Salam Aidil Fitri 1435. Maaf Zahir & Batin
JULY 25 — Before Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down, there was not much talk in Malaysia about the Crimean crisis that occurred earlier this year.
Eastern Europe seemed to be a world away from Malaysia.
Despite Russia annexing Crimea in March that resulted in growing unrest in eastern Ukraine, we Malaysians did not care much. BBC reports the UN as saying that more than 420 people were killed in eastern Ukraine from April till June.
Then, the Ukraine crisis came to us.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17 enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, carrying 43 Malaysian citizens.
None of the 298 people on that plane were Russians or Ukrainians. They had nothing to do with the war raging on beneath them. But they ended up as casualties of a foreign war.
If anything, this tragedy shows that we can’t ignore what’s happening on the other side of the world.
We must take a stand when wars happen. And not only when the conflicts involve Muslims.
We need to look beyond the narrow lens of race and religion, and speak out against injustice involving people who may not necessarily share our religious beliefs.
Malaysia tries to maintain friendly ties with most nations, except Israel. We shy away from getting involved with disputes in other countries. We did not take sides during the Cold War either.
ASEAN maintains a stand of non-interference in member states’ internal affairs, a commitment enshrined in ASEAN’s 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. Malaysia kept silent on the persecution of the Rohingyas in Myanmar. Other ASEAN countries said nothing when Sulu militants from southern Philippines invaded Sabah.
Malaysia may not have wanted to get involved in the Ukraine crisis. But it is this very crisis that caused the downing of our plane and the death of 43 Malaysians.
We have no choice but to take a stand. We can’t leave the big players to fight their “Cold War” while we sit on the sidelines and say nothing. Because it is our plane, it is Malaysia who should take the lead in the situation.
Malaysia cannot hide behind the “non-interference” rhetoric anymore, not when it involves a blatant abuse of democracy in the Ukraine crisis and a violation of international laws in the downing of a commercial plane.
Yes, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has done well in brokering an agreement with the pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine, where he secured the plane’s black boxes and the return of the remains of the victims.
Beyond this, however, Malaysia must not be afraid of calling for action against Russia if investigations show that the Moscow-backed rebels had indeed shot down the plane, whether intentionally or by accident.
In 1988, a US Navy ship shot down an Iranian passenger plane over the Persian Gulf after mistaking it for a fighter jet, killing all 290 people on board. Iran then requested the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to condemn the United States and to order reparation for moral and financial damages.
The US never formally apologised, but agreed in 1996 to pay the victims’ families a settlement of some US$62 million (RM198), according to a Washington Post report.
Unlike Europe that is dependent on Russia’s energy supplies, Malaysia does not have a significant trade relationship with Russia.
Malaysia’s total trade with Russia was only US$1.8 billion last year. In 2012, it was US$1.7 billion, slightly lower than the US$1.83 billion in 2011, according to a Bernama news report.
According to US-based geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor, although Russia often mentions Malaysia as a top destination for Russian arms sales, the claim appears to be more wishful thinking than a reality of Malaysia’s major defence acquisitions.
“Further, for systems like the SU30MKM and the air defence missiles, Malaysia can acquire parts and maintenance from countries other than Russia — including India, China and Poland — and Malaysia is phasing out the Mig29, with a replacement likely coming from Europe or the United States,” Rodger Baker, vice-president of Asia-Pacific Analysis, Stratfor, told me in an email.
“Russia is an important alternative supplier for Malaysia, which likes to balance its arms imports to avoid being too closely tied to a single source supplier,” he added.
So Putrajaya has nothing to lose from taking a hard-line stance with Moscow.
The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014. — Reuters pic
Najib took a bold step by tabling a parliamentary motion to push the ICAO to issue a resolution condemning the attack on MH17. The prime minister also instructed the Attorney-General to look into possible action against the perpetrators as the downing of a commercial aircraft violates the Chicago Convention 1944.
With investigations under way, it remains to be seen who is responsible for shooting down MH17. Unlike the 1988 incident where the US shot down an Iranian passenger plane, or in 1983 when Russia brought down a Korean commercial jet, no one has stepped forward to take responsibility for downing MH17.
The US and Ukraine blame pro-Russia separatists for bringing down the plane. But the rebels have denied it and Moscow has suggested that the Ukrainian government may have been behind the incident.
We are a small country, but we must not be afraid of standing up against even a nation as powerful as Russia if a probe finds Moscow responsible.
Source : The Malay Mail
Air Algerie Flight 5017 path. (Map from Google Maps via Yahoo News)
Air Algerie flight AH5017, en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers and carrying 110 people, has crashed, an Algerian aviation official told Reuters.
“I can confirm that it has crashed,” the official said, declining to give details of where the plane was or what caused the accident.
Here is what we know so far:
• Swiftair, the Spanish airline operated by Air Algerie, said it lost contact with MD83 aircraft — with 110 passengers and six crew members — about 50 minutes after takeoff from Ougadougou, the capital of the west African nation.
• Agence France-Press reports that the plane was “not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route.”
• Weather officials said northern Mali was hit with a powerful sandstorm overnight.
• An airline source told AFP that contact with the aircraft was lost while it was over Mali, considered a “high risk” flight zone for U.S. airlines. But a senior French official told Associated Press that it is unlikely shoulder-fired weapons used by fighters in northern Mali could shoot down an aircraft at cruising altitude.
• Issa Saly Maiga, head of Mali’s National Civil Aviation Agency, said that a search was under way for the missing flight. “We do not know if the plane is Malian territory,” Maiga told Reuters. “Aviation authorities are mobilized in all the countries concerned: Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Algeria and even Spain.”
• There are reports that the plane crashed in Niger.
source : Yahoo News
* This is sad, another crash after MH17, is this pure coincident? Below are news on casualties that happened in the last few days, following MH17
THE HAGUE: Dutch lead investigators into the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 said Wednesday that data from the cockpit voice recorder was intact and had not been tampered with.
The recorders, salvaged from the plane wreckage in eastern Ukraine, have been handed to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) headquarters in Farnborough, southwest of London.
AAIB experts are tasked with extracting information from the cockpit voice recorder, which should give them hours of pilots’ conversations, as well as the contents of the flight data recorder.
“The cockpit voice recorder data was successfully downloaded and contained valid data from the flight. The downloaded data have to be further analysed and investigated,” the OVV said.
“Tomorrow (Thursday) the team will start the examination of the flight data recorder. This will show whether this recorder also contains relevant information, in which case the data from both recorders will be combined.”
The boxes – which are actually orange in colour – were delivered to Farnborough by the OVV, which is leading an international investigation into the crash in which 298 people died, 193 of them Dutch.
The OVV is coordinating investigation teams from eight different countries, including Russia.
Pro-Russian rebels controlling the crash site handed the boxes over to Malaysian officials on Tuesday, following an international outcry over the treatment of the wreckage and the bodies of the victims.
Western governments say the evidence points to the Boeing 777 plane having been shot down with a missile by pro-Russian separatists. – AFP
source : The Star
DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – The remains of some of the nearly 300 victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane downed over Ukraine were making their way to the Netherlands on Tuesday as a senior Ukrainian separatist leader handed over the plane’s black boxes to Malaysian experts.
The train left the crash site after the Malaysian prime minister reached agreement with the separatists for recovered bodies to be handed over to authorities in the Netherlands, where the largest number of victims came from. Early on Tuesday, senior separatist leader Aleksander Borodai handed over the black boxes in the city of Donetsk.
“Here they are, the black boxes,” Borodai told a room packed with journalists at the headquarters of his self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic as an armed rebel placed the boxes on a desk.
Colonel Mohamed Sakri of the Malaysian National Security Council told the meeting the two black boxes were “in good condition”.
The handover of the bodies and black boxes, and reports by international investigators of improved access to the wreckage of the airliner four days after it was shot down, occurred against calls for broader sanctions against Russia for its support for the rebellion, although Western leaders are struggling to agree on a united response.
Shaken by the deaths of 298 people from across the world, Western governments have threatened Russia with stiffer penalties for what they say is its backing of pro-Russianmilitia who, their evidence suggests, shot the plane down. At the United Nations, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution demanding those responsible “be held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts toestablish accountability”. It also demanded that armed groups allow “safe, secure, full and unrestricted access” to the crash site.
“We owe it to the victims and their families to determine what happened and who was responsible,” said Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who traveled to New York to negotiate the U.N. resolution. Australia lost 28 citizens in the crash.
The Kremlin said in a statement late on Monday that Vladimir Putin spoke to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the phone, with both giving a “high assessment of the resolution passed by the U.N. Security Council on the investigation into the catastrophe.”
Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers were scheduled on Tuesday to discuss further penalties against Russia, but the most they are expected to do is to speed up implementation of sanctions against individuals, and possibly companies, agreed in principle last week before the plane was brought down.
But Western leaders struggled to come to a united response against Moscow. France came under pressure on Monday from Washington and London over plans to deliver a second helicopter carrier to Russia.
Diplomats say more serious sanctions against whole sectors of the Russian economy will depend largely on the line taken by the Dutch, because of the high number of Dutch victims. “It is clear that Russia must use her influence on the separatists to improve the situation on the ground,” the Dutch prime minister said.
“If in the coming days access to the disaster area remains inadequate, then all political, economic and financial options are on the table against those who are directly or indirectlyresponsible for that,” said Rutte.
‘WHAT ARE THEY TRYING TO HIDE?’
U.S. President Barack Obama said it was time for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia “to pivot away from the strategy that they’ve been taking and get serious abouttrying to resolve hostilities within Ukraine.”
He said Putin and Russia had a direct responsibility to compel separatists to cooperate with the investigation, and that the burden was on Moscow to insist that separatists stop tampering with the probe, he said. “What are they trying to hide?” Obama said at the White House.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry laid out on Sunday what he called overwhelming evidence of Russian complicity in the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines plane, and expressed disgust at how the bodies of the victims had been treated at the crash site.
But Russia’s Defence Ministry challenged accusations that pro-Russian separatists were responsible for shooting down the airliner and said Ukrainian warplanes had flown close to it.
The ministry also rejected accusations that Russia had supplied the rebels with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems – the weapon said by Kiev and the West to have downed the airliner – “or any other weapons”.
Putin said in a televised address that the downing of the airliner must not be used for political ends and urged separatists to allow international experts access to the crashsite.
European security monitors said gunmen stopped them inspecting the site when they arrived on Friday, and Ukrainian officials said separatists had tampered with vital evidence,allegations echoed by Obama.
But the spokesman for the European security monitors said they had unfettered access on Monday, and three members of a Dutch disaster victims identification team arrived at a railwaystation near the crash site and inspected the storage of thebodies in refrigerated rail cars. Peter van Vliet, whose team went through the wagons dressed in surgical masks and rubber gloves, said he was impressed by the work the recovery crews had done, given the heat and thescale of the crash site. “I think they did a hell of a job in a hell of a place,” he said.
As they went about their work, fighting flared in Donetsk, some 60 km (40 miles) from the site, in a reminder of the dangers the experts face operating in a war zone.
The government in Kiev denied sending the regular army into the centre of Donetsk, which pro-Russian separatists captured in April, but said small “self-organised” pro-Ukrainian groups werefighting the rebels in the city.
Four people were killed in clashes, health officials said. The rebels’ military commander Igor Strelkov said on his Facebook page up to 12 of his men died in Monday’s fighting.
Donetsk is at the heart of a rebel uprising against rule by Kiev, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to retake the city as part of what Kiev calls its “anti-terroristoperation” against the separatists.
Television images of the rebel-controlled crash site, where the remains of victims had lain decomposing in fields among their personal belongings, have turned initial shock and sorrowafter Thursday’s disaster into anger.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said an Australian investigation team was in Kiev but had been unable to travel to the site. He said there had been some improvement with the Ukrainian government offering access.
“But there’s still a hell of a long way to go before anyone could be satisfied with the way that site is being treated,”Abbott said. “It’s more like a garden cleanup than a forensic investigation. This is completely unacceptable.”
(Additional reporting by Peter Graff in Hrabove, Pavel; Polityuk, Natalia Zinets and Elizabeth Piper in Kiev, Jim Loney,; Doina Chiacu, Ayesha Rascoe and Mark Hosenball in Washington,; Michelle Nichols at the United Nations, Allison Lampert in; Montreal, Lincoln Feast and Jane Wardell in Sydney, William; James in London, Julien Ponthus, Elizabeth Pineau and Emmanuel Jarryin Paris, and Gabriela Baczynska in Kiev; Writing by Giles; Elgood and Peter Cooney; Editing by Bernard Orr)
source : The Star
IF it is proved that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was indeed shot down by a surface-to-air missile, it is a sad and stark reminder that there is no such thing as “someone else’s war”.Palestine and Israel, the Islamic State (IS) wars in Syria and Iraq, and Ukraine’s war with pro-Russian separatists may be taking place thousands of miles away, but, to think that we can continue to live in peace by ignoring other people’s troubles is naive and irresponsible. Wars are a crime against humanity. And sadly, last Thursday, this became all the clearer, when in all probability, the Ukrainian war committed a truly international crime by plucking our plane from out of the sky and killing 298 humans and 12 animals (for, all lives count). If the war hadn’t mattered to us before, it surely must, now.
From what is claimed to be Ukrainian interceptions of allegedly the separatists’ communications soon after the plane went down, it would appear as if the rebels had mistakenly shot down the plane, thinking it was a Ukrainian military plane. A case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But, that is simply unacceptable. If whichever side that shot it down thought itself grown up enough to fight a war and use such sophisticatedly deadly weapons, then, it should also have taken greater responsibility in picking its target and assessing its threat-worthiness. To claim that anything is game in war, and, as such, shooting on sight is a legitimate action, is disgraceful and unforgivable. And, whichever side that did this knows this, too, because both the Ukrainians and the Russians wasted no time in pointing fingers at each other. It would, no doubt, be very convenient and self-serving for both sides to prove that the other did it.
Thus, in trying to find out the truth behind the downing of MH17, Malaysia and all the other nations involved in the investigation will inevitably have to step into this maelstorm of Russian-Ukrainian geopolitics. Trying to get justice from people preoccupied with war may prove difficult. Unlike with the still missing MH370 four months ago, for which there is not even an indication of a crash, MH17 has a crash site and has a lot of debris. But, so far, setting up a proper crime scene investigation quickly and safely in this war zone is proving extremely tough. Rebel forces are dictating and restricting the movement of monitors. Reportedly, the location of the crash has not been secured; not only has the suspected missile launcher been moved, but the airplane’s black boxes are allegedly in Russian hands. And looters, villagers, rebels, and curious sightseers have been trampling all over the evidence. How will it even be possible to unveil the truth of what happened? It is said that there is no justice in war; but, we will accept nothing other than justice for MH17.
source : NSTP