The loss of life on MH17 was bad enough, but the incident was then shamelessly used to help justify and intensify Kiev's war on east Ukraine and take Russia down a notch which may have helped other wars Moscow opposes (Syria, Yemen...)
Last week a commemoration was held in Canberra for the Australian victims of the MH17 atrocity. A plaque with their 38 names was unveiled in Parliament House, alongside one commemorating the 88 Australians who died a decade ago in a terrorist bombing in Bali.
The implication is clear – that the shooting down of MH17 was also an act of terrorism, even though ‘the perpetrators have still not been identified.’
Although this uncertainty remains the official government position, it is being repeated by both government ministers and media in an increasingly indignant and petulant tone. They cannot prove MH17 was shot down intentionally by ‘pro-Russian rebels’ (hardly surprisingly!) but have no doubts that it was and have already punished the presumed mastermind, so an awful lot hangs on the conclusions of the Dutch investigation.
As a further illustration of impatience, Australia has been vocal in pushing for a UN criminal tribunal, ironically suggested by Malaysia although for a different reason.
Malaysia was not included in the investigating ‘club of four’, and presumably lacks confidence in its process and agenda. They might well ask – as we do – how the results of simple forensic tests to identify the source of shrapnel in the bodies of victims could still not be available, particularly when such tests mightn’t even be needed – a 30 mm cannon bullet could only have one source after all.
But these considerations were probably not in the minds of the relatives and friends of Australia’s victims last Friday, nor in the copious media coverage and homilies to them. They have become martyrs, and victims of ‘Russian aggression’, and their unassuaged grief had an undercurrent of anger directed at their choice of culprit – a choice restricted by the media narrative to ‘pro-Russian rebels’, ‘Russian separatists’, ‘Russian conscripts’ or… ‘Vladimir Putin’.
Years of work developing this narrative in Australia means that other choices, such as ‘the Ukrainian air force’, ‘the SBU’, or ‘the CIA’ are quite absent from most Australian’s minds, along with any supporting narrative – when the alternative is suggested, they simply cannot understand why or how ‘we’ could be responsible for such a dastardly crime.
It’s not that I lack grief for those innocent dead, nor share the unresolved anger at the perpetrators. In fact my anger is far greater, and un-diluted by the feeling that MH17 might have been shot down by accident. (Something that the less hysterical and less nationalistic will quietly admit to.)
My anger is greater because so many innocents have died in Donbass because of that ‘terrorist act’, and because so many Russians have suffered because of the sanctions unjustly imposed with it as a pretext, and because of the deaths of innocents in other conflicts which have been facilitated by diminishing Russia’s power over international opinion. (I’m thinking of Russia’s call for a ‘ceasefire’ in Yemen).
And sometimes my anger reaches breaking point, when I think of the way that our minds are being twisted by people who are beyond disdain – those people who conspired together to sacrifice the lives of 300 innocent people simple to achieve a political and strategic goal in their campaign of aggression against Russia and her allies.
There is another idea that won’t go away too. I think about the power that might exist in the anger of ordinary people, when they discover that they have suffered so much because they have been lied to.
Not just an ordinary lie, or a ‘miscalculation’, or a lie told with an honourable intention. No – this is a real lie - a truly wicked lie, told by someone who cares not for humanity, for innocent children or wise old men or for the honest aspirations of ordinary people.
So we must not relent in efforts to expose this lie and its perpetrators, and consequently to awake its innumerable victims.
I began this article in anticipation of the July 17th commemorations, but didn’t expect a move from the Murdoch media which set the whole tone for the public and media presentation of them.
The release of a ‘new’ video taken by ‘rebels’ soon after the crash on the morning of July 17th, showing them looking through ‘Aussie bags’ ( for documents to identify the flight and passengers) had a remarkable effect on hyping up the anti-Russian rhetoric from politicians and public alike.
But there was a lot more to this video, and it must be subject of a second article to follow…