Human Rights Watch – Iranian authorities have engaged in a campaign of harassment and abuse against families of people killed in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 in January 2020, Human Right Watch said today. On April 6, 2021, Iranian authorities announced that they had indicted 10 people for their role in the incident but have not provided any public information about their identities, ranks, or the charges against them. Governments participating in the Flight 752 investigation should support family members of victims in pursuing a path for justice and accountability.
From October 2020 to January 2021, Human Rights Watch spoke to 31 family members of victims and people with direct knowledge of the authorities’ treatment of the families. They said that Iran’s security agencies had arbitrarily detained, summoned, abusively interrogated, tortured, and otherwise mistreated victims’ family members. The agencies also failed to return victims’ possessions to their relatives and interfered with burial and memorial gatherings in an apparent attempt to curtail efforts for accountability.
“Iran’s Revolutionary Guard killed 176 people without a shred of accountability, and now Iran’s brutal security agencies are abusing victims’ family members to squash any hope for justice,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Rather than attempting to regain people’s trust through a transparent investigation and redress for the families, the authorities are again silencing accountability efforts.”
On January 3, 2020, a US drone strike in Iraq killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, a branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The killing was followed on January 8 by Iranian missile attacks against a US base in Iraq and Iran’s shooting down of a civilian jetliner close to Tehran’s Imam Khomeini international airport. After several initial denials, the Armed Forces Central Command admitted on January 11 that the Revolutionary Guards had “mistakenly” shot down the passenger jet, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board.
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