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Mass murder of innocents

Publication Date : 30-07-2014


This year’s Eid al-Fitri must surely be one of the saddest experienced in the country so far.

The usual festive cheer has been subdued by the horrific shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17.

The federal government and state governments have rightly cancelled official Hari Raya open houses as a mark of respect and mourning for the victims of MH17.

Out of the 298 people killed, 43 were Malaysians, including the plane’s 15 crew members.

There were passengers from 17 countries on board with the Dutch making up the majority with 193, while Australia lost 28 of its citizens.

Unbelievably, the aviation tragedy struck even as we were yet to come to terms with the unresolved mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370’s disappearance four months earlier.

And almost two weeks after the plane was shot down, the remains of some of those killed so horrendously still lie scattered and unable to be retrieved as the fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists rages on.

The actual investigations are still a long way off. Dutch and Australian police teams are unable to gain access to the crash site, described by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe as “too dangerous” for unarmed forensic experts.

As the authorities go through the tedious process of identifying the victims from their DNA, the ticking clock continues to shrink the chances of retrieving all the remains at the site.

But no matter how much time it takes, the world must know the perpetrators behind this heinous crime and they must be punished accordingly.

The UN Security Council took two days to adopt a resolution “to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines”.

But within hours after the fragments of MH17 and bodies rained down into the wheat fields of the embattled region, the one-sided blame game began. The Western media rushed to pin the attack on the pro-Russian separatists and on Moscow.

Instead of displaying professional scepticism and asking the obvious questions – such as who stands to benefit most from the tragedy – their reports were mostly about echoing the United States and European stance of pointed fingers at the rebels and Russia.

US President Barack Obama was quick in citing unnamed intelligence sources that the suspected surface-to-air missile used was fired from territory held by anti-Kiev self-defence militias, implying Russian involvement.

His Secretary of State, John Kerry, said it was “pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia into the hands of separatists”.

“We know with confidence that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point and time, so it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists,” he said.

But as confirmed later by Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Vitaly Yarema, militias in the region did not have the Russian-built SA-11 Buk S-300 missile system

The Buk, which means “beech tree” in Russian, is a medium-range mobile missile known as “Gadfly” in Nato.

“After the passenger airliner was downed, the military reported to the president that terrorists do not have our air defence missile systems BUK and S-300. These weapons were not seized (from the Ukrainian armed forces),” Yarema told the Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper.

Among the breaking news reported in the wake of the downed plane were purported video and audio recordings of gloating rebels and the supposed movement of a missile battery.

Most of this so-called “evidence” has since been debunked.

But not all Western media reports were biased. One Washington Times article written by Dave Boyer, headlined “Shot out of the sky: Jet downing stokes tensions between Ukraine, Russia,” noted that neither of the so-called “intercepted rebels’ telephone conversations” presented by the Ukrainian intelligence had been verified as authentic.

He also wrote that while MH17 flew at an altitude of 33,000 feet, the weapons which the rebels were known to possess could only reach 18,250 feet.

US security service officials have now admitted that there is no evidence of direct Russian involvement but that Russia was responsible for “creating conditions” that led to the shooting down of the jet.

The unnamed US officials, who spoke to AP, suggested that the MH17 airplane could have been shot down in error.

When asked to determine the source of the missile, one of them said: “We don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 per cent sure of a nationality.”

But the rush to blame someone does reflect a familiar pattern before unnecessary wars are launched.

As noted by Dr Paul Craig Roberts, former US assistant secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, the anti-Russian propaganda campaign being conducted by Washington follows in the footsteps of the similar campaigns against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iran.

Was the downing of MH17 yet another cynical false flag operation to start another war or a just dreadful mistake by a trigger-happy person in uniform?

We won’t know unless there is a totally independent investigation without interference from any global powers although with the state of the polarised world today, expecting such a thing might be unrealistic and naive.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has said that shooting down of MH17 amounts to a “war crime”.

But no matter how long it takes or how difficult the process is, those responsible for this sickening mass murder of innocents must be named and brought to justice.


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