‘Open wound in the sky’: Families honor loved ones who died when Iran shot down airliner 2 years ago

The families of those who died on board an airliner shot down by Iranian military forces two years ago commemorate their loved ones on Saturday in a solemn ceremony.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired two surface-to-air missiles at the Ukraine International Airlines flight on January 8, 2020, shortly after takeoff in Tehran, killing everyone on board.

Dozens of Canadian citizens and permanent residents were among those who died. More than 100 of the 176 people killed in the crash had ties to Canada.

A virtual ceremony organized by the Association of Families of Victims of Flight PS752 marking the second anniversary of the tragedy, entitled “The Open Wound in the Sky”, began at 2 pm. She began with a recorded Persian recitation of the poem Threshold by the late Iranian poet Ahmad Shamlou, followed by a video summarizing the events since the crash and the families’ continued struggle for justice.

Three mothers who lost family members in the crash then took turns reading aloud the names and ages of each of the 176 victims.

“Two years ago today (…) the world lost 176 hopeful and hopeful people due to an unimaginable act of brutality,” said Amirali Alavi, the event’s MC. , whose mother died in the accident.

“They were children, students, young couples, entire families and innocent people all around who were dearly loved and now sorely missed.”

Videos that were shown throughout the ceremony carried messages from family members who continue to cry.

“The crash of the plane, the murder of all these young people, all these decent human beings, is like the death of my own hopes and desires,” said one woman.

Another asked, “What have my beloved child, my dear daughter-in-law and their sweet traveling companions done to deserve to be set on fire by you in the skies of our homeland?”

A mourner lights candles at a memorial to mark the first anniversary of the destruction of Flight PS752, in Edmonton on January 8, 2021. (Jason Franson / The Canadian Press)

Hamed Esmaeilion, the president of the association who lost his wife and nine-year-old daughter in the tragedy, passionately expressed his frustration at the Iranian regime’s lack of responsibility for what he called “blood murder. -cold”.

“They told us to be patient and we listened. They told us that all options were on the table, and we waited for those options to be checked. But now, after two years, we realize that our patience didn’t pay off, “Esmaeilion says. “Canada must stand up for justice, and it is time for all of us to side with the right side of history – today, now and urgently.

The group demands that the case be brought before the International Civil Aviation Organization – a United Nations agency based in Montreal – and that the RCMP launch a criminal investigation.

He also calls for arrest warrants and official government sanctions against senior Iranian political and military leaders, and the designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

The association said the virtual portion of the ceremony will be followed by an outdoor vigil in Toronto at Mel Lastman Square. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly, Premier of Ontario Doug Ford and Mayor of Toronto John Tory participated virtually.

Hamed Esmaeilion at his family’s grave. His wife, Parisa Eghbalian, and his nine-year-old daughter, Reera, were killed when flight PS752 was shot down over Iran on January 8, 2020. (Samira Mohyeddin / CBC)

Earlier this week, Iran snubbed another deadline set by Canada and its allies to negotiate a settlement for the families.

Trudeau said the federal government will continue to support the families of victims and fight for accountability, transparency and justice.

“Flight PS752 was shot down due to the recklessness and total disregard for human life of Iranian officials. We cannot allow this to last,” he said at the ceremony.

“Now that Iran has failed to meet the negotiating target, we will vigorously pursue other international accountability and justice mechanisms. Canada will stand alongside members of the [International Co-ordination and Response Group for the victims of Flight PS752] as a united front and we will not rest until Iran is held accountable, ”Trudeau said, referring to a group of countries that lost citizens in the crash.

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