MH17 families plan Dutch memorial for victims

The Hague: The families who lost loved ones in the shooting down of flight MH17 today began voting on where to build a national memorial in the Netherlands to honour the dead.

Three proposals were unveiled today for monuments to remember the 298 people, mostly Dutch nationals, killed in the 2014 air disaster.

Dutch-led investigators concluded last month that the Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down on by a Russian-made BUK missile fired from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

All those on board were killed when the Boeing 777 was blown up en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

“The Foundation MH17 aviation disaster considers that it is important that the choice of location of the monument is supported by the relatives,” the families support group said in a statement.

Three proposals designed by relatives themselves have been put forward — one at The Hague, one close to Schipol airport where the victims boarded the doomed flight and then in Eindhoven where the bodies were brought back to the Netherlands.

In the Hague, the monument would consist of 10 “crumbled” elements. One central piece would be placed behind the renowned Peace Palace, and “in the area of the nine ‘grieving’ embassies one single element. This allows the countries to be connected to each other.”

In Eindhoven there would be a memorial “at the place where the victims have been carried out of the planes.”

The third proposal is to plant a tree for each of the dead at a park close to Schipol airport “where the victims boarded the plane and became a group,” the foundation said in its statement.

The designers for the living tree memorial at Schipol-Vijfhuizen park said on their website: “We wanted to create a place where memories can live on, a place where victims can be remembered and cherished by their loved ones.”

“So the idea of a living forest monument was born,” they said, adding that “a tree symbolises hope and the future in many cultures, a strong symbol.” The living forest plan can be seen on the website treesformh17.Org.

Planted in the shape of a ribbon, the forest would be surrounded by a ring of sunflowers, which blossom during the month of July and “which would radiate a golden glow.”

The relatives have until November 15 to vote for the memorial of their choice.

It is hoped that a decision can be revealed in December, and work can then start immediately.