Beijing yet to approve MH370 commemoration: Relatives

Beijing yet to approve MH370 commemoration: Relatives

BEIJING - Chinese relatives of those on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 said Friday they were still waiting for permission from authorities to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the plane's disappearance.

Two-thirds of the 239 people on board the Malaysia Airlines flight were from China, where the stability-obsessed ruling Communist Party keeps a tight control on organised gatherings.

Grief-stricken family members plan to hold an event in Beijing to mark one year since the Boeing 777 went missing Sunday, relatives told AFP.

But they have so far failed to secure official permission to gather, with possible sites for a meeting believed to include the Malaysian embassy, the airport and the Lama Temple, a historic Tibetan Buddhist place of worship.

"We have applied but we have still not received a reply," said Jiang Hui, an unofficial relatives leader, whose mother was on the plane.

But many were still planning to express their grief with other relatives in Beijing - with or without official approval.

"This is the one year anniversary. It is very important to us. We have to do something for our relatives," said Dai Shuqin, whose younger sister was on board along with three generations of her family.

"We cannot be cold and not care. We can't be like that. So we will go to the embassy. Some will go to the Lama Temple," she told AFP.

Chinese relatives have complained in the past of being harassed by police as they attempted to press Malaysian officials for news at an information centre in Beijing.

In the weeks following the plane's disappearance, they regularly clashed with Malaysian Airlines staff and Kuala Lumpur's diplomats, accusing them of incompetence and deceit.

The family members staged a rare protest at the Malaysian embassy in late March last year which saw a large contingent of uniformed police and plain clothes security protect the mission.

Some have travelled to Malaysia for a "Day of Remembrance" being held Sunday by relatives in Kuala Lumpur, with a handful visiting the Malaysian Airlines headquarters in the capital on Friday, according to pictures posted online.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Friday sidestepped a question on whether Beijing would let relatives gather at the Malaysian embassy.

"We understand the family members of those passengers on board, their wishes to hold commemorative activities," Hua told reporters at a regular briefing.

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