VIJFHUIZEN (The Netherlands)
Three years after Flight MH17 was shot down by a missile over war-torn Ukraine, more than 2,000 relatives on Monday unveiled 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 board the Malaysia Airlines flight en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
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 Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport where the flight took off from on July 17, 2014.
The names of all the 298 passengers and crew killed in the disaster were read out by their families, and 17 local children will lay flowers.
While most of the victims were Dutch, there were 17 nationalities on board including Australians, Britons, Malaysians and Indonesians.
“A tree symbolises ‘hope’ and ‘future’ in many cultures,” the victims’ families association said in a statement.
“We not only want to honour 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 after it was chosen out of three proposals by relatives in late 2015.
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.
About 100 people are wanted in connection with the disaster, after investigators concluded the plane was shot down by a Russian-made BUK missile transported from Russia into areas held by pro-Russian rebels.