Protests mark a year since MH370 vanished

Protests mark a year since MH370 vanished
Police preventing foreign media from entering the Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing with family members of Chinese passengers on Flight MH370.

CHINESE relatives of those on board missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 marched on the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing yesterday to demand answers on the plane's fate, one year after it vanished.

Many dismissed an interim report on the disappearance as "useless", saying that it did not shed light on the mystery.

Police sealed off the road leading to the embassy, but about 30 relatives staged a small protest in the afternoon, shouting slogans such as "fight to the end" and "Malaysian government, apologise to us!"

"We are protesting against Malaysia's continued attempts to hide the truth from us.

It's been a year and we want answers," Mr Liao Jun, 57, told The Straits Times.

His son was one of the 153 Chinese citizens on board the flight that went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 last year.

Many Chinese next of kin cling to conspiracy theories involving hijacking and kidnapping.

In the Malaysian capital, relatives marked yesterday's anniversary at a remembrance event in a shopping mall.

Hundreds of passers-by and well-wishers attended the ceremony, which had a vibrant atmosphere with local artists performing songs, including one written in tribute to victims.

"It's to remember and pay tribute to our loved ones and also for everybody to remember that after a year, we still don't know where they are," said Ms Grace Nathan, whose mother Anne Daisy was on the flight.

About 50 family members took to the stage to read a poem in English and Mandarin, describing "a horrible game of hide and seek".

Many relatives expressed a lack of faith in any of the official findings in the interim report.

"I don't plan on reading it because whatever is in it is not going to be of any use," said former MAS air stewardess Intan Maizura Othman, whose husband Hazrin Mohamed Hasnan was a steward on the flight.

In Beijing, about 50 relatives gathered outside the Yonghegong Lama Temple, a Tibetan Buddhist place of worship, while members of the media were kept at bay by police.

A few relatives wore T-shirts that read "Never give up, search on" and "Tell me the truth, where is MH370?", as they entered the temple in small groups.

Some relatives were blocked by the authorities from attending, and some expressed increasing anger towards the Chinese government.

Relatives accuse the authorities of using strong-arm tactics to oppress them in their quest for the truth about the flight.

Some said they were prevented by local officials from going to Beijing by having their identification cards confiscated.

Beijing resident Zhang Yongli, 64, whose daughter was on the plane, told The Straits Times that police have blockaded him in his home in the capital's Shunyi district since last Saturday morning.

"There are at least three policemen here and I can't leave my house at all.

They don't want me to take part in any of the activities," he said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a news conference that the government sympathises with the relatives.

"Today will be a tough day for the next of kin of passengers on board the flight.

Our hearts are with you," he said, adding that Beijing will help safeguard their "legitimate and lawful requests and interests".

esthert@sph.com.sg

shannont@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 9, 2015.
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