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Last Updated : Jan 14, 2020 05:23 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Protests swell in Iran over downed Ukrainian airliner, first arrests made

Amid swelling protests across the country, Iran's judicial spokesperson has announced that the judiciary had arrested some people for their alleged role in shooting down of the Ukrainian airliner

File image: Reuters
File image: Reuters

Protests against the government in Iran, over shooting down of a passenger aircraft near Tehran airport on January 8 and for subsequently misleading the public, entered the third day on January 14.

After denying it for days, Iran had on January 11 publicly acknowledged having mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian airliner with a missile. The incident had killed 176 people.

First arrests made

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The country’s judicial spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaili said on January 14 that the judiciary had arrested some people for their alleged role in incident.

As demonstrations against the government swelled on January 13, government spokesman Ali Rabeei had said that officials had not lied to the public when they insisted the plane had crashed because of mechanical problems and that they were only giving limited information that they had.

Rabeei added that President Hassan Rouhani had learned that missiles were fired at the aircraft only on January 10.

Growing anger

Many within political circles of Iran have said that the divide between protesting public and the country’s government had become too wide.

Protesters have been demanding the government to step down. Hard-liners have also called officials to resign.

At least two anchors working for the Iranian state broadcaster IRIB announced that they have resigned. Another popular presenter said that she had quit a while back having lies on behalf of the state for 13 years.

“It was very hard for me to believe the murdering of my countrymen,” Gelare Jabbari said.

“Forgive me for believing it too late. I apologize for lying to you on TV for 13 years,” Jabbari added.

According to The New York Times, a group of filmmakers, artists and actors have also issued a joint statement saying they would skip the government-sponsored Fajr competition.

There are reports of violence in some of the protests. Videos have shown protesters carrying away bleeding demonstrators as gunshots could be heard in the background.

Iranian authorities have denied that security forces opened fire.

Al Jazeera has reported, citing a video from inside Iran, that students on January 13 chanted slogans including "Clerics get lost!" outside universities in Isfahan and Tehran. The report adds that riot police were filmed taking positions on the streets there.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the reports.

The Iranian regime continues to be under international pressure. On January 12, US President Donald Trump had tweeted: “To the leaders of Iran - DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people! (sic)”

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First Published on Jan 14, 2020 05:23 pm
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