One year since MH17, son of victims has message of peace
IT HAS been a year since 38 Australian men, women and children were murdered aboard MH17 after it was shot out of the sky above eastern Ukraine.
Time has not seen the grief and sense of loss ease for the family, friends and loved ones of those aboard the downed airliner.
For Paul Guard, who lost his Toowoomba-based parents Roger and Jill Guard, the past year has been a kaleidoscope of different emotions.
But he now has something to rejoice.
"My wife and I are expecting a baby in September so that will be a very exciting new thing to look forward to and give us some joy," he said.
"It is a girl . . . we are thinking of using my mum's first name as her middle name."
Mr Guard's parents were among the 298 people from 10 countries who were killed when the Malaysia Airlines plane flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down.
Mr Guard said since the initial shock had eased, he had tried to make the best of a bad situation.
"It has been a hard year obviously … but we have done the best we can in the circumstances," he said.
"We have had a lot of support from family, friends and the community, especially the community in Toowoomba who have been very good to us during a difficult time.
"There is still an element of disbelief especially given the rather extreme and bizarre circumstances of the tragedy and it is hard to come to terms with that.
"We miss our parents deeply every day and there is no changing that."
The downing of MH17 sent shockwaves around the world and brought home a war raging in a faraway land that until that moment Australians knew very little about.
It is widely believed Russian-backed separatists shot the plane down after mistaking it for a Ukrainian military cargo plane. But Russia has continually denied any involvement despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Mr Guard said he was aware of the war raging in Ukraine at the time and remarkably held no ill-feeling towards those involved.
"I actually thought when it happened that maybe this would be an event that might draw more attention to that conflict and try and bring some positive developments in stopping it," he said.
"To see all those innocent lives lost and then the loss of an aircraft on top of all that, I actually feel very badly for all the people involved in that conflict."
"I think it is something that could have been avoided and resolved peacefully if enough political pressure was brought to bear on it."
Mr Guard said the Australian Government had kept victims' families informed of the investigation's progress, but some details had been withheld for obvious reasons. He said his main priority was to see a solution to the conflict, not an individual paraded to the world as being responsible for bringing down MH17.
"Personally I am more interested and focused on putting pressure on leaders to try and get a peaceful resolution to the conflict," he said.
"I blame the conflict for the whole tragedy. Most likely it was not an intentional act to bring down a passenger jet, in which case either side could have done it."
APN Newsdesk contacted the family and friends of other Queensland victims but they politely declined the offer to take part in an interview at this difficult time.
- APN NEWSDESK.