Jakarta. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for action on the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine’s airspace on Thursday and asked members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to show their support for Malaysia in handling the incident.
Yudhoyono, speaking at a televised press conference on Friday, expressed his deep condolences to Malaysia and to the families of the 298 victims on board the Boeing 777 aircraft, which was bound for Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.
“Indonesia strongly urges for an international investigation if it is true that the civilian aircraft was shot by a military missile. That is a violation of international law and even a rule of war.
“Indonesia really hopes that the perpetrators be given firm sanctions and legal action. Indonesia is ready to join in the international investigation,” he said at the State Palace.
AFP reported two anonymous US officials as saying that flight MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile but it was unclear who fired the weapon — pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine, Russian troops across the border or Ukrainian government forces.
Yudhoyono had instructed flag carrier Garuda Indonesia to avoid flying over military conflict areas especially in Ukraine, its border with Russia, and the Gaza strip. He asked all Indonesians traveling overseas to make sure that the aircraft they fly with does not pass over those conflict areas.
“Indonesia also calls for a peaceful solution in Ukraine because it is proven that the conflict has impacted citizens around the world with the crash of the civilian airplane of Malaysia Airlines,” he said.
He added that Indonesia supported the United Nations Security Council to take immediate and serious steps on the matter.
Yudhoyono also urged Asean countries to show their solidarity to help Malaysia in handling the incident.
There were 27 Australians on board, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott blamed “Russian-backed rebels” for shooting down the plane, according to Reuters.
“As things stand, this looks less like an accident than a crime,” he told parliament, as reported by AFP. “And if so, the perpetrators must be brought to justice.” JG