PS752: Canadians mark 2nd anniversary of tragedy

Orignally published on 2022-01-08 18:36:04 by www.ctvnews.ca

Two years after losing his wife and son in the downing of a Ukrainian airliner by Iranian forces, Shahin Moghaddam says he is still racked by feelings of emptiness and anger.

“It’s so complicated,” he told CTV News Channel on Saturday, the two-year anniversary of the shooting by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

The attack on Jan. 8, 2020, killed all 176 people on board, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents. More than 100 of those on PS752 had ties to Canada.

The families of those killed in the tragedy have long fought for justice and accountability from Iran after its Revolutionary Guard launched at least two missiles at the plane, not long after it took off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran.

Although a recent Ontario court ruling on compensation represented a step forward for some of the families, Moghaddam says more action needs to be taken by Canada and its allies to push the matter to an international court, while the RCMP needs to open a criminal investigation.

“I don’t know why they are not starting an investigation ’till now after two years,” he said.

“They could have started their own investigation since the beginning.”

Tehran has described the downing of the Boeing 737 plane as an accident and blamed it on human error.

The shooting came at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States when days before, a U.S. drone strike killed Iran’s top military commander in Iraq.

Iran would retaliate by launching missiles at bases in Iraq where American and Canadian troops were stationed, although no military personnel were harmed.

In a statement on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Canadians to remember all victims of air travel tragedies, adding the federal government will continue to work with international partners “to hold Iran accountable for the illegal downing of PS752.”

During a virtual ceremony, hosted by the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims on Saturday afternoon, Trudeau blamed the tragedy on the “recklessness and complete disregard for human life of Iranian officials,” saying no country responsible for shooting down an aircraft should be in charge of the investigation.

“Across the country, your fellow Canadians are thinking of you and they want you to know that even in the darkness, of your loneliness, of your grief, of your despair, and your anger, you are never alone as we continue to stand with you as Canadians, and as a country.”

On Jan. 3, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded more than $107 million, plus interest, to families of six victims of the PS752 tragedy. It followed a previous ruling that determined the missile strikes amounted to an intentional act of terrorism, thus invalidating Iran’s immunity against civil litigation.

But after Iran ignored a deadline on Wednesday to negotiate compensation for the victims’ loved ones, Canada, Britain, Sweden and Ukraine, whose citizens were among the victims along with those from Afghanistan, said they had abandoned efforts to talk to Tehran about reparations and would try to settle the matter through international law.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, has said it is ready for bilateral negotiations, “despite certain countries’ illegal actions and attempts to exploit this tragic event.”

Hamed Esmaeilion, a spokesperson for the Association of Families of PS752 Victims, who lost his wife and nine-year-old daughter in the tragedy, has previously called for Canada and its allies to refer the matter to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

He told CTV News Channel on Saturday that from the beginning they’ve said Iran would not cooperate in this case, something Canada and other governments have learned the “hard way.”

With multiple foreign ministers handling the matter over the last two years, he said the process has been difficult for the families, who have sent letters and petitions, held meetings and created a website for the victims in an effort to get justice.

“But after two years, when our patience has exhausted, we see that our patience hasn’t paid off,” he said.

Speaking during the families of victims ceremony, Esmaeilion also called for the RCMP to open a criminal investigation, for arrest warrants to be issued against senior leaders and commanders in Iran, that the entire Revolutionary Guard be listed as a terrorist organization, and for Magnitsky sanctions — put in against foreign nationals over human rights abuses — to be used.

“No matter what happens, we the families shall continue to fight even if left alone with no support,” he said.

“All that is important for us is to reveal the truth and nothing but the truth. What we fight for, and what unites us, is justice, justice, justice. We shall never forget, nor shall we ever forgive.”

On March 10, 2019, 18 Canadians and others with ties to Canada were among the 157 people killed when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed on its way to Nairobi, Kenya.

And in 1985, 329 people, most of them Canadians, were killed in the bombing of Air India Flight 182, en route from Toronto to London, England. To date, it stands as the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history.

With files from The Canadian Press and Reuters

Orignally published on 2022-01-08 18:36:04 by www.ctvnews.ca

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