Protesters gather in North America on the third anniversary of the downing of flight PS752 by Iran


Protesters in North America gathered on Sunday to mark the third anniversary of Iran’s downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 (PS752) and demand justice for the victims and their families.

The Kyiv-bound Boeing 737 plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board. Iranian authorities admitted that their Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force shot down the plane by mistake after an air defense operator misidentified it as a cruise missile.

Of the dead, 138 were traveling to Canada, according to the CBC. Among the victims were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British.

Protesters gathered Sunday in Washington, DC; Portland, Oregon; San Diego, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and other cities in the United States. They also demonstrated in Canadian cities, including Toronto, Kingston, Halifax and Regina. Globally, protests were held in Australia, Belgium, Turkey, Portugal, Germany and other countries.

The protests were organized by The Association of Relatives of Victims of Flight PS752, an international group seeking justice for those killed. “We are determined to find out the truth and find out why IRGC missiles shot down a commercial flight. We will unconditionally seek justice until the culprits, perpetrators and commanders of this heinous crime are identified and brought to justice before an impartial and independent tribunal,” the association says in its statement. website.

On January 10, 2020, then Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted that an internal investigation had concluded the crash was due to “human error” after missiles were fired at PS752. “Investigations continue to identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake,” he said.

At a weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, current President Ebrahim Raisi commemorated those who died aboard flight PS752 and said the investigation into the tragedy is ongoing, according to a state-aligned newspaper. daily hamshahri.

However, the families of the victims say they do not believe that Iran will deliver justice on its own.

In December, a coalition of four countries (Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom) called on Iran to submit to binding arbitration in the dispute related to the downing of flight PS752. The coalition, called the International Response and Coordination Group, wants “a full, transparent and credible explanation of the shootdown.”

Hamed Esmaeilion, a Toronto dentist who headed the victims’ association after losing his wife and daughter aboard PS752, says he is hopeful the coalition will succeed. “The families of the victims are usually not at the forefront of decision-making and this is a big problem,” he told CNN. Esmaeilion said that only governments can hold Iran to account for its actions.

Iran has six months from the time of filing to respond to the request for arbitration, according to a report of Global Affairs Canada that describes the international legal protocol on the subject. “At the end of these six months, non-extendable, the four governments can officially refer the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague,” Esmaeilion said in a statement. video published on the Instagram page of the Association of Families of Flight PS752.

Esmaeilion recently teamed up with Iranian-Canadian filmmaker Babak Payami to narrate their quest for justice in the film “752 is not a number”. It offers a “window into the monument of injustice and inhumanity that exists in Iran by the Islamic Republic regime,” Payami told CNN.

Esmaeilion says she hopes Sunday’s protests will boost the fight for justice.

Speaking to a group of protesters gathered at the grave of his wife and daughter, Esmaeilion said: “This file will be registered in The Hague, this crime will be reviewed by members of The Hague and we will hold out hope that this tribunal will take place in a free Iran. We will fight for that day, and we will not forget or forgive.”

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