Amid the recriminations and blame that has descended into a Cold War of words between Russia and the West over the downing of flight MH17, the victims have been robbed of their dignity, laid bare in this powerful speech by the Dutch Foreign Minister.
Pausing at times to contain his emotion, Frans Timmermans spoke to the United Nations of his shock at the treatment of the bodies, the indignity of the news coverage, and the obfuscation of the details of the crash.
"We're here to discuss a tragedy, the downing of a commercial airliner, and the death of 298 innocent people," he said.
"Men, women and a staggering number of children lost their lives on their way to holiday destinations, their homes, loved ones or international obligations, such as the important HIV/AIDS conference in Australia.
"Since Thursday, I've been thinking, how horrible it must have been, the final moments of their lives, when they knew the plane was going down.
"Did they lock hands with their loved ones, did they hold their children close to their hearts?" His voice began to tremble as he continued. "Did they look each other in the eyes, one final time, in a wordless goodbye? We will never know."
Story continues below...
- MH17 Plane Crash Sparks Frenzy Of Online Conspiracy Theories
- Intervention or Isolation - US Foreign Policy Just Got Interesting
- Israeli Shells Hit Children 'Playing Football On Gaza Beach'
- The Ugly Side Of American Populism
- Murdoch Says We Should Be 'Sceptical' About Climate Change
"The demise of almost 200 of my compatriots has left a hole in the heart of the Dutch nation, it has caused grief, anger and despair. Grief for the loss of loved ones. Anger at the downing of a civilian aircraft. And despair, after witnessing the excruciatingly slow process of securing the crash site and recovering the remains of the victims. "
A train carrying the bodies of 282 of the victims had arrived in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv after the rebels finally agreed last night to release them. To do so was "a matter of human decency, that remains should be treated with respect, and returned without any delay," said Timmermans.
"In the last few days we have received very disturbing reports, of bodies being moved about, being looted of their possessions.
"Just for one minute, I want to say that I am not addressing you as representatives of your countries, but as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, just imagine.
"You first get the news that your husband was killed, and within two or three days, you see images of some thug removing the wedding band from their hands. This could be your spouse.
"To my dying day, I will not understand why it took so long for rescue workers to be allowed to do their difficult jobs. For remains to be used in a political game? If someone around this table talks about a political game, this is it, this is the political game, it has been played with human remains and it is despicable.
"I hope the world will not have to witness this again. Images of children's toys being tossed around, luggage being opened, and passports, passports of children, shown on television. They are turning our grief and mourning into anger, as a nation. We demand unimpeded access to the crash site, we demand respectful treatment of the crash site, we demand dignity for the victims and the multitudes who mourn their loss. They deserve to be home."
Suggested For You
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more