‘Enemy is right here’: Iran erupts over downed aircraft
Riot police fired teargas at thousands of protesters in Tehran Saturday, where many had chanted “Death to the dictator”, directing their anger at supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.Updated: Jan 13, 2020 06:33 IST
Protests erupted across Iran for a second day on Sunday, piling pressure on the country’s leadership after the military admitted it had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner at a time when Tehran had feared American air strikes.
“They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” a group of protesters outside a university in Tehran chanted, according to video clips posted on Twitter.
Security forces were reported deployed in large numbers across Tehran on Sunday, expecting more protests. Riot police in black uniforms and helmets massed in Vali-e Asr Square, Tehran University and other landmarks as calls circulated for protests later in the day. Revolutionary Guard members patrolled the city on motorbikes and plainclothes security men were also out in force.
State-affiliated media had reported protests on Saturday shortly after the military apologised for mistakenly bringing down the Ukrainian plane on Wednesday, killing all 176 aboard. Iran downed the Ukrainian flight as it braced for retaliation after firing ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq housing American forces. The ballistic missile attack was a response to the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, in a US airstrike in Baghdad.
Tehran residents told Reuters police were out in force in the capital on Sunday, as public anger boiled up following days of denials by the military that it was to blame.
“Even talking about it makes my heart beat faster and makes me sad,” Zahra Razeghi, a Tehran resident, was quoted by Associated Press. “I feel ashamed when I think about their families.”
Riot police fired teargas at thousands of protesters in Tehran Saturday, where many had chanted “Death to the dictator”, directing their anger at supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“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, who has expressed support for past waves of anti-government demonstrations in Iran, addressed the country’s leaders in a tweet, saying “DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS.”
“The world is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching,” he tweeted.
Britain said its ambassador in Iran was briefly detained on Saturday, which Iranian media said was because he was inciting protests. The envoy said he attended a vigil for plane victims.
Iran’s authorities summoned him on Sunday, while members of a hardline militia gathered outside the mission holding signs demanding the “treacherous embassy” be closed. British foreign secretary Dominic Raab said Iran “can continue its march towards pariah status ... or take steps to de-escalate tensions” with diplomacy.