In a speech on February 18 marking the 40th anniversary of the uprising of the people of Tabriz (capital of the province of Azerbaijan), Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the events that eventually led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution as “a miracle.” Mr. Khamenei was addressing a group of local officials and residents at Imam Khomeini Hussainiya, a congregation hall for Shia commemoration ceremonies in Tabriz.
“There is no such movement anywhere in the world! The fact that people, and not government officials, have rallied in the streets to mark the occasion after 40 years is a testament to their love and support for the Revolution. The world has not witnessed another revolution like this in the past four decades, or even in previous centuries. This revolution is particular to Iran,” Khamenei noted.
He added: “You have all remained faithful to the revolution. But I’m aware that some people have certain criticisms about many issues. I am completely aware of the people’s criticisms, complaints, and protests. People have many legitimate grievances against the government, the Judiciary, the Majlis [the Iranian Parliament] and me. I am but a humble public servant. In spite of that, the Iranian people are devoted to the revolution and the Islamic Republic.”
“The revolution’s greatest achievement was to transform a monarchy into a true democracy. Democracy places the people at the center of everything. Democracy means cultivating talents. It ultimately leads to progress,” Khamenei said.
Khamenei, however, admitted that mistakes had been made. He explained: “We have named the fourth decade of the revolution ‘the Decade of Progress and Justice.’ We have made tangible progress in the country. But we have not truly achieved justice for all. We must acknowledge this fact and admit our failure. We ought to have worked harder. We ask for God’s forgiveness. We must remedy this through God’s grace and through the hard work of the dedicated, competent, compassionate and pious men and women of this country.”
Khamenei made no mention of the tragic crash of the Aseman airliner in the Zagros mountains on February 18, which resulted in the death of all 65 people on board. He offered no condolences to the families of the victims of the incident. After the speech, however, the Leader’s office issued a statement which read:
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic crash of the passenger plane that resulted in the death of many of our fellow Iranians. I offer my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims and ask God to give them strength and patience during these difficult times. I call on the authorities to take utmost care in recovering the bodies of the victims, and facilitate the proper and dignified burials of the deceased.”