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Barack Obama pays tribute to AIDS activists who died in MH17 plane crash

Nick Duffy July 19, 2014

US President Barack Obama has paid tribute to the HIV/AIDS activists and researchers who died onboard the doomed flight MH17 when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

The plane, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was a connecting flight for many people heading to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, which was due to start this weekend.

298 people died on the plane in total, including renowned Dutch HIV researcher Dr Joep Lang, AIDS campaigner Pim de Kuijer, and WHO member Glenn Thomas.

Obama said in a statement: “On board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, there were apparently nearly 100 researchers and advocates traveling to an international conference in Australia dedicated to combating AIDS/HIV.

“These were men and women who had dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence.

“In this world today, we shouldn’t forget that in the midst of conflict and killing, there are people like these — people who are focused on what can be built rather than what can be destroyed; people who are focused on how they can help people that they’ve never met; people who define themselves not by what makes them different from other people but by the humanity that we hold in common.

“It’s important for us to lift them up and to affirm their lives. And it’s time for us to heed their example.”

The leader also paid tribute to the the 173 Dutch nationals, 27 Australians, 44 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians and nine Britons who died onboard the flight.

Flags in Melbourne will be flown at half mast for the duration of the conference.

More: activists, AIDS, Australia, Barack Obama, crash, Europe, HIV, plane, president, Ukraine, US, US

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