Wednesday 6 August 2008

The USS Vincennes affair

The following comes from Ed's Blog City:

'In the midst of the continuing appeal by the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing and the approaching Pan Am 103 Lockerbie 20 year anniversary, there was another painful anniversary marked last month. July 3rd marked two decades since Iran Airbus 655, carrying 290 civilians was downed over the Persian Gulf by an American warship and relatives of those killed gathered at Bandar Abbas to commemorate them.

'Many believe, contrary to the official line taken by the US and UK government's, that this particular event in July 1988 led directly to the attack on the Pan Am flight just before Christmas in 1988.

'The US, despite paying compsenation to the Iranian victims families, has never apoligised for the incident and in fact still to this day seems reluctant to show any remorse for the attack, wiping all recollection of the atrocity from memory.

'In a daily press briefing on July 2, 2008, the following set of questions and answers took place between an unidentified reporter and Department of State Spokesman Sean McCormack:

'QUESTION: Tomorrow marks the 20 years since the U.S. Navy warship Vincennes gunned down the IR655 civilian airliner, killing all 300 people on board, 71 of whom were children. And while the United States Government settled the incident in the International Court of Justice in 1996 at $61.1 million in compensation to the families, they, till this day, refuse to apologize...


'QUESTION: – as requested by the Iranian Government. And actually, officials in the Iranian Government said today that they’re planning on a commemoration tomorrow and it would, you know, show a sign of diplomatic reconciliation if the United States apologized for this incident.


'QUESTION: Do you think it sends a positive message if, on the 20th anniversary of this incident, the United States Government apologize?

'MR. MCCORMACK: You know, to be honest with you, I’ll have to look back and see the history of what we have said about this – about the issue. I honestly don’t know. Look, nobody wants to see – everybody mourns innocent life lost. But in terms of our official U.S. Government response to it, I can’t – I have to confess to you, I don’t know the history of it. I’d be happy to post you an answer over to your question.'

And the following, from the same blog, comes from Wiredispatch:

'Some 300 relatives of victims as well as artists and officials sailed from the southern port city of Bandar Abbas to the spot where the Iran Air Airbus A300 crashed into the water on July 3, 1988, killing all on board.

'The USS Vincennes shot down the airliner shortly after it took off from Bandar Abbas for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Washington said the Vincennes mistook the airliner for a hostile Iranian fighter jet. Iran maintains it was a deliberate attack.

'In recent years, as tensions with the U.S. have increased, the anniversary has become an annual outpouring of anger at America, and it has drawn wider coverage in state media.

'Participants shouted "Death to America" and "We condemn U.S. state terrorism" as helicopters showered flowers on the crash site.

'"This crime will remain a disgraceful blot on the forehead of the United States (government). We are here today to say we will never forget the horrendous crime Americans committed against civilians," said Roya Teimourian, an Iranian actress.

'The participants released 66 white pigeons into the air in remembrance of the 66 children killed in the attack. Relatives of the victims tossed flowers into the water while a navy band played the Iranian national anthem and the song "Death to America."

'"How could a sophisticated warship like the USS Vincennes have mistaken a passenger plane for a fighter jet, which is two-thirds smaller?" said Mehdi Amini-Joz, who lost his father in the attack.

'Ali Reza Tangsiri, a military official, said the incident was a deliberate attack.

'"The airliner was increasing its altitude and was flying a commercial route. The Airbus has a general frequency which shows it is a nonmilitary plane. ... It was deliberately targeted by two missiles from the Vincennes," he said.

'Iran has called for the commander of USS Vincennes at the time, William C. Rogers III, to be brought to trial. In 1990, then-U.S. President George H. W. Bush awarded Rogers the Legion of Merit for his service as a commanding officer.

'Iran has said it received $130 million from a 1996 settlement that included compensation for families of the victims.'

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see that IR655 is still remembered after all these years. I posted a
    message of condolences on their Facebook page recently. I understand that Iran felt a strong need for revenge in the aftermath of the downing of the airbus but nobody aboard PA 103 pulled the trigger which downed the Airbus. Where does retaliation ever end?