Enraged protesters flooded the streets of Tehran on Saturday and demanded that Ayatollah Khamenei step down as supreme leader of Iran after the Iranian government admitted its armed forces shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing all 176 people on board.
Video posted to social media showed protesters shout "death to liars," "death to the Islamic Republic," "Soleimani was a murderer, his leader is also a murderer," among other chants.
“Soleimani was a murderer, his Leader is also a murderer!” “Soleimani was a murderer, his Leader is also a murderer… https://t.co/wxr0xt9Tdy— Hillel Neuer (@Hillel Neuer)1578779043.0
According to Reuters, the protesters also chanted, "Death to the dictator," a direct reference to Ayatollah Khamenei.
The protests reportedly began as vigils for the victims of PS752, but quickly descended into anti-government demonstrations.
Protests continue in Tehran. Protesters are chanting many of the same slogans from #IranProtests of November 2019… https://t.co/lJMDI5gCha— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@Masih Alinejad 🏳️)1578763342.0
Another round of #IranProtests ; in front of Tehran polytechnic university; “Death to the Islamic republic, down wi… https://t.co/hEtkyjyQBg— Ali Hamedani (@Ali Hamedani)1578761810.0
The voice of the Iranian people is clear. They are fed up with the regime’s lies, corruption, ineptitude, and bruta… https://t.co/7296CBS9Cu— Secretary Pompeo (@Secretary Pompeo)1578767315.0
Crowd getting larger and larger The voices of women are front and centre here Turn up your volume Chanting: “D… https://t.co/RLnXZm7ilJ— SM Radio سمیرا (@SM Radio سمیرا)1578766377.0
The protests came the same day that Iran admitted that the Iranian Armed Forces shot down the passenger jet using surface-to-air missiles.
For days, the Iranian government claimed the plane crashed due to mechanical error. However, American intelligence disputed the claims, forcing the Iranian government to admit that it shot down the Ukrainian flight.
In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded an apology and compensation from Iran.
"Iran has pleaded guilty to downing the Ukrainian plane. But we insist on a full admission of guilt," Zelensky said Saturday. "We expect from Iran assurances of their readiness for a full and open investigation, bringing those responsible to justice, the return of the bodies of the dead, the payment of compensation, official apologies through diplomatic channels."
President Donald Trump also spoke directly to protesters on Saturday, posting a message to Twitter in Persian, the native language of Iranians.
به مردم شجاع و رنج کشیده ایران: من از ابتدای دوره ریاست جمهوریم با شما ایستادهام و دولت من همچنان با شما خواهد ایس… https://t.co/prNJt2pJgC— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1578779186.0
The message reads in English, "To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I've stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage."