I don’t know if it’s because I’m older now, more in tune with my personal mortally, because I’m a parent or more politically active than I’ve ever been, but the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 has hit me hard. Harder than 9/11 and harder than the Bali Bombing, despite both claiming hundreds of civilian lives.
I’m glued to the TV, staring at the mangled, smoking wreckage and feeling as though I’ve been personally attacked, when in fact, my family and friends are thankfully untouched by this crime.
And it is a crime, however you cut it. Someone pointed a missile at a plane and fired. They knew at the least, they were taking the lives of the crew onboard and any passengers. They knew they were intentionally bringing down a jet liner, whether it carried military personnel or civilians. The reason the jet was shot down is almost irrelevant, because whoever did it made a conscious choice to take human lives.
That isn’t the sole source of my rage. I feel just as helpless and impotent, unable to assist the people of Gaza, while Israel rains fiery death on homes, schools and hospitals, all under the guise of weeding out terrorists. I can’t abide it, especially given the death toll for Palestinians jumps higher by the day, with over 20% of the victims being children under 18 years. I’m angry about what is happening in Gaza, sickened by the crimes committed there, but my ire where Gaza is concerned pales in comparison to what I feel for MH17.
I’m inclined to think it’s due to the number of fellow Australians slaughtered in the act. But the Australian body count was high for the Bali Bombing, and while saddened and shocked but that blatant act of terror, I didn’t feel like this.
Perhaps because when bombs ripped through the Sari Club in Bali, Indonesia gave Australian and international authorities immediate access, in some cases even requesting professional assistance from Australian forensic investigators. There was little attempt to cover up or spin the event to implicate or vindicate any particular party and a real sense of shared horror between both nations.
This is why I’m angry. This is why I’m furious, gutted and livid. MH17 was not only blown from the sky by some cold-hearted moron with the moral capacity of a teaspoon, but the gutless wonder’s crony mates have since proceeded to limit access and tamper with the site of the impact. They are removing bodies to unknown locations, sifting through belongings, collecting official documents and passports, very likely looting and unquestionably collecting any kind of material they think might implicate them or their Russian backers.
Our kids were on that plane. Mothers and fathers, grandparents – they are our people and we have a right to claim the entirety of their remains and belongings, to fully and without restriction investigate the cause of their deaths. The actions of the criminals in control of the site are abhorrent and completely against international standards as well as common human decency.
Until this unspeakable crime, Russia openly and with a palpable sense of sneering amusement, supported the rebel groups in Ukraine’s east. They were almost giggling with delight at the ferocity with which East Ukraine baulked at the idea of turning further to the west and the EU. In response, instead of urging calm and supporting a peaceful resolution to the matter, President Vladimir Putin advocated the right of these people to cruise about shooting and bombing because they decided their region of the country should separate and return to the teat of Mother Russia. Seemingly, as part of that support, the rebels have been supplied with weapons and resources with which to affect their rebellion.
All fun and games until someone shoots down a plane, I’m sure.
It’s likely we will never know the whole truth unless someone on the inside turns and rats out the perpetrators. The trigger-man could very well go unpunished in the eyes of the world. For me there is only one gossamer thin comfort in this awful mess – those who took aim and fired on MH17 will spend the remainder of their lives with the blood of near 300 fellow humans on their hands.
In Gaza, deaths can be spun as “necessary collateral in a self defence”, but only if you are willing to close your eyes and block your ears to the thumping truth. In the case of MH17, there is no justification that can ever be offered to explain why a civilian passenger plane was dragged back to earth by offensive munitions. The plane and its precious cargo were not threatening or bombing, did not originate in enemy territory, nor was it encroaching on restricted or prohibited airspace. It was without doubt, the most benign and guiltless player in this macabre tragedy of global proportions.
For weeks and months into the future, the world will bicker and snipe over who is to blame. They will cut the events into their respective parts and dissect every moment, word, glance and implication in an effort to make some sense of an ultimately senseless act. Accusations will fly but in the end, none of it will ever dignify the deaths of 300 innocents.
As I saw elegantly put the day of the attack; Who is to blame? Humans. Humans killing humans.