Dr. Shahpour Bakhtiar.
Find out more about Dr. Bakhtiar
are extracts from The Story of the Revolution produced by the BBC Persian
One: 1st comment
"One night, as
I was tossing and turning in bed, I asked myself: what would happen if
I were to go myself and meet him unconditionally and ask him: `Sir, let
us explore what you really want. I am prepared to sit with you and discuss
all the problems concerning my country. Bring anyone you wish. I shall
not bring anyone, but if you were to require that I should, whoever you
suggest, I can convince him to accompany me.` The next morning I telephoned
Bazargan and informed him of my intention. Bazargan agreed with me, because
he could see the difficulty of the situation. He said that it was a good
idea and asked me to write down whatever I was going to put to Khomeini.
I said that I would write it all down and would have it delivered to him
so that he could add his own suggestions. What I wrote turned out to be
a letter of about ten lines, which said: `Your Eminence Grand Ayatollah
Khomeini, may God increase your blessings. I have played my insignificant
role of fighting despotism for many years and have done this and that
and have suffered the consequences.... I share the people's enthusiasm
in their great movement towards freedom. During the short time sinceI
have accepted to take charge, I have helped the movement by doing this
and that. Now I am ready to sit with Your Eminence the Ayatollah, not
as the prime minister but as an ordinary Iranian, to review the country's
problems. If you were to declare readiness to receive me unconditionally
as well, I would come to see you within 24 hours.` I even went and arranged
to receive some foreign currency from the bank. I organized my passport
and prepared every thing in a matter of two hours. We had a plane ready
and Bazargan said that he wanted to accompany me. I told him: `Fine you
come with me in the plane, but do not come all the way to Paris. This
plane will land in Nice and there one of us can disembark to take another
plane to Paris. I am concerned that if we arrive together in Paris, some
people may say that we have colluded with each other.` Well, Bazargan
had enemies too and everything was possible. Anyway, he read the letter
and we discussed it for two hours. Afterwards I said: `There is only one
problem. You and I, as two Iranians, have discussed our country's problems
politely, but I think others should judge the letter too.` I signed the
letter and instructed some one to deliver it to Mr Beheshti, who was the
head of their [the revolutionaries '] committee. (the same Ayatollah Beheshti
who was killed later). Beheshti said that the idea was very good. His
exact words were: `it is a very good idea, good thinking and I endorse
it'. I know that in addition to Beheshti, two or three other people agreed
with it. Mr Beheshti kept the letter to read it overnight. We, Bazargan
and I, were all excited about the next day and kept discussing the arrangements
for our morning flight. We said: `Well, we meet at the royal pavilion
in the airport and fly together'. Let me summarize that we came to the
conclusion that Khomeini would either say yes or not. If he were to agree
to sit and talk to me, he would lose half of his charisma [spiritual appeal].
And should he refuse to see me, then we would tell the Iranian people:
`Look what sort of a man he is; we are offering to see him and he is not
prepared to discuss anything. This fellow does not understand anything."
One: 2nd comment
[Ayatollah Khomeini] accepted the letter and agreed to meet me, but somehow
somebody there made him change his mind. I do not care who was instrumental
in this, but I regret that a figure such as Ayatollah Khomeini should
go back on his word only hours after having given a firm undertaking.
This is highly regrettable. However, I was the winner, because I proved
my good will and eagerness to solve the country's problems. Ayatollah
Khomeini first accepted and then went back on his word."
Two: 1st comment
one country and it shall have one government and one army. Iran shall
never have two governments under any circumstances. Unfortunately some
people have become accustomed to dictatorship. They accepted Mohammad
Reza Shah's dictatorship and maybe another future dictatorship would be
to their satisfaction too. However, I am in favour of freedom and liberty
in this country and nothing else."
"I wrote twice to the chief of the army's joint
staff to go ahead and strike. I wrote during the National Security Council
meeting and thrust the paper in front of Rabi'i. I said: `In order to
stop the Air Force, in view of the fact that your arms manufacturing plant
is located there, you have to use loud speakers to warn the public that
they have entered a military compound and have one hour to get out. If
they refuse to do so, you should bomb the machine-gun manufacturing area.
I shall take responsibility for any casualties."
"On the contrary, I had ordered reinforcements from
Qasvin and informed Qarabaghi of my decision."
"I had an appointment with Mr Qarabaghi. I had given
them a plan to carry out. This plan indicated that the marshal law troops
should strictly enforce the curfew regulations and immediately arrest
anyone failing to obey it. I wanted them to be heavy-handed and avoid
the softly-softly approach. The plan was approved by the National Security
Council. It was agreed that if we came across any obstacles, we should
postpone the plan until the following night. Qarabaghi was supposed to
come and see me at eight thirty the next morning to report whether there
had been any problems. During the night, I telephoned him three times
and every time he gave me some vague answers that he had sent troops here,
tanks there and so on. I was in my office at eight thirty the next morning,
but he did not turn up. I waited until nine o'clock but there was still
no sign of him. It was very easy to come and see me, because he always
came by helicopter and the military college was only a stone's throw away.
I became suspicious as to why he had not turned up. I telephoned his office
several times and each time I was told that he was in a very important
meeting. I went to the balcony, where I could hear the sound of sporadic
machine-gun fire. I waited until ten o'clock and all the time kept wondering
what I should do. A couple of my friends and two or three Bakhtiari men
were there. I told them to prepare my car and leave the gates open. It
was a special bullet-proof car for prime ministers and I also ordered
two extra cars to be made ready. However, I told them that I was not going
to leave until the ceiling of my office was hit by machine-gun bullets.
Qarabaghi telephoned at ten thirty. It was Sunday morning 22nd Bahman.
I asked him: `General, what happened? Where were you?` He replied: `Your
Excellency. Prime Minister, the army has just now declared its neutrality.`
As soon as I heard that, I went to a different world. I told him: `Neutrality
between who and who? Is it neutrality between law and anarchy? Is it neutrality
between Iran and Iran's enemies? How come I failed to predict such a thing?
Thank you General. thank you very much.` I then put the phone down."
Four: 2nd comment
"The radio had received the news [of the army's neutrality] before
I did. I waited until one thirty in the afternoon, before deciding that
there was no alternative left to me. I could see that when the people
realized that the military men had decided to withdraw, no one could stop
the others. I ordered a helicopter to land in the grounds of the military
college. The helicopter arrived at about two o'clock in the afternoon.
I picked up a few of my personal belongings and went downstairs. As I
went down my secretary Ms Kalantari asked me: `What time will you return
sir?` I replied: `I do not know, but I will come back one day.` As I came
through the doorway, there was one captain, two NCOs and four soldiers.
They stood in attention and saluted me. One of them said: `We are almost
totally surrounded now. ` I shook hands with them individually and got
into the car, which then drove to the military college only a hundred
metres down the road. When I arrived there, a similar procedure took place.
I got into the helicopter and it took off. I said: `How amazing! We want
to give these people freedom and democracy, and they do not want it. What
could we possibly do? I do not know, but despite the sadness, I experienced
relief. Believe me, it seemed as if a huge burden, as heavy as Damavand
Mountain, had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt as if I were flying
with my own wings."