Families of victims who died when Iran shot down an airliner in 2020 gathered at Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport and the crash site Saturday to demand justice.
Families who last year had gathered at the airport on the first anniversary of the tragedy that claimed the lives of all 176 onboard carried photos of their loved ones and posters that read "Compensation Can Never Replace Justice".
Iran’s government announced in December 2020 that all victims would receive the $150,000 compensation but many families have refused to take the money and insist they just want punishment for those responsible for the death of their loved ones.
"Our hearts are still bleeding after two years remembering that night …The truth must come out, it shouldn't be sacrificed to suit the expedience [of politicians]. We insist on truth and justice," the father of one of the victims is seen saying in a speech in a video posted on Twitter.
Victims' families then chanted "Truth, Justice", a slogan that also appeared on their posters.
"Why did you fire missiles at our children? Why did they kill them? Why did they hide the truth about what they had done?" another video shows him saying in his speech while insisting that victims' families wanted the truth to be revealed and those responsible for the order to fire missiles at the airliner be punished, not compensation.
Bodies of victims at the crash site on January 8, 2020
Families later went to the crash site in Shahed Shahr in the southwest of the capital where they were joined by locals who chanted "Truth, Justice" as a helicopter, apparently belonging to security forces, flew overhead.
Ukraine's flight PS752 was shot down by two air-defense missiles fired by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) in the morning of January 8, 2020, as it took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport.
Despite expecting retaliation for IRGC missiles fired at bases in Iraq hosting US troops only hours earlier and expecting a retaliation, the IRGC which is responsible for air defense of the capital did not close the civilian airspace in the early morning hours of 8 January.
Families of victims at the airport on Saturday.
For three day the authorities claimed they knew nothing of the real cause of the crash but after an amateur video emerged on social media that showed missiles were fired at the plane, Iran had to admit the military had shot down the plane by “human error”.
Tehran has not allowed an independent investigation or provided full answers to questions by other countries, including Ukraine. The trial of ten low-ranking military personnel began in November. Many among victims' families objected to the trial demanding "the real culprits" to be held accountable.
In May 2021, an association representing the families of victims announced on social media that some families had received an electronic message from the military prosecutor handling the case informing them that high-ranking officials cannot be prosecuted.
Tens of victims were Canadian citizens or lived in Canada where their families gathered at one of the victim's home Friday evening in Toronto.
A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada in a statement Friday called the downing of the Ukrainian airliner a "Canadian tragedy" and said they "remain committed to seeking answers and pursuing justice".
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met virtually with the families on Friday. "Our government will not rest in our fight for justice and accountability," he tweeted after the meeting.
Meanwhile, Iran's security forces Saturday arrested a civil rights activist, Yashar Tabrizi, soon after he posted a video of himself remembering the victims at the crash site near Tehran. In the video Tabrizi, a taxi driver, said he had gone there with his family to light a remembrance candle and to demand those responsible to be put on trial.