1963 demonstrations in Iran
|15 Khordad incident|
|Part of the Iranian Revolution|
|Date||5 June 1963|
|Resulted in||Protests suppressed|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
The demonstrations of June 5 and 6, also called the events of June 1963 or (using the Iranian calendar) the 15 Khordad uprising (Persian: تظاهرات پانزده خرداد), were protests in Iran against the arrest of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after his denouncement of Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Israel. The Shah's regime was taken by surprise by the massive public demonstrations of support, and although these were crushed within days by the police and military, the events established the importance and power of (Shia) religious opposition to the Shah, and Khomeini as a major political and religious leader. Fifteen years later, Khomeini was to lead the Iranian Revolution which overthrew the Shah and his Pahlavi dynasty and established the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In 1963, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran's Shah started several modernizing reforms in Iran which was known as "The Revolution of the Shah and the People" or the White Revolution, it was referred to as white due to it being a bloodless revolution. These plans were to make social and economic changes in Iran. Therefore, on January 26, 1963, the Shah held a national referendum for 19 rules of White Revolution. The rules of this revolution were land reforms, nationalization of the forests and pastureland, privatization of the government owned enterprises, profit sharing, extending the right to vote to women, formation of the literacy corps, formation of the health corps, formation of the reconstruction and development corps, formation of the houses of equity, nationalization of all water resources, urban and rural modernization and reconstruction, didactic reforms, workers' right to own shares in the industrial complexes, price stabilization, free and compulsory education, free food for needy mothers, introduction of social security and national insurance, stable and reasonable cost of renting or buying of residential properties, and introduction of measures to fight against corruption. The Shah announced this revolution as a way towards Modernization. Also, other sources believe that the Shah could give legitimacy to Pahlavi dynasty with his White Revolution. The revolution caused a deep rift between Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Iranian Shia religious scholars, Ulama. They claimed these changes were a serious threat to Islam. Ruhollah Khomeini was one of the objectors who held a meeting with other Maraji and scholars in Qom and boycotted the referendum of the revolution. On January 22, 1963, Khomeini issued a worded declaration denouncing the Shah and his plans. Khomeini continued his denunciation of the Shah's programs, issuing a manifesto that also bore the signatures of eight other senior religious scholars. In it he listed the various ways in which the Shah had violated the constitution, condemned the spread of moral corruption in the country, and accused the Shah of submission to the U.S. and Israel. He also decreed that the Norooz celebrations for the Iranian year 1342 (which fell on March 21, 1963) be canceled as a sign of protest against government policies.
Khomeini's sermon and arrest
On the afternoon of June 3, 1963, Ashoura, Khomeini delivered a speech at the Feyziyeh School in which he drew parallels between the Umayyad Caliph Yazid I and the Shah. He denounced the Shah as a "wretched, miserable man", and warned him that if he did not change his ways the day would come when the people would offer up thanks for his departure from the country. In Tehran, a Muharram march of Khomeini supporters estimated at 100,000 marched past the Shah's palace, chanting "Death to the Dictator, death to the dictator! God save you, Khomeini! Death to the bloodthirsty enemy!"
As dawn broke on June 5, the news of his arrest spread first through Qom and then to other cities. In Qom, Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad and Varamin, masses of angry demonstrators were confronted by tanks and paratroopers. In Tehran, demonstrators attacked police stations, SAVAK offices and government buildings, including ministries. The surprised government declared martial law and a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The shah then ordered a division of the Imperial Guard, under the command of Major General Gholam Ali Oveisi, to move into the city and crush the demonstrations. The following day, protest groups took to the street in smaller numbers and were confronted by tanks and "soldier in combat gear with shoot-to-kill orders". The village of Pishva near Varamin became famous during the uprising. Several hundred villagers from Pishva began marching to Tehran, shouting "Khomeini or Death". They were stopped at a railroad bridge by soldiers who opened fire with machine guns when the villagers refused to disperse and attacked the soldiers "with whatever they had". Whether "tens or hundreds" were killed is "unclear". It was not until six days later that order was fully restored.
According to journalist Baqer Moin, police files indicate 320 people from a wide variety of backgrounds, including 30 leading clerics, were arrested on June 5. The files also list 380 people as killed or wounded in the uprising, not including those who did not go to hospital "for fear of arrest", or who were taken to the morgue or buried by security forces.
Release of Khomeini
Hardliners in the regime (Prime Minister Asadollah Alam, SAVAK head Nematollah Nassiri) favored execution of Khomeini, as one responsible for the riots, and (less-violent) strikes and protests continued in bazaars and elsewhere. Fateme Pakravan – wife of Hassan Pakravan, chief of SAVAK – says in her memoirs that her husband saved Khomeini's life in 1963. Pakravan felt that his execution would anger the common people of Iran. He presented his argument to the Shah. Once he had convinced the Shah to allow him to find a way out, he called on Ayatollah Mohammad-Kazem Shariatmadari, one of the senior religious leaders of Iran, and asked for his help. Shariatmadari suggested that Khomeini be declared a Marja. So, other Marjas made a religious decree which was taken by Pakravan and Seyyed Jalal Tehrani to the Shah. Pakravan's saving of Khomeini's life cost him his own. After the revolution when he was given a death sentence, a personal contact of Pakravan with close ties to Khomeini went to seek his pardon and reminded Khomeini that Pakravan had saved his life, to which Khomeini replied "he should not have."
After nineteen days in the Qasr Prison, Khomeini was moved first to the Eshratabad military base and then to a house in the Davoodiyeh section of Tehran where he was kept under surveillance. He was released on April 7, 1964, and returned to Qom.
After the revolution
The date of 15 Khordad is widely noted throughout the Islamic Republic of Iran. Among other places, the intersection known as 15 Khordad Crossroads, a 15th of Khordad Metro Station are named after it. Coincidentally, Khomeini died twenty-six years later in 1989, on the eve of 15 Khordad.
- Rahnema, Ali (February 20, 2013) [December 15, 2008]. "JAMʿIYAT-E MOʾTALEFA-YE ESLĀMI i. Hayʾathā-ye Moʾtalefa-ye Eslāmi 1963-79". Encyclopædia Iranica. Fasc. 5. XIV. New York City: Bibliotheca Persica Press. pp. 483–500. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
...the initial organization and mobilization of the demonstrations that occurred in Tehran after the arrest of Khomeini on 5 June 1963, was the work of the Coalition...
- Shahibzadeh, Yadullah (2016). Islamism and Post-Islamism in Iran: An Intellectual History. Springer. p. 34. ISBN 9781137578259.
The Freedom Movement participated actively in the 1963 uprising, instigated by Khomeini. The leading and younger members of the movement were imprisoned after the event.
- Hosseini, Mir M. "The 15 Khordad Uprising". The Iranian History Article. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
- Moin, Baqer (2000). Khomeini, Life of an Ayatollah. New York City: St. Martin's Press. p. 104. OCLC 255085717.
- Staff (undated). "Ayatollah Khomeini Biography" Bio. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- Saeed Rahnema; Sohrab Behdad (15 September 1996). Iran After the Revolution: Crisis of an Islamic State. I.B.Tauris. pp. 21–35. ISBN 978-1-86064-128-2.
- P. Avery; William Bayne Fisher; G. R. G. Hambly; C. Melville (10 October 1991). The Cambridge History of Iran. Cambridge University Press. p. 281,448. ISBN 978-0-521-20095-0.
- Hossein Alikhani (2000). Sanctioning Iran: Anatomy of a Failed Policy. I.B.Tauris. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-86064-626-3.
- Heather Lehr Wagner (2010). The Iranian Revolution. Infobase Publishing. pp. 39–45. ISBN 978-1-4381-3236-5.
- "History of Iran: Ayatollah Khomeini".
- Moin, Baqer (2000). Khomeini, Life of an Ayatollah. New York City: St. Martin's Press. p. 106. OCLC 255085717.
- Moin, Baqer (2000). Khomeini, Life of an Ayatollah. New York City: St. Martin's Press. pp. 111–113. OCLC 255085717.
- Pakravan, Fatemeh (1998). Memoirs of Fatemeh Pakravan – Wife of Gen. Hassan Pakravan, Army Officer, Chief of State Security & Intelligence Organization, Cabinet Minister. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies. ISBN 978-0-932-88519-7.
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