Monday, 30th October 2017

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Call for more protests on social media

It remains to be seen whether the protests will lead to sustained violence

By Reuters in Dubai
  • Published 16.01.20, 1:16 AM
  • Updated 16.01.20, 1:16 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Anti-government protesters at a rally near the Tehran University campus. (AP)

Iranians called on social media on Wednesday for fresh demonstrations a week after the shooting down of a passenger plane, seeking to turn the aftermath of the crash into a sustained campaign against Iran’s leadership.

Protesters, with students at the forefront, have staged daily rallies in Tehran and other cities since Saturday, when after days of denials the authorities admitted bringing down a Ukrainian plane last week, killing all 176 aboard.

“We’re coming to the streets,” one posting circulating on social media said on Wednesday, urging people to join nationwide demonstrations against a “thieving and corrupt government”.

Most of those killed on the plane were Iranians or dual citizens, many of them students returning to studies abroad from holiday visits with their families.

It remains to be seen whether the protests will lead to sustained violence. After several days of unrest, when images posted to the internet showed demonstrators being beaten by the police and shocked with electric batons, protests on Tuesday appear to have been quieter. Two months ago, authorities killed hundreds of demonstrators to put down protests sparked by fuel price hikes.

The plane was downed by air defences on January 8 when the armed forces were on high alert for US reprisals following tit-for-tat military strikes, the latest escalation in a crisis that has rumbled on for years over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iran has dismissed the idea of a new deal to resolve the nuclear row, as proposed by US President Donald Trump and described by Britain’s Prime Minister as a “Trump deal”.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Trump, who quit an existing nuclear pact in 2018, broke his promises.

The military and top officials apologised profusely for the “unforgivable error” that brought the plane down and said it would prosecute those to blame, in a bid to quell the outrage.

Thousands of protesters have been shown in videos gathering in the past four days in cities across Iran. Many have been outside universities. Tehran’s central Azadi Square has also been a focus. But the scale of protests and unrest is difficult to determine due to restrictions on independent reporting.