Katy Hamedankhah wiped away tears Sunday as she remembered the innocent victims on board Ukraine Airlines Flight PS752, including four whom she went to university with in Iran.
“I knew four. We were all trying to apply to universities, move, and they got their applications and their acceptance letters, and they all got on that plane to start a new life,” said Hamedankhah, who moved to Nanaimo one year ago from Iran.
“And it just all went away. So quick.”
University of Victoria student Roja Omidbakhsh, 23, was also among the 176 people on the flight on Jan. 8, 2020. All were killed when their plane was shot from the sky by two Iranian missiles just minutes after takeoff from Tehran.
“These people who did nothing more than just get on a plane and were shot down for absolutely no reason,” said Sally Torani, who was born in Iran and is now a Victoria resident.
Memorials were held in Nanaimo and across Canada Sunday on the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters, the third anniversary of Flight PS752. The tragedy was the second largest loss of life among Canadians in an air disaster since terrorists detonated a bomb on Air India Flight 182 in 1985.
“It’s taking a toll on all of us, and we feel powerless here,” said Comox resident Nada Houshider, who was also born in Iran and moved away at age four.
“They do not have any shame in killing people, civilians, and they have done so in the last 44 years. This is not just one single event,” said Kian Pakdel, on behalf of the Iranian-Canadian Cultural Society of Vancouver Island.
Iranian-Canadians on Vancouver Island are calling on the Federal Government to take a tougher stand on Iran and boycott their exports as punishment for crimes against humanity.
Hamedankhah, 25, considers the extraordinary potential lost in those friends on Flight PS752, adding, “I see myself in them whenever I see a picture, whenever I see a video.”
Now the Nanaimo woman says she plans to spend her life trying to live up to them.