A man who lost his wife and young daughter in the PS752 plane disaster denounced Iran’s trial of the suspects accused of responsibility for the crash as a sham.
Hamed Esmaeilion dismissed Tehran’s showcase proceedings, which he said offered no justice for grieving loved ones left behind.
He made the comments in a conversation with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman who spent six years detained in Iran before being released earlier this year. Ms Zahari-Ratcliffe on Wednesday guest edited BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and hosted several guests to speak about freedom in Iran.
All 176 passengers and crew aboard Ukrainian International Flight PS752 died when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot it down shortly after take-off from Iran in January 2020.
Mr Esmaeilion, who is president of the association of the victims’ families fighting for justice, said Iranian authorities had pressured members to accept compensation for their loss but that the majority had refused.
“These days, if you see in Iran they are holding a sham trial,” the widower told Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe. “There is no justice in the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is no accountability,” he added.
Mr Esmaeilion said uncovering the truth about the crash would go a long way to helping the bereaved families heal from the trauma.
“It is not only for PS752,” he said. “I think all the crimes that they have committed in the last 44 years, [for] all those crimes the accused should come to court, in my opinion, and tell the truth and understand what they did to the families of the victims and then they should get the punishment they deserve.”
He said the international community should be responding more robustly to Iran’s crackdown on peaceful protesters.
Since the September death of Mahsa Amini, arrested for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly, there have been mass protests across Iran.
The regime has been accused of using brutal tactics on peaceful demonstrators, shooting some while arresting and torturing others. It has also used the death penalty on people who have publicly called for the downfall of the authorities.
Mr Esmaeilion said Iranian ambassadors should be expelled from countries around the world and groups involved in suppressing freedom of speech in Iran should be designated as terrorist organisations.
He said governments should “do the same thing that they did to the Russian oligarchs” by sanctioning people benefiting from the regime in Tehran. “That would be a very strong message to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. “I don’t know why they hesitate to do this.”
The activist's appeal comes after Labour urged the UK government to impose Magnitsky-style sanctions on those involved in the suppression of protests in Iran. Such measures target those responsible for human rights offences or corruption.
Turning to the Iran nuclear deal, he said he is baffled at how western nations negotiating with Tehran for a revival of the accord can stand by and watch the regime murder its own citizens.
“It is very complicated, I don’t really understand why when they’re killing Iranian people in the streets, in prison, in universities, even in schools, they watch it and they say ‘OK we send warning … but we are waiting for the Islamic Republic of Iran to come to the negotiating table.’
“No. We should put an end to the negotiating table.”