On January 8, 2020, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet with two surface-to-air missiles, just minutes after it had taken off from Tehran airport, killing all 176 people on board.
The regime denied responsibility for three days – even trying to blame manufacturer Boeing – and refused to hand over the black box. However, on January 11, the General Staff of the Armed Forces admitted that it was Iran’s fault and blamed “human error,” sparking several days of protests at universities and in cities.
Still, they would not hand over the black boxes for six months and would not cooperate with the international investigation, but in July produced a fairly ambiguous report.
The head of the regime’s Civil Aviation Organization, Touraj Dehghani Zangeneh, said that the cockpit’s black box continued recording the pilot’s conversation for 19 seconds after the first strike and that both engines were still running.
The Iranian Resistance said that this indicates that people were still alive and could have been saved following the first missile, and worse, that the second missile was deliberate.
In December, the Association of the Families of the Victims released a statement saying that the regime had increased pressure on the families ahead of the anniversary, with the intention of covering up their crime.
They were reportedly even going to attempt to bribe them with $150,000 each in the upcoming budget, but this item was removed.
Javad Soleimani who lost his wife, Elnaz Nabii, said that families of the victims were summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence and threatened with sexual assault, while the father of student Maryam Malek said that the regime had stolen the victims’ personal effects.
Still, the families have not backed down. They see the IRGC as the main perpetrator and want justice for their relatives, not compensation. They are demanding prosecution.
“The deliberate shooting down of the aircraft and killing of innocent human beings is indeed an example of crime against humanity. The people of Iran, particularly the families of the victims, will never forgive or forget this horrendous crime. They will continue to seek justice for the innocent victims,” wrote the Iranian Resistance.
On January 7, the families went to the airport and the site of the crash in Shahedshahr village to commemorate the victims. Initially, the State Security Force tried to prevent this but the families resisted.
#IranProtests#Tehran—On January 7, families of #PS752 victims held the 1st anniversary of their loved ones those who lost their lives during the IRGC crime.
Security forces prevented families from attending where the plane had downed. But, families' insisted and opened the way. pic.twitter.com/iZcC3G1tLc
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) January 7, 2021
Iranian students also published a statement calling for justice, writing, “We believe that seeking justice for the perpetrators of this crime, is the biggest and most glorious tribute to the victims and their families.”