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Flight 752 families want Ottawa to get tougher on Iran

OTTAWA — The families of those killed when Iran's military shot down Flight 752 in January 2020 are demanding the Canadian government take a harder line against the regime.
Protesters march to Parliament Hill as they demonstrate against Iran on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — The families of those killed when Iran's military shot down Flight 752 in January 2020 are demanding the Canadian government take a harder line against the regime.

Iranian-Canadians gathered on Parliament Hill Tuesday to mark 1,000 days of mourning their relatives, and the crowd made clear their displeasure at the federal government's actions to date.

"I already lost all my life, all my future, said Maral Gorginpour whose husband Fareed Arasteh died in the crash.

The two got married in Iran, three days before he boarded the flight.

"I need justice; I need the truth and until that day I won't stop," said Gorginpour, who joined hundreds in front of the Supreme Court before marching through the parliamentary precinct.

In her speech the crowd, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland promised Ottawa would take more action but did not say specifically what that would be.

"We will use all the tools at our disposal, to isolate and punish the brutal dictatorship," Freeland said.

Her remarks were interrupted multiple times, as demonstrators called on the Liberals to kick Iranians with ties to the regime out of Canada.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre revved up the crowd by saying the Trudeau government has refused to deem the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of Iran's army, as a terror group.

Poilievre endorsed a formal request last month by the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims to have the International Criminal Court launch a war-crime investigation. So far, Canada has helped Ukraine pursue its own criminal case, in recognition that the airliner was registered in Ukraine. 

"We've had 1,000 days of words; we need action," Poilievre said, drawing cheers.

"The time has come for deeds, and I want you to know you have friends in the Conservative Party who will fight tooth-and-nail."

Sanctions experts have said it would be challenging to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization without barring entry to Canada and freezing assets for thousands of people who had been conscripted into brief, low-ranking positions such as a cook.

But Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi, who has also been pushing his own government to step up its response, said recently Ottawa should work to find a way to deem the revolutionary guard a terrorist group without punishing those who were drafted into non-combat roles.

On Monday Canada sanctioned 25 Iranian officials and nine entities including the head of the revolutionary guard. Ehsassi, whose Willowdale riding in Toronto has a large Iranian-Canadian population, said on Twitter the sanctions are "not sufficient."

In Halifax Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is working with other countries to get justice.

"All Canadians, this government and all political parties stand with the people of Iran as we stand up for women's rights and human rights," he said.

Iranian police have violently cracked down on protests across Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in mid-September, two days after she was arrested by Iran's morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely.

Gorginpour said Ottawa needs to take a tougher line against the regime, or it will continue to beat protesters, down flights and torture political prisoners. 

"While they keep silent, the regime kills more people, and they are not accountable."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2022.

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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