An unknown number of demonstrators killed in recent anti-Shah protest are buried in some of the thousands of graves at Beheshte-Zahra cemetery near Teheran, the capital of Iran.
An unknown number of demonstrators killed in recent anti-Shah protest are buried in some of the thousands of graves at Beheshte-Zahra cemetery near Teheran, the capital of Iran. Now, the cemetery itself has become the sanctuary from arrest for the living demonstrators.
SYNOPSIS: Observers say they do not know how many demonstrators are buried here. The government is saying only three people lost their living in last week's bloody demonstrations. But followers of Ayatollah Khomeiny, the Moslem religious leader who heads the opposition to the Shah, put the number much higher. Some mourners at the cemetery have claimed the dead were not killed by Iranian soldiers at all. Instead, they blame Israeli soldiers they say were brought in by the Shah. Hundreds come to the cemetery to protest, rather than mourn.
The cemetery is the only place in Iran where opposition to the Shah can be expressed freely. The demonstrators march around and around chanting 'Death to the Shah' and 'Long Live Khomeiny'. They stay inside because stepping outside could mean getting arrested or even shot by troops strictly enforcing material law. So, Beheshte-Zahra has become an unusual kind of political forum.
Ironically, the cemetery on this day was the liveliest place for protest in, on near, the capital. Troops had cordoned off the university, which had been the flashpoint of recent riots - and it was reported to be quiet.