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Andrew Murrison MP: Cristina Kirchner's shameful insult to Britain's war dead

Screen shot 2012-05-04 at 17.32.00Dr Andrew Murrison MP served for 18 years in the Navy. He writes and comments on military affairs and his book ‘Tommy this, an’ Tommy that: the military covenant’ is published by Biteback

The Argentine government and President Cristina Kirchner have sunk to a new low.

Covertly Argentina has filmed its Olympic hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg training in and around Port Stanley, the resulting propaganda "Olympic Games 2012: Homage to the Fallen and the Veterans of the Malvinas" being pumped out on Wednesday. In this crude production, Mr Zylberberg is seen using the Island’s memorial to the fallen of the First World War as a handy aide in his sweaty step-up routine.  The symbolism is sickeningly clear, designed to offer maximum offence and contrary to both the Olympic spirit and all sense of decency.

I salute the many normal, decent Argentines who are, evidently, appalled by the antics of Ms Kirchner and her ministers. Our common humanity demands that we show dignity and respect in death to our own people and to our opponents. St Symphorien military cemetery near Mons on the Western Front stands testament to this. There the remains of British and German dead were cared for and respected by both sides in turn as the ground changed hands between 1914 and 1918. Today, in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, those that were enemies in war lie at peace together. St Symphorien is an uplifting tribute to the soldierly sense of decency and equality in death. Ms Kirchner should pay a visit.

Where sad, usually drunken, individuals have committed acts of disrespect to war memorials in the UK, they have rightly been vilified in the press and by their communities and subject to the wrath of the criminal justice system. The Argentine government’s behaviour has put it in the dock of international public opinion.

President Kirchner must now reflect on the appalling thing she has sanctioned. Unless there is a suitable expression of regret, her Olympians will struggle to hold their heads high in London or to compete with the sense of honour that all right-thinking Argentines will expect.


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