Monthly Archives: April 2013

Three years ago today:“The Dead Have a Face and Those Who Were Killed Had a Life”

Three years ago today: Red Shirts at the Silom barricade, April 23, 2010. Photograph by Vivek Prakash.

Photo: Three years ago today: Red Shirts confront riot police outside the Silom barricade, April 23, 2010. Photograph by Vivek Prakash.
Red Shirts confront riot police outside the Silom barricade, April 23, 2010.
Photo: Three years ago today: Red Shirts at the Silom barricade, April 23, 2010. Photograph by Vivek Prakash.

Red Shirts at the Silom barricade, April 23, 2010.

Photo: Three years ago today: royalist rally at Royal Plaza, April 23, 2010. Photograph by Jerry Lampen.

royalist rally at Royal Plaza, April 23, 2010

Justice for the Dead of Kok Wua

http://robertamsterdam.com/thailand/category/red-shirts/

Terdsak Phungkinchan was only 29 when the sniper’s bullet took his life. Three years ago today, on April 10th 2010, he fell, mortally wounded, onto the hard tarmac of a Bangkok street. The force used against Terdsak – despite it being very clear to the person pulling the trigger that his victim was completely unarmed and posing no threat to anyone – was deadly and meant to be so. The only word that can be used to describe this act is murder and my law firm are still doing all we can to bring the people responsible for this to justice.

There can also be no equivocation regarding an analysis of the force used against the Red Shirts at Kok Wua that dreadful night in April 2010 – it was designed, purely, to kill. And kill it did, with 21 Red Shirts falling in a hail of bullets fired from the guns former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had ordered onto Bangkok’s streets. In addition five Thai Army soldiers died, their lives ending in what can only be described as mysterious circumstances, whilst an investigation into the death of the Japanese cameraman, Hiro Muromoto, is still ongoing. All these acts left behind even more grief-stricken widows and mothers.

Without justice for all victims the tragedy of April 2010 is still being played out. Thailand is not yet at peace with itself and, since that night, the families of the dead have been left with more questions than answers.

To get a sense of the depth of feeling the April 10th Kok Wua Massacre arouses you need look no further than the remarkable Thai language book published by the Democracy Martyr Foundation whose title loosely translates as “The Dead Have a Face and Those Who Were Killed Had a Life.” This book gives voice to the victims of April 2010, a cry that must be heard if Thailand wishes to move towards true reconciliation.

Take Terdsak’s mother, Suwimon, who told the authors of this exceptional book that

Deep down, I still want to fight for my son because he was innocent – he didn’t deserve to die, he shouldn’t have been treated like that. I feel as if I couldn’t do much as we are just ordinary people… I will never forget this.

It is Suwimon’s words that we should meditate on as we commemorate the fallen of April 2010 – “I still want to fight for my son.” The mothers of the fallen Red Shirts, unlike the commentators, politicians and, dare I say it, lawyers, can’t just “forget” when it comes to the destruction wrought against their offspring. We can only continue to offer the likes of Suwimon support and solidarity in her struggle for justice.

Another victim of the Kok Wua Massacre was tailor Wasan Puthong (39). His young sister, Numthip, is also quoted in “The Dead Have a Face and Those Who Were Killed Had a Life” saying

Nowadays, I am still missing him as we had been working together for such a long time – whenever I turned, I saw him there because we were together all day all night…. It is hard for me to accept this.

Numthip’s comment are an apt reflection on the death of a brother who was taken down in such abhorrent circumstance. The lack of definable justice will continue to make it hard for victims of Kok Wua to just “accept this”.

Today my office had the honour of speaking to Wasan’s brother-in-law, Klin, and it his words we end on here. These words must be our banner as we mark another year where loved ones were taken from us.

There is still not justice as the perpetrators have not yet been held to account. We will continue fighting for this justice.

 

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Happy St. George’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

Saint George's Day

Saint George and the Dragon

You are one of many thousands of people in England that love their country and want to celebrate St. George’s Day with a bank holiday on 23 April. We are a group of unpaid volunteers that promote England’s national day and lobby MPs and local Councils.

England lags far behind the rest of Europe in the number of bank holidays we get. A bank holiday on St. George’s Day would be a great opportunity for all the English (regardless of colour or religion) to recognise what binds us together.

Everything from football to fish & chips, and cricket to curry could be celebrated on our national day.

Thanks for taking the time to visit our site,

The History of St George’s Day

  • In 1222 the Council of Oxford declared April 23rd to be St George’s Day
  • It was not until 1348 that St George became the Patron Saint of England
  • In 1415, St George’s Day was declared a national feast day and holiday in England
  • However, after the union with Scotland at the end of the 18th Century, the tradition diminished and since has not been widely acknowledged and is no longer a national holiday
  • Traditional customs were to fly the St George’s flag and wear a red rose in one’s lapel
  • The hymn ‘Jerusalem’ was also sung on the 23rd April, or the nearest Sunday to that date, in churches across the nation

The 23 April 1616 was also the date of the death of the English playwright William Shakespeare. UNESCO marked this historic date by declaring it the International Day of the Book.

 

St George

Facts of St George’s life have passed through the centuries growing in legend and myth. However, he must have been some character in his lifetime for his reputation to have survived for almost 1,700 years!

There are many accounts giving what are believed to be the facts outlining the life of England’s Patron Saint. Below are the widely accepted ‘facts’ of St George’s life.

  • St George was born to Christian parents in A.D. 270 (3rd Century) in Cappadocia, now Eastern Turkey
  • He moved to Palestine with his Mother and became a Roman soldier, rising to the high rank of Tribunus Militum
  • However, he later resigned his military post and protested against his pagan leader, the Emperor Diocletian (245-313 AD), who led Rome’s persecution of Christians
  • His rebellion against the Emperor resulted in his imprisonment, but even after torture he stayed true to his faith
  • The enraged Diocletian had St George dragged through the streets of Nicomedia, Turkey, on the 23rd of April 303 AD and had him beheaded
  • The Emperor’s wife was so inspired by St George’s bravery and loyalty to his religion, that she too became a Christian and was subsequently executed for her faith

St George & England

  • St Adomnán, the Abbot of Iona in Scotland, provides Britain’s earliest recorded reference to Saint George in the 7th Century. He details the story of the Saint’s exploits, which had been told to him by a French bishop named Arcuif who had travelled to Jerusalem with the crusaders
  • St Bede the Venerable (c.a. 673-735) from Northern England, also made reference to St George in his writings
  • As the Crusaders returned to England from foreign shores, they brought with them tales of St George, and his reputation grew
  • A church in Fordington, Dorset, records the ‘miracle appearance’, where St George presented himself outside Jerusalem in 1099 and led the Crusaders into battle. The story is etched into stone over the southern door of the church which still stands today. It is the earliest known church in England to be dedicated to the patron Saint
  • English soldiers wore a sign of St George on their chest and on their backs in the 14th century, as the Saint was regarded as a special protector of the English
  • King Edward III (1312-1377) founded the Order of the Garter (1348), the premier order of chivalry or knighthood in England. The Order was put under Saint George’s patronage and the medal is awarded on the 23rd April by the reigning Monarch
  • The King’s predecessors Edward IV & Henry VII, oversaw the construction of the beautiful St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, which presented itself as the chapel of the Order
  • It was in the year 1415 AD that St. George became the Patron Saint of England when English Soldiers under Henry V when he won the battle of Agincourt
  • In 1497, during the reign of Henry VIII, the pennant of the Cross of St. George was flown by John Cabot when he sailed to Newfoundland and it was also flown by Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh
  • In 1620 it was the flag that was flown by the Mayflower when the Pilgrim Fathers arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is also the flag of the Church of England and as such is known throughout Christendom
  • In the year 1728 AD Maximilian II Emanuel, the Elector of Bavaria, established by Papal Bull The Royal Military Order of St George, as a means of honouring distinguished military service for it was clear that by this time, his name had become associated with the purity of spirit, selfless devotion to duty and boundless courage and valour in the face of adversity
  • In more recent times, St George was chosen as the patron saint of Scouting, because of the ideals that he represents and it is interesting to note that he is also the Patron Saint of Barcelona in Catalonia, Aragon, Russia, Bavaria, Beirut, Czechoslovakia, Portugal, Lithuania and Hungary, to name but a few. Virtually every country in Europe and the Commonwealth has a church dedicated to St. George
  • During World War II King George VI established the George Cross for outstanding acts of Civilian Valour and one of the earliest recipients was the Island of Malta, for its outstanding courage in the face of the constant bombardment by the Italian and German Air forces. It is, coincidentally, the Island that was closely associated and governed by the Crusaders who arrived from the Island of Rhodes in the 14” Century, following their 200 year war with the Turks
  • In the 13th Century, there was a Guild of St. George to which the Honourable Company of Pikemen were related before evolving into the Honourable Artillery Company. Many regiments of the Army still celebrate St. George’s Day with great ceremony

St George & The Dragon

The medieval legend of St George and the dragon is over a thousand years old. The tale goes that the dragon made it’s nest by the fresh water spring near the town of Silene in Libya. When people came to collect water, they inadvertently disturbed the dragon and so offered sheep as a distraction.

After time, there were simply no sheep left to offer the dragon and so the people of Silene decided to chose a maiden from the town by drawing lots. When the results were read, it was revealed that the princess was to be the dragon’s next victim. Despite the Monarch’s protest his daughter Cleolinda was offered to the dragon…

However, at the moment of offering, a knight from the Crusades came riding by on his white stallion. St George dismounted and drew his sword, protecting himself with the sign of the cross. He fought the dragon on foot and managed to slay the beast and saved the princess. The people of Silene were exceptionally grateful and abandoned their pagan beliefs to convert to Christianity.

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Ex-Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher dies, aged 87

Memorable moments from Thatcher’s arrival at Downing Street, to her departure from it

Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher has died “peacefully” at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke while staying at the Ritz hotel in central London.

David Cameron called her a “great Briton” and the Queen spoke of her sadness at the death.

Lady Thatcher was Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990. She was the first woman to hold the role.

She will not have a state funeral but will be accorded the same status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.

The ceremony, with full military honours, will take place at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral.

The union jack above Number 10 Downing Street has been lowered to half-mast while Parliament will be recalled from its Easter recess on Wednesday to enable MPs to pay tributes to the former prime minister.

Obama tribute

After cancelling planned talks in Paris with French President Francois Hollande and returning to the UK, Mr Cameron made a statement outside No 10 in which he described Lady Thatcher as “the patriot prime minister” and said she had “taken a country that was on its knees and made it stand tall again”.

“Margaret Thatcher loved this country and served it with all she had. For that she has her well-earned place in history – and the enduring respect and gratitude of the British people,” he said.

Lady Thatcher, who retired from public speaking in 2002, had suffered poor health for several years. She had been staying at the Ritz hotel since being discharged from hospital at the end of last year.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson said Lady Thatcher – whose husband Denis died in 2003 – had been a controversial politician who inspired “passion” among her critics and supporters.

Her government privatised several state-owned industries and was involved in a year-long stand-off with unions during the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5. She was also in power when the UK fought a war following Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982.

Lady Thatcher survived an assassination attempt in 1984, when the IRA bombed the Brighton Grand Hotel, where she was staying for the Conservative Party’s annual conference.

During her later years in office she became increasingly associated with Euroscepticism. She is also seen as one of the key movers behind the fall of communism in eastern Europe.

She stood down in 1990 after she failed to beat Michael Heseltine by enough votes to prevent his leadership challenge going into a second round.

World leaders and senior UK figures have been paying tribute to Lady Thatcher.

US President Barack Obama said the world had “lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty” and that “America has lost a true friend”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would “never forget her part in surmounting the division of Europe and at the end of the Cold War”.

Ahead of his return to the UK, Mr Cameron told the BBC: “Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds. The real thing is she didn’t just lead our country; she saved our country.

“I believe she will go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.”

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “The Queen was sad to hear the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher. Her Majesty will be sending a private message of sympathy to the family.”

Lady Thatcher was born Margaret Roberts, the daughter of a shopkeeper and Conservative councillor in Grantham, Lincolnshire, in 1925.

She studied chemistry at Oxford University and worked for a plastics company before marrying businessman Denis Thatcher in 1951.

She gave birth to twins Mark and Carol in 1953, the year she also qualified as a barrister, and served as MP for Finchley, north London, from 1959 to 1992.

Having been education secretary, she successfully challenged former prime minister Edward Heath for her party’s leadership in 1975 and won general elections in 1979, 1983 and 1987.

Sir John Major, who replaced Lady Thatcher as prime minister in 1990, called her a “true force of nature”.

He added: “Her outstanding characteristics will always be remembered by those who worked closely with her: courage and determination in politics, and humanity and generosity of spirit in private.”

‘Unique’

Baroness Thatcher’s funeral route

Funeral route for Margaret Thatcher
  • Baroness Thatcher is to have a ceremonial funeral – a step short of a state funeral – with military honours to be held at St Paul’s Cathedral in London
  • The funeral parade will begin at Chapel of St Mary Undercroft at the Palace of Westminster
  • A hearse will take the body to the RAF Chapel at the church of St Clement Danes on the Strand
  • Baroness Thatcher’s coffin will be transferred to a gun carriage and drawn by the Kings Troop Royal Artillery to St Paul’s Cathedral
  • The route is to be lined by all three armed forces

Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair called her a “towering figure”, while his successor Gordon Brown praised her “determination and resilience”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said Lady Thatcher had been a “unique figure” who “reshaped the politics of a whole generation”.

He added: “The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described Lady Thatcher as one of the “defining figures in modern British politics”, adding: “She may have divided opinion during her time in politics but everyone will be united today in acknowledging the strength of her personality and the radicalism of her politics.”

Others to pay tribute included former chancellors Lord Howe and Lord Lawson, who resigned from her government following differences over economic policy, Europe and her leadership style. Lord Howe said the former prime minister was a “remarkable person” and a “very good” leader.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said Lady Thatcher’s memory would “live long after the world has forgotten the grey suits of today’s politics” while Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond described her as “a truly formidable prime minister whose policies defined a political generation”.

'Party' in Brixton, south London
“Parties” are being held in Glasgow and in Brixton, south London, following Baroness Thatcher’s death

But Lady Thatcher’s economic policies and political style also came in for criticism.

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock said income inequality had grown sharply during her time in office while Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said she had “prolonged the war and caused great suffering” in Northern Ireland by the use of “draconian, militaristic policies”.

In a statement, The National Union of Mineworkers said Lady Thatcher had “set out to serve those whose interests were profit for the few” and this had led to the “decimation” of the coal industry.

And “parties” have been taking place in Glasgow and in Brixton, south London, to mark Baroness Thatcher’s death. BBC reporters said about 250 people are attending the event in Glasgow and 100 in Brixton.

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Grand National day in UK

The Grand National is a National Hunt horse race held annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, United Kingdom. First run officially in 1839, it is a handicap steeplechase over 4 miles 3½ furlongs (7,200m) with horses jumping 30 fences over two circuits.The next Grand National will be held in April 2014.

The Grand National is the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund of £975,000 in 2013. It is popular amongst many people who do not normally watch or bet on horse racing at other times of the year.

The racecourse is triangular in shape with 16 fences, all jumped twice except The Chair (15th) and the Water Jump (16th). The course has a reputation as the ultimate test of horse and jockey. Most starters fail to complete the two circuits, with many falling at the famous fences including Becher’s Brook, The Chair and the Canal Turn.

The Grand National has been broadcast live on free-to-air terrestrial television in the United Kingdom since 1960. An estimated 500 to 600 million people watch the Grand National in over 140 countries.

The 2013 Grand National was won by Auroras Encore ridden by jockey Ryan Mania for trainer Sue Smith.

Grand National 2013: Auroras Encore wins – as it happened

Auroras Encore, a 66-1 shot, won the 2013 Grand National from Cappa Bleu on the jockey Ryan Mania’s first ride in the race

66-1 shot Auroras Encore ridden by Ryan Mania celebrates winning the Grand National at Aintree.
66-1 shot Auroras Encore ridden by Ryan Mania celebrates winning the Grand National at Aintree. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Ryan Mania

Winning jockey Ryan Mania kisses the trophy after winning the Grand National on his first ride in the world’s most famous race. Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Observer

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April Fools’ Day

April Fools’ Day is celebrated in many countries on April 1 every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1 is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other.

In Italy, France and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (pesce d’aprile!, poisson d’avril! and aprilvis! in Italian, French and Flemish, respectively). Such fish feature prominently on many French late 19th to early 20th century April Fools’ Day postcards.

The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness can be found in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392). Many writers suggest that the restoration of January 1 by Pope Gregory XIII as New Year’s Day of the Gregorian Calendar in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the holiday, sometimes questioned for earlier references.

April Fools’ Day 2013: The Best (And Worst) From Britain’s NewspapersApril Fools

The papers have all carried their own April Fools jokes

In a year when our weather has gone topsy-turvy, former top politicians have ended up in jail and polls show that Boris Johnson could wipe out Labour’s lead in a general election, you’d be forgiven for overlooking a few of this year’s April Fools’ stories.

We’ve rounded up the best from the press this year. Did you spot them?

The Daily Mail wins top prize for this story about budget cuts forcing Royal Mail staff to train owls to deliver internal mail.

“When high-flying trainer Amy Smith hit on the idea of using the owls, colleagues were sceptical, but she managed to persuade them it was far from a bird-brained plan because of the owls’ innate aptitude for the job.”

What a hoot…

At the Independent, journalists reported that cabinet ministers can buy their own red box for little under £1,000 after being sacked or reshuffled.

Whitehall sources suggest that the decision to allow ministers to purchase their own red boxes was made to discourage light-fingered frontbenchers from “losing” boxes just before their departure from office, the paper said.

“There have been very, very naughty instances of boxes going for a walk – usually around election time,” said one source.

No one was fooled by the ‘Guardian Goggles‘ despite a professionally made video.

Twitter is going to start charging for vowels.

The Metro did a quite spectacular round-up of April Fools jokes from other sites that weren’t actually real. The Tesco Value 3D food printer is amazing.

The Telegraph attempted to convince us of the government’s “Lights Tsars“, tasked with turning the nation’s unnecessary lights off.

And in a second April Fool they also described a new musical called ‘The Coalition’, which “focuses very much on the relationship between David Cameron and Nick Clegg and it has a big, operatic feel to it – I mean, it’s a sort of love story that’s gone wrong”.

And who composed it? Why, a chap named Olaf Dyliparos of course!

The Today Programme got in the fooling act with their “train barcodes”, a new hi-tech way for trainspotters to fulfil their fancy.

The specially elongated codes, for when the train is speeding past, drew the ire of a certain Pete Waterman.

He said: “It’s not the same thing. It’s like email – you can’t beat meeting people.”

Indeed Mr Waterman.

The Mirror as introduced filters to view it’s paper through because “anyone can pretend the pictures they capture today on hugely expensive and impressive pieces of technology were actually taken on crappy old cameras from the ’70s.”

YouTube has shockingly announced it is closing down.

Tom Liston, ‘competition director’ said in a video: “We are so close to the end. Tonight at midnight, YouTube.com will no longer be accepting entries. After eight amazing years, it’s finally time to review everything that has been uploaded to our site and begin the process of selecting a winner.”

And according to The Sun, Jodie Marsh teamed up with Ronseal to make brush on tan ‘that does exactly what it says on the tin’.

“It felt a bit weird, at first, using a paint brush and a tin to put on my tan but I’m used to it now and I refuse to use anything else,” she told the paper.

Fancy making a quick buck? Google’s treasure map from suspiciously named pirate, Captain Kid, could help.

And of course, the best April Fools of the year was our very own “Shlide”, London’s latest thrill attraction.

And what about stories we WISH were April Fools? Well, for a start there’s the incredibly unfunny yarn about it being the COLDEST EASTER EVER! We would much prefer if the weatherman was having a laugh and we were relaxing in roasting spring temperatures.

And what about the story of Princess Diana sneaking into a bar dressed as a man? Completely true says Cleo Rocos!

On a more serious note, tensions in the Korean peninsula would be much funnier if they weren’t accompanied by a rogue nuclear state and US military drills.

 

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