By: Mir M.Hosseini
A fire broke out at the Rex Cinema in Abadan at around 8:21 pm while hundreds of people were watching a movie called Gavaznha. From around 700 people watching the movie 377 burned alive. Controversial reports came after the incident, specially those statements made by the officials made people suspicious that the regime is responsible for this tragedy. It was reported that one of the reasons why people could not escape was that the doors were locked from the outside and survivors used the roof to escape. Additionally, none of the three tankers sent by the fire department had water and the police department only 100 meters away did not respond in a timely manner. The regime blamed the Islamic terrorists while the other side accused the regime of staging the incident to scare people on the anniversary of the military coup in 1964.
The Pahlavi regime was on the verge of collapse; public demonstrations, strikes and political pressure had taken away its abilities to function properly, therefore the people who were arrested and later confessed to be related to the incident did not change people's view as all dissidents including foreign media accused the Pahlavi regime of plotting another Auschwitz. But things became interesting after the regime change in 1979.
One of the people involved in the plot noticed his own photograph in the Javan magazine. The magazine described him as the SAVAK murderer who escaped the prison. He immediately presents himself to the authorities because he considered himself a revolutionary person who had fought for overthrowing Shah's regime under supervision from some hardliner Islamic fractions. But this fact was totally ignored during the court sessions that finally announced SAVAK as the plotter. A protest by the families of the victims that took place in Abadan from April, 18 until Aug, 2 1980 only caused them to be labeled anti-revolutionary. Some more arrests and executions were made and the revolution started to swallow her own children.
In the years preceding the Islamic revolution, many banks, cinemas, bars and restaurants were damaged or burnt to the ground. On the very same day that with Cinema Rex became the scene of a crime, another famous place in Tehran named Hatam restaurant burned in fire at 3:30 am. Gavaznha is a famous black and white political movie that depicted the story of a drug addict who helped his homeboy who participated in an armed uprising against the Shah's regime escape.