Saskatoon man fears Iran tensions will keep family apart

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WATCH ABOVE: Canadians held vigils around the country for those who died when Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down just days ago – Jan 11, 2020

Rashid Ahmed said he’s afraid tensions with Iran over Flight 752 being shot down will keep him and his wife apart.

Rashid and Verdah were married in 2018 but haven’t seen each other since April 2019. Verdah is in Iran, waiting for a visa from the Canadian government. She cannot come to the country without one. Rashid told Global News he’s afraid tensions between Canada and Iran over the death of 57 Canadians onboard Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 will delay Verdah’s travel documents — perhaps indefinitely.

“We know that this can happen and I hope it will not happen because I’m not sure how I will live and how my wife will live,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘Furious’ Trudeau says Iran must take full responsibility for shooting down plane

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Rashid said he and Verdah speak at least two hours a day — even with the 11 hours’ time difference between Saskatoon and Tehran — and that the initial joy of them being told she would receive the documents has been replaced with anxiety.

“We love each other and we never thought that we would be living apart from each other, so I think my life is with her and her life is with me. I cannot imagine [living] without her.”

Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 left Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on Jan. 8. It crashed shortly after takeoff and all 167 people onboard died. It was later revealed, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a press conference citing intelligence reports and later confirmed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, that the airplane was shot down by Iran’s military.

On Saturday Gen. Amir Hajizadeh, head of the aerospace division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the powerful ideologically-driven Iranian military organization, said the IRGC accepted “full responsibility” after the state broadcaster carried a statement saying the plane was “unintentionally” shot down.

Several hours later, Trudeau responded, saying he spoke to Rouhani and told him he was “furious” and “outraged” and that a “full and complete” international investigation must take place.

Rouhani, according to a readout of the call released by the Prime Minister’s Office, agreed.

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Despite the early attempts to de-escalate the situation, Rashid says he still worries something will happen to the documents, for which he and Verdah have already applied. He said they were expecting the documents in a matter of weeks.

READ MORE: Mourners grieve, honour victims of Iran plane crash at Saskatoon vigil

Canada ended diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012, meaning that Canada has no embassies in the Islamic Republic and does not allow any representatives from Iran in Canada. That means that, in effect, any contact between the two countries happens at the ministerial level, like the phone call between Trudeau and Rouhani on Saturday. Ministers rarely, if ever, deal with travel documents.

Rashid also said that he’s afraid of Verdah taking a flight out of Iran, even if she were given travel documents. She would be flying out of the same airport as Flight 752.

He said there isn’t much they can do except wait.

“It depends on the Canadian government. Maybe we will get it in January and I will not wait for another day like to bring her here,” he said.

“I can pray and I can hope for the best so I’m hoping and praying that my wife will be here soon.”

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-With files from Hannah Jackson, Eric Stober and the Canadian Press

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