Remembering the Victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 - Five Years Later

People place flowers at Dutch embassy
People place flowers at Dutch embassy in Kyiv after Malaysia Airlines crash. JULY 2014: Photo: Deposit Photos

Wednesday marks five years since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) over conflict-hit Ukraine on 17 July 2014.

MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, with 283 passengers, including 80 children, and 15 crew members on board.

The crash sent the country into mourning as it was reported 193 Dutch nationals were on board including notable scientist Joep Lange and his wife and colleague Jacqueline van Tongeren who were en route to an AIDS conference in Melbourne, and Antoine van Veldhuizen, managing partner of Expatica, along with his family who left for a family vacation.

This year, to commemorate the five year passing of Van Veldhuizen, Expatica created a testimonial page on their website for people who were close to the beloved manager to share how he impacted their lives.

“It took me a long time to accept and really deal with it, to put everything into perspective and see the way forward without Antoine,” Founder of Expatica Mark Welling wrote. “The death of Antoine had an enormous impact on Expatica, and on me. With his sudden death our long-lasting collaboration, our partnership, disappeared overnight. The balance in the Expatica team and my own balance disappeared at the same time.” 

After a 15-month investigation by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), in October 2015 it was confirmed that MH17 crashed after being hit by a Russian-made Buk missile over eastern Ukraine when it was found to have disappeared from radar.

One month after that investigation, the MH17 Disaster Foundation (Stichting Vliegramp MH17) along with relatives of those who perished in the crash, began work on the National Monument MH17 – a memorial forest planted in Park Vijfhuizen.

As various memorials get on their way, on Wednesday the MH17 Disaster Foundation (Stichting Vliegramp MH17) will host a symposium titled ‘Five years after the downfall of the MH17,’ focusing “on the impact of the downing of flight MH17 on the relatives, possible criminal proceedings against the perpetrators, the role of social media and (investigative) journalism, the consequences for the safety of air traffic and lessons learned.”

The symposium’s discussion of the criminal proceedings will include the four suspects who were named last month in connection with the crime.  Sergey Dubinskiy, Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girkin, also known as Igor Strelkov – all formerly of the Russian intelligence service – and Leonid Kharchenko from Ukraine, will all be tried for murder in a trial starting March 2020. 

On Thursday a private memorial for the victims will take place at the National Monument MH17 on the Vijfhuizerweg in Vijfhuizen.