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Angry Chinese families threaten hunger strike over missing plane

By Maxim Duncan

(Reuters) - Furious Chinese families threatened on Tuesday to go on hunger strike until the Malaysian government tells them the truth about the fate of their relatives aboard a Malaysia Airlines flight which went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Ten days after the airliner vanished an hour into its flight, hundreds of family members are still waiting for information in a Beijing hotel.

Around two thirds of the 239 passengers on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are Chinese.

Families vented their pain and anger on Chinese representatives sent by the airline to meet them on Tuesday and demanded to see the Malaysian ambassador.

"What we want is the truth. Don't let them become victims of politics. No matter what political party you are, no matter how much power you have, if there isn't life, what's the point? Where is compassion?" asked one middle-aged woman angrily.

"You're always going back and forth. I think your government knows in their heart why we want you to answer us. Because you're always tricking us, telling us lies," added one man.

China has repeatedly called on the Malaysian side to do a better job at looking after the relatives of the Chinese passengers, and to provide them with updated information.

"China has all along demanded that the Malaysian side and Malaysia Airlines earnestly respond to the reasonable requests of the Chinese families," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing.

The Chinese representative from the airline said what information the families received was beyond his control.

"I can accept the criticisms and mistakes that you have pointed out. But the problem is that some information and material we really have no way to access. From my position, I really cannot access it. So I beg for your forgiveness," he said.

As the representatives left, families shouted after them, chanting slogans with their fists in the air.

"Keep protesting, Respect life, Don't let them become victims of politics, Tell us the truth!" they shouted.

Speaking to reporters, a woman who had led the chanting held up a piece of paper with slogans written on it, and said the families were calling for a hunger strike.

"Respect life, return our relatives. Can everyone read it? Can everyone read it?" she asked.

"We're going on hunger strike. I'm representing," she said.

"The families are on the point of collapse. There are so many families coming and going, some have already left. The young people can stand it, but the elderly have already broken down," she shouted.

It was not clear how many of the relatives would join the hunger strike, or if it had even begun.

A man surnamed Wen whose son was aboard the plane repeated demands to see the ambassador.

"We haven't yet decided whether we will go to the embassy, but we demand that the Malaysian ambassador come and represent the government to come and answer the families' questions and give them some information. They're secretive, they never tell the truth," he said.

Anger has also spread online, with some Chinese calling on the government to impose sanctions on Malaysia for its poor handling of the incident.

"Malaysia knew that the plane changed direction, yet concealed it, knew that it was not in South China Sea, yet let everyone look there for several days, and they are still hiding all kinds of information," one user wrote on microblogging site Sina Weibo. "This rogue state really should be sanctioned."

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montgomerybikerrichards March 18 2014 at 6:57 PM

Yah, a hunger strike will work. Saves food!!!!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
vavikingsfan March 18 2014 at 11:58 PM

A hunger strike is useless. They are not considered important enough to grab the attention required for a successful hunger strike. Additionally, the logic behind the hunger strike is fuzzy at best. How is a hunger strike going to get the government of China to release more information. The government releases information on their own time.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Margie March 19 2014 at 12:34 AM

My heart goes out to each and everyone not knowing what has happened to their loved ones ,is worse than knowing they are dead and not coming back. At least they would have clouser.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Gin Margie March 19 2014 at 12:37 AM

Closure???Closure?? There's no such thing when you have lost a loved one....

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Margaret March 19 2014 at 12:46 AM

I feel great sympathy for the families of the missing passengers and crew, but with many nations involved in the hunt for the missing aircraft, I fail to see what the families of the missing think they will accomplish by a hunger strike. If they think the Malasian government is so heartless as to be indifferent to their anguish while waiting for word of their loved ones, what makes them think the Malasian government would care if they died of starvation?

Flag Reply +4 rate up
me March 19 2014 at 1:54 AM

Someone might clue those families in. the airliner can stay lost a lot longer than they can go without food. The families are going to loose this battle before it gets started.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
edzackly March 19 2014 at 1:59 AM

The people in China have no respect for each other. All those families are going to do is die for no reason. There are so many people in China a few families isn't going to make any difference.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Tom edzackly March 19 2014 at 3:16 AM

Do you really think people are going to starve to death?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
estimatorone March 19 2014 at 2:28 AM

I can certainly imagine the frustration of the families,
relatives, and friends, of those missing pasengers.
However, I feel that a hunger strike will do nothing
to help find out what happened to those people.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
RockNHula March 19 2014 at 2:40 AM

As an investigator for the past 31 years, this case is the strangest I've ever seen. The intelligence community is definitely concealing something. The Israelis are on high alert because they believe the plane will be used against them. Whether this could be true, or not, I can say whomever is behind this has to be the size of a government.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
gluwman RockNHula March 19 2014 at 4:38 AM

Anything is possible. If that scenario does play out, it would have to be someone that doesn't care if the anger China.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
genegene002 March 19 2014 at 2:49 AM

That country dont give a crap if those people eat or not! That sure is NOT going to speed up the process its just going to make more suffering! I wonder if we had clearance to fly a SR-71 Blackbird or some sort of spy plane MAYBE we could pick up high def pics. from up high that it would take forever to search a grid on the ground! It would be easier to find a debris field before it disperses IF infact the plane went down. I have a gut feeling it landed somewhere but what would be the motive for any of this???

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1 reply
MaryLou genegene002 March 19 2014 at 4:29 AM

I never thought it crashed either-

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Tom March 19 2014 at 3:14 AM

It's hard to imagine that anyone, anywhere pays any attention to hunger strikers.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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