Memories that were not asked; The interviewer historical lack of attention or ignorance

Examples of historical lost opportunities

Jafar Golshan Roghani
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


In the knowledge of history, data is produced or collected in different ways. Recounting the observations or hearings and thoughts of those present at historical events and spaces and places through active dialogue is one of the most important ways to receive historical data that can be called oral history. The significance of the method is that it receives the needed historical data directly through memories and what have not been said by the witnesses. Thus, it is well possible to obtain as much of that data as possible and even extract it from the memory of human beings present in different eras. In view of this significance, it is not improper to say that dialogue with any human witness from historical times is an exceptional opportunity that has fallen into the hands of the interviewer. Therefore, he or she should do his or her best with all his or her intellectual, mental and physical ability to receive valuable historical data from the interview. In other words, any interview with witnesses or activists and influential people of events in Iranian contemporary history is a unique event that has created the conditions of the time for the interviewer and even the interviewer; hence, it is essential to use this event to produce and receive the highest data, because this may not happen again and the interviewee will no longer be able to speak, especially when he or she leaves this world and bury his or her unspoken words.  

Therefore, any oral history interview is of great importance from two points; one is on behalf of the interviewee who has been given the opportunity to recount some of the unspoken things inside his or her chest beyond times and places to add to the treasures of historical data and inform today's audience of yesterday's situation. The other is related to the interviewer, who was once again given the opportunity to talk closely with one of the witnesses or activists and historians of yesterday, and to add a large amount of his or her memoirs and unspoken words to the history of this land.

We should talk about the necessity of realizing the significance of expressing the unspoken words in another place and a lot have been talked about this necessity by the interviewer; But in these lines, we intend to make this clear by citing examples of lost historical opportunities. An example in which both the interviewee and the interviewee fail to adequately and conclusively articulate and receive the data required by contemporary Iranian history and the interest of researchers of revolution. In fact, a special historical opportunity and possibility was lost on both sides, although the role and contribution of the interviewer in this opportunity-burning is far greater than that of the interviewee. The memoirs of the late Zavare'ei were published in 2011 by the Islamic Revolution Document Center, but no interviewer was named. Also, it has not been said in the preamble in what year these memoirs have been taken from him. We can jst understand that due to the death of Seyed Reza Zavare'ei in 1384 solar hijri calendar (2005), these interviews have been conducted before this date. We know that he was born in 1317 (1938) in Varamin near Tehran. At the age of 18, he was employed as a teacher by the Ministry of Culture after graduation from high school. After a few years, he pursued a law degree and became a lawyer. Anti-Pahlavi activities led to his arrest and imprisonment by SAVAK several times. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, he was appointed as the Prosecutor of the Islamic Revolution and played an effective role in prosecuting the perpetrators of the crimes committed by the Pahlavi regime. Until his death, he was a lawmaker and a lawyer, and a member of the Guardian Council.

He can be considered as a witness and activist on 15th of Khordad 1342 (June 5, 1963), who witnessed many events of that day and had an effective participation in it. He, who was 25 years old at the time and was a teacher, recounts that day in a few memoirs of his observations (pages 30 and 31): I came across one of my friends on my way to school in the morning. He said: Do you know that the Agha (Imam Khomeini) has been arrested? I think there will be protests coming soon." He was informed of the protest rally of the people on the noon of the 15th Khordad while he was teaching in a school in Naziabad district in southern Tehran, and since he did not find any vehicle, reached himself on foot to Khorasan Street and Lorzadeh Mosque, a main center of the demonstrations. "Because the bus drivers had transferred their buses to parking from fear of being damaged." He described his memory of that day as the first scene of the incident: "It was a car that was moving, displaying bloody clothes from the window, and its occupants were chanting slogans." He who had reached himself to the demonstrators in Khorasan Square, says in the position of a witness, "People were removing out the iron bars around the square with the help of each other and by shouting Ya Aba al-Fazl, throwing them on the way to cars and did not allow the cars whose occupants had no hijab (veil) to pass by... People broke down a public telephone booth and dumped all their money on the floor, but no one touched them and said it was Haram (religiously forbidden)." "In the evening of that day, in the bazaar area and the current Syrus crossroads, people's blood flowed like rainwater on the ground," said Zavare'ei, who was due to witness the firing on protesters and the martyrdom of a large number of people. "You could see the trace of bloody hands everywhere on the walls," He said.

The main point regarding Zavare'ei memoirs is that he has ended his memoirs by recounting about 150 words from that important and historic day in contemporary history and the Islamic Revolution. This small amount of recollection of that great day raises several questions that the audience deems it necessary to be answered.

1-Why has the narrator sufficed to this extent of expression and has not spoken about the events and happenings and his observations and hearings from that day? Has oblivion overshadowed his mind?

2- Why hasn't the interviewer asked him more questions so that more data and information could be obtained from him and recorded?

3- Has the interviewer not been aware of the aspects and angles of the events of history, including June 6 uprising, and has been unaware of the narrator's special capacity and importance as an observer and activist in those days, as a result of which he has not sought to obtain more memories from the narrator?

4- If the interviewer had knowledge of many contemporary histories, especially the June 6 uprising, and mastered the knowledge of history and its modern understanding and definition, what types of questions could he raise so that the narrator could maximize the narration and expression of the situation from those days?

5- What has happened to this interview that a valuable treasure called Zavare'ei is abandoned and lost with minimal speech?

6-Can we stop the missing of such opportunities? How?

Although this article does not intend to answer the questions raised, it seeks to shed light on some of the interviewee's lack of attention and opportunity-burning and perhaps his ignorance of the new understanding of historical knowledge. In my opinion, Zavare'ei at the age of 25 was undoubtedly one of the most valuable witnesses and narrators of that historic day; A man who was old enough to understand the political, social, religious, and cultural conditions of the country and the people, and with a teaching job, could be aware of the very events and developments of the country and the conditions of ordinary and educated people and other peoples. Since he taught in Tehran's schools, he could recount the mental, intellectual, and emotional state of the students of those years on the one hand; Especially the students who themselves or their families and relatives were in the company of Imam Khomeini's movement or in favor of the government and government programs. On the other hand, he was able to provide valuable information about the amount of participation and the presence or absence of teachers and people of education (the then Ministry of Culture) in the uprising of June 6 or even the opponents of the movement. It is important to know that in those years, the story of the murder of Tehrani teacher Abolhassan Khanali and later the case of Mohammad Derakhshesh as a teacher who was eventually appointed to the Ministry of Culture was of great importance among the educated class. Also, since many students had taken part in the demonstrations and a number of them were martyred or wounded and later were detained and imprisoned, Zavare'ei could speak well about their atmosphere and conditions. Moreover, since he himself had attended the Lorzadeh Mosque, he could have given valuable information from the circumstances of those present in the mosque, the planning of the mosque and the elders and prayer leader of the mosques in those years, namely Sheikh Ali Akbar Borhan, and the spirit dominated over the people who had gathered there and joined the marchers in Khorasan Square. In continuation, the interviewer could have asked Zavare'ei more different and numerous questions about what he had seen when he joined the marchers and passed through Khorasan Square and Street and reached the Shah Square (current Ghiam) and passed in front of Haj Abolfat'h Mosque on Rey Street? This route was one of the main routes of the march on that day that the clique of Tayeb Haj Rezaei also went through it. Furthermore, Haj Abolfat'h Mosque has always been mentioned as one of the main centers of planning, coordination and the start of the march, so Zavare'ei could describe the situation there as he had seen it up close. In continuation, the crowd reached Bouzarjomehri intersection and then moved to Tehran Bazaar, Naser Khosrow Street, Sabzeh Maidan and Ark Square, and the whole memories remained in his memory and the interviewer had to ask him about them. How to organize the march, the diversity of people, groups and classes present at the march, slogans, placards and shouts and the voices of those present, their appearance and typology, how to start military confrontation with the people and the firing and martyrdom and injury of many marchers, how the narrator was saved and not wounded during that terrible battle are among the issues that I wish the interviewer would have asked Zavare'ei and he would have answered them.

In view of the mentioned points and of course, tens of unraised questions and points, it can be concluded that although we are not going to judge about the weak and strong points of the interviewer, it is safe to say that if he, whose name is not known, had special perceptivity, and if he knew that the recognition of the spirits, mindsets, moods, emotions, feelings, thoughts and views of those present at historical events is essential to the data of historical knowledge, certainly he would try to come up with a variety of questions and to play a major role as an interviewer in order to receive valuable data and information and analysis from the narrator, leaving them for the history and the revolution researchers. He would have been able to bring out the spirit of the time in Iran and Tehran and the people of that time, through the young Zavare'ei of those years, and present them to the readers. He would have been able to recount the interests, tastes, the type of views, and the good and bad things of the time and its people and take the audience through the tunnel of time to that period and bring us valuable gifts from time and place and space and concepts and conditions of that time.

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