At Ethiopia flight memorial, white roses mark passing of lives

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, south of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia. (AP)
Updated 17 March 2019
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At Ethiopia flight memorial, white roses mark passing of lives

  • In Paris, investigators are examining black box recorders to determine why the aircraft plunged into field shortly after take off
  • But in the Ethiopian capital, families and airline staff were focused on honoring their dead

ADDIS ABABA: An aircraft hangar in the Ethiopian capital was filled with the white roses as aviation staff gathered on Sunday to remember the two pilots and six crew, who perished along with 149 passengers in the Ethiopia Airlines crash a week ago.
Weeping women held slender single stems in their shaking hands and banks of the flowers, traditionally used to mark the passing of lives, were placed in front of a row of empty coffins at the ceremony.
A band — some of the musicians in tears — played traditional Amharic music. The music stopped temporarily as band members ran to comfort bereaved relatives who lunged forward, wailing to grieve over the coffins.
“Our deep sorrow cannot bring them back,” an Orthodox priest in a traditional black turban and black robes told the crowd.
“This is the grief of the world,” he said, as Ethiopian Airlines staff sobbed in each other’s arms.
At least the crash had taken place in Ethiopia — the holy land — he said, prompting “amens” from the crowd.
In faraway Paris, investigators are examining black box recorders to determine why the aircraft plunged into field shortly after take off from Addis Ababa, searching for similarities to an October Lion Air crash that killed 189 people.
Both crashes involved the same model of plane — a Boeing 737 MAX 8 — causing aviation authorities to ground the model around the world after last week’s accident.
But in the Ethiopian capital, families and airline staff were focused on honoring their dead.
In the aircraft hangar, a banner offered “deepest condolences and comfort” to the families of the deceased crew.
A female flight attendant spoke warmly of the deceased captain, Yared Getachew.
“He was a really nice person, a good person, all the words you can find to talk about a good person apply. He was a very kind human being,” she said, before dissolving in tears.
A service for the families of passengers is scheduled later on Sunday. Relatives of the families — more than 30 nationalities were onboard — will gather beneath the pink stone spires of Addis Ababa’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.
The families have been given charred earth from the crash site to bury, because most of the bodies were destroyed by the impact and fire. Identifying the small remains that have been collected may take up to six months.


Controversy over South Korean ban on corporal punishment at home

Updated 27 min 18 sec ago
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Controversy over South Korean ban on corporal punishment at home

  • Reporting of child abuse rose more than 10-fold between 2001 and 2017 to 22,386 cases
  • Parental rights to physically discipline their children will be removed from the country’s civil code, an official said

SEOUL: A law allowing South Korean parents to physically discipline their children is to be scrapped, authorities said, prompting controversy in a country where hierarchical family values still predominate.
Reporting of child abuse — including neglect and emotional abuse as well as physical or sexual assaults — rose more than 10-fold between 2001 and 2017 to 22,386 cases, with 77 percent of the perpetrators known to be the victims’ parents.
“More in our society agree that child abuse is a serious social problem,” Seoul’s Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo told reporters.
“But many are still lenient about corporal punishment. The ministry is to change this perception.”
Parental rights to physically discipline their children will be removed from the country’s civil code, he said, where they have been stated since 1960. Physical punishment was also allowed in schools until 2010.
A recent government survey showed that 76.8 percent of adult South Koreans feel corporal punishment is necessary, and Thursday’s announcement prompted controversy.
Lee Kyung-ja, head of a conservative group of parents, was adamantly opposed to any change.
“I’m going to continue beating my kids even if it requires writing a contract with them,” she told AFP.
“I’ll refuse to give them food and pay for their tuition if they don’t listen to their parents — this is how I’ll re-establish my rights as a parent.”
South Korean children have been repeatedly cited as the least happy in the OECD group of developed countries, facing a high-pressure education system and deeply rooted traditional values which emphasize obedience and respect toward parents and authority figures.
That makes young victims of domestic violence especially vulnerable, as filing a complaint or publicly criticizing a parent can be considered a disgrace — or even a “sin against heaven.”
With few facilities for abuse victims, many parents facing prosecution have their charges dropped as there is no-one else to care for their children, said youth rights activist Kang Min-jin.
Earlier this year a 12-year-old girl who had reported abuse by both her biological father and her stepfather to police was murdered by the stepparent.
“Many Koreans still view as their children as their properties, rather than separate human beings who have their own set of opinions and judgment,” said activist Kang.
But Lee Hee-bum, who leads the conservative Freedom Union group, said the government decision amounted to state interference in personal and family lives.
“One should be able to decide how to parent his or her kids independently,” he said.