18 June 2011

Outline of the Iranian Revolution and the early Islamic Republic

“The Green Movement’s main goal has always been to revive the ideals and aspirations of Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution.” -  Mir Hossein Moussavi Khamenei, 14 February 2011 (25 Bahman 1389)

“I remain faithful to the ideals of Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution of 1357 (1979).” - Mehdi Karroubi, 14 February 2011 (25 Bahman 1389)

“Our position has been and [always] will be clear: Islam, revolution and the Islamic Republic.” – Mohammad Khatami, 12 January 2010 (22 Dey 1388)

Since Mir Hossein Moussavi Khamenei, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami, have called repeatedly for a return to the “ideals of Imam Khomeini” and the “Golden Age” of the Islamic Republic, I thought it might be an excellent idea to examine just what those are.

This record shows that the Revolution of 1357 (1979) was Iranian, not Islamic, and democratic rather than being the perversion of democracy which now sits on the throne.  It was the clique known as the Maktabis, or Followers of the Line of the Imam, which formed the lead of every program and atrocity committed by the regimes throughout its first decade.  

The Iranian Revolution begins

Initial protests are carried out mostly by middle-class intellectuals, human rights lawyers, secular politicians, and university students, aiming at restoring constitutional government. The most prominent slogan of the revolution until late fall of 1978 is, “Esteghlal! Azadi! Edalat-e Ejtemaee!” (Independence! Freedom! Social Justice!), first coined by former prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and the slogan of the National Front.

On Nowrooz, the Iranian New Year on 21 March, 1977, prominent dissident Al Asghar Javadi of the Writers Association writes an open letter to the Shah of over 200 pages analyzing the problems of the country, calling for a return to constitutional government and warning of dire consequences if drastic reforms were not carried out.

In June 1977, police are sent to clear slums in South Tehran. Thousands of residents fight back for weeks.

On 12 June 1977, nationalist leaders, including Karim Sanjabi of the second National Front, Shahpour Bakhtiar of the Iran Party, Dariush Forouhar of the Party of the Iranian Nation, Mehdi Bazargan of the Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI), and others send an open letter to the Shah criticizing his economic policies and human rights record, demanding freedom for political prisoners and the press, and calling for free elections and an end to corruption.

Afterwards, five prominent nationalist leaders (Sanjabi, Bazargan, Foruhar, Ali Asghar Javadi , Moqaddam Maraghehi of the Radical Movement) begin meeting weekly to discuss ways to coordinate nationalist activities.

On the same day, 12 June 1977, prominent members of the Writer’s Guild criticize the government for its strict censorship in a letter to Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveida.

On 19 June 1977, Ali Shariati, one of the leading intellectuals in Iran and a leading member of the Freedom Movement, dies in a London hospital after three months in exile following 18 months of solitary confinement. Many in the opposition suspect the Shah’s regime of foul play, others suspect religious extremists such as Fedayan-e Islam.

On 20 June 1977, University students and teachers hold a memorial for Shariati in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar.

In July 1977, workers set fire to the General Motors plant in Tehran.

On 27 August 1977, over 50,000 demonstrators in South Tehran drive the police and the bulldozers from their streets, putting an end to the Shah’s plans for urban redevelopment.

The resurrection of Khomeini

From his long-term exile in Najaf, Iraq, on 1 October 1977, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Mostafavi Moussavi Khomeini exhorts the Shia clergy in Iran to get involved in the anti-Shah protest movement.

Shortly after this, Ayatollahs Mohammad Beheshti, Morteza Motahhari, Mohammad Reza Madavi Kani, and Mohammad Mofatteh, and Hojat al-Islams Mohammad Javad Bahonar, Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammad Khatami, and Medhi Karroubi establish the Combatant Clergy Association (CCA).

In early October 1977, Tehran bazaaris, led by Abolghasem Lebaschi, Mahmoud Maniyan, and Mohammad Shanehchi, reestablish the National Front-aligned Society of Merchants, Guilds, and Artisans of the Tehran Bazaar.

Beginning 10 October 1977, the Iranian Writers Guild holds Ten Nights of Poets and Writers at the Goethe Institute in Tehran.

On 21 October 1977, Ayatollah Mostafa Khomeini dies of a heart attack in Najaf. His death sets off the first militant Islamic anti-Shah demonstrations, and also helps bring his long-exiled father, the Grand Ayatollah, back into the spotlight.

On 29 October 1977, the Grand Bazaar of Tehran holds a day of mourning for Mostafa Khomeini, in effect a strike.

On 2 November 1977, secular and "national-religious" activists issue a ten-point statement of "national demands", including freedom of the press and of speech, "full implementation of the Constitution", independence of the judiciary, free elections,  release of political prisoners, and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The student movement begins

At a poetry night at the Industrial University in Tehran on 15 November 1977, Saeed Saltanpour speaks of repression after his reading and students respond with a sit-in, the first of the anti-Shah movement. The next day students march in the streets shouting anti-Shah slogans, joined by the bazaaris. One student is killed by the security forces.

On 21 November 1977, students from Industrial University and many other universities across Tehran hold a day of mourning for the student killed five days earlier. The Grand Bazaar closes in support.

On 22 November 1977, bazaaris in Tehran gather to observe Eid-e Gorban and invite members of the National Front in addition to a religious speaker. SAVAK sends 750 agents to break up the meeting. Bazaaris in Mashhad, Isfahan, Khorramshahr, Shiraz, Qom, Abadan, and four other cities conduct similar actions during this period.

On 7 December 1977, Karim Sanjani of the National Front and Mehdi Bazargan of the Freedom Movement announce the formation of the Iranian Committee for the Defense of Freedom and Human Rights (ICDFHR). The association, brainchild of Ayatollah Abolfazl Janjani and Fatollah Banisadr (brother of the later president), soon becomes the most important nationalist force in the revolution, partly due the its leaders having consulted with the politically active clergy prior to its foundation.

On 11 December 1977, Dariush Forouhar announces in Tehran that the National Front has reconstituted itself as the Union of National Front Forces, with himself as spokesman and Karim Sanjabi as chairman. The new organization includes his own Nation of Iran Party, Bakhtiar’s Iran Party, and Khalil Maleki’s Society of Iranian Socialists.

The religious elements join the rising

A letter is published in the Milliyet newspaper in Iran on 7 January 1978, accusing Grand Ayatollah Khomeini of being the agent of a foreign power.

On 9 January 1978, mass demonstrations of students break out in Qom, calling for the removal of the Shah. Several are killed in clashes with police.

On 10 January 1978, the Grand Bazaar closes in protest over the deaths of the students and issues a formal statement condemning the government.

On 19 January 1978, the Grand Bazaar closes to observe the final day of the week of mourning called for by Khomeini.

A cycle of demonstrations

On 18 February 1978, a mass demonstration against the Shah commemorating the 40th day after the deaths of the Qom students takes place in Tabriz, one of many across the country, breaking out into riots that take two days to quell.

The same day, bazaars in over 30 cities have closed to take part.

In March 1978, workers at the Azmayesh plant in Tehran strike against redundancies and 600 gardeners employed by the oil industry in Iran strike for increased wages.

On 29 March 1978, demonstrations are held in several cities to commemorate the 40th day after the deaths of those killed in Tabriz, with several killed by police in Yazd.

In April 1978, 2000 brick industry workers strike in Tabriz.

In an interview with Le Monde on 6 May 1978, Khomeini says, “We will not collaborate with Marxists, even in order to overthrow the Shah. I have given specific instructions to my followers not to do this. We are opposed to their ideology and we know that they always stab us in the back. If they came to power, they would establish a dictatorial regime contrary to the spirit of Islam.” He further states his goal is the establishment of an Islamic republic based on an amended version of the 1906 constitution.

On 10 May 1978, demonstrations commemorating the 40th day after the deaths in Yazd take place in several cities. Imperial commandos burst into the Qom home of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari, leading marja-e taqlid in the country, and kill one of his followers. Shariatmadari, until then neutral, joins the protest movement. Several are killed around the country.

A wave of strikes by workers and bazaaris

Sporadic strikes occur between June and August 1978, with wide-scale strikes in the public sector beginning in September.

Bazargan's National-Islamic Front coalition calls for a general strike on the anniversary of the protests against the Shah’s White Revolution on 3 June 1963. Secular groups support their call in the interest of movement unity. In most cities, the bazaar shuts down.

On 20 June 1978, protestors hold 40th day commemorations of those killed on 10 May, but there is little violence because Shariatmadari has asked they be held in mosques rather than in the streets.

On 22 July 1978, a funeral for a local cleric in Mashhad who died in an auto accident turns into a riot in which police kill more than forty mourners.

On 29 July 1978, memorial services for the Mashhad dead takes place in in almost every major city and town, many dissolving into riots.

On 1 August 1978, anti-government demonstrations in ten cities result in 7 deaths and 115 arrests.

On 7 August 1978, the Shah replaces Prime Minister Hoveida with Jamshid Amouzegar, chairman of the official Rastakhiz Party, established by the Shah in 1975.

On 11 August 1978, riots in the city of Isfahan that last all day result in the imposition of martial law in the city, which two days later is extended to the rest of the province.

On 16 August 1978, the Grand Bazaar in Tehran is closed when shopkeepers go on strike.

On 19 August 1978, the anniversary of the 1953 coup d’etat against Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, more than 400 people die in a fire at the Rex Cinema in Abadan that is set by student religious dissidents.

A government of reconciliation?

The Shah replaces Amouzegar with Jafar Sharif Emami on 27 August 1978, intending that he head up a government of national reconciliation.

During his tenure, Prime Minister Emami allows political parties to be openly active once again, abolishes the Rashakhiz Party, and returns the old calendar. In deference to the religious element among the movement, he also dismisses all employees of the judiciary who are of the Bahai community and closes casinos and gambling houses in the country.

On 2 September 1978, 2,700 workers at the Tabriz auto plant strike, as do 700 of Iran Transfor in Tehran.

On 4 September 1978, more than 100,000 people take part in public prayers at the end of Ramazan, Eid al-Fitr, jointly sponsored by the clerics, National Front, Freedom Movement, and Society of Merchants, Guilds, and Artisans. Attendees carry pictures of Khomeini, Shariatmadari, Mosaddegh, Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani, and Shariati. The prayers quickly turn into anti-government protests that continue over the next three days, growing larger and more radical.

The same day 4,500 workers at an Ahvaz steel factory strike.

On 5 September, workers at the Arak auto plant strike.

Martial law

The government declares martial law on the evening of 7 September 1978 after the protesting crowds grow to over 500,000, many crying “Death to the Pahlavis!” and “We want an Islamic republic!”.

The next day, 8 September 1978, troops fire on demonstrators in Jaleh Square, killing 88 (according to official figures). The massacre becomes known as “Black Friday”.

The same day, workers in the water installations of the city of Mashhad and of the province of Fars strike.

On 9 September 1978, 700 workers at the Tehran oil refinery strike against the imposition of martial law.

On 10 September 1978, soldiers fire at demonstrators against martial law in the city of Qom, killing some of them.

The same day, workers and technicians in an Isfahan iron foundry strike.
On 11 September 1978, workers at the oil refineries in Abadan, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, and other cities strike for the same reasons as their brothers and sisters in Tehran.

Also on that day, troops fire on anti-martial law demonstrators in Mashhad and Qom, killing two in the first city and three in the second.

On 12 September 1978, 4,000 print workers and other staff at two leading newspapers in Tehran walk out over renewed censorship imposed by the military governor.

On 13 September 1978, cement workers in Tehran strike for higher wages, freedom for political prisoners, and an end to martial law.

In all, some 30,000 workers stop work in September.

On 17 September 1978, the Majlis imposes martial law on twelve cities by a vote of 155 to 22, with the minority walking out.

On 24 September 1978, oil workers in Ahvaz strike.

Strikes increase

As the strikes continue in number and length, workers form strike committees, following the lead of the oil workers who are the first to do so.

On 1 October 1978, employees of the Bank Melli of Iran strike.

On 4 October 1978, postal workers across the country strike nationwide. Workers at Vanak Hospital, Shiraz Medical School, Sari Regional Electric Works, bank of Eatebarat, state-owned tobacco monopoly, electricity installations in Tehran and other cities, Azarabadgan Hospital in Tabriz, and regional security works in Abadan strike the same day.

On 5 October 1978, Vice President of Iraq Saddam Hussein expels Khomeini from Najaf over his political activities. He finds refuge in Neauphle-le-Château outside Paris, France, where his headquarters is managed by Abolhassan Banisadr (press relations), Sadegh Ghotbzadeh (routine matters), and Ebrahim Yazdi (political affairs).

On 6 October 1978, rail-workers in Zahedan, 40,000 steel workers in Isfahan, copper mine workers in Sar Cheshmesh and Rafsanjan, along with workers in Abadan Petrochemical, Isfahan Post and Telegraph Company, and all branches of the Bank of Shahriar strike.

By 7 October 1978, strikes by teachers have gone nationwide. On this day, workers at all the oil refineries, Royal Air Services, Iranit factory in Ray, the customs office in Jolfa, Department of Navigation and Port Affairs of Bandar Shahpour, Tractor Sazi in Tabriz, radio and TV stations in Rezayeh, 80 industrial units in Isfahan, a steel-mill in Bafgh, judiciary employees throughout the country, and employees of the Finance Department in Maragheh go on strike.

On 8 October 1978, workers at Zamyad plant in Tehran, General Motors, Plan and Budget Organisation, and railroad in Zahedan strike, among others, totaling 65 new strikes in all.

On the same day, there is rioting in several towns, and police in Tehran clash with university students.

On 9 October 1978, riots in the northern Mazandaran cities of Amol and Babol leaves three dead from the government crackdown.

The same day, there are 110 new strikes across the country.

On 11 October 1978, employees of the EttelatKeyhan, and Ayandegan newspapers strike, protesting against censorship. The Tehran Journal reports that over 65,000 government employees are now on strike.

That evening troops kill 3 students demonstrating outside Tehran University.

On 13 October 1978, the government grants the demands of the striking journalists.

After this, as reported by the newspaper Ayandegan, “The Canada Dry factory, the ports and shipyards in Khorramshahr, the Iran Kaveh plant, the fisheries of Bandar Pahlavi, Minoo factory, Vian Shre plant, Gher Ghere-i Ziba, all workers in Gilan province, 2,000 brick-makers in Tabriz, oil-workers in Abadan and Ahwaz, in the pipe plant and Machin Sazi in Saveh, 40,000 workers of Behshar Industrial Group throughout the country, bus-drivers in Rezay and communications workers in Kermashah join the strike in rapid succession.”

The bazaar in Tehran and those in most of the cities in the rest of the country also strike for ten days in October 1978.

During the two years of demonstrations and protests that lead up to the February Revolution, the bazaaris strike forty-three times.

On 16 October 1978, the 40th day commemoration of those killed on Black Friday is held in cities across Iran. Some are killed at the mosque in Kerman.

On 19 October 1978, Khomeini says he is prepared to urge his followers to an armed uprising to overthrow the Shah and urges people the go to their rooftops every night and chant “Allahu Akbar!”.

On 22 October 1978, six people are killed by police gunfire in Hamadan and Bushehr.

On 26 October 1978, the Shah’s 59th birthday celebrations are greeted with street rioting in Tehran and other cities.

On 29 October 1978, the strike committee of the oil workers in Khuzestan province, including those at Kharg Island, issues the following demands: an end to martial law; full solidarity and co-operation with striking teachers; unconditional release of all political prisoners; Iranization of the oil industry; all communications to be in Persian; all foreign employees of the oil industry to leave the country; an end to discrimination against female staff employees; implementation of a law recently passed on the housing of all workers and staff employees; support for demands of production workers; dissolution of SAVAK; punishment of corrupt high government officials and ministers; reduced manning schedule for offshore drilling.

On 2 November 1978, Italy’s Paese Sera quotes Khomeini saying, “In Iran’s Islamic government the media have the freedom to express all Iran’s realities and events and people have the freedom to form any form of political party and gathering that they like.”

The National Front joins forces with Khomeini

On 4 November 1978, troops from the army invade Tehran University, killing at least 65 students and injuring even more, after students try to topple a statue of the Shah.

The same day, National Front leader Karim Sanjabi flies to France and meets with Khomeini, agreeing to the removal of the Shah and establishment of a government that would be both democratic and Islamic. Previously, the National Front’s position favored a constitutional monarchy with the Shah as a figurehead.

Hereafter, the protestors’ slogan borrowed from the National Front, “Esteghlal! Azadi! Edalat-e Ejtemaee!”, begins to be replaced with “Esteghlal! Azadi! Jomhuri-e Eslami!” (Independence! Freedom! Islamic Republic!).

On 5 November 1978, riots break out in Tehran and demonstrators ransack and burn government buildings, banks, stores, cinemas, nightclubs, hotels and liquor stores. They also set fire to the British Embassy, causing extensive damage. The American embassy is attacked too, but police drive off the attackers.

On 6 November 1978, UK’s Guardian quotes Khomeini as saying, “Women are free in Islamic Republic in the selection of their activities, future and their clothing.”

Military government

Also on 6 November 1978, Prime Minister Emami resigns, and the Shah replaces him with Major General Gholam Reza Azhari to head a military government.

Bazaars across the country respond by closing, most from anywhere from three weeks (Yazd) to seventy-five days (Isfahan). The bazaar in Tabriz, already been closed down for two weeks, remains on strike for over four months. That of Khomein stays closed for four months. The Grand Bazaar of Tehran stays closed until the following February.

The same day, 6 November 1978, the Shah addresses the nation, promising to correct past mistakes and urging order for this to take place. He also arrests 132 former leaders and officials, including former prime minster Hoveida, and releases from prison over 1,000 political prisoners, including Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri Najafabadi and Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani.

Immediately upon his release, Taleghani sets up an office for meetings of the Freedom Movement and the National Front, communication with Khomeini in Paris, and coordination for labor strikes and mass demonstrations.

The oil strike ends, temporarily, on 7 November 1978, having lasted 33 days, after the army forces workers off the picket lines.

Strikes and demonstrations become common and widespread after this, but surprisingly the military-dominated government does not use force to bring government workers back to their jobs.

On 8 November 1978, United Press International reports that Khomeini declares, “I have repeatedly said the neither my desire nor my age nor position allow me to govern.”

On 24 November 1978, troops kill 15 people suppressing demonstrations in Shiraz.

On 27 November 27 1978, millions throughout the country celebrate after allegedly seeing Khomeini's face in the moon, a story embraced by the Tudeh.

On 28 November 1978, Prime Minister Azhari announces that processions during the Muslim holy month of Moharram are banned.

The country grinds to a halt

On 1 December 1978, devout Muslims in Tehran defying the ban on public processions are fired upon by troops of the government. Rioting breaks out and lasts for three days.

On 2 December 1978, oil workers in the south strike.

Workers in Bandar Abbas Steel Complex, lsfahan Iron Refinery, Kerman Copper and Coal mines, railways throughout the country, Arj Factory, Iran National Automobile Factory, Benz-e Khavar Auto, Bafandeh-e Souzani Knitting Factory, General Factory, and Tobacco Monopoly soon join them.

On 3 December 1978, the national strike committee of the oil workers meets with the head of the National Iranian Oil Company, but negotiations fail.

On 4 December 1978, all workers in the oil industry all across Iran strike.

On 10 & 11 December 1978, Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, Tabriz, and other cities see several million demonstrate against the Shah, reportedly the largest mass demonstrations in world history. They are sponsored by the clergy, the bazaar, the Freedom Movement, and the ICDFHR. Several are killed in Isfahan during riots which destroy liquor stores, hotels, restaurants, the town hall, and five banks.

On 15 December 1978, Prime Minister Azhari tells U.S. Ambassador William Sullivan, “You must know this and you must tell it to your government. This country is lost because the Shah cannot make up his mind.”

On 17 December 1978, all political parties and the ICDFHR issue a joint statement demanding the end to the monarchy.

On 27 December 1978, Iran Air is grounded by a strike that is “total and indefinite”.

The Azhari government collapses on 31 December 1978.

The same day a central council is established among 23 organizations to coordinate the strikes. They issue a statement recognizing Khomeini as “leader of the people’s anti-imperialist, anti-autocratic movement”.

The final phase of the Iranian Revolution

The Shah appoints Shapour Bakhtiar as Prime Minister on 3 January 1979. Bakhtiar is almost immediately expelled from the National Front. He quickly frees the press and the remaining 900 political prisoners, relaxes martial law, lifts censorship of newspapers, and dissolves SAVAK. He also requests three months to put together a constituent assembly to decide the future government of Iran.

On 7 January 1979, the National Front holds a memorial for Gholamreza Takhti, a member who died at the hands of SAVAK in 1968, along with those who have died in demonstrations the past month. Thousands attend, including Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani.

On 11 January 1979, crowds in Shiraz attack the U.S. Consulate and burn down SAVAK headquarters; eleven are killed in the rioting.

The Council of Islamic Revolution is formed 12 January 1979, with the following members appointed by Khomeini: Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (CCA); Mohammad Beheshti (CCA); Morteza Motahhari (CCA); Mohammad Javad Bohanar (CCA); Abdolkarim Moussavi Ardebili (CCA); and Mir Hossein Moussavi Khamenei (Movement of Militant Muslims, or MMM). The rest include: Mehdi Bazargan (FMI); Abolhassan Bani Sadr (IND); Mahmoud Taleghani (FMI); Ali Hosseini Khamenei (CCA); Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani (CCA); Yadollah Sahabi (FMI); Ezzatollah Sahabi (FMI); Ebrahim Yazdi (FMI); Sadegh Qobtzadeh (National Front); Mostafa Katirayi (IND); Ahmad Sadr Javadi (FMI); Valyollah Qarani (Army), Ali Asghar Masoudi (Ministry of Defense), Ali Akbar Moinfar (IND), Habibollah Peyman (MMM); and Hassan Habibi (FMI).

The Shah and his family depart on 16 January 1979.

On 19 January 1979, a million people march through the streets of Tehran demanding an Islamic Republic.

On 25 January 1979, a large demonstration marches through the streets to the Majlis in support of the Bakhtiar government. Similar demonstrations take place in other cities across the country as well.

On 28 January 1979, Bakhtiar receives an offer from Khomeini that if he resigns as the Shah’s prime minister, Khomeini will immediately appoint him as Prime Minister of the interim government. Bakhtiar declines on advice of U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Khomeini returns to Iran

On 1 February 1979, Khomeini arrives from France accompanied by Abolhassan Banisadr, Sadegh Qobtzadeh, Morteza Motahhari, Ahmad Khomeini, Ebrahim Yazdi, and others.

According to Agence France Presse, he is met by “a reception committee at the airport to greet the Ayatollah, consisting of representatives of the country’s religious and secular opposition forces. Turbaned clerics jostled with suit-clad liberals and Marxist opponents, struggling to get close to the stern-looking cleric, now the most powerful man in Iran”.

According to BBC, over five million Iranians show up at the airport to greet him and line the streets on his way to Behesh Zahra cemetary.

Khomeini forms the Provisional Revolutionary Government on 4 February 1979 with Medhi Bazargan of the FMI as Prime Minister.  Ezzatollah Sahabi, Yazdi, Qobtzadeh, Katirayi, Javadi. Qarani, Masoudi, Moinfar, Peyman, and Habibi also take positions in the government, resigning from the Council of the Islamic revolution when they do.  This leaves Rafsanjani, Beheshti, Motahhari, Bohanar, Moussavi Ardebili, Moussavi Khamenei, Bani Sadr, Taleghani, Khamenei, Yadollah Sahabi, and Mahdavi Kani on the Council.

On 9 February 1979, cadets and technicians at the Dawshan Tappeh air base near Jaleh Square mutiny against their officers. Mojahedin-e Khalq and Fedayan-e Khalq guerrillas prevent the rising from being crushed. Defying orders from clerical leaders, they and the mutineers begin distributing weapons and barricading Jaleh Square.

On 10 February 1979, the majority of the army announces they will not intervene in the dispute between the Bakhtiar government and Khomeini’s Provisional Revolutionary Government. Leftist guerrillas and Islamic revolutionaries battle alongside rebel troops against forces still loyal to the Shah.

Bakhtiar resigns as the Shah’s Prime Minister and leaves for France on 11 February 1979, a day now observed as Revolution Day in Iran. The Iranian Revolution ends.

The shora movement

After the Revolution, workers in the oil industry transform their strike committees into shoras along the lines of Russian Revolution-era soviets (“councils”), to take control of their workplaces. The shora movement soon spreads as other workers emulate them.

Meanwhile, peasants take inspiration from the factory and industry workers to organize their own shoras to take on the landlords.

On 12 February 1979, Khomeini announces to formation of a Central Revolutionary Komiteh under the aegis of Ayatollah Madavi-Kani over all Komitehs in the country. These Komitehs are responsible for some of the worst excesses of the early days of the Islamic regime.

On 14 February 1979, Prime Minister Bazargan announces seven members of his new cabinet, which eventually grows to a deputy prime minister and 19 ministers, none of whom are clerics.

Also on this day, the Fedayan-e Khalq overrun the U.S. Embassy. Deputy Prime Minister Yazdi arrives an hour later and convinces them to leave.

On 15 February 1979, Mojahedin-e Khalq leader Massoud Rajavi meets with Khomeini and agrees to back his program completely.

On 16 February 1979, a group of Turkoman intellectuals forms the Political and Cultural Headquarters of the Turkoman People.

On 17 February 1979, the Grand Bazaar of Tehran finally reopens.

The Khomeinist counter-revolution begins

The Islamic Republic Party is founded 18 February 1979 by Mohammad Beheshti, Mir Hossein Moussavi Khamenei, Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammad Bohanar, Abdolkarim Moussavi Ardabili, Hassan Ayat, Mohammad Ali Rajai, and Hassan Habibi.

To act as enforcers and terrorize its opponents, the IRP secretly organizes the Hezbollah, the Party of God. The IRP denies any connections to the actions of the Hezbollahis, while in fact, they are supervised by IRP member Hadi Ghaffari on orders of its Central Committee.

On 24 February 1979, Khomeini appoints Hojat al-Islam Sadegh Khalkhali to be the “sharia ruler”, heading up the Central Revolutionary Court in Tehran, with jurisdiction over the whole country.

On 25 February 1979, the Muslim Peoples Republican Party is founded by Grand Ayatollah Shariatmadari, whose views on Islamic government are much more liberal than Khomeini’s. He believes in a secular democracy and disagrees vehemently with Khomeini’s ideas about velayet-e faqih.

Khomeini begins dismantling women’s rights

On 26 February 1979, Khomeini discards the Family Protection Act.

On 1 March 1979, Khomeini “retires” to his home in Qom.

On 3 March 1979, Hedayatollah Matin-Daftari founds the National Democratic Front.

On 5 March 1979, over one million people gather at a rally in Ahmadabad sponsored by the National Front, National Democratic Front, Mojahedin-e Khalq, and Fedayan-e Khalq to commemorate the death of former prime minister Mosaddegh in 1967.

The same day 4 generals, 2 colonels, and 1 civilian are executed by firing squad after a secret trial by a revolutionary tribunal.

On 7 March 1979, Khomeini demands that the Provisional Government prohibit unveiled women from working in or entering into government buildings. He also dismisses all female judges, including Shirin Ebadi.

After seeing Khomeini’s real plans for women under the Islamic Republic, thousands of women march on International Women’s Day, 8 March 1979.

For days, thousands of women across Iran march against abolition of the Family Protection Act, reinstitution of forced hijab, and other assaults on their liberties. Groups of Hezbollahis attack demonstrators in Tehran, Shiraz, Bandar Abbas, Tabriz and other cities. Men in the leftist and liberal opposition abandon them under the idea that their struggle is secondary to the larger class struggle and/or fight for a democratic system.

Executions continue

On 9 March 1979, 2 more senior military officers are executed by firing squad.

In an interview with Keyhan on 11 March 1979, Grand Ayatollah Taleghani states, "Hijab is not mandatory, even for Muslim women, let alone for religious minorities…We do not say women shouldn't go to offices, and nobody else is saying it either. This was an advice from Ayatollah Khomeini. He is just like a father who advises his children and suggests to them to follow certain rules”.

This statement and another from Abolfazi Moussavi Zanjani, Tehran’s public prosecutor, that those who disturb unveiled women will be severely punished abates the growing unrest.

On 13 March 1979, 13 more individuals connected to the Shah’s regime are executed by firing squad, including two civil servants of the state television and radio network for “intellectualizing the Shah’s regime”.

On 14 March 1979, despite Prime Minister Bazargan’s protests, another five people are executed, including another general.

On 16 March 1979, Khomeini orders a halt to all trials by the Central Revolutionary Court in Tehran, and a suspension of all sentences by regional courts. Sixty-five persons so far have been executed.

Construction of the Islamic Republic begins

On 18 March 1979, Khomeini establishes the Mostazafin Foundation to replace the Pahlavi Foundation, transferring all its predecessor’s assets along with those of the Pahlavi family remaining in Iran. Its first chair is Ali Naqi Khamushi.

On 26 March 1979, Turkoman partisans and Fedayan-e Khalq members seize the police station in Gonbad Kavous, taking eighteen hostages, sparking several days of clashes in which 85 people are killed.

A national referendum is held on 30 & 31 March 1979, to choose between establishing an Islamic Republic and continuing the constitutional monarchy. Voting is not by secret ballot, and the result is 98.2% in favor. The National Democratic Front and most leftist groups, except the Tudeh and the Mojahedin-e Khalq, boycott.

The Islamic Republic is proclaimed on 1 April 1979.

On 2 April 1979, the Council of Islamic Revolution promulgates new regulations for the Revolutionary Courts to try, convict, and execute or imprison enemies of the regime.

On 7 April 1979, former prime minister Hoveida, after being convicted by Khalkhali’s court and sentenced to death, is shot twice in the back by Hadi Ghaffari in the yard of Evin Prison before reaching the site of executions, who finishes the deed with a coup de grace.

In the month of April 1979, Behzad Nabavi, a former National Front and later Tudeh then Mojahedin-e Khalq activist turned Khomeinist and a founder of the Revolutionary Komitehs, forms the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution from the union of six armed Islamist militia groups to support the Revolution.

May Day Uprising

On 1 May 1979, an assassin from the Guruh-e Furqan kills Morteza Motahhari, chairman of the Council of Islamic Revolution.

That same day, International Workers Day, more than 1.5 million workers march in the streets of Tehran. Workers and unemployed persons seize the building of the former official trade union federation and rename it the Workers’ House, then declare a general strike.

Three days later the Provisional Revolutionary Government demands the workers return to work, but they refuse and the strike spreads.

On 6 May 1979, Khomeini forms the Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami, or Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, under the overall command of Ali Danesh Monfared. One function of the Sepahi is to crush any influence of secular forces within the komitehs, and another is to force out the worker-organized shoras and replace them with “Islamic” shoras.

Shortly after this, Mohammad Montazeri, son of the Ayatollah, and Mehdi Hashemi, brother of his son-in-law, establish within the Sepah the mostly autonomous Office of Islamic Liberation Movements.

On 22 May 1979, Prime Minister Bazargan calls for a general amnesty now that over 200 persons have been executed.

On 24 May 1979, Khomeini establishes the Special Clerical Courts to handle criminal acts by members of the clergy. Two years later, he abolishes the SCC at the urging of Ayatollah Montazeri, who is concerned about the lack of appeal from its verdicts.

On 26 May 1979, Khomeini decrees that insulting the clergy is a crime to be tried by the Revolutionary Courts, adding another provision falsely posing as a clergyman can be punishable by death.

On 18 June 1979, Khomeini introduces a proposed constitution drafted by the Bazargan government and based on that of the Fifth French Republic, close to the 1906 constitution of Iran and gives little role for clerics. He is ready to submit the constitution unchanged for a national referendum but gives in when the leftists protest vigorously that it should be reviewed by a constituent assembly.

Ethnic tensions

The shora movement peaks in July 1979, but then begins a rapid decline, being replaced in most locales with “Islamic” shoras. However, the government soon loses control of them.

On 12 July 1979, three women convicted of organizing prostitution are executed in Tehran, the first women to go before a firing squad.

The same day, separatist demonstrations in Khorramshahr take place, beginning a campaign for autonomy that lasts several months.

On 15 July 1979, protests in Khorramshahr break out into violence.

On 21 July 1979, Hezbollahis destroy the headquarters of the National Front.

On 8 August 1979, the Chief Prosecutor bans the leading left newspaper Ayandegan.

The National Democratic Front is banned on 13 August 1979 and Hezbollahis destroy its headquarters.

The same day, Hezbollahis in Tehran attack the headquarters of the Fedayan-e Khlaq, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Tudeh.

On 16 August 1979, an uprising begins in Kordistan when rebels, supported by Fedayan-e Khalq guerrillas, seize the city of Paveh.

The Assembly of Experts is established on 18 August 1979 to review the proposed constitution or draft a new constitution entirely.

On 19 August 1979, Khomeini issues a fatwa declaring a jihad against the Kurdish people after several clashes resulting from a separatist uprising, naming himself commander-in-chief of the armed forces in the same announcement.

Forty-one opposition newspapers are closed on 20 August 1979.

In Qom on 30 August 1979, Khomeini declares, “Those who are trying to bring corruption and destruction to our country in the name of democracy will be broken…they must be hanged. We will oppress them by God’s order and God’s call to prayer.”

On 2 September 1979, Sepahis under Hojat al-Islam Gholamreza Hassani, Friday prayer leader in Urmia, attack the neutral Kurdish village of Qarna, killing 68 unarmed men, women, children, infants, and elderly people. This is a first of a series of 14 massacres of unarmed Kurdish noncombatants through 1983, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

On 3 September 1979, the Sepahi enter the Kurdish city of Mahabad, the principal center of Kurdish resistance. In the past three weeks of fighting, over 600 have been killed.

On 6 September 1979, government troops capture the city of Sardasht, the last stronghold of the Kurdish separatist fighters. But the fighting continues.

In his last public speech that same day, popular Ayatollah Taleghani ends with, “May God forbid autocracy under cover of religion. Let us join our voices with the people and the suffering masses”.

On 8 September 1979, the country’s two biggest newspapers, Keyhan and Ettlaat, are seized and transferred to the Mostazafin Foundation.

On 9 September 1979, Ayatollah Taleghani dies under suspicious circumstances.

On 10 September 1979, a national meeting of Islamic Student Associations from around the country establishes the Office for the Consolidation of Unity (OCU) as an umbrella group. Two members of its central council are Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mohsen Kadivar.

In October 1979, after it becomes clear the Assembly of Experts is going to is going to enshrine clerical domination in the new constitution, Bazargan and his cabinet colleagues appeal to Khomeini to dissolve the Assembly, but he refuses.

On 18 October 1979, Khomeini orders an indefinite suspension of executions. Around 550 have been killed as a result of sentences from the revolutionary courts.

The draft constitution is approved by a vote of the Majlis on 24 October 1979 and goes for a referendum in December of that year.

The same day the government ceases hostilities against the Kurds and lifts its blockade of the city of Mahabad.

The siege and seizure of the U.S. Embassy

On 4 November 1979, members of the Student Followers of the Line of the Imam (a faction of the OCU) gather near the U.S. Embassy ostensibly to to commemorate those who lost their lives and were injured a year ago in the invasion of Tehran University. Their real intention is to repeat the act of the Fedayan-e Khalq and storm the embassy. They do so, taking 66 of the staff hostage, while 6 manage to escape. 

They act with the knowledge and tacit approval of Mohammad Moussavi Khoeiniha, who serves as liaison between the students, whose spokesperson is Behzad Nabavi, and Khomeini and the IRP.

The faction of the OCU of which Ahmadinejad is a part does not take part in the action; their preference and his recommendation had been to seize the Soviet embassy instead.

Prime Minister Bazargan and his cabinet turn in their resignations on 6 November 1979 after Khomeini refuses to intervene in the hostage crisis. The Council of Islamic Revolution takes over governmental functions.

On 14 November 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter freezes all U.S. assets of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Thirteen American hostages are released on 19 & 20 November 1979.

The Constitution is ratified

In a referendum held 2 & 3 December 1979, the constitution drafted by the Assembly of Experts is approved by a vote of 98% in another non-secret ballot. It officially proclaims Khomeini as Leader of the Revolution (Rahbar-e Enghelab) and establishes velayat-e faqih, a principle rejected by every other marja-e taqlid in Ithna Ashari Shia Islam.

On 6 December 1979, opponents of Khomeini in East Azerbaijan, mostly from the Muslim Peoples Republican Party, take over the radio and television station in Tabriz and announce they will no longer accept orders from Tehran.

On 10 December 1979, Shariatmadari denounces Khomeini on Radio Tabriz for moving towards a dictatorship.

On 16 December 1979, Shariatmadari condemns the new constitution for its provisions on velayet-e faqih.

On 20 December 1979, an uprising demanding autonomy begins in Baluchistan.

The Khomeinists consolidate their gains

On 8 January 1980, the Guruh-e Furqan all but comes to an end when 15 of its leaders are arrested at one time.

On 11 January 1980, the Muslim Peoples Republican Party is banned.

In the presidential election on 25 January 1980, two independents, Abolhassan Banisadr and Admiral Ahmad Madani, secure votes of 76.5% and 15.9% (for a total of 92.4%) to those of Hassan Habibi, the candidate of the IRP, of 4.8%.

On 26 January 1980, Hezbollahis attack offices of the Mojahedin-e Khalq all across the country.

On 8 February 1980, the Sepahi attack a demonstration organized by the Political and Cultural Headquarters of the Turkoman People commemorating the Siahkal Uprising by the Fedayan-e Khalq against the Shah in 1971. The violence lasts for several days, with many from both sides killed. Twenty-seven of the group’s leaders are found murdered.

On 14 March 1980, the first round of voting for Majlis deputies takes place. Candidates of the IRP get 1,607,422 votes and over half the 96 seats decided in the round; meanwhile candidates of the Mojahedin-e Khalq get 906,480 votes yet somehow no seats.

On 7 April 1980, the U.S. breaks diplomatic ties with Iran.

The Cultural Revolution

On 18 April 1980, after Friday prayers, Ali Khamenei declares, “We are not afraid of economic sanctions or military intervention. What we are afraid of is Western universities and the training of our youth in the interests of the West or East”. That evening Hezbollahis attack the Tehran Teachers Training College, Polytechnic University, and the University of Science and Technology.

On 19 April 1980, President Banisadr declares the beginning of the Islamic Cultural Revolution. In the next three days, the Islamic Students Associations and Hezbollahis, supported by Sepahi, attack student groups at the universities of Shiraz, Mashhad, Isfahan, Ahvaz, and Rasht. In all, 24 students are killed and nearly a thousand students require hospital treatment.

On 20 April 1980, the Council of Islamic Revolution announces that all political groups and related organizations must close in three days, universities and colleges must complete their exams and close by 4 June, and none of those institutions may hire any new staff.

In the next weeks, student groups and universities all across Iran are constantly attacked. Thousands are wounded, hundreds arrested, and over 50 killed, with some of those arrested later executed.

On 24 April 1980, the U.S. military executes Operation Eagle Claw, an attempt to rescue the 52 American hostages being held in the former U.S. embassy in Tehran. It is a spectacular failure, and the hostages are dispersed throughout Tehran.

On 30 April 1980, Khomeini establishes the Basij-e Mostazafin.

A new wave of executions begins in May 1980, and by September, when the Chief Justice removes the power of the revolutionary courts to impose the death penalty, over 900 have been killed.

On 9 May 1980, the second round of voting for the Majlis is held.

Purges of suspected royalists begin in June 1980 that see around 4000 civil officials dismissed as well as 4000 officers from all branches of the armed service, in addition to the 8000 who have been already been discharged.

On 4 June 1980, all universities and colleges close, and remain so for two years.

The Cultural Revolution Headquarters is established 12 June 1980, with Ali Khamenei, Mohammad Javad Bohanar, Ahmad Ahmadi, Abdolkharim Soroush, Jalaleddin Farsi, Mehdi Golshani, Hassan Habibi, Ali Shariatmadri, Mostafa Moin, Hassan Arefi, Mohammad Ali Najafi, and Asadollah Lajaverdi. Later in the year, Khomeini appoints Mir Hossein Moussavi Khamenei.

To carry out the purge of teachers and staff, Islamic Holy Councils of Reconstruction are established at all institutions. Tens of thousands of professors are expelled, many exiled or executed. The Cultural Revolution lasts from 1980 to 1983, continuing a year after the schools reopen.

Also on 12 June 1980, with police and Sepahis standing by, Hezbollahis attack a rally of over 200,000 members and supporters of the Mojahedin-e Khalq at Tehran’s Amjadieh football stadium, their tear gas and bullets met with participants’ nonviolent resistance. One demonstrator is killed, hundreds wounded, and thousands beaten up.

The Police Chief, Deputy Interior Minister, a number of Majlis deputies, and even Ahmad Khomeini condemn the attack.

On 17 June 1980, Khomeini orders a Construction Jihad.

On 23 June 1980, Khomeini announces the “administrative revolution”; beginning in ten days, all women working in government offices are required to wear the hijab.

On 25 June 1980, in a judicial order in which he says in part, “Our enemy is neither in the United States, nor the Soviet Union, nor Kurdistan, but right here, right under our nose, in Tehran…the Monafeqin [Mojahedin-e Khalq] are worse than infidels,” Khomeini orders the systematic destruction of the organization.

On 27 June 1980, the Ministry of the Interior announces that 96 seats in the Majlis have been decided in the first round and 120 seats in the second round, leaving 54 seats vacant. The IRP and its allies have a comfortable majority of 131 seats.

On 28 June 1980, the first Majlis of the Islamic Republic convenes, with Yadollah Sahabi of the Freedom Movement as its temporary Speaker.

On 5 July 1980, unable to delay any long, President Banisadr bans unveiled women from government buildings. This quickly spreads to all places of work public or private. Within a year, forced hijab anywhere in public is the rule not only for Muslim women but women of religious minorities and even foreign visitors.

On 9 July 1980, President Banisadr and a task force of mostly Mojahedin-e Khalq members abort the Nojeh Uprising, involving some 600 military officers and scheduled for two days later, by arresting most of those involved. The attempted coup d’etat was sponsored and financed by former prime minister Bakhtiar. Over sixty are executed in the first month.

In July 1980, 5000 workers from the water industry strike and 2000 occupy the city’s Water Board after their wages are cut in half. They force a meeting with President Banisadr and win all their demands.

In the same month, the Fedayan-e Khalq splits into Majority and Minority organizations over whether to support the Islamic regime.

On 17 July 1980, the first Council of Guardians convenes.

That same day, another of the American hostages is released.

On 28 July 1980, Hojat al-Islam Rafsanjani is elected permanent Speaker of the Majlis.

In August 1980, former prime minister Bakhtiar founds the National Movement of Iranian Resistance in Paris.

On 12 August 1980, Mohammad Ali Rajai becomes Prime Minister and the Council of Islamic Revolution dissolves.

In a September 1980 interview with Socialist Worker, an Iranian leftist reports that that government has lost complete control of the oil industry’s “Islamic” shoras.

On 8 September 1980, Hezbollahis break away from an IRP rally in commemoration of the victims of Black Friday in 1978 to attack a rival rally led by Banisadr.

Iraq invades Khuzestan, beginning the Iran-Iraq War

Iraq launches a full-scale invasion of Iran on 22 September 1980, beginning the Iran-Iraq War, starting with an attack on the opposing air force. The next day Iraq launches a ground invasion along a 644 km front. Khomeini refers to it as “a divine blessing”.

Shortly after the beginning of the war, the government institutes Cleansing Komitehs throughout the ranks of the armed forces to purge those not sufficiently in line with the ideology of the regime.

In October 1980, President Banisadr asks Khomeini to dismiss the Rajai government transfer its functions to the office of the president. He further asks Khomeini to dissolve the Majlis, the Supreme Judicial Council, and the Council of Guardians in order to restructure and make a new beginning. His requests go unheeded.

On 5 October 1980, Saddam makes the first of eight offers of cease-fire to the Iranian government. His offer is turned down.

Iraqi forces capture the town of Khorramshahr, Khuzestan, on 24 October 1980.
In later fall 1980, Ayatollah Behesti establishes the Society of the Islamic Associations of Tehran’s Guilds and Bazaar to push out the National Front-allied Society of Merchants, Guilds, and Artisans of the Tehran Bazaar.

In early November 1980, Banisadr denounces torture taking place in Iranian prisons and jails and complains that prisoners are executed “as easily as taking a drink of water”.

On 2 November 1980, Chief Prosecutor Moussavi-Ardebili bans the newspaper Mojahed.

In November and December 1980, supporters of Banisadr stage rallies against the Rajai government in Mashhdad, Isfahan, Tehran, and Gilan.

In December 1980, merchants of the Tehran bazaar associated with the National Front call for the resignation of the Rajai government.

The United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran sign the Algeria Accords on 19 January 1981 for the release of the remaining 51 hostages and the unfreezing of Iranian assets. The Islamic Republic releases them just after the new U.S. President Ronald Reagan is sworn into office the next day.

In February 1981, former prime minister Bazargan denounces the Rajai government at a public rally in Tehran.

Stalemate in the war

In March 1981, the Iraqi advance into Iran stalls.

On 5 March 1981, Banisadr is speaking to an audience of over 100,000 at a Tehran University rally commemorating Mosaddegh when the gathering is attacked by a group of the IRP’s Hezbollahis. When the rally’s marshals, mostly Mojahedin-e Khalq members, detain them, they find IRP identification on them.

On the same day, a rally in Isfahan led by former prime minister Bazargan is likewise attacked by Hezbollahis.

On 16 March 1981, Khomeini confirms Banisadr in his post as commander-in-chief and calls for an end to factionalism after failing to work out differences between Banisadr and Rajai and the IRP.

On 27 April 1981, the Mojahedin-e Khalq holds a demonstration in Central Tehran against the proposed closure of Banisdar’s paper Enghelab Eslami and the deaths of four protestors in Qiyamshahr, Mazandaran, that draws over 150,000 people. The next day, Chief Prosecutor Moussavi-Ardebili bans demonstrations by the group.

On 1 May 1981, during its May Day mobilization, the leadership of the Fedayan-e Khalq-Majority announces they have decided to give up the guerrilla aspect and participate as a legal political party, the Organization of Iranian Peoples’ Fedayan-Majority.

On 27 May 1981, Khomeini denounces Banisadr for ignoring the law and putting himself above the Majlis.

In early June 1981, Fereshteh Hashemi, Shahin Tabatabai and Zahra Rahnavard establish the Women’s Society of Islamic Revolution to raise women’s consciousness regarding their new roles as “authentic” and “true” Muslim women in the new Iran.

On 7 June 1981, Banisadr’s newspaper, Enghelab Eslami, and that of Bazargan, Mizan, are both banned.

On 10 June 1981, Khomeini removes Banisadr from his post as commander-in-chief and appoints Speaker Rafsanjani as acting commander-in-chief.

On the same day there is a clash between members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq demonstrating in support of Banisadr against the Rajai government and a large group of Hezbollahis.

On 12 June 1981, 120 deputies of the Majlis present articles of impeachment of Banisadr to the assembly.

On 13 June 1981, two days of demonstrations begin called for by the Mojahedin-e Khalq to support Banisadr’s call for a national referendum to resolve the differences between himself and the IRP take place in Tehran, Qiyamshahr, Rasht, Babol, Babolsar, Ramsar, Amol, Sari, Lahijan, Rudsar, Gorganm Tonekabon, Mashhad, Birjand, Bojnurd, Shirvan, Nayshabur, Shiraz, Isfahan, Kashan, Ahvaz, Arak, Hamadan, Kazerun, Zanjan, Garmsar, and Masjed Suleyman.

On 15 June 1981, the National Front has called for a rally in Ferdowsi Square against the law of retaliation recently passed by the Majlis. Two hours before it is to begin, Khomeini bans the Front, declares all opponents of the law apostates, and threatens the leaders with death if they do not repent. President Banisadr and the leaders of the Freedom Movement are forced to publicly apologize for supporting the Front’s appeal.

The Reign of Terror

By mid-June 1981, 74 members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq have been killed in attacks by the Sepahi and Hezbollahi, and another 1,018 have been imprisoned.

On 20 June 1981, the Mojahedin-e Khalq holds large demonstrations in support of President Banisadr in several cities, the largest being in Tehran, Tabriz, Rasht, Amol, Qiyamshahr, Gorgan, Babolsar, Zanjan, Karaj, Arak, Isfahan, Birjand, Ahvaz, and Kerman. The march in Tehran numbering up to 500,000 that turns into a battle with the Sepahi, who open fire on orders of Khomeini. Hundreds are killed, with thousands wounded and thousands more arrested, many soon executed.

That evening, Saeed Saltanpour of the Iranian Writers Guild and Fedayan-e Khalq-Minority, whose speech at the Industrial University launched the student movement in 1977, is executed. A frequent prisoner under the Shah, he was arrested at his wedding ceremony.

On 21 June 1981, President Banisadr is impeached by the Majlis, and goes into hiding in fear of his life.

On 22 June 1981, Khomeini removes Banisadr from office, outlaws all political parties except the IRP, and issues a fatwa declaring jihad against leftist groups (Mojahedin-e Khalq, Fedayan-e Khalq-Minority, Sazman-e Paykar, Rah-e Kargar, Guruh-e Furqan), as well as socialists, communists, agnostics, liberals, and nationalists. The Tudeh and the Fedayan-e Khalq-Majority actually work with the government against their fellow leftists. Thus the Reign of Terror begins.

The purge also targets the “Islamic” shoras in the factories and industries, beginning to replace them with “Islamic Associations”, which the regime controls.

On 28 June 1981, members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq plant a bomb in the headquarters of the IRP in Tehran which kills Chief Justice Mohammad Beheshti, Mohammad Montazeri, four ministers, six deputy ministers, twenty-seven Majlis deputies, and more than hundred others. In the aftermath, over 1000 people are sent to firing squads.

Meanwhile on the same day, former president Banisadr and Mojahedin-e Khalq leader Massoud Rajavi have themselves smuggled out of the country.

Beheshti is replaced by Chief Prosecutor Abdolkarim Moussavi Ardebili.
In July 1981, the Central Council of Islamic Shoras calls on the government to arm the general population to help defend the country. The government ignores them.

Also in July 1981, assassinations and other actions by the Mojahedin-e Khalq reach their peak of an average five per day.

From Paris on 29 July 1981, Banisadr and Rajavi announce the formation of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, composed of the Mojahedin-e Khalq, the National Democratic Front of Iran, the Kurdish Democratic Party, the Hoviyat Group, the Union of Iranian Communists, the Workers Party, the Union for Workers Liberation, the United Left Council for Democracy and Freedom, and others.

On 5 August 1981, IRP founding member and Majlis deputy Hassan Ayat is assassinated by the Mojahedin-e Khalq in broad daylight in the middle of Tehran.

On 7 August 1981, Hussein Khomeini, son of Mojtaba Khomeini, is arrested for saying, "the new dictatorship established in religious form is worse than that of the Shah and the Mongols."  In a relatively short time, the Mongols depopulated Iran to a tenth of its size, from 2.5 million to a 250 thousand.

On 30 August 1981, another Mojahedin-e Khalq bomb at the Supreme Defense Council kills President Rajai, Prime Minister Bahonar, and three others. In the aftermath, another 1200 are sent to the firing squads.

On 5 September 1981, Chief Revolutionary Prosecutor Ali Quddusi is assassinated by the Mojahedin-e Khalq and is replaced by Mohammad Moussavi Khoeiniha.

On 6 September 1981, the Supreme Judicial Council authorizes extreme measures to find suspected guerrillas and summary execution of the same. An average of 50 executions a day throughout its length, the death toll at its height it reaches an average 100 a day.

On 11 September 1981, Majid Niko, a member of the Mojahedin-e Khalq militia, kills himself, Ayatollah Baha al-Din Madani, and seventeen Sepahi in Tabriz with two hand grenades. It is the first Mojahedin-e Khalq suicide attack.

Total triumph of the Khomeinists

On 11 October 1981 Ali Khamenei is elected President. The Majlis refuse his nominee Ali Akbar Velayati as Prime Minister. 

On 28 October, the Majlis elects Mir Hossein Moussavi Khamenei, a protégé of the late Ayatollah Beheshti and devout Islamist, as Prime Minister, and Mohsen Sazagara as Deputy Prime Minister.

By November 1981, 2665 persons have died in the Reign of Terror, 2200 members of Mojahedin-e Khalq and 465 members of the Kurdish Democratic Party, Fedayan-e Khalq-Minority, National Democratic Front, National Front, and other groups.

On 28 December 1981, the Mojahedin-e Khalq ambush and kill Hojat al-Islam Taqi Besharat, a revolutionary court judge who has condemned countless demonstrators, including a 13-year old girl.

From 25-27 January 1982, the Union of Communists (Sarbedaran) carry out the Amol Uprising in Mazandaran, which ends in failure, the deaths of 70 Sarbedarani and Sepahi, and the withdrawal of Sarbedaran forces from Amol.

On 8 February 1982, Musa Khiabani, commander-in-chief of Mojahedin-e Khalq forces in Iran, and eleven others, including Massoud Rajavi’s wife Ashraf Rabii, are killed in a three-hour battle with the Sepahi.

On 7 March 1982, the Mojahedin-e Khalq ambush the national police chief.

In mid-March 1982, Iran goes on the offensive against Iraqi forces inside Iran.
Former Foreign Minister Sadegh Qobtzadeh and 170 others are arrested in April 1982 and charged with plotting to kill Khomeini and overthrow the Islamic Republic. Under severe torture, Qobtzadeh implicates Grand Ayatollah Shariatmadari and others.

Shariatmadari is placed under house arrest, where he remains until his death in 1986. In 1963, he had saved Khomeini’s life by declaring him a Marja-e taqlid after his arrest for instigating demonstrations against the Shah’s White Revolution. Until Khomeini’s return, he was the leading cleric of Shia Islam in Iran.

On 24 May 1982, Iranian forces liberate the city of Khorammshahr from its Iraqi occupiers, taking 10,000 casualties while capturing 19,000 Iraqis and killing or wounding 7,000.

Best opportunity for cease-fire wasted

In June 1982, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein withdraws Iraqi forces across the border and offers a cease-fire to the Iranian government, but Khomeini vehemently refuses, despite advice from his senior advisers both civilian and military.

On 13 July 1982, Iran begins Operation Ramadan, intending to seize the Iraqi port of Basra with human wave attacks of over 100,000 Sepahi and Basiji supported by understrength regular army divisions. Five attacks at an astonishing cost of lives fail.

Former foreign minister Ghotbzadeh is executed by firing squad in August 1982.

In September 1982, the universities reopen, though the Cultural Revolution continues.

In October 1982, Vladimir Kuzichkin, a KGB officer stationed in Tehran, defects to the British MI6 in the same city. In addition to extensive details of the Soviet debacle in Afghanistan, he informs them that nearly all leaders of the Tudeh are Soviet agents. This information is shared with the CIA, which eventually delivers it to the Islamic Republic.

In December 1982 Khomeini issues an eight-point decree instructing the courts to ensure that the civil and due process rights of citizens be safeguarded. It forbids forcible entry of homes and businesses, arrest and detention without judges' orders, property expropriation without court authorization, and all forms of government spying on private persons.

This essentially ends the Reign of Terror. Over ten thousand have died and thousands more imprisoned. Though the mass executions end at this time, arrests of leftists continue.

Also by this time, all remaining “Islamic” shoras have been replaced with Islamic Associations dominated by Hezbollahis.

Banisadr splits with Rajavi

In January 1983, in a secret meeting in Paris with Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, Mojahedin-e Khalq leader Massoud Rajavi forms a secret alliance with Iraq. His unilateral decision alienates most of the members of the NCRI and they dissociate themselves.

The same month, the Mojahedin-e Khalq decide to move their Iran operations to Kordistan to help out the separatist movement after a number of setbacks the past nine months.

In early March 1983, around 200 organizers of the Tudeh party, including 30 members of its central committee, are arrested.

On 24 March 1983, Banisadr publicly splits with Rajavi and the NCRI over the Mojahedin-e Khalq’s ties to Iraq. He himself has been doing everything in his power to provide aid to Iran in its war effort. The NDF dissolves its connection to the MEK. The KDP leave the NCRI a little over a year later.

In April 1983, Speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani, as commander-in-chief of Iranian forces, forms the Niru-e Quds, or Quds Force, within the Sepah's Office of Islamic Liberation Movements.  Its initial task is to stir up the Iraqi Kurds against Saddam Hussein.

On 1 May 1983, two top leaders of the Tudeh party appear on national television to confess their crimes and recant their beliefs.

On 4 May 1983, Khomeini outlaws the Tudeh party. In the next several months, over 5000 members are arrested and imprisoned. Eighteen more top Tudeh officials make confessions and recantations on official TV broadcasts through May 1984.

In November 1983, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri complains that the mostazafin are bearing most of the burden of the revolution and the war while the rich contribute little to either.

By the end of 1983, thousands of members, including most of the key leaders, of the Tudeh, Mojahedin-e Khalq, Fedayan-e Khalq-Minority, Sazman-e Paykar, Sarbedaran, and even Organization of Iranian Peoples’ Fedayan-Majority are dead or in prison.

In December 1983 and continuing through January 1984, a publicly broadcast tribunal presided over by Hojat al-Islam Mohammad Reyshahri tries 101 members of the Tudeh, most of them high-ranking military officers, for "sowing corruption on earth," "spying for a foreign power," "stockpiling arms," "plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic," and "violating the edict against political activities in the armed forces." Ten are condemned, the rest imprisoned anywhere from less than five years to life.

The war intensifies

In February 1984, Saddam orders a barrage of missile and aerial attacks against eleven Iranian cities, which doesn’t cease until 22 February.

Afterwards, Iran responds in kind against several Iraqi cities.

From 15 February-24 February 1984, Iranian ground forces carry out two operations attempting to capture the Iraqi town of Kut al-Amara and cut the highway between Basra and Baghdad, but never get within 15 miles of their objective.

In another operation from 24 February-19 March 1984, Iranian forces capture part of the Majnun Islands, which they hold until nearly the end of the war.

On 2 March 1984, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri decries the exponential growth of the country’s bureaucracy in a sermon, saying that 24 ministries and tens of thousands of employees are choking the country.

Also in March 1984, Iraq initiates the “tanker war” phase of the Iran-Iraq War with an attack against the tankers and oil refining facilities around and on Kharg Island. The “tanker war” lasts the remaining years of the larger war.

On 1 May 1984, the last of the Tudeh confessions and recantations takes place on national television, this time of Ehsan Tabari, its co-founder and leading theoretician, who openly embraces Islam. He spends the remaining five years of his life in solitary confinement.

On 18 August 1984, the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (VEVAK), brainchild of Saeed Hajjarian, is established, with Mohammad Reyshahri as Minister, Ali Fallahian as Deputy Minister, and Hajjarian as Vice Minister for Political Affairs.

Soon afterwards, the Sepah’s Office of Islamic Liberation Movements is transferred to VEVAK, and its director, Mehdi Hashemi, resigns all his posts in the Sepah. He then sets up the independent Bureau of Assistance to the Islamic and Liberation Movements of the World in the Qom offices of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri (which manage six seminaries, several charitable organizations, a publishing house, and numerous political offices).

In September 1984, the Gasht-e Ershadi, or morality police, make their first appearance on the streets of Iran.

On 25 January 1985, Iraqi forces renew their attempts to seize territory inside Iran, but make little headway.

On 11 March 1985, Iranian forces capturing part of the highway between Basra and Baghdad.

Iraq responds with a renewal of the “war of the cities”, this time targeting 20 cities inside Iran, the first wave 14 March-7 April 1985 and the second 25 May-15 June 1985.

Montazeri to the fore

In November 1985, Khomeini appoints Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri as Deputy Leader, but Montazeri before assuming the post requests approval of the Assembly of Experts, which they subsequently give.

Upon becoming Deputy Leader, Montazeri takes charge of the chaotic and brutal prison system, initiating the Organization of Prisons and beginning significant reforms. One of his first acts is to dismiss the notorious Asadollah Lajaverdi, the “Butcher of Evin”. He then begins appointing his own people in the system.

On 25 May 1986, U.S. national security adviser Robert McFarlane heads a secret delegation to Tehran for five days that fails to meet with any major players.

In June 1986, Mojahedin-e Khalq leader Rajavi is expelled from France partly due to his activities but also due a deal between the National Iranian Oil Company and France’s Total oil company. He takes up residence in Baghdad.

In a letter to Khomeini on 7 October 1986, Montazeri asks, “Do you know that there are crimes being committed in the jails of the Islamic Republic prisons, the likes of which were never seen in the despised Shah's regime? That a significant number of prisoners have died under torture by their interrogators? That in some of Mashhad's prisons approximately 25 girls were penetrated with such objects that caused them to undergo hysterectomy? That in Shiraz's jail a young woman who was fasting was executed for a very minor offense right after she broke her fast? That young women are brutally raped in some of the prisons of the Islamic Republic? That during the interrogation of young women very nasty profanities are used? That many prisoners have become blind or deaf, due to torture, and nobody has helped? That in many jails they even prevent the prisoners from saying their prayers? That in some jails the prisoners do not see the light of the day for months? That after a prisoner is given a jail sentence, he/she is still beaten regularly? I am sure that they will tell you that these are lies and he [Montazeri] is naive”.

Among the reforms carried out after the discussion resulting from this letter are a sharp reduction in executions; release of many prisoners; general improvement of prison conditions (recreation, availability of books, family visits), reduction in solitary confinement; lessening of torture as a form of punishment; and abolition of compulsory ideological and religious classes.

The Iran-Contra Affair

On 12 October 1986, Mehdi Hashemi, his brother Hadi, Said Montazeri (son of the Grand Ayatollah), and thirty-eight others of the Bureau of Assistance to the Islamic and Liberation Movements of the World, nominally connected to the offices of Deputy Leader Montazeri, are arrested for “murders committed both before and after the revolution, kidnapping, illegal possession of arms, forgeries, and attempts to cause divisions in the country”.

Though prompted by the recent 24-hour kidnapping of the Syrian charge d’affaires (2-3 October) to protest the secret dealings between the government and the U.S., Rafsanjani and Ahmad Khomeini see this as a chance for a blow against their rival, Montazeri. The latter withdraws from political life but is convinced to return by the elder Khomeini.

Khomeini assigns Minster of VEVAK Mohammad Reyshahri to personally investigate the case against Hashemi.

On 3 November 1986, a story in the Lebanese daily Ash-Shiraa exposes the secret dealings between the Islamic Republic, through agents of Speaker Rafsanjani and of Prime Minister Moussavi, and the United States. The information has been supplied by Mehdi Hashemi’s associates, and causes a scandal in both countries known in the West as Irangate, then the Iran-Contra Affair.

On 12 December 1986, in a television broadcast after five weeks of interrogation and torture, Mehdi Hashemi confesses to spreading anti-revolutionary propaganda, possession of explosives to overthrow the regime, and having cooperated with SAVAK before the fall of the Shah. Similar confessions have been obtained from his forty associates.

On 15 May 1987, the Islamic Republic Party is dissolved after Rafsanjani and Khamenei convince Khomeini to do so because the party has “accomplished its purpose”; however, the real reason is that both fear the IRP could become a vehicle for supporters of Moussavi versus their own interests.

On 20 June 1987, Massoud Rajavi of the Mojahedin-e Khalq organizes the National Liberation Army of Iran in Iraq.

20 July 1987, the United Nations Security Council issues Resolution 598, calling for an end to the Iran-Iraq War and return to pre-war boundaries.

The Mecca Massacre

On 31 July 1987, a demonstration by Iranian pilgrims led by Mehdi Karroubi against the “enemies of Islam” and “pagans” escalates to fights between the Iranians and Saudi police, resulting in a massacre after the police fire into air and cause a stampede. Afterwards, there are 402 dead (275 Iranians, 85 Saudis, and 42 other nationals) and 649 wounded (303 Iranians, 145 Saudis, and 201 other nationals). Karroubi is expelled from Saudi Arabia, and for the next few years Iran sends no pilgrims there.

In August 1987, Hojat al-Islam Mehdi Hashemi is convicted of “corruption on earth” in a seven-day trial of the newly revived Special Clerical Court presided over Hojat al-Islam Ali Razini as its chief justice, with Ali Fallahian as special prosecutor. His execution is announced a month later on 28 September 1987
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In December 1987, France expels 17 members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq still living in France to Gabon for “taking part through this organization in militant actions that seriously disrupt public order,” though the real reason is a deal for French hostages.

By late 1987, Montazeri has been sidelined from the Islamic Republic’s prison system and most of his people have been removed. One of Lajevardi’s associates is now deputy warden of Evin Prison, the warden being Saeed Mortazavi.

In late 1987 and early 1988, prison officials begin requestioning all prisoners, separating politicals from non-politicals, Mojahedin-e Khalq from other leftists, the repentant from the unrepentant, those with long sentences from short-timers, new from old, and removing “trouble-makers” to solitary confinement.

On 16 March 1988, Mohammad Khatami, Medhi Karroubi, Mohammad Moussavi Khoeiniha, Mahmou Doai, Mohammad Tavassoli, Mohammad Jamarani, Hasan Sanei, and Sadeq Khalkhali, and others officially establish the Association of Combatant Clerics.

Iran Air flight IR655

In the Strait of Hormuz on 3 July 1988, the American Aegis cruiser U.S.S. Vincennes shoots down Iran Air flight IR655 flying from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, U.A.E., killing all 290 passengers and 3 crew aboard. At the time, the American vessel is in Iranian territorial waters. Flight IR655 is on a designated civilian air route ascending and moving away from the Vincennes. The airliner is broadcasting an IFF code identifying it as a civilian aircraft, but Captain William C. Rogers chooses to ignore it, over the objections of several of his bridge crew as well as signals intelligence confirming the civilian transponder and civilian voice communications.

Final stages of the Iran-Iraq War

In early July 1988, Iraq launches a chemical cyanide attack against the Iranian town of Zardan, Kordistan. Hundreds are killed outright and many suffer the effects for years and decades afterwards.

On 13 July 1988, Saddam makes his eighth and final offer of cease-fire to the Iranian government.

On 16 July 1988, Iran finally accepts Resolution 598 and agrees to a cease-fire. Khomeini refers to this as “drinking poison”.

The prison massacres

On 18 July 1988, Khomeini issues a fatwa that reads: "It is decreed that those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for the Monafeqin (Mojahedin-e Khalq) are waging war on God and are condemned to execution. Destroy the enemies of Islam immediately. As regards the cases, use whichever criterion that speeds up the implementation of the verdict.” A second fatwa also condemns the Mortads (leftists).

Present at the meeting in which Khomeini first discusses the plan are President Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Speaker of the Majlis (and commander-in-chief) Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Minister of Culture and Guidance Mohammad Khatami, Chief Justice Abdolkarim Moussavi Ardebili, Chief Prosecutor Mohammad Moussavi Khoeiniha, and his chief-of-staff, Ahmad Moussavi Khomeini. He personally assigns implementation of the fatwa to Chief Prosecutor Moussavi Khoeiniha.

In the early hours of 19 July 1988, the regime isolates the main prisons around the country, cutting them off completely from the outside world.

On 20 July 1988, the prison massacres begin with the execution of an unknown number of male and female political prisoners all across the country. The primary targets are members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, but members of Tudeh, Fedayan-e Khalq Minority and Majority, Workers Party, Sazman-e Pakyar, Rah-e Kargar, Sarbedaran, Kurdish Democratic Party, and other groups are also targeted.

For the most part the victims have been convicted of relatively minor crimes; those convicted or arrested for capital offences are long since dead. Their fate is determined by three-member Death Commissions in each prison: a judge, a prosecutor, and a member of the Intelligence and Security Ministry. The slaughter continues through the following April.

On 26 July 1988, Rajavi’s National Liberation Army of Iran invades Iran in numbers of about 7000 with Iraqi air support which is later withdrawn, leaving the Mojahedin trapped. The organization loses 4500 killed in action, the rest mostly executed, and all credibility as a focus of resistance.

On 31 July 1988, after trying and failing to get the prison massacres halted on his own, Deputy Leader Montazeri writes an open letter to Khomeini asking him to intervene. Nothing happens. He writes Khomeini a second time on 4 August 1988, and again nothing happens. Therefore, on 15 August 1988, he delivers an official protest to the “death committee” at Evin Prison. Still, nothing happens.

On 20 August 1988, the Iran-Iraq War ends.

In a 1 October 1988 letter to Prime Minister Moussavi, Montazeri writes, “We will get no results with frequent arrests, harshness, punishments, detentions, and killings”.

On 25 November 1988, the regime begins notifying the families of the victims of the prison massacres of their relatives’ deaths.

In a December interview with an Austrian TV station, Prime Minister Moussavi finds himself questioned about the prison massacre of leftists and responds, “They had plans to perpetrate killings and massacres. We had to crush the conspiracy—in that respect we have no mercy.” He then suggests that if Allende had done the same in Chile as the Islamic Republic in Iran, he and his government would have survived, apparently oblivious to the irony in that statement (Allende, a devout Marxist, would have died in the prison purge).

Meanwhile, at least 215 political prisoners of the targeted groups die in the still ongoing massacre in the Islamic Republic’s prisons during the same month.

Montazeri’s downfall

On 25 January 1989, Keyhan publishes an interview with Montazeri where he criticizes the still ongoing massacres. “The denial of people's rights, injustice and disregard for the revolution's true values have delivered the most severe blows against the revolution. Before any reconstruction, there must first be a political and ideological reconstruction…This is something that the people expect of a leader.” In the same interview, Montazeri also states that he supports the formation and active participation of political parties.

On 11 February 1989, Revolution Day, several hundred “repentant” political prisoners are given amnesty and released, many paraded around at public prayers in Tehran.

On 14 February 1989, Khomeini pronounces a fatwa on Tehran Radio calling for the murder of author Salman Rushdie over the 1988 publication of his book The Satanic Verses.

In response, Montazeri denounces the fatwa, saying, “People in the world are getting the idea that our business in Iran is just murdering people.”

On 23 February 1989, in response to Montazeri’s continuing statements on the prison massacres, Mehdi Karroubi, Emam Jamarani, and Hamid Rouhani send an open letter to Khomeini denouncing him.

In March 1989, BBC broadcasts Montazeri’s letters condemning the 1988-1989 massacres.

On 26 March, Khomeini vehemently denounces Montazeri in public.

Two days later, 28 March 1989, Montazeri is forced to resign as deputy and as leader of Friday prayers, publication of his lectures in Keyhan is stopped, his security guards are withdrawn, Prime Minister Moussavi orders his portraits removed from all government offices, and he is placed under virtual house arrest.

On 10 April 1989, the bloody massacres in the Islamic Republic’s prisons comes to an end with the hanging in Tabriz of its last recorded victim, Mojtaba Mottle Sarab, a member of the Organization of the People’s Fedayan-Majority. The victims have all been buried in mass graves around the country.

Between 4482 (according to Amnesty International’s overly cautious estimate) and 33,700 (according to Reza Malek, former Deputy Minister of Intelligence and Security) political prisoners in Iran’s prisons have been executed.

On 18 April 1989, Khomeini convenes the Assembly for Revising the Constitution.

Death of Khomeini

On 3 June 1989, Rahbar-e Enghelab Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Mostafavi Moussavi Khomeini dies after eleven days in the hospital.

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