Brief History of The Tudeh Party of Iran

Written by: M. Omidvar – March 1993


The labour and communist movement in Iran is 71 years old, and this includes the 51 years of the of the Tudeh Party of Iran, the party of the Iranian working class. Since its formation the party has been the main target of attacks by internal reaction and the imperialist forces, who were and are still dominating the political life of the country in order to plunder its vast natural resources. Our party, during all these 5 decades, has been allowed to operate legally for only a few years. The party has been outlawed by various governments and Tudeh members sent to torture chambers and firing squads; yet the party has relentlessly continued its struggle, remaining loyal to the lofty ideals of peace, democracy and socialism.

We celeberated the fiftieth first anniversary of our party at a very critical point, given the internal and external conditions. With the collapse of the socialist countries in Eastern Europe and the abandoning or betrayal of socialist ideals by many leaders of these countries, the hysteria of anti-communism, reminiscent to the fascist era back in the 1930’s, communists all over the world are going through very difficult and testing times. These difficult times make it an important duty to compile the history of our party based on historical facts and not subjective prejudgements in order to paint a true picture for future generations. We are not afraid to admit that we made mistakes, that the world communist movement made mistakes, but in the eyes of history the majority of the communists the world over fought tirelessly for the development of humankind , peace and progress. Tudeh members suffered more than ten thousand years of imprisonment and thousands were executed or killed under torture for adhering to the ideas and principles of Marxism-Leninism to build a better, more just society for future generation.Even today, Tudeh members are suffering in the dungeons and torture chambers of the Islamic Republic, fighting for democracy and socialism.

This booklet tries to give a historical , rather an analytical account of the past 5 decades of the struggle by our party. In trying to paint the history with the colour of truth, the booklet has avoided going into a deep political analysis of the party’s past policies and its mistakes. The booklet has relied heavily on party documents in order to avoid subjective views of the events. The present compilation is therefore a brief history of the life and struggle of the TPI which has been prepared from a mass of Party publications and documents. Let history speak for itself, since the ghosts of the past know more about the secrets of history than some vengeful analysts of today. What lies now in the hands of the readers is an attempt to sketch parts of the proud struggle of the Tudeh Party of Iran in its 51 years of life, and not a complete historical account.

M. Omidvar – March 1993

The Birth of the Labour and Communist Movement in Iran

With the growth of industry, and along with it the development of the capitalist mode of production in the late 19th and early 20th century, Marxist ideology found its way to Iran. The social and political scene of that era can be summarised as the period of historical transformation of the Iranian society from feudalism to capitalism. Albeit very slowly, the new born capitalism was growing, and the working class of the country was completing the process of its genesis. However they both faced adverse socio-economic forces, namely the old feudal order with its absolute monarchist regime. The struggle was gradually taking shape and spreading. Towards the turn of the century, anti-despotic actions developed dramatically, and an ever-increasing number of people took part in the revolutionary struggle. Underground political organisations were formed in major cities of Iran, to mobilise and lead the masses particularly in Tabriz, Tehran and Isfahan. Among them was a political grouping formed in 1898 by Ali Monsieur, an outstanding intellectual from Tabriz. This organisation later became one of the strong centres of the anti-despotic struggle. Social democracy was first brought to the country by those Iranian workers who travelled to Ghafghaz, and Russia’s Asian countries, for seasonal work, especially in the Baku oil industry (more than half the workers in Baku oil fields were Iranian). It was from these workers that great Iranian revolutionaries like Heidar Amou Oghly (one of the leaders of the Constitutional Revolution, and the general secretary of the Communist Party of Iran) were raised. In 1904, in order to organise revolutionary social democratic activities among the working people of Azarbaijan and other Iranians, a political group called “Hemmat” (Aspiration) was founded in Baku.

In the same year, leaflets and pamphlets published by the Baku, Tbilisi, and Tabriz branches of the Social Democrat Workers’ Party of Russia (Bolsheviks) were distributed by Ali Monsieur not only in Azarbaijan and other areas of Iran, but also after translation into Arabic, in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Kazemein. Between 1901 and 1902, the central organ of the Bolshevik Party, Iskra, was sent to Baku from Berlin via Tabriz. The operation was organised by Lenin himself and Kropskaya. The “Hemmat” group for the first time translated the term “Social Democracy” into Persian, in order to make it more understandable for Iranian working people who had no knowledge of European languages.

Having returned from Russia, in 1904, Heidar Amou Oghly, together with some of his comrades, organised in Mashad the first cells of the revolutionary Social Democrats of Iran. A year later, on the eve of the Constitutional Revolution, the first official document of the social democratic movement in Iran was adopted at a meeting in Mashad. After the defeat of the Constitutional Revolution, and later during the First World War, Iranian social democrats continued their revolutionary activities, both inside the country and in exile. Following the victory of the Russian Revolution in February 1917 and the overthrow of the Tsarist regime, Iranian revolutionaries who had emigrated to Russia found the opportunity to organise openly, increase their activities and establish their offices and workers’ centres. In May 1917, the Iranian Social Democrat Party Edalat (Justice), was founded officially, and published its programme in two languages, Persian and Azari, in Baku. In the Persian section of this document (page 12) one finds the following statement: “Among the demands of Edalat is the transformation of life and social relations on the basis of socialism, in order to end the exploitation of the working people by those who rule our society”. The downfall of the burgeois government of Russia, led to an even greater opportunity for the Iranian workers living in that country, to increase their political- social activities, and establish their party. This was, however, curtailed to some extent in August 1918 with the military attack of imperialist governments against the first socialist state on the face of our planet, and the invasion of its southern states. Nevertheless Iranian social democrats, under the leadership of the “Edalat” and “Hemmat” parties, continued their underground struggle against imperialism and reactionaries.

Following the defeat of the White Guards and British forces by the Red Army, the national liberation movement reached new heights in Iran. In Gilan (northern Iran), social democrats, together with revolutionary intellectuals, peasants and partisans of the “Jungle Movement” staged a united uprising and formed the Soviet Republic of Gilan. Against this background, in June 1920, the first congress of the Iranian social democrats was convened in Anzali ( a northern Iranian port) and officially founded the Communist Party of Iran. According to the minutes of the congress 51 delegates and 9 guests attended the event. In that period ultra-left policies dominated the Party. By changing the composition of the central committee, and electing Heidar Amou Oghly as the leader, the Communist Party of Iran succeeded in curbing this trend. The Party actively participated in the First Congress of the Eastern People, which was organised by the Executive Committee of the Comintern from 1-10 September 1920 and held in Baku. Heidar Amou Oghly, who was one of the speakers at the Congress, was elected to the 48 membered Publicity and Executive Council of the Eastern People’s Congress. It was not long after the establishment of the Communist Party of Iran that the internal reaction and British imperialism plotted a painful conspiracy against the Party. Agents of the British government who wanted the defeat of the Soviet Republic of Gilan and the Jungle Movement, penetrated the movement, and by deceiving a number of its leaders prepared for a carefully planned plot. Using Mirza Kouchak Khan as a tool they organised a treacherous plot. Mirza Kouchak Khan assassinated Heidar Amou Oghly and a number of other leading figures of the liberation movement and ordered a brutal attack on the Communist Party organisations in Rasht and Anzali (two major cities of Gilan). At the same time the central government which was waiting for an opportunity like this, sent its troops to Gilan to break the revolutionary resistance of the republic. It was the communists who stood against the bullets of the invaders or were locked up in the dungeons of reactionaries. This marked the end of the open activity of the Communist Party of Iran, and once more forced it underground.

One of the main areas of the communist party’s activities was teaching and promoting the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. To appreciate the result of this steadfast work, one need only look at the growth and spread of revolutionary Marxist thinking in Iran at that time, and the flourishing of various movements in different areas. After the establishment of the dictatorship of Reza Shah in 1925, the pressures of the reactionary forces on the labour and communist movement increased dramatically. In those years the struggle of the Iranian working class in general, and those employed by the oil industry in particular, was gaining momentum against the ruling reactionaries and British imperialism. The Communist Party of Iran thus founded the Union of the Oil Workers in 1925, and two years later, under increasing pressure from the police, was forced to take the trade union underground. The Communist Party of Iran was also engaged in other areas of the struggle of the Iranian people. Women’s and youth organisations were established as a result of the democratic activities of Iranian communists. In 1923 “Peyk-e Saadat-e Nesvan” (messenger of Women’s prosperity) was formed and in 1926 the women’s group “Bidarye Ma” (Our Awakening) was established. With the intention of ending the growth of the democratic movement in the country, the dictatorship of Reza Shah stepped up the suppression of the communist movement and in 1929 passed an infamous bill through the puppet parliament, banning all communist activity in Iran, subsequently known as the “black law”. These years are also marked by the appearance of Dr. Taghi Arani in the leadership of the Communist Party of Iran. The new party leadership, which was endeavoring to unite the ranks of the organisation, launched a theoretical journal, called Donya (the world) in early 1932. A year later, by the decision of the Central Committee of the party, Donya became the official organ of the Communist Party of Iran. In 1936, Reza Shah’s police succeeded in capturing Dr. Arani and a group of his associates, known as the group of 53. It was only two years later that under public pressure, the regime was forced to try the imprisoned communists. The trial in fact turned against the dictatorship itself. In a historical, 6 hours long defence, Dr. Arani not only openly exposed the puppet regime of Reza Shah but also set out to defend the principles of freedom, democracy, social progress, and the ideas of scientific socialism. Having devoted his life to the defence of the lofty human ideals, Arani was later murdered in prison.

The Formation of the Tudeh Party of Iran

Reza Shah had entered into a secret alliance with Nazi Germany, giving Hitler bases in Iran for an attack on the Soviet Union and had turned down allied requests to close down these bases. On 25 August 1941, the Allied Forces entered Iranian territory. Reza Shah was forced to flee and the British succeeded in bringing his son, Mohammad Reza to power. Taking advantage of the vacuum created after the events of August, the Tudeh Party of Iran was formed in September 1941 to continue the work of the banned Communist Party of Iran under conditions of open activity. Following the collapse of Reza Shah’s dictatorship, with the new conditions prevailing, a large group of political prisoners were released. These included Dr. Arani’s group (known as the Group of Fifty-three) who adhered to the communist ideology. The first foundation stones of the Tudeh Party of Iran were laid by these communists. On 29 September 1941, the founding conference of the TPI was held in Tehran under the chairmanship of Soleiman Mohsen Eskandari, one of the renowned combatants of the national liberation movement. This gathering elected a provisional committee of fifteen members which issued a declaration outlining the Party’s programme in principle and announced that the Tudeh Party of Iran was being formed in order to achieve democracy, safeguard the independence and national sovereignty of Iran and to endeavor to bring about urgent reforms in the interest of the people.

The Tudeh Party of Iran, in keeping with its name (the People’s Party of Iran), aimed to mobilise broad sections of the working masses behind a clear outlook for struggle, using all means of open activity. To this end it aimed to put forward correct tactical slogans reflecting the urgent demands of the time and to bring together all progressive forces in a united front, based upon the common interest of all. At a time when the dictatorship was the most immediate threat, the newly-formed party put forward the slogan of common struggle of all freedom-loving classes and strata against the reactionary dictatorship. For this purpose, the provisional committee ratified the following programme in eight articles outlining the party’s political principles: 1. To safeguard the independence and sovereignty of Iran; 2. To form a democratic regime guaranteeing individual and social rights such as freedom of speech, opinion and association; 3. To struggle against all forms of dictatorship; 4. To carry out urgently needed land reform and improve the life of peasantry and other toiling masses; 5. To reform the education system to provide compulsory and free education for all. To make provision for a free national health service; 6. To reform the tax system in the interest of the masses; 7. To carry out reforms in the fields of economy and commerce, to expand industry and mining, to improve transport facilities through construction and maintenance of road and railway networks; 8. To confiscate the property of the ex-Shah in the interests of the people. Many other parties were formed in the aftermath of Reza Shah’s downfall, but they either soon disappeared or remained isolated political groups. It was only the Tudeh Party of Iran which functioned as a party, grew rapidly and turned into a significant and influential political force. This growth was a result of the TPI’s understanding of the specific conditions of the moment and its ability to respond to the demands of the masses. As the Party had been formed by the former members of the Communist Party, from inception it enjoyed the trust of the politically aware strata of the working class. Soon other strata within the working people, longing for organisation and ready for the struggle gathered around the party. The history of the TPI is enriched with significant political and organisational experience. The Party’s ranks were consolidated in the struggle against internal reaction, all forms of colonialism and imperialism. Different conditions called for different forms of struggle. The Party used initiative to find the best means of struggle at any time, but at times it also made mistakes. Both the advance and the mistakes of the Party have served as guide for later combatants in its struggle.

The TPI was the first political party to realise the necessity of the formation of a united front of progressive forces to struggle against reaction and imperialism, and to take the practical initiative in this respect. While numerous political organisations enjoyed the freedom ensured by the parliament for their activity, the TPI remained unrecognized because internal reaction and their imperialist patrons feared the consequences of the Party’s open activity. It was in 1942 that the Party succeeded in gaining recognition and launched its central organ “Siasat” (Politics). During the first 5 months of its open activity the Party concentrated its work foremost within the working class- the Party’s main social base- and was warmly welcomed by this class. The first members of the TPI consisted of workers and individuals who had either been previously active in the Communist Party of Iran or had learned of the militant background of the founding members of the TPI. The Party’s activities against reaction, for safeguarding the workers’ rights, led to major victories from the very beginning. The Party’s ranks grew. In a short time, Party cells and trade union organisations were formed in many industrial centres. In a year’s time the Party had formed extensive organisations in many counties and provinces. County organisations were set up in Azarbaijan, Isfahan, Gilan, Mazandaran and Khorassan. The most important Party organisation was in Tehran which convened its first conference in October 1942 with 120 participants.

A new Party programme was ratified by this conference which identified new arenas for Party work. In addition to the struggle for securing independence and sovereignty of Iran (promoted earlier) the new programme was based on the need to: i) Unite workers, peasants, intellectuals and artisans. ii) Struggle against all forms of colonialism in Iran. A new article recognising equal political rights for women was also added to the programme. The Conference decided to replace the paper “Siasat” , which had closed following the expulsion of, its editor from the Party ,with the paper “Rahbar” (Leader) as the Party’s central organ. The Conference also elected fifteen members to the Tehran Provincial Committee, which was charged with the task of preparing for the Party’s congress as a matter of priority and to undertake the duties of the Central Committee until then.

In 1944, having assessed its ever-increasing strength, the Party decided to enter the elections to the 14th parliament. Eight of the Party’s candidates were elected to the Parliament and formed the Tudeh faction ,which worked effectively in the two-year long period of the 14th parliament. Based on its general programme, the Party derived a minimum programme of action for the parliamentary Tudeh faction and publicised this in an open statement. This programme included a clause stating that Tudeh MPs had no objectives but to defend the interests and rights of the Iranian people. They would use the parliament as a platform to echo the voice of the people of Iran worldwide. They would guard the independence and sovereignty of the country. Their main slogan was: “Freedom for all; Bread for all; Culture for al; Health care for all.” The Party parliamentary faction undertook to put forward plans which answered the people’s urgent demands. These included among others drafting a labour law, reforming the employment act, reviewing the election law, reforming the judicial system, carrying through agrarian reform and economic reforms with a view to the industrialisation of the country , and securing women’s equal rights. 

The statement declared that Tudeh representatives would co-operate with all freedom-loving and progressive members of the parliament. The Tudeh faction would do all in its power for the realisation of its programme and co-operation with other progressive parliamentarians. This group used its parliamentary platform to the full, leaving an outstanding record of struggle in the history of the Iranian people’s movement. In order to secure the economic demands of the working class and attract it to the arena of political struggle, the TPI set about organising the workers in trade unions. This was the only way the Party could gain the trust of the working class and strengthen its ranks by recruiting among the workers. In parallel with the broadening of the Party organisations, democratic unions were also developing rapidly. On 1st May 1944, following a long struggle, the Party succeeded in uniting all existing trade unions in one national organisation, the United Central Council of the Workers and Toilers of Iran. At the centre of this organisation was a 55 member council out of which 15 would be elected to the Central Delegation and 5 would become secretaries. This organisation started with 50,000 members and in a short time grew to include more than 90% of the working class of Iran within its ranks.

One of the results of the Party’s relentless endeavours for the formation of a united front was the foundation of the “Liberation Front” comprising the editors of various papers and journals, which coincided with the Party’s first congress. Whereas only 12 papers were involved in the formation of this front, by the latter half of 1944 its membership had reached 44, covering half the total number of journals nationwide. Thus with the efforts of the TPI for the first time in the history of our people’s struggle a united front was formed of elements with different views, organised around common goals. One of the most important aspects of the Party’s struggle during this period was its campaign against Nazi fascism. The ever-increasing domination of fascist Germany in Iran before the Allies entered Iran, had provided the Nazis with a great material and moral force. Hitler’s spy network was spread throughout the country. During the first 8 months of 1941, 11,000 tons of military hardware had been transferred to Iran by various means and stored in secret locations. The Nazis had not prepared themselves only militarily. They had also attracted many prominent political figures to their positions. Many fascist parties were formed during this period and attracted a great number of the country’s youth. The Tudeh Party of Iran had on the one hand to expose the nature of imperialism and the expansionist and savage policies of fascist Germany, and on the other defend the Soviet Union as the first socialist state in the world. Unperturbed by constant threats, the Tudeh Party of Iran formed anti-fascist committees in various towns and launched the “Mardom” paper as its anti-fascist organ. During the period from the first issue of “Mardom” to Iran’s declaration of war upon Nazi Germany, the anti-fascist committees and the “Mardom” paper were active and gained great successes.

First Party Congress

The Tudeh Party of Iran emerged from the election campaign with ever greater strength. Its main activity was still centred in the towns and among the working class. This was reflected in the Party’s class composition such that workers formed 75% of the Party’s membership, while white- collar workers and intellectuals formed 23%, and peasants formed only 2% of its membership. At this time the Party’s total official membership was 25,000. It was therefore the Party’s priority to convene a congress in order to reorganise its structure. The Party’s first congress was opened on 1st August 1945 in the Party’s Central Club with the participation of 164 delegates. The congress discussed organisational matters, domestic and international policies, reviewed the financial situation of the Party, discussed Party security and debated parliamentary matters. In addition the congress reviewed the Party rules and programme. Following lively and open discussions the congress concluded its work and issued a number of resolutions. 

The Congress, during its discussions of the political and organisational matters, noted that the TPI was the only political party which was recognised by the majority of the people, and paid special attention to the short-comings of the Party’s activities, their roots, and the necessity for overcoming them. The congress drew the attention of the elected Central Committee to the need to improve contact with provincial organisations, clearly differentiate the tasks of different branches and overcome weaknesses regarding the observance of Party discipline. The congress , while endorsing the steps taken to ensure Party unity, emphasised the necessity to step up work among the peasantry and the need to form a peasants union. To emphasise the importance of criticism, the Congress noted that: “Since our Party is a progressive Party fighting for freedom and social progress, it has never feared to use the weapon of criticism to prevent its ranks from corruption. On the contrary …our organisations will always use constructive criticism as a tool for correction at the same time taking decisive measures to prevent destructive and divisive criticism”. The attention of the Congress was also drawn to the necessity for ever increasing work among the women, uniting them against reactionary agitations and the need to endeavour to unify the youth and the intelligentsia in the correct path of struggle for freedom. Regarding the internal policies, a lively debate was held on whether the Party should contest in the parliamentary elections or not. The Congress endorsed the participation of the Party in these elections but cautioned that this should be carried out on the basis of Party’s principles and in such a way as to prevent endangering its credibility.

The Congress also debated the important matters of the day and formulated the views of the Party, stating: “The Tudeh Party of Iran should reject all economic concessions which endanger the independence of Iran. The Tudeh Party of Iran is against the presence of the foreign advisors of any country in Iran and regards the Iranian people as capable and worthy of conducting their own affairs.” Regarding foreign policy, the Congress endorsed as correct the earlier policies adopted by the Party, namely to struggle against fascism, support for the struggle of the allied forces for freedom and the right of the small nations to self-determination. It outlined the general guidelines for the future foreign policies of the Party as observing cordial relations with the allied forces during the war, and friendship with those countries who defend the rights of the smaller nations , providing these relations are on the basis of equality. The Party was mandated to fight against the co-operation of Iran in any pact with imperialist states which would result in the subordination of Iran or other countries to imperialism.

Events of July 1946

Fourteenth of July 1946 has an important place in the history of the anti-imperialist struggle of our country. On this day tens of heroic workers who participated in the strike lost their lives and once again demonstrated that the Iranian working class fights relentlessly to dismantle all imperialist influences in Iran. At the time, the British Oil Company with the help of the Pahlavi family had formed effectively a government within the Iranian government, plundered Iran’s oil resources and savagely exploited thousands of workers. Alongside this savage exploitation by the British through the agency of the British Petroleum Company, the struggle of the Iranian working class grew in strength and delivered heavy blows to the plunderers through the activity of the Central Council of the Workers and Working People of Iran. The last strike staged before the 14 June 1946 was the victorious strike at the Aghajari oil fields from the 1st of May to the 5th of June. On the 14 July 1941 all the workers of the oil fields in Khuzestan (southern county of Iran) staged a united strike. Two thousand workers took control of Abadan (city in south of Iran) demanding the replacing of Mosabah Fatemi ,the governor of the province, the liquidation of the political organisation of the British Petroleum Company and the fulfilment of their economic demands. BP used its previously formed organisations such as the “Tribal Union” and “Saadr Party” to suppress the workers. In addition to these two organisations, the police too staged an onslaught on the workers. As a result 47 workers were killed and 170 were injured. But as a result of continued struggle of the workers, their economic demands were realised.

December 1945 Movement in Azarbaijan

The peoples of Azarbaijan have played a prominent role in the national liberation movement of Iran. Among them is the decisive role played by the struggle of the people of Azarbaijan in the constitutional revolution (1906-1911). In the period 1917-1920 the democratic movement formed under the leadership of Sheikh Mohamad Khiabani played an important role in the people’s struggle against colonialism, reaction and feudalism. The downfall of Reza Shah’s regime and the defeat of his reactionary policies provided the progressive organisations with the opportunity to reorganise. The victory of progressive people against Nazi Germany and militarist Japan changed the balance of forces in favour of those defending independence, democracy and socialism. This conditions led to a sudden increase in the ranks of the working class and communist movement in which the peoples of colonised countries struggled to obtain their national independence. In Iran too the progressive forces used these favourable conditions to struggle against the revival of the dictatorship and for democracy. The formation of a political organisation to undertake urgent tasks in accordance with the new circumstances was now a priority. With the escalation of the democratic movement in Azarbaijan during the period 1945-1946 the Democratic Party of Azarbaijan was formed.

In mid 1945 reaction staged an onslaught against the democratic and working class movement and spearheaded its attacks against the Tudeh Party of Iran and the United Central Council, raiding their offices in Tehran, Mazandaran and Esfahan. A large number of the Party activists were arrested, progressive officers in the army were purged and progressive papers were banned. The ruling class prevented the elections of the 15th parliament from taking place. The Iranian people faced two options; either to surrender to the dictatorship or to put up a stiff resistance against it. The progressive parties chose the later path. At this time, the Democratic Party of Azarbaijan (DPA) called for the immediate holding of the provincial and county committee meetings. The organisations of DPA grew rapidly in Azarbaijan and contained a large proportion of people in the cities and rural areas. Following a decision of the DPA, guerrilla groups were formed in the rural areas which disarmed the Gendarmes.

At first the only demand of the democratic movement in Azarbaijan was the formation of county and provincial committees for self rule. But faced with the government’s indifference to these demands, the Azarbaijan People’s Congress held on 20th November 1945 declared itself the founding parliament in Tabriz (capital of Azarbaijan) and took the decision to found the Azarbaijan Autonomous Republic. Elections were held and the Azarbaijan National Parliament was opened on 21st December1946. This parliament assigned comrade Pishevari, the leader of the DPA, to form a government. Army chiefs in Azarbaijan were disarmed and the powers of the central government were eradicated. The main motive force behind the movement of 21st December was, the workers, peasants, intelligentsia and a large proportion of the working people. The movement also paid attention to attracting the national bourgeoisie, small and middle land owners, to the struggle against the big bourgeoisie and feudal landlords.

The national democratic government of Azarbaijan undertook fundamental reforms in the reactionary state apparatus in favour of the people. Among the duties that the national democratic government set itself were: to struggle against imperialism and reaction and for democracy, to ensure the autonomy of the Azari people and at the same time secure the independence and sovereignty of Iran, to intertwine the national democratic movement in Azarbaijan with the interests of the revolution in Iran and to form a pivot for the national movement in Iran. Following the success of the movement of December 21st and the increased national struggle waged under the leadership of the TPI, the central government was forced into retreat and accepted implementation of peaceful negotiation. These negotiations were held in June 1946 and an official agreement was signed between the central government and the national democratic government of Azarbaijan on 14 June 1946.

The central government, in its decree of 23 April 1946 and the agreement on 14 June 1946, approved of the democratic nature of the December 21st movement and committed itself to disseminate the principles of democracy in Iran. In turn, the national democratic government of Azarbaijan agreed to function as a provincial and national government within the bounds of the country. The Azarbaijan national government placed the popular army in the control of the Defence Ministry, the guerilla organisation under the control of security offices, and did not resist the armed forces sent to Azarbaijan by the central government under the pretext of “supervising the 15th parliamentary elections”. According to the agreements reached, the central government was to: allocate 75% of Azarbaijan’s income to itself, recognise the Azari language alongside the Persian language (Farsi) and extend democratic reforms to the whole of Iran. Following the acceptance of these demands the central government dispatched military force to Azarbaijan under the pretext of supervision of the elections.

The DPA had confidence in the agreement it had made with the central government. Unaware of the imperialist plots regarding “DPA separatist intentions” and in the interest of peace considering the position of Iran and the balance of forces in the world, it decided not to resort to armed resistance. But the central government trampled its agreements underfoot and ordered its dispatched military forces, to crush the people’s democratic movement by force. The national government of Azarbaijan was the source of many important services for the peoples of Azarbaijan; the establishment of many large industries, the enforcement of strict control on foreign imports in the interests of the internal industries, the nationalisation of commerce, the hoarding of goods was fought against, the “Bank of Azarbaijan” was founded, the indirect taxation was lowered in the interest of people and taxes were received from capitalists and land owners, progressive labour and social security laws were ratified.

The national government of Azarbaijan carried out fundamental agrarian reforms in which land from the feudals was confiscated and distributed among landless peasants. The national government took important steps in preparing the ground for the flourishing of the Azari culture, among them are; the recognition of Azari language as the official language of Azarbaijan, the foundation of Tabriz university and a new educational system, the establishment of library facilities and the publication of over 50 journals and papers in Azari language, the foundation of Radio Tabriz, the council of poets and writers, the Drama university and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Azarbaijan. The national government drew particular attention to the state of healthcare by funding various hospitals and childcare facilities.

Although the life of this government was short, it must be said that, its tireless efforts in the interests of our people were one of the brilliant pages in Iran’s history. The TPI had very close cooperation with the democratic movement in Azarbaijan from the beginning. This movement itself prevented the reaction from staging an onslaught on the TPI and created an atmosphere which helped increase its influence. The working people of Iran for the first time in the history of their struggle celebrated 1st May in 1946. The circumstances for a united action among the parties and national democratic societies became more favourable and the initial negotiation between the TPI, DPA, Kurdish Democratic Party, Iran Party, Jungle Party, the United Central Council of Workers and working people , started and successfully continued. The Democratic Party of Azarbaijan was further enriched by the presence of experienced cadres following the fusion of the regional organisation of the Tudeh Party of Iran into the DPA. The Tudeh Party of Iran took important steps to defend and promote activities of the DPA among the Iranian society, and following the defeat of the movement, the TPI used every effort to protect the cadres of the DPA against the barbaric onslaught waged by the reactionary regime of Iran. The Democratic movement of Azarbaijan paved the path of fraternal and friendly relations between the Democratic Party of Azarbaijan and the Kurdish Democratic Party. The political, social and educational cooperation between these two democratic governments were in the interests of the peoples of Iran. This friendship became officially proclaimed by the endorsement of a treaty on 23 April 1946. This friendship which was based upon the formation of a democratic and popular government was one of the most important developments in the liberation movement of our country at the time.

Second Period: August 1953-February 1979 The 1953 Coup

The 1953 reactionary coup d’etat, which was staged with the direct intervention of US and British imperialists, imposed a reactionary regime which reversed the democratic gains secured by our people in the preceding years. The coup d’etat aimed to suppress the national liberation movement, eliminate the TPI, abandon the nationalisation of oil, reinstate the domination of multi-national monopolies over our oil resources and to recruit Iran to an offensive imperialist pact against the Soviet Union and the national liberation movements in the strategically important Persian Gulf. In a report send by the British ambassador to the British government of the time, the dangers to the interests of the British Oil companies, which had suffered as the result of the nationalisation programme of the nationalist government and the growing influence of the Tudeh party of Iran are clearly stated. The report urges the British government and the Americans to take immediate action in overthrowing the elected government of Dr. Mosadag and to suppress the Tudeh Party of Iran. The 1953 coup was undoubtedly a great blow to the mass movement of our country. Despite all the difficulties ,the large scale abandoning of the movement by the closest friends of Dr. Mosadeg and the treachery of some of the leaders of the National Front, and Ayatollah Kashani the leader of the religious movement, the Tudeh Party of Iran attempted to organise the struggle against the new reactionary regime . In spite of the heavy blows suffered by the Party’s organisations the TPI continued its work until 1955, when the Party’s underground organisation among the military personnel was uncovered and a large number of patriotic officers were arrested and later executed. In the difficult conditions, internal differences within the Party and among the leadership surfaced. They were exacerbated as a result of the treachery of a number of the Party leaders. The Party organisations were therefore unable to resist effectively the regime of terror which came to power after the coup, and the regime succeeded in consolidating its position, and the popular movement of our country went into a period of stagnation. The Party leadership of the time was heavily influenced by the warming of relations between the Soviet Union and the American administration and hence failed to take decisive measures to combat the regime of the coup d’eta.

After this period until 1957, the Party was unable to bring together the leadership for the purpose of analysing the experiences of the coup and its implications for the strategy and tactics necessary to continue the struggle against the regime. There was a gap of eight and a half years between the third and the fourth broad plenum of the Central Committee of the Party, which took place in May 1957 with the participation of 15 members of the Central Committee and 59 cadres of the Party. This very long period, together with the absence of any authoritative meetings, brought about a crisis within the Party which seriously hampered its struggle against the regime. Nevertheless the Party continued to uphold the banner of revolutionary working class struggle and continued the struggle for the rights of the working class and working people of Iran. Despite the attempts of the brutal regime of the Shah, the Party’s influence within the working class did not diminish. Massive strikes of the workers in Masjed Soleiman and Aghajary in autumn 1957, the strike of 12,000 taxi drivers in Tehran and that of Robat-Karim miners for the wage increase in the same year, a strike at textile factories of Isfahan in 1958, the spinners strike at, Isfahan and the strike of 40,000 workers of brick making in Tehran in 1959 were all indications of the level of development and preparedness of the working class of Iran to struggle against the regime of the Shah.


These years also coincided with the arrest and execution of Khosrow Roozbeh, national hero and a member of the Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran. In the brutal suppressive conditions created after the coup he continued his heroic revolutionary struggle through the post- coup d’etat years. Finally due to the treachery of a party member, he was besieged by the police and after one hour of armed resistance during which he was shot in the arm, leg and chest, was arrested and taken to hospital and then to Ghezel-Ghalae Prison. From the time of his arrest until his trial a month later the interrogators tried in vain to break his resolve. In court, Khosrow Roozbeh defended himself, brilliantly turning the court into a trial of the regime. Aware of the fact that the trial was a mockery and that a death sentence had already been determined, Roozbeh turned the court session to a platform to voice his ideas. He proudly said: “I am dedicated to my ideals and firm in my political beliefs. I remain devoted and committed to the Tudeh Party of Iran and will never break my pledge to its path to avoid danger and for personal benefit … If I admire socialism it is because with all my conscience and logic, I have felt its superiority over other systems.” Comrade Roozbeh said that joining the ranks of the Tudeh Party of Iran was the inevitable result of the evolution of his revolutionary and humanitarian ideals. To this effect he defended his beliefs in the anti-people court of the Shah stating: “Due to a burning desire to serve the Iranian masses, I joined the Tudeh Party of Iran. I must emphasize that with my flesh and blood I remain thoroughly devoted to the Tudeh Party of Iran. Our party stands for anti-colonialism, and the independence and sovereignty of Iran. The social goals of our Party stem from respect for humanity and dedication to the working masses. We want to put an end to all exploitation of man by man which is the root of all social corruptions.” Finally at 4 am. on 11 May 1958 while supported by a walking stick, he faced the firing squad. In the last moments he said: “I have no fear of death, Don’t blind-fold me”. While in front of the firing squad he shouted: “Long Live the Tudeh Party of Iran! Long Live Communism! Fire”. This is how the voice of the people’s champion was silenced for ever, but his name will be in the history of our people’s struggle for ever. 

The Isvestia newspaper wrote about Roozbeh; “This is the picture of Khosrow Roozbeh the national hero of the Iranian people, and fighter for the ideals of communism. To the end of his heroic life, he never bowed down to the regime’s executioners. Humanity shall never forget his memory”.


Following a period of stagnation in the summer of 1959 the Party held its broad seventh plenum and the Conference of Unity with the Azarbaijan Democratic Party. This was an important step towards the unity of the communist movement in Iran and the preparation of the Party for the struggle against the reactionary regime of the Shah. It is noted in the documents of the broad seventh plenum: “The period of stagnation of the national liberation movement of our country has come to an end and a new period of exaltation of the movement will start… with respect to the Shah’s regime of terror, where all the legal avenues are closed to people’s protests, the only way to topple this hated regime is through the organised revolutionary actions of Iranian people… The historical change and the development of Iranian society have given the important task of leading the national liberation movement to the working class of Iran and its Party, the Tudeh Party of Iran. This is because the proletariat and its party are the most persistent and conscious revolutionary forces of our country. More than any other class or strata of our society they remain interested in the fulfilment of the task bestowed upon them. For this, the unity of the internal ranks of the party is of prime importance.” By adopting a new programme and constitution, the Party took an important step towards the restructuring of its organisation. The correctness of the party’s resolutions adopted in this plenum were proved by history. 


Soon after the seventh plenum of the Party, the mass movement started to grow rapidly. In 1961 the struggle intensified in depth and dimension. In the forefront of the struggle were the working class and other working people of our country. In spring 1961 the teachers staged a national strike and organised large meetings in different cities and towns. The regime used the army to suppress the teachers’ demonstrations which forced the Shah’s regime into retreat. Frightened of popular action and in an attempt to prevent further direct action from the masses, the Shah’s regime implemented a set of reforms from above under the pretentious name of the white Revolution, a major part of which was on land reform, to expand the social base of the monarchy and consolidate the rule of reaction, facilitate neo-colonialist domination and bring about social conditions enabling intensification of exploitation. In addition, an important aim of the reforms was to uproot the obsolete feudal system and transform Iranian society to capitalism. The TPI exposed the nature of these reforms in an article in its central organ dated 20 February 1963 stating: “Despite the recent social manoeuvers of the coup d’etat regime, it remains the major obstacle in the way to the fundamental and revolutionary changes in the country.”

One of the most important characteristics of this period was the re-appearance of the religious movement against the Shah’s regime. The religious movement which had lost all credibility and influence after Ayatollah Kashani’s betrayal of the popular government of Dr. Mossadeq in favour of the coup d’etat regime in 1953, surfaced once again, this time in opposition to the Shah. The religious leaders entered the arena of anti-Shah struggle because they feared losing their social base as a result of the reforms made by the Shah which threatened the feudal system and “Westernised” Iranian society. The clergy using the religious sentiments of the people and the network at their disposal, organised large demonstrations in Tehran and Qom on 6 June 1961. The demonstrations were savagely suppressed by the army. Over 2,000 demonstrators were killed. The events of 6 June 1961 showed more than anything the fallacy of the claims of stability and popularity by the Shah’s regime and the fact that it relied only on the military to remain in power.

The demonstrations and protests against the regime, though having a serious impact on it, failed to topple the regime mainly due to the disunity and lack of cooperation and coordination within the opposition. These events coincided with the split in the world communist movement and the growth of Maoism, which was also reflected within the ranks of the TPI. As a result the Party did not succeed in unifying its ranks and organising the opposition movement of our people.


Despite all the efforts and the flexibility shown by the secretariat of the Central Committee, the Party faced a second split in 1965. The splinter group had for some time been engaged in factionalist activities. It proclaimed in a letter signed by three people on 17th October 1965: “We hereby reject the decisions of the 11th plenum including the expulsion of two comrades from the Central Committee. We will continue to struggle to restore the revolutionary traditions of the party and ensure the achievement of its high ideals.”

The splinter group which hid behind the mask of “red-revolutionary” slogans of armed struggle, soon exposed its true nature. Those who had visions of arming the southern tribes and overthrowing the Shah sank into treason and opportunism, and quickly vanished from the political scene. After three years the only remains of the splinter group was a handful of accusations and slanders against the Tudeh Party of Iran and the Soviet Union. The split was a serious blow to the Party organisations, especially to those in exile. It took the party some time and much consistent effort to eradicate the damaging effects caused by the split and to resource and continue its struggle.

This period also coincided with the arrests of comrades Ali Khavari and Hekmatjoo, members of the Central Committee and Asef Razmdideh and Saber Mohammadzadeh, outstanding cadres of the Party in Iran. In a series of show trials in the summer of 1966, the regime of the Shah sentenced Comrades Khavari and Hekmatjoo to death and the rest of the comrades to long- term imprisonment. As a result of international solidarity and hunger strikes in Europe and consistent demonstrations, the Shah’s regime was forced to retreat and reduce the death sentences on comrades to life imprisonment. In its 12th plenum the Central Committee of the Party expressed its gratitude to all who participated in these brave acts of international solidarity and for the heroic defence made by the comrades in the show trials. A resolution on this reads as follows: “The plenum salutes all the comrades who are persistently continuing their fruitful struggle inside Iran and wishes them many more successes. The plenum sends its greetings to all imprisoned comrades, especially to comrades Parviz Hekmatjoo, Ali Khavari, Saber Mohammad Zadeh and Asef Razmdideh who in the most critical periods of their political life and struggle did not fear death and long imprisonment and consistently defended the ideas of the Party. Undoubtedly a Party which has such combatants will be triumphant in the achievement of its goals. The plenum expresses its appreciation for the propaganda campaign waged on the initiative of the Party to save the lives of comrades Ali Khavari and Parviz Hekmatjoo and sends its sincere gratitudes to all the fraternal parties, organisations, democratic forces and individuals who helped the Party save the lives of the above-mentioned comrades.” (Documents and viewpoints pp. 563)


During the early 70’s a new wave of revolutionary movement started in our country against the Shah’s regime. In this decade, we witnessed the beginning of the guerrilla movement by the newly-formed Organisation of the Iranian Peoples’ Fadaian Guerrillas and Organisation of the Peoples’ Mojahedin of Iran and also the emergence and development of the underground organisation of the Tudeh Party of Iran called “Navid”. The emergence of the guerrilla movement which started in the woods of Siahkal (Mazandran a northern province of Iran) and subsequent events was the manifestation of the anger and indignation of committed and energetic individuals, who did not understand and realise the importance of the mobilisation of the toiling masses through hard, long and consistent work and preparation against the regime. Lenin’s wrote on those who turn to this form of struggle; “Neither the sympathy of the intellectuals nor the bravery of isolated terrorists can inflict any damage to the Tsar’s government and capitalism” (Lessons of the Revolution).

In spite of the accusations and slanders made against the TPI by these guerrilla organisations, our Party chose the path of serious, rational and constructive dialogue with them, which later proved fruitful in the positive development of the organisations, in particular the Organisation of the Iranian Peoples’ Fadaian Guerrillas (OIPFG). During that period the TPI relentlessly called for the unity of all forces fighting the reactionary regime of the Shah, while at the same time engaging in ideological struggle defending working class ideology within the movement. The events of 1978, and subsequently the downfall of the Shah’s regime in the February 1979 popular revolution, proved the unscientific and false postulations and ideas of ultra-left and guerrilla organisations about the working class and working people, which believed that: “Workers consider the power of their enemy as absolute and hence believe that they’re incapable of fighting and continue to say that workers prefer to be submissive like sheep and indifferent and uninterested in politics in order to continue their life” (Article in OTPFG publication Battle no. 3, July 1972).

At that time, the TPI was the only political force in Iran to draw a clear picture of the situation and perspective for the revolutionary struggle of our people. The fifteenth plenary meeting of the Party in July 1975 was one of the most important meetings of our Party in the 60’s and the 70’s. In it the Party’s policies were correctly formulated and also the new Party programme was adopted. The report presented to the 15th plenum of the Party underlined the overthrow of the Shah’s regime which was the common goal of all the popular democratic forces in Iran at that time. These tasks were formulated as follows: “1- To mobilize the broadest spectrum of forces for the above aim; 2- Try to win and unite the masses for the common struggle, by consistent work among them as a major force for the overthrowing of the regime; 3- To take advantage of the contradictions and internal conflicts within the regime and its social base; 4- To unite all the political opposition forces regardless of their differences and social orientations, around a common policy and programme.”

One of the important consequences following the convening of the 15th plenum of TPI was the emergence of “Navid”, the underground organisation of the Party in Iran. In autumn 1975 a group of Party activists in Iran which later became the biggest underground organisation of the Party , informed the Party leadership abroad that they had the necessary facilities to expose the atrocities of the Shah’s regime. The message to the Party leadership abroad reads: “Let us sow the seeds of revolutionary thought in the soil ploughed by bayonets. The most important task for the Party today is to consistently and patiently prepare the ground for tomorrow when today’s isolated champions of the peoples will increase in number to a mighty heroic mass. To materialize this task, what can be better than the seeds of the theory of revolutionary Marxism? And in our homeland the TPI, the only bastion of true Marxism.”

The leadership of the Party welcomed and endorsed this proposal and sent a message through the Party’s Radio Broadcast: Name the “Child ‘Navid’ (Herald) it has a hard task ahead of it. ” The first edition of the paper was published in January 1976 in 1000 copies. The circulation increased to 100,000 in the days of the Revolution and then to 240,000 copies after the February 1979 Revolution. The character and the stage of the Revolution was formulated in the Party’s programme and adopted in its 15th plenum. The TPI, after a careful, thourough and scientific study of the situation of Iranian society came to the following conclusion about the stage and circumstances of the Revolution in Iran: “The Iranian society needs a fundamental change- a revolution which should change all the different aspects of life for the benefit of the masses. This revolution, at the present historical stage of our society’s development cann’t but be a popular and democratic one in character. The content of the revolution is to eliminate the domination of imperialism’s monopolies from the economic and natural resources of our country, to secure the total economic and political independence, to remove all the remnants of the pre-capitalist social system and adopt the socialist orientation of development, to democratize the political and cultural life in the country. At this stage, the necessary condition for revolutionary development in Iran is the overthrow the old monarchist regime, to break down the reactionary machinery of the government, to end the rule of the big capitalists and landowners and transfer power from these classes to the national and democratic classes and strata , to the workers, peasants, petit bourgeoisi, patriotic intellectuals and also the national bourgeoisi strata, in other words the establishment of the national and democratic republic… The only way to achieve the popular and democratic revolution is by the participation of the masses in the struggle and not by the heroic actions of either individuals or single political group and party. ” (Documents and viewpoints pp. 690) The realities and the victory of the Revolution clearly proved the scientific nature of the Party’s analysis and conclusion.


The mid 70’s witnessed an unprecedented growth of the revolutionary struggle in our country. Workers’ strikes and people’s protests reached an unprecedented level and the Shah’s regime’s crisis were intensifying ever more. The enslaved masses were not prepared to tolerate the Coup’s regime any more and the plundering rulers were also unable to rule in the old way. The first massive clash of the people with the regime’s oppressors took place in Qum on 7th of January 1978. The special issue of “Navid”, which was published four days after this incident, wrote: “The widespread demonstration of the people, was the cry of protest against the repressive regime and the dirty role of the Shah as puppet of the American imperialism and agent of Zionist Israel in manipulating the Middle East crisis against the interest of the Arab and Palestinian peoples…” (Navid, special issue no. 15, 11th Jan. 1978).

Ever since then, Iran, like an exploded gun barrel was never calmed down till the victory of the revolution. There was not a single day, in which the clamouring masses did not storm the streets and shout, “down with the Shah” against the reactionary dependent Shah and the regimes tanks and machine guns. It was less than a month after the demonstration in Qum, when the heroic people of Tabriz stormed the streets and challenged the Shah’s murderers. The regime, which was frightened at the spread of the masses’ uprising, savagely attacked the 100,000 strong demonstration and massacred hundreds of people. But the shaded blood became a flag in the hand of the people all over Iran; the sound of “down with the Shah” echoed throughout Iran. 

April 1978 was the beginning of a storm and an earthquake which shook the palace of the despotic monarchy. By the end of April 78 extensive mass demonstrations took place in more than 30 cities in Iran. The Shah responded by imposing martial law and massacring the people on an unprecedented level. The Tudeh Party of Iran and its underground organisation, “Navid”, played an outstanding role in this ever increasing movement and giving direction to it. The Party for the first time, through its publication, “Navid”, on Monday 9th of September 1978 announced the call for a national strike and wrote: “From now on we call upon all the national forces, all the political and trade unions organisations, all the militant and freedom loving individuals to mount an overall national strike in opposition to the Shah’s criminal coup in order to halt all the economic and social infrastructure of the country and force the blood thirsty regime of the Shah to its knees. Intensification of the struggle can only be possible and fruitful through a well considered and swift preparation for organising a paralyzing several strike.” (Navid no 44, 9th September 1978).

Despite all the conspiracies of the Shah’s regime and the right wing forces, our Party’s call became the slogan of all the toiling people and freedom fighters in Iran, and history has been a witness to the fact that the general strikes, especially the strike of the oil workers, played a crucial role in bringing about a qualitative leap in the revolutionary movement and finally the victory of the anti-despotic, popular and anti-imperialist revolution of February 1979. The leadership of the Party was very responsive to the rapid development and intensification of the struggle and adopted the necessary measures to match the qualitatively changing conditions created by such events as the Shah’s escape from Iran, and the installation of Bakhtiyar’s government. The Party leadership, analysing these developments, issued a statement on 30th Jan. 1978. It stated that: “The recent events once more proved the correctness of the assessments of the Tudeh Party of Iran, that under the specific conditions of Iran today, demonstrations and strikes alone are not enough for the success of the revolution. For the abolition of the monarchy, rejection of imperialism headed by America, establishment of a republic based on the people’s will, securing national independence, realisation of democratic rights, construction of a healthy national economy and improving the living standards, for breaking the overt counter-revolutionary wrath of imperialism and reaction, it is necessary to prepare and organise the peoples’ armed resistance.” (Documents and Viewpoints p.p. 884).

Despite the opposition of Khomeini and his supporters who were in the leadership of the revolution, the events of the following days proved the correctness of the party assessment, and the peoples’ armed struggle and resistance on 8th, 9th and 10th of Feb. inflicted the decisive and final blow to the rotten regime of the Shah and put an end to the 2500 years of monarchy in Iran.


The victory of the revolution and its characteristics proved the correctness of the Tudeh Party of Iran’s assessments. The Feb. 79 revolution was a national democratic revolution with anti-despotic, anti-monarchy, anti-imperialist and popular characteristics. Despite Khomeini and his supporters’ propaganda, this revolution did not have an Islamic character, but social and class content. Meanwhile, it is a fact that the revolutionary movement in Iran, for certain reasons had a religious form. The Executive Committee of the Central Committee of the TPI explains the reasons behind the religious form of the revolution in a statement in Oct 1979 which reads: “The fact that the movement predominantly acquired a religious form, stems from the fact that the anti-regime religious leaders followed the people’s uprising on one hand and also the fact that during the 25 years of dark despotic rule, there was some room for this form of struggle..”

The political forces which participated in the revolution were the Tudeh Party of Iran, the Iranian Peoples’ Fedaian Guerrillas, Organisation of Peoples’ Mojahedin of Iran, the National Front, the Freedom Movement, Pro-Khomeini clergies and some other political organisations and individuals. Despite heavy blows to the TPI, the Iranian Peoples’s Fadaian Guerrillas and the Organisation of Iranian Peoples’ Mojahedin during the years of oppression, they actively participated in the revolution. The Shiaat clergy were a social stratum, numbering tens of thousands. Their social base was mainly petty-bourgeoisie, commercial bourgeoisie, large land owners and big capitalists, whose with their ideology they had common interest.

The process of the growth of capitalism and its inevitable consequences for the traditional structures of society, endangered the position and professional interests of the clergy. The conservative wing of the clergy who leaned towards the large land owners and the big capitalists, feared the growth of the movement and compromised with the Shah’s regime. But the other sections of clergy under the leadership of Khomeini, who were mostly influenced by the petty-bourgeoisie and the commercial bourgeoisie, took an anti-monarch and anti-imperialist (especially American imperialist) position. The struggle of this section of clergy entered a new phase parallel to the growth of the mass movement. In this period Khomeini and his followers worked towards the overthrow of the Shah, which was dominant slogan of the movement. They also took a strong anti-imperialist stance and promised freedom and social justice within the framework of Islamic government. This stance extended the clergy’s social position, attracteds large masses under the leadership of Khomeini and increased his political credibility. In this way Khomeini managed to acquire the indisputable leadership of the revolution and stand in the centre of the political arena of our country.

The victory of the 11th February 1979 Revolution resulted in the emergence of a political atmosphere in which for the first time, after 25 years of repression and suppression of progressive forces by the Shah’s regime, political parties and organisations were allowed to organise freely. Tudeh Party of Iran was among those too. Our Party joined in the political struggle in order to deepen and extend the popular goals of the revolution. Tudeh Party of Iran held its sixteenth plenary meeting a month after the Revolution. In this meeting, the Party, after a comprehensive assessment of the revolution and the political forces participating in it, took a number of important decisions about the future activity of the Party for the final victory of the revolutionary movement. On the tasks confronting our movement, the documents of the plenary meeting say: “The history of true revolutions shows that reaction and economic domination by imperialism can not be overcome by only achieving political independence and dismissing some of the most criminal officials of the old regime. The untouched economic position of imperialism and reaction poses serious threats to the future of the revolution. The undisputable demands of millions of deprived working people can only be fulfilled by crushing and destroying these positions… Tudeh Party of Iran calls on all the forces participating in the people’s struggle to agree to form a united front on the basis of a joint programme which reflects the demands and aspirations of millions of working people and middle strata of our society as soon as possible. Our Party also emphasizes that this programme has to be the basis of a joint and united action in our future struggle for the compilation of a new constitution, election of the people’s assembly and the adoption of the constitution and election of members of parliament and national government.” (Documents and statements of the Tudeh Party of Iran pp 69).

Immediately after the 1979 revolution, all the apparatus of the Shah’s regime was abolished, and political power was transferred to a broad spectrum of religious and civil representatives of petty-bourgeoisie, layers of middle strata, commercial and liberal bourgeoisie who were not in the ousted regime of the Shah. The representatives of the working class and a remarkable section of the other democratic and progressive forces were not included in the new leadership and this was a major weakness point of the February 1979 Revolution. Khomeini and his followers managed to attract the masses by promising them freedom and independance. Khomeini himself succeeded in this manner in becoming the indisputable and unchallengeable leader of the revolution. He said in an interview with the media abroad before his arrival in Iran, that: “The people of Iran have had enough of the fifty years of repression and … of the Pahlavi dynasty and have risen to gain their fundamental rights…. Our programme is to gain freedom and independence.” (Interview with Luxemburg Radio and TV network 30th Oct. 1978) The first government after the revolution was formed by Mehdi Bazargan as Prime Minister who represented the nationalist movement supporters of Dr. Mosadeg.

The new government took some important measures under the domination of the revolutionary spirit in our society and the continued internal conflict. These measures included: the expulsion of US military and civilian advisers and dismantling of its military bases, nationalisation of 70% of big industries belonging to the big national capitalist and foreign monopolies, taking 600 small industry enterprises into its hands, nationalisation of private banking and insurance firms which were operating with joint national and foreign monopolies’ capital, adoption of a land reform known an “clauses J and D ” , increasing minimum wages by 2.5 times, introduction of government control on foreign trade, abolition of unjust economic agreements with imperialist states, stepping out of the CENTO pact and joining the Non-Aligned Movement, breaking diplomatic relationship with Israel and the Apartheid regime of South Africa and so on. In addition to the above measures the new government also abolished the 1973 agreement signed between an international consortium of oil companies and the Iranian National Oil Company, hence bringing the oil industry into the hands of the latter.


But right from the very beginning of the Revolution, the right wing forces and the supporters of big land owners and capitalists and the agents of imperialism inside the country spared not a single moment in their efforts to halt the furtherance of the achievements of the revolution. The various coup attempts, the start of the war between Iran and Iraq, facilitated by imperialism, were among these conspiracies. Just a few months after the revolution, armed confrontation and incidents were instigated and intensified in all parts of the country by the provocations of imperialism and reactionary forces within the government. The flames of these armed conflicts were blown to Kurdistan, so preparing the ground for the regime to send the army to this area under the orders of Khomeini. Our Party published an important statement about this incident on 24th August 1979, which reads: “With deepest regret, we are witnessing that a turn to the right in the political situation in our country has emerged in recent weeks. This change has dealt a painful and horrifying blow to the basis of the unity of national and democratic forces… Nevertheless, we are facing a reality today that on one hand a major attack has been started to suppress freedom and in the first place the freedom of the true left revolutionary forces who struggle under the banner of Islam …” (Documents and statements of TPI) The Tudeh Party of Iran, in the same statement called ” For an immediate cease-fire, termination of trials and issuing of verdicts in revolutionary courts in Kurdistan.” It also called on government “To secure the legitimate demands of Kurdish people in order to put an end to the suppression of national minorities.”

But despite these warnings and the efforts of the party to bring the progressive forces together in a united front ,to deepen and extend the gains of the revolution, the proposals and all the attempts of our Party were ignored and left unanswered by other forces. No doubt, the absence of a united front was a major and effective factor in facilitating the emergence of the right wing forces and eventually the seizure of total political power by them. 


In February 1979, almost one year after the revolution, the first presidential election in the history of our country took place. The Tudeh Party of Iran according to its policy and analysis, correctly took part in the election and supported the candidate Hassan Habibi , who in his election programme aimed at defending the people’s rights and revolution. In this election, Abolhassan Banisadr, one of the closest people to Khomeini was elected as the President of Iran. After the presidential election, parliamentary elections took place. Our Party and the rest of the left organisations after nearly 25 years were able to participate and put forward their nominees for the Parliament. The Islamic Republican Party under the leadership of Beheshti won the majority of the seats in the election. At the time of the election, our Party announced that all the right wing forces resorted to the most underhand methods to prevent any left wing candidate being elected; as a result, they were almost successful. With the victory of the Islamic Republican Party in the election, disagreements between the government that had been elected by the Parliament and Banisader intensified. This led to a chaotic political atmosphere in the country. With the help of the Iran-Iraq war and mistakes made by the leftists, the reactionary and right wing forces were able to strengthen and stabilize their positions within the ruling apparatus. Disagreements and clashes between Banisader and the government reached its peak in 1981.

In this year, the Parliament voted for dismissal of Banisadr and Khomeini endorsed the decision. This endorsement led to an armed uprising of the people’s Mojahedeen Organisation and Banisader who represented some sections of the nationalist movement. The political situation of the country turned for the worse, a wave of repression was unleashed throughout Iran. Thousands of young people were tried by semi-military tribunals and were executed; with the killing of a group of Radical forces within the government and the betrayal of Khomeini and his followers of the goals of the revolution, the remaining gains of the revolution were repealed.

With the escape of Banisadr abroad, and the strengthening of the clergy inside the government, a medieval and dictatorial regime was consolidated. The Tudeh Party of Iran held its seventeenth plenum at the beginning of 1981. Unfortunately the plenum could not formulate an overall analysis of the changing political circumstances and the future prospects. In this period the leadership of the Party had to seriously reconsider the principle of “unity and criticism”. The Party had to evolve a new political and organisational orientation that would firmly establish it as an oppositional force. The Party, due to various reasons, including the fact that it paid too much attention to unity with a section of the administration and their role in the united popular front, which consequently led to the party separating Khomeini’s policies from the rest of the ruling class and ignoring the anti-communist tendencies of Khomeini and his followers, was not able to make the necessary changes in its policies. Since the party’s organisational policies were based on the political understanding of events , the delay in amending the party’s policies led to disastrous damages to its organisation, after the savage onslaught of the regime. 


After repressing the organisation of the People’s Mojahedeen, and other left groups, the only barriers remaining in the way of the reactionaries withdrawal of all the achievements of the revolution, were the Tudeh Party of Iran and the Organisation of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority). The party’s principled exposure of the reactionary code of labour, devised by the Employment Minister of the time, Mr. Ahmad Tavakoli, and its firm policies against the continuation of the Iran – Iraq war, especially after the liberation of Khorramshahr (South of Iran) , resulted in an increase of the reactionaries, attacks on the Party. Despite Khomeini’s insistence on the slogan “war, war till victory”, after Iranian territories had been regained from Iraqi forces, the Party announced that it is time for negotiation towards peace, and the Islamic Republic should change its policy accordingly. These popular policies and activities of our Party dramatically disturbed the reactionary ruling class.

With blessings from Khomeini, and generous intelligence help from the security services of Britain, USA, Pakistan and Israel, the reactionaries organised a savage onslaught against the Tudeh Party of Iran. On 6th February 1982, they charged a part of the Party’s leadership with “spying”, and sent them to their dungeons. In later consecutive attacks, the regime arrested more than 10,000 members and cadres and supporters of the Party, and declared the Tudeh Party of Iran illegal. The despotic regime of the Islamic Republic announced that they had succeeded in eliminating the Tudeh Party of Iran for ever. Using the most barbaric physical and mental tortures, they organised an all out propaganda campaign against the party and the Organisation of Iranian Peoples’ Fadaian (Majority). In the immediate period after the onslaught, the Party confronted grave difficulties; Its organisation collapsed, many of its members and cadres were forced to emigrate, and general confusion and crisis prevailed. In spite of constant attempts from reactionaries and imperialism, the period did not last long, and the Party, convening its 18th plenum in December 1984, succeeded in taking a fundamental step in reorganising itself both within and outside the country.

It did not take long for the ruling reactionaries to admit the fact. After the 18th plenum on the anniversary of the attack on the Party, Moussavi Ardebili, the Head of the Islamic Republic’s Judicial System, confessed in an interview with foreign journalists that confronting the Tudeh Party of Iran is by no means an easy task. “You should know that the organisation of the Tudeh Party of Iran has roots more than forty years old in this country;” he stressed in his interview, “and a fairly complex and efficient organisation too! ” Being unsuccessful in its first attempt to eliminate the Party, the regime launched a new round of the anti-Tudeh , anti-communist campaign by starting the “Trials” of 101 members of the underground military wing of the Party. However, these attempts failed too, as even the reports published in the heavily censored official media showed; the overwhelming majority of the “accused” comrades consistently denied the charge of spying, and defended their beliefs. The Islamic Republican regime took revenge by sentencing 10 of these popular heroes to death, and the rest to total imprisonment terms exceeding 700 years. The wills that comrades Admiral Bahram Afzali (the Chief Commander of the Navy) Hooshang Atarian, Bigan Kabiri, the “Conqueror of Khorramshahr”, Hassan Azarfar, Abolfazl Bahrami Nejad, Shahrokh Jahangiri, Mohammad Bahrami Nejad, Farzad Jahad, sentenced to execution, left behind are a clear proof of the sense of heroism and resistance of these loyal communists. Comrade Shahrokh Jahangiri, one of the Party cadres who acted as the link between the Party and its military wing, wrote in his will which was widely distributed throughout Iran the day after his execution: “I and 9 other comrades are now happy and laughing. Singing, we are going towards our martyrdom for freedom . Comrade Fazad Jahad wrote: “You should know that if I remained alive, I would still have followed the Party.”


In spite of continuous intrigues by the reactionaries and imperialism, and the execution of a number of its leaders and cadres, the Party slowly but consistently reorganised itself, and gained various achievements. In May 1985, together with the Organisation of the Iranian Peoples’ Fedaian (Majority), it published a joint statement calling for the overthrow of the medieval Islamic Regime. In this statement, which included the proposed joint programme by the Party and OIPF(M) for the creation of a popular united front, they succeeded in ending a transition period started by the regime’s onslaught, and moving forward towards future struggle. Less than a year later, the Party overcame all difficulties due to the onslaught, and the activities of a number of traitors to the Party, and organised a very well attended national conference. The National Conference of the Tudeh Party of Iran, which took place in May 1985 was undoubtedly one of Party’s important achievements during its 50 years of existence. In addition to passing a new Party programme, an analysis of the period of the revolution, and a number of important resolutions with respect to its future activities were adopted by the Conference. The Conference elected a new leadership and a new Central Committee which represented the wide spectrum of views within the party. It was evident that the process of building a new party leadership is not an easy and quick task.

The Party was able to purge an internal faction, which ever since the regime’s onslaught had been engaged in activities almost disintegrating the Party from within, and succeeded in unifying its ranks temporarily. The documents of the National Conference on the Party’s future activities include the following: “In the present situation we are looking forward with optimism towards the future of the Party and the movement. Throughout its 44 years of consistent and irreconcilable struggle against reactionaries and imperialism, our Party has always relied on its proletarian tendency, and moved forward. During these years, this proletarian tendency has served as an unique torch which has inspired and strengthen us in the most difficult circumstances. ” (“Peoples’ Letter” no. 119. p.6 and 7).

The convention of the national conference, and the intensification of the activities of party members and supporters in the present difficult situation of medieval repression, once again defeated the attempts of the Iranian people’s enemies to destroy their working class party.

Massacre of Political Prisoners

The continuation of the Iran – Iraq war, which resulted in catastrophic human, social, and economic losses weakened the position of the regime to a considerable extent. The military defeats suffered by the regime in its bid to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, pushed the regime to the brink of total collapse. Faced with this prospect , Khomeini in a final bid to save his regime, intensified the atmosphere of terror and repression in the country, and ordered the massacre of political prisoners in Iran. In a matter of three months , in the summer of 1989, a committee of Khomeini’s representatives visited the Iranian prisons and tried and sentenced to death thousands of political prisoners. The real number of executed prisoners is still unknown, but human rights organisations such as Amnesty International put the figure at more than five thousand prisoners from various political parties and organisations. Among those executed were 38 members of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the Tudeh Party of Iran as well as hundereds of party members and cadres. The blow to the party was tremendous, it destroyed a layer of party leadership and cadres which had been created in the process of more than 40 years of revolutionary struggle. Among the comrades executed were five members of the Political Bureau , who each had spent 25 years in the prisons of the Shah. The massacre shocked the world and brought world-wide condemnation. This was almost the last crime that Khomenini organised before his death, against the people of our country and their progressive forces.

History Marches on, The Struggle Continues

On the 1st of October 1991, the Tudeh Party of Iran celebrated its fifty years of struggle and in February 1992, the Party held its 3rd Congress after more than 43 years, despite enormous difficulties. The 3rd congress after carfull and lengthy discussions adpoted the new programme and the constitiuation of the Party. The party reafirmed its commitment to the principles of Marxism – Leninism reiterating its believe in the evolutionary process that has taken the civilisation through one socio-econmic formation to another. The party evaluated the experience of its organisations abroad and made important organisational changes. The party elected a new central committee and re-elected comrade Ali Khavari as the chair of the party.

The 3rd congress of the party was undoubtedly a turning point in the history of our party, no one is under the illusion that the task ahead is easy or straight forward. The road that the party has travelled and the struggle that it has courageously carried out has given hope to the working people of our country to those who want to see a free and democratic Iran taking the road of prosperity and social justice. The creation of the Tudeh Party of Iran was a historical necessity due to socio-economic developments in our country; to this date this historic necessity and the task it has shouldered remain unchanged. History speaks for itself. It tells the future generations of selfless sacrifices, of tremendous achievements , of heroic and relentless revolutionary struggle and of painful mistakes and miscalculations. In the words of Comrade Roozbeh in the military tribunal : “Clouds cannot deny the existence of the sun, since in seconds the rays of the sun shine through. If I mention seconds, I mean historical seconds…No doubt these storms will be over and the truth will be out. The Iranian society will undoubtedly see the day that it is possible to discuss these issues freely and to pass its judgment; this day is not far …” 

March 1993

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