Iran protests

Third anniversary of Iran’s downing of civilian jet fuels new protests

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The third anniversary of the downing of a civilian airliner in Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is fueling renewed anti-government protests both inside the country and abroad.

Videos shared on social media on Sunday showed people demonstrating near Tehran University and the Sattar Khan and Sadeghieh neighborhoods in the heart of the city. A demonstration organized by the families of the passengers killed on the plane took place in Shahedshahr, the site where the Ukrainian aircraft crashed.

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Smaller gatherings and protests were also shown in Karaj, on the outskirts of Tehran, and the Kurdish towns of Sanandaj, Mahabad and Saghez in northwest Iran. Strikes by local businesses were also reported in the cities of Abdanan and Kermanshah, according to the Norway-based Hengaw Organization for Human Rights.

None of the footage could be verified by Bloomberg.

Months of nationwide demonstrations have posed the biggest challenge to the theocratic leadership of the Islamic Republic since it took power in 1979.

Sunday’s demonstrations have been timed to coincide with the anniversary of the missile strike on a Ukraine International Airlines flight that killed all 176 people on board. The plane was filled with Iranian nationals and had just taken off in Tehran when it was shot down.

The stage with photos of the victims at an event marking the third anniversary of the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, which was shot down near Tehran by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada January 8, 2023. (Reuters)
The stage with photos of the victims at an event marking the third anniversary of the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, which was shot down near Tehran by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada January 8, 2023. (Reuters)

Iran initially denied responsibility before admitting that its Revolutionary Guards had mistaken it for a hostile cruise missile and downed the plane at a time of heightened military tensions with the US.

Organized rallies in solidarity with the protests in Iran have taken place in other cities including London, Amsterdam, Sydney, Istanbul and Zurich. The rallies were organized by campaigners for families of victims of the downed flight.

The latest actions come a day after authorities executed two more men arrested in the protests, despite international calls for Iran to halt the use of the death penalty against protesters.

Iran executes more prisoners over anti-regime protests

Iran has so far hanged four men after trials that lasted less than a month. In total, at least 11 protesters have been handed death sentences and at least a dozen others have been charged with serious crimes that can carry the death penalty.

Rights groups say at least 476 people, including 64 children, have been killed by security forces since the unrest started on Sept. 16.

Since mid-September, widespread demonstrations have roiled Iran after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who was arrested for allegedly flouting the country’s Islamic dress codes.

Anger at her death and religious laws that target women’s liberties, quickly grew into a much broader rebuke against Iran’s clerical leadership and a litany of grievances that people blame on an unaccountable system that’s held an iron grip on the country for more than four decades.

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