21 July 2014
For the Leaders of the Separatists Movement, Ukrainian and Russian Governments.
Five days ago, 298 people onboard MH17 died in Eastern Ukraine. Their mortal human remains have no political affiliation. They cannot speak for or against current governments. Under national and international law, they have the right to have an identity and a name. Under the practices of the various churches, including the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), families should be allowed to grieve and to have funerals. They cannot do this without the mortal remains.
Therefore, those who are in control of the deceased and the area of their death should at once provide for or allow the professional and dignified recovery of those remains and their personal belongings. They should be transported to a safe area so that the remains can be properly identified. They should be repatriated in accordance with the wishes of their families. The identification work should be undertaken within the framework of international best practice. This means establishing a central location for forensic teams to work. Teams should be from all countries whose citizens were on board the flight. They should jointly participate in a process to establish positive identifications. This is then an open transparent process.
There is no justification or cause to deny or delay this process further. Whether you are Ukrainian or Russian by ethnicity, Ukrainian, Russian or Separatist by nationality, you are also grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and loved ones. So were those on board MH17 and they deserve final peace. Their families deserve the opportunity to formally say goodbye. Human remains are not tokens to be bartered or traded. They are not pawns for movement on a political chessboard.
Robert A. Jensen
CEO, Kenyon International Emergency Services