MH17 families to unveil memorial

Source:AFP Published: 2017/7/17 22:48:39

298 trees planted near Amsterdam, one for each victim


Three years after Flight MH17 was shot down by a missile over war-torn Ukraine, more than 2,000 relatives gathered Monday to unveil a "living memorial" to their loved ones.

A total of 298 trees have been planted in the shape of a green ribbon, one for each of the victims who died on the Malaysia Airlines flight en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima joined government and international officials at a solemn ceremony to dedicate the memorial in the park of Vijfhuizen, close to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam where the flight took off.

The names of all the 298 passengers and crew killed in the disaster will be read out by their families, and 17 local children will lay flowers. While most victims were Dutch, there were 17 nationalities on board including Australians, Britons, Malaysians and Indonesians.

"A tree symbolizes 'hope' and 'future' in many cultures," the victims families association said in a statement. "We not only want to honor the MH17 victims, but also want to create a place where everyone can keep their memories of the 298 passengers alive."

Funded by donations, the project was designed by artist Ronald A. Westerhuis and landscape architect Robbert de Koning.

The trees will be surrounded by sunflowers, which bloom in July, and will "radiate a golden glow" over the trees, the foundation said. The flowers also represent sunflower fields in eastern Ukraine. Each tree bears the name of a victim, and at the heart of the forest of 11 different tree varieties is a steel memorial shaped like an eye, turned upwards looking at the skies.

One apple tree has been dedicated to 16-year-old Gary, from Rotterdam, whose body has still not yet been identified.

"It's nice to think that he has a tree, since we have not received his body. We don't want Gary to be forgotten. We don't want any of the 298 victims to be forgotten," his father Jan Slok said.

As the third anniversary of the tragedy dawns, no suspects have been arrested although it was announced this month that any trials will be held in the Netherlands.



Posted in: EUROPE

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