Relatives of people killed in the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) have held a protest near the Russian Embassy in the Hague, Netherlands to mark the three-year anniversary of the catastrophe.
The demonstration represents the first public protest against Russia’s position on MH17, Dutch Public Broadcasting reported. It also came as a prelude to a larger ceremony dedicating a memorial to the crash's victims in Vijfhuizen park, near Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, RFE/RL reported.
The relatives installed a memorial park bench in front of the embassy building. The wooden bench features a plaque with the inscription in English: “Waiting for responsibility and full clarity. In loving memory of all 298 passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines MH17, July 17, 2014.”
The English text is followed by a shorter Russian-language one: “Humanity above politics.”
Stil protest in Den Haag door nabestaanden van de slachtoffers van de MH17 ramp. Bij de Russische ambassade pic.twitter.com/f3zgMI8tuQ— paulinebroekema (@paulinebroekema) July 16, 2017
The protesters accuse Moscow of obstructing the investigation into their loved ones’ deaths. They note that Russia blocked efforts in the United Nations to create an international tribunal on MH17. They also accuse Russia of concealing witnesses to the catastrophe, declining to provide information on the crash, and, at times, even providing incorrect information.
The Boeing 777 jet airliner was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lampur, the Malaysian capital, on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down over separatist-controlled territory in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. All 298 passengers and crew members were killed.
The majority of the passengers were Dutch nationals, while the others hailed from 17 other countries.
On October 13, 2015, a Dutch Security Council commission published a report concluding that a Buk surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile system had downed the airliner.
Later, the independent investigative unit Bellingcat reported that a Russian major-general named Sergei Dubinsky could be connected to MH17’s downing. However, Dubinsky denied any involvement.
(Bellingcat has published a new report marking the three-year anniversary of the MH17 catastrophe that summarizes its findings.)
Malaysia hopes that the suspects in the MH17 case will be named by 2018. On July 16, 2017, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop — whose country lost 38 citizens in the crash — stated that the suspects could be tried in absentia.
//Translated and adapted by Matthew Kupfer, @Matthew_Kupfe