‘Death to the liars’: Chilling footage emerges from Iran

Iranian security forces have reportedly fired shots and tear gas at the thousands of people protesting in the country's capital.

Protests broke out in Iran over the weekend after the Iranian Government admitted it had shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet.

Demonstrators chanted "death to the liars" and "death to the dictator", calling for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down over the incident that killed 176 people.

Videos posted on social media show crowds of people screaming and running down streets with the sound of gunfire in the background.

Footage shared by BBC reporter Bahman Kalbasi shows hundreds of protesters running across a road jam-packed with cars as the sound of gunshots is heard in the background.

Kalbasi said he received the video from a friend in Tehran, who believed protesters were being shot at with rubber bullets:

 

Separate footage shared by BBC reporter Hadi Nili shows what appears to be a trail of blood on the ground, reportedly from a bullet.

 

 

Iran said it "unintentionally" shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing everyone on-board. The downing came just hours after the Iranian military fired more than a dozen missiles at Iraqi bases near where American troops were staying.

Victims of the crash included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British nationals.

Videos posted online showed mourners shouting anti-government slogans and moving through subway stations and footpaths following an earlier call to demonstrate there.
The protesters expressed anger towards the Government for having initially denied shooting down the passenger jet.

 

 

Protesters often wore hoods and covered their faces, likely to avoid being recognised by surveillance cameras. Some online videos purported to show police firing tear gas sporadically, though there was no immediate wholesale crackdown on demonstrators.

Criticism of the Supreme Leader is punishable by up to two years in prison.

 

Iran's state-run media, as well as semi-official news agencies and publications, did not immediately report on the demonstrations.

However, international rights groups already have called on Iran to allow people to protest peacefully as allowed by the country's constitution.

"After successive national traumas in a short time period, people should be allowed to safely grieve and demand accountability," said Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the New York-based Centre for Human Rights in Iran. "Iranians shouldn't have to risk their lives to exercise their constitutional right to peaceful assembly."

Riot police in black uniforms and helmets earlier massed in Vali-e Asr Square, at Tehran University and other landmarks.

Revolutionary Guard members patrolled the city on motorbikes, and plainclothes security men were also out in force.

US President Donald Trump tweeted about the protests in both English and Arabic, as if to appeal directly to the Iranian demonstrators.

He warned the leaders of Iran to "not kill your protesters", saying "the world is watching" and to let reporters "roam free".

 

Earlier, he posted a direct tweet to the Iranian people in both languages, saying he "stands with them".

 

 

 

 

IRAN TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR DOWNED PLANE

After initially pointing to a technical failure and insisting the armed forces were not to blame, Iranian authorities on Saturday admitted accidentally shooting the plane down in the face of mounting evidence and accusations by Western leaders.

In an emotional speech before parliament, the head of the Revolutionary Guard apologised for the shooting and insisted it was a tragic mistake.

"I swear to almighty God that I wished I was on that plane and had crashed with them and burned but had not witnessed this tragic incident," said General Hossein Salami. "I have never been this embarrassed in my entire life. Never."

Last week, footage emerged purporting to show the moment Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashed into the ground.

The CCTV video, obtained by Raavi Online Media, shows a flash light in the night sky.

A blinding light then whites out the screen followed by an enormous yellow fireball. Debris explodes in all directions. The ground is then covered in small fires.

The video was thought to be taken near a football field in the town of Khajal Abad, southwest of Tehran.

The head of Iran's Civil Aviation Authority confirmed to CNN that the footage was authentic.

 

The moment that Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 crashed just after taking off from Tehran's airport. Picture: RaaviOnline Media
The moment that Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 crashed just after taking off from Tehran's airport. Picture: RaaviOnline Media

Iran downed the flight as it braced for possible American retaliation after firing ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq housing US forces.

The missile attack, which caused no casualties, was a response to the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, Iran's top general, in a US air strike in Baghdad. But no retaliation came.

Iranians have expressed anger over the downing of the plane and the misleading explanations from senior officials in the wake of the tragedy.

They are also mourning the dead, which included many young people who were studying abroad.

Iranians demonstrated in November after the Government hiked gas prices, holding large protests across the nation.

The Government shut down internet access for days, making it difficult to gauge the scale of the protests and the subsequent crackdown. Amnesty International later said more than 300 people were killed.

- with AP