On January 8, 2020, the Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 176 people onboard including Iranians, Canadians, Ukrainians, Swedes, Afghans, Germans, and British nationals. On January 11, 2020, thousands of people took to the streets across the country after General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran officially admitted that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian airliner in Tehran. He blamed human error and US adventurism for this plane crash.
On January 11, people took to the streets in Tehran, Sari, Arak, Yazd, Shahr-e-Qods, Semnan, Shiraz, Rasht, Babol, Amol, Mashhad, Zanjan, Ahvaz, Kermanshah, Sanandaj, Qazvin, University of Arak, University of Damghan, University of Tehran campus of Karaj, Isfahan University of Technology, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology, Alzahra University, Iran University of Science and Technology, and Shahid Beheshti University. Moreover, on January 12, the protests were held in the cities of Isfahan, Shiraz, Rasht, Sanandaj, Tehran and the universities of Babol Noshirvani, Hamedan Bu-Ali Sina, Amirkabir, Sharif, Tabriz, and Allameh Tabatabaei and the demonstration inside the Amirkabir University of Technology got violent after anti-riot police fired tear gas. Witnesses reported an unprecedented number of militia forces were among the protesters.
The theme of the slogans used by the demonstrators in Tehran were: calling the authorities to take responsibility, questioning the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ actions, and urging the resignation of the Supreme Leader and other country’s seniors. They protest the government’s coverup and chant slogans such as “Death to liars!” and “Death to the dictator!”
Student activists at Razi University in Kermanshah told HRANA that by the end of January 11, four student protesters were arrested of whom one is already released. Local sources in Tabriz also reported that at least seven Tabriz University students are arrested during the protests in this city. Three of the arrested students are identified as the following: Keyvan Anbari (Electrical Engineering major), Mohammad Sefid Jameh (Civil Engineering major), and Nima Ahmadianpour (Civil Engineering major). On January 11, 2020, the British Ambassador to Iran Robert Macaire was arrested in front of Amirkabir University but was released shortly after. Britain confirmed his arrest and has denounced it as a violation of international law. In addition, on January 13, 2020, Hossein Karoubi the son of a leader of Iran’s opposition Green movement, Mehdi Karoubi, was arrested by security forces in his home. On the same day, Rakhshan Banietemad, film director, was arrested and released after a few hours. On January 12, Rakhshan Banietemad withdrew her invitation to gather in different cities’ Azadi squares to mourn. She tweeted that she withdrew it due to the warnings of security organizations and for the people’s safety.
Several artists said that they will not participate in the Fajr Festival:
The executives and judges of the Fajr Visual Arts Festival in categories of photography, graphic art, and ceramic art will not participate as an act of protest. In addition, the following artists and actors/actresses will not participate in the Fajr Film Festival: Masoud Kimiai, film director, Fatemeh Motamed-Arya, Afsaneh Mahiyan, Naghmeh Samini, Saeed Changizian, Shiva Fallahi, Manouchehr Shoja, Mohammadreza Jadidi, Behrouz Seifi, Maryam Deyhoul, Amir Sepehr Taghilou, Rojan Kordnejad, Mehdi Safarzadeh Khaniki, Amir Ahmad Ghazvini, Romin Mohtasham, Seifollah Samadian, Kiyarang Alaei, Shahriar Tavakoli, Mehdi Khoushki (theater director), Amin Amiri, Samaneh Zandinejad, Shirin Samadi, Nooroldin Heydari Maher, Amin Tabatabaei, Arash Dadgar, Meisam Abdi, Alireza Koushk Jalali, Naghmeh Samini, Shirin Samadi, Atila Pesyani, theater group “Quantum”, Cinemafa News Agency, theater group “Vaghti Bozorgtar Boudam”, and theater group “Parvaneh Aljarayeri”. Moreover, Shahram Lasemi, Zahra Khatami Rad, and Saba Rad announced their resignations from their posts at the state television on their Instagram pages.
Keyvan Saket, composer and Tar player, in a note on his Instagram page, expressed his empathy for people’s protesting the shot down of Ukrainian Airline flight 752 by IRGC and announced that he will not participate in any of the Fajr Festivals. Alireza Ghorbani, an Iranian singer, canceled his concerts on January 17-18.
Voria Ghafouri, an Iranian footballer, wrote on his personal page “I am speechless about the tragedy but covering the reality was unacceptable. The people who were responsible for it should be tried. Also, people who are distributing lies on the state TV”.
Monireh Arabshahi, detained civil rights activist in Evin Prison, wrote an open letter to denounce the plane crash and called on resignation and trial of authorities who caused this tragedy. She said “the reality about Plasco, Sanchi, and ten other planes are ambiguous. Are they errors as well? I believe, the international tension and virtual information forced Iran to confess admitting it, otherwise, they never apologized or confessed to anything.
The following videos were prepared by gathering 41 reports of protests on January 11, 2020. The video is also available on Youtube.
The following videos were prepared by gathering 80 short videos of protests on January 12, 2020. The video is also available on Youtube.