Dag van nationale rouw

Dag van nationale rouw (Photo: Politico Magazine)

Today in the Netherlands is the “dag van nationale rouw | memorial day” for the victims of the MH17 air crash.

On Saturday on my facebook page I wrote the following:

For my Dutch speaking followers the article below pretty much articulates how I feel about some of the reactions to the mass murder of the passengers of flight MH17.

A bunch of D list celebs, so called BN’ers have taken to Twitter to give their condolences to the relatives of those who died in the crash.

It must be bad enough to lose a loved one in such terrible circumstances, without having some dim tart, famous for her breast enlargements and the number of famous men she’s slept with, wishing you well on Twitter. I also find it pretty appalling that within hours of the passenger list being made public, that the media have then descended on friends and family of people who died on that plane, asking for reactions. I was watching a Dutch news channel yesterday and there was a presenter, interviewing the friends of a teenage girl that died on the flight. What in the name of god do the journalists expects the friends of lost ones to say? Of course they are in shock and are sad to lose loved ones, why not give these people some space and let them mourn in private?

I’ll get off my soapbox now, but I simply fail to understand the insensitivity of the media in situations like this.

Here is the article (in Dutch) that I agree with 100%.

I was somewhat surprised at the initial muted and reserved reaction to this disaster provided by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. These feelings were shared in a superb article by Bas Heijne, a Dutch journalist for NRC, in an opinion piece on the Politico website called time for the Dutch to man up. On Saturday at a press conference Mark Rutte delivered a more passionate and angry speech, but many felt that it still lacked the gravitas expected following such a momentous and tragic event.

Frans Timmermans proves the pen is mightier than the sword

Frans Timmermans, the Dutch foreign minister, delivered the most incredible speech. It perfectly captured the feelings and asked the questions that many have been asking since Thursday. It captured the moment and humanised a major geopolitical incident and brought the focus firmly back to the victims and their families. He asked important questions about the sheer lack of respect with which the bodies of the crash victims had been treated and why the Russian government backed militia had failed to allow access to the crash site. Below is an excerpt from the speech.

“I’ve been thinking how horrible it must have been — the final moments of their lives when they knew the plane was going down. Did they lock lands with their loved ones? Did they hold their children close to their hearts? Did they look each other in the eyes, one final time, in a wordless goodbye? We will never know.”

The full speech can be seen below. He spoke with passion, eloquence, conviction and anger, totally humiliating the animals on the ground in the Ukraine responsible for this atrocity and their supporters in Moscow.

Frans Timmermans has received a lot of well deserved praise and since making that speech some progress has been made, with the black box recorders handed over to the Dutch authorities and the first fifty bodies being returned to the Netherlands today. I’ll leave the last word with Frans Timmermans and the Shallow Man would like to wish everyone affected by this disgraceful crime his best wishes on today, the “dag van nationale rouw”.

 

This article is previously published on Amsterdam Shallow Man.

Simon Woolcot

Simon Woolcot

Writer, Freelance journalist at Amsterdam Shallow Man
I began my expat journey when I moved to Amsterdam for a six month assignment ten years ago. No longer a hamster on the corporate wheel, I am the author of two books, The Amsterdam Confessions of a Shallow Man, and The Shallow Man Guide to Dating the Dutch. I also work as freelance journalist for a number of publications and as well as presenting a show on English Breakfast Radio.
Simon Woolcot