On Saturday, Iran’s daily newspaper Sharq published an interview with a former Health Ministry official and his wife, who lost two children when Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was brought down by two Iranian missiles on January 8, 2020.
Although Tehran initially tried to cover up that incident, authorities were ultimately compelled to acknowledge that the crash had been caused by air defenses operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Even after this admission, though, the regime continued to stonewall independent investigations and cover up details of the incident, thereby fueling doubts about the official narrative which described an accident caused by fears of US retaliation after IRGC missile strikes targeting American forces in eastern Iraq.
Now, Mohsen Asadi-Lari and his wife, Zahra Majd, have reinforced those doubts by publicly stating that their own conversations with the regime’s officials led them to believe that Flight 752 was shot down intentionally “to create a human shield” against serious American retaliation. When challenged by the Sharq interviewer, Majd argued that this interpretation stems not only from private conversations but is backed up by some authorities’ public statements.
“They openly say that if the plane had not been downed a destructive war would erupted the next day and the lives of 10 million people would have been in danger,” he said.
This sentiment has been echoed by a number of other relatives of the 176 people who were killed in the crash two years ago. They had previously argued that existing evidence supports the notion that the missile strike was a crime, and that more such evidence would likely be uncovered if the Iranian regime’s authorities were to adopt a strategy of transparency in addressing inquiries from both domestic and international sources.
Citizens and permanent residents of at least four countries were killed in the crash. The vast majority of the passengers had some connections to Canada Last week it was announced that the Ontario Superior Court had ordered Tehran to pay the equivalent of more than 80 million US dollars to the families of six victims. Although the plaintiffs are unlikely to see any of that money apart from a small portion that might be available through assets seizures in Canada, the ruling is significant in that it reinforces the court’s earlier judgment describing the missile strike as an intentional act of terrorism.
The families have expressed disappointment with Canada’s apparent reluctance to pursue criminal charges against the persons or institutions responsible, but some advocates appear optimistic about the prospect of the Ontario court’s decision to have an impact on Canadian government policy.
The Association of Families is presently urging the United Nations Human Rights Council to “step in and order an independent international investigation.” Although the group has made no effort to prejudice any such investigation, it has highlighted several facts that may be grounds for criminal actions, and perhaps also of the plane’s intentional destruction.
Further evidence of premeditation may have been covered up by the authorities in Tehran in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and in the two years since. Tehran had bulldozed the crash site and had then proceeded to harass families and prevent funeral gatherings as part of an apparent effort to limit public attention to and scrutiny of the incident.
The Association of Families has no doubt that “high-ranking officials of the Iranian regime are responsible for the downing of Flight PS752 and not just a handful of low-ranking IRGC members as per the claims of the government of Iran.”