The upcoming anniversary of Neda Agha-Soltan's murder on 20 June 2009 in Tehran by the Islamic regime's forces brings to mind 20 June 1981 when the Islamic regime in Iran manifested its power through a coup d'etat.
June 20, 1981: One of the Greatest Crimes of the 20th Century
Interview with Mansoor Hekmat
Radio International: The common perception is that the Islamic Republic is a result of the 1979 revolution. You have stated, however, that like most revolutions, the 1979 Iranian revolution was ultimately defeated by brutal suppression. Explain this.
Mansoor Hekmat: Any independent observer who examines that history will see that the people rose against a dictatorial Monarchy and its secret police, prisons and torture. (Those who have not experienced that period first hand should seriously review that history.) In that society, there was no freedom of expression, press and organisation. Trade union and Socialist activities were non-existent. There was no freedom of political activity. It was a despotic one-man rule, reliant on the police, army and intelligence service. There was staggering economic inequality, with widespread poverty alongside enormous wealth. People rose against these and for equality and freedom from political suppression and economic exploitation. This is known as the 1979 (1357) revolution.
When it became evident that the Shah’s regime was incapable of suppressing this revolutionary movement, the Islamic movement begins to rear its head. This reactionary movement, which belonged to the past and existed in a corner of Iranian society, was against civilisation, social modernisation, women’s right and development. One of this movement’s personalities, Khomeini, who was in exile in Iraq, was taken to Paris and placed under the spotlight. From then on, Western governments and media widely promoted this Islamic movement as the alternative that could and should replace the Shah’s government. Finally, General Robert Huyser, the United States government’s Special Envoy went to Iran, spoke with the army and secured their allegiance to Khomeini. A large segment of the traditional and national opposition of the time, such as the National Front, the Tudeh Party, etc. declared their allegiance to the Islamic movement. As a result, the Islamic current was pushed to the forefront of the anti-Monarchy movement. Contrary to the wishes of the Islamic current, the people rose up (known as the uprising of 22 Bahman, 11 February 1979) and eventually defeat the Shah’s army in a military confrontation. This process resulted in the formation of a government under the leadership and control of the Islamic current.
The two and a half years during 11 February 1979 (22 Bahman 1357) and 20 June 1981 (30 Khordad 1360) was still not strictly speaking, however, an Islamic rule. It was a period of relative open political activity, which the state was incapable of suppressing on a widespread scale, despite the existence of thugs and Islamicism. At that time, Khalkhali [infamous as the hanging judge] was the regime’s executioner but even so, the regime did not have the power to completely suppress and neutralise the increasing people’s movement. Political parties were flourishing; books of Marx and Lenin were sold everywhere; Communist organisations published papers; labour councils were established; various women’s organisations were formed and the wave of protests continued to escalate, until an Islamic, counter-revolutionary coup d’état took place on 20 June 1981 (30 Khordad 1360). They attacked and executed 300 to 500 people a day in Evin prison and all over the country; they closed down newspapers and crushed the opposition. This was what enabled the Islamic Republic to exist today. The point of the Islamic Republic’s establishment was 20 June 1981 (30 Khordad), not 11 February 1979 (22 Bahman). 11 February (22 Bahman) was the people’s revolution. During 8 September 1978 (17 Shahrivar 1357, the day that the Shah’s army massacred demonstrators at Jaleh Square in Tehran) until 20 June 1981, Right wing forces and governments attempted to obstruct the people’s revolution. 20 June 1981 is the eventual juncture that the suppression took place.
The Islamic government’s execution list was basically taken from the list of those who had been imprisoned during the Monarchy. A person who had been sentenced to two-month’s imprisonment by the Shah’s government was executed by the Islamic regime. They attacked and killed the very same people the Shah’s regime wanted to but couldn’t.
Radio International: The Islamic Republic suppressed the revolution that the Shah’s regime failed to do; in fact, it took revenge from the people who had revolted against the Shah. How could it do this? Before 20 June 1981, there were Left-wing newspapers; demonstrations took place and despite arrests and street fighting with thugs, there was freedom. What was it about 20 June (30 Khordad) that established the Islamic government and defeated the revolutionary movement?
Mansoor Hekmat: It was a violent coup d’état that succeeded as a result of widespread executions and murders. It was not like today where they shut down 16 newspapers run by their friends (‘insiders’) and the accused go to court and are still called Mr so and so. They poured onto the streets and arrested anyone who did not look like a Muslim. If someone had salt and pepper in his/her pockets, they accused him/her of planning to throw it in the eyes of the Revolutionary Guards. They arrested anyone who had recited a poem, who was known to be a Socialist or supporter of women’s rights, anyone who was not veiled and anyone who looked Left wing and executed them that same night. Statistics, documents and witnesses proving these atrocities are ample. There will come a day when the people of Iran and the world will observe the trials of those who committed these crimes. On that day, the world will weep for the hundreds of thousands of victims of 20 June (30 Khordad 1360) and after and particularly 1988 (1367).
This was one of the greatest crimes of the 20th Century, comparable to Nazi Germany, the genocide in Indonesia and Rwanda, and much more brutal than what took place in Chile. It is one of the most important catastrophes and human tragedies of the 20th Century. They attacked, suppressed, killed and buried in unmarked graves, innumerable people. They massacred many of the best, the most passionate and progressive people in order to remain in power.
Radio International: The Islamic Republic’s leaders who are now in rival factions, namely the Right and 2nd Khordad [also known as the Reformists] factions were at the time responsible for this suppression. To name a few 2nd Khordad personalities, for example, Behzad Nabavi was the government’s spokesman, Hajarian was one of the architects of the terrifying intelligence service and Khatami himself was in government at that time. How did they emerge unified after the 20 June (30 Khordad) suppression but are now fighting amongst themselves?
Mansoor Hekmat: Factions were present in the Islamic Republic then, but they were not the same factions we see today. For example, the Mojahedin-e- Enghelab-e- Eslami, the Islamic Republic Party and Khat-e- Imam’s (Imam’s Line) grouping were at the forefront of the government. The Freedom Movement, which is now part of the 2nd Khordad, was one of the victims of the Khat-e- Imam grouping, which also in part now belong to the 2nd Khordad. At the time, the government was in the hands of the Khat-e- Imam grouping – I mean the cabinet. This phenomenon of 2nd Khordad, which was created later, comprises many who were leaders of the suppression at the time. Many of those who are now students of Voltaire, have become democrats and call themselves journalists, were Revolutionary Guards, interrogators, torturers and were responsible for people’s executions. Consequently, 30 Khordad (20 June) is a common experience for both factions. 2nd Khordad are as responsible for the 30 Khordad (20 June) suppression as Lajvardi, Gilani, Khomeini and Khamenei. This was their government. Khomeini, whose name should be recorded in history as a reactionary executioner and criminal against humanity, headed this effort, following by the lot of them.
I think that it is extremely important for the people of Iran to review that history and these people over the past twenty plus years and be aware, in particular, of the nature of the differences between them today.
At the time of 30 Khordad 1360 (20 June 1981), they had no differences on the issue of maintaining the Islamic regime by mass killing and murder. That is what they did. Now, also, they are trying to do the same under different circumstances. They want to maintain the Islamic state vis-à-vis the people.
Radio International: Could it, therefore, be said that the 2nd Khordad regrets its 30 Khordad (20 June) policy and thinks that it should have acted differently?
Mansoor Hekmat: Not at all. The 2nd Khordad personalities will proudly tell you that they are the very same 30th Khordad (20th June) personalities. They do not regret 30 Khordad (20 June). Of course, later on, during their trials they will do so – but not now. Right now, they will not do anything to undermine their ‘insider’ status. 30 Khordad (20 June) is the ultimate criterion that separates the ‘insiders’ from everyone else. ‘Insiders’ are those who defended the ‘system’ vis-à-vis its opponents. 30 Khordad (20 June) is a most defining moment; it is the Islamic Republic’s birth date. Any of them who opposes 30 Khordad (20 June) will be stepping out of the circle of ‘insiders.’
Sooner or later – and much sooner than they think – free public trials to investigate their crimes against humanity will begin. They are not the sorts of people who can take their money and go to Los Angeles. Many of them will face people’s courts. One of the areas to be dealt with will be 30 Khordad (20 June), what any of them know about that period and their role during it, as well as public exposure to help reduce society’s suffering from that period.
Radio International: The Worker-communist Party of Iran has launched a campaign on 30 Khordad 1360 (20 June) to expose its realities and in commemoration of those whose lives were lost. What are the WPI’s aims in this campaign?
Mansoor Hekmat: 60-70% of the population does not remember 30 Khordad 1360 (20 June 1981), but it is an important moment in the formation of the Islamic Republic. We want to remind today’s generation in Iran and the world that the Islamic Republic, which is in power today, is the result of a massive crime against humanity. This must firstly be remembered, recorded, stated, exposed and not forgotten.
Secondly, these people are still on the scene. The same people who organised the murders and killings of 30 Khordad 1360 (20 June 1981) onwards are still the politicians of this country. They are still members of parliament, they are in the cabinet, and they are leaders and heads of the judiciary, army and Revolutionary Guards. The struggle against them continues. Their criminal charges are still unsettled, including the charges surrounding the crimes of 30 Khordad (20 June). This is one of the arenas of struggle against the Islamic government, its foundations, its personalities from Khomeini, Beheshti to Khatami, Khamenei, Rafsanjani, Gilani and all those who played a role in this process. It is part of our battle against the Islamic Republic.
Translated: by Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya;
First Published: in Persian by Radio “International” in June 2000.