January 11, 2020

By Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Protesters outside a university in Tehran have called for justice after Iran admitted it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane on January 8.

“Resignation is not enough,” protesters chanted outside Amir Kabir university on January 11 while demanding a trial for those responsible for the downing of the plane that killed all 176 people on board.

Amateur videos posted on social media also showed protesters chanting “dishonorable” in an apparent reference to Iranian authorities, who finally admitted that a missile fired by its forces caused the crash.

Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency said some of the protesters ripped up photos of Qasem Soleimani, the poweful of the elite foreign arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps who was assassinated by the United States on January 3.

Fars estimated the protesters numbered between 700 and 1,000.

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) website posted a video claiming to show tear gas being used to break up the protests in Tehran.

Iranian police detained a British envoy to Tehran in front of Amir Kabir University for inciting antigovernment protesters. The envoy was released after several hours.

Protests also broke out in Isfahan, Hamadan, Sari, Rasht, and Babol, according to posts on social media. They are the largest antigovernment demonstrations since November, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest an increase in fuel prices.

Many Iranian were in shock and grief after Tehran admitted — following days of denials — that its military shot down the passenger plane.

Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the aerospace division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said on January 11 that his unit accepts “full responsibility” for the tragedy.

In comments aired by state TV, he said that when he learned about the downing of the plane, “I wished I was dead.”

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his “deep sympathy” to the families of the 176 victims and called on the armed forces to “pursue probable shortcomings and guilt in the painful incident.”

Nearly half of those killed were Iranian citizens while many others were ethnic Iranians living in other countries.