“What Mossadegh was trying to do was for the good of the country, and he gave it his best shot.” — Ebrahim Golestan
On August 19, 1953, Ebrahim Golestan was going about his day when he noticed the beginnings of what would become known as Bistehasht-e-Mordad — the violent overthrow of the popular Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh.
Golestan was not only an eyewitness to the coup, he had actually been to Mossadegh’s home, filmed inside and spoken with the Premier just two days prior. Where is that film today? Golestan is no longer in possession, but believes it is probably in the archives of NBC in New York.
Last year, the famed filmmaker, writer and journalist, at age 91 and living in England, was interviewed by BBC Persian about his memories of the 60-year old event:
Ebrahim Golestan Describes 28 Mordad Coup
Translated by Ebrahim Norouzi, MD — © 2014 The Mossadegh Project
“[That day] I got into my car and went to Tupkhaneh (Sepah Square), where the Ministry of Post and Telegraph was located. I quickly jumped out of my car and went into the ministry building to send someone a telegram. As soon as I went inside, the door to the building was shut behind me. I ran up to the balcony and saw that people wielding knives and clubs, organized by Ayatollah Kashani, had come to the square and were beating people up for no apparent reason. Otherwise, the traffic was normal and people were going about their lives as usual. The assailants would jump on the people and beat them as they were cursing without any provocation. I was on the balcony of the ministry building and could see everything. I could not, however, get out of the building. The beatings went on for about two hours and the men then moved to the adjacent street and started to beat up people there.
[When I could get out of the building] a little after noon time... and reached the “Pich-e-Shemiran” [on Pahlavi Avenue, current intersection of Engelab and Shariati Avenues] I heard on the radio that they had gone to the [nearby] radio broadcasting area and had taken over the station. At the time I was near my sister’s house and decided to go there for some rest and cup of tea. When I got to my sister’s house, located in a lane off Pahlavi Avenue, I heard the sound of shooting. This was when the army personnel with two or three tanks had invaded Mossadegh’s house. I did not have any film with me to shoot and did not go to Mossadegh’s residence. Then after a while things got quiet and I suddenly saw a crowd of people, men, women, boys, big and small who were coming back from looting Mossadegh’s house. They were carrying a mirror, chandelier and anything else they had found and were presumably taking them back to their homes.
Then it became dark and since there was a military curfew I decided to stay in my sister’s house for the night. Early morning the following day, I wanted to go to Mossadegh’s house [on Kakh Ave.] but security forces had blocked all connecting streets. I drove to the end of Kakh Avenue and saw that the soldiers were standing in the middle of street but when they noticed my camera they let me in. I went to Mossadegh’s house and saw a scene of total devastation. I knew the house well, but this time on 29 Mordad, [Aug. 20] it was in a deplorable state. Everything had been destroyed. The room that I had taken pictures [a couple of days prior], the furniture had been stolen and curtains had been taken off the windows. The only thing that was still in the room was a large safe, which is in my film, that had been broken open and all the content had been stolen, except three or four crumpled papers that were strewn on the floor.
When I looked through the window over to the yard, it was a total disaster. The entire yard was covered with documents and papers that the looters had apparently found no use for. Mossadegh also had no choice but to escape, otherwise he would have been torn to pieces.
What Mossadegh was trying to do was for the good of the country, and he gave it his best shot. The people were wholeheartedly behind his agenda but did not understand the issues thoughtfully or in terms of economy and others, even now after sixty years...”
The Capture of Radio Tehran | August 19, 1953 (AUDIO)