July 17, 2015, marked the one-year anniversary of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17's crash in the eastern Ukraine. The global community mourns while Prime Minister Tony Abbott joins a chorus requesting justice for those murdered.
July 17 marks the first anniversary for Flight MH17 and the still unanswered question of who to blame. In 2014, Malaysian Airline flight MH17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine, near a rebel-held region, with Russians rejecting any fault in an ongoing civil war.
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The Ukraine’s long battle with Russian rebels looking to disconnect and join what they feel is the motherland has impacted the lives of many. Victims’ families of the MH17 incident are reminded of the pain as they mourn and honor the dead throughout the day.
'inadmissibility of media'
According to BBC, mourners around the site, the Netherlands, and Australia were seen holding sunflowers. Sunflowers represent the field where the impact happened, killing 298 people in an act of terror. During a roll call of all victims and procession, people in Hrabove remembered the dead.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands stood with 2,000 people in Nieuwegein, honoring the 193 citizens lost on the flight. With such high death toll, many consider the sabotage as terroristic as 9/11 in the U.S. A day that no one can forget.
In taking a minute to recall the 60 seconds that MH17 lost communication with air traffic, the community not only mourned but embedded the moment into consciousness and a vow of not forgetting the ones lost.
And the Dutch Prime Minister has requested an investigative United Nations tribunal after the nation discovered pro-Russian rebels shot down the plane with a Buk missile, says CNN.
Putin disagreed, calling the action premature and that "inadmissibility of media reports" should be taken lightly in international courts. But those facing the largest impact are unlikely to be moved. And investigators noted the lack of preparedness by the airline in reading international bulletins from other airlines did not offer safety, either.
'massive burden of grief'
Meanwhile, 38 families of Australian victims gathered at Canberra’s The Parliament House, surrounding a monument surrounded by Ukrainian soil—a symbol of grievance and honor. The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who read a message from the Maslin family.
The Maslins lost three children as a “victim of a faraway war” and believing Evie, Mo and Otis were killed “by other people’s anger.” The message also stated, “We now carry a massive burden of grief that no one should have to. We always will.”
The bloody, violent war in the Ukraine has unleashed global damage, especially psychologically. Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s usually bombastic and off-putting style was laid to rest as he spoke of the victims. The SMH reports that the speech included a dedication of justice to the families, including the Maslin family.
“So now we owe it to the dead to bring the guilty to justice. So now we owe it to the living to work for a more just and humane world, a world where people can turn their faces to the sun with the shadows behind them, like the sunflowers blooming again in the fields where MH17 came down."
July 17 also marks the Day of International Criminal Justice, an eerily appropriate call to action as MH17 grievers sit and wait for justice to arrive. 16 years ago today, the Rome Statue established the International Criminal Court, a place to try war crimes and criminals through a global system. Six years later, the UN joined.
“This is a day for all of us to underscore a crucial point: justice matters,” said United Nation Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Accountability for serious crimes of international concern is central to our global commitment to peace, security human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
As more nations begin to openly discuss the impact of war on citizens, others look to suppress any dialogue. Earlier this week marked the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide during the Serbian-Bosnian war. But what does one event have to do with the other?
In an article for the Huffington Post, Menachem Rosensaft recalls that starting on July 13, 1995, “8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys between the ages of 12 and 77 were murdered at the hands of paramilitary Christian Bosnian-Serbian thugs in the worst atrocity of the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.”
And the author asserts because the massacre matches the U.N.’s own criteria for a genocide, the occasion must be labeled honestly. Unfortunately, Russia refuses to consider the Serbian actions to be a genocide and prevents the necessary votes in labeling the event in a way to give victims peace and justice.
'a moral imperative'
Russia faces many critics for their recent actions in international politics. The Ukraine and many members of the U.N. contend the Slavic nation is helping to front the rebellion on the Eastern front. And President Vladimir Putin is not winning any popularity contest with previous alliances, either. Just ask the Netherlands.
By pushing yet another action that labels the country as marginally aware of the plight of outside nations, tensions across the board are starting to showcase a fracture in newer alliances. One cannot necessarily stand and offer suggestions of action when fueling fires in multiple conflicts.
"Not downplaying or disparaging the gravity of the genocide that took place at Srebrenica 20 years ago is, therefore, a moral imperative."
Rosensaft’s family is directly impacted by the Holocaust, the genocide of millions in an attempt at racial purity, and he asserts in order to mourn his brother’s death, one must mourn all genocides—including Srebrenica. To not mourn the loss of many through dangerous political rhetoric means inability to acknowledge the cruelty of humanity. And rhetoric need not just be nationalistic, but also ethnic and binding.
When speaking of a Bosnian Muslim student in his class and her experiences during the conflict, he flatly lays out the necessity of refusing to deny the ugliness and tainted parts of human drive in obvious terms.
“It is unconscionable and reprehensible for anyone to tell Adisada that the horrors to which her fellow Bosnian Muslims - including quite possibly members of her own family - were subjected at Srebrenica did not constitute a genocide, just as it is unconscionable and reprehensible for anyone to deny the genocide in which my brother, my grandparents, and millions of other European Jews were annihilated.”
'cause of peace'
War, politics, and violence are part of humanity’s decisions in an effort to gain and control power. As the power shift escalates and leaders begin to become immovable, no one will be held accountable for actions that kill innocent lives through control of property and resources.
May the U.N.’s Secretary-General’s words about the Rome Statue be true: “The Relationship Agreement between the United Nations and the Court is founded in a shared belief that the cause of peace can only be served if those responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern are prosecuted and brought to justice.”
If justice matters, let those whose cause cost 293 people their lives be brought to court and bring peace to suffering families who know no answer other than grief.
The U.K. has now joined in the fight for a tribunal per American Foreign Press. "Justice must be delivered for the 298 innocent people who lost their lives,” said British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. Adding, "That requires an international tribunal, backed by a resolution binding all UN member states, to prosecute those responsible.”
If the Statute gives the ICC the “primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute the serious crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” then allow living relatives to find peace and demand accountability of those perpetrating terror and fear.
Only then July 17 will truly be a Day of International Criminal Justice.