Monday, 24 February, 2020

Protesters gather again in Iran, chant against authorities: Twitter posts

Protests erupt in Iran over Ukrainian plane's downing that killed 176 Iran's foreign minister said 'US adventurism' is to blame for the Iranian military shooting down a passenger jet
Deanna Wagner | 12 January, 2020, 16:24

His message came after Iranian police dispersed students chanting "radical" slogans, according to Fars news agency, during a Saturday gathering in Tehran to honor those killed when the Ukraine International Airlines plane was shot down shortly after taking off from Tehran.

But when it comes to the plane crash over Iran that killed 57 Canadians and has captivated his country, the prime minister has embraced a new tack: public outrage.

Protesters piled pressure on Iran's leadership on Sunday with demands for top authorities to quit after the Iranian military admitted it had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner at a time when it had feared US strikes. The operative who first mistakenly identified the plane as an incoming missile failed to get a second opinion due to a "disturbance" and had only 10 seconds to make a decision, he said.

Officials in Tehran pledged to bring those who made the mistake to justice but a top IRGC commander added to public anger about the delayed admission when he said on Saturday he had told the authorities a missile hit the plane the day it crashed.

But others said Iran's enemies, a term usually used to refer to Washington and its allies, were exploiting the incident.

"There is definite anger, shock in the country after it was revealed that it was, in fact, Iran that shot down the Ukrainian airliner, after days of denying it", Al Jazeera's Assed Baig, reporting from Tehran, said.

But then the USA and Canada, citing intelligence, said they believed Iran shot down the aircraft. "Iran must take full responsibility".

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After Saturday's protests, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter: "There cannot be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown".

The latest demonstrations follow a crackdown on street violence that erupted across Iran over fuel price hikes in November.

Condemning the arrest, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Iran "can continue its march towards pariah status. or take steps to de-escalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards".

The rage at the incident appears to have wiped away the nationalist wave regime was attempting to ride after the killing of General Qassem Suleimani by a United States drone strike nine days ago, and the catharsis it sought to deliver with a heavily publicised ballistic missile attack on USA forces stationed in Iraq.

"The real cause of this tragedy is America's abandonment of diplomacy under the Trump administration and the pursuit in its stead of a reckless brinkmanship which led the world to the brink of nuclear war", the writer opines.

Reports of the protests were carried by state-affiliated news agencies, while video clips circulated on social media.

Iran fired ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq housing USA troops, and was bracing for possible American airstrikes that day.