Saturday’s demonstrations came two months after Iran cracked down on massive anti-government protests, brought about by an increase in the price of subsidized gasoline in November. Iran declined to release a death toll at the time, but Amnesty International said more than 300 people had been killed.
Earlier Saturday, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps admitted it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian International Airline flight earlier this week.
IRGC aerospace commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said on state television, “I take full responsibility and I will obey whatever decision is taken.” He said he “wished” he “were dead” when he learned about the fate of the aircraft.
“That night we had the readiness for all-out war,” Hajizadeh said. He added that the Revolutionary Guard had asked that commercial fights be canceled but that the request was not granted.
The downing of the Ukraine International Airlines jetliner, a Boeing 737, happened just hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers in response to last week’s U.S. drone attack that killed Iranian Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani.
In Tehran, demonstrators gathered at Amirkabir and Sharif universities, where some called for the resignation of their country’s leaders, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC.
‘Down, down, Khamenei’
At a vigil Saturday, crowds gathered at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran chanted, “Down, down, Khamenei,” according to The Washington Post.
Some videos shared on social media showed protesters shouting, “Death to liars!” and “Death to the dictator!,” according to The New York Times.
VOA’s Persian news service reported protests also spread to other areas of Iran, including the country’s third-largest city of Isfahan. Protests were also reported by Reuters and the BBC.
In Isfahan, protesters chanted, “Khamenei is a murderer and his rule is not legit.”