Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Dutch newspapers respond with anger and despair as wait for return of bodies continues

The Netherlands’ biggest newspaper declared Ukrainian separatists ‘murderers’ – and there were plenty of recriminations and accusations across the weekend’s papers

Adam Withnall
Monday 21 July 2014 19:00 BST
De Telegraaf - the biggest Dutch paper in terms of circulation - described the Ukrainian separatists as 'murderers'
De Telegraaf - the biggest Dutch paper in terms of circulation - described the Ukrainian separatists as 'murderers'

Almost four days on from the deaths of 192 Dutch nationals in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the reaction from newspapers in the Netherlands has shifted from shock and speechlessness to outright anger.

It emerged this morning that Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have blocked the passage of a train carrying the bodies of hundreds of victims in refrigerated carriages.

And the Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, has told Ukraine’s president that his country was “furious” at other reports of bodies being dragged around and the site “not treated properly” in Grabovo, Donetsk.

As the home country for the majority of those killed on board the flight scheduled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur last Thursday, investigators from the Netherlands have been given access to examine the bodies being kept on the train in the rebel-held town of Torez.

An image of the train occupied the front page of Dutch newspapers today, as it became a symbol for the anger and frustration felt towards the separatists accused of shooting MH17 out of the sky.

Many commented over the weekend on the “poignant” move by the daily to leave the front page of its weekend entirely blank out of respect for those killed.

Video: The Independent's Oliver Wright discusses European response to MH17 tragedy

Today, its front page ran with a picture of the train and the headline: “Wanneer komen ze naar huis?” – “When are they coming home?”

Perhaps the strongest statement from the weekend papers in the Netherlands came from De Telegraaf, the country’s biggest in terms of circulation.

On Saturday it carried a picture of separatist fighters guarding the crash site under the one-word headline “Moordenaars” – “Murderers”.

Its Sunday edition moved from accusations to calls for action – demanding a military intervention from Nato to take control of the site from the rebels with a headline saying “Maat is vol” – “Enough is enough”.

De Volkskrant’s weekend edition also expressed frustration and mistrust towards the “bossy rebels”, with a picture of the seemingly disorganised search zone and a headline reading: “Gaan zij de waarheid vinden?” – “Will they find the truth?”

Not every paper focussed on events at the site of the tragedy in eastern Ukraine, however. NRC Weekend took up the subject of how the incident had touched the whole of the Netherlands, its headline reading: “Ledereen kent wel iemand” – “Everyone knows someone”.

Trouw on Saturday described how MH17 “connects a Spar store in Amsetlveen with a law firm in Amsterdam”, declaring on its front page that “The Dutch [are] united in grief and bewilderment”.

Those two sentiments also dominated the front page of tabloid Algemeen Dagblad. The day after the incident it described a country “In shock”, and on Sunday it ran a picture of a little girl paying tribute under the headline: “De pijn is overall voelbaar” – “The pain is felt everywhere”.

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