Masoud Pezeshkian and Javad Zarif at Golestan Behesht Zahra cemetery in Esfahan

Zarif’s Visit to Graves of Flight PS752 Victims Outrages Families

Saturday, 06/22/2024

The families of Flight PS752 victims, downed by IRGC missiles in 2020, say they are outraged by the recent visit of Iran's former Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to the graves of victims in Esfahan.

“The presence of Javad Zarif at the graves of our loved ones is outrageous,” the families’ association said in a statement.

“Javad Zarif is one of the individuals involved in covering up the crime of January 8, 2020, and the visits of any of the perpetrators and instigators of the crime to the graves of our loved ones once again demonstrate that the impudence of the officials of the Islamic Republic knows no bounds,” the statement added.

The Ukrainian Airline flight took off from Tehran in the early hours of that faithful day and minutes later two anti-air missiles fired by the IRGC downed the plane. For three days the authorities tried to cover up the incident, claiming a mechanical problem with the aircraft, until videos emerged showing the moment of impact. Zarif was foreign minister, and was heard saying that if the military had told him the truth earlier, he could have helped explain away the the incident.

It also said that Zarif and other authorities responsible for the downing of flight PS752, from IRGC Aerospace Chief Amir-Ali Hajizadeh to IRGC Chief Hossein Salami, and from the operator to Ali Khamenei, must be tried in a fair court.

”That day will come,” the statement said. “We neither forget nor forgive the perpetrators and instigators of this crime.”

Javad Soleimani, a member of PS752 Association’s board, earlier referred to Zarif and presidential candidate Masoud Pezeshkian who visited the graves together as "puppets" participating in Iran's "election circus."

Pezeshkian is backed by groups within regime politicians who are known as 'reformists' and he is running as a 'moderate.' Zarif, coming out of political retirement after three years, has joined the candidate, urging a reluctant electorate to vote for him. The visit to the resting place of the crash victims is seen as a campaign stunt by Pezeshkian, but Zarif's presence has angered many.

The Association’s statement drew attention to a controversial audio file leaked in 2021 in which Zarif was heard suggesting that the PS752 downing was likely unintentional.

"We will not forget the audio file of Zarif saying it was unlikely that the downing of the Ukrainian plane was intentional but if it was, they could tell us so we can ‘remedy’ it," Soleimani stated on X on Friday.

In the leaked audio file, Zarif was also captured stating that the truth surrounding the downing of PS752 would never come to light. Iranian officials attributed the downing of PS752 to "human error".

The flight PS752, which was shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in January 2020, claimed the lives of 176 passengers and crew, including Soleimani's wife, Elnaz Nabiyi.

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