MH17 memorial: Moving on as important as finding perpetrators, says survivor
The memorial on the third anniversary of the MH17 disaster started at 2:00 p.m. at the site of the National MH17 Monument in Park Vijfhuizen, next to Schiphol airport. The search for the perpetrators behind MH17's downing continues, but finding a way to move on is just as important, Evert van Zijtveld said on behalf of the survivors' foundation Vliegramp MH17, according to AD's live blog of the memorial.
Van Zijtveld lost two children and his wife's parents in the disaster. He emphasized that the search for the perpetrators continues. "But we have to move on too. I sincerely hope that everyone can go on. Because with sadness alone, life becomes too heavy", he said.
The National Monument was also unveiled at the memorial. It is surrounded by 298 trees, one for every person who died when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. "Our loved ones traveled together. With this memorial forest, they are symbolically brought together again. The victims must never be forgotten." Van Zijtveld said.
Pastor Jules Dresmé spoke after Van Zijtveld. "Three years ago the whole world was knocked to the ground when MH17 was shot down", he said, referring to the day as 'the day your lives broke'. He hopes that the survivors received the support they needed over the past three years. "Life goes on, in one way or another." he said. "We will now read the names, with love in our hearts. We will never forget them, your loved ones." 54 loved ones read the names of the 298 victims aloud.
Over 2 thousand relatives and loved ones attended the memorial. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima also attended, as they did on each of the previous anniversaries and the first national memorial shortly after the disaster. As before, the Dutch royals decided to sit among the survivors.
On July 17th, 2014 Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board the Boeing 777 were killed, including 196 Dutch. The criminal investigation into the disaster is still ongoing. So far the Joint Investigation Team determined that the plane was shot down with a Russian BUK missile system, fired from a field in Ukraine that was under the control of pro-Russian separatists. The investigators have a group of people suspected of involvement, but so far no one was charged.
On Sunday a small group of survivors held a silent protest in front of the Russian embassy in The Hague. They called on the country to "stop playing games" with the investigation.
A week and a half ago, the Dutch government announced that the MH17 perpetrators will be tried in the Netherlands, under Dutch law. On Monday EU foreign minister Federica Mogherini read a statement in which she confirmed that the European Union and its 28 member states support this decision. She also emphasized that it is crucial for the investigators to be able to complete their work in an independent and thorough manner.