The new civilian government in Iran, headed by Prime Minister Shapur Bakhtiar, on Sunday (21 January) announced the release of one hundred and sixty-two political prisoners.
The new civilian government in Iran, headed by Prime Minister Shapur Bakhtiar, on Sunday (21 January) announced the release of one hundred and sixty-two political prisoners. The amnesty almost brings to an end political imprisonment, which was a major demand of opposition demonstrators during months of unrest which resulted in the Shah leaving Iran last week. Although the move was popular with the Shah's opponents, the exiled religious leader, the Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeiny, still maintains Dr. Bakhtiar's government is illegal, and intends to establish an Islamic republic when he returns to Teheran on Friday (26 January). A leading member of the regency council announced his resignation while visiting the Ayatollah near Paris on Monday (22 January).
SYNOPSIS: When he took office two week ago, Dr. Bakhtiar promised to release the remaining political prisoners in Teheran. Eight people convicted of, or charged with, political murder are still in jail. But, since last October, more than two thousand political detainees have been freed under amnesties by the Shah, and now, Dr. Bakhtiar. Many had been held without trial by the Shah's secret police force, SAVAK. Hundreds of political sympathisers and relatives waited outside this Teheran prison, chanting slogans and cheering as detainees were released.
The mood in Iran remains tense with the Ayatollah Khomeiny continuing to play a leading role in its politics from his base in Neauphlele-Chateau, near Paris. On Monday (22 January), a regency council member, Seyed Jalal-Eddin Tehrani, arrived for a meeting with the Ayatollah, during which he announced his resignation from Dr. Bakhtiar's government. Mr. Tehrani was described by Khomeiny aides as the leader of the regency council.
During the ten-minute interview, Mr. Tehrani, seated second from the right, listened as his resignation was read out by the Ayatollah's closest aide, Dr. Ibrahim Yadzi. An earlier letter of resignation had been rejected by Khomeiny because he disagreed with the wording, and wanted Mr. Tehrani to denounce Dr. Bakhtiar's government as illegal.
According to Khomeiny aides, Mr. Tehrani said in his statement he had only accepted a post on the council to protect the national interest and end the country's year of political turmoil, but recent changes in Iran's internal situation had led him to resign.