MH17: Caught in the crossfire – On 17th July, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was blown out of the sky over Ukraine, killing 298 people. The attack on the aircraft sent shockwaves around the globe, with leaders in Europe and Australia vowing to bring the bodies home and the killers to justice.
Two months on from the downing of Flight MH17, the crash site remains unsecured. With valuable evidence and human remains being tarnished by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, relatives have their say about the West’s response.
“If you look at the crash site and what happened, one of the things that strikes everyone is the complete lack of respect – the complete desecration of the site”, says Dr Christ Klep, a military historian from the University of Amsterdam. He has been analysing the tactics deployed by both sides of the conflict, as the Ukrainian government ramps up its hot war against the pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country. In spite of promises of a ceasefire to allow investigations to proceed at the site – which lies on a strategically critical faultline between two rebel-held cities on the border with Russia – fierce shelling continues to inhibit the repatriation of bodies, and the collection of evidence. “It’s terrible to see how the passengers’ personal belongings from MH17 are spread out amongst the wreckage as far as the eye can see”, says Rudy Bouma, a reporter for Dutch television. “I saw personal effects, ‘I love Amsterdam’ t-shirts, diaries, children’s stuffed animals.” Now, amid rhetoric of sanctions from Western leaders, questions are being raised about the world’s dependency on Russian oil and gas. “We don’t want to live in a world where the strong man decides what is happening.”