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Iran Jails 20 Protesting Downing Of Ukrainian Plane, None Sentenced From Military

Rally in front of Sharif University in Tehran to protest the deception of the public about the cause of the crash of Ukraine's Flight PS752. January 11, 2020.

Iran's Revolutionary Courts have in the past six months sentenced twenty individuals who participated in peaceful protests against the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January to prison terms totaling more than 23 years. However, none of the people responsible for the incident have yet been named or put on trial.

In the most recent instance, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced women's rights and student activist Bahareh Hedayat to 4 years and 8 months in prison.

Hedayat was previously the spokesperson of the Central Council of Tahkim Vahdat -- an Islamic student association -- and actively campaigned to gather one million signatures for a petition to change discriminatory laws against women.

On January 8 a few hours after Iranian missile attacks on two military bases in Iraq and while the Iranian military was expecting an American counterattack, the Revolutionary Guard fired two missiles at a Ukrainian airliner taking off from Tehran. The attack killed all 176 onboard the plane.

The bases in Iraq that were targeted before downing the plane hosted U.S. and other coalition troops. Iran said the attacks were in retaliation for the targeted killing of Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad Airport five days earlier, on January 3.

After three days of popular protests in various cities and the authorities' consistent denial of any role in the tragic incident, the Revolutionary Guard finally accepted responsibility for the attack on the plane but attributed it to "human error". Iranian officials still maintain that one individual's misjudgement caused the tragedy.

According to the official reports of the Judiciary, tens of people were arrested in various cities for participating in the peaceful protest rallies that only called for the real reason for the crash to be announced.

In a tweet on Saturday Hedayat said she received a four-year sentence for "participating in the rallies outside Amir Kabir University and 8 months for "propaganda against the regime" as well as her tweets.

Before her, Mostafa Hashemizadeh, a student of Tehran University, had been sentenced to six years in prison, 74 lashes and deprivation from certain social privileges for participating in the same protests.

Some of the families of the victims of the crash who live in Iran have said that they have no hope of getting justice for their loved ones but some others who live abroad have formed an association to bring the culprits to justice through international courts.