Dutch King opens forest monument for MH17 victims
Roughly 2,000 of the victims' relatives from the Netherlands and abroad attended the ceremony for the national monument, along with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. One tree was planted for each of those killed, with a name plate put on every tree.
The monument, which is situated close to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, is an initiative of the foundation for the relatives of the MH17 victims, Stichting Vliegramp MH17.
Foundation chairman Evert van Zijtveld, who lost his two teenage children and parents-in-law in the tragedy, said in his opening speech, "It is special to be here. With this monument, we now have a place to commemorate our loved ones. We are very grateful for this final result."
"Our dear relatives went on a journey here three years ago and now they come together. The victims can never be forgotten. For us and for future generations."
The design of the forest was inspired by the shape of the black memorial ribbon, which was used as a symbol in the aftermath of the crash. The forest is surrounded by a ring of sunflowers, which blossom during the month of July, the month that the plane was downed. In the heart of the forest there is an amphitheater with the names of all the victims coming together in the middle of an eye.
Three years ago, the MH17 took off from Schiphol Airport to Kuala Lumpur and was downed in eastern Ukraine. The disaster cost the lives of 298 people, of which 196 from the Netherlands and others from Australia, Malaysia, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Zealand and Canada.
After the all the names of the victims were read out by their relatives and a minute of silence was held, Dutch King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima laid flowers at the monument, together with 17 children from Vijfhuizen, followed by the relatives.
Though no suspects have been arrested, some progress is being made in the investigation.
In September 2016, a report published by the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team concluded that the plane was shot down by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from a region in eastern Ukraine, controlled by independence-seeking insurgents.
Moscow and the rebel leadership in eastern Ukraine have denied the allegation, saying the plane was shot by a missile from the territory controlled by Ukrainian government troops. Enditem
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