Anti-establishment protests have swept through Iran after the country's military shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, on Wednesday, that killed all 176 passengers on board. The government maintained for days that the plane crashed due to a technical glitch.
However, on Saturday, Iran accepted it had "unintentionally" downed the passenger aircraft, with mostly Iranian and Iranian-Canadians onboard. In the wake of anti-establishment sentiments sweeping across the country, Iranian state broadcaster journalists have resigned, in a way staging their protest.
Iranian journalists quit
Two presenters working at Iranian state broadcaster IRIB have announced their resignation, while a third quit a few days ago, citing that she told lies for 13 years. Journalist Gelare Jabbari wrote: "It was very hard for me to believe that our people have been killed. Forgive me that I got to know this late. And forgive me for the 13 years I told you lies", Guardian reported.
Zahra Khatami, working for IRIB said in a statement, "Thank you for accepting me as anchor until today. I will never get back to TV. Forgive me". Another IRIB employee said, "Thank you for your support in all years of my career. I announce that after 21 years working in radio and tv, I cannot continue my work in the media. I cannot".
Speaking to BBC, Iran's state state-run Press TV's commentator, Ghanbari Naderi admitted, "There is little trust in the government and people want more freedom. The lies they said about the shooting down of the aeroplane [have] lost public trust. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps know it very well".
"Millions and millions took [to] the streets following the assassination of Qassem Suleimani. It was a rare moment of unity but the IRGC blew it. As a journalist, you need to be able to sleep at night. I will never ever distance myself from the truth. This a great nation. It has made many mistakes that are unacceptable. If the IRGC shot down a civilian airplane, I have no choice but to condemn it", he further added.
'A funeral for public trust,' the Association of Iranian Journalists
The Association of Iranian Journalists said the public was witnessing "a funeral for public trust". Criticizing state media, it said, "We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves, and Islamic Republic of Iran state television employees acknowledge that their credibility has been lost".
"It should be noted, however, that other media outlets objected to the situation, but the Islamic Republic of Iran's state television favoured [sic] it," the statement continued. "This incident showed that people cannot trust official data and journalists should try to fill this gap as much as possible".
The country's media couldn't report factually on the incident due regime's strong control over the media. Iran initially refused to take responsibility for the crash and said they would not allow the United States or Boeing to investigate the contents of the flight's black boxes, which were later reported of being destroyed. On Saturday, the country's military accepted that it had in fact shot down the plane.