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World Influential Iranians break ranks with state after Ukrainian jet downing

12:42  19 january  2020
12:42  19 january  2020 Source:   nbcnews.com

Missiles Leave Tell-Tale Signs That Should Solve Iran Jet Puzzle

  Missiles Leave Tell-Tale Signs That Should Solve Iran Jet Puzzle Verifying whether the Ukrainian jetliner that plunged to the ground in flames near Tehran on Wednesday was hit with a missile should be far more straightforward than the heated rhetoric surrounding the event. © Bloomberg People photograph the wreckage of a Boeing Co. 737-800 aircraft, operated by Ukraine International Airlines, which crashed shortly after takeoff near Shahedshahr, Iran, on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020.

Influential Iranian artists, TV personalities and sports stars have publicly broken with the government after it denied for days that it had shot down a plane. "Apologies for lying to you for 13 years," said a state TV host, announcing on Instagram that she was quitting. Kimia Alizadeh, pictured celebrating

LONDON — A slew of influential Iranian artists, television personalities and sports LONDON — A slew of influential Iranian artists, television personalities and sports stars have publicly broken with Tehran after the government denied for days that it shot downa Ukrainian passenger plane last week.

LONDON — A slew of influential Iranian artists, television personalities and sports stars have publicly broken with Tehran after the government denied for days that it shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane last week.

Iran Is Expected to Announce Cause of Ukrainian Jet Crash

  Iran Is Expected to Announce Cause of Ukrainian Jet Crash Iranian officials plan to meet with international investigators on Saturday and announce the cause of the Ukrainian jetliner crash near Tehran this week that killed all 176 aboard, Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency reported on Friday, capping a day of international recriminations. The announcement comes amid a global race to answer the many questions surrounding the Wednesday crash. American and allied intelligence assessments have suggested that Iranian missiles brought down the plane, most likely by accident, amid the heightened tensions between the United States and Iran.

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Ukrainian officials suggest Iran would not have admitted responsibility if investigators from Ukraine had not found Ukrainian officials criticized Iran ’s conduct, suggesting that the Iranians would not have admitted responsibility if In Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an outspoken Iran

"Apologies for lying to you for 13 years," Gelareh Jabbari, a host on the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting TV network, wrote Monday in an Instagram post. The post has since been deleted but was seen by NBC News.

"It was very hard for me to believe our people have been killed, forgive me for believing this late," added Jabbari, the anchor of the lifestyle show, "Good Morning Iran," in an apparent reference to the 82 Iranians who were among the 176 passengers and crew members killed.

Iran initially denied that a missile had struck the plane last Wednesday shortly after it took off from Tehran, the capital, only to reverse course on Saturday and admit that it had shot the plane down by mistake.

Many students and middle-class Iranians took to the streets in protest. In Tehran, some students refused to trample on paintings of U.S. and Israeli flags in an apparent rejection of the government's attempts to deflect blame.

Deadly plane shooting a 'national tragedy,' Canadian crash team en route: Trudeau

  Deadly plane shooting a 'national tragedy,' Canadian crash team en route: Trudeau Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also called for a de-escalation.The crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 Wednesday occurred about three hours after Iran fired multiple missiles into Iraq, targeting U.S. military sites in retaliation for the American drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, one of its top generals.

United States intelligence agencies later picked up Iranian communications confirming that the system brought down the Ukrainian airliner, officials said. After Iran began firing missiles early on Wednesday in retaliation for the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, international airlines rerouted

The latest news on Iran and the Middle East after the U.S. killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Michael, just checking that we would be able to update Iran tensions to crisis or conflict if the situation worsens. Influential Iranians break ranks with state after Ukrainian jet downing .

Those in more influential positions used their sway to send a message.

Prominent Iranian movie director Masoud Kimiai and popular actors Navid Mohamadzadeh and Taraneh Alidoosti were among several filmmakers, actors and musicians who announced they were boycotting the upcoming Fajr film and theater festivals in the wake of the plane's downing.

In a statement picked up by the liberal newspaper Arman Melli, they were among 14 directors, actors and musicians who offered their condolences to those who lost family members.

According to the newspaper, the statement also criticized the authorities and demanded they explain to the nation the delay in admitting responsibility for shooting the plane down.

Alidoosti, one of Iran's most popular actors who starred in the Oscar-nominated "The Salesman," told her 5.8 million followers on Instagram Sunday that "we are not citizens, we are captives, millions of captives." This Instagram post was also seen by NBC News before being deleted.

'The world is watching': Trump tweets in support of Iran protests

  'The world is watching': Trump tweets in support of Iran protests "We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage," President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Saturday."The government of Iran must allow human rights groups to monitor and report facts from the ground on the ongoing protests by the Iranian people," Trump tweeted in English and Farsi. "There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching.

Iran said it "unintentionally" shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet earlier this week, killing all 176 people on board, in an abrupt about-turn after initially Last week, after Soleimani was targeted by the U.S., Iranian state media reported a sense of unity among the Iranian people as millions mourned

But suspicions that Iranian missiles downed a Ukrainian plane are complicating the investigation into the crash. An Iranian pilot told air-traffic control in Tehran that he saw what appeared to be a missile launch, according to an audio recording that shows the tower frantically tried to reach an ill-fated

The government's handling of the incident has only served to "confirm an existing sense of moral bankruptcy that the Islamic Republic is accused of," said Afshin Shahi, an associate professor in Middle East politics at Bradford University.

"The Islamic Republic is facing the worst legitimacy crisis in its 40-year history, and the pressures are mounting from every angle," he said, adding that state repression, censorship and the country's economic woes in the last three years had created a profound sense of disillusionment. "The gap between the state and society has widened to an extreme extent."

In a sign of how seriously Iranian authorities are taking the backlash, the organization responsible for Friday prayers announced that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would deliver a sermon at this Friday's prayers. The last time Khamenei spoke at the service was eight years ago to mark the annual 10 days of celebrations of the 1979 revolution that overthrew Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

As for allegations of repression, Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesperson for Iran's mission to the United Nations, told NBC News that "Iranian citizens are free to express their opinions, as has been witnessed over the last months. And they are free to seek or refuse employment as they wish."

Ukraine knew Flight 752 had been shot down, but it was careful not to antagonize Iran

  Ukraine knew Flight 752 had been shot down, but it was careful not to antagonize Iran Ukraine wanted overwhelming proof that Iran was responsible. That meant avoiding sharp criticism to ensure cooperation in the probe.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy lays flowers at a memorial of the flight crew members of the crashed plane, at Borispil international airport outside in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 9.

"It is only natural that in a nation of over 80 million people, there will always be a wide range of opinions," he added. "In recent days, the government has very clearly and repeatedly apologized in the aftermath of the Ukrainian Airlines tragedy. The government has also pledged a full investigation, and to hold those responsible to account for this mistake."

According to Human Rights Watch, Iranians have experienced "rampant violations" by security forces and the judiciary. In recent years, it said, authorities have tightened their grip on peaceful activism by detaining lawyers and human rights defenders.

Over the decades, sporadic unrest has often been met with a harsh response.

In 2009, the government suppressed the so-called Green Movement that drew millions to the streets in the wake of a disputed presidential election.

But protests in Iran have become more frequent and widespread over the past two years. They have coincided with harsh U.S. economic sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump's administration after he pulled the United States out of the landmark Iran nuclear deal in May 2018.

In November, large-scale protests sparked by a planned increase in gas prices drew mostly working-class demonstrators, who in the past have formed a bastion of support for the regime. During the protests the government shut down the internet for days, making it difficult to discern the scale of the demonstrations and the resulting crackdown.

Brother of victim in downed Ukrainian plane: 'He's supposed to be here'

  Brother of victim in downed Ukrainian plane: 'He's supposed to be here' "I can't believe it — that I'm sitting here, in his house, and he's not here," Meisam Salahi said.Mohsen, 31, and his wife, Mahsa Amirliravi, 30, were returning to Toronto from Iran, where they had been visiting relatives, and had just boarded Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 in Tehran.

But Amnesty International reported that more than 300 people had been killed in the protests, and the United States said the toll could have been more than 1,000.

The protests over the airliner, however, are "a watershed moment," said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, who said the downing of the Ukrainian airliner had "become a national symbol of what Iranians suffer daily from government forces and the bureaucracy."

"People are completely fed up with the political system and the repression and especially in this case, the lies, cover-up and incompetence of their government," said Ghaemi, whose nonprofit seeks to document rights abuses in Iran.

The artistic boycott of the Fajr festivals and the actor Alidoosti's comments Sunday were examples of an "unprecedented" level of consensus among members of the artistic community in Iran who are disillusioned and frustrated with the Iranian state, said Shahi, the professor.

Traditionally, critics in Iran have made a distinction between more moderate members of the establishment and hard-liners, Shahi said. But this appears to be changing.

"What is interesting is that they have gone beyond the factional politics of the Islamic Republic and criticize the entirety of the system," Shahi said.

And then there are those who have defected in recent months.

Kimia Alizadeh, 21, who became the only woman from Iran to win an Olympic medal when she took bronze in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, posted a scathing attack on Instagram on Saturday on the "hypocrisy" of Iran's administration. She implied in the post that she had left the country but did not say where.

In December, Iran's Chess Federation said top-rated champion Alireza Firouzja had decided not to play for Iran over its informal ban on competing against Israeli players. And three months earlier, the International Judo Federation said Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei had refused to return home over fears for his safety.

Chris Doyle, the director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said that it wasn't just well-known Iranians who had defected and that the brain drain was a well-established trend in Iran and across the Middle East.

"These tend to be people such as doctors and lawyers on the wealthier end of the spectrum with the ability to do so," he said.

But working-class Iranians have also voiced their discontent, and Shahi said many of them were also leaving, which he described as "muscle drain."

"Iran is suffering from the politics of hopelessness," he said.

Iran confirms two missiles fired at Ukraine airliner .
Iran's civil aviation authority confirmed two missiles were fired at a Ukrainian airliner that was brought down earlier this month, in a preliminary report posted on its website late Monday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy lays flowers at a memorial of the flight crew members of the crashed plane, at Borispil international airport outside in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 9.

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