“On this Day”: Brief Background of 22 Bahman

Jan 13, 20100 comments

"Crowd Control" in Tehran during the uprisings

“Crowd Control” in Tehran during uprisings

As the days between us and Ashura grow, we move closer to 22 Bahman (Feb 11), the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, and what could bring another round of mass demonstrations against this same Islamic Republic. BBC’s “On This Day” has a great, searchable archive of the most significant stories broadcast by BBC News between 1950-2005. The reports feel just as if the events were happening in Twitter Real-Time. If you search February 11thin the BCC archive, the third result is a report from 1979 detailing 22 Bahman, the day that marks the beginning of the Islamic Republic. Student confrontations at Tehran University, 1979 Demonstrations against the Shah’s regime actually began in January 1978, and between August and December, a culmination off protests and workers’ strikes brought the country to a standstill. By February 11, civilians and demonstrators had taken to the streets, seized control of police and fire stations, the airport, and the radio and television stations.
Oil Workers on Strike before the 1979 revolution

Oil Workers on Strike before the 1979 revolution

Staff of these media outlets, who had been on strike in support of the Islamic Revolution “returned immediately and began broadcasting news about the takeover of the country.” Littered throughout the country were abandoned tanks “left behind after soldiers previously loyal to the Shah have switched allegiances.” By the end of the day, the only remaining resistance to the supporters of the Islamic Revolution came from the Imperial Guard defending their headquarters and two palaces.

From BBC’s “On This Day” Archive: An announcement on television said the three bases had been surrounded by revolutionary forces and negotiations were under way for their surrender. There had been rumours of a possible military coup. But a meeting of senior generals this afternoon acknowledged this would split the army and cause serious bloodshed. They put out a statement at 1400 local time ordering troops to return to their garrisons in order to prevent further bloodshed and anarchy.

TV & radio station staff on strike in early February 1979

TV & radio station staff on strike in early Feb 1979

It’s an odd concept to understand immediately demonstrating against the Islamic Republic on the anniversary of its birth. Until you remember this revolution took place 31 years ago, and a good majority of the people demonstrating probably weren’t born yet.
Student Confrontations at the same Tehran University in June 2009

Student confrontations at Tehran University – June 2009

But they’re all about the right age to remember an event with a shared anniversary: the release of Nelson Mandela on February 11, 1990, who would go on to become the first South African president elected in a fully representative democratic election. Demonstrations are being planned worldwide in conjunction with 22 Bahman to maintain awareness of the ongoing human and civil rights struggle in Iran and to show solidarity with the Iranian people as they take to the streets on February 11th. If you are organizing an event for 22 Bahman, or are interested in coordinating one in your area, check our our Affiliates section to find a group near you! Or send an e-mail to share@united4iran.org. Details regarding demonstrations worldwide will be posted in the coming days, so check back soon!