Protests and gatherings in Iran to mourn the victims of a Ukrainian plane shot down by anti-aircraft missiles on January 8 were held in many cities Saturday evening, with some rallies continuing until Sunday morning.
People came out in the capital Tehran and other cities angry at three days of repeated denials by the government that the plane was shot down. Slogans were chanted against military leaders and the top ruler, ayatollah Ali Khamenei who is the commander in chief of the armed forces.
Vigils and protests were held in Isfahan, Sari, Rasht, Hamedan, Kerman the hometown of Qassem Soleimani killed by an American drone January 3, Shiraz, Babol, Urmia and other locations.
Images and videos received via social media show that rallies continued at least till Sunday morning in many cities, with shouts of “Resign, resign” and “Down with the dictator”.
In two Tehran universities students continue their protests on Sunday, as heavy presence of security forces is reported in many locations in the capital. Students at the universities are chanting, “Incompetent Guards, Killers of the people”, in reference to the country’s feared Revolutionary Guards.
In one university, protesting student refused to walk over American and Israeli flags, permanently painted on the ground.
Some social media posts say the Internet is disrupted in some parts of the capital; a tactic used by the government to disrupt exchange of information among the people and also to prevent images being from being sent abroad.
Security forces were out in force everywhere Saturday evening with tear gas used against protesters and shots fired in the air to disperse the crowds.
Many artists and cultural figures also joined the protesters with several famous movie personalities pulling out of the ongoing Fajr Film Festival.
Two government television anchors have also resigned from their jobs protesting what they said was deception regarding the downing of the airliner.
U.S. President Donald Trump also tweeted expressing support for the Iranian people and praising their “bravery”. Referring to the November protests during which hundreds were shot by security forces, trump said such a “massacre” should be allowed to happen again.