Families still seeking justice for loved ones on fourth anniversary of downing of MH17

Families still seeking justice for loved ones on fourth anniversary of downing of MH17
Copyright Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev
By Rachael Kennedy
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On the fourth anniversary of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, the families of victims are still seeking justice for their loved ones


It's been four years since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard. And yet, the families of the victims are still seeking justice for their loved ones.

The aircraft was en route from the Netherlands to Malaysia on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down over the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, amid an ongoing war between Ukranian forces and Russian-backed separatists.

In May 2018, international investigators pinpointed Russian involvement in the incident, concluding the BUK missile launcher used to down the aircraft over separatist-controlled territory was from the Russian army, specifically the 53rd brigade.

G7 foreign ministers released a statement on Sunday, two days before the fourth anniversary, saying "the Joint Investigation Team's (JIT) findings on Russia's role in the downing of MH17 are compelling, significant and deeply disturbing."

"To this end, we call on Russia to immediately engage with Australia and the Netherlands in good faith to explain and to address all relevant questions regarding any potential breaches of international law."

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident.

Families still seeking justice

On the fourth anniversary of the crash, families are still waiting for someone to be held accountable.

Hans de Borst, the father of Dutch victim Elsemiek de Borst, posted a heartbreaking tweet about his daughter on the eve of the anniversary: "everytime I think I can not miss you more than now, it appears so!"

De Borst famously penned a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014, saying, "Gentleman, I hope you are proud to have, among other things, gunned down her young life, and that you can look in the mirror in a relaxed way tomorrow."

In response to De Borst's remembrance tweet from this year, the daughter and step-daughter of two more victims tweeted a picture of a name tag for Elsemiek de Borst, which she said was one of 298 (one for each victim) placed outside the Russian consulate in Sydney, Australia.

Thomas Schansman, who also lost his 18-year-old son Quinn in the crash, tweeted on the anniversary itself.

Chance to directly address Russia wasted?

On Monday, the eve of the MH17 crash anniversary, US President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of a historic summit, in which Trump was criticised for failing to hold his Russian counterpart accountable for a number of incidents, including the downing of MH17.

Many social media users pointed out that the US president, as an effective representative of the G7 leaders and therefore Sunday's statement, wasted an opportunity to address Russia's involvement in the crash. In fact, Trump's friendly behaviour toward Putin was described as the "most disgraceful" and "totally insulting to the lives of all those lost."

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