March 17, 2021 — The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims strongly rejects the submissions of Iran in its final technical report on the downing of Flight PS752, which appear to be mere fabrications and a continuation of a lie. The contents published in this report, as with their previous reports, contain countless inconsistencies and are grossly inadequate to justify Iran’s claims about the causes of the downing.
Given all available information, the families of victims cannot accept Iran’s claims that Flight PS752 was shot down due to a human error or that it was mistaken for a cruise missile. The available evidence as well as inconsistencies in Iran’s claims point to the opposite direction: that Flight PS752 was shot down intentionally.
Over the last several months, the Association has made public a portion of the available factual evidence that exposes the implausibility of the claims of human error and raises questions from Iranian authorities about whether Iran will ever disclose the true facts. That view is shared among many of the officials and experts—including the former Foreign Minister of Canada, François-Philippe Champagne; Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Yevgheniy Yenin; as well as the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, Agnès Callamard. In the words of Ms. Callamard, writing about information released by Iran at that point, Iran’s claims and stories appear “to be contrived to mislead in one or more ways.” This document then asserts that on the basis of the information released by Iran, “it is not possible to answer many basic questions and clarify conjectures” that have “led many to question whether the downing of Flight PS752 was not intentional.” There is nothing in Iran’s final report that suggests a different conclusion now.
This final report did not resolve the inconsistencies or provide any additional information on key questions. The chain of commands continues to remain ambiguous, the alleged gross mistakes remain unexplained, and the decision to keep the airspace open remains unfathomable. With the “human error” claims insufficiently substantiated, the presumption of the Association continues to be that the Iranian regime shot down the aircraft deliberately and kept the airspace open deliberately. We urge the involved parties to approach Iran’s claims with the same level of scrutiny and to place the burden of proof on Iran to counter the above presumption in the face of all available evidence.
Iran must provide answers to the questions posed by Special Advisor Ralph Goodale of Canada as well as UN’s Special Rapporteur Agnès Callamard. Iran must also release all communications of the pilot with the airport during the 57-minute delay. Additionally, Iran has a clear obligation under International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) conventions to publish in an appendix the extensive comments that Ukraine and Canada have provided to Iran on the draft of the final report. None of these matters have been included in the final report, and Iran is required to release this information without delay.
It is unthinkable that a government can so ruthlessly murder innocent passengers as a sacrifice for its military adventurism and as a way to prevent a war in the face of its reckless behaviour. It is unbearable to confront the truth that the passengers were alive after the missile strikes to suffer in an unimaginable fear and agony through the final minutes of their precious lives. Nevertheless, it is critical to note these points as a reminder of why justice needs to be pursued.
After fourteen months, the world has failed to hold Iran to account for this heinous crime. The ICAO remains passively on the sidelines and has failed to ensure that credible and impartial investigations are conducted. The perpetrators investigated their own crime, which inherently cannot shed light on the truth. The five affected countries have not gone further than negotiations and have failed to meet Iran with proportional response and consequences. All the while, the families remain grieving and fight alone for those who were robbed of their right to life.
We urge all of the involved governments and international bodies to:
- Respond to Iran’s final report with the appropriate level of scrutiny, question Iran on the inconsistencies in their claims, and disclose their own judgement of the truth;
- Release any information in their possession that can shed light on the truth or aid in the process of seeking justice;
- Keep the PS752 file as a priority in any talks and dealings with the Iranian regime— including negotiations on JCPOA—until the answers are obtained;
- Impose pointed, Magnitsky style sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran as one of the main perpetrators of this mass murder;
- After no more than three months of negotiations, if full information is not disclosed, initiate the process of taking the PS752 file to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as one of the most powerful tools to demand answers and accountability.
The world must not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice and measures are taken to ensure the safety of the international flights over Iran.