Fri 31 January 2020:
Iranian officials at Tehran international airport have harassed the relatives of the victims of the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) plane crash that killed all 176 onboard, a Canadian-based dentist and writer, Hamed Esmaeilion, has revealed.
Hamed Esmaeilion, who has lost his wife and daughter disclosed on his Facebook page January 27, that Tehran International Imam Khomeini airport’s officials harassed the relatives of the victims of the downed plane, while they were leaving Iran for Toronto to attend memorial services in Canada.
“Let the family members leave to attend the funerals with ease—It is none of your business if Canada has easily issued entry visas within hours for the relatives,” Esmaeilion addressed officials at Imam Khomeini airport.
Canadian Immigration Department declared on January 11 that it would consider facilities for the victims of the tragedy to receive entry visas to the North American country.
The three-year-old Boeing 737-800, flight 752 operated by UIA, took off from Imam Khomeini international airport at 6.12 am Tehran time on January 8, after being delayed by almost an hour. A few minutes later, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps shot it down with two anti-air missiles.
Victims included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, eleven Ukrainians and other nationals, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, announced at the time. Most of the passengers were flying to Kyiv, t0 transit to other destinations.
Iranian authorities initially said that the plane crashed after its engine caught fire.
However, three days later, and under international pressure, they were forced to admit “incidentally” and “mistakenly” downing the plane with missiles.
It is not yet clear why the relatives of the victims were intimidated in Tehran.
Meanwhile, there have been reports saying that the victims’ relatives had been under pressure, one way or another.
“Several members of the victims’ families have been forced to participate in interviews with the regime-linked media and stress on their allegiance to the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader,” a foreign-based Persian website, Zeytoun, reported on January 23, adding, “(The Islamic Republic) intelligence agents have threatened the relatives that should they reject offers for interviews, they would never receive the body of their loved ones.”
Without any elaboration, the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claimed on January 17, that the mother of one of the victims had written a letter to him, insisting her family’s absolute support of the clergy-dominated political establishment in Iran.
However, referring to the regime’s pressure on the victims’ relatives, Javad Soleimani, the husband of Elnaz Nabiei, one of the victims, has admitted that he had been under such a pressure that left him with no option other than leaving Iran for good.
Soleimani noted on his Instagram page that the Islamic Republic intelligence agents had threatened him for criticizing the Chief Commander of the IRGC.
Furthermore, on January 24, Ali Asghar Gorji, an uncle of one of the victims, Pouneh Gorji, disclosed on his Facebook page that the relatives of the victims had officially filed a lawsuit against Khamenei, and the IRGC.
“We are planning to complain to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Nonetheless, we will keep the names of the plaintiffs secret, to guard them against persecution by the Islamic Republic authorities,” Gorji wrote.
ICC is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
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