Tue 14 January 2020:
As Iran descends into chaos over anti-government protests, a state TV news anchor resigned from her position and apologised to the public for “lying on TV”.
Gelare Jabbari took to Instagram to inform the public that she resigned from her job as news anchor. In Farsi she wrote: “It was very hard for me to believe the killing of my countrymen.”
“I apologise for lying to you on TV for 13 years.”
It is unclear if Jabbari’s comments are about the Ukrainian plane that had been mistakenly shot down by Iran, killing 176 passengers mostly of Iranian descent. Her comments have added more fuel to fire to the growing discontent towards the government.
Iranian media outlets are reporting her resignation as a broad act of protest against Iranian government accountability.
Rage swept across the country and people spilled onto the streets after the government initially denied it had shot down the passenger jet, even though missile debris was found at the crash site.
Videos surfaced online showing hundreds of mourners in Iran chant “death to the liars” hours after comments from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirming details of the plane’s crash.
“It is a national tragedy. The way it was handled and it was announced by the authorities was even more tragic,” said cleric Ali Ansari, according to Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency.
— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 13, 2020
Iranian film director Masoud Kimiai pulled out of Tehran’s annual Fajr Film Festival in protest, saying he was “on the side of the public”.
Alireza Assar, an Iranian singer, cancelled a concert in a show of support for protests over the weekend.
More anchors resign
Two news anchors at the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting thanked their supporters in separate statements.
“Thank you for accepting me as anchor until today,” said Zahra Khatami. “I will never get back to TV. Forgive me.”
Fellow anchor Saba Rad said she was leaving journalism after 21 years.
“Thank you for your support in all years of my career,” she said. “I announce that after 21 years working in radio and tv, I cannot continue my work in the media. I cannot.”
Iran’s only female Olympic medalist Kimia Alizadeh announced her defection from the Islamic Republic.
Officials in Iran had vehemently denied reports by Western media that the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) airliner had been struck down by a missile in a fatal error.
The international community, as well as Iranians in the country’s interior, piled on the pressure, prompting the government to amend its initial statement and admit it had shot down the plane accidentally.
“It was a short-range missile that exploded next to the plane. That’s why the plane was able” to continue flying for a while, Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said in remarks aired on state TV. “It exploded when it hit the ground.”
The Iranian missile operator who shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet opened fire independently because of communications “jamming”, the commander added, which tragically resulted in the death of all 176 people aboard the flight.
The operator had mistaken the Boeing 737 for a “cruise missile” and only had ten seconds to decide whether or not to open fire, Hajizadeh said.
Critics slammed the regime after it failed to initiate a commercial no-fly zone whilst it was conducting its retaliatory missile attack on Iraq military bases filled with US troops.
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