Shah Nah Nah
July 6, 1976 — The Daily Iowan
In July 1976, the University of Iowa’s student newspaper The Daily Iowan printed this lengthy letter from an Iranian student activist demonstrating the extent of the Shah’s oppressive rule, imploring readers to support the struggle against tyranny in his homeland.
Though we have not fact-checked all the claims made, one item in particular warrants skepticism. The writer mentions that 15,000 Iranians were killed by security forces during anti-government protests which began on June 5th, 1963.
While there is no doubt that a massacre took place, that staggering estimate, though a commonly cited figure, looks to be derived from supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini, who had touched off the anti-Shah riots during a speech castigating the monarch for a variety of sins, and/or the revolutionary government itself.
Whatever the number, however, there is no question that the bloodbath helped plant seeds of the Shah’s downfall in 1979.
Tuesday, July 6, 1976
U.S. cooperates in Iranian oppression
To the Editor:
....Recently The Daily Iowan published an article (June 14) on Iranian students in Iowa City which may have implied that we have little on our minds except the structures of social life. This is far from true. Iranian students must be increasingly concerned about the continuing dimunition of freedom in their native land, and they ask that their American friends will share their concern.
Not long ago, the Shah of Iran announced that all Iranians must believe in three principles of the current regime: the monarchy, the constitution and the Shah’s “white revolution.” Those who accept these “principles” must join the Shah’s new political party. Those who refuse to accept these tenets, should, the Shah proclaims, “leave the country or go to jail” (The Economist, March 8, 1975).
Article 310 of military law, applicable to Iranians both within and outside of national borders, establishes the Shah’s wish as law.
The firing squad may be a kind fate, however, compared to sophisticated tortures favored by SAVAK, the secret police of Iran. Openly contemptuous of sanctions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights against torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, SAVAK treatment of dissidents shocks even the staid London Times. In a Jan. 19, 1975 article, the paper reported on the medicines used to cure unhealthy opinions:
“The sustained flogging of the soles of the feet, extraction of the finger-and toenails, electric shock treatment to sexual organs, and the thrusting of a broken bottle into the anus of the prisoners suspended from a beam. And the hot table, electrically heated like a toaster — prisoners would, it is alleged, be strapped to the table, heated until it became red hot.” ....
“For more than half the families, the weekly income per person is less than $1.40. Seventy-three per cent of the working population lives on less than the government itself has established as subsistence wages. The importation of foreign commodities, the inflationary effect of the volume of oil money in the hands of the government, and high import taxes, diminish the buying power of these few dollars to practically nothing.
The condition of the peasantry is even worse. There is a shocking shortage of doctors, schools, sanitary services and roads. The median income of peasant families is around $112 per year. An agricultural worker who has the good fortune to work for the American agribusiness firm Shellcot receives $1.80 per day. The director collects an annual salary of $26,900. The invasion of the agribusiness interests and the continual indebtedness of the peasantry had led to the disintegration of peasant society and a massive migration to the cities. The land reform which the Shah boasts of is a cover for a new strata of landowners and money lenders to further enrich themselves....
The CIA fully supports the Shah’s exploitation of his land, and in fact engineered the 1953 coup which overthrew the popular government of Dr. Mossadegh. In CIA: The Inside Story, Andrew Tully concedes the coup was an American operation, unknowingly financed by American taxpayers to protect the interests of U.S. oil companies. The Mossadegh government nationalized these industries; after the coup, the [U.S.] oil monopolies were granted 40 per cent of the oil concessions by a grateful Shah. No wonder the Shah last week praised American intervention in the Time Bicentennial message.... [His message to America was actually far more nuanced]
Obviously indirect financial means — military advisors and U.S. industries — have been used to assure American ascendency in oil-rich Iran. The Rostow package of the Kennedy administration increased Iranian dependence on U.S. corporations even as it attempted to pacify opposition by throwing up a smokescreen of reforms. Such reforms did not prevent the mass murder of June, 1963, when 15,000 people were killed by the Shah’s tanks and machine guns for demonstrating against the unfair imprisonment of a religious leader. Those killed were peaceful and unarmed.
Under the Nixon Doctrine, Iran’s role was to crush internal opposition while serving the United States as the gendarme of American corporate interests in the Persian Gulf region. Therefore it rushed to aid Western-supported dictatorships, such as the Sultanate of Oman, which found themselves in trouble. Twenty-seven per cent of Iran’s national budget is swallowed by this assigned policing — not including the expenditures for military ports, roads, airports and the secret police....
Resistance to Iran’s fascist regime is increasing within Iran as underground resistance organizations grow at all levels of the social structure. This resistance must have an international dimension as well. It is the responsibility of American friends of freedom, either individuals or organizations, to demand an end to American-led involvement in Iran and in other neo-colonies of America in the Persian Gulf and other areas.
Support the just struggle of the people of Iran.
Iranian Students for Freedom
For more information, or to voice your support, write:
1220 W. Bryn Mawn
Chicago, Ill. 60660
ORIGINAL SIN: The 1953 Coup in Iran Clarified | by Arash Norouzi
Iranians Should Worry — The Chicago Sun-Times, February 21, 1977
Iranian Situation — Anonymous Letter to The Daily Illini (UIUC), October 23, 1969
Worth Listening To — The Cedar Rapids Gazette (Iowa), June 12, 1980
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”