The Government of Iran defended its role after the demolition of the Ukranian International Airlines (UIA) plane and its spokesman, Ali Rabiei, declared that “some officials have even been accused of lying and covering up but, in all honesty, that was not the case". For three days, the Iranian authorities maintained that the plane suffered a "technical failure" and denied the missile hypothesis, which Rabiei himself described as "part of the psychological warfare in the United States," but that Saturday was confirmed as true.
The spokesman argued that "what we said was based on the information that had been submitted to the Government as a whole and that there was no link between the accident and a missile firing." A version that contradicts the one presented by the Revolutionary Guard, responsible for the ballistic program in the country, which claimed to have reported from the first moment of the "grave human error."
Amid the different versions offered by politicians and military, the streets of Tehran again registered mobilizations to remember the 176 dead and protest against the lies. It is difficult to know the magnitude of these actions that, as it was seen during the weekend, during the day they have their focus on universities and at nightfall they pass to the streets and squares of the capital. In the videos that the protesters shared through social networks, the strong police deployment was perceived, even with units on horseback, and slogans such as “Clerics, perdeos!” Were heard, alluding to the religious leadership that leads the country.
Images of protesters who had been injured by real fire also circulated, but the police chief, General Hosein Rahimi, denied the use of firearms and told national television that he ordered the agents to "act in moderation." The memory of the strong repression of the demonstrations in November, in which 300 people died according to Amnesty International (AI), a figure that Iran did not admit, led Donald Trump to send a message via Twitter to ask Tehran to “not kill its protesters ».
This nth escalation of regional tension broke out on January 3 when Trump ordered the murder of General Qasem Suleimani, leader of the Quds Force, outside arm of the Revolutionary Guard. After three days of national mourning, the Iranians took revenge by launching 21 missiles against two Iraqi bases used by US troops. It was on that night of revenge that the person in charge of an anti-aircraft battery south of Tehran fired on the Ukrainian plane when confused with an enemy cruise missile. The president, Hasán Rohani, promulgated on Monday a law that was passed in April 2019 and that includes in the list of terrorist organizations the United States Department of Defense and the Pentagon, a new response to the murder of Suleimani.
Problems with the United Kingdom
In the midst of the increased tension in the streets of Tehran, police briefly detained the British ambassador, Rob Macaire, on Saturday, who he accused of participating in an "illegal protest." The diplomat denied it and defended himself by saying that he took part in one of the vigils in homage to the deceased and recalled that three of them were British citizens. The Government of the United Kingdom called on Monday the ambassador of Iran in London to transfer his discomfort for this "unacceptable" detention, "an unacceptable violation of the Vienna Convention." London demanded guarantees that something like this will not happen again.
Meeting of foreign ministers of the victims' countries
Five countries whose citizens died after Iran shot down the plane in which they had just taken off from the Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran will meet in London on Thursday to discuss a possible legal action. It was announced yesterday by the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Vadym Pystaiko, who added that they will also discuss the compensation and investigation of the incident, which the Iranian authorities attribute to a "human error."
«We have created a group of foreign ministers from the affected nations. On January 16 we will meet in person in London to discuss the ways, including legal ones, how we are following this, how we are processing them, ”said Prystaiko. In addition to Ukraine, the group includes Canada, Sweden, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom. Many of the dead were Iranians with dual citizenship.
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