This weekend saw a series of large demonstrations across the Islamic Republic of Iran after the Iranian government finally admitted that it was responsible for the shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, with the loss of all 176 passengers and crew.
With thousands coming out to protest against the ayatollah’s government, reports have suggested that the regime has becoming increasingly concerned about backlash from the Iranian people. The Iranian Labour News Agency estimated the crowd in Tehran to be around 3,000 strong with chants of “Death to the dictator” and “Death to the liars” being shouted out. Police responded violently with baton charges and the use of teargas.
Of the 176 that died in the shooting down of the plane, 82 of the victims were Iranian, the largest single contingent of any nation. The Iranian government had initially denied any involvement with the incident and had refused to share any information with Western powers. However, supreme leader Ali Khamenei, sensing a change in public mood, has now said that some information should be made public and has made certain officials in the military apologise.
The apology issued from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was an exceptionally rare one with senior commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh saying he wished he “could die” when he heard the news of the incident.
Even some of the Iranian press have lined up to criticise the government with the moderate Etemad newspaper printing the headline “Apologise and resign” and saying that the “people’s demand” was that anybody in power in the regime with any responsibly for the incident should stand down immediately.
Heightening tensions further, and in a sign that many in the regime’s leadership are panicking, the British ambassador to Iran, Robert Macaire was arrested in a flagrant disregard to international law and diplomatic conventions. He had been attending a vigil for the victims, four of whom were Britons. Macaire was released some hours later following condemnation of the act by the British government.