There were extremely tight security arrangements in force in the Iranian city of Tabriz on Wednesday (20 December) after opposition and official sources had reported that some soldiers had laid down their arms and joined forces with demonstrators protesting against the rule of the Shah.
GV tanks by roadside and traffic in Tabriz, Iran
TRAVEL SHOT tanks and soldiers by roadside (FOUR SHOTS)
CU soldiers with guns standing around streets (FIVE SHOTS)
CU photograph of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiny ZOOM OUT TO soldiers standing outside shop (TWO SHOTS)
CU graffiti on wall
GV PAN FROM dried up river TO ships moored
SV sheep grazing among rubble and shepherds watching (THREE SHOTS)
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Background: There were extremely tight security arrangements in force in the Iranian city of Tabriz on Wednesday (20 December) after opposition and official sources had reported that some soldiers had laid down their arms and joined forces with demonstrators protesting against the rule of the Shah.
SYNOPSIS: During the demonstrations in Tabriz troops used tear gas to disperse the crowds and the opposition sources also said special commando units were rushed into the city from Teheran.
Correspondents who visited the city on Tuesday report that military activity was at a level which prevented them from mingling directly with the people of Tabriz. Visnews cameraman Mervyn Yates says that it he had attempted to leave the car in which he was travelling he would have been arrested.
One of the demonstrations in Tabriz was led by several hundred doctors and nurses, protesting against an attack last week by pro-Shah groups led by soldiers on hospitals int he north-eastern holy city of Mashhad.
According to Reuters news agency accounts of the apparently minor crack in army discipline remain confused. The government made no reference to the demonstrations, except to deny the British Broad-casting Corporation's Persian language radio service reports of them and to say that two people were injured. Reuters say this appears to indicate official concern over the first confirmed case of soldiers joining demonstrations against the Shah.
As usual during the current outburst of protest against the Shah picture of the exiled religious leader Ayatollah Khomeiny were in evidence. So too were wall daubings condemning the present military government.
As the protests continue Iran's economy has been subjected to serious disruptions, with the oil industry grinding to a virtual standstill and other vital services badly affected. However reports on Tuesday (19 December) say that oil production has gone back to about half the normal rate.
Amid the chaos of life in Iran barriers between man and nature have been eroded. Bemused shepherd stand by as their flocks graze around the garbage cans of Tabriz. And the populations as a whole wats for the next round of confrontation. For his part the Shah has pledged a return to civilian rule following the restoration of law and order.