MH17, the horror, the unspeakable pain
this is somewhat late, news-wise, but it’s taken a while to wrap my head around it, even longer, to put feelings, thoughts, into words.
soon after malaysia airlines flight 17 was shot down july 17 in ukraine airspace allegedly by a russian surface-to-air missile, i couldn’t help wondering which was easier to bear, this, or the loss of malaysia airlines flight 370 last march 8, remains of which have yet to be found…
i know, i know, every death, esp of a loved one, is difficult to bear, but but but at least with mh370 one could take some comfort in slim hopes that they’re all still alive and whole, at best taken to some shangri-la? but, yes, still, above all, the unexpected loss of loved ones, no goodbyes, not knowing what happened, and where, and why, adds to the pain and affords no closure…
in contrast, the mh17 crash site, thanks to cable tv, is there in all its horror for all the world to see. this is what happens, this is what it looks like, when a plane full of people (298) is blasted from the sky, whether from ground or air: the shattered plane and human fragments rain down, men women children broken burnt bodies and personal effects strewn over fields and backyards, left to the mercies of the elements and of scavengers, not to speak of war freaks.
five days later, july 22, dutch foreign minister hans timmermans addressed the u..n. security council as the 15 members, including russia, adopted an australia-led resolution demanding an international investigation of the downing of mh17.
…To my dying day I will not understand that it took so much time for the rescue workers to be allowed to do their difficult jobs and that human remains should be used in a political game. And somebody here around the table talks about a political game – this is the political game that is being played, with human remains, and it is despicable. I hope the world will not have to witness this again, any time in the future.
Images of children’s toys being tossed around, luggage being opened and passports, including passports of children, being shown on television, they are turning our grief and mourning into anger of a whole nation. We demand unimpeded access to the terrain. We demand respectful treatment of the crash site. We demand dignity for the victims and the multitudes who mourn their loss.
the next day, the first 70 coffins arrived in the netherlands. the saddest parade ever — never before had the world seen the like — coffin after coffin, hearse after hearse. at least, at last, some order after horrible chaos. but yes, mute silence in the face of the unspeakably painful. coffins, hearses, bearing not bodies but body parts, not who, but whose.
Families have been warned not all the remains may be recovered from the crash site in rebel-held territory. Other passengers may have been “vaporised” during the crash.
But Dutch police chief Gerard Bouman knows it’s heart-breaking work. “What we found in the body bags in Ukraine was indescribable,” he said.
“The contents were horrible. Hardened people whose work this is are finding it hard to process. Bits and pieces all mixed – big and small – were found in the bags.”