Iranian protesters faced down police in riot gear Saturday, shouting criticisms of the “immoral” republic, and being met with tear gas, a tense new video from the scene shows.
The protesters, many of them students, had gathered in the capital initially to mourn the victims from the Ukrainian airliner that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard mistakenly shot down on Wednesday.
But the vigil grew to a rally against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the downing of the plane, channeling long-standing frustrations stemming from high unemployment and an economy crippled by sanctions.
“Let the country go!” protestors chanted in one video.
A throng of police can be seen in another clip marching toward protesters at Tehran’s Amirkabir University of Technology. At one point authorities deployed tear gas in an attempt to disperse crowds, local journalists at the scene reported.
“They’ve become rabid and they are swearing at us. These people are calling us immoral? They are the true immoral ones… the ones without principles. They are killers,” a woman in the video can be heard saying, referring to the government police, a Farsi-speaking Storyful journalist confirmed.
Demonstrators responded to police with raised fists and a Farsi chant that means “immoral or unethical person,” according to the Storyful journalist.
The Iranian government, facing widespread condemnation, has responded with brutal force against its citizens in recent months.
During two weeks of protests in November, authorities shut down internet access and shot protesters from rooftops and helicopters. A total of 1,500 people were killed, according to internal government reports provided to Reuters, in what was called the bloodiest crackdown since the 1979 revolution.
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