Families of Flight PS752 victims mark 4-year anniversary of Iran downing plane

Click to play video: '‘There’s no accountability’: Families of Flight 752 victims demand justice, 4 years later'
‘There’s no accountability’: Families of Flight 752 victims demand justice, 4 years later
The world is solemnly marking four years since Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, killing all 176 people on board, including 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents. Negar Mojtahedi looks at how the victims' families are calling for justice, as they face intimidation and harassment from the Iranian regime. – Jan 8, 2024

Monday, Jan. 8 marks four years since Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. shot down passenger flight Ukraine International Airlines PS752, killing everyone on board.

The families of the victims say since the tragedy, the Iranian regime has been targeting them and trying to silence them. But they say they aren’t bowing to intimidation tactics by the Islamic Republic as they call for justice.

Click to play video: '‘There’s no accountability’: Families of Flight 752 victims demand justice, 4 years later'
‘There’s no accountability’: Families of Flight 752 victims demand justice, 4 years later

“We need justice,” Vahid Emami told Global News.

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The Vancouver man suffered unthinkable loss. His wife, Sahand, his five-year-old daughter Sofie, his brother-in-law Alvand and his wife Negar were all killed on the doomed flight.

Vahid Emami’s wife Sahand. Submitted
Vahid Emami’s daughter Sofie. Submitted

“I miss her so much,” Emami said as he showed Global News crews precious crafts his daughter made, including a drawing depicting herself, her mom and dad with the words “I love you.”

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“I never going to see how she grew and what she going to look like,” Emami said.

A craft Vahid Emami’s daughter made. Submitted

He has since commissioned a painting of the young lady he envisions Sofie would have become one day had she not been killed.

“I ask one of my friends to give me that painting. And I said, ‘this is Sofie,’” Emami explained.

A painting Vahid Emami commissioned envisioning his daughter if she had lived. Submitted

Making this anniversary more painful, Sofie’s grandmother in Iran, Manzar Zarabi, was detained by Iran’s security forces on Oct. 30, 2023.

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“They just took her and beat her and put her in jail,” Emami said.

Zarabi has since been released due to complications with her health. Her apparent crime was attending the funeral of Armita Geravand, a woman who died weeks after she was allegedly shoved by Iran’s so-called morality police.

Geravand was injured and fell into a coma after an incident on the Tehran metro on Oct. 1. Activists described an altercation with Iran’s security agents who had apprehended her for not wearing the mandatory hijab.

Click to play video: 'Iranian teen in coma after alleged attack over hijab'
Iranian teen in coma after alleged attack over hijab

Iranian officials deny that, insisting she collapsed and hurt herself as a result of low blood pressure. Similarly, the same statement was made about Mahsa Amini whose death sparked the Woman, Life, Freedom movement.

Zarrabi was detained alongside prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

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“I am angry, I’m mad, because I am here and I can’t do anything I am far away from them,” Emami said.

Click to play video: 'Woman, Life, Freedom protest marks anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death'
Woman, Life, Freedom protest marks anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death

The arrest of the family matriarch has sent shock throughout the entire family.

Zarrabi’s son Alvand Sadeghi was married to Negar Borghei.

Her mother Hoorian Sohrab and Zarrabi are now bonded forever through their deceased children.

Sohrab said Zarrabi is the memory of her son in law. She says she gains strength through her.

Alvand Sadeghi and Negar Borghei. Submitted

Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the U.K. have taken Iran to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, seeking accountability for the shooting down of Flight PS752.

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“Iran’s behavior so far in going through these steps is absolutely farcical,” Ralph Goodale, Canada’s special advisor on PS752. “There’s no transparency. There’s no accountability. “

On Monday, Goodale announced that the four countries have also filed proceedings against Iran at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

“We’ll be pursuing Iran in two different forums under two different international treaties. What transpired in the skies over Tehran that that night four years ago was dangerous, and a danger to civil aviation worldwide,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Brother of McGill University student killed in Iran plane crash speaks'
Brother of McGill University student killed in Iran plane crash speaks

The intimidation tactics and harassment taking place, are unacceptable, Goodale added.

“This is one of the dimensions of this case that is very troubling. It is foreign interference,” he said.

Threatening, detaining or arresting family members in Iran, for example, is “criminal behaviour, whether it’s domestic or international,” Goodale said.

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“We want to get the truth out of Iran,” he added.

Goodale said the group of countries is demanding to know what happened, how it happened and why. He said they want Iran to assume full responsibility for the disaster, to make an apology to the families and civil aviation community, and to put in place remedial steps to prevent this from happening ever again.

There’s also the issue of reparation, restitution and compensation, according to Goodale.

“Some of their loved ones, for example, have not had their personal effects restored or even properly taken care of,” Goodale said.

Goodale said Iran’s so-called investigation has been anything but “independent and impartial.”

He did not have an exact timeline on how the proceedings will carry forward given the fact that they’re dealing with multiple countries and various conventions, but he acknowledged the families request for provisional measures, and says the government is considering it.

“They have asked the government to consider if we could ask the court for preliminary determinations, or as they call them, provisional measures earlier in the process,” Goodale said.

Goodale says he has nothing but respect and admiration for the victims families.

“The families are amazing. They have suffered such trauma and such pain and anguish and everything,” he said.

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“The regime and interaction does adds insult to injury. It is amazing how the families have behaved in such a determined and dignified manner.”

Emami, meanwhile, said the families won’t give up.

“We will keep fighting,” he said.

If Canada can’t succeed in its efforts, he said he will do whatever it takes to seek justice.

“Maybe they put me in jail or beat me or whatever, but I have nothing to lose.”

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