It has been a dark difficult day for me like for so many others today. Remembering the victims of Flight MH17, thinking about everything that was written and said about this horrible incident, including my own words. We wend to church today, my girlfriend and newly found family at my side. We mourned together, we prayed together. We were close, as family and that means more to me than I am able to express. Back at my aunt’s house, tears overwhelmed me and I cried, my family cried with me. Again I felt flashes of anger boiling inside me, feelings I don’t want to have but I can’t avoid. My aunt sensed it, held my hand and just sat there with me. I felt what it means to have a family on this dark sad day.
And then I got a message from my dear friend Anna, a shocking message which sums up all the damage done by all the blame games going on since the massacre of Flight MH17. She wrote me “Do you hate me today?”. I tried to call her immediately but she didn’t answer the calls. But she wrote another message. “Your press all say we did it. Please don’t hate me for this!”.
My dear sweet friend finally answered the phone after many tries.
I don’t hate you, how could I hate you? Why should I hate you, you are my friend!
But they all blames us for killing your people a year ago. They all hate us for it, you also.
I don’t care what they write or what they say and no matter what, I don’t hate you. You are my friend!
But what if it was us? What if we did this?
We both know it wasn’t you and we both don’t know who it was. We will have to wait what the investigations show and no matter what it will show, it wasn’t you.
Will you still talk to me when they say it was us?
When that happens, I will talk even more to you than I do now. You are my friend, we have been friends since we were kids.
We talked more, talked about today, about this day last year and about how much it hurts to see accusations flying back and forth without any respect for the victims and their families. Unfounded accusations, from the beginning. Within hours, the tabloid and millions of social media users already knew who did it and how. Different sides had different views, all supported by claims and accusations, insulting and lacking every form of respect. The blame games started immediately and never ended. Like waves coming to the shore, over and over again!
There was a picture which allegedly shows the smoke trace of the launched missile coming from rebel-held territory, from which investigative reporters questioned the feasibility of taking this picture from the position and with the angle of which the photographer claimed it was taken.
There was a statement from someone claiming to be on a commercial flight from Greece to Russia and seeing with his own eyes how Ukrainian fighter jets attacked MH17 and, according to his statement, all records of this standard regular commercial flight have been removed from all public databases to hide the evidence from a flight which was apparently so secretively that it didn’t show up on the radar data which was presented by the Russian Ministry of Defense during the press conference on Flight MH17.
There was a satellite image allegedly showing a Ukrainian fighter jet launching a missile at Flight MH17 which was rapidly identified as a cheap fake since it shows the new Donetsk Terminal in its pre-operation state years before the horrible tragedy.
There were statements of people seeing airborne soldiers jumping from the plane before it exploded, there were statements of people claiming that the bodies of the victims were already dead long before the flight departed.
There were statements of official data supporting this claim and within days there is always a statement of official data supporting the opposite, always confusing providing validated data with making a statement that such data would exist, let alone providing actual data.
It doesn’t stop, it never stops. Each new statement or publication puts the blame on persons, groups, countries and is followed by the same in the other direction. It never stops, like waves. Wave after wave after wave. The Netherlands has a long standing tradition of fighting such waves, breaking those waves to prevent them from causing damages. Golfbrekers, wave breakers. So let me break those waves of blame games, let me list all those I know who are not to blame!
It wasn’t my Russian girlfriend Lyudmila, who covered her hair today to show her respect to the victims and those who still struggle with the tragedy of missing the victims forever in this horrible act of violence. Not Lyudmila, who prayed with me today, cried with me today and squeezed my hand just a bit stronger than she normally does. It was not Lyudmila so don’t blame her!
It wasn’t my Russian aunt Viktoryia, who sees my anger and grieve in my eyes and stands beside me every minute, her hair covered as sign of respect and grieve. Not aunt Viktoryia who prayed longer than she normally does today, for the victims, for their loved ones and for peace. It was not aunt Viktoryia, so don’t blame her!
It wasn’t my cosine Evgenia, who always jokes these days about having the right to push my wheelchair against my will because we are family and she has to make up for all the lost years but not today. Today Evgenia asked is she could please push my wheelchair because it makes her feel close to me and she needs that today. It was not cosine Evgenia, so don’t blame her!
It wasn’t my dear Russian-Ukrainian friend Anna, who fled the war like so many others and left everything behind to try to build a new life in Russia where she feels safe. Not Anna, who does whatever she can to help the citizens of the city she lived her whole life in until this horrible war started, not Anna who wishes to be able to return home in peace some day and rebuild her city, her life, her roots. Not Anna, who in her despair wrote me this emotional message today, fearing I would hate her. It was not Anna, so don’t blame her!
It wasn’t my dear Russian-Ukrainian-Bulgarian friend Marina, who on top of losing her husband to suicide last year, also lost her mother and her brother in this war, blaming everything on Russia. Not Marina, who denounces her part Russian roots now and writes me hate-filled mails about the events in her country, her traumatic losses, filled with hatred towards the Russia she ones loved and adored, the Russia she now even blames for being rejected by the man she fell for. But not today, no words of hatred from Marina. Marina wrote me a heartwarming prayer, comforting as the friends we once were and hopefully will be again. It was not Marina, so don’t blame her!
It wasn’t my former exchange student, who once was a pacifist proud Ukrainian protesting against his country participating in a growing amount of UN missions and even NATO missions. Who opposed the violent uprisings in Kiev and in Donetsk because it goes against everything he believed in until that day when his parental house was attacked by Ukrainian shelling and killed his mother, who since that day fights at the side of the militia to defend what isn’t destroyed yet. It was not him, so don’t blame him!
It wasn’t any of the heroic Emergency Service workers, who worked around the clock to recover the victims in the middle of a war zone. Not those brave men and women who kept working when the front-line changed and fighting even intensified despite the commitment and UN demand to observe a ceasefire. It was not them, so don’t blame them!
It wasn’t my aunt’s neighbor, who flies the Dutch flag at half mast today at the same flagpole he normally so proudly flies the Russian flag. Not the neighbor, who got up before sunrise today to fly the Dutch flag as sign of respect at dusk and lowered the flag at dawn. It was not him, so don’t blame him!
It wasn’t any of those traumatized citizens living in the crash area, who paid there respect today in churches and at a ceremony, and hopefully will find comfort in their common mourning. Who will hopefully find comfort and strength with each other to process the tragedy they witnessed in a war they suffer under. It was not them, so don’t blame them!
It wasn’t the Ukrainian high-school teacher, who now has to work night shifts as taxi driver to feed his family and always finds time and ways to help us bring medical supplies to the hospitals in Donbass although he opposes everything and anything done by the militia. Who says he would fight if he was younger and still brings medical aid because no matter what, these are and will always be his brothers and sisters. It was not him, so don’t blame him!
It wasn’t any of my many friends in Ukraine and Russia, who wrote me respectful messages today, posted signs of respect on their pages, many of whom went to church today to pray for the victims and their families. It was not them, so don’t blame them!
It wasn’t a population, it wasn’t a race and until there is a concluded investigation, we don’t even know which individuals or groups are responsible for this tragedy. We do know that a long chain of failed politics from all sides eventually created the atmosphere in which this tragedy did take place and for now, that is all we know. The rest is nothing but blame games, blame games by all sides blaming the others to fulfill their own political and/or ideological agenda’s.
Let me make this very clear for those who still don’t understand. No matter what the outcome of the investigation will be and no matter if you understand or accept that outcome, always keep in mind that in case Ukraine is responsible, it wasn’t each and every Ukrainian individual so don’t blame them all! And in case the militia of Donetsk is responsible, it wasn’t each and every individual in this region so don’t blame them all! And in case Russia is responsible, it wasn’t each and every Russian individual so don’t blame them all!
End those sickening blame games! It is disrespectful towards the victims, it is disrespectful towards their families and it is disrespectful towards the millions of individuals who had nothing to do with it, no matter on which side you believe to be and on which side you believe them to be.
Please show respect and dignity!