Protesters in Iran’s capital, Tehran, have demanded the resignation of senior leaders following the admission of authorities – after days of denials – that Iranian forces accidentally downed a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 people on board.
The Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 bound for Kyiv, Ukraine crashed minutes after takeoff from the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on Wednesday. It happened hours after Iran launched missile attacks on US forces in Iraq in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.
Here are all of the latest updates as of Sunday, January 12:
Iranian newspapers pay tribute to crash victims
Newspapers in Iran paid tribute to those killed in the Ukrainian passenger plane while heaping pressure on the country’s leadership amid growing public anger.
Read more here.
EU’s diplomatic chief urges ‘de-escalation’
The EU’s diplomatic chief criticised Iran for briefly detaining the British ambassador to Tehran, callling for “de-escalation”.
“Very concerned about the temporary detention of the UK Ambassador @HMATehran in Iran. Full respect of the Vienna convention is a must. The EU calls for de-escalation and space for diplomacy,” Josep Borrell tweeted.
UK envoy denies taking part in Iran protest before arrest
Rob Macaire, Britain’s ambassador to Tehran, denied that he took part in a demonstration that erupted at a memorial for the 176 people killed when a plane was shot down.
“Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy,” Rob Macaire wrote on Twitter, saying he left “after 5 minutes, when some started chanting”.
Macaire added he was detained for half an hour “after leaving the area”.
Thanks for the many goodwill messages. Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy. Normal to want to pay respects- some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting.
— Rob Macaire (@HMATehran) January 12, 2020
IRGC head ‘briefing parliament’
The chief of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was briefing parliament over the killing of Soleimani, Tehran’s retaliation and the subsequent downing Ukrainian airliner, according to the the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Major General Hossein Salami was addressing the members of the Majles in a closed session, ISNA reported.
Twitter users decry Trump’s Tweets
Twitter users criticised Trump for saying he stood in solidarity with the Iranian people, noting that he previously threatened to attack 52 Iranian sites “very hard” as tensions between the two nations escalated earlier this month.
“How about you sit down and mind your own business?!” one Twitter user said.
Yes we saw how you stood with us when you threatened our cultural sites, starved Iranians with sanctions, and banned us from entering the US. How about you sit down and mind your own business?!
بشین بابا! pic.twitter.com/wbK0KZrCAE
— M. Ali Kadivar محمدعلی کدیور (@MAliKadivar) January 11, 2020
“Only on planet Trump can you ban Iranians from visiting their family in the US, deny them access to life-saving drugs, threaten to bomb their cultural heritage, and then claim that you are in solidarity with them,” another Twitter said, referring to US sanctions against Iran and the US administration’s Muslim ban.
Trump ‘monitoring protests’ in Iran
US President Donald Trump told Iranians in tweets in both English and Farsi that he stands by them and is monitoring the demonstrations.
“To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you,” he tweeted.
“There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching,” he added.
“We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage,” he said.
The government of Iran must allow human rights groups to monitor and report facts from the ground on the ongoing protests by the Iranian people. There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2020
Britain’s ambassador to Iran briefly arrested
The United Kingdom confirmed its ambassador, Rob Macaire, was arrested briefly by Iranian authorities during demonstrations in Tehran. He was accused of “inciting” the protesters in front of the Amir Kabir University on Saturday.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the arrest was a “flagrant violation of international law” and repeated calls for Iran to de-escalate tensions.
“The Iranian government is at a crossroads moment,” Raab said in a statement. “It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to de-escalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.”
Truth about Iran crash could not be hidden: Ukraine’s Zelenskyy
The findings by Ukrainian experts in Iran meant that the truth about the crash could not be concealed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a televised address.
He also said that he had agreed with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on the beginning of joint work to decode the black boxes of the Ukrainian plane that was shot down this week. He also urged Ukraine’s international partners to be united and persistent until the investigation was complete.
Read the full story here.
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