Ukraine Airlines flight 752 Remembered as Iran Continues Executing Protesters


Iranian Americans this weekend rallied at the Lincoln Memorial in support of the “revolution” taking place in Iran where demonstrations determined to overthrow the Islamic regime continue. Today also marked the third anniversary of the shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 by Iran.

The civilian flight which had taken off from Tehran on January 8, 2020, was on its way to Kyiv when it was shot down by two Surface to Air (SAM) missiles fired by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) shortly after takeoff, killing all 176 innocent passengers and crew aboard.

Initially the Iranian government denied any responsibility for the downing of the jet. After investigations both internationally and by Iran, however, they rescinded that statement by saying the jet had been misidentified as an American Cruise missile and that the missiles that destroyed the aircraft were fired by the IRGC in self-defense.

In 2019 the United States formally designated the IRGC a terrorist organization. The declaration was met with some resistance within the U.S. intelligence community who opposed the declaration. The organization has never been declared thusly by the U.N. Nevertheless, international sanctions have been imposed on the group by multiple countries with Britain presently set to vote on declaring the IRGC a terrorist group this month.

While today’s protest centered on the ongoing killings and repression of demonstrators in Iran by the government, it also paid witness to the loss of Flight 752. One woman addressing the crowd speaking in Farsi related her sadness for the  loss of a loved one who perished that day. She was followed by a speaker who read a statement and addressed the demands of the victims’ families to see that justice is done to prosecute those responsible.

The latest unrest and violent demonstrations are the result of death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who died while in police custody while visiting Tehran. She was arrested by the religious police for not appropriately wearing her mandatory hijab.

Her death sparked an immense outburst from women and others who are tired of suffering at the hands of the Islamic Republic and its agents.

Demonstrators continue to be arrested and held in police custody with many being  “tried” in kangaroo courts and sentenced to death for their participation. To date over 400 people have died including 60 children during demonstrations with 18,000 arrests and 43 people tried and sentenced to death.

Just last month the first demonstrators were executed for their involvement. One, 23-year-old Mohsen Shekari was hanged after being found guilty of blocking a street and found guilty of “waging war against God.” The other, Majid Reza Rahnavard, was executed for “corruption on Earth” under Sharia law.

Their executions were followed by the hanging of Elias Raisi and Ayoub Rigi on Christmas day while yesterday two more protesters, Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, were hanged for allegedly participating in anti-regime protests and for their alleged role in killing a member of the Basji paramilitary force.

After the lively rally the large crowd of demonstrators marched to the U.S. State Department bringing their message and calling for further restrictions and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

Report and photos by Phil Pasquini

(This article has previously appeared in Nuzeink.)

Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.

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