The relatives of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 tragedy are entitled to answers. They want to know who fired the missile that brought down the plane carrying their loved ones and why. The perpetrator has to be caught and punished; the process is as much about justice as preventing repeats. But no one needs the propaganda being spun by governments and interest groups to push agendas.
An independent and truly impartial investigation is the only way to determine who fired the missile that brought down the plane over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Yet within hours of the Boeing 777 coming down in territory held by Russian-backed separatist fighters, accusations of who was to blame were being tossed about, first by Washington and Kiev, and then Moscow. Each has provided to the world's media purported evidence supporting claims, among them photos of missile launchers, witness accounts, intercepted military communications and satellite tracking data. In the rush to demonise, the loss and suffering has been all but ignored.
None of the evidence the various governments has provided conclusively proves fault. There are accusations of tampering. Foreign investigators have been unable to examine wreckage due to fighting between rebels and Ukrainian soldiers around the crash site. Separatists took six days to hand over the flight voice and data recorders; they are being analysed in Britain.
The recorders may not shed light on who fired the missile. Nor, with the wreckage disturbed by looters and fighters, will forensics experts necessarily find conclusive evidence. Without proof, it is wrong to apportion blame and information leaked to the media has to be treated cautiously. There needs to be extra care given the circumstances: Ukraine is the front of a struggle between the West and Russia for influence and dominance.
All sides are aggressively pushing their cases, but using the tragedy to further agendas is dangerous. The US and its allies went to war against Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in 2003 on fabricated evidence that he supported terrorists and had weapons of mass destruction. With the MH17 victims' families seeking answers, the world's media eager to provide them and rival governments only too willing to capitalise, an environment has been created for easy manipulation of facts. But political point-scoring at such a time is insensitive and irresponsible. Governments have to instead be dedicated to making every effort to finding out the truth.