Ladies and gentlemen, the media in Britain has given significant reports on two recent deaths. One is of Dr. Abbas Khan, who went into the bombarded city of Aleppo, Syria to practice field medicine but was captured by Syrian troops loyal to Bashar Al-Assad and later found dead in his cell-likely at the hands of his captors. The other death is of Ronnie Biggs, infamous for his participation in the 1963 Great Train Robbery, his escape and subsequent evasion of capture for 35 years.
In relation to these two deaths, what I should say is this: Dr. Khan deserves to be remembered and mourned. He went into the job of field medic in Syria despite the brutal civil war Syria is undergoing, and the near-suicidal risk he took into trying to save the lives of people caught in the crossfire between rebels and Syrian government forces. There are few doctors anywhere who would risk this, even those more passionate about saving lives and keeping people healthy than most. The world should be thankful for people like Abbas Khan.
Ronnie Biggs, on the other hand, does not deserve to be remembered. He was merely a rather average small-time crook who happened to participate in a robbery (much) more spectacular than most at the time, and he is remembered more for his daring escape from Wandsworth Prison and years of exile than anything else. What he did was clearly and incontrovertibly wrong- he stole enormous amounts of money just for personal gain, and put an honest train driver, Jack Mills, out of work and into a premature death. It is only the escape Ronnie performed and his success in evading capture (before he voluntarily returned to the UK in 2001) that means people today know who he was. Most of the other participants of the Great Train Robbery have been forgotten, after all, and this crime would, in all likelihood, have just faded into criminological history had it not been for Mr. Biggs' lucky escape attempt all those years ago, which kept memories of the crime alive.
There are some people we should remember-and some who we should forget so we can move onwards. From Alan.