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|Posted: 01/12/20 10:10 pm ::: Iran protesters demand that leaders quit after plane downed
|Protests erupted across Iran for a second day on Sunday, increasing pressure on the Islamic Republic’s leadership after it admitted its military shot down a Ukrainian airliner by accident, despite days of denials that Iranian forces were to blame.
“They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” one group of protesters chanted outside a university in Tehran, according to video posted on Twitter.
Other posts showed demonstrators outside a second university and a group of protesters marching to Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square, as well as protests in other cities.
Some state-affiliated media carried reports of the university protests, which followed demonstrations on Saturday sparked by Iran’s admission that its military mistakenly shot down the plane on Wednesday, killing all 176 aboard, at a time when Tehran feared U.S. air strikes.
Public anger boiled up following days of denials by the military that it was to blame for the crash, issued even as Canada and the United States said it appeared that Iranian air defenses had shot down the airliner, probably in error.
“Apologise and resign,” Iran’s moderate Etemad daily wrote in a banner headline on Sunday, saying the “people’s demand” was that those responsible for mishandling the crisis quit.
The latest unrest adds to mounting pressure on the Iranian authorities, who are struggling to keep the crippled economy afloat under stringent U.S. sanctions.
Demonstrations against a hike in fuel prices turned political last year, sparking the bloodiest crackdown in the 40-year history of the Islamic Republic. About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on Nov. 15, three Iranian Interior Ministry officials told Reuters, although international rights groups put the figure much lower and Iran called the report “fake news.”
After saying on Saturday that he was “inspired” by the courage of the demonstrators, U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday: “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!”