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“Death cannot defeat memories.”

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That is the phrase used by ceremony MC Pegah Salari to encapsulate loss and grief during the unveiling of a memorial for the victims of Flight PS752 at the University of Alberta on Tuesday.

On Jan. 8, 2020, 176 people were killed when their flight out of Iran was shot out of the air by a missile belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shortly after the plane departed from Tehran. Thirteen of the victims were Edmontonians, 10 of whom were directly associated with the University of Alberta community.

“These remarkable individuals were our colleagues, friends, instructors, mentors, peers, and students,” said U of A president Bill Flanagan.

“Their loss has been felt in our classrooms, in our research labs, and across our campuses. And for many of you, it’s been felt in your homes and in your communities. We all feel this loss in our hearts.”

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The plaque is placed during the unveiling of a new memorial site on campus in honor of the ten members of the University's community and the three members of their families who were among the 176 people killed in the downing of Flight PS752 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Photo by Ian Kucerak
The plaque is placed during the unveiling of a new memorial site on campus in honor of the ten members of the University’s community and the three members of their families who were among the 176 people killed in the downing of Flight PS752 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Photo by Ian Kucerak Photo by Ian Kucerak /postmedia

The memorial plaque bears the names of each of the 13 victims: Mojgan Daneshmand, his wife Pedram Mousavi, and their two daughters Daria and Dorina Mousavi; newlyweds Arash Pourzarabi and Pouneh Gorji; U of A students Nasim Rahmanifar, Amir Hossein Saeedinia, Elnaz Nabiyi; alumni Mohammad Mahdi Elyasi; and Shekoufeh Choupannejad and her daughters de Ella Sara and Saba Saadat.

The plaque was mounted next to a bench and a weeping spruce tree in Rutherford Quad.

“This place of quiet reflection will serve as a reminder of how important these individuals were to the University of Alberta and our community,” Flanagan said. “It will be a lasting tribute to their legacy and memory, for all those who visit north campus.”

Leila Latifi, through a translation read out by Salari, said her son, Saeedinia, was excited to come to Edmonton and learn at the University of Alberta.

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“He was coming here to live in safety and to learn at a prestigious university,” she said. “I have no doubt that if he had come here and if he had made it here, he would have been very successful.”

Latifi said her son wanted to achieve the highest possible education and teach as a university professor. She asked that the victims continue to be remembered.

“Our children are gone too young. They didn’t die of natural causes,” she said. “They were murdered and died with them, all their hopes and dreams.”

Portraits of the lost are seen during the unveiling of a new memorial site on campus in honor of the ten members of the University's community and the three members of their families who were among the 176 people killed in the downing of Flight PS752 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Photo by Ian Kucerak
Portraits of the lost are seen during the unveiling of a new memorial site on campus in honor of the ten members of the University’s community and the three members of their families who were among the 176 people killed in the downing of Flight PS752 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Photo by Ian Kucerak Photo by Ian Kucerak /postmedia

Hamed Esmaeilion, spokesman for the Association of Families of Flight PS752, traveled from Toronto for the memorial unveiling. Esmaeilion, whose wife and nine-year-old daughter were killed in the downing of the plane, said during his speech there is no evidence to prove the crash was accidental.

“Revelations to date indicate that the civilian aircraft was intentionally targeted by IRGC missiles,” he said.

Speaking to reporters, Esmaeilion said it has been 28 months yet there are still many unanswered questions about what happened to Flight PS752 and Iran needs to be held accountable.

“Hopefully one day in the future we can get together in a court. We need a day in court,” he said. “The memorial means a lot to us, but justice is the most important thing for us.”

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