To try to decrease the growing popular support for both the legal National Front and the illegal Tudeh Party among Iranian’s landless peasants in the early 1960s, the Shah of Iran’s regime finally instituted a limited land redistribution program. The Shah of Iran’s regime also finally proposed in the early 1960s that Iranian women be allowed to vote in Iranian elections.
In response to both the Shah’s land reform program and the proposal that Iranian women be allowed to vote, as well as to the dictatorial and pro-imperialist nature of the Shah’s regime, however, a widespread religious uprising against the Shah’s regime, led by the traditional Islamic opposition groups who were influenced most by Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, broke out in June 1963. After three days of rioting, this 1963 religious uprising in Iran was crushed by the Shah of Iran’s military in a brutal way, with 600 protesting Iranians killed and 2,000 Iranian demonstrators injured by the Shah’s troops.
Following this June 1963 religious uprising, Khomeini was arrested and then exiled in 1964, first to Turkey and then to Iraq. In addition, the National Front opposition group was again banned by the Shah of Iran’s regime between 1963 and 1978. At the same time, the repression of the underground Tudeh Party activists in Iran continued. As Sepehr Zabith observed in his 1986 book The Left in Contemporary Iran:
“The Pahlavi regime’s suppression of the Tudeh Party was more severe than that of the National Front. While the latter’s activists received short-term imprisonment or were forced into exile (with the exception of Hossein Fatem, who was executed), the regime showed no mercy for Tudeh Party activists or those affiliated with their organization. Forty-two of its prominent leaders—mostly officers—were shot, 14 were tortured to death, and another 200 were sentenced to life imprisonment. Moreover, SAVAK continued to bear down mercilessly on the Tudeh members even after the party ceased to be a major threat.”
Iranian dissidents in the 1970s estimated that between 25,000 and 100,000 Iranians were held as political prisoners in Iran between 1963 and 1978 during the period in which the Shah of Iran’s police-state regime ruled Iran. (end of part 19)