Iranian plane crash: Edmonton rallies

After a weekend of mourning and remembering lost loved ones halfway around the world, members of the Edmonton-Iranian community continue to push for answers as Canada sends representatives to the site of a deadly plane crash in Iran.

Ukrainian International Airlines flight Flight 752 was mistakenly shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile this past Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board, including 57 Canadians and 13 Edmontonians.

After a vigil was held Sunday at the Saville Community Centre to remember those lost from the Edmonton community — including professors, students, doctors and children — Payman Parseyan, a prominent member of the local Iranian community, said Monday he’s concerned the families won’t be able to receive justice as long as Iran leads the investigation into the crash.

“I think it’s highly inappropriate, In what circumstance do you allow the culprit to lead an investigation.” said Parseyan. “It seems like we’re not adhering to the most basic principles of investigations.”

In accordance with international standards, Iran’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau is leading the investigation as the “State of Occurrence” into all of the factors that ultimately caused the plane to crash.

The Iranian government initially cited mechanical failures as the cause of the crash before a number of western countries, including Canada, said they had intelligence a missile was the most likely cause. After initially denying the accusations, Iran eventually admitted to accidentally firing the missile after they said the plane flew toward a military position.

Parseyan said he would rather see a group of nations form a team to investigate the crash and if that’s not possible, Canada should lead the charge as, other than Iran, it had the highest number of citizens onboard.

On Monday, the federal government said members of the Canadian Transportation Safety Board (TSB) had arrived in the region and were prepared to be a part of the investigation.

“The purpose of a Convention of Civil International Aviation Annex 13 safety investigation is to find all causal and contributing factors to an accident, without attributing blame or civil or criminal liability to address safety deficiencies and prevent similar accidents from happening again,” said TSB Chair Kathy Fox in a news release.

“Experience has shown that a thorough, safety-focused investigation offers the best chance of confirming what really happened and providing the answers that everyone is asking for, particularly for the families who lost so much.”

Parseyan said it’s important to continue to support the families who lost loved ones in the crash.

“We have a house in Edmonton that currently sits empty that used to be resided in by two professors and two children,” said Parseyan. “I’m happy to help the community in any way that I can.”

Parseyan said he will also continue to push the federal government to work with its international partners to prohibit flights in active conflict zones. Last week’s crash follows in the wake of a Malaysian Airlines flight that was shot down over Ukraine in 2014 during a time of conflict in the region.