Sunday 28 November 2021

Dutch government feared social unrest after MH17 disaster, according to secret documents

Photo: NBAAI via Dutch Safety Board

Photo: NBAAI via Dutch Safety Board

Top civil servants feared social unrest in the Netherlands in the days following the MH17 plane disaster, newly-released papers reveal.

After monitoring social media in the wake of the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight from Amsterdam in July 2014, killing 298 people, officials warned that this kind of ‘anger and impotence can lead to social unrest,’ reports the NOS.

People were frustrated by the fact that professionals did not have access to the disaster area where 196 Dutch citizens died, after the plane was hit by a missile over eastern Ukraine.

Public documents have been released by court order, after a successful freedom of information (WOB) request from the Volkskrant paper, NOS and RTL Nieuws broadcasters. Some parts of these documents had been redacted – with parts of the text blacked out – and others were previously unreleased. The NOS reports that many are still secret.

The documents show that civil servants prioritized victims’ families in all public ceremonies and meetings rather than dignitaries, says NOS.

ANP adds that they also show the Dutch government assumed that Russian separatists were behind the crash from day one, and instantly assumed that ‘given the images of the crash, the probability of survivors is nil’. Their preference was to bring the perpetrators to court in the Netherlands.

Earlier this week, families of the victims said they had written to the European Union to try to find out more information about the crash, saying no authorities had yet found ‘all the relevant information’.

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