Actress goes solo to push for end to Philippines drug war

Mae Paner, better known by her stage name “Juana Change,” said she wanted to add her voice to the condemnation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fierce 15-month-old campaign which has killed thousands of people. (Photo courtesy: video grab)
Updated 19 September 2017
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Actress goes solo to push for end to Philippines drug war

MANILA: Mae Paner is a policeman-turned-assassin, a widowed Zumba dancer, a photojournalist and an orphaned child. They are all characters in her new one-woman show against a bloody war on drugs in the Philippines.
Paner, better known by her stage name “Juana Change,” said she wanted to add her voice to the condemnation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fierce 15-month-old campaign which has killed thousands of people.
“I feel very strongly that we have our work cut out for us as artists to wake people up, to wake our president up, and to tell him that we are against his war on drugs,” Paner told Reuters Television.
Paner portrays four characters who are affected by the drugs war, from the assassin grappling with his guilt and the journalist scarred by images of the nightly carnage, to widows and orphans crying out for justice.
Filipinos remain largely supportive of the campaign as a solution to tackling rampant crime, which Duterte says stems mostly from drug addiction.
Human rights groups, the Catholic Church and opposition lawmakers have raised alarm about the killings that have focused largely on the urban poor and have not spared young people.
More than 3,800 people have been killed in police anti-drugs operations in the past 15 months and at least 2,100 other homicides were likely drug related.
Police reject allegations by human rights groups that they are executing suspected users and dealers.
Some audience members who watched a recent performance of Paner’s play said they hoped it would prompt Filipinos to ask questions about the drugs war.
“The more this play is staged — wherever it may be shown, wherever more people can watch it — the more people can think and have much more informed opinions on this matter,” said Pastor Kakai Pamaran.


India, Pakistan foreign ministers to hold rare meeting

Updated 20 September 2018
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India, Pakistan foreign ministers to hold rare meeting

NEW DELHI: The foreign ministers of arch-rivals India and Pakistan will hold a rare meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly underway in New York, officials in New Delhi said Thursday.
The announcement comes after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi calling for a resumption of talks between the nuclear-armed foes.
High-level talks between India and Pakistan are rare. Indian media described the slated meeting as the first in nearly three years.
India has long accused Pakistan of arming rebel groups in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in full by both.
India also blames Pakistan for financing the deadly 2008 militant attacks in Mumbai.
A spokesman for India’s external affairs ministry said the New York tete-a-tete between Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi did not represent a shift in New Delhi’s relations with Islamabad.
“This does not indicate any change in our policy on cross-border terrorism,” spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters in the Indian capital.
The announcement comes as the already-fraught relationship between the rivals hit fresh roadblocks this week.
The death of an Indian border guard Wednesday in Kashmir provoked outrage, with New Delhi accusing Pakistani forces of mutilating his corpse.
“It was a barbaric incident that defies logic and civilized behavior. We will take it up with Pakistan in an appropriate manner,” Kumar said.
Navjot Sidhu, an Indian cricketer-turned-politician, earlier came under fire after returning from Pakistan where he was filmed hugging the country’s army chief.