Canada grieves for the dead in Iran airliner shoot-down

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About 2,000 people packed a memorial in Toronto, Canada, on Sunday to remember the victims of a Ukrainian airliner shot down in Iran in a disaster that killed 57 Canadians mainly of Iranian descent.

The ceremony was hosted by the cross-cultural Iranian-Canadian charity Tirgan.

Al Jazeera’s Daniel Lak, reporting from Toronto, described the turnout as “overwhelming” with a 100-metre line of people waiting outside to get in.

“They read out the names of the Canadian victims from across the country of this tragedy in Tehran. There was hardly a dry eye,” said Lak.

In the face of mounting evidence, Iran acknowledged Saturday it shot down the Ukrainian jetliner by accident, killing all 176 people aboard. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani called it a “disastrous mistake”.

The plane, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians and 11 Ukrainians.

Iran plane crash: Canada mourns its dead from Ukraine flight PS752

“There is no justice in this world,” said Masoud Niknam whose brother Farhad Niknam, a dentist and married father of two children from Toronto, was killed in the crash.

“I don’t believe in anything anymore. We will have a hole in our hearts forever and that cannot be filled with anything.”

Edmonton memorial

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s office confirmed he will address a memorial service in the western city of Edmonton where 13 victims lived.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is also expected to attend.

“Canada and the world still have many questions, questions that must be answered,” Trudeau said in a news conference in Ottawa on Saturday.

The memorials follow several days of grief in Canada, including candlelight vigils in many cities.

“The community is unbelievable. The people feel whole Canada is hugging them,” said Reza Akbari, president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton.

Mourners this week placed flowers and scattered rose petals outside the Edmonton office of University of Alberta engineering professor Pedram Mousavi, who died in the crash with his wife, engineering professor Mojgan Daneshmand, and their two daughters.

“They were both so kind and caring,” wrote Dennis Ramsawak, who took classes with both professors, in an online memorial. “I’m so heartbroken. It’s a great loss for the community.”

Edmonton’s Iranian community is collecting funds to pay funeral and other expenses for the victims’ families.

Some Edmonton relatives have already travelled to Iran to bury relatives, Akbari said, adding transporting remains to Canada for burial would be complex and costly.

Iran protesters chant: ‘Death to the liars’

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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