Dr Shapour Bakhtiar


Dr Shapour Bakhtiar
by IRANdokht

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the brutal assassination of a true patriot.

Dr Shapour Bakhtiar was our last hope during the chaos of 1979. After 25 years of being a member of the opposition to Shah's regime, a firm opponent of all totalitarian rulers, Dr Bakhtiar courageously accepted the prime minister position at the very end of the Persian monarchy, fighting to save his beloved country from the bloody claws of the islamic theocracy. His voice was only brave one, resisting the impeding catastrophe that eventually fell upon our Iran.

Dr Bakhtiar foresaw what other intellectuals of the times were too blind to see: He called for a peaceful transition to a democratic government instead of an islamic republic.

Dr Bakhtiar endured accusations, harrassments and protests every day of the short time he was in office, and faced with all the emotionally charged riots, he offered Iranians the only time in the history when freedom of speech was enjoyed by all, the newspapers and newsletters were distributed without any censorship. The TV and the radio, although run by goverment, covered all the news without bias or any cover-ups and most importantly he disbanded SAVAK.

How did the people of Iran respond to such a great man? I don't even want to remember the insulting slogans, the false accusations and the ignorance that had creeped over our people...

I am sure some of you remember those days better than I do. But does any of you still cry when you think back and wonder why nobody supported this great man's fight to save Iran?

Dr. Bakhtiar was brutally assassinated by the agents of IRI in 1991 at his home in Paris.

May this lone hero of our times rest in eternal peace.

Part 1

Part 2


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I hope you are right...

by Fair on

Dear Irandokht,


I hope you are right (although I don't remember hearing the phrase "silent majority" in Iran. Could you please remind us of the Farsi phrase that was used, and by whom?)


Furthermore, this silent majority was missing some very notable people- for example the entire leadership of Jebhe Melli, Bazargan, Banisadr, as well as the left. Why would they all publicly turn their back on this concept, and in JM's case its core principle? Could it be because they realized that they would not have enough support?

And why would the Shah's soldiers not fight with full force? Could it be that their commanders did not want to shoot at large numbers of people, their own people? Could that in turn be because those commanders looked at the Shah, and saw a man who also did not want to massacre his own people to stay in power (some of them begged him to allow them to shoot, in vain)?

Could it be that this was because the unity of the people was so overwhelmingly against the Shah in for Khomeini that any discussion of any alternative was off the table?

People casually gather at car accidents, or socialize in crowds, like a concert or something. But people don't just go casually to a demonstration, especially when there is risk of violence and shooting and bloodshed. People don't just go in millions to welcome Khomeini for fun.

They go there because they believe in it.

So now I would love to have some indication that our silent majority was larger than the other majority- the crowds in the streets. I have been looking for 30 years, and haven't found any so far.






p.s. Also, for the sake of historical FAIRness, Shah with this action showed he was NOT a bloodthirsty dictator like
Saddam Hussein or Khomeini. What do you think any of these two people
would have done when faced with such rebellion?

How many mass graves were found after the fall of the Shah?



Thank you Fair

by Souri on

It was just to say that, if the supporter of the Islamist
were in the majority it's because that the average age of those people was above of those in the opposition. I am not opening another chapter in Politics which may relates more to the sociology and the study of the population' s tissues....etc. Sorry I am off topic now. So I better shut up :O)

Thanks also for the clarification for the gender, I always thought you were a lady :O))

Kambis Mehran

A true Iranian he was!

by Kambis Mehran on

Dr. Bakhtiar was a true Persian and Iranian. May his soul rest in peace. He will always be missed.  The anti-Iranian forces that killed him, do not give a damn about Iran, the parasite occupiers of our dear homeland will get what they deserve.


That is a good question...

by Fair on

Dear Souri,

You raise a good point- how objective can a young teenager be. I wasn't even 15 years old back then. But my common sense told me this is a bad idea. And I wasn't even anti-religious, as most people in my family were religious.

My common sense just told me that if people are complaining that Shah did not tolerate dissent and there was no freedom, what made them think that a government run by Islamic clergy would be any different. Furthermore, I saw that all the free countries in the world were run by secular governments, and that the darkest periods of their histories were ones of religious rule. That's it.

So maybe a < 15 year old boy is not capable of looking at Iranian society. But in this case that boy seemed more objective than 98% of the adults:)





by Khar on

Meaning of democratic Republic: Accountability of the government towards people. Perhaps Lincoln said it best; “Government of people by he people for the people”. This idea although has it’s origin in the west but hardly a western idea it has spread around the world in the last 200 years. Fathers of American Revolution had formulated the Republicanism through the U.S Constitution and a form of government which had roots in French revolution and the classical Greek democracy. Thomas Jefferson founded the first Democratic Republican party in America around 1792. These same Ideas; Elected Government, Accountability of the Government, Constitutionalism, rule of law and Transparency in government which has been promoted and now are knows as Jeffersonian democracy has also have been strived for throughout the last 150 years of Iranian history as well. But unfourtunetly the forces of repression always cut the budding flowers of the Iranian homegrown democracy movements be it the revolts against Naseredin Shah 50 years dictatorship, 1905 Constitutional Movement, Dr. Mossadegh Government to the 1979 Revolution. Democratic Republicanism was also the demand of Iranian people 30 years ago as well unfortunately forces of repression once again this time in the Trojan Horse of “Islamic Republic” again cut that budding flower. Unfortunately due to fact of historical repression that we Iranians are not familiar with practicing democracy although we had 150 years of struggle for democracy but it did not get rooted in our culture and psyche. In my view today struggle against IRI is not and should not be just merely for changing in the form but in substance as well. Bakhiar also thought (although in vain) that he can promote democracy, one mistake he made was to allow the forces of repression from monarchy to islamic clergy to play him as a fool. He should have declared Iran a Republic when he had a chance, but he missed that golden opportunity. Iran would have had an alternative to Shah and Mulahs in that point in history. Can you imagine if he had perhaps we had achieve or closer to these ideals of “Democratic Republicanism”; Truly Elected Government, Accountability of the Government, Constitunalism, rule of law and Transparency in Government. Now we only can hope.


Dear Fair

by IRANdokht on

Although I agree with your statement about the number of people showing up for Khomeini's arrival and the speeches, I cannot forget a phrase that was repeated many times during those days:  The silent majority.

We were the silent majority!

I recall seeing many truck loads of armed men roaming the streets during those days. We were intimidated and scared to speak up because we were faced with a very aggressive crowd that most of us had never had to deal with.

Yes there were plenty of people going to hear Khomeini speak at Beheshteh Zahra,  or even during the protests, you'd see large crowds walking and socializing and eventually repeating slogans and throwing their fists in the air, but not only they were not all following the same islamic ideology, some of them were just there to see what was going on! People gather at the site of crashes and car accidents too... 

It's my humble opinion that the silent majority that included many educated middle and upper class was in shock and couldn't even fathom the Shah's army surrendering to the goons. They were blindsighted and were not aware of many hands that were involved in bringing Khomeini's gang to power.

Thank you


PS: I am sorry I didn't keep up with the blog in an active way. I am happy to see that such knowledgeable members of this site have shed a light on the events of the time. I am learning a lot!  thank you all!


dear Fair

by Souri on

Thanks for adding more information to the subject and clarifying some points I had a doubt about.

Just a question : You said you had supported Bakhtiar but in an other
comment you said you were only 15. Do you think a 15 years old girl
could think objectively about politics in a country like Iran ?

My point is, your support of Bakhtiar was maybe only out of the feeling of
rejection for the religion that we all (young people of the era) had
toward the fanatic Islam and it's rules.

Sorry, no offense here. My point is only to join your point when you said the supporter of Bakhtiar were in minorities, because even you as a supporter you were only 15 and I, was 19 . Of course I was at university an had some few knowledge and study about the situation but still not enough to pretend
that I knew what I was talking about.


PS: Q, thank you so much for your kind word.



by Fair on

You may be offended to hear that Iranians didn't deserve or were not ready for Bakhtiar, or Mossadeq, or a secular republic for that matter. You may think you and others supported him. I supported him too.

But we were in the minority.

How many of us came out in the streets saying we want a modern government? That we don't want an Islamic government?

How many people voted YES in the referendum- ISLAMIC REPUBLIC-YES OR NO?

How many people lined the streets of Tehran the day Khomeini landed? Do you remember there were so many people that they had to abandon the car he was in and get in a helicopter?

And how many people went to say goodbye to Bakhtiar the day he left?

The numbers speak for themselves my friend. There were too few of us, and when we looked around, we suddenly realized, we were in another country. We were not wanted there.

We wanted NO KING. NO AYATOLLAH. We wanted the rule of law, and rights and representation for everybody.

In other words, we wanted to be a normal, modern country.

That was too much to ask in 1979.

Is it too much to ask today? I think not.

I hope I am right.



by Fair on

First of all, thanks to everyone for answering and clarifying. Wow. This is a good discussion.


It seems the only point left to answer Rosie (please correct me if I am wrong) is the use of the word "republic" (perhaps I should have used the term "secular government"), and whether the Shah had abdicated. So let me explain.


Yes, in 1979, while Bakhtiar was prime minister, he was not prime minister of a republic, but of a constitutional monarchy. So you are correct that the *immediate* choice technically was between an Islamic government (hokoomat-e-eslami) and a constitutional monarchy (saltanat-e-mashrooteh). BUT- Bakhtiar revoked Savak, and implemented freedom of the press and other freedoms, in other words, he started restoring Iran's consitution- WHICH MADE THE GOVERNMENT ANSWERABLE TO ITS PEOPLE AND NOBODY ELSE. Under such conditions, a path to a secular republic existed. In a secular government with freedoms, a national debate could take place, Majlis could have called for a referendum on the monarchy (just like you saw in Australia and Scotland) and it would have been bloodless and civilized. But the PREREQUISITE to that was the rule of law- SECULAR law of our constitution, not ISLAMIC law. Such a referendum was not (and still is not) possible in an ISLAMIC government because ISLAMIC scholars have veto power over the people.

That is the difference. THAT is the choice that Iranian people and their leaders faced.

And the leaders of JM made the wrong choice in my mind.  They chose a system which gave veto power over the people to the religious leaders.

Also, as previously mentioned, the Shah had not (and still has not) formally abdicated, but it did not matter. If it did, he (or his son) would still be Shah today. The day the Shah left Iran, he was irrelevant. His government had collapsed. He was handing over to the opposition. But an opposition that he could understand, not the mullahs. I agree this was too little too late.

But it did NOT justify people calling Bakhtiar a nokar and choosing an Islamic republic instead.

I hope this helps? But your point is well taken, because after all,

you were FAIR.

News Goffer

Dear Irandokht

by News Goffer on

With all due respect for all the users who are asking questions and those who are answering them, I think it's best if you moderate your blog yourself.  While many are answering questions perfectly accurately, it is only right if you return and bring back your usual style, knowledge, and depth into the dialogue.  That's what I think. 


Rosie, there were THREE votes in 1979

by Q on

Once again important details are being ommitted purposefully or otherwse.

The first ballot was "IR Yes or No", which I admit was problematic but still an important step for a country that had never had a nationwide referendum before. But what did Islamic Republic mean? It was to be decided by the people.

There was another vote to elect delgates to write a constitution. And finally there was a third nation wide vote (Dec, 1979) which ratfied the constitution that was written by the delegates. That one too passed by a very high margin.

Again, I repeat reports at the time that there were problems and all kinds of allegations in these votes, given the chaotic atmosphere. But the general mood of the public in general was unmistakably pro Khomeini.

Souri, thanks for your comments and your cordiality.


Rosie , your question

by Souri on

Is so good ! It is the same question some of the activists at that time brought out. They said why Bakhtiar try to fool us with a pretending double standard ? If it is a Republic then it can't include the Monarchy.

so, they conclude that Bakhtiar is lying and the question was even evocated to Bakhtiar himself, believe it or not, I don' t remember what was his answer. You must also consider that, a time of pre-revolution is a very agitated time with too much confusion and too much rumour for the people not so much educated in politics.


Rosie jan: Good point.

by Not Anonymous (not verified) on

Rosie jan: Good point. However, I don't know back then how Iranians defined Republic. Some concepts in Persian are different as I have come to realize than our Western/conventional notion of the words.

I was not in Iran and can't comment on the particular nuances. Does anyone know? Greatly appreciate any feedback. thx.


My last humble statement on

by Not Anonymous (not verified) on

My last humble statement on the false choice on the ballot.

I think Iranians having lived more than 35+ some years in a socially secular government had forgotten what "Islamic" really meant. They saw their relgion as a private matter and had no experience of what an Islamic goverment under Sharia will entail. Plus, they were deceived and lied to by Khomeini; he said Hejab was not mandatory, "will give everyone free oil well, transportation,water, electricty... and that he will not seek any governmental position, etc.

This just illustrates the extreme danger and subsequent horrors of officials, spiritual leaders manipulating and lying to a nation in the service of their own ideological agenda; be it, socialism, communisism or Islamism, capitalism...

Rosie T.

Thx Souri PS Khar

by Rosie T. on

again a republic can't be a monarchy and since this term comes from the West the meanings in Persian should correspond. This is wher4e part of the confusionin has been coming from for me. But I have a pretty good idea of where Bakhtiari stood now.

As far as the superpower agenda, I was very surprised a couple of months ago when a couple of very knowledgeable people on the left here argued against American role in Khomeini's rise and gave detailed arguments and proofs...both completely anti-Colonialist but absolutely convinced that, not in this case....

so what do I know?

PS Khar, just saw it...that one was...painful....


Rosie T.

I got that part NotAnon,

by Rosie T. on

the further problem is with the word "republic." A republic is specifically not a monarchy. The choice Iran would've probably eventually faced under Bakhtiar would've been constitutional monarchy OR crepublc.


Rosie jan

by Souri on

I see you are so interested to the history yet so confused. I wish someone who has better memory than me with a better English could explain you entirely what was happened with Bakhtiar, but don' t see
yet any answer to your question.

although I am not sure if my memory can really help, because I left Iran 3 month after the revolution, but here is my take :

Shah heard the people voice and left Iran. What he was thinking or hoping at that time ? We don' t really know.

I can only say that at that time, none of the western countries gave him a
visa, leave alone the exile. So he left for Morocco, it has
been said that he watched all the manifestation on the Tehran's street
after his departure.

Bakhtiar came to the semi-power. I believe he didn' t know the future, neither. The ballot he wanted to offer to the people was :

A Democratic Republic ? yes or not ?

But he never reached to that point. What Bakhtiar was ideally wishing for,
was to establish a democratic republic, where we could eventually even
have a Royal family like in England and a religious institution like
Vatican, all in a republican style ! Go figure it.

That is all I remember from that time. Now, I may be wrong or not complete. Other friends could help my memories.

Bakhtiar never offered that ballot of : Islamic republic, yes or not ?

because Bakhtiar would never legitimate the Islamist in the politics.

what has been said really between the Shah and Bakhtiar and to what
degree they were agreed to the same goal, we have no idea. The only
thing I personally believe is, no matter what was their respective
goals, some other super power around the world, had their own agenda.
so the end, was already predicted.

Of course this is my own vision.


PS: and I must add, the ballot of " Islamic Republic, yes or not?" has nothing to do with Bakhtiar, it has been ruled by the Islamist after they brought down Bakhtiar, in a Non-Democratic way.

I believe that is the point of your confusion. Maybe you thought that Bakhtiar has been removed after a democratic ballot's result.


Let's us have our closure;

by Not Anonymous (not verified) on

Let's us have our closure; let us have our Iranain "wake". Don't dictate to us what we are supposed to do or not. Let's own this moment with peace.

Here is more on Shahpour:

Chapter Two: 3rd comment
"I remember that after my appointment, I delivered my first speech in Tehran University. I that speech I called upon Dr Bakhtiar and said: `You are a member of the Lor tribe, and you are a free-spirited Lor, so now show that same spirit of generosity and accept the inevitable winning force of this revolution. If you do so, we can solve the whole problem in a sincere and peaceful manner.` That was our whole plan and all our shuttle diplomacy, through Mr Amir-Entezam and Dr Sahabi and the participation of some of Bakhtiar's cabinet ministers, was in pursuit of the same objective. We wanted to solve the problem peacefully to avoid hostility, personal insults or bloody confrontation. The use of force would have led to bloodshed and waves of executions after the revolution. We did not wish to take a sledge hammer to crack a nut. The army was like this nut and we wanted to keep it from breaking up. We did not want the nation to turn against itself. We wanted people to remain in harmony and take charge of their own affairs. That is all that we wanted."



The ballot clearly read,

by Not Anonymous (not verified) on

The ballot clearly read, [["Islamic Republic: yes or no?"]]

and NOT

{{Secular Republic under consitutional monarchy: Yes or no?


Islamic Republic: Yes or no}}

From the outst, there was only one choice available: A non-choice or pseudo-choice; and a false one at that.


No, Not Mordeh Parasti

by Khar on

This somber but beautiful song is for remembering all of those who has given their lives for justice and human rights in Iran. This is not "Mordeh Parasti" just simply remembering the sacrifices that one generation has made. A nation or people who refuse to remember the past are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past. I like this song very much it goes to the heart of what we are discussing here, or at least I hope so. Peace!


Rosie T.

Mordeh parasti, any parasti...you see... Khar, etc.

by Rosie T. on

I thought I knew a bunch of this stuff, e.g. Shah naver abdicated, but these two sentences totally confused me:

n 1979, the Shah heard the voice of the people and left. The nation's masses and educated faced a choice: support Khomeini and an Islamic government or support a modern secular republic based on the principles of mashrootiat advocated by Bakhtiar (and supposedly JM

Such small details and written by someone as fair as Fair, but do you see where something like this can go?Obviously whether he had a prayer of ever returning or not, the people saw Bakhtiar's future government in terms of  the now-demonized Shah. In this slightly revisionist version Bakhtiar begins to transcend historicity--it didn't happen BECAUSE this or that, it was just a simple case of Karbala. (And yeah we did it so let's go beat ourselves up even more about it...)

I agree with your larger point David but this was all very confusing for me.

Ali P.

Many Thanks

by Ali P. on

   I am delighted to see so many readers are influenced by Bakhtiar's school of thought. Each and every one of us, my Friends, is a "Shahpour Bakhtiar", and each and every one of us will  carry the torch of his ideas in tomorrow's free Iran.

 Just like him... Be ready, to respond when history - and your conscious - call for you.



And rest assured...




Ali P.


You are Right ET

by Khar on

That is why I've joinded The Amnesty International long ago. You can also join and be a member //www.amnesty.org/ and help make a differnce in the world. As far as the Iranian opesitions, most  are involved with self promotion and mental masterbation in regards to Iran and Iranians. They have to prove theselves being worthy of the support and Iranian public trust. We won't get fooled again!

ebi amirhosseini

David Jaan

by ebi amirhosseini on

Well said.thnx

David ET

Talk is easy, walk is not.

by David ET on

YES ! It is easier to appreciate the dead , because it would not require us to do much beyond that, because if we support those alive then that requires ACTION on our part.

The missed reality is that Dr. Bakhtiar lived 12 years after the revolution (1979-1991) and many of the same Iranians who called him a hero after his death, did not support him then.

As I said before, if we really want to make a difference we can start from yourself by getting just a little more involved (beyond just talking) by taking a small part of a movement....or by recognizing and supporting those who are still among us and walking a lonely path filled with accusations.... Or at least by departing with few dollars and helping different political and human rights organizations and activists. 

Mordeh parasti is much easier than supporting the alive movements. Just a reality check that:

Talk is easy, walk is not.


Khar: I don't agree with you

by ... (not verified) on

Khar: I don't agree with you that the Shah had plans to come back. He knew he was dying, also, he knew that the US had betrayed him and would not allow him to return. He left Iran because he thought the US wanted him out for good and I also think he was aware of the fact that the army was ordered to surrender to Khomeini and not Bakhtiar by American advisors.

I think Farah Pahlavi could answer this question for all us.



by Khar on

Rosie, Shah never abdicated officially. He left the country for a "Trip" abroad as it was broadcasted. I guess they were still dreaming or contemplating a "Triumphant" return as in 1950s. Bakhtiar was to hold the fort until "His Majesty" would return, but then the army (Artesh) gave up which caught bakhtiar by surprise. Rosie following is my earlier post on this blog hope it makes sense.


Too Little, Too Late:

No doubt he was a Vatan Parast and he meant well. But became a pawn a patsy (He had to learn about the Army’s surrender from a radio news broadcast!); he was dealt a bad hand as if by design, too little. He was given the task of keeping together the House of Cards that Shah and his gang built for 37 years, too late! If the Mossadegh-ha, Fatemi-ha, Bakhtiar-ha and va, va, va many others were ALLOWED the opportunity the first time around (1950's) I promise you these last 30 years would not have been part of our history. We reap what we sow va az maast ke bar maast! I'm sure history will judge him with a sympathy, an uneasy Shakespearean sympathy if you will. Roohesh Shad.



I wish we had more Khsrs then! (to Kahr)

by Anonym7 (not verified) on

Khare Azeez, I wanted the same thing "Democratic Republic". I wish we had more Khars at the time. Unlike you I did not even vote, although I was among the very few in my hometown who participated in the very first anti Shah demonstration OUTSIDE the university.

Rosie T.

OK, NotAnon, Khar, Fair...getting clearer...

by Rosie T. on

So back to the two problematic sentences by Fair:

In 1979, the Shah heard the voice of the people and left. The nation's masses and educated faced a choice: support Khomeini and an Islamic government or support a modern secular republic based on the principles of mashrootiat advocated by Bakhtiar (and supposedly JM

When the Shah left was this a formal abdication or was Bakhtiar facing the choice of a constitutional republic vs. constitutional monarchy had the "NOT" won? Sorry, it's just confusing. Thx.


Dear Irankdokht

by not Anonymous (not verified) on

I'm saddened that you are no longer responding to our comments. I categorically appreciate your cordial and refreshingl affable style. I wish others were as gracious and courageous as you have been. Please reconsider your decision.

Only a suggestion for those who are interested:

To prevent this thread from being overturned by the entities who have clearly vested interests ( I don't mean fiscally or economically but, pathologically speaking, somewhat understandable personal blood feud issues; e.g. Xerexes and perhaps Q with the Shah's regime) in supporting 'anything and everything Islamic Republic',

Please refrain from debating these, perhaps, bereaved individuals. Their argumetns are not real. Their presence on this site is almost theraputic for them to release their rage against the Shah. Perhap the Shah's regime killed, imprisoned or hurt some of their loved ones... Don't let their hatred consume the rest of us and make us just as irrational as they are.