On July 17, a Malaysia Airline commercial jumbo jet flying over the Crimean warzone was shot down by rocket fire, killing nearly 300 civilians. The plane crashed near the Ukrainian mining town of Torez and all on board were killed immediately.
Among those on board were delegates en route to the 20th International AIDS Conference, including the organizer of the conference and president of the International AIDS Society. Further, the victims included 80 children.
North America and Europe argue with Russia over whether Ukrainian soldiers or Russian-backed separatists pulled the trigger on the Buk missile, designed by the Soviet Union with military bomber planes in mind, though internationally gathered evidence puts direct blame solely on the shoulders of separatists.
Meanwhile, the families go grieving, quietly assured that the only form of consolation they will receive is the recognition that someone will be punished in some manner to variable effect. The countries involved in their outspoken investigations of this tragedy will surely exhaust the facts, at least if, they don’t muddle all truth during the course of their search. Yet one question remains largely unasked by the general public: How does Malaysia Airlines intend to make amends for flying into a warzone?
Wars are confusing things and modern-day revolutions lacking the backing—or heading—of a country’s own main military force are nothing short of a firestorm. As Malaysia Airlines has wailed, Ukraine declared the airspace as being safe to fly. Whether the Ukrainian government was aware of the possibility that the rebels may have been in possession of such ordinance is uncertain. Regardless, both parties are at fault in this matter: one for being incautious with their own circumstances, likely due to desperation in their international relations, and the other for being more concerned with providing speedy service, rather than the lives of hundreds.
It is irresponsible to bring a bomber-sized plane over the top of a de facto war between Russia’s proxy army and Crimea, a lost spoil of the Soviet Union’s historical conquest. Whether or not the conflict is a sensible trade-off for the tremendous loss of life is a decision for funny men with exquisite make-up who give speeches on morning TV. The question now is how will Malaysia Airlines make amends?
The company has been having a long year. The downing of Flight 17 by rocket fire followed the unresolved disappearance of Flight 370 in March, which combined leaves 537 people dead or presumed dead. Frighteningly enough, the national discussion surrounding Malaysia Airlines has been one of pure economics and what the company has to do to survive. The discussion must instead shift to a place of penance. While a check in the mail is not meant to ease the suffering over family lost in this incident, it can at least demonstrate the airliner’s desire to make things right with its customers.
The state-owned airline must do this with a certain desperation. The airline has long been a source of pride of for the Malaysian government, despite it being a drain on money in the last few years, and that source of pride, that flagship, has been besmirched. All actions in response to the loss of Flight 17 must be done with this shame in mind.