Iran on Sunday confirmed the arrest of British ambassador Robert Macaire in Tehran for attending a demonstration and said that the envoy was freed soon after being identified. Macaire was held by the police on Saturday during demonstrations outside a university in Tehran. Macaire said he went with the intention of attending a vigil for victims of the Ukraine plane crash and did not know it would turn into a protest. The protests have erupted after the government on Saturday morning accepted their fault for mistakenly shooting down a Ukrainian plane.
Thanks for the many goodwill messages. Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy. Normal to want to pay respects- some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting.— Rob Macaire (@HMATehran) January 12, 2020
Reacting strongly on the incident UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had termed the detention a "flagrant violation of international law". "The Iranian government is at a crossroads moment. It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails or take steps to deescalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forward," stated Raab.
The United States had called on Iran to apologise for detaining the British ambassador.
After the military accepted their fault, a large group of Iranians staged protests demanding Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down from his post. As per the videos on social media, the protesters have been chanting "Commander-in-chief resign, resign" during the demonstrations outside Tehran's Amir Kabir University. Iranians have expressed anger over the downing of the plane and the misleading explanations from senior officials in the wake of the tragedy.
A candlelight ceremony late Saturday in Tehran turned into a protest, with hundreds of people chanting against the country's leaders and police dispersing them with tear gas.
Iran, on Saturday morning, accepted that they shot down the Ukrainian plane on January 8 "unintentionally.". Issuing a statement, Iran's military on state television said that the incident happened due to "human error." Further, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took to Twitter and said that it is an "unforgivable mistake." He also said that "investigation on this great tragedy continues."
(Image Credit: @Rob Macaire)