“On July 17, 2014 a Boeing 777 of Malaysia Airlines (flight MH17) crashed over eastern Ukraine. All 298 passengers were killed, including 193 Dutch. The Netherlands were given charge of the investigation into the cause of the disaster, but signed a cover-up deal with Kiev, and thus became a pawn in an international political game.
Unvarnished Cold War rhetoric makes a comeback, in which Putin is the ultimate bad guy. The West labels his words as poisonous propaganda. Meanwhile, it seems, everyone involved in the investigation suffers from a tunnel vision. Can we be sure that the investigators do their work independently and objectively?
The Russians show material which suggests that the crash was caused by either an attack by a Ukrainian fighter jet or by a missile fired with a Ukrainian Buk-M1. However, the EU countries and the US assume that the separatists in eastern Ukraine have shot down the Boeing, maybe accidentally, maybe not.
In “MH17: The Cover-up Deal”, Dutch author Joost Niemöller connects the dots. The most striking facts are listed and the main theories – from all camps – are evaluated. The author observes worrying developments, and outlines a world where major interests stand in the way of finding out the truth, and where a deal is more important than forensic material.”
The foregoing is the translated summary of the Dutch book “MH17: De doofpotdeal” [MH17: The Cover-up Deal] by Dutch journalist and author Joost Niemöller (1957), which was released on October 28. So far, only one of the major Dutch newspapers paid attention to it. De Volkskrant offered a platform for the author on its Opinion page. Mr Niemöller writes [translated]:
Three months after the attack, the discontent and frustration regarding MH17 in the Netherlands seems to increase more and more. The anger is aimed at the government, but the government appears to be unable to give satisfying answers about the perpetrator of the crash. This was first manifested when Dutch FM Timmermans [on October 8] spoke about the oxygen cap that one of the MH17 victims was wearing. Does the Dutch government know much more than it is willing to reveal?
Also a promise had been made by the government. No stone should be left unturned, Dutch PM Rutte said on the day after the crash. But we still have not seen the other side of those stones. The government now responds to parliamentary questions about the facts behind the attack by saying: just wait for the results of the research. This might mean a very long time of waiting. In a year, the Research Council will publish a report which won’t say anything about the perpetrator, because that does not fit with the intent of the Council. The Public Prosecutor only mentioned that it has started the research and that they are looking for further information on a rocket. But there is no attention for real, structural, research problem created by this government.
The Netherlands, being the country that leads the international investigation, has organized the research of both the Public Prosecutor and the Research Council in a way that makes objective investigation impossible in advance. This arises out of the course of events. Ukraine was the first party to do the research. This is subject to international agreements made by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). After several days of secret talks with Dutch FM Timmermans in Kiev, the research was ‘delegated’ to the Netherlands, by means of a series of appointments. The agreements that the Research Council made with Kiev initially were not released, but after all, incidentally posted on the website of the Council. Please note that this happened at the same time when the Dutch government reported to the House of Representatives that those agreements should not be made public yet.
Among other things those agreements include that Ukraine and the Netherlands are committed to a complete exchange of information, that they can force each other to secrecy, and that Ukrainian researchers should participate in the Dutch research. As for the agreements for the Public Prosecutor, these became public thanks to the loose-tongued Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Boychenko, who at a press conference in Kiev on August 10 stated that the countries that have signed the deal – except the Netherlands and Ukraine also Belgium, Australia and possibly also Malaysia – have veto power over the conduct of the research. So if Kiev does not like certain results, the actual research will be cancelled. The Dutch government is silent about this deal with the Public Prosecutor.
Dutch PM Rutte thus has made himself a puppet to Kiev. The research may have only one outcome: the separatists have done it. Most Dutch probably won’t care very much. The general belief is that it is the separatists who shot down flight MH17 with a rocket. It only needs to be proven. This also is the general tone in the media, which leads to a tunnel vision. Every ounce that points in that direction, like a vague piece in German newspaper Der Spiegel, feeds the hysteria: “We’ve got them, those US satellite photos! It shows that the separatists did it!” Then why we do not get to see them?
The fact that that piece did not mention satellite photos at all, but only mentioned analyzes of satellite photos, and the fact that German tv station ARD, which also leaked about the meeting, spoke of “plausible options” that reportedly were secretly shared by the Secret Service with members of the Bundestag in a German commission, was overlooked in all the excitement. Comparable news and even facts pointing in the direction of Ukraine as the perpetrator, are ignored by the Dutch media. That’s what’s called tunnel vision.
The discontent can only grow. The deals between the Dutch government and Kiev make it by definition impossible to investigate the site of the crash and to secure evidence (with the exception of the bodies and some luggage). The only thing the Public Prosecutor can do is study images on the internet. Perhaps the metal particles found at the site of the crash will be of good use. But even about that topic a mysterious silence prevails.
More generally, it is in any case the nature of these kind of attacks that makes it impossible to identify the perpetrator. In the past sixty years it happened twenty times that an airliner was shot from the air during a military action, usually by accident, by a ground-to-air-rocket or a fighter jet. In all cases things were settled outside the courtroom. Parties were bribed. Even if there was no doubt about the evidence, like in 2001, when Ukraine downed an airliner with a rocket. The political interests always prevailed over the truth. The MH17 case won’t be an exception to this.
The frustration of the Dutch people does not play a role in international politics. But the Prime Minister of Netherlands should not settle for that.