DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Police and other Iranian security forces used real ammunition and tear gas to disperse protesters protesting against the authorities for initially denying that they had shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, they seemed to show videos broadcast on Monday on the internet.
There were no immediate reports in the Iranian state media about the incident near Azadi Square, or Libertad, in Tehran. The clashes would have occurred following a call for protests on Sunday night. International human rights groups have already asked Iran to allow people to demonstrate peacefully, as provided by the country's constitution.
"After successive national traumas in a short period of time, people should be allowed to celebrate their grief and demand responsibilities safely," said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based organization. "The Iranians should not have to risk their lives to exercise their constitutional right to the peaceful assembly."RELATED
Videos sent to the center and later verified by The Associated Press showed a crowd of protesters fleeing the place while cans of tear gas were falling among the people. Attendees were seen coughing and spitting while trying to flee the smoke, and a woman exclaimed in Farsi “They threw tear gas at people! Azadi Square. Death to the dictator! ”
In another video, several people were seen carrying a woman and leaving a trail of blood on the floor. People surrounding the woman shouted that she had been shot with real ammunition in the leg.
"Oh my God, don't stop bleeding!" One person shouted, while another exclaimed "Sell it!"
Photos and videos taken after the incident showed pools of blood on the sidewalk.
Riot police with cases and black uniforms gathered earlier on Sunday in the Vali-e Asr square, the University of Tehran and other emblematic places. Members of the Revolutionary Guard patrolled motorcycles and civilian-dressed agents roamed the city. People stared at the ground as they passed by the police, trying not to attract attention.
The 176 people on board, mostly Iranians and Canadian-Iranians, died when the plane crashed. After initially blaming a technical failure and insisting that it was not the fault of the armed forces, the authorities finally admitted on Saturday that they had shot down the aircraft by mistake, given evidence and accusations by Western governments.
The plane was shot down while Iran was preparing for possible reprisals after launching ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq that welcomed US troops. The missile attack, which caused no casualties, was a response to the death of General Qassem Soleimani, the most important commander in Iran, in an air attack by the Americans in Baghdad. There were no actions in retaliation.
The Iranians have expressed their outrage over the demolition of the plane and the misleading explanations of the authorities offered after the tragedy. They have also expressed their pain for the deceased, among which there were many young people with promising futures studying abroad.
Some Iranian artists, including the famous director Masoud Kimiai, retired from an international film festival that will be held soon. Two presenters of the state television station resigned in protest over the false reports about the cause of the incident.
The president of the United States, Donald Trump, who has expressed his support for recent protests against the government in Iran, addressed the country's leaders in a tweet, stating "DO NOT KILL YOUR MANIFESTANTS." He later tweeted the same message on Farsi.
“The world watches. More important, the United States observes, ”he tweeted.
Large protests took place in Iran in November after the government raised fuel prices. The authorities cut Internet access for days, complicating estimates of the scale of the protests and the subsequent campaign of repression. Amnesty International said later that more than 300 people had died.