It’s long past time to hold Iran’s regime to account

January 12, 2022

Column

By Michael Levitt

In 2022, will the world finally hold Iran to account for its malign actions? Don’t hold your breath. Last weekend, on the second anniversary of its shooting down of a civilian airliner — killing all 176 people aboard including many Canadians — the Iranian government proved true to form, yet again thumbing its nose at demands for justice and accountability.

The sombre anniversary was a stark reminder of the odious regime leading the Islamic Republic of Iran and its litany of crimes carried out at home and abroad. On Jan. 8, 2020, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 shortly after it took off from Tehran. Nearly 140 of those killed had ties to Canada, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.

On Saturday, as families and friends of the victims held solemn ceremonies in Canada, Ukraine and around the world commemorating their loved ones who perished, they expressed anger and frustration at Iran’s refusal to negotiate a settlement and its continued stonewalling on a full, independent investigation into the tragedy. Sadly, such intransigence is of little surprise given the Iranian regime’s nefarious nature, its past behaviour and the ideology driving it.

Yonah Diamond, a lawyer for the Montreal-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, is representing families of PS752 victims. On Sunday, he told Canadian Press there’s “a significant body of evidence” in various reports, including by the UN, “which point toward criminal liability of Iranian officials at the highest levels for possible atrocity crimes.”

But let’s not pretend this applies only to Flight 752. It’s just the latest illustration of the need to continue to hold Iran to account in Canada by maintaining economic and diplomatic sanctions, upholding its listing as a state sponsor of terror and enforcing the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. It’s shocking there are still apologists for Iran in Canada who insist Ottawa should let bygones be bygones and resume relations with Iran, giving it the benefit of the doubt, as if there were any doubt about its actions.

The PS752 atrocity committed by the IRGC, the brutal enforcers of the regime’s dirty work, not just in Iran but globally, must not go without consequence.

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