The text messages driving Julie Bishop to seek justice over MH17

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the UN Security Council. Photo: Trevor Collens/DFAT The Maslin family released this photo of their children Evie, Mo and Otis after they were killed when flight MH17 was shot down. Photo: Supplied

Julie Bishop launches blistering attack after Russia vetoes MH17 criminal tribunal 

NEW YORK. They’re the text messages that helped drive Julie Bishop in her pursuit of justice at the UN for the 298 people killed when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down.

When the votes came in from the 15-member United Nations Security Council on Thursday, 11 nations voted to establish an independent tribunal to prosecute those responsible, and three countries abstained. But the only country to oppose the proposal – Russia – used its veto to block hopes that those responsible would be brought to justice.

Within moments of the vote, the Foreign Minister “received a number of text messages from representatives of those Australian families who had loved ones aboard that ill-fated flight”.

Ms Bishop later shared some of the details – though not the names – of those personal messages, much like the ones she has received throughout the whole process.

“Hi Julie, keep up the great work, Mum and Dad would be proud of the way Australia has responded. Thanks for everything, take care,” read one message, sent by an Australian family hit by the tragedy that arrived with the Foreign Minister in the moments after she launched a blistering attack on the Russians on the floor of the UN.

“Dear Julie, thank you for vowing to keep fighting for justice after the Russian veto, our thanks,” read another.

Ms Bishop has been in contact with a number of the families since MH17 was shot down, including the Maslin family, who tragically lost their three children, Mo, Evie and Otis and their grandfather Nick Norris, and who live in Ms Bishop’s electorate.

Other families around Australia and the world, from the West, to Queensland, to as far afield as Eindhoven in Holland, have reached out to the Foreign Minister over the tragedy, keeping alive the personal bond first forged in the days after July 17, 2014.

Ms Bishop, in turn, has shared those tragic stories as she has met world leaders and pursued justice for those who died.

It was no accident that the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, mentioned the tragic case of the Maslin children during her speech to the Security Council.

The Ambassador had heard the Maslin’s story from the Foreign Minister, as had Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Cherkin.

In the intense three days of back-to-back meetings, phone calls and lobbying efforts in New York ahead of the Security Council vote, those families were never far from Ms Bishop’s mind.

As Ms Bishop said after the push for the UN tribunal was defeated, “part of my speech today was directed to the families and that was to assure them that whatever the outcomes was of today’s debate – and there was some expectation that Russia would exercise the veto  – that we would continue to do everything we can in co-operation with out colleagues from Malaysia, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Belgium, to bring to justice those responsible for the death of their love ones”.

“I made that pledge to those families. I’m sure my colleagues did the same.”

While the five nation joint investigative team examining the downing of MH17 may have been defeated for now the pursuit fo justice will continue.

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