Flight PS752: Trudeau vows to ‘seek justice’ as Canadians mark 3rd anniversary of crash

Click to play video: 'Flight PS752: Families, friends hold memorials on 3-year anniversary'
Flight PS752: Families, friends hold memorials on 3-year anniversary
WATCH: Memorials for loved ones on board Flight PS752 were held across Canada on Sunday – Jan 8, 2023

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined grieving Canadians on Sunday afternoon to mark three years since the Iranian military shot down Flight PS752 in a commemorative ceremony taking place in Toronto.

“We are here to seek justice for the victims and their families,” Trudeau said.

“This tragedy happened because of the Iranian regime’s heinous disregard for human life. Your grief has been compounded by their refusal to be held accountable.”

On Jan. 8, 2020, the Iranian military shot down Flight PS752, which killed 176 people, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents. The day is now observed as the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters.

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“The entire Canadian family shares in your sadness,” said Trudeau.

“On this day and every day, we continue to be here with you.”

The Ukraine International Airlines jetliner was bound for Canada via Ukraine but was shot down shortly after its takeoff from Tehran in January 2020.

“On this solemn occasion, we remember the victims of all air disasters, including Air Ontario Flight 1363, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 (Flight ET302), Air India Flight 182, and Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 (Flight PS752),” Trudeau said in a statement released on Sunday morning.

Trudeau said the Canadian government along with its international partners is “taking concrete action to ensure Iran is held accountable for its egregious and unlawful downing of Flight PS752.”

“We continue to support the families and loved ones of the victims of tragic air disasters,” Trudeau said, adding that the government launched a pathway to permanent residency for family members of victims of Flight ET302 and Flight PS752 in the summer of 2022 in an effort to help them reunite with surviving family members in Canada.

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Flight ET302, an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane, crashed near Addis Ababa on March 10, 2019, claiming the lives of 157 people, including 18 Canadians.

“We have opened a pathway to permanent residency that will reunite grieving relatives so you can support each other,” Trudeau said.

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Click to play video: 'Demonstrators demand justice for victims of Flight PS752 ahead of 3-year anniversary'
Demonstrators demand justice for victims of Flight PS752 ahead of 3-year anniversary

“Many of you came here to Canada to build a better life in a place where justice and peace are a way of life. That’s what Canada is and that’s what our government will continue to stand up for. That’s what the people of Iran deserve in their own country,” he added.

“The Islamic Republic is not representative and is not indicative of the extraordinary, wonderful, warm, brilliant people of Iran.”

Trudeau also said Canada has “permanently and forever” banned leaders from Iran from ever being able to take safe haven in Canada.

“We will continue to stand and look for even more to do to ensure that this brutal, murderous regime is held fully to account,” he said.

In collaboration with the U.K., Sweden and Ukraine, Canada also initiated a process on Dec. 28 to bring the Islamic Republic of Iran into binding arbitration to ensure accountability and justice, according to Trudeau.

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Advocates argue the move should have come sooner and the RCMP should have launched a criminal investigation while Ottawa was negotiating with Tehran.

“If the Iranian regime does not comply within six months with this binding arbitration, we will take the next steps and move to the International Court of Justice,” Trudeau said.

“Nothing will ever bring back your loved ones but when you lose someone so senselessly, finding justice is a part of mourning. We need closure in order to heal and Iran’s refusal to be held accountable is denying you that,” he added.

The major commemoration event in north Toronto began with an 11 a.m. reception and art gallery viewing, followed by an official ceremony hosted by the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims.

Ahead of the ceremony, Trudeau spoke briefly with some family members of the victims of Flight PS752.

Click to play video: 'Iranian-Canadians ask MPs to sponsor prisoners after executions in Tehran'
Iranian-Canadians ask MPs to sponsor prisoners after executions in Tehran

The association, families and other supporters are also taking part in rallies across Canada urging Ottawa to take a tougher stance against Iran.

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Trudeau met with grieving family members on Friday and said Ottawa would be relentless in fighting for truth, justice and accountability.

Families of victims will partake in rallies from Vancouver to St. John’s to mark the third anniversary of the downed flight.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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