Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Documents of the 3rd Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists on the International Situation

Montreal, September 9, 10, 11, 1977

Speech by Iranian Students

Fourteen years ago, on June 6th, 1963, the heroic Iranian people once more raised their voices in protest and resistance against the latest conspiracy for their further exploitation and oppression by the Shah’s puppet regime and its master, US imperialism. On that day, over 10,000 people were gunned down and murdered by a regime whose reign was implemented and maintained at the expense of the blood and sweat of the Iranian masses. The memory of that day will always burn in the hearts and minds of the Iranian people not only because those thousands of our people whose cries filled the four corners of our country and whose blood colored the streets of our cities once more proved the extent of Iranian people’s heroism and sacrifice; not only because of our hatred for a system which has no choice but to answer the least voice of resistance with its guns and bullets, but also because of the historic significance of those events in terms of our people’s movement, and also because its significance can only be understood in the context of an analysis of the weaknesses and shortcomings which led to its painful, if temporary, defeat, and the strengths which will help lead to its ultimate victory.

To understand the importance of this historic event which was a turning point in the history of our movement, we must first answer certain specific questions: what changes within the socio-economic structure of Iran brought the uprising to the surface, and what moves was the reaction making, and what were the legacies of the movement after the uprising and what were the outcomes of its defeat?

A brief look at the condition of our country after the bloody coup d’Etat of 1953 will make the picture more clear.

The Iranian people had paid a great deal as a result of the CIA coup d’Etat. In those days they had rushed into the streets-to defend their popular government. They had torn down the statues of the Shah, marching triumphantly down the streets. But soon the chants were replaced by the sound of bullets and hope had already begun to turn into despair. American imperialism entered officially into Iran, smelling of gunpowder and blood. The two significant points about this coup were the dominance of US imperialism, a more concentrated form of reaction and oppression; and the treason of a part of the movement’s leadership, especially that of the Tudeh party whose leaders had either escaped the country or were sending out invitations asking members to give up. Some of the so-called leaders of the movement were now the friends and henchmen of the reactionary police.

The years following the coup were years of silence, the movement was in an ebb, while the reaction was becoming more concentrated. In the late 1950’s and early 60’s, the crisis within the capitalist system, the need for further expansion of US imperialism’s markets, and the crisis within the Iranian society led to the infamous “White Revolution” and the so-called reforms that came with it. The US-devised reforms sounded the death toll of feudalism and promised the absolute rule of Iran’s dependent capitalism.

It would have been to the Imperialists’ advantage to fulfill their latest plans of treachery under the mask of liberalism and reformism. They had tried to win over the right section of the nationalist movement, which was quickly changing its amphibious life in favor of the imperialists, and thereby suppress the more radical section. But Iran’s middle class, especially the lower strata, the shopkeepers and small merchants, saw their own destruction in the rise of the new capitalist class, and together with the toiling classes and relying on rich traditions of struggle in the past 70 years, put up a fierce resistance and quickly ripped the liberal mask of the imperialist robber barons and exposed the hideous dictatorship beneath it.

But this resistance and rebellion had not, and could not have, a leadership but that of the old reformist lines which many times before had led our people to the dead-ends of defeat and despair. These lines could not even answer the needs of the pre-coup d’Etat conditions; and now, in the face of the new ruling capitalist class, with its concentrated and more complex system of exploitation, and against worst forms of fascism and repression, these lines were raising the same old slogans, asking the Shah for “Monarchy, not dictatorship”.

So when the people’s resistance reached its climax on June 6th, the leadership could not but lead the people into the streets to confront the guns and tanks, bayonets and bullets, with their bare hands. Before the day was out between 10 and 15 thousand were killed and were buried in the outskirts of Teheran and other cities.

Thus the new dependent capitalism asserted its rule in the harshest manner, while on that day the old reformist lines of organizations such as the National Front, the Iran Freedom Movement and the Tudeh Party, were formally and officially buried.

One statement kept being repeated: “One cannot confront tanks and guns empty-handed”. Within this simple statement were laid the seeds of Iran’s new revolutionary movement.

The following years were years of sum-up, years of silence, yet underneath the surface a new life was beginning and beneath the seeming calm, a storm was brewing and taking shape.

The ruling capitalist regime was consolidating itself militarily, politically and ideologically. The atmosphere it had created was one of extreme repression and fear, but our people had not forgotten the stormy days before the 1953 coup, they had not forgotten the cries of rage and defiance in the summer of 63, nor had they forgotten the blood spilt on that day and the ineptness and treason of the old leadership.

The new revolutionary movement and its vanguard fighters had to not only confront one of the most fascist dictatorship in the world, but they also had to combat the old reformist thoughts which although defeated in practice, had left their deep scars on our movement. They had to combat the despair and mistrust produced by the defeat in June 63; they had to struggle on all levels in theory and practice against the residues of the old reformism.

Through application of the general scientific laws of revolution they had to mould and formulate that revolutionary theory which would be the guiding light of the Iranian people’s movement. For this task they had to start from zero, as no rich experience was left for the young revolutionary movement to use and develop.

But these years were marked by upsurge of revolutionary struggles the world over, from Vietnam to Mozambique, to Palestine and Oman. These struggles, together with the great struggle in the international communist movement led by the CPC and the PLA against revisionism headed by the CPSU, greatly affected the groups which were forming in Iran at this time.

It was very clear after the June uprising that counter-revolutionary violence can only be answered with revolutionary violence and that our people will only gain their freedom and independence through overthrowing the Shah’s fascist regime and ending all imperialist domination. What was to be answered was how to agitate for, propagate and organize this revolutionary violence, how to form organizations which can withstand the worst forms of fascism and be able to mobilize the masses. In the words of Amir Parviz Pouyan, one of the founders of the OIPFG:

In order to be able to endure this situation, grow and create the political organization of the working class, we must break the spell of our weakness, we must establish a direct and firm relationship with the masses.

It was in answer to this specific question that the theory of revolutionary armed struggle was developed by various vanguards groups. Thus, on the ruins of the old defeats, and the ashes of reformism and opportunism of the past, the theory of armed struggle was taking shape. It was to become the answer to our masses’ highest hopes and aspirations.

In the feverish and expectant years after 1963, many groups were formed. The majority of these groups, whether Marxist-Leninist or religious, adopted armed struggle as the correct path for Iran’s revolutionary movement. The Palestine group attempted to send its cadres to Palestine in preparation for armed struggle. The Armanue Khalgh group, Jazani’s group and Ajamadzadeh’s group and the OMPI were all preparing for armed struggle.

The winter of 1971, in Siahkal village in Northern Iran, began the first armed action against the fascist Shah’s regime. The sound of guns fired at Siahkal was to spread all across our country. It had taken our movement eight years of preparation for the struggle which guaranteed that the blood shed on June 6th was not sacrificed in vain.

After Siahkal, the Ahmad Zadeh group and the Jazani group merged and formed the OIPFG, and Armanue Khalgh, the OMPI and many others openly had begun the path of vanguard armed struggle.

The first stage of vanguard armed struggle was centered around organization, agitation and propagation of revolutionary violence against counter-revolutionary violence. What was needed was the creation of such a political atmosphere which, by overcoming the prevailing apathy and despair, could attract to the movement and mobilize the most conscious and advanced of the intelligentsia. The OMPI sums up this stage in these words:

These conclusions that the armed movement in the recent years has had tremendous influence in releasing the society’s revolutionary energies, and bringing to the fore the hidden revolutionary potential of various classes of people, directing them towards political, even military struggle against the regime; and that despite its short life, the armed movement has been greatly effective in raising the political and social view point of great sections of different classes of our people – an influence, the extent of which after the oil nationalization movement is incomparable with any other period of struggle, and finally the fact that the vanguard armed struggle has rallied the support of portions of classes of our people, especially the intelligentsia and various strata of the urban petty-bourgeoisie – all these cannot be denied even by the most stubborn initial opponents of the line of armed struggle.

It was also during this period that a tremendous change occurred within Iran’s revolutionary movement. The OMPI, after 10 years of underground revolutionary work, four years of armed struggle and two years of consistent inter-organizational ideological struggle, changed from Islamic to Marxist-Leninist ideology. In the “Manifesto of the ideological positions of the OMPI” October ’75 they write:

This manifesto shows how we have risen up to struggle against the roots of wrong ideas and incorrect methods of work in our organization; how we succeeded in establishing sincerity and a deeper ideological unity in our organization, and reached the truth of Marxism-Leninism In the process of uncompromising struggle against the ruling puppet regime and in the course of the most sincere efforts for solving the most essential problems of revolution.

Today the new revolutionary movement has begun its second phase of struggle which is basically centered around the move towards total integration with the struggle of the toiling masses, especially that of the working class. The conditions of Iran at this period, namely the deepening crisis within the dependent capitalist system of Iran – astronomic inflation, shortages of basic necessities, etc. – and hence the growing dissatisfaction and struggle of the Iranian workers and other popular classes and strata on the one hand, and the political-organizational consolidation of the revolutionary vanguard organizations, on the other hand, have provided a very fertile ground for the integration of these two forces. Many important tasks face the revolutionary organizations at this period; tasks which are based on the concrete analysis of the relationship between the vanguard armed movement and various classes and strata of our people and on a precise appraisal of the different revolutionary forces and their relationship to one another. Based on this analysis, the vanguard armed organizations have deepened and expanded their political-organizational work within the working class, through armed propaganda, formation of factory neuclei, publication of workers’ organs, etc.

In the face of the difficulties of the tasks confronting the movement, while the enemy is most concentrated and the forces of the movement are scattered, the unity of revolutionary forces becomes more crucial than ever. It is through this unity that the common struggle of all these forces against the fascist regime and its imperialist masters can be led to final victory.

Precisely because of this stage and the need for clarification of the lines within the movement, ideological struggle assumes great significance. While this struggle goes on within the ranks of the revolutionary movement and between its two main organizations, the OMPI and the OIPFG to achieve a higher level of unity, it is also being waged against the opportunists who have no choice but to justify their existence through negating the revolutionary movement and its organizations. Obviously, further development of the revolutionary movement depends on overcoming and exposing these opportunist theories at each stage and likewise the revolutionary organizations consider this ideological struggle as an integral part of their activities and, through its successful conduction, consolidate the position of the revolutionary movement.

Thus today, fourteen years after the bloody suppression of the June 6th uprising, the Iranian people and their anti-imperialist movement are facing completely different conditions. While the puppet regime of the Shah has given unbelievable dimensions to its fascist terror, the Iranian revolutionaries have been able to create organizations that can prepare the masses for the final battles against the enemy. The factories, universities and prison houses of the regime have been turned into battle grounds of resistance and struggle. No doubt the successful integration of the revolutionary movement with the spontaneous struggles of the toiling masses will be a major step forward in the long and torturous road to liberation.

In this road our people are not alone. The cries of liberation and revolution have filled the four corners of the world, the masses have risen to fulfill the goals of the struggle which began with the exploitation and oppression of one class by another and which will end with the total victory of the oppressed and exploited over their oppressors and exploiters.

The Shah’s, Carter’s, Hussein’s, Vorster’s and Marcos all speak the same language: language of guns and bullets. Their common ties arise from their common interests in the exploitation of the toiling masses. US and Israeli-made equipments torture Iranian revolutionaries and the jets supplied by the Shah bomb Eritrea, and the Shah’s mercenary army massacres the heroic Omani people. But it is not they who have the final say. Rather it is the masses of people, who for so long have made the guns which are used against them, who will unite and overthrow the system of imperialism.

The peoples of Vietnam, Mozambique, Cambodia and Laos have shown this; the people of Palestine, Oman, Eritrea and southern Africa, millions of workers and oppressed nationalities in the US and other imperialist countries know this and will certainly be victorious in fulfilling their great and glorious historic task.