The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down Flight PS752 only a little more than two years ago, killing all the passengers and staff. There were 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents of Canada on the flight. Canada was among the first countries to analyze the satellite imagery and intelligence from the night of the tragedy. Despite Tehran’s initial silence and later disinformation campaigns (stating the plane had mechanical defects), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a timely statement, expressed that reliable intelligence indicated the plane was shot down by multiple missiles fired from an IRGC military base in Tehran.
Journalists and political activists, many of whom reside in the West, carried out the disinformation campaigns of the Islamic Regime in Iran. Many have long accused Tehran of using its links and lobbies in the West to spread propaganda and disinformation campaigns, pushing its political agenda beyond the borders of Iran. Although analysts have known of the regime’s links in the West, reports have recently come out saying that Iran successfully infiltrated Instagram’s contractor that decides which posts are to be blocked and which accounts are to be removed. In the most recent incident, Instagram removed posts related to Iranians’ freedom-seeking protests from official news-agency pages without them violating Instagram rules.
The families of PS752 passengers have been tirelessly fighting for justice, appealing to the courts of law and the Canadian government. Their goal is not compensation, for financial payment can never compensate them for their loss. Rather, they want to see an internationally recognized court of law to try the culprits, including the high-ranking IRGC commanders. In one notable case, an Ontario court ruled that the IRGC intentionally shot down the plane. Recently, the Canadian government officially notified the Islamic Regime in Iran of the court ruling. In a similar manner, Oleksii Danilov, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, stated that Ukraine believes the Islamic Regime in Iran intentionally shot down flight PS752 in a premeditated terrorist act. Considering the Islamic Regime’s secrecy (including bulldozing and clearing the crash site before investigations begin), their disinformation campaigns, and their total lack of cooperation in investigations, many believe that the plane was intentionally shot down by the IRGC for political reasons.
Families of PS752 have continuously stated that the response of Trudeau’s government to the downing of the plane has been inadequate. The families demand that the government must hold Iran accountable and take concrete and meaningful actions, such as by listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization, which Canada has long resisted. In the most recent case, the families demanded that officials cancel the World Cup qualifying match between Iran and Canada for multiple reasons. First, those tied to the regime and IRGC often manage the soccer clubs in Iran, meaning that the qualifying match would allow culprits and accomplices in the terrorist downing of the plane to enter Canada. Second, soccer in Iran is political, and Iran has already received multiple warnings for its violations of human rights from FIFA. To the surprise of many, Canada Soccer decided to cancel the match in the end.
Canceling the World Cup qualifying match is only one step toward a proper response to the demands of the PS752 families. As stated, the Iranian diaspora and the families of PS752 have long asked the government to designate the entirety of the IRGC as a terrorist entity, albeit with no success. The first step toward justice for the families of PS752 is to enlist the IRGC as a terrorist entity, which would serve as both a symbolic and pragmatic role in seeking justice. Further, the government must assemble a special committee to investigate the Islamic Regime’s links and lobbies inside Canada. Doing so would help bring the misinformation and propaganda campaigns of the Islamic Regime’s lobbies to an end. Such a committee would be significant because without disruptions from Iran’s disinformation and propaganda, the families of PS752 and Iranian-Canadians would be able to seek justice more easily. The Canadian government must also shoulder the responsibility of leading the investigations—and not allow other countries to lead —for most of the passengers were either Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Only then it would be foreseeable to see the culprits tried in an internationally recognized court of law for their terrorist downing of the plane.
Canada has historically proven to be a leader in upholding and advocating for human rights standards. A notable case is that of South Africa’s apartheid regime and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s initiatives to lead an international coalition in sanctioning and discrediting it. Mulroney, through unique approaches and initiatives, made it shameful for any country to trade with or support the apartheid regime in any way. Further, Mulroney’s government lobbied its demands through the United States Congress to ensure America imposed economically crippling sanctions against the apartheid regime, facilitating the transfer of power in South Africa. Canada’s crusade for human rights was successful when Mulroney’s government decided that enough is enough and rigorous actions must be taken.
Canada’s fight for justice in the PS752 case will be successful as well, only if the government takes up the responsibility of leading the investigations and holding the Islamic Regime in Iran accountable. The world must strip Iran of its international standings—however much it has left—particularly in international organizations and committees, such as those in the United Nations. The Canadian government must also lobby its demands to its allies—particularly now that the Vienna talks over Iran’s nuclear program are in progress and Iran is in a challenging position. Joint action with Israel and the United States would prove beneficial, since both countries are now looking for innovative ways to tear down the regime’s pretenses. This is seen in Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s comprehensive actions, such as sharing Iran’s classified nuclear documents that prove the Islamic regime in Iran is buying time by deceiving the International Atomic Energy Agency and Western nations.
Canada proved to be a leader in dismantling the apartheid regime of South Africa, and now is the time to reaffirm Ottawa’s leadership, this time in seeking justice and holding the Islamic Regime in Iran accountable. Justice will be served, but only with an assertive tone from the Canada’s government and a comprehensive action plan that involves lobbying Canada’s demands through its allies.