(BEIJING) — Angry Chinese family members of those on board Malaysia Airlines flight 370 defied China’s ban on protests Tuesday to demonstrate outside the Malaysian embassy and demand proof that the plane had plunged into the sea with no hope of survivors.
“We want them to give us the truth,” one man who said he had a family member on board but declined to give his name told ABC News. “There is no evidence to say anything.”
Because public protests are illegal in China, the decision to protest in front of the embassy indicates a degree of desperation. Carrying signs and wearing T-shirts that read, “Give us back our loved ones!” they traveled by bus to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing. They arrived before noon and walked as a group to the front of the embassy gates. Their demand was for proof the plane had crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.
At one point, the crowd clashed with police by throwing bottles and shouting their demands. Shortly after, a more significant Chinese police presence appeared. Dozens of uniformed officers cordoned off the streets, military police surrounded the area and emergency personal drove ambulances on site. Just after noon, journalists were barred from entering the area.
Early Tuesday morning, a representative for family members issued a statement, demanding more information from the Malaysian officials who “have concealed, delayed and hid the truth from the relatives and peoples of the world. This despicable act, aimed to fool the relatives of the 154 Chinese passengers, have devastated us physically and mentally,” it read. “If the 154 of our loved ones lose their lives, then Malaysia Airlines, the government of Malaysia and the military are really the executioners of our loved ones.”
The Chinese group was not invited into the Malaysian Embassy. According to a report in China’s state-run People’s Daily, a representative came out to speak with them but would not offer any additional information. Later that afternoon, most of the family members returned to the Lido Hotel in Beijing.
The Malaysian ambassador met with the families to express his sincere condolences. The mood was tense but subdued, but the ambassador was at a loss to provide the answers many wanted. Eventually, he was escorted out by police.
Malaysia Airlines announced that it was offering initial financial assistance of $5,000 per family member and that additional compensation was being prepared.
Chinese officials from the Ministry of Transportation told the gathered crowd that the President of China, Xi Jinping, met with government members to devise a plan of action to take with the Malaysian authorities and government in order to get as much specific information as possible on the evidence that led them to conclude flight MH370 crashed.
The family members who spoke to ABC News said they had no immediate plans to travel to Australia, but they would continue to press for answers in Beijing.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Chandrika Narayan and Steve Almasy, CNN
Angela Dewan and Euan McKirdy, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN