Historical occasions are often like a symbol. In and of itself, the 13th of Aban is not different from the days before and after it, but it is a symbol. What is a symbol? A symbol is a code that contains many meanings. Sometimes a single word that you say contains a multitude of meanings and realities. The 13th of Aban is one of those things. This day is a symbol, and it contains a huge number of important points and issues, issues that are not at all historical. Rather, they are considered among our current issues. Let us take a look at the occasions that the 13th of Aban represents.
The first occasion that the 13th of Aban represents is the day when our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) was forced into exile in 1343[November 4, 1964]. Why did they force him into exile? Because the Imam (r.a.) had demanded a national right a few days before in a speech delivered in Qom, which was immediately distributed throughout the country on audio tape and in writing. That national right was the annulling of the oppressive legal immunity [granted to American soldiers] called Capitulation. It is appropriate for our young generation to clearly understand what difficulties we have undergone to reach where we are now.
Americans had tens of thousands of agents in Iran. The exact number is not important - fifty thousand, sixty thousand or more. They were political, security and military agents. They were among the people who used to manage Iran - in the army, in intelligence organizations, planning centers and different other places. They used to charge the Iranian government several times more, but they used to work for America. This was a bad thing that happened in our country. Because it was dependent on America and acted as an American mercenary, the satanic Pahlavi regime had gradually allowed those agents to enter the country over a number of years. This was already bad enough, but what happened next was even worse: They approved a law in the parliament of that time, which granted immunity to American agents so that they could not be prosecuted by Iranian courts, judiciary and security organizations. This is called legal immunity. When foreigners are allowed to enter a country and do whatever they like, when the courts and police force of a country are unable to do anything to stop foreigners, it shows that the country is suffering from an extreme form of weakness and dependence. Legal immunity was what the Americans demanded from the satanic Pahlavi regime, and it was given to them on a silver platter.
Of course they used to do these things quietly. They did not let the press reflect them. But the Imam (r.a.) found out what they were doing. Before the 13th of Aban, in a speech delivered to the people and seminarians of Qom, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) voiced his objection to the legal immunity of American agents. He said that if a low-ranking American agent insulted and stomped on an Iranian Marja taqlid[priminent scholar] in the country and committed whatever crime he wished, the Iranian legal system would remain totally neutral and nobody would have the right to stop him. It was only Americans who could have taken action against him, and it is clear what the action would have been. The Imam (r.a.) raised his objection to that oppressive law. He had just been released from prison at that time. He had finished serving his months-long sentence a few months earlier. He stood up and made the suppressed voice of the Iranian people heard. Of course, many people did not even know that the Iranian people were being humiliated like that, but the Imam (r.a.) knew that. This is how a genuine guardian of a country's interests acts. When he finds out what is being done to his people, how they are humiliated and how their honor is trampled underfoot, he does not stay silent. He yells his objection. At that time even yelling was considered dangerous. Therefore, they arrested the Imam (r.a.) immediately and transferred him to Tehran. They did not even keep him in Iran. They exiled him to Turkey. This is the first occasions that the 13th of Aban represents.
Therefore, the 13th of Aban became the symbol of two great realities, two sensitive and momentous realities. One is the greed of the Americans: If a nation fails to defend its rights and honor, arrogant and colonial powers will even impose such oppressive laws as legal immunity on that nation. This is the goal of the hegemony of the arrogant powers. The relations between a government such as the US government and a country that does not have as much power as America cannot be like relations between two ordinary countries. No, from the viewpoint of the Americans themselves, the relations between America and what they call "third world countries" is a master-subject relationship - the Americans being the master, and third world countries being their subjects. The Americans think they have the right to do whatever they want in third world countries. They think they can plunder third world countries' oil and gas resources, act against their interests, take away their wealth, promote American interests and humiliate their people.
An American sergeant used to slap senior Iranian officers across the face, and nobody had the right to react. In different garrisons of the country, when a low-ranking member of the American military faced a senior Iranian officer, he used to address the Iranian officer like a master. The members of our army were dissatisfied with this situation, but they did not dare to do anything. The first point is that the 13th of Aban is the symbol of American arrogance. It is the symbol of the spirit of the transgression of the arrogant powers against different nations, especially against the Iranian nation.
After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, different American presidents tried to ingratiate themselves [with the Islamic Republic]. They flattered us a lot in the hope that they will manage to reopen the path that was closed to them. Their statements are the surface of things. But, as I said, the truth of the situation is similar to the iron fist which is covered with a velvet glove.
Therefore, the 13th of Aban is reminiscent of a bitter and crucial truth - namely, the spirit of arrogance that is inherent in the arrogant powers and arrogant hegemony. Different nations throughout the world - including our nation - should never forget this. They should know that what they are confronted with is the face of an aggressor and the face of transgressor who is planning to march forward and stomp on the honor of peoples, sexually harass them, transgress on their lands, threaten their lives and jeopardize their wealth without anybody being able to hold them responsible and ask them for an explanation.
The second thing that is represented by the 13th of Aban is the resonant yell of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.). That shout was one of the most immaculate and wholesome shouts, which came out of one of the most immaculate throats. Some people may make a criticism or raise an objection here and there, but the shout that spread the message of the 13th of Aban throughout the world in the year 1343 came out of one of the most immaculate throats. First of all, this shout was rooted in a sense of religiosity. Second, it was rooted in national and Islamic pride. The Imam (r.a.) could not tolerate the domination of the enemy over this nation. Third, the shout depended on public support. As I said, although the people were unaware in the beginning, they supported the Imam (r.a.) when they heard his shout. It was that public support which led to the victory of the Islamic Revolution 14 years later. That immaculate shout was similar to the resonant shouts with which divine prophets used to call the people to God and attract their hearts. The Imam (r.a.) carried out such a great movement in the country, and he paid the price for it. They forced the Imam (r.a.) out of his home and separated him from his family, friends and relatives. They exiled him to another part of the world. Therefore, the second point is that the 13th of Aban is the symbol of such a shout.
The third thing which is represented by the 13th of Aban is what happened to students in the year 1357, and that was a crucial event. Fourteen years after Imam Khomeini's (r.a.) resonant yell, our youth, adolescents and high school students - who were among the most pure-hearted people of our country - entered the arena in the year 1357 and laid down their lives. The 13th of Aban is the day when students were massacred in the streets of Tehran. When these youth and adolescents entered the arena and reflected the message that had been yelled by the Imam (r.a.) 14 years earlier, the mercenary killers of America took revenge on them. They opened fire on the youth. They shed their blood on the streets of Tehran and covered the streets with their blood. This is also an important point, not just because a number of youth and adolescents were martyred - which is of course important - but because the great movement initiated by the Imam (r.a.) in the years 1342 and 1343 had remained so fresh and dynamic that a number of pure-hearted youth had been inspired to take to the streets, feel responsible and stand up against the bayonets of the oppressive and satanic Pahlavi regime. Such things rarely happen in the world.
The same is true of today. Just like those times, today our high school students alongside our university students, Basij and other social groups are among the most pioneering social groups of our country. Similarly, during the Sacred Defense Era, our students played a pioneering role. I am in contact with many families of our martyrs and arrange meetings with them. If you speak with these families and ask them how old their children were when they were martyred, they will tell you that their children were martyred at the age of 16, 17, 14. What does this mean? It means that commitment, revolutionary spirit and sense of responsibility - which was rooted in insight - have become so strong that even high school students of this country enter the arena and lay down their lives. It means that even high school students of our country are prepared to give up all their youthful wishes in order to achieve great ideals and Islamic and divine goals in society.
The capture of the den of espionage is the last thing that the 13th of Aban represents. On the occasion of the anniversary of Imam Khomeini's (r.a.) exile and the massacre of students, once again our youth entered the arena in the year 1358 and did something that astonished the world and brought America to its knees. This is the truth. It is not just a slogan. You should know that the day the den of spies was captured, the American government was several times more formidable and prestigious than today. America has lost its prestige in the world today, and different peoples are openly insulting and cursing America. It was not like this at that time. America used to be regarded as the world's top superpower at that time. Our young students - who were acting as the first line of defense in the Iranian nation's camp of resistance - courageously captured America's embassy, and those who were in the embassy were taken hostages. Of course Imam Khomeini (r.a.) was kind enough to let some of them - like women - return to America after a short period of time. However, the main elements of the embassy stayed here for a long time. This was also a great movement which undermined America's power in the world. In spite of all that power, America suddenly lost its respect in the eyes of the peoples of the world. The situation got so bad that the American President [President Jimmy Carter] resorted to a covert military attack to rescue the hostages. They deployed their spies inside the country. They prepared the ground. They spoke to different mercenaries. They considered different places for their operation. They attacked our country with their helicopters and airplanes. The plan was to regroup in Tabas, go to Tehran, rescue the hostages and take them to America. But the famous event happened in Tabas, and Allah the Exalted destroyed their prestige. Their airplanes and helicopters caught fire, and they were forced to return to America from Tabas. These are the events that the 13th of Aban represents.
The 13th of Aban is a symbol. It contains many meanings, and these meanings are all lessons for us. We must keep these things in mind: American greed, corruption of the satanic Pahlavi regime and its dependence on America, firm resistance of the faith that depended on the insight of our magnanimous Imam and the people, presence of the young generation on the scene and the valor and boldness of the young revolutionary generation against America whose face had been made up to look formidable. These are all meanings that are embodied by the 13th of Aban. Therefore, the 13th of Aban is not just an insignificant name.
Imam Khamenei, Nov 3, 2010