BY JOSEPH KRAUSS
The demonstrations that erupted after Iran admitted to accidentally shooting down a passenger plane during a tense standoff with the United States last week are the latest of several waves of protest going back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution — all of which have been violently suppressed.
Iranians were shocked and appalled by the shootdown of the Ukrainian jetliner, which killed all 176 people on board, mostly Iranians. Many are also angry at the government’s misleading statements in the wake of the tragedy, which it initially blamed on a technical problem.
Iranians are also suffering from an economic crisis exacerbated by severe sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump after he withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Trump has encouraged the protests — even as he has long embraced other autocrats who smother dissent. His administration hopes that the demonstrations, along with crippling U.S. sanctions, will bring about fundamental change in a longtime adversary.
But large numbers of Iranians still support the clerically led government, as seen by the massive turnout for the funeral of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad. Even many critics of the government saw him as a war hero who had helped defeat the Islamic State group and resisted Western hegemony in the Middle East.
Iran’s security forces have shown in the past that they will use deadly force against anyone threatening the Islamic Republic, most recently in November, when rights groups say hundreds of people were killed in demonstrations sparked by a hike in gasoline prices.
Here is a look at past protests in Iran, and how its theocracy prevailed.