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Rediff.com  » News » They did not deserve to be shot out of the sky: Australia mourns MH17 crash

They did not deserve to be shot out of the sky: Australia mourns MH17 crash

July 17, 2015 12:56 IST

Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the families of the Australian victims of the MH17 plane crash that, one year on from the tragedy, “we owe it to the dead to bring the guilty to justice”.

A relative of an Australian victim of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 reacts before placing a floral tribute at a memorial that was unveiled outside Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

Australia on Friday held a memorial service to mark the first anniversary of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17 over eastern Ukraine, in which all 298 people on board, including 38 Australians, were killed.

Leaders, dignitaries and relatives and friends of all the 38 Australians attended the ceremony in Canberra and paid their tribute to the victims of the tragedy.

“In the worst of times, you have displayed the strength of giants and the grace of angels, and I am humbled by your example,” Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at the memorial, held inside the Great Hall of Parliament House.

“Now we owe it to the dead to bring the guilty to justice. We owe it to the living to work for a more just and humane world, a world where people can turn their faces to the sun with the shadows behind them like the sun flowers blooming again in the fields where MH17 came down,” he said.

“All who perished … were innocent people living their lives to the full, advancing careers, celebrating birthdays, visiting family, enjoying retirement or taking the holiday of a lifetime,” Abbott told mourners.

“They deserved to be welcomed home, not shot out of the sky in a war of aggression by one country against a smaller neighbour.

A wreath is placed on a cross with an inscription that reads "Save and protect" next to the site of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Kazbek Basayev/Reuters

“Their passing leaves a void that can never be filled and a pain that still throbs. Nothing that is said or done can bring them back. Little can ease the grief that all who knew them still feel,” he added.

Abbott also unveiled a plaque with the names of the Australians killed.

“The plaque is set in soil that one of our police officers brought back from Ukraine. He knew that the place where MH17 came to rest was sacred and that a piece of it should come back to Australia,” Abbott said, adding, “It was a humane and decent thing for him to know and do.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also read a statement from the Maslin family of Perth, who lost three children aged 12, 10 and eight, along with their grandfather.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott lays a wreath at a ceremony unveiling a memorial outside Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

“No hate in the world will ever be as strong as the love we have for Mo, for Evie, for Otis, no hate in the world will ever be as strong as the love we have for granddad Nick,” the statement read.

Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine undertaking the joint criminal investigation have asked the United Nations Security Council to set up an international criminal tribunal to prosecute those responsible for downing the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over conflict-ridden Ukraine on July 17 last year.

Britain, one of the permanent members of the Security Council, backed the move on Friday.

Relatives of passengers killed onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, cry during a memorial service to mark the first anniversary of the tragedy, in Sepang, Malaysia. Photograph: Olivia Harris/Reuters

“Justice must be delivered for the 298 innocent people who lost their lives,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement. “That requires an international tribunal, backed by a resolution binding all UN member states, to prosecute those responsible.”

The Boeing 777 -- presumed to have been hit by a missile during fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board -- was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. 

Natasha Chaku
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