Featured Image: The front pages of two main Tehran newspapers on February 12, 1979

The following report is a summary of a field report by the Ettela’at newspaper (published on Monday, February 12, 1979) detailing the events of February 11, 1979, in Tehran. In fact, what we know as February 11th is far from this narrative. It is believed that through a “revolutionary transition,” Khomeini and his committee forces seized power, from police stations to barracks, one after another, pledged allegiance to Khomeini, and thus “the Islamic Republic” was born.

This report tells the story of a full-fledged uprising, something much beyond and deeper than what we experienced in December 2017, November 2019, and July 2021. Here, it’s not just the “enthusiasm” and “emotions” of the revolution at work, but a “planned organization” by guerrilla forces marking the victory of an uprising. These were not deceived forces and people, but like us today, fed up with inequality and lack of freedom, they finally decided to settle the score after a period of continuous struggle.

Reading this report can serve as an educational film about the revolution for us today. When we say we believe in the ideal of February 1979, it’s about moments like these that pass before your eyes. For us, the revolution is always present, and its face is the armed people victorious in the streets, collectively and organizedly managing the occupied places, without any politician, leader, or king over their heads.

The First Clashes

From the early hours of Sunday, February 11, 1979, in all parts of the city, especially in the eastern and northeast areas, people created street barricades using sandbags and various tools, and were more or less armed. No one had yet believed that the armed struggle had begun, but here and there, armed motorcyclists and young people armed with rifles and machine guns moving from one place to another were alerting some to the events that were about to unfold.

The first armed assault by the people began in the east and northeast of Tehran, namely Tehranpars, Farahabad, Jaleh, and southeast Tehran, where the storm of people’s anger began to blow.

In the first hours after sunrise, news of people’s armed attacks on police stations spread rapidly: police stations 12, 9, 2, 10, 16, 19, etc., fell, and weapons were seized by the people. On the other hand, people rushed to provide medical aid and deliver blood to hospitals.

Artillery Square Headquarters

Around 9 AM, the police headquarters at Artillery Square was captured by the people. In the attack on this place, guerrillas were fighting ahead of the people. A group of armed guerrillas and people moved towards Meydan Ark and another group attacked the joint committee of SAVAK and the national police headquarters. At Meydan Ark, around 10:30 AM, the old radio transmitter and Golestan Palace were surrounded by revolutionaries. The clashes between revolutionaries and military personnel in the Artillery Square area and its surroundings turned it into a battlefield.

Clash at Ettela’at Newspaper

A group of People’s Fadaee Guerrillas entered the Ettela’at newspaper building to create secure barricades and positioned themselves on the roof of Ettela’at, engaging from there with the city police committee, and fired upon armed individuals stationed around the old radio transmitter and Golestan Palace, leading to severe clashes between revolutionaries and soldiers, causing casualties. However, overall, the casualties on the revolutionaries’ side were not significant, given the extent, speed of action, and importance of these events.

Throughout the hours of armed conflict between guerrillas and military personnel, the Ettela’at building was under fire from soldiers and officers of the joint SAVAK and city police committee.

Golestan Palace and Military Industries

Golestan Palace, the radio transmitter at Meydan Ark, the committee buildings, and the central city police headquarters were captured by the people one after the other, including General Rahimi, the military governor and head of the national police, who was arrested by the people a few hours after signing his last declaration as the military governor.

One of the revolutionaries’ significant successes was the attack on the army’s weapons center “Military Industries,” which took place before noon. In this attack, nearly 1,800 firearms and a large amount of ammunition fell into the hands of the people. At the same time, news arrived that in the streets of Farahabad, Jaleh, Soleymanieh, and Meydan Lozi, four tanks were captured by the people.

Continued Fall of Police Stations

The fall of police station eleven located in Haft-Chenar and its disarmament by the people were among the hot news of yesterday morning [Sunday, February 11, 1979]. Simultaneously, police station 19 on 20 Meteri Veli Asr [currently Shemshiri] street was also occupied and disarmed by the people. Police station six also faced the same fate.

While the first signs of clashes between the people and the military were received at Ashraf-Abad barracks, the central police station located on “Former Pahlavi” street and the police headquarters at Shahreza College intersection were disarmed by the revolutionaries.

The revolutionaries benefited from the barricades they had erected in the early hours of the morning yesterday [Sunday, February 11, 1979] in the University of Tehran compound, taking control of the university guard center and also disarming the nearby police station.

Siege of Ashraf-Abad Barracks and Baghshah

While the siege of Ashraf-Abad barracks (the headquarters of the ground forces and city guard units) was tightening every moment, we learned that all city guard personnel, as a sign of surrender, came out of the barracks holding a white flag, took off their uniforms, and joined the ranks of the people. Several city guard members distributed weapons among the young people who presented their discharge cards, and Ashraf-Abad barracks were captured and disarmed by the revolutionaries between 10 AM and 12 PM yesterday.

The revolutionaries, from 1:30 PM, surrounded Baghshah barracks. The guard soldiers, without showing any reaction, closed the barracks’ doors and only told the people that they were neutral and had no business with anyone. But our people, still burdened by the heavy weight of bitter historical experiences, asked the soldiers to surrender. After negotiations, the soldiers opened the western gate of Baghshah to the people and distributed a number of weapons among them. However, the armory guards, by suddenly firing shots into the air, caught the people off guard. Those who did not have weapons retreated from the battlefield to save their lives, and the clash between the revolutionaries and the soldiers of the barracks began.

At the same moments, four military transport helicopters landed in the courtyard of Baghshah barracks, and according to eyewitnesses, a large number of weapons and ammunition were transferred from this location to the Looyizan barracks. The armed clash between the revolutionaries and the soldiers of Baghshah barracks continued. The sound of machine gun and automatic rifle fire did not stop for a moment, and the residents of the houses around the barracks, as the “rear,” provided all their facilities to the revolutionaries, supplying them with food and water and bandaging their wounds. Many armed young people took positions on the rooftops around Baghshah barracks under the protection of the people and opened fire towards the target.

Then, the revolutionaries turned their attacks towards the military high school and after an hour finally captured this center, and for unknown reasons, the military high school was set on fire.

By around 3 PM, the northern and northwest parts of Baghshah barracks were captured by the revolutionaries, and the struggle to capture the southern part, which was also the location of political prisoners, continued for an hour longer and eventually, the people successfully took control of the entire barracks.

Another issue in this attack was that the people used an armored vehicle seized from the guard in the attack on the barracks! The night before, rumors had spread that some members of the Javidan Guard in civilian clothes were stationed in Baghshah barracks to attack the people. After the conquest of Baghshah, various items such as toolboxes, gas masks, backpacks, shovels, and pickaxes fell into the hands of the people. Armed young people seized several tank transport trailers and drove them around Meydan Baghshah several times! In the attack on Baghshah barracks, People’s Fadaee Guerrillas and Mojahedin-e Khalq were at the forefront of the people.

Capture of Radio and Television

Revolutionaries, consisting of People’s Fadaee Guerrillas, Mojahedin-e Khalq, armed combat groups, and a wide range of people, from before noon yesterday, while stationed on “Jam Jam” street, blocked all roads leading to the Radio Television center. This was the beginning of an armed struggle that led to the capture of the Radio Television center.

Eventually, without any clash between the revolutionaries and the military stationed at the Radio Television center, the building was captured by the people, and striking workers, some of whom were armed, occupied this center.

Striking workers arrived at the Radio Television center at 5:45 PM, and at the same time, Radio Iran interrupted its music program with the phrase “Now you hear the true voice of the people and the voice of the revolution.”

Around four in the afternoon, the revolutionaries surrounded the Prime Minister’s office to capture it. It was announced that Bakhtiar had left the Prime Minister’s office, and as a result, guerrilla groups and the people, without any incident, occupied the palace. The Prime Minister’s guard personnel, who were in this building, surrendered without any resistance and joined the revolutionaries. When the Prime Minister’s office was captured by the people.

Taking the Parliament

Yesterday afternoon [Sunday, February 11, 1979], a group of excited people, shouting for joy at the victory over tyranny, moved armed towards the National Consultative Assembly, to return this other fortress of tyranny, which had been unjustly held for so long, back to the nation. When this group reached the Parliament, the soldiers stationed in the Parliament, upon realizing the intention of the revolutionaries, resisted and began shooting. The exchange of fire from both sides continued, and after 45 minutes of resistance against the people, the soldiers were defeated and eventually handed over the Parliament to the people.

Conquest of Qasr Prison

Qasr Prison was completely captured by revolutionary forces at one in the afternoon. Revolutionaries from ten in the morning launched a comprehensive and widespread attack to capture Qasr Prison, which is Iran’s largest prison and has swallowed thousands of revolutionaries and mujahideen, witnessing the brutal murder of a group of revolutionaries and the true children of the people.

The battle concluded at one in the afternoon, and finally, the keys to freedom for a handful of innocents imprisoned on fabricated charges by the corrupt and decadent regime fell into the hands of the children of the Iranian people’s revolution. After capturing the prison, which resulted in several deaths and injuries, the revolutionaries entered the prison and opened the iron gates.

Fall of Hashmatieh Barracks

Hashmatieh Barracks was among the barracks attacked by revolutionary guards from seven in the morning yesterday [Sunday, February 11, 1979]. Revolutionary forces surrounded Hashmatieh Barracks in less than half an hour. Colonel Armi, the barracks commander, issued an order to resist the revolutionary forces. At 9 AM, Colonel Armi was killed in the barracks courtyard by revolutionary forces firing from outside into the barracks. With the death of the barracks commander, a state of confusion prevailed over the barracks.

The battle between the armed revolutionary men and the barracks defenders continued until one in the afternoon, and at this time, the first signs of the barracks’ fall appeared with the escape of some soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers in civilian clothes, and eventually, the revolutionaries penetrated the barracks from the eastern wall and a few minutes later, the barracks were completely captured by them.

Full archive of the newspaper, from Iranian book store platform.

The arming of the people and the breakdown of the repressive force shifted the balance of power in favor of the people, granting them more than two years to continue their revolution. During this period, workers’ councils emerged abundantly. Universities were under the control of leftist forces; in schools, activist students were in charge; Kurdistan, Turkmen Sahra, and factories were the scenes of severe confrontation between the government and the people, and political freedoms were effectively established by the effort and power of the people in the streets. The Islamic government did everything to confront the people and end the revolution, committing countless crimes across Iran to establish a bloody Islamic reaction.

It was only from June 20, 1981, that the regime managed to effectively defeat the 1979 revolution by initiating a bloodbath and widespread arrests. The 1979 revolution was formed for freedom, welfare, and liberation from one of the most terrifying dictatorships of that era and failed due to the lack of revolutionary leadership.

My journey in creating this space was deeply inspired by James Baldwin’s powerful work, “The Fire Next Time”. Like Baldwin, who eloquently addressed themes of identity, race, and the human condition, this blog aims to be a beacon for open, honest, and sometimes uncomfortable discussions on similar issues.

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