Iran’s FM: Still shamed, apologizing for tragedy of Ukrainian plane crash

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an Instagram post said he still feels embarrassed for the tragic incident of the crash of the Ukrainian plane last year which claimed lives of a number of Iranian elites.

“One year has passed since the bitter dawn of [the Iranian month of] Day 1398 [January 8, 2020] and the tragedy of the crash of a Ukrainian plane and martyrdom of the elite offsprings of this country, and victimizing innocent people. A tragedy that has left Iran bereft. I know about the bitter moments experienced by the bereaved parents of the victims, I have sat with some of them, and I am ashamed of my absolute inability in sympathizing with grieving families,” Zarif added in his post written in Persian-language late on Wednesday.

He said he followed up reports about the tragic incident just like ordinary people and had no more information except official reports made public until Friday afternoon.

As soon as he learned about the incident in the afternoon of Friday, January 10, 2020, Zarif said he urged that “We have to inform people and the whole world of the truth with shame and honesty.”

“At those bitter hours of Friday afternoon,” Zarif added, “I knew very well that acknowledging such a bitter reality is unprecedented or very rare in the world, that how much international pressure this would bring to me and my colleagues, and that how difficult it could be for those who devoted their lives to defend our country and people to accept the terrifying mistake made just by one or a few people.”

He emphasized although he played no role and had no information about the military developments made during the midnight of January 8 or the terrible tragedy that took place at wee hours of the “Black Wednesday,” he “as a humble official with a heart full of sorrow, apologized to everyone and I am still ashamed and apologizing.”

Zarif added, “Since that day, together with my colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we have sincerely tried to fulfil our duties to find out the truth, help alleviate the agony of the bereaved families, prevent their rights from being violated and at the same time protect national interests against the evildoers of this country.”

The Iranian Foreign Minister went on to say, “I know doing that complicated task has sometimes caused sensitivity and resentment of the bereaved, and I sincerely apologize to them.”

“Again, I know that none of these efforts can ultimately compensate for even a small part of this huge and irreparable damage, however, the recent approval of the government is the first step although this will not replace criminal proceedings in the competent domestic courts,” Zarif stressed.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that all those culpable of dereliction of duty in last year’s mistaken downing of a Ukrainian airliner have to face trial.

“We said [this] from day one that all those responsible for the incident should be tried justly at a court,” Rouhani said, addressing a cabinet meeting in Tehran.

“Today too, we [still] lay emphasis [on the same imperative] and the Judiciary will surely make this happen,” he added.

Flight PS752 of Ukraine Airlines, en route to Kiev, crashed near Tehran minutes after takeoff on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 people onboard.

The tragic incident happened when Iran’s air defense were at highest possible level of alert following the earlier assassination of the country’s prominent anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in neighboring Iraq by the US.

Most of the passengers on the plane were Iranian nationals, and the 32 passengers on the flight also had passports from five countries: Canada, Afghanistan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Sweden.

After first field investigations, the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces said in a statement that the Ukrainian Boeing 737 plane was shot down due to human error at a time of heightened tensions and a threat of war from the US.

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