Hamed Esmaeilion has resigned as spokesman of families of victims who perished in the downing of a Ukrainian airliner by the IRGC, to focus on his leading role in supporting Iran's protests.
Esmaeilion has become one of the leading figures in the diaspora to represent Iran's protests movement since September and has organized many large rallies in Canada and Europe.
The The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims has been a critical support for the families of the 176 victims who died on Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 destined for Kyiv when it was hit with two surface-to-air missiles fired by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as it was taking off from Tehran on January 8, 2020.
Esmaeilion admitted leaving the role was "a difficult decision to make", having led the campaign for truth and justice since losing his wife Parisa Eghbalian, and his nine-year-old daughter, Reera Esmaeilion, in the tragedy.
Iran has prevented an independent investigation, insisting the downing of the airliner was a mistake.
Though the revolution, which was sparked in September by the death of Mahsa Amini, has led to almost 600 deaths, Esmaeilion says he feels positive for the country's future.
"I am confident and hopeful that the time is now for Iran – the time is now for freedom. I believe it is my duty to do all that I can and to use my voice to help the country and people that I love,” he said.
Kourosh Doustshenas, who has been closely involved with government, legal, and advocacy efforts since 2020 after losing his fiancee on the flight, will replace Esmaelilion as its new spokesperson with a new president to be decided in the coming months. Esmaelilion will remain an active member of the Association and retain a position on its Board of Directors.
The Association currently awaits the formal referral of Flight PS752’s case by Canada and the other affected countries to the International Court of Justice, which can take place in June following the expiration of the six-month arbitration period under the Montreal Convention.