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Human Rights Watch says families of flight 752 victims harassed, intimidated by Iran


May 27, 2021
The Canadian Press


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The opening section of the 74-page report outlining Canada’s ongoing response to Iran’s shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 includes a spread dedicated to the memory of those Canadians who lost their lives, shown here in part. (Image source: Government of Canada, Flight PS752, The Long Road to Transparency, Accountability and Justice)

OTTAWA — A human rights group says in a new report that Iran has harassed families of passengers killed aboard Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

Human Rights Watch says from last fall until January it spoke with 31 family members of victims and “people with direct knowledge” of how Iranian authorities treated relatives.

In all, 176 people were killed when an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down a passenger jet destined for Kyiv minutes after takeoff from Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020.

Among the dead were 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents.

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Human Rights Watch says those it spoke with say Iranian security agencies have mistreated victims’ families through arbitrary detainment, interrogation and intimidation.

It reports 16 people said security officials threatened them not to speak with foreign media or followed relatives and friends who attended memorials.

“Family members said that in several instances, the authorities interfered with burial and memorial services, pressuring families to accept the government’s ‘martyrdom’ status for their loved ones, and published photos and videos without the permission of the families at services,” it read.

One person taken into custody was also tortured, the report says, detailing how in at least three cases family members were told they would face “consequences” if they didn’t remove critical social media posts against the government.

The downing of the flight happened after the United States killed a top Iranian military official, heightening tensions in the region.

Iran initially denied responsibility for the plane crash, but later said it was shot down after being misidentified as a hostile target and done in “human error.”

Canada is preparing to negotiate with Iran over repariations.

Ontario’s Superior Court ruled last week that the shooting of the jet was an act of terrorism, paving the way for relatives to seek compensation from Iran.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2021