A Ukrainian passenger plane, flight PS752, was shot down by two missiles by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) air defense just minutes after taking off from Tehran International Airport on the morning of January 8, 2020.
All 176 passengers and crew, as well as an unborn fetus, were killed. Of the victims 164 were Iranian elites, of whom 28 were women with the highest academic credentials. Most of the women were graduates of Tehran University, Sharif University of Technology, and Iran University of Science and Technology.
After denying the incident for three days, which shocked the world, the regime accepted responsibility for the heinous act. The regime blamed the attack on human error.
Although the regime seeks to cover up the truth with lies and ambiguity, the victims’ families have continued to seek accountability from regime officials and the perpetrators over the past two years.
On November 24, 2021, Javad Soleimani, chair of the Fact-finding Committee for the Association of Victims’ Families, said the regime refused to hand over to families the victims’ human remains.
Downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane was an act of international terrorism
Canada and other nations say their patience is running out with Iran over the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane.
On Thursday, Canada, Sweden, Ukraine, and Britain said they could consider new steps in line with international law against Iran if it failed to respond by January 5, 2022, to demands for reparations after the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane last year.
Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice announced its findings that the destruction of the commercial plane was an intentional act of terrorism. On January 3, 2022, the court stated that plaintiffs had established that the act of shooting down the plane was a terrorist act. The trial was based on complaints by six family members of flight PS752’s victims, after which the Iranian regime was ordered to pay $107 million in compensation.
The defendants in this case are Ali Khamenei, the IRGC, the General Staff of the Armed Forces, and several senior military officials, including Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces; Hossein Salami, Commander of the IRGC; Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of the Air Force; and Abdul Rahim Mousavi, Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
The Canadian federal government is set to release its findings on the downing of this Ukrainian plane soon.
Secrecy is the Iranian regime’s way
The regime initially denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the Ukrainian passenger plane had crashed due to a technical equipment defect. After irrefutable evidence proved that a missile had caused the downing, the Iranian regime changed its initial claim, calling the two fired missiles by the IRGC the result of “human error.” Iranian government officials tried to stop the search for the truth by calling the victims “martyrs” and providing compensation and other financial resources to the families.
Samira Alampanah, a correspondent for the state-run ILNA news agency, announced on her Twitter feed that the National Security Commission of the Iranian regime’s parliament was unwilling to pursue the case of the plane. A member of the commission asked her, “It’s something that has occurred; what are you looking for now?” He ended the call halfway through (Deutsche Welle Farsi website – August 24, 2020).
Canada’s Toronto Star quoted a November 25, 2021, investigative report that indicated that Iranian regime officials had tampered with the electronic devices of some of the passengers killed on Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752. Several cell phones and tablets of the dead passengers had been tampered with; this may have been an attempt by regime officials to hide the cause of the crash.
Information on the Ukrainian aircraft’s black box
Iran’s Civil Aviation organization said that, based on the information retrieved from the black box of the Ukrainian passenger plane, the pilots were still safe and in control of the aircraft after the first missile was fired. The question here is, why was the second missile fired?!
“All variables indicate that the aircraft was in normal flight condition,” said Touraj Dehghani Zanganeh, head of the Civil Aviation organization in Iran. The aircraft’s black box recorded the conversations inside the cockpit for 19 seconds after the first missile exploded. The recordings indicated that the crew still had control of the plane until the last moment. The audio recording stopped after 19 seconds. Then 25 seconds after the first explosion, the second missile struck. There is no analysis of the effects caused by the second missile in the black box (The state-run Mehr news agency – August 23, 2020).
Demands by families
The families of the victims who were on the Ukrainian passenger plane shot down by the IRGC have continued their protests in a coordinated fashion, forming an association. Hamed Esmaeilion, who lost his wife and daughter on the flight, confirmed at an online conference on November 24, 2021, that the international response to the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane had not been “decisive.” He said, “Canada and other members of the international community must declare the entire IRGC a terrorist organization.” He noted that the evidence shows that the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane was deliberate.
The Association of Families of Flight PS752 believes that the Iranian regime was on full military alert yet kept the country’s airspace open to passenger flights. The regime used those flights as human shields against possible US attacks. On November 28, 2021, the victims’ families protested while under security forces’ siege. The protesters chanted, “Death to the criminals, death to the Revolutionary Guards, and also death to Khamenei.” They marched towards Tehran’s military court, holding up large photos of their loved ones.
Families of slain protesters in November 2019 uprising share sympathy
On the eve of the second anniversary of the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane by IRGC missiles, the families of martyrs from the November 2019 uprising and other families calling for justice expressed their condolences. They used the hashtag #IWillLightACandleToo to commemorate the anniversary on January 2, 2022.
Meanwhile, the regime’s security institutions have increased pressure on Flight PS752 families.
In recent days, law enforcement officers and plainclothes agents have told families by phone or in person that if they want to hold any ceremony, security matters must be handed over to security forces!
“Law enforcement officers personally went to families’ residences and warned them about the anniversary,” according to an informed source.
Hamed Esmaeilion, who lost his wife and only daughter “Reira” in the explosion, explained that the point of lighting the candle and posting on Instagram was to recall all the crimes and atrocities by the Iranian regime over the past 40 years.
He posted, “In memory of November 2019, in memory of those massacred in Mahshahr, in memory of those fallen in Javanrood, Robat Karim, Shahriyar, and Tehran. In memory of January 2018, in memory of Navid, in memory of all victims of torture, execution, and imprisonment. In memory of Neda, in memory of Khuzestan, in memory of the youth fallen in 2009, remembering the youth of 1988, in memory of the victims shot without trial, to remember my mother’s everyday tears, and I will light a candle too.”