New tragedy echoes the oldA shocking and tragic accident has occurred on the other end of the world. In a mysterious accident in Russia early Saturday, the Polish presidential airplane crashed, killing all 97 passengers on board. Among the dead were President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, along with many government leaders, including the governor of the central bank, the army chief of staff, the deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament and the deputy foreign minister.
We extend our deepest condolence to the Polish people, who must be devastated and grief-stricken, and pray for the repose of the deceased.
For the moment, it seems that the accident resulted primarily from an error by the pilot, who tried to land at the air base in Smolensk despite thick fog, risking the lives of his important passengers.
But at the same time, we cannot rule out other possibilities such as a defect in the plane itself or a miscommunication of some kind with the control tower of the airport. Because of this uncertainty, we believe that finding the exact cause of the accident is the most urgent job at the moment.
Though the Russian government seems to be doing its best to handle the disaster by appointing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as head of the investigation committee, not only the Polish government but the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Organization should join the fact-finding efforts in order to eliminate any possible doubts about the investigation’s results.
What makes this accident more tragic is the fact that it happened while the president was on his way to Russia to commemorate the deaths of his countrymen in Poland’s tragic history.
During World War II, Russia slaughtered and buried in secret almost 22,000 Polish leaders — including army officers, professors, doctors and clergymen in a wood near Smolensk — in what is known as the “Katyn Forest massacre.”
Seventy years since the miserable incident took place, Russia still refuses to punish the people who perpetrated this incredible crime. Though Russia accepts the wrongdoings of the past, it still will not issue an official apology on a national level by throwing the blame on Stalin himself.
In some sense, injuries from the past have risen in a new tragedy. Poland, sandwiched between Germany and Russia, has historically suffered a geopolitical fate similar to Korea’s. For this reason, we feel a strong compassion and sympathy toward the Polish people. We pray that they will soon overcome this crisis and grow able to leave all their sorrows behind them.