Relatives of those killed when the Iranian military shot down Flight PS752 in January 2020 say that Canada has become a safe haven for regime officials.
“Canada has become a safe haven for the criminals of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Hamed Esmaeilion testified Thursday afternoon before the House judiciary committee.
Esmaeilion leads a group representing grieving families, many of whom know many who have worked for the regime, or are related to high-ranking officials, who are moving freely in Canada.
“This is a big concern for the Iranian people,” he said.
Amid a brutal crackdown on human rights protesters and women across Iran, the federal Liberal party is facing growing pressure to label part of the Iranian military as a terrorist group. .
That coincides with the 1,000th anniversary of the downing of the PS752 near Tehran, killing 176 people, most of whom traveled via Ukraine to Canada.
No one is responsible.
Esmaeilion considers it a naive bureaucracy that sees Iran as a normal country.
“Mostly legal or advisory teams; they still believe in negotiating with Iran because they don’t see Iran, or the Iranian regime, as a Mafia group,” he said.
“If you change your mind, that you are not negotiating with Switzerland or a democratic country, then it will solve the problem.”
He said he had told officials that Canadians would never play a hockey game against North Korea, however Canada’s men’s national soccer team was scheduled to play against Iran on Wednesday. June, before Canada Soccer was canceled amid political protests.
Esmaeilion said he was certain people linked to Tehran were responsible for slitting his tires and making phone calls that he found to be threatening.
The RCMP previously said it was “aware of reports involving victim intimidation, harassment and intimidation.”
And while the Liberals said they updated the sanctions list on Monday based on the impact of Esmaeilion’s group, he said there were many other officials whom relatives recommended months ago.
“I’m shocked that I don’t see (Supreme Leader) Ali Khamenei on the list,” he said, adding that President Ebrahim Raisi and former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif should be listed.
He also called on Iran’s delegate to the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization, saying Farhad Parvaresh should be kicked out of Canada.
This week, a crowd of Iranian-Canadians came to Parliament Hill, demanding that Ottawa consider the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group.
Experts have said such a change would be difficult to enforce, as Iran has placed millions of people in its air combat roles. A terror list forced Ottawa to freeze assets held inside Canada and deny entry to the country.
Esmaeilion says it’s a serious concern, and there could be as many as 15,000 people living in Canada in that condition. But he said their military documents clearly state whether they hold the rank of senior and whether they join the IRGC by choice.
“We can waive those people. We’ve talked to a number of attorneys and this is a simple solution to get the IRGC on the list.”
He also reiterated his call to ask those responsible for the plane crash that killed his wife and daughter. Esmaeilion’s team wants Canada to refer the case to ICAO and the International Criminal Court.
“So far, after 1,000 days, we don’t have a road map; we don’t have a timeframe,” he said.
In an interview on Wednesday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Canada wants justice for the victims of Flight PS752, but must go all out with Iran before an international court can handle it. case.
“The process is painful, long, cumbersome and complicated,” he said.
“These international bodies are flawed, imperfect, but they are our best way to hold Iran accountable.”
Alghabra said Canada has been helping to lead reforms aimed at averting another disaster, such as the Safer Skies initiative. The idea is for a global body to assess when conflict makes civilian flights unsafe, and advise companies and countries not to take off.
The flight that Iran shot down took off for several hours in response to the US assassination of senior Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani.
Alghabra said: “The PS752 should not have been flying when there was a conflict nearby.
– With files from Caitlin Yardley in Montreal.
This report by the Canadian Press was first published on October 7, 2022.