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Digital Archive International History Declassified

1952

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE REPORT OF MEMBERS OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE CC OF THE IRANIAN PEOPLE'S PARTY, CDES. BOGRATI, FRUTAN, AND KASEMI

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    A description of a report about the actions of the People's Party of Iran in Iranian Azerbaijan and issues due to the separation between their organization and the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan.
    "A Brief Description of the Report of Members of the Executive Committee of the CC of the Iranian People's Party, Cdes. Bograti, Frutan, and Kasemi ," 1952, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, GAPPOD, f. 1, s. 89, i. 187. Obtained for CWIHP by Jamil Hasanli and translated for CWIHP by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/120066
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Translation from the Persian

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE REPORT OF MEMBERS OF THE EXECUTIVE BUREAU [SIC] OF THE CC OF THE IRANIAN PEOPLE’S PARTY, CDES. BOGRATI, FRUTAN, AND KASEMI

Work in Iranian Azerbaijan

After the December 1946 events Soviet comrades advised that the People’s Party of Iran not conduct work in Iranian Azerbaijan. We followed this advice.

After the attack of imperialism and reaction in Iranian Azerbaijan decreased somewhat, especially after February 1949 when the People’s Party of Iran had gone underground, the youth of Azerbaijan entered the movement and began to request help from our leadership in renewing political activity.

Since the People’s Party of Iran had not given consent to the leadership to create organizations and did not have the capability to establish ties with the radio center of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, the youth of Azerbaijan themselves began to establish general education societies in which our aid helped them.

Thanks to the lack of leadership the work of the societies was set up so that the police discovered them very quickly and could, if necessary, arrest the members of these societies. And if this didn’t happen then it was only because the youth did not display political activity in these societies.

At the beginning of 1951 the revolutionary activity of the Azerbaijani people had grown so much that the Executive Bureau of the CC of the People’s Party of Iran was forced again to turn to Soviet comrades for advice regarding work in Iranian Azerbaijan. This time a Soviet comrade in Tehran in touch with us openly declared that the leadership of the movement in Iranian Azerbaijan was entrusted to the People’s Party of Iran, which should begin its work there.

As regards the motto of a national government in Iranian Azerbaijan, the Soviet comrade declared that this motto was advanced in 1945 when there was another situation and that in the present situation it was not realistic and had outlived itself.

What followed from all this was that the Azerbaijani movement has been, on the one hand, under the leadership of the People’s Party of Iran, but on the other, with the Democratic Party having a radio station, it is evident that a Democratic Party of Iranian Azerbaijan also exists.

The Soviet comrade in Tehran who is in touch with us gave no clear explanation about this question. Therefore we have come to this conclusion – we should lead the Azerbaijani movement in the name of the Democratic Party of Iranian Azerbaijan, while preserving Party traditions as much as possible. To achieve this [goal] we created a special commission of the CC of the People’s Party of Iran headed by Doctor Dzhoudat in the Organizational Department for Regional Affairs [po delam oblastey]. At the weekly meetings of this commission a general line of work in Iranian Azerbaijan was developed with the participation of the Chief of the Organizational Department for Regional Affairs.

Before beginning work in Iranian Azerbaijan the commission studied the existing situation there.  At that time 5 people were working in Tabriz, each of whom were in touch with a certain circle of people, that is, with the general education societies, comprising up to 150 people. The members of these societies had no political organization. Into the leading 5 came Alikuli Katebi – a member of the CC of the Youth Organization of the Democratic Party, Adam Navasi - a member of the CC of the Youth Organization of the Democratic Party, Doctor Kazym-Zade – a member of the People’s Party of Iran, Gousi, and Akhmed Shams. We cannot remember whether Gousi had been in Party work in the past or not; as regards Akhmed Shams, as became clear later, he had no Party service. Moreover, he once spoke out against the Party. We didn’t know this when we began work in Iranian Azerbaijan.

In order to begin work it was necessary to send one of the strong cadre workers to Iranian Azerbaijan from the Center [Translator’s note: SIC, possibly meaning Tehran from context]. For this purpose it was necessary in the beginning to create a primary [Party] organization in Tabriz which could receive this person, provide him with an apartment, and train messengers for him. It was decided to summon the above 5 persons to Tehran one by one and in the name of the People’s Party of Iran to give them a temporary organizational bureau of responsible people and also to gather their people around a united organization under the name of the Democratic Party. This decision was carried out at the beginning of May 1951. After some time Cde. Seid Ashrafi (an Azerbaijani) was sent to Iranian Azerbaijan as a responsible Party worker. Moreover, 12 more Azerbaijani Party workers were sent to Iranian Azerbaijan. At the present time the Azerbaijani Party organization consists of a Tabriz City Party Committee and regional organizations of Azerbaijan, which have Party ties with Cde. Seid Ashrafi separately. In recent days it was decided to elect 5 people from the Tabriz City Party Committee and regional organizations in order to form an Azerbaijani Party Committee together with Cde. Seid Ashrafi.

Of the above 5 comrades Gousi, who at the same time was working to organize the proponents of peace, was among a number of activists who were arrested. They were sentenced to several years of imprisonment. Doctor Kazym-Zade was also arrested and after he was freed arrived in Tehran. Alikuli Katebi turned out to be a poor worker; however, when he had learned to cope [osvoilsya] it was decided to let him work in the Tabriz City Party Committee. We had to fire Adam Navasi, as not deserving trust in monetary affairs and Akhmed Shams, having suspicious ties and having spoken out against the Party in the past.

It ought to be said that one of the biggest difficulties in working in Azerbaijan is the struggle with the police. In other provinces where the work of the People’s Party of Iran was not interrupted and where Party workers had experience in various fields of work and knew one another well, it was difficult for the police to get [provesti] any of their people into key Party positions or deceive time-tested Party workers. In Azerbaijan itself, where the Party was being organized again, the police had many opportunities to infiltrate their people into the Party. In view of this, an instruction was given to accept into the Party only those people who had been sufficiently studied and who had earlier been Party members.

The inclination of the population toward the Party is so strong that there are frequent cases where collective declarations arrive about acceptance into the Party.

At the present time there are more than 1200 Party members in Tabriz. Work is being done to organize Party centers in such cities as Urmiya, Maraga, Khoy, and Mianeh. [Translator’s note: Spelled “Miyane” in Russian, but doubtless the same as the Mianeh noted in 1945-46 documents about Iranian Azerbaijan]

Since 12 December 1951 it has been illegal to publish the newspaper “Azerbaijan” in the Azerbaijani language as the organ of the Democratic Party of Iranian Azerbaijan. Its weekly circulation had reached 2500 copies. The newspaper is printed in Tehran in an illegal print shop of the People’s Party of Iran and then sent via courier to Iranian Azerbaijan. By the very same means appeals and declarations of the Democratic Party are printed and distributed in Iranian Azerbaijan.

In addition, the Tabriz City Party Committee regularly distributes appeals or leaflets. An especially large number of leaflets were distributed about the peasant movement in various villages of Iranian Azerbaijan and the vital questions of the peasants’ struggle. A small print shop was organized in Tabriz with this in mind, which provides the timely printing of leaflets and small appeals.

The publication of books in the Azerbaijani language has also begun. For example, the first textbook for illiterates which had once compiled by the national government has been reprinted. The Party program has been printed and distributed. Party cards, application forms, and stamps for Party dues have been prepared on the old models.

It ought to be noted that the newspaper “Bashire Ayande” has been published in the Azerbaijani language for some time, and even earlier, in the summer of 1951, one Koreysh’yan, whom we thought a careerist and weak-willed individual, but who was earlier a member of the Democratic Party, began to publish a newspaper, “Bashariyat”.

This newspaper had great influence, since it is published in the Azerbaijani language. However, its content was poor. There was no spirit of the struggle in it. It was impossible to rely on Koreysh’yan personally. Therefore we started to publish another newspaper in the Azerbaijani language - “Bashire Ayande”, which promises a great future. Some weeks after the distribution of the newspaper “Bashire Ayande” the newspaper “Bashariyat” was confiscated.

Some months after that, in spite of the use of legal and illegal opportunities, the police prohibited the distribution of this newspaper in Tabriz.

At the present time only several leaflets are distributed illegally in Azerbaijan in the form of attachments to the newspaper “Bashire Ayande”.

Doctor Dzhavid and His Clique

When Doctor Dzhavid was freed from prison in 1947 it was officially noted in his sentence that the sentence was mitigated in view of the fact that as governor-general of Iranian Azerbaijan he had been closely associated with Kavam-es-Saltane and had done him a favor. Therefore we regard Dzhavid with suspicion. But since our Soviet friends consider that we ought to act with restraint toward him we have not permitted any attacks on him.

Two meetings were organized with Dzhavid: one by Cdes. Rusta and Bograti and the second by Cdes. Doctor Kiyanuri, Doctor Dzhoudat, and Akhmed Kasemi. Regarding his conduct, he said that there are grounds which the Soviet comrades know about. We did not ask other questions.

After his liberation Dzhavid visited the HQ of the Iranian army and petitioned government institutions regarding the personal affairs of several Azerbaijanis and thus gathered a certain group of Azerbaijanis around him.

The activity of Doctor Dzhavid grew after we began work in Iranian Azerbaijan. He categorically protested against the work of the People’s Party of Iran in Iranian Azerbaijan considering that the People’s Party of Iran did not have the right to do this. Together with those near him, Dzhavid began to malign the People’s Party of Iran. He said that the People’s Party of Iran had overlooked Iranian Azerbaijan after December 1946 and had never done anything for Azerbaijanis and this meant that only Azerbaijanis should lead in Iranian Azerbaijan. In spite of such statements, in his leaflets, which he distributed in small quantities in the name of the Central Bureau of the Democratic Party of Iranian Azerbaijan, Dzhavid gave the impression that [he] spoke highly of the People’s Party of Iran and talked of the friendship between the two parties. Nevertheless, some time later he wrote us a letter and officially declared that the Central Bureau of the Democratic Party of Iranian Azerbaijan had worked and would work in Iranian Azerbaijan and that the interference of the People’s Party of Iran in Azerbaijani affairs creates discord and is harmful. Dzhavid suggested appointing representatives from the People’s Party of Iran for talks with representatives of this Bureau. We replied in writing and suggested that he name his representatives so that we could name our representatives. Dzhavid replied that at the present time he could not name his representatives and would talk about them after the representatives of the People’s Party of Iran were known. It is clear that it is impossible to take this step, since Dzhavid’s mistrust of the CC of the People’s Party has proven his insincerity. Afterwards  Dzhavid intensified his divisive activity and his maligning of the People’s Party of Iran. In recent days he wrote a letter in order to establish ties with us. We recommended our permanent liaison to him.

It ought to be noted that from the very beginning of our work in Iranian Azerbaijan we have consulted with our Soviet comrade with whom we are in touch. The latter advised us to leave Dzhavid alone as a bad person and not make attacks against him as long as he does makes no [attacks]. We are doing this. However, we have come up against great difficulties. The problem is that Dzhavid is letting his circle know that he is supposedly in touch with Cde. Mir Dzhafar Bagirov and is acting on his orders (afterwards it became known to us that Dzhavid had written a letter to Paris to one Doctor Khatibi and requested he forward the letter to Soviet Azerbaijan for Cde. Mir Dzhafar Bagirov via Dzhavid’s aunt. Doctor Khatibi, who is an army officer, arrived from Paris and in a conversation with Dzhavid repeatedly reproached the latter for his divisive activity. Khatibi advised Dzhavid to consent to the People’s Party of Iran’s leadership of the Azerbaijani movement, but Dzhavid did not agree to this.

Dzhavid and his clique, headed in Iranian Azerbaijan by Khalile Neseri, are spreading such stories as the meetings and demonstrations allegedly being organized (of course, all under the leadership of the People’s Party), are provocations, for, as he says, that the members of the Party are giving themselves away in the eyes of the police, and thus the Party could end up without reliable people.

This group thinks that in present circumstances the obligation of Party members is the maintenance of their personal security and they should not participate in practical activity.

There is no doubt that if such fabrications remain without a response the guilty parties will not be caught and this will deceive the masses and create dissension.

Dzhavid initially published a quite limited number of leaflets written on copy paper. In recent months he has been publishing his own illegal leaflets in legal print shops. Not long ago he organized a so-called illegal print shop. Dzhavid’s primitive activity cannot escape the notice of the police.

At the present time Dzhavid means to publish the newspaper “Azerbaijan”. If this is realized that great difficulties will be created. Therefore in the interests of the Azerbaijani movement attention ought to be directed to the activity of Dzhavid’s clique and to ensuring a united leadership in Iranian Azerbaijan.

It ought to be noted that Dzhavid’s secretary is a member of the People’s Party of Iran and all information about Dzhavid is received from him. Therefore it is completely reliable.

The Difficulties of Working in Iranian Azerbaijan

From the very first day, when it was decided that the People’s Party of Iran would conduct work in Iranian Azerbaijan, we have raised before our Soviet comrade the question of the nature of our ties with the radio of the Democratic Party and possible differences between our parties. He replied that there would be no criticism in keeping with our tactics. In reality we have encountered unresolved difficulties in work. For example, we needed to issue membership cards to Party members in Iranian Azerbaijan. The question arose of who should sign these cards – the CC of the People’s Party of Iran or the CC of the Democratic Party of Iranian Azerbaijan. Since the CC of the Democratic Party of Iranian Azerbaijan is in Soviet Azerbaijan how can membership cards be sent to it for signature?  If the presently operating Party organ in Iranian Azerbaijan should sign them, then what will there be with the CC of the Democratic Party now located in Soviet Azerbaijan? There is the very same [situation] in other orders issued in the name of the CC. On one hand, as regards the historic dates, the Democratic Party issues a declaration in the name of the CC of this Party and therefore we can not commemorate these dates earlier, but have to wait for the speech on the radio and then reprint and distribute the transmitted appeals. For this reason, we publish appeals about historic dates 10-15 days later.

As a specific example of the difficulties we will give two cases:

After the publication of the newspaper “Azerbaijan”, which we organized, the radio of the Democratic Party, which had usually said nothing about any newspaper of its own, broadcast excerpts from the newspaper “Azerbaijan” which is published in Baku, thus indicating to listeners that the newspaper being published in Iranian Azerbaijan is not a Party organ. This, of course, was a great blow to our work in Iranian Azerbaijan. Dzhavid’s clique, having found support for their provocative activity, began to discredit the course along which we have been guiding the people and even call it a police [course].  Of course, after we turned to the Soviet comrade and requested that he patch up this matter, the radio of the Democratic Party stopped broadcasting excerpts from the newspaper “Azerbaijan” published in the USSR and thereby gave the impression that it supports our newspaper. But this does not diminish the effect of the blow on us and does not exclude the need to prevent a repetition of such incidents.  

Another example: after the events of 21 July 1952, when Mossadegh again came to power, the radio of the Democratic Party in a detailed broadcast from Baku officially and specifically gave orders to the peoples of Iran in the former locations of the People’s Party of Iran to restore the signs of these parties, disarm soldiers, protect houses and clubs (opposing the police), and establish the rule of a people’s democracy. The orders of the radio of the Democratic Party were like a specific invitation to an armed uprising. These orders seemed false to People’s Party of Iran. Party members turned to us for advice, but we did not know how to answer them. It is clear that this and similar incidents have instilled an indecisiveness and cast doubts on us and are creating mistrust toward us on the part of the Azerbaijani masses.

Therefore it is necessary to nail down the issue about the nature of activity in Iranian Azerbaijan, about the organ which is entrusted with this activity, and also our mottos, and thereby clarify the question about the leadership of the movement in Iranian Azerbaijan.

Democratic Organizations in Iranian Azerbaijan

The resolution of the issue about democratic organizations will help us establish a united leadership in Iranian Azerbaijan. The radio of the Democratic Party has repeatedly stated that the People’s Party of Iran is the leader of the entire anti-imperialist struggle in Iran and Iranian Azerbaijan. Consequently, leadership of the Central Council of Trade Unions, the Women’s Organization, the Movement of the Advocates of Peace, the National Society for the Struggle Against Colonization, the “Free Iran” Society, etc. in Iranian Azerbaijan are also being provided by the People’s Party of Iran. It is also evident that if the overall leadership of the movement is not concentrated in the hands of the People’s Party of Iran but is exercised by another organization torn away from the People’s Party, then great difficulties will be created, for each political party is uniquely competent in its sphere to lead democratic organizations and cannot leave this to another party. Otherwise a dual leadership will occur in all democratic organizations. In order to avoid this, it is necessary to ensure joint leadership.

The Society of Azerbaijanis Living in Tehran”

In the second half of 1951 Abul’kasym Musavi, Koreysh’yan, and Farman Farmanyan took steps to create a “Society of Azerbaijanis Living in Tehran.” Our Party involved itself in this and right away took the leadership of this business into its hands. It wrote a program for the Society and put its candidates into the Board and Central Council of this Society. The program of this Society is completely democratic and advances the following demands: freedom for Azerbaijani women, the formation of an Azerbaijani enjumen (council), the removal of incompetent government officials from Iranian Azerbaijan, and the granting of freedom to parties and trade unions, and also the freedom of assembly.

This Society publishes a weekly newspaper “The Azerbaijanis” in the Persian language. The Persian language was chosen to legalize the newspaper and to provide an opportunity for the legal activity of the Society and the newspaper. Up to now the Society has not displayed much activity, but it is being used to protest against the illegal actions of the government in Iranian Azerbaijan and to expose imperialist plots and intrigues in Iranian Azerbaijan. For example, on the historic dates when local Tabriz residents cannot call meetings this Society calls meetings and send representatives there. The Chairman of this Society is Abul’kasym Musavi and the Secretary is Akhmed Musavi. The latter is an old member of the Party. Farman Farmanyan is one of the founders of the Society who does not have the possibility of using the Society for his electoral purposes, having practically removed himself from this activity.

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