Thoughts on Fake News

It has always been a mystery to me, how one has even been able to write the beastly propaganda during the First World War. How could a person believe that devils were fighting on the opposite side? How could a war break out seen as so senseless today, while seen as so justified back then?

Even more incredible to me was the thought that such a thing would ever happen again, at least, here in the free west. The west, that values freedom of expression so highly. – But that changed today.

Facebook has banned today, the channel RT, from posting justifying its action with the fight against ‘Fake News’. Even though the decision has no been reversed, it is a frightening discovery. The perception is such, that news coming from Russia is seen as untrue, is meant to disrupt, to paralyse, instead that it is seen as a conflicting yet parallel look at the world.

So much work I have done in order to understand better a country which is fear by so many, to understand her language, her culture and politics. But unfortunately, it seems that all this work has proved itself in vain; even willing to understand and talk the language no longer seem to be innocent affairs and would bear witness that I am a ‘Kremlin-propagandist.’

The fear that is housed within me for war, not only with Russia and the west, but worldwide, is stepping more and more firmly into reality. I dream of peace, but doing so I feel increasingly as a child, that is incapable of understanding the world.

 

Dutch Below
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Het is voor mij altijd onbegrijpelijk geweest hoe men ooit de beestachtige propaganda heeft kunnen schrijven ten tijde van de eerste wereld oorlog. Hoe kan een mens geloven dat er duivels e.d. strijden voor de tegenovergestelde zijde? Hoe kan een oorlog uitbreken om niets en deze zo breed zijn uitgemeten en gerechtvaardigd zijn

Nog ongelofelijker was voor mij, dat zoiets ooit weer zou gebeuren, althans, hier in het vrije westen. Het westen dat de vrijheid van meningsuiting zo hoog koestert. Dat is verandert, vandaag.

Facebook heeft vandaag de zender RT verboden te posten onder het mom van het gevecht tegen ‘Fake News’ (vals nieuws). Hoewel inmiddels de beslissing is terug gedraaid, is dit een schikbarende ontwikkeling. De perceptie is zo, dat nieuws komende uit Rusland onjuist is, bedoeld is te verstoren, te verlammen, in plaats het te zien als een conflicterende doch parallelle kijk op de wereld.

Zo veel werk heb ik de afgelopen jaren verzet om een land beter te begrijpen dat zo velen vrezen, om de taal te leren, haar gebruiken en politiek. Maar laas, lijkt al dit werk nu vergeefs; zelfs willen begrijpen en de taal spreken blijken geen onschuldige zaken meer te zijn en zouden getuigen dat ik een ‘kremlin-propagandist’ ben.

De angst die ik al jaren heb voor oorlog, niet alleen tussen Rusland en het westen, maar wereldwijd, treed steeds fermer de werkelijkheid binnen. Ik droom van vrede, maar voel mij dan steeds meer als kind dat de wereld niet begrijpt.

Maria Zakharova’s statement on us being held

Translation of Maria Zakharova’s remarks about our detention:

Nederlands beneden / Dutch below.

Translation : Anastasia Karkdijk

“Another subject. A large number of comments on the arrest of the Dutch journalists at Schiphol airport on 7 January appeared in Russian mass media sources. As you know they were returning home from their trip to the crash site of the MH17 airplane (Boeing that belonged to Malaysian Airlines and crashed in 2014). The journalists were preparing the materials for a documentary about the catastrophe, and we got a request to comment on this. What can I say? We’ve really seen the news reports where it was said that the journalists have collected the parts of the crashed plane and body parts of the supposed victims of the crash. As it emerged, all the above mentioned parts are still located at the crash site and is not being examined by the collaborative investigation team under the direction of the Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands. What does “as it emerged” mean? We have known it from the very beginning. Though more than two years from the moment of the catastrophe we’ve been constantly repeating that the extremely important parts of the crashed plane have not been removed from the site for the future examination by the investigation team. Now it is being brought to light by the journalists, including the journalists of the country that took the lead in the investigation. But it is of concern that this information will not reach the general public in the Netherlands, in Europe because we are afraid that these materials might be censored. But I really hope that this will not happen. I would like to continue and say that the extreme anxiety of the official Hague concerning the evidence of the inconsistency of work performed by the investigation team can be traced more and more in this episode. The signs are becoming clear that they fear that their work will be seen as not effective enough, and now the Dutch party is ready to put the handcuffs on their own journalists who are only trying to unravel the truth performing their professional duty. What about the freedom of speech?” (13-01-17)
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BE AWARE! The translation has been done as good as possible according to the ability of the translated. Translation is not completely on point, especially the pieces between the []

 

 

 

Vertaling van de verklaring van Maria Zakharova naar aanleiding van onze aanhouding.

Vertaling van de verklaring van Maria Zakharova naar aanleiding van onze aanhouding.

“Nog een thema. Op Russische massamedia werd bericht gegeven over het vasthouden op 7 januari op vliegveld Schiphol in Nederland van twee journalisten. Zoals u weet zijn zij naar hun vaderland terug gekeerd nadat zij de crash-site hebben bezocht van het neergestorte verkeersvliegtuig van de Maleisische luchtvaartmaatschappij, de Boeing. Zij hebben materiaal verzameld over het maken van een documentaire over deze tragedie. Wij hebben hier verzoeken over ontvangen hierover commentaar te geven.

Ik kan zeggen dat wij inderdaad hebben gezien dat deze journalisten zijn vastgehouden en dat de correspondenten enkele elementen hebben verzameld van het vliegtuig. En eveneens een deel van het lichaam wat behoorde tot een van de slachtoffers van de catastrofe. Het blijkt dat dit alles zich nog steeds bevindt op de plek van de tragedie en dat het niet onderzocht is door onderzoeksgroepen waarmee het OM in Nederland mee samenwerkt.

Wat betekend dat ‘het bleek dat’. Voor ons was het direct duidelijk, vrij gesproken, vanaf het moment van de tragedie tot, meer dan twee jaar later, praten we over fragmenten, erg belangrijke fragmenten, die niet zijn gezien door de onderzoeksgroepen. Nu blijkt het, inclusief voor journalisten van het land dat het hoofddeel van het onderzoek op zich heeft genomen. Maar er is de angst dat deze informatie niet zal worden gebruikt in Nederland en Europa, omdat … wij een grote angst hebben dat dit materiaal gecensureerd kán worden. Deze angst bestaat. We hopen dat dit niet zal gebeuren.

In de huidige episode is een nervositeit van Den Haag te zien naar ieder willekeurig bewijs (het aantal daarvan neemt steeds toe) van het onvermogen van het onderzoek. (het idee is dat ze dat niet goed hebben gedaan) Daarom is de angst wel terecht dat hun handeling inderdaad niet volledig effectief kan blijken. (dat ze het onderzoek niet volledig gedaan hebben.) Nederland is nu bereid zijn eigen journalisten tegen te houden die hebben geprobeerd de waarheid te vinden volgens hun professionele plicht. (Ze heeft dat zeg maar met handboeien beschreven, maar de betekenis is dat ze jullie proberen tegen te houden). Maar hoe zit het dan met de (vrijheid van) meningsuiting?.

In de huidige episode is een nervositeit van Den Haag te zien naar ieder willekeurig bewijs (het aantal daarvan neemt steeds toe) van het onvermogen van het onderzoek. (het idee is dat ze dat niet goed hebben gedaan) Daarom is de angst wel terecht dat hun handeling inderdaad niet volledig effectief kan blijken. (dat ze het onderzoek niet volledig gedaan hebben.) Nederland is nu bereid zijn eigen journalisten tegen te houden die hebben geprobeerd de waarheid te vinden volgens hun professionele plicht. (Ze heeft dat zeg maar met handboeien beschreven, maar de betekenis is dat ze ons proberen tegen te houden – noot van de vertaalster). Maar hoe zit het dan met de (vrijheid van) meningsuiting?” (13-01-17)
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LET OP! Vertaling naar vermogen zo goed mogelijk gedaan, maar helemaal scherp is het niet. Vooral delen tussen []

 

 

On the Confiscation of our Material

On Saturday, while arriving on Schiphol, we, Michel Spekkers and Stefan Beck were held by Dutch police and interrogated. During the interrogation, not only material of the MH17 was taken from us, also our laptops, telephones, SD-cards and camera’s. We lost all material shot in Donbass, including material recorded with anonymous sources. In this article we present an overview what happened, both before and after that day.

For Michel Spekkers’ account please visit: http://michelspekkers.nl/mh17-mijn-verhaal/

Collecting the material from MH17

Our stay in Donbass mostly focussed on showing how people in the region experienced the conflict, their attitude towards Ukraine, Russia, Donbass. It was only on the last day of our stay that Michel Spekkers went to the MH17 crash-site together with local journalists. What he found there was shocking; it seemed as if the whole region was never thoroughly searched as pieces of the plane could still be found everywhere.

Moreover, not only was the material found in fields, where it might have been incidently overlooked by previous searches, it was also found still lying around in a shed formerly used for wreckage storage. However, this material was never collected. More so, even some material which might very well be human was abandoned by previous investigations.

vladislav-zelenyj© Vladislav Zelenyj: https://vk.com/vladishez

Above: Shed where part of the MH17 material was discovered.

The tragic reality seems to be that the pieces lying in the area would be left there to weather away. Hence, any evidence about what happened to flight MH17 still present in the area would never be collected. Hence, Michel Spekkers has decided to film the location of all material, record them on GPS and some of it he has taken back to The Netherlands for investigation, something that, unfortunately, would never have happened without doing so.

Initial reactions from the Dutch Prosecuting service in public channels

The Dutch Prosecuting Service (OM), a party responsible for the investigation into the MH17, initial responded with the following comment in Omroep Brabant (A Dutch local news channel):

“Dat daar nu nog steeds van alles gevonden wordt, is logisch”, aldus een woordvoerder van het Landelijk Parket van het Openbaar Ministerie. “Het toestel kwam in een groot gebied terecht, waar het nu nog steeds onrustig en onveilig is. Dat maakt het bergen erg lastig.”

(From: http://www.omroepbrabant.nl/?news/2598251113/Nabestaanden+boos+op+journalist+die+vuilniszak+met+MH17-resten+claimt+Niet+respectvol.aspx )

Translated:

“That there are still pieces being found over there, is logical.” Says a prokesperson of the Dutch Prosecuting Service. “The plane came down over a large area, where is is still unquiet and unsafe. This complicates retrieving the wreckage.”

We deem this statement as incorrect. First of all, during our stay in Donbass, we experienced the whole situation as rather quiet. Indeed, it might have been different in the past and there is still fighting going on near the front, but in cities there is very little going on. Locals told is that it has been a year since Donetsk itself was shelled and one should know that the MH17 crash-site is even father away from the front than Donetsk is. Also, there were no hostilities at all while Spekkers visited the crash-site.

The second statement, that pieces came down over a large area and there, for almost impossible to collect them all, does indeed make sense. However, pieces were also found in sheds, where the material was already collected and never retrieved. Amongst them were possible human remains.

Initial contact with authorities

It was never made a secret that material of the MH17 was taken with us. Indeed, it was even posted on twitter. Authorities therefore contacted Michel Spekkers and asked him to hand it over in either the Dutch embassy in Moscow or at Schiphol Airport. During the contact the police made clear they needed the material for investigation. More so,  they claimed that the handover would be voluntarily. Being such, there should also be a possibility to refuse. We have told authorities that we agreed on a rendezvous.

Arriving in Schiphol and Interogation.

Because of a disagreement about carrying a possible human remain, it was decided that Beck would leave the plane without Spekkers. Noticing Michel might be arrested Beck started filming the gate. However Beck never has seen Spekkers come out of the gate.

At the baggage retrieval, Beck noticed that the rucksack of Spekkers was incorrectly checked-in under his name by ground staff in Moscow. This is despite that his own suitecase, which was too heavy, was paid by him and we have the receipt to prove. Judging that his own luggage was not check in under his own name, he took out Michel his rucksack. A call by Michel, who was waiting under the supervision of the authorities, urged Beck to hand it over to Michel. But, before this could be done Beck was already stopped by police and brought to the interrogation room.

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Receipt for paying for excess weight of Beck’s suitecase. Payment is made by Stefan Beck

The people interrogating Beck identified themselves as police. Eventhough, they showed a police card which supposedly showed their family names and initials, the interrogator was very much worried that his face might have been caught on camera. Also, the name used by the interrogator to introduce himself, Bert, did not correspond with the initials on the police pass. The interrogator also claimed to be married while not wearing a wedding-ring.

Both Spekkers and Beck were asked to unpack their bags and show all content they were carrying with them. During the conversation it was incorrectly said to Beck that Spekkers has agreed to voluntarily hand over the material. Beck knew, that, despite Spekkers was not against this, he also had not yet agreed on this.

Why did authorities took material from us?

During the interrogation, it was claimed that this material was needed for the MH17 investigation. Not before arriving was there ever any question about handing this material over. Nor was it ever asked to hand the video or photo material voluntarily. It was taken from Beck without any question whatsoever.

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List of confiscated items of Stefan Beck

Of all material collected (see the above list) even Stefan Beck his Nokia 2630 was taken from him. Because, as was claimed, it might contain picture or recordings of the conversation or images of the crashsite.

Despite publicly announcing that MH17 material was taken with us, and that we were detained even before leaving customs, some media still claim that we were smuggling the material.

Anonymous Sources

We again want to stress that we fear for the safety of the people who we interviewed. The vast majority of our material was not about MH17, but about how people toughed about the area. Amongst the interviews, were people that did not want to have their faces shown and that might be identified via our material. By voice, photo’s or recordings.

The perception that these people are at risk, is generally not shared in the west. Therefore we would like to draw attention to the following. The photographer which travelled with Spekkers to the MH17 site, Vladislav Zelenyj, himself is a good example of this: because of his work in Donbass, he has been labelled a terrorist and pictures of him (including his passport!) are displayed at a website that categorized Journalist which are perceived as pro-DNR. The website can be found here: https://myrotvorets.center/criminal/zelenyj-vladislav-olegovich/

We are very much afraid that a similar fate await some of the people which we interviewed.

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Screenshot of Mirotvorets’ page about Vladislav Zelenyj, a photo journalist traveling with Spekkers to the MH17 crash-site.

 

 

 

Dutch Authorities confiscate MH17 material of journalists

URGENT!
All of the material collected by Michel Spekkers and me about the #MH17 crash in Donbass (Lugansk, and Donetsk) and other material, for example street interviews, has been confiscated by the police upon arrival to the Netherlands. The material includes images of annominous sources.
Also, material has been confiscate of the MH17 itself. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) claims that it itself could not collect this material because the region where the plane has crashed is too dangerous. However, during our stay in the area we noticed that this was not the case.

Another claim of the OM is that it is impossible to collect all the material of the wreckage because it has been spread over such a large area. It should therefore be impossible to fin dit all. This is a valid claim, however the OM also neglects to collect material which is collected in warehouses.

The incorrect reasoning of the OM and the confiscation of the material (including image material), gives rise to doubt about the auditability and reliability of the investigation.

MH17

De afgelopen twee week ben ik samen met Michel Spekkers naar Donetsk en Lugansk gerezen. We zijn daar tegen veel dingen aangelopen die ons verrast hebben. Een van die dingen zou de MH17 worden.

English below

Hoewel ik op de ‘MH17-dag’ niet mee ben geweest, heb ik veel respect voor Michel Spekkers voor het meenemen voor brokstukken van de MH17. Er ligt daar materiaal wat nooit is opgehaald, niet alleen verstopt, maar ook openlijk in loodsen. Op een ander punt kloppen de beweringen van het OM ook niet: het OM beweert dat de regio waar de brokstukken liggen te onrustig is. Tijdens mijn verblijf in de regio heb ik daar niets van gemerkt. Beweringen dat het onderzoek daar niet gevoerd kan worden omdat het onveilig zou zijn, zijn, in ieder geval op dit moment, onwaar. Dat er door het OM anders wordt beweerd geeft mij zorgen over de objectiviteit van het onderzoek.

Ook de vermoedelijke menselijke resten zijn gevonden nabij een loods.(Preciese locatie is te zien op ingenomen beelden.)  Ik wil benadrukken dat deze resten daar weg zouden kwijnen indien ze niet zouden zijn meegenomen. Ik heb er zodoende begrip voor dat ze meegenomen zijn, echter sta ik er niet achter.

Ik wil ook benadrukken dat ik op de dag dat Michel Spekkers op de rampplek was, ik in Donetsk ben gebleven voor een aantal interviews met bewoners over hun perceptie van het conflict. Pas toen Michel later die avond in ons hotel aankwam heb ik begrepen dat hij de tas had meegenomen, pas in Rostovna-Donu (Rusland) heb ik begrepen dat hij de menselijke resten ook mee had.

Nogmaals, ik wil benadrukken dat ik begrip heb voor Michel Spekkers: er is sprake van zware nalatigheid dat deze brokstukken en resten nooit geborgen zijn terwijl ze in een zo voor de hand liggende plaats lagen. Het excuus dat het OM gebruikt, namelijk dat het onrustig en onveilig is, is onjuist, wat des te meer vragen over het onderzoek opwerpt. De realiteit is de volgende: zonder dat dat Spekkers deze stukken had meegenomen, waren ze vergaan in een loods in Donbass.

 

The last two weeks I have been traveling with Michel Spekkers to Donetsk and Lugansk. We have been surprised by a lot of things we have seen there. One of those would be the MH17.

Even though I wasn’t traveling with Michel on the ‘MH17-day, I much respect Spekkers for taking part of the wreckage of the MH17 with him. In the crash site there is material that has never been collected, not only hidden material, but also material which is lying openly in sheds. Other points claimed by Dutch Prosecution are also incorrect: the prosecution claims that the area in which the wreckage is to dangerous to do research. However, during my stay in the region I have not noticed this. Claims that the area could not be investigated closer because it would be too dangerous are, at least at the moment, untrue. That the prosecution claims otherwise, gives me reason to doubt their objectivity.

Also the possible human remains were found near the same shed. (exact location is seen in confiscated material.) I want to emphasize that these remains would weather away if they would not have been collected. I therefore understand that they have been collected, however I do not support it.

I also want to emphasize that the day Michel Spekkers was at the scene, I was in Donetsk to do several interviews with inhabitants about their perception of the conflict. Only when Michel later that night arrived, I understood that he had taken the bag with him.  In Rostov-na-Dony (Russia) I learned that he had collected remains that might have been human.

Again, I want to underline that I respect Michel Spekkers: this is a case of sever neglect because wreckage and remains have never been collected while, lying on such obvious places. The excuse used by the prosecution, that it is not quiet and dangerous in the area, is incorrect. This gives rise to questions about the research. The reality appears to be such: without Spekkers, these pieces would have never been collected and would have weathered away in a shed in Donbass.

Happy New Year From Donetsk

Images were filmed yesterday evening just prior to the start of the New Year. Despite the war, people welcomed the new year very joyfully. And I so respect them for doing so, despite all their troubles.

For me, I wish everyone happiness. And, even despite that this blog mostly focuses on war, I wish for peace. That this might be the last year one will need to write about this horrible subject.

Наступающим! С Новым Годом!

Political Note: The New Year starts the same time as the New Year starts, this in contrast to other places of the (former – choose whether to omit yourself) Ukrainian territory.