Winnipeg families are still grieving and waiting for answers one year after their loved ones were killed when a passenger plane was shot down by Iranian missiles.
Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 was mistakenly shot down outside of Tehran by Iranian missiles, killing all 176 people on board, including 57 Canadians. Eight of them were from Winnipeg.
Forough Khadem was on the doomed flight when it went down on Jan. 8, 2020.
“They took away the best thing that ever happened in my life and that was my Forough,” said Kourosh Doustshenas, who is still grieving the loss of his fiance.
“We had so many plans, so many things that we wanted to do,” he said.
He said they were supposed to be married by now — the plan was to tie the knot last June.
Khadem graduated from the University of Manitoba with a PhD in immunology in 2016, and was described as a promising young scientist.
Doustshenas said it’s been a difficult year, with his grief compounded by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has not been easy. The fact is I don’t have family members here, until recently when my sister visited me,” he said.
Doustshenas said he will never have closure until justice is served.
“Why is it possible that the country that was responsible for shooting down a civilian airliner with 176 innocent passengers were in charge of investigating the crime?” he said.
Iranian investigators say miscommunication between soldiers was responsible for the Revolutionary Guard shooting down the plane.
In the days after the crash, Iran denied it was responsible for downing the plane, but eventually admitted it mistakenly fired at the Ukrainian jet during a period of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.
Families want independent investigation
The Americans had just killed a top Iranian military commander, and Iran attacked a U.S. military base.
One year later families are still waiting for Ottawa to open an independent investigation.
“We haven’t gotten any truth, we haven’t received any kind of a justice. And we cannot just simply go about and continue our normal life … they killed our loved ones,” said Doustshenas, who is also the head of the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims.
He says its important that all Canadians continue to remember all the lives lost that day
“We don’t want this to be, ‘Oh it happened a year ago and the grieving is done’ … well no it’s not. It’s still an open wound.
“We haven’t gotten any truth, we haven’t received any justice.”
Iran recently offered to pay $150,000 to the families of each person killed in the tragedy, an offer rejected by Canada’s special advisor Ralph Goodale.
Goodale was appointed last March to lead Canada’s response to the shooting down of the Ukrainian passenger jet.
An online memorial to honour the victims will be held on Friday night.
Kara Sadr and her husband Mohiddine Sadr are remembering their nephew, 11-year-old Noojan Sadr, and his mother Farzaneh Naderi who were among the victims on the downed flight.
“A year later sometimes it still feels very raw and very fresh,” Kara said. “Especially because there are so many amazing memories,” she said.
“He and my daughter were the same age and he was such a smart old soul and generous to a fault, at his own birthday party he gave my daughter a dominoes set.
“He wanted to be a computer engineer and he was really good at it too,” said Mohiddine with a smile.
Naderi, 38, worked as a tutor mentoring kids with autism at St. Amant.
“She was a giver, she donated so much of her time to St.Amant Centre,” said Kara. “She was also a great cook and a great dancer.”
When asked what they think about the Canadian government’s handling of the tragedy, Kara Sadr said they remain hopeful after meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau two weeks after the passenger jet was shot down.
“They promised families would get answers, and that they would not let this go, and we believed them then and we believe them now.”
Shortly after the tragic event, a scholarship was also created at the University of Manitoba in honour of Forough Khadem.
On Thursday the president of the University of Manitoba posted a special message online dedicated to the victims and calling the impact of the loss “immense.”
“The University of Manitoba continues to feel this senseless loss of members in our community,” said Dr.Michael Benarroch.
“We collectively mourn all the passengers from Canada and around the world..we lost their inspiring minds and their warm hearts.”