Scores of Iranians Protest for Second Day against Ruling Authorities
Scores of protesters gathered for a second day in Iran on Sunday, chanting slogans against the authorities following the Revolutionary Guard’s admission it had shot down a passenger plane in error after days denying it was to blame, social media posts showed.
The posts on Twitter could not immediately be verified by Reuters. But state-affiliated media had reported protests on Saturday night shortly after the Iranian military said it had brought down the Ukrainian plane on Wednesday and apologized.
“They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” protesters who had gathered in the street outside a university in Tehran chanted. They also gathered in other cities.
Authorities had earlier deployed riot police in the capital on Sunday expecting more protests, reported The Associated Press.
Riot police and plainclothes officers could be seen massing in Vali-e Asr Square in Tehran. A large black banner unveiled in the square bore the names of those killed in the plane crash.
The plane crash early Wednesday killed all 176 people on board, mostly Iranians and Iranian-Canadians. After initially blaming a technical failure, authorities finally admitted to accidentally shooting it down in the face of mounting evidence and accusations by Western leaders.
Iran downed the Ukrainian flight as it braced for retaliation after firing ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq housing US forces. The ballistic missile attack, which caused no casualties, was a response to the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran's top general, in a US airstrike in Baghdad.
Iranians have expressed anger over the downing of the plane and the misleading explanations from senior officials in the wake of the tragedy.
A candlelight ceremony late Saturday in Tehran turned into a protest, with hundreds of people chanting against the country's leaders — including supreme leader Ali Khamenei — and police dispersing them with tear gas.