Terror attacks remembrance ceremony goes wrong: "Moment was ruined"

Today, it is 2 years ago to the day that the Brussels terror attacks took place. On 22 March 2016, two bomb blasts sent a shock wave through the capital, killing 32 people and injuring more than 300. A minute's silence was held at Brussels Airport and Maalbeek metro station, but the ceremony was not so well received by the victims. At Brussels Airport, several things went wrong and the people were kept at a distance: "We are not bystanders in this matter, but victims."
The victims were not happy they were kept at a distance.

Various things were frustrating victims and families of victims who attended the ceremony at Brussels Airport this morning. "Nobody knew when the minute's silence started or when it ended", one of the people told the VRT. Also, a technical sound problem caused a sudden loud humming, disturbing the atmosphere. 

Normally, the minute's silence had to start when premier Charles Michel laid the flowers, but apparently Michel was too early. This triggered confusion, with the crucial moment (7.58 in the morning, the time when the bomb exploded in the airport's busy main hall two years ago, red.) passing almost unnoticed. "Then suddenly we saw a door opening, after which the government's delegation left."

"This could have been a nice moment of remembrance", says Danielle Iwens. She works at the airport and lost a colleague two years ago because of the terror attacks. "But now things were completely ruined. I am very disappointed and this only makes our sadness bigger."

Daniëlle also doesn't understand why the crucial minute was not announced. "I checked my watch when the government delegation left: it was 7:57."  

"Why were victims kept at a distance? They are not bystanders"

Another thing sparking anger was the fact that everyone was kept at a clear distance from the commemoration plaque (photo). Guillaume Denoix de Saint-Marc of one of the organisations representing the victims said: "They are not just bystanders. They are emotionally involved in this. It's their beloved ones who have died or suffered. The Prime Minister even forgot to greet them when he passed them in the hotel. (...) I have the feeling that this ceremony is organised by the government for the government."

Philippe Vansteenkiste, the man behind the victims' support group V-Europe, hopes to help the victims through contacts with the so-called first responders, the people who came to the rescue immediately after the blast.

"I don't want to discuss politics today. We can say that many victims are still suffering from post-traumatic stress. It is as if it happened yesterday." It is hoped that contacts with first responders can help to ease post-traumatic stress.

(click on the bottom video to watch)


A minute's silence was also observed at Maalbeek. Some 100 people had gathered to respect a minute's silence at the subway stop, at 9:11 exactly. This was the moment when the bomb exploded on the metro, killing 17 passengers and injuring about a hundred. 

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