Queen Elizabeth and world leaders applaud D-Day veterans

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Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II attend an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, in Portsmouth, southern England, on June 5, 2019. (AFP)
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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, center, and other world leaders gather to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Portsmouth, southern England, on June 5, 2019. (AFP)
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Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (L) and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II attend an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, in Portsmouth, southern England, on June 5, 2019. (AFP)
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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (R) returns to her her seat after speaking during an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, in Portsmouth, southern England, on June 5, 2019. (AFP)
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Members of the public watch an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, in Portsmouth, southern England, on June 5, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 05 June 2019
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Queen Elizabeth and world leaders applaud D-Day veterans

  • The queen, Prince Charles, presidents and prime ministers rose to applaud veterans
  • PM Theresa May was joined for the commemorative events in Portsmouth by US President Trump and his wife Melania

PORTSMOUTH: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth joined world leaders including Donald Trump and Angela Merkel to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history and a feat that helped bring World War Two to an end.
The queen, Prince Charles, presidents and prime ministers rose to applaud veterans, their coats heavy with medals, as they stood on a giant stage beside a guard of honor after a film of the Normandy landings was shown.
“We all had a part to play — I wasn’t nervous — I was apprehensive like everybody else was,” said Bert Edwards, recounting his role 75 years ago as an able seaman on the Royal Navy’s HMS Bellona.
“It’s something that happens once in a lifetime — makes you proud a little bit for taking part,” he said during the film.
Prime Minister Theresa May was joined for the commemorative events in Portsmouth by US President Trump, who is on the final day of a state visit to Britain, and his wife, Melania.
French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Merkel, and leaders and senior figures from 10 other countries also attended.
“As we unite to pay tribute to those whose bravery and sacrifice on the beaches of Normandy marked a turning point in the Second World War, we will vow never to forget the debt we owe them,” May said.
“Their solidarity and determination in the defense of our freedom remains a lesson to us all.”
In the early hours of June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 allied troops set off from Portsmouth and the surrounding area to begin the air, sea and land attack on Normandy that ultimately led to the liberation of western Europe from the Nazi regime.
By the time of the Normandy landings, Soviet forces had been fighting Germany in the east for almost three years and Kremlin chief Josef Stalin had urged British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to open a second front as far back as August 1942.
The invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord and commanded by US General Dwight D. Eisenhower, remains the largest amphibious assault in history and involved almost 7,000 ships and landing craft along a 80-kilometer stretch of the French coast.
Shortly after midnight, thousands of paratroopers were dropped. Then came the naval bombardment of German positions overlooking the shore. Then the infantry arrived on the beaches.
Mostly American, British and Canadian men, some just boys, waded ashore as German soldiers tried to kill them with machine guns and artillery. Survivors say the sea was red with blood and the air boiling with the thunder of explosions.
Thousands were killed on both sides. Line upon line of white crosses honor the dead in cemeteries across northern France. Even the codenames of the sectors of the invasion — Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword — can draw tears from veterans.
Sixteen countries attended the commemorations: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Those countries agreed a proclamation to “ensure that the unimaginable horror of these years is never repeated.”
“We will act resolutely, with courage and tenacity, to protect our people against threats to our values and challenges to peace and stability,” the proclamation said.


Thai police order for intel on Muslim students sparks outrage

Updated 45 min 9 sec ago

Thai police order for intel on Muslim students sparks outrage

  • Rights groups have long accused the state of heavy-handed sweeps of the Malay-Muslim population
  • Muslims make up Thailand’s second largest religious group, with the majority residing in its three southernmost states

BANGKOK: A Thai Muslim student group Wednesday called for police to drop an order requesting universities to provide “intelligence” on Muslim students and their activities in the Buddhist-majority state.
Muslims make up Thailand’s second largest religious group, with the majority residing in its three southernmost states, which since 2004 have been in the grip of a conflict between Malay-Muslim separatist rebels and Thai authorities.
Rights groups have long accused the state of heavy-handed sweeps of the majority Malay-Muslim population in that region — which is under martial law.
Last week the Special Branch Bureau issued a nationwide order to universities to provide “intelligence” on Muslim students and their activities in school, police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen told AFP Tuesday, citing “security” concerns.
The news sparked immediate outrage from the community, and the Muslim Students Federation of Thailand on Wednesday called for parliament to “cancel” the request.
The Special Branch’s order “is also a form of discrimination that breaches the constitution,” president Ashraf Awae said, speaking outside parliament.
Such “groundless accusations... could create divisions among the Muslim students and others in the university and society,” he said.
He added the federation had already heard of police requesting information on Muslim student groups from at least three major universities.
Junta chief-turned-prime minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha on Tuesday defended the Special Branch, and denied creating a “database” would be a violation of people’s rights.
“We can’t arrest anyone if they don’t do anything wrong,” he told reporters.
Prayut’s backing shows an “alarming trend of growing Islamophobia in Thailand,” said Human Rights Watch’s Sunai Phasuk.
“This is state-sanctioned discrimination,” he told AFP, adding that the Thai constitution explicitly prohibits discrimination toward different religions and ethnic groups.
“It could feed into radicalization of Muslims in the deep south and worsen the conflict,” Sunai said.
The ex-general had masterminded a coup in 2014, leading a five-year junta regime before elections in March formally installed him as a civilian premier thanks to a new constitution tilted to the military.
Under Prayut’s tenure as junta head, police had rounded up at least 50 Thai Muslims, mostly university students, in a dragnet operation in October 2016 that authorities justified was necessary to stop a suspected car bomb plot.