Thousands of angry Iranian protesters took to the streets of Tehran on Saturday, Jan. 11, demanding the head of the Islamic government Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei resign over the plane crash that killed 176 people last Wednesday.
The government had at first denied it was responsible for the downing of the Ukrainian passenger jet by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, which came just hours after the Iranian retaliatory strike against U.S. military bases in Baghdad.
“Scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane, and such rumors are illogical,” The Civil Aviation Organization of Islamic Republic of Iran’s head Ali Abedzadeh said, according to Reuters.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif admitted on Jan. 11 that the government had made a mistake and accidentally shot the plane down. However, in the days following the crash, strong evidence began to emerge, proving Iran had shot down the passenger jet.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, according to The Times, “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families.”
A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces:
Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster
Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 11, 2020
“Angry crowds gathered on Saturday night in at least four locations in Tehran, chanting ‘death to liars’ and calling for the country’s supreme leader to step down over the tragic military blunder, video from the scene shows,” The Daily Mail reported. “‘Death to the Islamic Republic’ protesters chanted, as the regime’s paramilitary security force allegedly used ambulances to sneak heavily armed paramilitary police into the middle of crowds to disperse the demonstration.”
“Why should I vote for this regime?” Hesham Ghanbari, 27, said to Reuters. “I don’t trust them at all. They lied to us about the plane crash. Why should I trust them when they don’t trust people enough to tell the truth?”
According to The New York Times, the video showed protesters shouting, “Khamenei is a murderer!”
“Death to liars” and “Death to the dictator,” shouted protesters.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted, “The voice of the Iranian people is clear. They are fed up with the regime’s lies, corruption, ineptitude, and brutality of the IRGC under @khamenei_ir’s kleptocracy.”
The voice of the Iranian people is clear. They are fed up with the regime’s lies, corruption, ineptitude, and brutality of the IRGC under @khamenei_ir‘s kleptocracy. We stand with the Iranian people who deserve a better future. pic.twitter.com/tBOjv9XsIG
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 11, 2020
“We expect Iran to assure its readiness for a full and open investigation, to bring those responsible to justice, to return the bodies of the victims, to pay compensation, and to make official apologies through diplomatic channels,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a Facebook post reports The Hill.
“We hope that the investigation will continue without artificial delays and obstacles,” he added.