BEIJING - Six months after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing, relatives of those lost, desperate for any hint of what happened, say Chinese authorities have become openly hostile towards them.
In interviews, several relatives described how they had been detained and physically abused by police - seemingly in retaliation for publicly pressing Chinese and Malaysia Airlines authorities for information about the hunt for the plane.
"In the beginning, Beijing police were protecting us, but their attitude has completely changed," said 38-year-old Cheng Liping, whose husband was on the flight. "I can't fathom why they're doing this. I feel so incredibly disappointed."
The Boeing 777 aircraft carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared on March 8 after taking off from Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing. About two thirds of those on board were from China.
Investigators say what little evidence they have to work with suggests the plane was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometres from its scheduled route before eventually plunging into the Indian Ocean.
But no one knows for sure, or why. A painstaking international search has failed to find any trace.
For the relatives, neither their pain nor their single-minded quest for answers has eased, and that seems to have become an annoyance for China's authorities.
Police have beaten at least two people whose children were on the flight, several family members said. In one case, a woman in her fifties was hospitalised for three days.
"I went to see her in hospital, I could see the injuries on her head and body," said Zhang Yongli, 64, whose daughter was on the flight. "The way the police acted was very extreme, it's wrong to treat us this way."
Beijing police did not respond to requests for comment.