A Willmar, Minnesota, man is hoping for peace in Ukraine after two of his family members were killed along with 296 others when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine last Thursday.
Drew Ryder's brother, Arjen Ryder, 54, and his wife Yvonne, 52, were headed back to their home in Australia after a three-week trip visiting family in the Netherlands and vacationing in France, reports say.
“It’s one of those things where you see tragedies around the world and you don’t think it’s going to hit home and that’s what’s happened,” Drew Ryder told WCCO.
Arjen Ryder worked as an agriculture expert and Yvonne Ryder was a teacher at a local school, KARE 11 reports. Perth Now News says the couple was very active in the Albany, Australia, community, and they leave behind three grown children and five grandchildren – the youngest just eight months old.
“They really lived their life to the fullest, lived their life in a way that was a model that others could follow,” Drew Ryder told WCCO. “That’s what I’m hoping I can do in my life and I think the rest of our family feels the same way.”
Drew Ryder and the Dutch community in Australia are praying for forgiveness, saying it's not important to go after the people behind the attack.
“We’re not looking for any justice here for those who did this,” Drew Ryder to the Star Tribune. “If anything, we want to reach out to them. … Obviously there’s some evil here, but it’s not our way to seek revenge or seek more violence, but to say let’s see what we can do to help these people change their hearts.”
This embed is invalid
Malaysia Flight 17
The White House has confirmed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lampur, was shot down over the Donetsk region of Ukraine near the Russian border, but it's not yet known who launched the missile.
This region has been the center of much political unrest as of late, as Russian-backed separatists fight the Ukrainian military. CNN notes that Thursday's disaster turned what had been regional unrest into "a full-blown international conflict" as finger pointing to who was behind the incident began almost immediately.
Ukrainian officials believe Russian separatists fired a ground-to-air BUK missile to down the plane, but separatists leaders say they had nothing to do with it, TIME reports. Russia also denies involvement.
"Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine," President Barack Obama told reporters Friday, CNN reports. However, Obama didn't blame any particular group.
U.S. officials said over the weekend that they suspect Russia supplied the separatists with multiple SA-11 antiaircraft systems by smuggling them into eastern Ukraine with other military equipment, the Wall Street Journal notes.
U.S. officials believe the separatists then moved the equipment back over the border after the plane crashed to hide their involvement in the incident, the newspaper reports.
The United States and European leaders are also calling for greater pressure against Moscow and a renewed effort to secure the site of the plane crash, as well as ensure human remains get proper attention.