Man Whose Wife, Children Died in Downed Passenger Plane to “Seek Justice”
Alireza Ghandchi: “They Have Taken Away My Family and Destroyed My Life”
A man whose wife and two children were killed after the Iranian military accidentally shot down the passenger plane they were traveling in shortly after it had taken off from Tehran on January 8, 2019, said he is going to file a lawsuit to bring those responsible to justice.
In an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), Alireza Ghandchi added that state agents were present at his family’s funeral in Tehran to “keep things under control” but no Iranian official has met with him or offered condolences.
“Obviously we are not going to accept it if they put all the blame on some person and say he pushed the button accidentally,” he told CHRI on January 14. “That would mean they’re trying to justify the whole thing. That would be an insult to our intelligence.”
The death certificates for his wife, Faezeh Falsafi, and two children Dorsa and Kousha states that they died from “being crushed as a result of a plane crash,” Ghandchi said. He had traveled from Toronto, Canada to Tehran to bury them in Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery on January 14. Following is a transcript of Ghandchi’s comments to CHRI:
I had a feeling that the security agents were following me, but they haven’t put any pressure on us. They delivered the bodies and we held a funeral. The agents were present at the burial to keep things under control but there weren’t any particular problems.
Unfortunately, none of the authorities have met with us and there hasn’t been any particular expression of condolences. Now that they have been saying our loved ones were ‘martyrs’ and expressing remorse in the media, I thought they would at least show some sympathy to us—at the funeral for instance.
The Canadian government has been very proactive in supporting the victims’ families but our [Iranian] government hasn’t shown any support other than using the term “martyrs” and helping us with the burial at Behesht-e Zahra so that everything would go smoothly. That was the extent of it.
No member of Parliament has come to comfort us or to show some support and make us feel better. We are the ones in mourning; they are the ones at fault. They admitted it. Usually those who have caused an issue try to comfort you. But we have seen none of that.
The term ‘martyr’ is used for those who fought in a war at a time of conflict with an enemy. But my wife and children were accidentally killed in an attack while returning from a trip. It’s not right to call them martyrs.
For whatever reason, they have taken away my family and destroyed my life. They were the fruits of my life. My everything. My only wish is that those who are responsible be identified; whether they made a human error or collectively made a mistake or committed a political mistake or whatever. It’s my right to know what happened and to seek justice against those responsible. I will file a suit.
When we were filling a form at the Medical Examiner’s Office, we were asked if we were going to make a judicial complaint or not. I say yes. How could we not? Someone has to be held accountable. The person who did it was taking orders from a higher authority. If I was to blame someone, it would be the higher authority. He’s the one I would sue.”
[Responding to a question about recent protests in Tehran over the downing of the passenger plane, Ghandchi said:] I’ve been very busy with the funeral, but I heard about the gatherings. If the people and students want to come out and protest, that would be their right.
There are a lot of things I want people to know. We have gone through a lot. My whole life has been destroyed by something that’s being called ‘human error.’ That’s completely unacceptable to me. My daughter was 17 and my son was eight. They were just starting their lives. They and my wife were my whole life. My wife and I struggled a lot for our kids. Immigrating [to Canada] was such a torment, especially for the kids. Now everything has been lost just like that. That’s unacceptable.
I want everyone to know about what our family went through. I want them to know how smart my daughter was. How special she was. What future she had ahead of her. How good she was in school and how she made us proud and how she made Iran proud. That has all vanished now.
Read this article in Persian.