The Naked King

Iran and Poland from 1979 to 1980

background information

Iran and Poland from 1979 to 1980

In August 1953, a coup organised by the British and US secret services overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mossadegh in Iran. In December 1970, the party and state leaders in Poland shot demonstrating workers in the coastal city of Gdansk. Both events had a major impact on the course of history many years later: the popular uprising that led to the fall of the Shah in Iran in 1979, the mass strikes in Poland in the summer of 1980, and the Solidarność movement. In Poland, the striking workers in August 1980 demanded the erection of a monument to the dead workers of December 1970. And in Iran, students occupied the U.S. embassy in November 1979 and demanded the extradition of the Shah who was in the U.S. In Iran, students occupied the U.S. embassy in November 1979. They feared that the U.S. was planning a new coup to reinstate the Shah as ruler.

The revolution in Iran was carried by broad sections of the population-intellectual circles, the influential urban bazaar traders, nationalist circles, socialists, and the political-Islamic crises surrounding Ayatollah Khomeini, driven into exile by the Shah. The first major demonstrations were led by an article in a government-related newspaper at the beginning of 1978, which was intended to discredit Chomeini. Chomeini was described as a foreigner, a homosexual, a traitor to the country. The Shah government reacted to protest demonstrations with the deployment of the army. Meetings to commemorate the dead led to new demonstrations, which the Shah's government shot at again. In November 1978, the Shah established a military government. Mass protests led to the Shah leaving the country on 16 January, officially for a holiday trip. On 1 February 1979 Ayatollah Chomeini returned to Iran. In his speech at the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, where many of the revolution's dead were buried, he declared the Shah's last government illegal. Street fights between revolutionaries and units of the Shah's army followed. On February 10, the army declared its neutrality. A revolutionary government under Prime Minister Bazargan was established with the aim of establishing a democratic republic. The occupation of the US Embassy on November 4 was followed by the resignation of the Prime Minister. The power struggle led to the domination of the Islamic political party under Ayatollah Chomeini. On April 1, 1979 the Islamic Republic was proclaimed after a referendum, the persecution of the non-Islamic revolutionaries of the left and the nationalists lasted for years.

In Poland in 1976 the Committee for the Defence of Workers KOR was established, which organised legal and material aid for the workers of several industrial enterprises persecuted for protest actions. The KOR consisted of a few dozen left-wing intellectuals who had previously, especially in 1968, committed themselves to democratic freedoms and, in some cases, served long prison sentences. The members of the KOR were at the centre of an underground that included the Flying University and the group around the magazine Robotnik - the Workers, which set itself the goal of forming independent trade unions and spreading the idea of the self-organization of workers. After new food price increases in the summer of 1980, spontaneous strikes broke out in various regions of the country. On 14 August, the strike began at the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk, where the small Robotnik group played an important role in the shipyard. The strikers demanded the reinstatement of crane operator Anna Walentynowicz, who had been dismissed a few days earlier. They demanded wage increases and the erection of a monument to the workers killed in 1970. The strike quickly spread to other industrial enterprises and the municipal transport services. A week later, 600 factories throughout the country were on strike and occupied by the workers. Delegates from all over the country gathered at the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk, their first demand now being: the right to self-governing trade unions independent of the state and the party. First, the leading organs of the party and the army planned the deployment of armed units against the occupied shipyard. On August 21, a delegation of party and government came to the shipyard for negotiations. On 31 August, the Gdansk Agreement was signed, in which the state and party power accepted 21 points, including the right to independent trade unions, the abolition of censorship, and the release of all political prisoners.

 Within just four months, ten million people - almost a third of the total population - organised themselves in the new union called Solidarność The period of the legal independent union Solidarność lasted 15 months. On 13 December 1981, party and state power in Poland declared a state of war. More than 10,000 were arrested and the trade union Solidarność.