Interview with Mohammad Abdullah Gorji

What follow is part of an interview with an experienced educators who, while talking of his memories of the records and changes in the ministry of culture has criticized previous cultural policies and the performance of some influential people in the field of cultural ...

By: Morteza Rasoulipoor


What follow is part of an interview with an experienced educators who, while talking of his memories of the records and changes in the ministry of culture has criticized previous cultural policies and the performance of some influential people in the field of cultural transformations.


□At the beginning of Dr. Ali Amini’s premiership, a group of teachers and educators held a demonstration in Baharestan square which led to the murder of Dr. Abdul Hussein Khan¢ali. What was the cause of their dissatisfaction and strike? And how was Mohammad Derakhshesh’s name who was not among people suitable for ministry of culture proposed and chosen as minister as the leader of the unsatisfied educators?

The news of budget bill caused the objection of many educators. According to this bill which was presented to the parliament on Sunday April 30th by Dr. Jahanshah Saleh, then minister of culture, the minimum wage of a teacher was set at 10600 Rls and the minimum wage of a principal at 14500 Rls. The outbreak of this news caused their distress because the amount stated was not enough for their expenses. So, the unsatisfied educators led by Mohammad Derakhshesh, the head of Mehregan club gathered in front of the national parliament on the morning of May 2nd. On that morning, the representatives were faced with a group of protesting educators whose number increased every minute.

The protestors were calm at first but after the police came the peace vanished and the peaceful assembly changed in to struggle. The police at first used water sprinklers to confront and scatter them but this was not effective and rather created more excitement and agitation such that after a few seconds bullets were fired in the square and run and attack started in Baharestan. A few people were injured and Dr. Abdul Hussein Khan¢ali, teacher of Jami high school was severely wounded and taken to hospital.


□What was your reaction to this incident as a representative and an experienced educator who was familiar with the problems and troubles of the educators?

As a representative of the educators I decided to defend their requests in the parliament by a speech. I don’t know how Dr. Eghbal, the head of nationalist party, was informed of my decision but he sent me a message through Dr. Ahmad Emami – a close friend of Eghbal – to withdraw but I went to the parliament at night anyway. Apart from me, Allahyar Saleh and r. Jefroudi had also come to take turn for a pre-order speech.

On the morning of May 4th my name was determined as the third speaker. On the same day before Mr. Jefroudi’s speech, the news of Khan¢ali’s death came. Jefroudi, who was the first speaker, gave the news of his death as he was crying and after him Saleh attacked the government with a severe speech.

At the beginning of my speech I blamed the capitalists and contractors, and stated that their greed and over-ambition has troubled the educators and led them to strike. Then I defended the rights of educators and severely criticized the government’s performance in solving the many problems of educators and also ignorance towards the stimulating actions of Mohammad Derakhshesh.

My talks on that day provoked many enmities. On one hand my attack on the capitalists and contractors led to the annoyance of Asad-Allah Alam, then minister of court and the leader of the people’s party, and on the other hand, my criticism of the government led to Sharif Emami’s opposition towards me. These matters made me leave politics.


□It seems as though the aim of Derakhshesh in establishing Mehregan club and instigating the teachers to strike was to gain a higher position like ministry. At the same time, the governing body, especially intelligence services and Teimour Bakhtiar, intended on establishing another club in order to neutralize Drakhshesh’s activities with the help of their agents. It seems as though they even talked with an experienced educator named Reza Ma¢refat and granted him some facilities too. What do you know about this?

Your reference makes me explain more. You know that Derakhshesh got a bachelor’s degree in the field of history and geography in 1938 and after that he was recruited as a teacher by the ministry of culture and started teaching history and geography in schools. Ambition and opportunism was two of his main traits and he did anything to reach higher levels. He was very weak and so were his beliefs. With such spirits he managed to become the chief of the community college in 1946, when the Tudeh party had leaked into the ministry of culture.

As you know management of the community college was the responsibility of a committee whose members were selected though voting. This committee, known as the management committee of the community college, had 25 members and I was a member once too. The members were usually chosen from the professors or graduates of the college. I remember doctors Hourfar, Kani, Parsa, Jalali, Gunili, Khanlari, Khatibi, Moin, Zabih-Allah Safa, Ahmad Birashk, Ali Asghar Shamim, Sayyed Mohammad Bakhoda, Mohsen Hadad, Madanpour, Akbar Kousari, Tousi, Jahangir Tafazoli and Kazem Mazini were among the members of the committee. The members selected a chief among themselves. One of the main responsibilities of the chief of the community college was to present plans to help the authorities at the ministry of culture in the teachers’ affairs and also to manage the community college. In 1946 which was the peak of the Tudeh party activities, the Tudei educators wished for the chairmanship of this committee. So they talked with Derakhshesh in order to nominate him as their representative. Derakhshesh promised to participate if they supported him. People like Ghoduh and Talaei tried to organize a meeting to determine the head of the committee. The well-known professors and graduates of the college, being aware of the goal of the Tudeh party, did not participate in that meeting. So Derakhshesh was chosen as chairman in that session while he couldn’t be compared to any of the previous chiefs. People like Dr. Sedigh Alam and Dr. Abdullah Sheibani who held the position in previous elections were at a higher scientific and ethical level. Derakhshesh tried to show himself off with his arrogance but he really was not very educated and didn’t even know a foreign language. When he became minister, a person named Kasaei – then director general of higher education – accompanied him in his meetings with cultural representatives of other countries to translate his words.in one meeting, assuming the attendants don’t know Persian; he had cursed them in his own language saying inappropriate words. The German cultural attaché who was present in the meeting had responded to him saying: “back at you!” He wasn’t aware of how to encounter with the foreigners. Before he became minister he would exploit and scheme in the educator’s club and Mehregan newspaper. The people managing the newspaper were from the Tudeh part too.

I believe that the conductors of the government on that day deliberately intended on introducing Derakhshesh as the main operator of the educators’ strike tragedy so that he matter does not fall into the hands of the leftist groups and other opposing parties and especially people like Dr. Baghaei, the head of the labor party. Also by raising him the intelligence agencies tried to divert the matter. In this way the status and position of Derakhshesh was falsely promoted among the educators. On the other hand let’s not forget the US government was pressuring the Shah for some social and economic reforms so that the Shah had to appoint Dr. Ali Amini as prime minister. Since Shah couldn’t resist the US government’s requests, he tried his best to create problems in Amini’s government using his intelligence service and imposing and appointing small problematic people in the council like Derakhshesh.

Anyhow, Derakhshesh was arrested on the afternoon of the same day I spoke in the parliament. With Dr. Jahanshah Sale, minister of culture, we visited Sharif Emami the prime minister. In this meeting when I mentioned Derakhshesh’s arrest saying you have actually elevated him by this, Sharif Emami responded: this man was related to the Tudeh party and is going to be trialed in next one or two days. A few hours after this meeting we heard that Derakhshesh was respectfully released and welcomed by the educators in Mehregan club. We met with Sharif Emami again asking him about the matter to which he responded by: “I have no idea.”

A few hours arrest helped Derakhshesh in achieving his goals and he attracted the attention and support of the educators and became known as the leader of the educators’ strike. At the same time, Derakhshesh opened a bank account in his own name and asked the educators to deposit amounts of money to that account and create profit. More than 8,000,000 Rls were deposited into his account. According to the press of the time he made a huge profit and after a time only paid a little to the teachers. Overall Derakhshesh was an ignorant, restless, adventurous, ambitious, opportunist and greedy person. But what you mentioned about Mr. Ma¢refat is correct. I have to say that the governing body and especially Teimour Bakhtiar who owned the martial law and intelligence organizations wanted to form an institution against Derakhshesh’s institution. The aim of that organization was a kind of opposition in order to neutralize the other. Bakhtiar came to me first for this organization through an intimate friend of his named Ahmad Tabatabaei Qomi and we met in Lalehzar Café. He told me: “work with us. We’ll put you in a place of your own, if you agree we will raise you above Derakhshesh.” But I didn’t accept. Then they went to Ma¢refat and he accepted and he still owns that building.


□Why did Dr. Amini nominate Derakhshesh as his minister of culture?

Amini requested the liquidation of the parliaments after his premiership and after that he introduced his ministers but didn’t mention the minister of culture. A while back he had told Hasan Arsanjani that he wants to nominate Dr. Farshad, the head of the school of science as the minister of culture. Aranjani told me this himself and added: “and you are to be nominated as the deputy of the minister of culture.”

But a few days later we realized that Mohammad Derakhshesh was to minister of culture. I believe that Dr. Amini elected Derakhshesh without research and only according to the others suggestion and he created a big problem for his cabinet ad himself. Because Derakhshesh elected his followers for cultural affairs and since they were not qualified enough, their performance led to dissatisfaction of people in Tehran and the number of opposition against Dr. Amini’s increased such that rumor was Dr. Amini’s resignation was related to Derakhshesh’s performance. As I heard in one of the cabinet’s meetings, Derakhshesh had raised the subject of the increase in educator’s wages. Dr. Jahangir Amoozegar, minister of finance, had rejected his request according to the country’s income and budget. Derakhshesh was outraged and started quarreling with Amoozegar. Amini ordered a recess and immediately went to the court informing the Shah of the incident. Shah, awaiting this chance since he did not favor Amini either asked him to resign for his cabinet’s repair. After Amini’s resignation, the Shah nominated Asad-Allah Alam as prime minister.

Article ID : 1992|
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