Saturday 18 May 2013

The heartbreaking story of Nurse Kade - murdered on this day by the Thai Army in 2010

Below is the story of Nurse Kamolkade Akkahad who was shot and killed by the Thai Army on May 19th 2010 during the Red Shirt pro-democracy protests. I've met Nurse Kamolkade's mother on several occasions in the years since the murder of her daughter and admire her dignity and her resolve as she seeks justice. Her search for justice is a universal struggle that has crossed cultures, histories and nations and has involved people in similar situations across the planet as they seek justice for murdered loved ones. 

Kamolkade Akkahad was 25 when she was shot dead inside Pathumwanaram Temple on 19 May. She was called Kade by her friends, but was Moo (pig) to her family members, as she ate a lot and was plump, according to her mother.

 Kade was born into a poor family. Her mother used to sell khao kaeng (rice with toppings), and then turned to selling flowers and garlands in the market. Her father works for an electricity utility. She had a warm family, with two younger brothers, 21 and 18, to whom she was very close. 

Her mother and brothers characterized her as outspoken and sharp-tongued, yet good-humoured, and she was loved by others and had many friends. She was popular at the market when she went to help her mother there. 

Kade was always stubborn, from her childhood until her last minute. In junior high school, she often skipped class to join friends who were volunteers with the Po Tek Tung Foundation. They went to help the injured and the dead. Her mother said Kade never feared anything, and liked this kind of challenging work, helping people. She could not stop her daughter, and could only let her go, like this time with the red shirts. 

She went to commercial college for a while, and then quit to study in the non-formal education system instead. She went on to get paramedic training and apprenticed at hospital accident and forensic departments. After training, she worked in the accident and emergency department of a hospital. 

She worked there for a few years until the hospital was shut down. She helped her mother at the market and got a temporary job with a relative. During the red shirt protests, she initially went as a volunteer after work, and then left her job completely. She told her mother that there were many elderly and children, and many got sick. Although there were many volunteers, there were not enough.

 Kade aspired to take the exam to be a nursing aide in the army, and vowed to her mother ‘if I pass the exam, I will go down South,’ to the southern border provinces. Her mother knew too well to oppose her, but could only suggest that she take the exam next year as she was not likely to reduce her weight in time for this year. 

When she was serving full time for the protesters, she hardly ever took phone calls from her family for fear of being ordered home. On the day she died, she took a call from her mother a few hours before she was shot. It was the last time that her mother heard her voice while she was attending the injured. She was hit while wearing a paramedic’s uniform. Doctors said she was hit twice, and her brain was damaged by the bullets. Her friends who received her body suspected that she had been hit more than twice. 

Her brother said that when they heard the bad news her family members were all in tears. Her mother finally controlled herself, and started arranging things for the last time for her daughter, while her father still could not eat. Her youngest brother watched old video clips of the family, crying all night. 

The initial plan to keep the body for 100 days before cremation, according to Thai tradition, was scrapped, so that her family members, her father in particular, could recover from their grief. 

A lot of people attended the funeral. The cremation took place at Pak Bung temple, Rom Klao, Minburi, Bangkok, on 26 May. 

Kade's family still seeks justice. So do we.

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