of Islam. Saying these words need courage. You suppose that someone was along with the political events from the beginning, and experienced ups and downs, then he come and tell these words. Of course, Hajj Mehdi was honest with high courage.

Shirazi: I might add that he was eloquent and explained the events in details and precisely, it was very interesting for me.

 

Wasn’t it important for you to have tapes?

Shirazi: To publish the memoirs was important for us. Fortunately we published it. It is very important for you, who are interested to history, to listen the sound and tape. When Hajj Mahdi Iraqi was going to discuss about Mujahidin, he ordered to turn off the recorder.

 

Do you remember his opinions on Mujahidin organization?

Shirazi: He told us his memoirs about relationship with Mujahidin in prison. Interestingly, he spoke, at that time, about Massoud Rajavi and his authoritarian and ungainly behavior in prison. But he agreed with the organization's founders, and he spoke about the memoirs in the prison; setting up the Commission, the events of struggles with Marxists etc.

Moghaddasi: He spoke about the political divisions inside the prison and cells, positions of Muslims with the members of Mujahidin Organization's divaricators and… he spoke especially about the night prayers of Saeed Mohsen and Hanifnjad, and about their faith and beliefs. 

 

Where were you when Hajj Mehdi Iraq was martyred?

Shirazi: I was in Tehran and I was very impressed because we had spent some times with him. It also was very sad situation, when his son, Hessam, was martyred, because he is very quiet, patient and polite. Almost all the members of the Paris association, who returned to Iran, participated in the funeral.

Musa Khan: Thanks for taking your time to interview with us. Thanks a lot.

 


[1] - To read the events of Strike in church of San Hippolyta, see: History of Islamic fighting of Iranian students abroad (Islamic Association of Students in Europe), vol. 5. Preparation and edition: Mojtaba Baghernejad, Tehran: Ettelaat publication, 1395, pp. 81 - 91



 
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