On January 8, 2020, a Ukrainian Airlines passenger aircraft was shot down over Tehran by two missiles launched by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The tragedy, which Iran still insists was the result of "human error", claimed the lives of all 176 people onboard and pitched their families and loved ones into a living nightmare - one they are still living through today.
Among the innocent civilians on Flight 752 were 82 Iranian citizens, 63 Canadians,11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, seven Afghans, three Britons and three Germans. They included doctors, students, athletes, activists and environmentalists: individuals pursuing their own dreams and ambitions both inside and outside Iran, and with bright futures ahead of them.
An international investigation into the incident is underway, spearheaded by Canada, France and Ukraine. But in the meantime, the devastated families of the PS752 passengers are still in limbo. Bereft of either justice or accountability for the disaster that shattered their lives, some of these individuals are now being represented by the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims, which has published a series of heart-rending personal letters and testimonies to honor those who were killed on January 8.
IranWire is supporting the Association's fight for justice by translating these final tributes into English and publishing them on our pages. We hope that through these efforts, the remarkable lives and aspirations of those aboard Flight 752 will not be forgotten.
Parisa, My Fallen White Poplar
For Parisa Eghbalian, a PS752 passenger
By Hamed Esmaelion
Parisa was the first child of a Mazandarani family. Her mother, Mina, is a retired teacher and her father, Qassem, worked in the Natural Resources Engineering Organization. Parisa was born on June 27, 1977 in Sari. After her there came two more children: Amir and Parnian.
This slight and sweet-talking child turned, in time, into a quiet teenage girl. After some years in Sistan and Baluchistan province and then Minoodast in Golestan, they settled in Sari. In the primary school years, she moved with her mother from village to village to be with her at the schools she worked in. Parisa skipped the second year of primary school and when she got older, she went to good schools in Sari, becoming a top student and eventually finding her way to university like all her close friends.
In 1995, Parisa got an offer for a dentistry degree in Tabriz with the nationwide rank of 300. It meant being many, many miles away from home.
“I don’t like anyone telling me things. I don’t like getting low grades. I don’t like humiliation.”
She dressed well at university, and studied well. She always got god grades even though she said she didn’t study during the semester. Parisa liked to be different: in the outfits she bought, in the faint make-up on her face (let it rot there, she liked to say), and in the shoes she wore.
Parisa met Hamed on November 30. 1999. They were classmates for five years but they had become intimate and had no choice but to keep their friendship a secret. Any contact between girls and boys led to punishment. Only their parents and a few friends knew. The parents who knew wanted to know what their young kids would decide to do. Many love letters remain, many notes of love.
“How late were we in telling each other we loved one another. How late. One night before the official rite of asking for her hand.”
More than a year later, on January 4, 2001, they got married. Graduation followed. Hamed explains the rest:
We lived in Bandar Gaz for a while. More than a year. In the first few months, as I wanted to set up a clinic, Parisa paid my rent. She was doing her training in a district of Joybar called Larim and later in the city of Galogaah. She worked honestly. For farmers, workers and families with a lot of children.
We were going to have a wedding but Parisa’s cousin died and we had to mourn. After a while, we moved to Tehran. Parisa found a job in Jannatabad, northwestern Tehran, and it was around then that we decided to migrate and both learned English. We waited seven years to get to Canada. Meanwhile we traveled to every corner of Iran and to many cities in Europe. We danced at the weddings of all our friends and we cried over all the disasters in Iran. A week before the earthquake, we were in Bam. We saw Lakuyila before it got ruined, we lost our minds at Naqshe Rostam and we shuddered thinking of vultures feasting on the dead.
We read books together, went to movies together, watched plays together. We also studied. We knew there was no red carpet waiting for us in Canada, but by the time we got there, a little guest was with us; a six-month-old girl called Reera.
After a year and a half, we got our work permits in Canada. There were hard times, but they came to an end. Parisa ranked third nationally and finished her practical exams with success, and got a job after her first interview. We settled in the little town of Hanover, Ontario. We stayed there for four years.
Six years ago, Parisa lost her father in Iran. This affected her deeply. That was why we moved to Toronto area, to the city of Richmond Hill.
We went back. We built a little office in Aurora. Parisa led the move. She was a self-built, capable and competent woman who could have end up running a number of dentist clinics in a few years. She worked long hours and traveled all over Canada and the US for dentistry courses. In her free time, she studied, and was also the best mother I knew. She followed the news of Canada and the world closely, she defended the rights of women, children and minorities. She knew both classic and contemporary literature and arts and she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind openly.
That a 12-day trip to attend the wedding of her sister Parnian in Iran and see her family took her from us is not acceptable. With her gone, that marriage is now full of sadness. A mother is in pain, a brother is wounded.
I don’t believe that she is gone. Nor do the closest of her friends or people who knew her.
Without her, life has no taste. No happiness. Without her, life is empty. As if all the flowers of a garden have been plucked overnight. She was watching over the garden when the evil got to her.
I testify that in the last twenty years not once did I hear her lie. I testify that she never spoke ill of anyone, wanted ill for anyone nor did anyone wanted ill for her. She was a beautiful woman with small wishes. In a few minutes filled with fear, they took her beauty and her dreams.
Parisa and our daughter, Reera, today went to Elgin Mills cemetery, section 27, number 1014. With happiness. There were many more words of love we had to whisper to one another. We were going to buy a house by the lake that she’d like. We had to send Reera to a university she’d like.
The future was taken away from us on January 8 with two missiles shot by the IRGC. As the husband of Parisa, the husband of the most beautiful woman in the world, the likes of whom doesn’t exist, I am a seeker of justice. And I will go all the way.
Translator: Arash Azizi
Editor: Hannah Somerville