Iran: Protests demanding step down of leaders enter second day
Many of the dead passengers on the Ukrainian airliner that Iran now admits was accidentally shot down were Iranians with dual citizenship, with 57 being holders of Canadian passports.
Protests have erupted across Iran demanding the stepping down of the top leadership after the government admitted that it shot down an Ukrainian airliner by accident, killing 176 people on board.
There were reports of clashes with security forces and firing of tear gases during the protests, which entered second on Sunday.
The plane, which was on the way to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, was shot near Tehran, just after Iran attacked US bases in neighbouring Iran with dozens of missiles, in retaliation to the killing of senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani on a drone strike on January 3.
Many of the dead passengers were Iranians with dual citizenship, with 57 being holders of Canadian passports.
"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 a 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.
Residents of the capital told Reuters that police were out in force on Sunday. Some protesters in Azadi Square first called on officers there to join them, then turned their anger on the authorities, chanting anti-government slogans including "Down with the dictator" - a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to social media posts and Iranian media reports.
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 defences 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."
Meanwhile, Iran has issued eight more visas to a team of Canadian officials and most members of the group should be in Tehran on Monday, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Sunday.
Champagne said on Twitter that three officials from the rapid deployment team had flown to Iran on Saturday to set up a base of operations and a further eight would travel on Monday. The last member will arrive in Ankara on Monday.
"We expect the (team) to be fully in place to do their important work by Jan 14," Champagne said.
Canada says it wants to take part in the crash investigation and help the families of the Canadians who died. The team includes consular officials and two members of Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB).
The TSB said later it would deploy a second team of investigators who specialize in aircraft recorder download and analysis "once we confirm where and when this activity will take place." It did not give more details.
Canada does not have diplomatic relations with Iran.
(With inputs from Reuters)