Airliner Protests Mount in Iran, Police Open Fire to Disperse Crowds

Iranian officials deny claims of cover-up

Last week’s downing of a Ukrainian airliner, killing 176 people on board, remains a major sore spot in Iran, where public protests began over the weekend, and are growing on Monday, with police trying to disperse crowds with tear gas and in some cases, live ammunition.

Downing a civilian airliner is a big deal in Iran, where the US shoot-down of Iran Air Flight 655 having been a major talking point for governments since 1988. This was a big part of why Iran so quickly came clean on accidentally downing the Ukrainian plane, but the delay is still a sore spot domestically.

This has Iranian officials denying any attempt at a “cover-up” for the three day period when they were denying culpability in the shoot-down. Iranian protesters are furious, and demanding the ousting of top officials over the matter.

The plane was shot down about 7,000 feet in the air, and Iranian officials have said that they were concerned about US attacks at the time, meaning more radar coverage. Iranian officials have apologized to Ukraine, and to the Iranian public over the mistake.

But with the protests dragging on, Iranian officials are also trying to spread the blame to the US as well, because the regional tensions were as much the US’s fault as Iran’s. Whether that is going to calm the protesters remains to be seen, but so far it looks unlikely that anyone will voluntarily resign, putting the onus on Iran to follow up with promises to punish those directly responsible for shooting down the plane.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.