We must recognize the huge sacrifices made by thousands
of "Tudehies" for a better Iran
By Babak Khosravi
September 9, 2003
August 19th, 2003 marked the 50th anniversary of
1953 CIA coup in Iran. This event changed the lives of generations
of Iranians. To me this event isn't some abstract historical
occurrence. I grew up with stories about it, like so many other
I was born many years after the coup. When I was a child in Iran,
sometimes I would see posters in stores celebrating this event
as a popular uprising against evildoers. I even
remember the square in Tehran with a huge statue of a soldier slaying
a dragon. The dragon represented communism.
usually written by the victors, and the Shah, the US and Britain,
were the victors on that fateful day in 1953. That was the history
that was fed to us in school. But, when I would come
home from school I would hear the other version of history, the real history.
My parents, uncles, older
cousins and grand parents were all involved, in some way,
in the political events of late 1940's and
50's. I would hear stories from my dad who had spend
three years in prison for his activities as a member of the Tudeh
Party. I would hear stories from my mom -- also a member
of the Tudeh Party's youth organization -- about how she and
my dad met and fell in love. They were so young and, yes, they
Hearing their stories, I would picture an epic
against a backdrop of monumental historical events. Almost
like a Hollywood epic. But, this was no movie.
They spoke of their
comrades or other people who were shot by the Shah's troops, crushed
under tanks, stabbed to death by the Shah's
hired tugs, tortured, exiled, and executed. They would always talk
about Vartan, Jahangir, Anousheh and many others who lost their
lives in the struggle. I heard how my own father was tortured for
and almost got executed because he was a Tudeh communist.
he and many others risked life and limb to distribute newspapers
and books. How they organized the students, women and workers to
demand their just rights. How they sacrificed years of their youth
for the people of their homeland and for peace and justice in the
world. Yes my father's crime was that he wanted to make
Iran a better place for all and not just a handful of rich aristocrats
and landowners who were bought by the British or the American governments.
My mom told me about how her family had to move frequently from
one house to another because of my uncle's political activities;
the police were looking for him. Yes he was a member of the Party
At that time
almost anybody who cared for the welfare of the Iranian
people was a member or a supporter of the Party.
She told me about
the time after the coup when my grandmother, on a visit to the
military prison to see my uncle, was given his bloody and
torn underpants. My grandmother thought her son had died under
My mom told me about a day in the fall of 1954 when she went
to visit my uncle in prison, and how she saw families of the
first group of communist officers who were about to be executed
the following morning. The families were crying and begging
prison authorities for mercy.
My dad would tell me his prison stories.
How he and his comrades resisted physical and mental torture. How
they organized themselves
in prison and formed communes. How non-political prisoners respected
the young communists, because they were imprisoned for their
beliefs, not for any
These may be taboo subjects for many Iranians, because they
have always heard the story from one side. The "Tudehie"
side has rarely been told. The propaganda has always been that
a bunch of rag tag Soviet agents. My parents and their comrades
were never that. They have always been honest, compassionate, hardworking,
selfless people. All of them were and are proud of the path they
took. There were many flaws and mistakes. But, overall they feel
they did good and they would do it again if they were to live again.
is the forgotten history of that era. I call these people the forgotten
generation, because no one speaks of their sacrifice.
But I will and I hope many others will too. It does not matter
if one agrees or not with the policies of the Tudeh Party.
What matters is that we must recognize the huge sacrifices made
by thousands of its memebers in their struggle for
a better Iran and against the British and American intervention
in our homeland.
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