MH17: The quest for justice

ON June 19, the chief constable of the Netherlands National Police, informed the media that international arrest warrants will be issued for three Russians and a Ukrainian for alleged murder involving the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014. Not unexpectedly, emotions ran high due to the long wait. And that the suspects had been identified and will be put on trial in the Netherlands in March 2020 should go some way to soothe the overall situation at long last. But this does not seem to be so. Why?

While some governments and groups have welcomed the outcome, notably the charges against the four, there are others who have expressed otherwise. Some cited deep concern over the move as they felt from the outset there were many doubts raised over the investigation, the manner it was conducted, including the exclusion of important data as claimed.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reportedly described the decision to charge the three Russians and one Ukrainian with murder as a political plot against Russia. “We are very unhappy. From the very beginning, it became a political issue on how to accuse Russia of the wrongdoing.

“Even before they examined the case, they have already claimed it (the shooting down of MH17) was done by Russia,” Mahathir told reporters. He said Malaysia is not convinced with the findings and demands that the investigators provide proof that the Russians were behind the shooting which thus far “there is no proof, only hearsay.”

“This is a ridiculous thing. Someone shoots a gun and you are not able to see who, but you know who shot,” he said.

The Transport Ministry in a statement released earlier, said it would continue to pursue justice for the victims of the downed aircraft to ensure the perpetrators would be held accountable.

More disturbingly was the apparent unwillingness of the official investigating team to raise critical questions about the motive. Worse, it specifically points to the geopolitical dimensions of the July 17 episode which appeared to have been concealed or cleverly camouflaged. Hence, all these have caused even more anxiety instead, bearing in mind all 298 people on board were killed in a tragic way.

Because of this the truth about the MH17 tragedy must be convincingly resolved so that it can come to a proper closure as soon as possible. One recalled of the other MH tragedy that is even further from being resolved making the entire phenomenon one that is most misunderstood. In order to avoid the same, there is strong reason to seek some measures to redress the case by attempting to explore fundamental issues related to the tragedy. This ought to done before the four accused are tried as planned in the Netherlands.

As Malaysia is directly involved and among the many that are yet to be thoroughly convinced, it stands to reason why it should hold a conference in Kuala Lumpur which aims at examining the situation including the findings. The strengths and weaknesses in the findings should be laid bare for all to scrutinise. Where appropriate, an action plan should be drafted to close any gaps directed to the international community based on the discussion and analysis of the conference. It will then be widely shared and disseminated for further action.

Arising from this, it is hoped that a proper evaluation of the Dutch-led investigation will clarify some of the nagging issues that are unanswered. So that the execution of the agreed action plan will bring us closer to the truth and ensure that a modicum of justice is done to the victims. The conference will provide a platform for the families of the victims, particularly those residing in Malaysia.

This modest endeavour to uphold the truth and remain faithful to justice on the part of civil society groups such as the International Movement for a Just World, the Perdana Global Peace Foundation and Global Research is yet another reminder of the role that global citizens should play especially at this juncture of history when the lives of people are so easily sacrificed at the altar of geopolitics.

The International Islamic University Malaysia is honoured to be given the privilege to host this historic event in line with its principle to hold onto justice, and to see that justice is served accordingly.

The public are cordially invited to the conference on Saturday at IIUM Gombak Campus, Main Auditorium. Event starts at 8am. Admission is free.