Iranians protest in Tehran

Protests erupt in the Iranian capital after military actions lead to the crash of a passenger jet and over 170 deaths.

Aaron Melville, Copy Editor

In the last month, civil unrest has erupted in Tehran, the capital city of Iran, over the recent actions of the Iranian government and takedown of Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) flight 752 bound for Kyiv, Ukraine. 


The recent events spiral from tensions between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States of America because of attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq by an Iranian backed Shi’ite militia, according to the Associated Press. 


As a result of the Embassy attacks, the United States launched missiles on a Baghdad airport, where the leader of the Iranian Quds force, a sector of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Soleimani, was set to take off from. The missile strikes resulted in his death, and as one of Iran’s top military generals, it sent waves of fear and relief in Iran. 


The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khomenei, condemned the attack saying, “With no doubt, Iran and other freedom-seeking countries in the region will take his revenge,” according to India Today. 


The country soon responded, launching missiles at U.S. Army bases in the east of Iraq. 


Within the same day, the UIA Flight #752 was shot down by Iranian military missiles outside of Tehran, a mere 3 minutes after takeoff. The flight was carrying 176 people, including 82 Iranian citizens, 63 Canadian citizens, 11 Ukrainian citizens, 10 Swedish citizens, four Afghan citizens, three British citizens, and three German citizens. Out of the 176 people, 138 people of multiple nationalities, primarily Canadian and Iranian were destined for Canada, according to the BBC.


Many people lost their children, sisters, brothers, friends and parents. A majority of the passengers destined for Canada were students, doctors, and lawyers. One particular region in Canada took a large hit. 


York Region, Ont. is home to one of the largest Iranian communities in Canada. The cities of Richmond Hill, Vaughan, and Markham are the three largest cities in the region, with over 41,000 people of Iranian origin living there, according to Statistics Canada. There were 26 people aboard the flight with connections in the region.


Shahin Moghaddam, of Nobleton, Ont. lost his wife, Shakiba Feghahati and their son Rosstin. Moghaddam, at a loss for words, said, “Please give them back to me,” according to York Region News. 


The plane crash left not just Canadians but many Iranians in sadness, grief, and anger with the Iranian government. Protests erupted in the streets of Tehran demanding for the stepping down of Ayatollah Khomeini. The protesters were met with tear gas and live bullets, which killed multiple people. This is not the first time Iranians have gone into the streets to protest and were met with retaliation. According to the Washington Post, after protests in Iran over the structure of government in Dec. 2019, the Iranian government “pulled the plug,” and disconnected access to the internet through cellular, cable and satellite. 


Iranians are fighting for change and hope for reform in their country. Keep up with global news to stay informed of the current situation.