Hundreds are expected to gather in North Vancouver on Sunday to mark the third anniversary of the downing of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752, and to commemorate the 176 passengers and staff whose lives were lost as a result.
The rally is brought about by international non-profit The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims. It will start at 2 p.m. at Rey Sargent Park on the northwest corner of Lonsdale Avenue at 21st Street.
The march will continue down to the Shipyards, where an event will run until 5 p.m.
“This rally is about raising awareness,” said Arman Abtahi, event organizer and association member.
“This is really important. It is the third anniversary and this event is happening in more than 100 cities in the world, across the world, from South Korea all the way to Vancouver,” he said.
“We are all in solidarity with the people of Iran, they are speaking up for their freedoms, and we want to be the voice of those who continue to suffer under the Islamic regime.”
Arman said the rally will conclude with speeches held at the community stage, given by victims’ family members and Myroslav Petriw, the former president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Vancouver Branch, before the evening comes to a close via candlelit vigil.
Sunday Jan. 8 will mark three years to the day since Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane, Flight 752, shortly after its takeoff in Tehran.
Two surface-to-air missiles claimed the lives of 176 passengers and crew, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.
Families of the victims are still clamouring for more details on what occurred that day, alongside the Canadian government itself.
In 2022 Canada was one of four countries, alongside Sweden, Ukraine and the UK, to call on Iran to agree to binding arbitration — to settle the years-long dispute over accountability and reparations for the downing of the flight. If Iran does not agree within six months, the case will be referred to the International Court of Justice.
City of North Vancouver Coun. Shervin Shahriari, who this year became the first Iranian-born Canadian in the province to be elected to council, said the rally should be “a very important event” for the North Shore.
“We have 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents who perished on that flight, and there has been an ongoing battle from the families of those lost, to obtain information and justice,” he said.
“I am supporting the event to stand with them in their quest.”
Shahriari said he has been following the numerous protests and marches in Iran in previous months, and that this rally in North Vancouver will, too, incorporate solidarity with those leading protests in the Middle East.
“They are also fighting for freedom and justice,” he said.
Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.