Soon after the announcement of Iran to the accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane protesters gathered in Tehran against the government. On Saturday evening, several hundred people gathered at AmirKabir University in the city center to commemorate the 176 deaths. The commemoration turned into an angry protest: The demonstrators described the Iranian government as a “liar” and called on those responsible for the shooting down and the day-long denial to resign.
— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) January 11, 2020
The students have called “harmful” and “radical” chants, wrote the Fars news agency, which is close to the conservatives in Iran. According to the report, some students also tore down a poster of General Qassem Soleimani, who had been killed in an American drone attack in Iraq a week ago.
The police finally “dissolved” the demonstration when the students left the university campus and caused a traffic jam, Fars reported. As the Tasnim news agency reports, the police arrested the British ambassador to Tehran for a few hours. Robert Macaire had therefore attended the rally in front of the university on Saturday evening. Tasnim writes that he provoked the demonstrators to carry out “radical actions”. He will be called to the State Department on Sunday.
Iran admitted the accidental launch of missile on Saturday. According to information from Tehran, the missile was mistaken for an enemy object and shot down the plane. The victims were mainly Canadians of Iranian origin, Afghans, British, Swedes and Ukrainians.
The authorities had spoken of a technical defect in the machine in the days before. The entire Iranian leadership expressed regret for the incident on Saturday. Legal steps have been taken against those responsible.
Thousands of Iranians posted a black page on social media as a sign of their grief and as a protest against the government. For them, the shooting down of the passenger plane is irreparable damage to the image of Iran. The Iranian state media also came under criticism for reporting the incident as one-sided.
Many Iranians also asked on social media why Tehran’s airport had not been closed after the Iranian army fired rockets at two American bases in Iraq. Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif was asked to resign in some tweets. “This is the final destination, Minister! They ruin everything, ” tweeted about Bita Razaqi under the account @bitarazaqi.
“It is a national tragedy. The way it was handled, and even more so, as authorities have announced, is even more tragic”, said moderate Ayatollah Ali Ansari after a report by the semi-official ILNA news agency.