Photo: Reuters

Justice sought for Ukrainian plane victims

Canada, Sweden, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Britain are demanding that Iran financially compensate the families of the victims from their respective nations who were killed on 8 January after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752 shortly after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport. After initial denial of responsibility, Tehran admitted the IRGC downed the Boeing 737-800 in an act it attributed it to human error, which killed all 176 people on board.

The five countries whose citizens were killed in the attack have warned that “the international community is watching” how Tehran chooses to respond to the tragedy.

Following a high-level meeting in London, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne stressed that rather than blame, “ Today is the day for answers. I think that if you were to talk to the victims, like all of us, to meet families of victims and their loved ones, what they have is grief, anger. And they want us to stand for them, like we are doing today. To seek answers, the truth and justice.”

The top Canadian diplomat further underscored that the Iranian acceptance of responsibility was only the first step in the pursuit of justice. “The Iranian government has accepted full responsibility, but when you accept full responsibility there’s consequences coming from that and that’s what we are going to be pursuing,” said Champagne.

“I would think that under the circumstances, that Iran should take the path of co-operation,” he added, saying “There is a path for Iran to continue in the first step that they’ve done, which is to admit full responsibility, and like I said when you admit full responsibility there are consequences that flow from them, and full cooperation is part of that.”

It is important to note that the majority of the fatalities were Iranian nationals or dual citizens of other countries, many of whom were foreign students returning to their studies abroad or families on their way home after visiting relatives in Iran. The victims included academics, researchers and students linked to 19 Canadian universities.