The Bombardemant of Iran's Majlis: After 108 Years

Monday, June 20, 2016

The 1908 bombardment of the Majlis of Iran took place on 23 June 1908 in Tehran, when the Persian Cossack forces serving the Shah of Persia aided by cannons and Cossack soldiers of the Russian Empire fired artillery and attacked the Iranian parliament, the Majles.

Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar, the Shah of Persia, who ascended the throne in January 1907 was against the constitution of 1906 ratified during regime of his father Mozzafar-al-Din Shah.

After his ascension, in August 1907 an Anglo-Russian agreement divided Iran into a Russian zone in the North, a British zone in the South, and a neutral zone in the center. The British switched their support to Shah, abandoning the Constitutionalists.

The Shah later tried to subdue and eliminate the Majles with the military and political support of Russia and Britain.

As the constitutional revolution was going on in Persia, the Shah kept himself confined to his residence at Bagh-e Shah fort in west of Tehran. He took help of Cossack Brigade to control the revolution and left the city of Tehran at their mercy.

Russian colonel Vladimir Liakhov who was the commander of the Cossack Brigade, lead the force in shelling the Majles and executing several leaders of the Constitutional Movement on June 23, 1908.

He gained considerable notoriety after shelling the Majlis of Iran and execution of several constitutionalist leaders on June 23, 1908. As a sign of gratitude, Mohammad Ali Shah appointed him as the Military Governor of Tehran.

His forces then also plundered the parliament and damaged the building. This event lead to start of a period known as Minor Tyranny. Liakhov was subsequently made Military Governor of Tehran by the Shah, turning the city into a military garrison.

However, in July 1909, pro-Constitution forces marched from Iran's province of Azerbaijan to Tehran.

They were able to capture Tehran; depose the Shah and re-establish the constitution.

Colonel Liakhoff and his forces served the Shah until July, 1909, when the Shah abdicated and fled to Russia, resulting in the surrender of Liakhov and the Persian Cossak Brigade.

Liakhov was pardoned by the Constitutional leaders probably for the fear of a Russian attack and was sent back to Saint Petersburg, where he would be dismissed soon after to serve in the Caucsus campaign of the First World War.

*Photo Credit: Wikipedia, PSRI

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