UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ceremonies Mark Anniversary of MH17

by VOA News July 17, 2015

Ceremonies are being held in several countries Friday to mark one year since a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet exploded over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

In Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko has called last year's downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 a 'ruthless terrorist attack' and said the fatal missile shot could only have happened with participation from Russia.

"This crime represents a threat to the whole international community. Justice has to be restored and the readiness to defend the basic values to be demonstrated. This is an act of atrocity that cannot be forgiven by anyone in the modern world,' Poroshenko said.

In a statement Friday, he said Ukraine's 'moral duty' to honor the victims is to ensure a fair punishment for those responsible for shooting down the aircraft, adding 'the murderers should know that punishment is inevitable.'

Near crash site

On the one-year anniversary of the crash Friday, mourners for the 298 victims gathered in the Ukrainian village of Hrabove near the crash site in eastern Ukraine.

A makeshift memorial has been erected where many have come to pay their respects. Friday's ceremony will include the unveiling of a monument funded by the local rebel government.

While Ukraine blames pro-Russian rebels for shooting the plane down, Moscow and the rebels deny responsibility and blame Ukrainian forces.

​​In Canberra Friday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott recalled the "savagery" of the disaster as he unveiled a plaque set in soil from the place where the plane crashed.

Abbott told those at a memorial ceremony the victims' deaths leave "a void that can never filled and a pain that still throbs.'

'Nothing that's said or done can bring them back, little can ease the grief that all who knew them still feel. Still, this national acknowledgment of that grief may be of some comfort to all who mourn,' he said.

There were 38 Australian victims of the crash.

Video purportedly of crash site

Meanwhile, the Sydney Daily Telegraph newspaper has published online video showing what it said are pro-Russian rebel forces combing through the wreckage of the plane and discovering it is a commercial airliner rather than a Ukrainian military plane.

The newspaper said the footage was smuggled out of the rebels' base in Donetsk and obtained by the paper just this week.

On Thursday, Abbott said the video shows the crash 'was an atrocity, it was in no way an accident.' He accused the shooters of 'reckless indifference' to the nature of their target.

Five countries with nationals involved in the disaster -- Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine -- have established a criminal probe of the crash and are expected to release a final report in October.

Reportedly, the ongoing probe points at a ground-to-air missile that was fired from a village under Russia-backed separatist control in eastern Ukraine.

International criminal tribunal

Those same nations have asked the U.N. to establish an international criminal tribunal to hold to account the parties responsible for the crash.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that establishing an international tribunal would be counterproductive.

The Kremlin issued a statement Thursday saying Putin made his comments in a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands.

Many families of the victims also have gathered in the Netherlands, where the ill-fated flight originated.

The Dutch are leading an international criminal investigation into the crash that is to be completed by the end of this year.

The majority of the 298 people killed one year ago when the plane was hit over eastern Ukraine were Dutch citizens.

Steve Herman contributed to this report from Bangkok.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list