In less than two hours from the first reports of a Malaysian airlines flight number MH17 from Schipol in the Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia having crashed, there were images of horror on Twitter. Bodies, some still strapped to seats were scattered across three to four square miles and all 298 people onboard were dead. Unsourced filmed imagery of the aircraft crashing, the fireball and the debris floating down a summer sky were almost as quickly on global news channels, and the world was confronting yet another almost unimaginable tragedy. The disposition of the wreckage and eyewitness accounts all point to this being an explosive event rather than an on-board systems failure. Suspicion in the Ukraine and the West is being pointed at separatists in Ukraine as having fired a Russian made and possibly Russian supplied surface-to-air missile — though whether they intended to bring down a civil airliner going about its lawful and innocent business is unclear. However, Russia has countered saying that Ukraine itself is to blame for what has happen.
Whether this tragedy is yet another grotesque piece of collateral damage or done with willful intent the consequences are going to be far reaching. Russia is openly and actively supporting the Ukrainian separatists, and Russian troops and weaponry have supported them. America has stopped short of directly blaming Russia for the atrocity, and Hilary Clinton has made some pointed remarks directed at President Putin, saying he has ‘gone too far.’ Nationals of Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia as well as the UK died, but by far the biggest toll was of Dutch nationals, 154, and a national day of mourning is declared. The flight data recorder is said to be en route to Moscow, which may not be the most appropriate destination given the suspicions being aired, and an international investigation team has been rapidly assembled. The crash site is insecured, and not all passengers have been matched to the manifest as being dead. Whoever made the decision to push the button committed an appalling crime, and the world needs to know, fast, the who, what and why of this catastrophe.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2014.
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