Martial law returned to Iran on Tuesday night (12 December) after two days of massive demonstrations throughout the country during the Shi'ite Moslem observance of mourning.
Martial law returned to Iran on Tuesday night (12 December) after two days of massive demonstrations throughout the country during the Shi'ite Moslem observance of mourning. In the capital of Teheran, which had been quiet despite the immense crowds, troops moved back into the central city from the outer areas. On Tuesday, there were reports from the major city of Isfahan that troops had opened fire on demonstrators, inflicting a casualty toll of forty dead and more than six hundred wounded.
SYNOPSIS: Hundreds of demonstrators in Teheran cast aside some of their self restraint; they had agreed to a request from the military government not to utter their "Death to the Shah" chants while martial law was lifted. They went back to their only sanctuary against arrest -- the Beheshte-Zahra cemetery close to the capital.
The cemetery is said to be the only place in Iran where opposition to the Shah can be expressed freely. It contains thousands of graves, including several in which people killed in protests earlier this year have been buried.
Some of the chanters are much too young to understand all the implications of the words they are shouting. The Guardian newspaper in London reported on Wednesday (13 December) that the government's major worry was psychological -- how to reassert its eroded authority.
Demonstrators brandished banners and pictures proclaiming their support for the Shah's main opponent Ayatollah Khomeiny. The Shi'ite leader has been calling from exile in Paris for junior army officers to defect, and for oil workers to reduce output to a level where it just meets Iran's internal needs -- some six hundred and fifty thousand barrels a day.