An estimated one million people packed the central streets of the Iranian capital, Teheran, on Sunday (10 December) in a peaceful demonstration which ended in a call for the overthrow of the Shah.
An estimated one million people packed the central streets of the Iranian capital, Teheran, on Sunday (10 December) in a peaceful demonstration which ended in a call for the overthrow of the Shah. It was by far the largest anti-Shah rally since unrest and violence erupted in iran, a mass of marchers thirty abreast and stretching for more than five miles. It was also the quietest, because government forces had withdrawn from the city centre. At the end of the march,m the demonstrators adopted several resolutions, one of which was described as a "people's vote of confidence" in the Shah's major opponent, the aged Shi'ite Moslem leader, Ayatollah Khomeiny. On Monday, (11 December), as even greater numbers of people marched again in Teheran, the Ayatollah called for junior officers of the Iranian Army to turn against the Shah.
SYNOPSIS: The march was staged on the eve of the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, founder of Iran's Shi'ite Moslem faith, and ???ere had been fears that it could lead to savage riots. The government said the march was purely religious, but observers said there was overwhelmingly political. Hundreds crowded around the leader of the National Front, Dr Karim Sanjabi, who described the march as historic and unprecedented, a gesture of popular support for an end of dictatorship.
Troops had been pulled back to protect roads leading north to the royal palace, where the Shah was reported to be receiving progress reports of the march.
The demonstrators had agreed to a major concession, that they would not carry anti-Shah banners. Considering the huge numbers in the streets, observers were astonished that the march organisers had kept tension down to almost nothing, by moving traffic smoothly and quickly stamping out stray attempts to damage property. The main danger came from the press of people in Shahyad Square, where Shi'ite leaders addressed the crowd, amid a forest of banners proclaiming Ayatollah Khomeiny.
The adopted resolutions called for overthrowing the Shah in favour of an Islamic government based on the will of the people; for releasing all political prisoners and the free return of all Iranians forces into exile; and for an economically independent Iran free from foreign influence. The resolutions also urged the liberation of women, who turned out in large numbers for the march.
On Monday (11 December) in Paris, Ayatollah Khomeiny said the people would welcome junior officers if they rose against the Shah. He warned the United States and other countries that unless they withdrew support for the Shah, their oil supplies would be blocked once he was overthrown.