Iranian Oral History Project | Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Fatemeh Pakravan

Wife of Gen. Hassan Pakravan (Chief of the State Intelligence and Cabinet Minister)

Transcript 2 of 4

Narrator: Fatemeh Pakravan
Date: March 3, 1983
Place: Paris, France
Interviewer: Habib Ladjevardi

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Well, I came home and then when I reached ... my office (I was working at the National Tourist Organization, I was the head of research and planning for tourism), my husband telephoned to me -- no, no, my husband didn't telephone me. Everybody, the whole office was.... I said, "What's happened?" "They've killed Mansour, Hassan-Ali Mansour." He was coming from the Parliament and somebody killed him, but you know.... Ten bullets, I think it was. I was horrified, "My god, we're going to have a revolution. My husband is not here." I rushed to my house. I asked the driver to go and fetch the children and "let's go into our house and be safe there." Eventually nothing happened. My husband arrived by plane. And he became minister of information. Not immediately. Hoveida became prime minister.

And we went to the hospital. As you know, Mansour wasn't killed, he was ... they tried to keep him ... for seven days. Of course, even if he had been cured, he would have been like a vegetable. They brought Professor Sikal <?>. Professor Sikal, whom I met here when my husband was ambassador, was ... he became a kind of friend. He never, never, never, never said what exactly happened, what was his diagnosis. And Madam Hassan Ali Mansour, Farideh, when she saw my husband, she went into his arm and she cried and she said -- I don't know what she said.... But when Nasiri came, who was head of the police, she said, "I don't want to see this man. It's all his fault." She might have accused my husband not to have been ... because it was also part of his job to know the situation.

Anyway, Mansour died, Hoveida became prime minister, and my husband became minister of information. And of course, very wide the rumor was that he will be ... he will have the two jobs. I said, "It's ridiculous. You cannot be minister of information and also head of the Organization of Security. It doesn't go together."

Q. So, for a while he had both jobs?

A. No, no, not at all. The rumor, the public rumor, had it. Because you know, they admired my husband, even the public. You know, when he became head of the so-called SAVAK, they said, "Emam Hossein Ra'is-e SAVAK shod" (Emam Hossein has become chief of SAVAK). He was greatly admired. And he always used to say, "No, no, no. If people knew me, they would never admire me" -- because he had this sense of humor.

Q. Why did he leave SAVAK? What happened?

A. What happened? I can only tell you this. In my opinion, the Shah thought, the Shah didn't.... What Hoveida told me, I'll tell you exactly what Hoveida said. I knew Hoveida since we were all young, and he used to say "thou" to me in French -- we always spoke French together. And he said, "Do you know, I made Hassan minister of information." I said, "Really?" He said, "Yes. When the Shah called me for consultations and asked me whom I will choose for my ministry, my goverment," he said, "we were discussing the names and all that, and suddenly I said ... the Shah said, 'And the minister of information?'" He said, "Without thinking, I said, 'Pakravan'." I said, "What happened?" He said, "Well, the Shah was a bit thoughtful. He said, 'Pakravan? Well, I don't want ... I want him to decide himself. You please ask him.'" And Hoveida said, "I asked Hassan. Hassan said, 'Oh, thank God! I'm finished with this security.'" But I cannot tell you if it's absolutely true.

Q. But your husband didn't say anything to you at the time when he....

A. No, no. He said that Hoveida asked him to become the minister of information and Hassan, my husband, was glad in a way. Because he thought that perhaps through radio, television -- because at the time everything was in the Ministry of Information -- through telling the truth to the people, through organizing really the information in a proper way, he'll somehow educate public opinion in Iran.

I remember one of the first things he asked me. He said, "Find me everything you can in French literature about calumny and slander. I want this to be repeated every day. And the motto is: slander, slander people. Even if it's proved not true, something remains." You know, you tell something bad about a person, even if it's proven it's not true, it remains.

And then he had these Ctafsir-e siasiD, these commentary on the news, foreign and.... Hossein Loghman-Adham, who was the chief of protocol at the Court, he said, "You know, it's funny. At 2:30, no matter who is there, who has finished or not his lunch at the Court, everybody rushes to listen to that."

Q. So there was no falling out with the Shah or disagreement?

A. No, no, no. Absolutely not. You know, my daughter, my eldest daughter, saw the Shah a week before he died, and my sister saw him in hospital in America, when he had already left the country. And my sister is very direct, she said, "Your Majesty, why didn't you take my brother-in-law with you?" He didn't take anybody, and my husband wouldn't go -- I'll tell you that. (This is personal, but never mind.) And she said, "Did you have some grudge against him because he didn't let the Iranian justice execute Khomeini?" And she said he became pale, he said, "How can you say such a thing like this? I liked and admired <him>." And the Queen was there, and she said, "You know, of all the things that happened to us since we left Iran," (because they knew he was killed and all that) "the thing that nearly drove us mad was the execution of General Pakravan. This is the thing that really finished us."

And then again when my daughter saw him, a week, just a week before he died in Cairo, and also heard the testimony of Henri Bonnier <?> -- he's the head of, the literary director of, Alban Michel <?>, the publishing house that published the Shah's memoir; and he used to follow him everywhere. He went to Mexico, to Panama, to San Antonio in Texas, to Cairo, wherever the Shah was, because they were trying to bring as fast as possible all the pages to start the book. And he swore that the Shah wrote it himself.

And he said, "You know, we were discussing, we were talking, naturally there was very much he was always going back to. And I asked him from what he saw ... he said, "I asked him: 'Your Majesty, you mean to say that among all these people ... you've been reigning since 1941, I think, there was nobody, no friend of yours? Nobody that you could trust, nobody that you could listen to?' And he said ... he became very thoughtful and said, 'Yes, there was a wonderful person. A man who told me always the truth. A man who was devoted to me. A man who was never lowly and crawling. But I didn't understand it at the time. And that was Pakravan.'"

I was very touched by this testament, and the fact that he admitted that he didn't understand. Although the last ... but that will be another session. In the last few months before he left Iran, he was pleading to my husband like that, and I asked my husband, I said, "But why?" He said, "You know, I reassured him, my presence." He said, "Perhaps because we started to work together as young men. Perhaps he remembers a few things. Anyway, when I come there, he morally clings to me as if I were a boy or something like that, you know, that gives him some feeling of security." It was very pathetic


Copyright 2003 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College (Harvard University)
Dr. Habib Ladjevardi
Iranian Oral History Project
Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Harvard University
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