Like a War-Torn Area

Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi

2023-01-31


I participated in the demonstration for the first time on Tuesday, August 30, 1977 (the 14th of the holy month of Ramadan). In the morning, I heard people had gathered in front of house of Ayatollah Sayyid Abdullah Shirazi. My brother and I went to Naderi Crossroad with the intention of joining the people. The number of people kept increasing, as much as the street became completely closed. The distance between Ayatollah Shirazi's house and Navab School was less than two hundred meters. This distance was full of people. A cleric named Hossein Safaei spoke on behalf of the people. People said we should go and open the door of Navab School just today. Before that, the government forces had stormed Navab School, beaten the clerics, kicked them out, and locked the school's door.

They insisted people to disperse, no one listened to them. A colonel named Farabi, who was from Birjand, took the loudspeaker and spoke to the people. In order to convince the people to follow his request, he pointed out that his father was also a cleric and said: “I’m myself a son of an Ayatollah” and finally asked the people to disperse. Someone stood up to answer him on behalf of the people. Mr. Farabi handed him his hand speaker and said, “here you are, please talk to the speaker.” As soon as that person took the speaker from Farabi, one person of the crowd shouted: “This speaker is Najis (ritually unclean). It is his own speaker. This is unclean. Don't take the speaker from him.” Hearing this statement, the crowd threw the speaker towards Farabi. Another person in the crowd said: “Take the loudspeaker from him. It is not his inheritance. It is for Bayt al-mal (House of Money).” That day, they belittled Colonel Farabi with his stout body and two-meter height.

They brought messages from Ayatollah Shirazi's house and asked people to disperse. This was a reasonable thing to do; because if Ayatollah Shirazi had explicitly supported the people's movement, the regime could have attributed the demonstrations to him and arrested him.

People were gathered there when it was time for the noon call to prayer. They prayed in the same street in Forada (individually) form.

It was said that a number of Ulamas were sitting in Ayatollah Shirazi's house and they were discussing what to do and how to determine the duty of the people. People also wanted to open the door of Navab School without conflict with the request of Ulamas from the government.

There was no news of the Ulama’s decision until 2:00 p.m. People hollered. Mr. Safaei, who was standing in front of the door, shouted: “Messrs Ulamas who sit comfortably at home, people here are waiting for your decision while they are fasting. It is two o'clock in the afternoon. These are not separated. Even if it takes until the night, they would not leave here. They should open the door of the school. If you don't come with us, we will go by ourselves.”

I don't know what happened in the end, Mr. Shirazi or someone else arranged to open the school door with a key and not let the lock be broken. They sent someone with the key to open the door. When the door opened, people entered the school. Some people went to the roof, and inside the house and the roof was full of people.

The area of the Hojreh (stall) was less than twelve square meters; their walls and floors of the stalls were very damp; that's why they were placed half a meter above the ground, that is, all the floors of the stalls were wood. There was an empty space under wood that was dark and littered with trash and paper as far as it could be seen. The school was like a war-torn zone. There were books, robes, and turbans on the floor. Some people cried after seeing these scenes. A number of people were standing at the door of the stalls and said: “Messrs, come and see what they have done. Come and see the Shah's civilization! See where the seminary students lived! Is life in these damp rotten rooms better than in prison? They are not allowed even to live here.”

There, Mr. Hasheminejad gave a speech to the people. The issue was the issue of the Shah's military dealings with the people. He said: “People don't want you. People want to determine their duties themselves. You can't silence people anymore. These people cannot be silent. It is better for you to come to your senses.” Mr. Hasheminejad was so angry that he punched the table during his speech. In the end, he said: “In order not to accuse us of rioting, I request the gentlemen to go out quietly and not do anything so that they don’t make some excuse.” Some people had left the school and some were leaving. I was still inside the school when the terrible sound of cannon fire was heard. Everyone said: “it is blank, it is blank!” It was the same. It was a blank cartridge. They wanted to scare people, but no one was afraid.

As soon as the people left Navab School, they demonstrated next to the tanks and went to Tabrasi Street. Their slogan was death to the Shah and peace to Khomeini. The military forces fired tear gas to disperse the people. The crowd was roaring like a flood. Some went and some others came. Before reaching Tabrasi Square, military forces came to stop the people. A soldier was hitting one of the demonstrators with a gunstock to go back. He also got into a fight with the soldier. They shot him there and he died a martyr. I asked his name and address. They said: he is a teacher named Hassanzadeh. Another person was martyred in the demonstration on the same day. Anyone who died a martyr, they took his body on their hands, walked around the street, and carried it to the house of Ayatollah Shirazi. When the corpses of the martyrs were taken there it was time for the Maghrib call to prayer. The crowd gradually dispersed and went to their homes. The door of Navab School remained open and the regime did not try to close it again.

 

Source: Zangoui, Majid (2019) Master Ali: Memories of Mohammad Ali Pardel [in Persian: Osta Ali: Khaterat-e Mohammadali Pardel]. Tehran, Sooreh Mehr Publication, pp. 149-152.



 
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