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Suicide of Iran Shah's son, Alireza Pahlavi, caps life of sorrow in exile

The Tuesday suicide of Alireza Pahlavi passed largely unnoticed in Iran, where decades ago the shah’s rule became a crucial catalyst for the Islamic revolution.

By Staff writer / January 5, 2011



Istanbul, Turkey

The youngest son of the late shah of Iran, once second in line to the throne, took his own life on Tuesday in Boston. The suicide of Alireza Pahlavi is the latest tragic event to befall the former Persian royal family, which has sought relevance during a generation in exile outside Iran.

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The pro-West Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was ousted by the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran and died the next year, but his admission to America for medical treatment prompted militant students to seize control of the US Embassy in Tehran.

The shah’s youngest daughter, Leila Pahlavi, was found dead in a London hotel in 2001 after a drug overdose.

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The former royals remain widely despised inside Iran because of a decades-long legacy of repressive and authoritarian rule by the shah, whose overthrow brought to an end centuries of Persian monarchy.

In a brief story titled “Son of ex-dictator of Iran kills himself,” Iran’s state-run PressTV noted on Wednesday that the death marks the “second member of the Pahlavi family to commit suicide.”

Since Iran’s disputed June 2009 presidential election, members of the former ruling family have tied themselves more closely to the pro-democracy cause in Iran, with Reza Pahlavi – the former crown prince who remains politically active against the Islamic regime in Iran – described on his Website as an “advocate for democracy and human rights.”

A family statement spoke of the “immense grief [at] the passing away of Prince Alireza Pahlavi.”

“Like millions of young Iranians, he too was deeply disturbed by all the ills fallen upon his beloved homeland, as well as carrying the burden of losing a father and a sister in his young life,” the statement on Reza Pahlavi's website read.

“Although he struggled for years to overcome his sorrow, he finally succumbed, and during the night of the 4th of January 2011, in his Boston residence, took his own life, plunging his family and friends into great sorrow.”

Largely unnoticed in Iran

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