Protest in Iran against downing of plane

Protest in Iran against downing of plane
Students protest following a tribute for the victims of Ukraine Airlines in front of the Kabir University in the capital Tehran, on Saturday.
Tehran, JAN 12 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 1/12/2020 12:22:04 PM IST


Protesters in hundreds, most of them students, took to the streets in Iran’s capital, Tehran, to vent anger at officials, calling them liars for having denied shooting down a Ukrainian passenger plane.

Iranian protesters and newspapers piled pressure on the country’s leadership and riot police stepped up their presence in Tehran on Sunday after Iran’s military admitted that it had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner. All 176 people aboard the flight, many of them Iranians with dual citizenship, were killed.

Riot police fired teargas at thousands of Iranians who had taken to the streets.

Images and reports of the protests were carried by state-affiliated news agencies, alongside videos on social media. The students called for those responsible for the downing the plane, and those they said had covered up the action, to be prosecuted. Chants included “commander-in-chief resign”, referring to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and “death to liars”. Tehran residents told Reuters that police had stepped up their presence in the capital on Sunday morning. “Apologise and resign,” Iran’s moderate Etemad daily wrote in a banner headline on Sunday, saying the “people’s demand” was for those responsible for mishandling the plane crisis to quit.

US President Donald Trump tweeted support for the “inspiring” protests. President Trump tweeted in both English and Farsi, saying: “To the brave and suffering Iranian people: I have stood with you since the beginning of my presidency and my government will continue to stand with you. “We are following your protests closely. Your courage is inspiring.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted video of the protests in Iran, saying: “The voice of the Iranian people is clear. They are fed up with the regime’s lies, corruption, ineptitude, and brutality of the IRGC [Revolutionary Guards] under Khamenei’s kleptocracy. We stand with the Iranian people who deserve a better future.”

The UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab issued an angry statement after British ambassador Rob Macaire was arrested “without grounds or explanation” in a “flagrant violation of international law” at one of the protests in Tehran. Macaire was detained at the demonstration outside Amir Kabir and was later released. Raab said Iran could “continue its march towards pariah status... or take steps to de-escalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards”.

For days, Iranian officials had vigorously denied it was to blame, even as Canada, which had 57 citizens on the flight, and the United States said their intelligence indicated an Iranian missile was to blame, albeit probably fired in error. Iran’s president said it was a “disastrous mistake” and apologised. But a top Revolutionary Guards commander added to public anger about the delayed admission, when he said he had told the authorities a missile hit the plane the day it crashed.

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