Archive for ‘obituary’

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela, 1918 – 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Obituary: Vo Nguyen Giap, 1911 – 2013


Vo Nguyen Giap worked as a teacher, journalist, historian and revolutionary, a Voice of Vietnam newsarticle says. The following are newsarticles or excerpts in Chinese (from CNA, Xinhua, and Ta Kung Pao). Subtitles and links within blockquotes added during translation.

1. CNA, Taiwan, 22:49 Taiwan local time

Independence Hero

CNA Hanoi, October 4, summary report

Reuters reports that according to his family people, Vietnam’s highly respected independence hero, General Vo Nguyen Giap has died, aged 102. A government source [in Hanoi] told AFP that “I can confirm that General Vo Nguyen Giap has died today at 18:06″. A military source confirmed the time of death. Vo Nguyen Giap had been receiving treatment in a Hanoi military hospital for several years in a row.

Vo Nguyen Giap was one of Vietnam’s best-known personalities of the 20th century. The guerilla tactics he adopteddefeated France in 1954 and American-supported South Vietnam in 1975, and historians see him among Montgomery, Rommel, MacArthur, and similar military giants.

Vo Nguyen Giap was one of the main founders of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam [North Vietnam], the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and of the Vietnam People’s Army. He also served as a general of the People’s Army, as defense minister, as member of the politburo, and in other functions.


2. Takungpao, Hong Kong, October 4, 23:12

“An old Friend of the Chinese People”

Vo Nguyen Giap, Vietnamese important military leader in the wars of resistance against France and America, died on October 4, aged 102.


Vietnam came under control of groups leaning towards the Soviet Union and opposing China, but because of Vo Nguyen Giap’s position, there remained a balance between leaning towards China and the USSR. When overseas Chinese people [in Vietnam] were treated unfairly after 1975, Vo Nguyen Giap criticized this as “overbearing”. When the rift between China and Vietnam grew after 1978, he suggested “to ease the conflict with China”. he was dismissed [from his political functions, apparently] in February 1980, and made efforts for improvement of Sino-Vietnamese relations in 1990. Relations were normalized one year later [in 1991]. Vo Nguyen Giap was warmly referred to as “an old friend of the Chinese people”.


3. People’s Daily online, via Xinhua,

Not a Soldier from the Beginning

October 4 (same news article published by Huanqiu Shibao)

According to American media reports of October 4, the important military leader in Vietnam’s wars of resistance against France and America, Vo Nguyen Giap, has died aged 102.

Vo Nguyen Giap was born in Vietnam’s Quang Binh Province, on August 25, 1911. According to Vietnam Newsagency VNA, he is among the longest-living personalities in worldwide military history. He wasn’t a soldier from the beginning, having studied law and political economics, and later joined Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam Independence Alliance.

After the outbreak of the war of resistance against France, Vo Nguyen Giap directed military operations for several years, as defense minister and chief commander. The Vietnamese army’s victory over the French aggressor troops in the battle of Dien Bien Phu astonished the world. In his own words, it was “[Vietnam's] first victory over the West”.


Giap lived in Chinese exile for some time as Japan invaded Vietnam, writes the BBC. His first wife was arrested during that time, and died in a French prison.

In his late years, Giap was a critic of bauxite mining in Vietnam.



» Threat of Invasion, April 29, 2009


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Obituary: Robert Ford, 1923 – 2013

Robert Ford, a British diplomat and radio operator, worked for the Tibetan government during the the late 1940s, and was arrested by the Chinese during the invasion of Tibet in 1950. Charged with espionage and murder, he remained imprisoned until May 1955. He then left China via Hong Kong.

The BBC describes his years of imprisonment and “re-education” in some detail. He began work in Britain’s diplomatic service after his return to Britain and was stationed in a number of countries.

His mission in Tibet had apparently been to build Tibet’s first-ever broadcasting station, and a wireless information system across Tibet. While establishing a radio connection between Chamdo and Lhasa, he also went on air as an amateur radio operator at times, with the callsign AC4RF.

Robert Ford died on September 20, aged 90.

The Dalai Lama, whom Ford had first met in the 1940s, and most recently in April this year, offered his prayers and condolences to Ford’s family members.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Obituary: Margaret Thatcher, 1925 – 2013

It wouldn’t make much sense to write about Margaret Thatcher in English, but here is one in German.

And this video, of course:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Obituary: Chris Kyle, 1974 – 2013

Chris Kyle was born in Odessa, Texas. His father, originally from Kansas, was a Sunday school teacher. Kyle studied ranch management in the 1990s and joined the US Marine Corps aged 24, after recovering from a rodeo accident.

As a sniper with SEAL Team 3, he earned himself the name of the Devil of Ramadi among the insurgents. He left the US Navy in 2009.

As of January 2012, he was believed to have been the most lethal soldier in American military history. 150 deaths resulting from his career were officially confirmed (or 160, according to the Beijing Morning Post), but Kyle himself believed that the actual number was more than 250, according to Outlook, a BBC documentary series first aired on January 5, 2012. He was mostly known for his role in Iraq during the Second Gulf War, and particularly for his role in the battles of Falluja, Ramadi and Sadr City. Insurgents put a bounty of 80,000-dollar bounty on his head, according to the BBC.

Kyle left for Iraq for the first time one week after the birth of his first child, a son. His wife “put on a strong face” and “made sure that I felt good”, he told the BBC in the Outlook documentary. But after the birth of their second child, a daughter, who was close to death for some time after birth, she told him that he had to make a choice between his family and his job. Divorce rate among SEALs was at 95 percent, according to Kyle, and he chose to save his marriage. Asked if he had regrets about any of the people he had killed, he said that about every person killed “I strongly believe they were bad and when I do go face God, there is going to be lots of things I have to account for, but killing anyone of those people is not one of them”.

After ending his military career, Kyle set up a company that trained troops, police, companies and individuals in the use of firearms. According to the Beijing Morning Post, he opposed tighter gun control legislation.

Chris Kyle and his neighbor Chad Littlefield were fatally shot on a shooting range near Glen Rose in Texas, on Saturday. Reportedly, the perpetrator was a veteran who was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Kyle and Littlefield are said to have been trying to help him cope with the disorder.



» Mind of a Sniper, BBC, January 25, 2012

Main Category: Obituary


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Obituary: Aaron Swartz, 1986 – 2013

Aaron H. Swartz was an American coder, hacker, and internet activist. His father, Robert Swartz, had developed one of the first IBM operating systems, and Swartz junior seemed to follow his father’s footsteps, even if in a rather new environment and with a distinct civic sense of mission.

Swartz joined Reddit when the company acquired (or merged with) Infogami, a software company founded by Swartz himself.

What got him into conflict with the judicial system, after some earlier and less significant jostles, was breaking into M.I.T. computer networks in 2010 and 2011, to access JSTOR and to download documents from there. It was apparently meant to be a demonstration, to underline his case that documents like JSTOR’s should be freely available. It had long been argued that such documents should be free because they are produced at public expense, writes the New York Times. The NYT has a detailed account of Swartz’ JSTOR activity. The indictment says that JSTOR’s servers were brought down by his action on several occasions, Wired wrote in September 2012.

It’s apparently a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) which was applied by federal prosecutors. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in limiting reach of the CFAA, said that violations of employee contract agreements and websites’ terms of service – crucial in Swartz’ case, apparently, at least if up to the prosecutors – were better left to civil lawsuits, also according to Wired. But this ruling wasn’t binding for Massachusetts, and the prosecutors insisted that their charges against Swartz should go on. The maximum penalty – potentially – could have amounted to 35 years in prison, and a million USD penalty. The chief prosecutor in charge was Steve Heymann, who had previously brought hacker Albert Gonzales into jail with a 20-year term.

One of the underlying arguments in Swartz’ conflict with the judicial system was about what internet content should be freely available. Another was about what constitutes a violation of terms and conditions (although this may rather be a judicial technicalty than part of the actual conflict). Apparently, the federal prosecutors could have dropped their charges, had they wanted to. German newsmagazine Der Spiegel wonders if the prosecutors were indirectly targeting Bradley Manning, and Wikileaks, and if that would explain their determination to see the case through.

Aaron Swartz hanged himself on Friday, in his Brooklyn apartment.

Court proceedings had been scheduled to begin on April 1 this year.

Swartz reportedly had a history of depression. But in an online statement released on Saturday, his family and his partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, wrote that decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death:

Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.

Swartz’ ideology possibly seemed extreme, MIT Technology Review wrote in February 2012. The Review wrote that in September 2010, while siphoning the JSTOR database, Swartz was also circulating the first online petition to raise awareness of a controversial anti-piracy law. At the time, Swartz was putting together a website, as he said in an interview with the MIT Review, which ended up becoming Demand Progress.

Aaron Swartz’ funeral will be held on Tuesday, January 15.



» what brought him here, Lessig Blog, v2, January 12, 2013


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Obituary: Wang Tung-yi, 1975 – 2012

Wang Tung-yi (王同義) was born on April 1, 1975. He served as a R.O.C. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel at the No. 499 Squadron at the Air Force Base in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan. Wang took part in a training operation in France, from the Luxeuil-les-Bains airfield. His training was part of an arms sales package in which Taiwan purchased 60 Mirage 2000-5s from France in 1992.

Wang’s fighter jet crashed into a forest near the village of Froideconche, on Wednesday, October 3 at about 9:45 a.m.. Le Pays reported on Wednesday that Wang probably didn’t eject in time, so as to keep the aircraft clear from a residential area.

According to a CNA/RTI report on Saturday, Wang’s family will allowed to see Wang’s remains on Monday, in what is an exception from the general rules after a crash. They would also visit the crash site, probably on Tuesday.

The report quotes prosecutor Jean-Francois Parietti from Vesoul as saying that the main motive for the arrangement is to show respect for Wang, who sacrificed his life to save lives on the ground.

Comprehensive judgment would follow after an analysis of the black box.

Wang is survived by his wife and his five-months old daughter.



» Codenamed Tango, Taipei Times, Feb 7, 2012


Friday, August 24, 2012

Obituary: Xu Huaiqian, 1968 – 2012

Xu Huaiqian (徐怀谦) was born in a village in Shandong Province, in 1968. He graduated at Beijing University’s (Bei Da) Chinese Faculty in 1989 and then worked at People’s Daily‘s arts and literature department. He left People’s Daily for two years, in 1999, and went to Yucheng County in Henan Province to work there temporarily, for two years, as a county (party) committee deputy secretary chairman.

His work as a journalist wasn’t confined to People’s Daily – the list of papers he wrote for includes Southern Weekend (南方周末), a progressive and liberal paper in Guangdong Province. His last function was at a supplement paper to People’s Daily, Da Di (大地, “The Land” or “Earth”), as deputy editor-in-chief.

One of the initial – or the initial – microblog posts came from Hangzhou City Express (都市快报) chief editorialist Xu Xunlei (徐迅雷) on the day of Xu Huaiqian’s death and said that Xu had unfortunately died (不幸去世), and mentioned depression as the cause of death. Jiangsu Net explicitly reported that Xu had suffered from depression and had committed suicide (via Sohu, via Dongfang Net). The article also quotes Xu himself, from one of his books:

Some people say that this is a mediocre era, an era without substance, of foolish music, without mastry. But we can’t blame on this on the era. An individual can’t control the era, but he can control his face. He may not be pretty, but he can’t be without content. He may be ugly, but he can’t be without personality.




» Reactions, RFA, Aug 23, 2012


» Not by Magic, Xu Huaiqian (via Paper Republic), June 2012



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