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PS752 Victims' Families Demand Justice on Ebrahim Raisi's Inauguration Day

August 6, 2021
5 min read
PS752 Victims' Families Demand Justice on Ebrahim Raisi's Inauguration Day

The families of the victims of Flight PS752, which was shot down by Revolutionary Guards in January 2020, have called on the Canadian government and the wider international community to bring justice for their loved ones.

Speaking at a rally in Toronto on Thursday, August 5, Hamed Esmaeilion, the spokesperson for the Association of Families of Victims of Flight 752, said they were tired of waiting and that the Canadian government must act now.

The rally, which coincided with the inauguration of Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s new president, started at 6pm Toronto time. Protesters marched from Queens Park and continued on to Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square. The families of those killed on January 8, 2020, were joined by groups of Toronto-based Iranians, several Canadian parliamentarians, civil rights activists and human rights lawyers, as well as members of the Ukrainian Association of Canadians.

Esmaeilion, whose wife Parisa Eghbalian and daughter Reera Esmaeilion died in the tragedy, expressed dismay that European Union envoy Enrique Mora had attended Raisi’s inauguration, which he referred to as a “a banquet of darkness and madness." He asked whether Mora would have kissed the hand of “the emperor of fear and murder” and described attendance at the event as a gesture against the values of human rights.

He condemned Raisi as a "judge of death and an executioner,” and said that, because of the role he played as a member of the 1988 “death squad” that ordered the extrajudicial mass executions of thousands, he was directly guilty of a crime against humanity.

He also read out a statement from the grieving families’ association, blaming the Supreme National Security Council, on which Ebrahim Raisi serves, for the tragedy that killed their loved ones. "They ordered the airspace to remain open on the night of the downing of Flight 752," he said, listing the names of the other men on the council: Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the Council; Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces Mohammad Bagheri; Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami, interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, Cheif of Police Hossein Ashtari, Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi, Army Commander-in-Chief Abdolrahim Mousavi and former president Hassan Rouhani.

A Long List of Crimes

During his speech, Esmaeilion singled out the crimes of the members of the council. "Ali Shamkhani, Khamenei’s representative in the Supreme National Security Council, whose name and that of his family has been linked to corruption, smuggling, and illegal shipping and construction, is the one who, when asked why he was shooting children during protests in Aban 2019 said: 'we had a duty to shoot.'"

Esmaeilion described former president Hassan Rouhani as the "most security-oriented” president of the Islamic Republic and highlighted his role in imposing the compulsory hijab on Iranian women and suppressing the 1999 student movement.

"After eight years in the service of the dictator, Rouhani has handed over a poor, troubled and angry country to the next agent."

Mohammad Bagheri, he said, was the strategist of the Islamic Republic's expansionist plans in the Middle East, and he, together with Hossein Salami, designed the strategy of asymmetric war the Islamic Republic was currently pursuing.

"His reason for shooting down the plane could be one of his criminal theories about suppressing the November 2019 protests,” he said, and pointed out that the US government and the EU had placed sanctions on Bagheri and other Security Council members, including Hossein Ashtari, who Esmaeilion labeled as one of the perpetrators of the widespread repression during the November 2019 protests.

“[Foreign minister] Mohammad Javad Zarif is known by the Iranians as Ribbentrop of Iran [Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler's foreign minister]," he continued, adding that he was also on the sanctions list "because the US government holds him responsible for carrying out Khamenei's foreign policy orders.”

Canada Must Do More

The group called on Canada to take a tougher line with Iran. "Why are Ebrahim Raisi, Ali Shamkhani, Hossein Salami, Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, Javad Zarif, and Ali Khamenei not on Canada’s sanctions list? Why is the Revolutionary Guards not on the list of terrorist groups? Is 42 years of criminal activity not enough?

"We demand an investigation into the crime of targeting Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752, but the Canadian Federal Police say they do not have enough evidence to investigate. What can be more important evidence than the bodies of 176 men, women, children and an unborn child?” Over the last four decades, he said, Iranian leaders have been able to sentence people to death with a simple nod of the head, and yet, with overwhelming proof of their crimes, nothing had been done.

Esmaeilion and the other grieving family members called on the Canadian government to raise the case with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which he criticized for not "condemning, investigating, or punishing the criminals.” He said Iran's leaders were the “masters of concealing the truth” and it was time for Canada to “make up for the poor performance of the ICAO over the last year and a half."

The families’ next appeal would be to the International Criminal Court at the Hague, he added.

"Opening a criminal case, ending the negotiations as soon as possible and taking the case to ICAO are our demands. We will not wait for months or years. If these demands are not met, we will return to this spot and demand again, this time with an even larger crowd of supporters.”

Related Coverage: 

Families of PS752 Victims and Legal Experts Join Online Discussion on "Mockery of Justice"

Military Prosecutor Concludes "Forgetfulness" Caused the Downing of Ukrainian Passenger Plane

Father of Flight 752 Victim Calls Guards and Foreign Minister Criminals

Zarif Says Truth of Downed Ukrainian Plane May 'Never be Revealed' in Leaked Audio File

Remembering the PS752 Victims: Reera Esmaeilion

Remembering the PS752 Victims: Shadi Jamshidi

Remembering the PS752 Victims: Aida Farzaneh

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