The red rose
A biogrpahy of
By Maziar Behrooz
March 20, 2003
Khosrow Golesorkhi, (b.Rasht 1322/1943 d.Tehran
1353/1974), poet, journalist, and revolutionary figure whose defiant
stand during his televised show trial, and subsequent execution by
firing squad in 1974 enshrined his place in the cultural and
political history of modern Iran.
Golesorkhi was born into a
provincial family with strong ties to the Tudeh Party of Iran. He
lost his father before reaching the age of two and was raised under
the care of his maternal grandfather, a cleric in the city of Qom.
After his grandfather's death , in 1962, he moved to Tehran with his
mother where he worked while studying for his high school diploma.
In the 1960s Golesorkhi began working as a journalist,
literary, and art critic for a number of important Tehran dailies
such as Ittela'at, Ayandegan, and Kayhan. During the
same period he began publishing his poetry. Most of his mature
writings and poems were published towards the end of this decade in
influential literary and cultural journals such as Negin and
in the leftist periodicals Sahand, and Arg.
1969 he married Fatemeh Gorgin, a poet and journalist. Golesorkhi
named their son Damun, a Gilaki word meaning "forest sanctuary," in
memory of the Jangali movement of 1917-1921. His collection of prose
and poetry were published posthumously after the 1979 Revolution
(Gowharin, pp.7-8; Samakar, pp. 260-62).
Early 1970s was the
beginning of the guerrilla movement in Iran. This is when young,
mostly educated middle class Iranians took the road of violence to
confront that shah's regime. The Algerian, Cuban, and Vietnamese
struggles as well as radical student movements in Europe and in both
North and South America had a great impact on the intelligentsia od
the third world, including Iran.
The closure of channels of
voicing critical views, culminating in the suppression of the
Association of the Writers in 1349/1970, drove the young activist
elements of the intelligentsia further towards radicalism. The
radical opposition in the 1970s was spearheaded by two
organizations, the Marxist Fadaiyan-e Khalq (Behrooz, 1999, pp.
51-70) and the Moslem Mojahedin-e Khalq (Abrahamian, 1989,
pp. 81-145; Behrooz, 1999, pp.70-74).
The guerrilla movement
radicalized the oppositional spirit among many educated Iranians.
Golesorkhi's poetry and events that led to his arrest and execution
was reflective of this highly charged political atmosphere. His
works were read by the young radicals, broadcast on radio stations
of the revolutionary groups, and beamed to Iran from the Socialist
This brand of literature was later called "poetry of
the forest," with the latter having a direct reference to the first
guerrilla uprising of Fadaiyan-e Khalq in Siyahkal forests near
Rasht in February 1349/1971 (Talattof, pp.66-134;
Samakar,pp.260-62). The exact degree and details of Golesorkhi's own
involvement in underground political activities remain
In March/April 1973, the shah's regime announced the
arrest of a group of twelve individuals allegedly for plotting to
harm the royal family. The group was made up of writers, poets, and
film-makers and included, beside Golesorkhi, Karamatollh Daneshian,
Muhammad Reza Allamehzadeh, Teifur Batha'i, Abbas Ali Samakar,
Manuchehr Moqadam-salimi, Iraj Jamshidi, Morteza Siyahpush, Farhad
Qeysari, Ebrahim Farhang-razi, Shokuh (Mirzadegi) Farhang-razi, and
Mariam Ettehadieh >>> See photo
all the members of the group were in contact with each other, or
even knew each other. It seems that the trial of the group was an
attempt by the shah's secret police (SAVAK) to exaggerate the danger
of the armed opposition and to achieve a perceived success against
the guerrilla movement, with accompanying propaganda value. The
regime showed a degree of boldness, perhaps to make an example of
the case, by putting the group on military trial in 1973 and early
1974, and broadcasting the proceedings on national television
(Behrooz, 1999, pp.69).
A number of the group's members
confessed to charges for which little evidence was produced, and
asked for the shah's pardon. They received light sentences. But the
first five refused to confess, even after apparent extensive torture
(Behrooz, 1999, pp.70). Golesorkhi and Daneshian went even further
and used the fact that the proceedings were televised to put the
regime on trial by refuting the charges and defending revolution and
While Daneshian's defence was more subtle,
Golesorkhi made passionate speeches until they were both stopped by
the military judge. Golesorkhi defended Marxism by recalling that he
had learnt the first lessons of revolution by following the example
of Mowla Ali (b. Abi Taleb), the first Shi'i Imam and his son, the
Lord of Martyrs, Imam Hosayn.
Golesorkhi and Daneshian were
executed on February 17, 1974 (Gowharin, Oh My Country, 1996,
pp.10). The other three eventually asked for the shah's pardon
without confessing to the charges and received life
Golesorkhi and Daneshian signed their last will as
"People's Fada'i" which could mean devotees of the people or could
be an allusion to their sympathy for the Fadaiyan-e Khalq
guerrillas. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that the two, or any
other member of the group, had any actual connection to the highly
As far as the quality of his poetry
and theoretical writings about literature and art are concerned,
Mohammad Shams-Langarudi, the writer of a detailed analytical
history of modern Persian poetry (IV,p.3760), sums up Golesorkhi's
contribution in these words: "The most influential incident in the
arena of guerrilla poetry was the execution in 1974 of Khosrow
Golesorkhi, the famous
poet and writer. He was neither a great poet, nor an acute
journalist, and not even a knowledgeable literary critic and
researcher. But he was a consistent, sincere, and emotional
revolutionary who, by delivering his impeccable defense of the
deprived masses at the shah's military court, sacrificed his life
for his beliefs."
Golesorkhi started his final defense, during his first trial in
1973, with one of his own poems:
een sarzameen-e man cheh beedarigh bood
keh saayeh-ye matbu'-e
bar shaanehhaa-ye zolaktaf pahn kard
meeyaan-e aatash sookht
va az shaanehaa tanaab gozar kard
een sarzameen-e man cheh beedarigh bood
man dar kojaa-ye jahaan istaadeh-am?
baa baari az
faryaadhaa-ye khofteh va khooneen
ey sarzameen-e man!
kojaa-ye jahaan istaadeh-am?
Maziar Behrooz is an assistant professor
of Middle East history at San Francisco State University. A
different version of this article was published in Encyclopaedia
Abrahamian, Ervand. Radical Islam: The Iranian Mojahedin
* Behrooz, Maziar.
Rebels With A Cause: The Failure of the Left in
(London: I.B.Tauris, 1999).
Khosrow. Bisheh-ye bidar [Awaken Forest], Majid
comp.(Tehran: Morvarid Publishers, 1995).
-------. Dasti miyan-e deshneh va del [A Hand Between Heart
and Dagger], Kaveh Gowharin, comp. (Tehran: Kavosh Cultural
* -------. Ey sarzamin-e man [Oh My
Country], Kaveh Gowharin, comp. (Tehran:Negah Publishers,
* Samakar, Abbas. Man yek shureshi hastam [I Am
a Rebel], (Los Angeles, 2001)
* Shams-Lamgarudi, Mohammad.
Tarikh-e tahlili-e she'r-e now [Historical Analysis of Modern
Poetry], (IV, Tehran,
* Talattof, Kamran.
The Politics of Writings in Iran (Syracuse, 2000).
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