Just two days ahead of the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, aka MH370, families of its passengers said Friday they were still awaiting permission to conduct a commemorative event in Beijing, where organized gatherings must be approved by authorities. The aircraft was carrying 12 crew members and 227 passengers when it went missing. Two-thirds of the passengers lived in China.
Possible event venues include Beijing Capital International Airport, Flight 370’s destination; the Yonghe Temple, a well-known Tibetan Buddhist monastery also called the Lama Temple; and the Malaysian embassy.
“We have applied, but we have still not received a reply,” Jiang Hui, who has acted as an unofficial leader of the relatives in organizing the event and whose mother was on the plane, told Agence France-Presse.
“This is the one-year anniversary. It is very important to us. We have to do something for our relatives,” Dai Shuqin, who had three generations of her family aboard the plane, told AFP. “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 said.
China’s foreign-ministry representative Hua Chunying did not answer whether Beijing would allow relatives to gather at the Malaysian embassy when questioned Friday. “We understand the family members of those passengers on board, their wishes to hold commemorative activities,” AFP quoted Hua as saying at a regular briefing.
Voice370, a support group for families of the missing crew members and passengers, is planning a remembrance day in Kuala Lumpur Sunday. “Somehow, despite the passage of so much time, it is unlikely that we will know anything more on the anniversary about the final moments of the flight -- nor our family members’ whereabouts -- than we did almost a year ago,” said a Voice370 representative, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Malaysia Airlines is also holding a private service Sunday to honor the missing crew members. The event will be attended only by Malaysia Airlines employees and the families of their missing co-workers. “Grief and loss are intensely personal things. Each family involved will want to mark the occasion in their own way, away from the glare of the media,” a Malaysia Airlines representative told the Malaysian news site Bernama. “So as the many families involved gather privately to remember their loved ones who were on MH370, we will assemble the MAS family to devote time to our own private reflection and remembrance.”
Flight 370 disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing last March 8, and a frantic search during the past year has yielded no clues to its whereabouts. In late January, Malaysia officially declared the incident to be an accident, and all those aboard were to be presumed dead.