Just a day ago, shocking news filled our television screens. A plane had been downed while flying over Ukraine air space. It was not just any plane, it was a commercial jet; Malaysian Airlines with men, women and children on board. It had taken off from Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport and was expected to arrive in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia later that evening.
For many of us resident in the Netherlands, it was more shocking to realize that the majority of those on board were nationals of this country, 193 souls to be precise..people who had worked long and hard during the year, and just wanted to take a break and vacation in Asia.
The Asian continent is special to many of us. Personally, I love Asia. The food, the culture, the climate and the fact that I do not have to break my bank account while there. Each time I’m back from there, I’m already dreaming about my next trip. Not even the long hours in-flight can keep me away. The last time I was in the region, my return leg was from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam. There are frequent flights between the two continents. Countries in the region, most notably Indonesia are special to the Netherlands; as a former colony, and has remained strongly connected throughout the years, whether it be through the spicy-sambal influence in a number of dutch cuisines to the many inter-marriages.
What is most shocking about the whole issue is that the plane didn’t come down on its own, rather it was brought down in a strange twisted case of mistaken identity. Several Ukrainian-military jets had been brought down in this incomprehensible war, and it is unimaginable to think that pro-Russian separatists brought the plane down with a BUK surface-to-air missile, thinking that it was just another Ukraine-military plane, yet it was a civilian passenger jet.
Some of the souls on board were people going to celebrate Ramadhan, others were going for vacation and yet many others were scientists and activists heading to Melbourne for an HIV-Aids conference. 6 of the brightest brains in HIV research were on that plane, lead by virologist Joep Lange. Expatica boss Antoine van Veldhuizen was on the flight together with his wife and children. Labour Senator Willem Witteveen as well lost his life, Pim de Kuijer of Stop Aids was on that flight. A total of 80 children were on board.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte declared that it was a dark day for the Netherlands. These were people just getting on with life, trying to make the world a better place,vacationing and were caught in a crossfire of a battle not their own…may their souls RIP…