Iranian police have denied reports they are shooting at protesters in Tehran, and the city's police chief said officers are under orders to show restraint as demonstrations continue against the country's leadership.
Videos posted on the internet recorded what looked like at least one injured protester as demonstrators took to the streets during the weekend after Iran's government admitted its military mistakenly shot down a civilian airliner, killing all 176 passengers.
Tehran's police chief, General Hossein Rahimi, said officers did not fire live ammunition at protesters, according to the BBC.
"The police treated the people who had gathered with patience and tolerance," he said, but added that "those who intend to manipulate the situation" would face consequences.
Iranians were protesting for a third day on Monday, with videos online showing demonstrators running from tear gas. In some videos, what sounded like gunfire was audible, though no independent organization has verified whether live ammunition was fired.
Residents of Tehran reported a heavy police presence in the central city, according to The Washington Post.
To the leaders of Iran - DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2020
Of the 176 killed on the Ukrainian Airlines flight downed by the Iraqi rocket, 82 were Iranian. Another 63 were Canadian. After initially denying that Iran was responsible, the government acknowedged that the Revolutionary Guards mistook the plane for an incoming missile and shot it down.
Second day of anti-regime protests in Tehran. People are chanting "Death to dictator".
Iranians' anger with the regime came to the fore once again after the authorities shot down a civilian aircraft killing 176 on board. pic.twitter.com/Bl0UWxVBl7
— Masih Alinejad (@AlinejadMasih) January 12, 2020
But Iran also blamed the United States, which killed a top Iranian military leader with a missile strike Jan. 3. Iran responded with a missile strike on bases in Iraq where U.S. soldiers were housed; no Americans were killed in the retaliatory strike.
Iranian security officials were blamed for the deaths of possibly 200 protesters late last year during protests over high fuel prices after a government fuel subsidy cut — though the U.S. government has said the death toll was much higher.
After the U.S. strike that killed Soleimani, many Iranians turned their anger toward the United States, but since the shootdown of the Ukrainian plane, the government has again become the focus of anger.
Photo from Pixabay.