Ebrahim Yazdi

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Ebrahim Yazdi
Ebrahim Yazdi portrait.jpg
Yazdi in 1979
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran
In office
12 April 1979 12 November 1979
Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan
Preceded by Karim Sanjabi
Succeeded by Abolhassan Banisadr (acting)
Deputy Prime Minister of Iran for Revolutionary Affairs
In office
13 February 1979 12 April 1979
Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan
Succeeded by Mostafa Chamran
Member of the Parliament of Iran
In office
28 May 1980 28 May 1984
Constituency Tehran, Rey and Shemiranat
Majority1,128,304 (52.9%)
Personal details
Born(1931-09-26)26 September 1931
Qazvin, Persia
Died27 August 2017(2017-08-27) (aged 85)
İzmir, Turkey
Nationality Iranian
Political party
Spouse(s)Soran Talie [1]
Alma mater University of Tehran
Baylor University

Ebrahim Yazdi (Persian : ابراهیم یزدی; 26 September 1931 [2] [3] [4] [5] – 27 August 2017) was an Iranian politician, pharmacist, and diplomat who served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in the interim government of Mehdi Bazargan, until his resignation in November 1979, in protest at the Iran hostage crisis. From 1995 until 2017, he headed the Freedom Movement of Iran. Yazdi was also a trained cancer researcher. [6]

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is a Western Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a pluricentric language primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

Iranian peoples diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group

The Iranian peoples, or the Iranic peoples, are a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group.

Mehdi Bazargan Iranian politician

Mehdi Bazargan was an Iranian scholar, academic, long-time pro-democracy activist and head of Iran's interim government, making him Iran's first prime minister after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He resigned his position as prime minister in November 1979, in protest at the US Embassy takeover and as an acknowledgement of his government's failure in preventing it.


Early life and education

Yazdi was born in Qazvin on 26 September 1931. [7] [8] He studied pharmacy at the University of Tehran. [8] Then he received a master's degree in philosophy again from the University of Tehran. [9]

Qazvin City in Iran

Qazvin is the largest city and capital of the Province of Qazvin in Iran. Qazvin was a medieval capital of the Safavid dynasty for over forty years (1555-1598) and nowadays is known as the calligraphy capital of Iran. It is famous for its Baghlava, carpet patterns, poets, political newspaper and Pahlavi influence on its accent. At the 2011 census, its population was 381,598.

University of Tehran university in Iran

University of Tehran is the oldest modern university located in Tehran, Iran. It is also one of the most prestigious universities in the Middle East. Based on its historical, socio-cultural, and political pedigree, as well as its research and teaching profile, UT has been nicknamed "The mother university of Iran". It has been ranked as one of the best universities in the Middle East in national and international rankings and among the top universities in the world. It is also the premier knowledge producing institute among all OIC countries. The university offers 111 bachelor's degree programs, 177 master's degree programs, and 156 Ph.D. programs. Many of the departments were absorbed into the University of Tehran from the Dar al-Funun established in 1851 and the Tehran School of Political Sciences established in 1899.

After the military coup of 1953, which deposed the government of Mohammad Mossadegh, Yazdi joined the underground National Resistance Movement of Iran, and was active in this organization from 1953 to 1960. This organization opposed to the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Yazdi traveled to the United States in 1961 [10] to continue his education and in the US, continued his involvement in political activities against the Shah.

The National Movement of the Iranian Resistance was a political organization founded by Shapour Bakhtiar in 1979. An exiled opposition to the Islamic Republic regime, the organization pursued a convergence of nationalism and constitutional liberalism and its membership included liberals, conservatives, and democratic socialists, as well as monarchists of a constitutional nature.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi the last shah of Iran

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as Mohammad Reza Shah, was the last Shah of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979. Mohammad Reza Shah took the title Shahanshah on 26 October 1967. He was the second and last monarch of the House of Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi held several other titles, including that of Aryamehr and Bozorg Arteshtaran ("Commander-in-Chief"). His dream of what he referred to as a "Great Civilisation" in Iran led to a rapid industrial and military modernisation, as well as economic and social reforms.

He was cofounder of the Freedom Movement of Iran, Abroad, along with Mostafa Chamran, Ali Shariati, and Sadegh Qotbzadeh in 1961. They were all part of the radical external wing of the group. [11] In 1963, Yazdi, Chamran and Ghotbzadeh went to Egypt and met the authorities to establish an anti-Shah organization in the country, which was later called SAMA, special organization for unity and action. [11] Chamran was chosen as its military head before returning to the US. [11] In 1966, Yazdi moved headquarters of SAMA to Beirut. [11] In 1967, he enrolled at Baylor University and received a PhD in biochemistry. [9]

Mostafa Chamran Iranian politician

Mostafa Chamran Save'ei was an Iranian physicist, politician, commander and guerrilla who served as the first defense minister of post-revolutionary Iran and as member of parliament, as well as the commander of paramilitary volunteers in Iran–Iraq War, known as "Irregular Warfare Headquarters". He was killed during the Iran–Iraq War. In Iran, he is known as a martyr and a symbol of an ideological and revolutionary Muslim who left academic careers and prestigious positions as a scientist and professor in the US, University of California, Berkeley and migrated in order to help the Islamic movements in Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt as a chief revolutionary guerilla, as well as in the Islamic revolution of Iran. He helped to found the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon.

Ali Shariati Iranian academic and activist

Ali Shariati Mazinani was an Iranian revolutionary and sociologist who focused on the sociology of religion. He is held as one of the most influential Iranian intellectuals of the 20th century and has been called the "ideologue of the Iranian Revolution", although his ideas ended up not forming the basis of the Islamic Republic.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

In 1975, Yazdi was tried in absentia in an Iranian military court and condemned to ten years imprisonment, with orders issued for his arrest upon return to Iran. Because of his activities, he was unable to return to Iran and remained in the United States until July 1977. [9] He became a naturalized US citizen in Houston in 1971. [10] When Ayatollah Khomenei moved to Neauphle-le-Château, a Parisian suburb, from Iraq in 1978, Yazdi also went to Neauphle-le-Château and began to serve as an advisor to the Ayatollah. [12] He was also his spokesperson in Paris. [10]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Houston City in Texas, United States

Houston is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Texas, fourth most populous city in the United States, as well as the sixth most populous in North America, with an estimated 2018 population of 2,325,502. Located in Southeast Texas near Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it is the seat of Harris County and the principal city of the Greater Houston metropolitan area, which is the fifth most populous metropolitan statistical area in the United States and the second most populous in Texas after the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, with a population of 6,997,384 in 2018.

Neauphle-le-Château Commune in Île-de-France, France

Neauphle-le-Château is a commune in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France region in north-central France.

Career and political activities

Yazdi worked as a research assistant of pathology and research instructor of pharmacology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston until 1977. [9] He also worked at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Houston. [9] From 1961 to 1977, Yazdi founded the Muslim Students Association from the United States and later became a spokesman for Paris-based Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. [13]

Baylor College of Medicine private medical school in Houston, Texas, United States

Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas, US, is a health sciences university. It includes a medical school, Baylor College of Medicine; the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; the School of Allied Health Sciences; and the National School of Tropical Medicine. The school, located in the middle of the world's largest medical center, is part owner of Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center, part of the CHI St. Luke's Health system, and has hospital affiliations with: Harris Health System, Texas Children's Hospital, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Hermann – The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, Menninger Clinic, the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Children's Hospital of San Antonio.

Yazdi as part of Interim Government of Iran Bazargan-cabinet.jpg
Yazdi as part of Interim Government of Iran

In 1978, he joined Ayatollah Khomeini in Paris where the latter had been in exile and became one of his advisors. [14] He translated the reports of Khomeini into English in a press conference on 3 February 1979 in Tehran. [15] He was the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in the interim government of Mehdi Bazargan, until 6 November 1979. [16] Yazdi proposed to celebrate 'Jerusalem Day' and his suggestion was endorsed by Khomeini in August 1979. [16] In May 1980, he was appointed by Khomenei as head of the Kayhan newspaper. [17]

On 4 November 1979, the US embassy was taken over for a second time, this time by a group calling itself “Students Following the Line of the Imam (i.e. Ayatollah Khomeini)” and led by Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha, who had closer ties to certain revolutionary leaders.

As before, Yazdi was asked to go to the embassy and resolve the crisis. He asked and received permission of Khomeini to expel the occupiers, but shortly thereafter found out Khomeini had changed his mind [18] and appeared on state television openly endorsed the takeover of the embassy. The entire cabinet of the interim government, including Yazdi and Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan, resigned in protest the next day. They stated that they opposed the embassy takeover as “contrary to the national interest of Iran”.

The embassy takeover is considered to have been motivated in part by an internal struggle between various factions within the revolutionary leadership, with Yazdi and Bazargan on one side, and more radical clergy on the other. The embassy attackers, in subsequent statements indicated that one of their primary objectives in the takeover of the US embassy in November 1979 was to force the resignation of Yazdi, Bazargan, and the entire cabinet.[ citation needed ]

Among the areas of conflict between the two factions was the behavior of the Revolutionary Courts and the Revolutionary Committees. Yazdi and Bazargan supported a general amnesty for all members of the Shah's regime, provided that they cease to act against the revolution. They publicly opposed the secret trials and the summary executions carried out by the Revolutionary Courts, led by Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhaali. Many sources however have documented that Yazdi was the main member of the revolutionary court that led the violence and execution. Bazargan and other members of the interim government may have called for fair and open trials for those in charge of political posts under the Shah. The radical clerics, on the other hand, stated that the rapid trials and executions were essential to protect the revolution.

After resignation from office, Yazdi and other members of the Freedom Movement of Iran ran in elections for the first post-revolutionary Islamic Consultative Assembly or parliament. Yazdi, Bazargan, and four other members of the Freedom Movement, namely Mostafa Chamran, Ahmad Sadr, Hashem Sabbaghian, and Yadollah Sahabi, were elected. They served at the parliament from 1980 to 1984.

After the Iraqi invasion of Iran in September 1980, Yazdi fully supported the Iranian war effort against the invasion, but opposed the continuation of the war after the Iranian victory in Khorramshahr in 1982. The war continued for an additional six years. During these six years, Yazdi and others in the Freedom Movement issued several open letters to Ayatollah Khomeini opposing the continuation of the war. These letters and other public statements resulted in the firebombing of Yazdi's residence in Tehran in 1985, and the arrest and imprisonment of several member of the Freedom Movement.

Yazdi and Fidel Castro Fidel Castro and Ebrahim Yazdi (As minister of foreign affairs of Iran and first person from Islamic repulic that meets Castro) - 1979.jpg
Yazdi and Fidel Castro

In subsequent elections in Iran for president, parliament, and city councils, Yazdi and other members of the Freedom Movement filed for candidacy but were barred from running by the Guardian Council, because of their opposition to policies and actions of the government. [19]

In December 1997, Yazdi was arrested on unknown charges and detained in Evin prison in Tehran. Even after his release, he was barred from leaving the country for many years, and summoned on a regular basis to answer questions before the revolutionary council, with his lawyer, Nobel Prize–winning Shirin Ebadi. As of 2008 Yazdi is still accused of “attempting to convert the rule of velaii (jurisprudence) into democratic rule.”

After the death of Bazargan in January 1995, Yazdi was elected as leader of Freedom Movement of Iran. Under pressure from the revolutionary court prosecutor, Yazdi offered his resignation as FMI Leader from on 20 March 2011 to the leadership council of the FMI. They have yet to accept his resignation and Yazdi continues to function as the leader of the Freedom Movement of Iran.

Later years and death

Ebrahim Yazdi in his last Norouz in 2017 Ebrahim-Yazdi.jpg
Ebrahim Yazdi in his last Norouz in 2017

Yazdi was arrested in December 1997 for "desecrating religious sanctities" and freed on 26 December on bail. [20] On 17 June 2009, during the 2009 Iranian election protests, it was reported that Yazdi was arrested while undergoing tests at the Tehran hospital according to the Freedom Movement of Iran website. [21] On 22 June, he was released back to the hospital for a medical procedure. [22] On 28 December 2009, Yazdi was arrested again in the wake of renewed protests, [23] according to the Jaras reformist website.

Yazdi and several others were arrested on 1 October 2010 in Isfahan for participating in an "illegal Friday prayer." All others were freed within days. Ebrahim Yazdi remained in "temporary custody"—first in Evin prison and then in a "secure" facility under the control of Iran's security forces until March 2011. He was released in April 2011. [24]

On 27 August 2017, Yazdi died of pancreatic cancer, at the age of 85 in Izmir, Turkey, where he was under treatment. [25] [26] His body transferred to Iran and was buried in Behesht-e Zahra. [27]

Selected works

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Other sources

Political offices
Preceded by
Karim Sanjabi
Foreign minister of Iran
Succeeded by
Sadegh Ghotbzadeh
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mehdi Bazargan
Secretary-General of Freedom Movement of Iran
Succeeded by
Mohammad Tavasoli
Preceded by
Abbas Amir-Entezam
Head of Political Bureau of Freedom Movement of Iran
Media offices
Preceded by
Mostafa Mesbahzadeh
Head of Kayhan Institute
Succeeded by
Mohammad Khatami