Philippines’ Duterte offers to host ‘world summit’ on human rights

The firebrand leader, who spoke in a news conference late on Thursday while in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, said the summit should focus on human rights violations not just in the Philippines but globally. (AP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Philippines’ Duterte offers to host ‘world summit’ on human rights

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is facing international criticism for his bloody war on drugs, said his country was willing to host a “world summit” to tackle how nations can protect human rights.
The firebrand leader, who spoke in a news conference late on Thursday while in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, said the summit should focus on human rights violations not just in the Philippines but globally.
Some western countries and human rights groups have strongly criticized Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign that has killed more than 3,900 suspected drug users and peddlers, in what the police called self-defense after armed suspects resisted arrest.
Critics dispute that and say executions are taking place with zero accountability, allegations the police reject.
“Let’s have a summit of how we can protect human rights for all human race,” Duterte said shortly after meeting with the Filipino community in Vietnam, where he also renewed his attacks against United Nations human rights expert Agnes Callamard.
“What makes the death of people in the Philippines more important than the rest of the children in the world that were massacred and killed,” he asked.
He said all victims of human rights violations are welcome to attend the summit and air their grievances.
Duterte reiterated his threat to slap Callamard if she investigates him for the rising death toll in his war on drugs and would ask her why she has made no comments on the victims of bombings and violence in the Middle East.
“What have you been doing all the time? Why are you so fascinated with drugs?” Duterte said.
Duterte also threatened to ban two American lawmakers from coming to Manila after they criticized US President Donald Trump for inviting him to visit the United States.
“If you do not like me, I do not like you. We’re even,” he said without naming the lawmakers. Democratic Rep. James McGovern and Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren had called on Trump to highlight the human rights situation in the Philippines in his upcoming visit to Manila.
“I will tell them, you are too presumptuous. What made you think that I am even planning or thinking about visiting your country?”


Six dead in fire at Rohingya camp in Myanmar

Updated 13 min 1 sec ago
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Six dead in fire at Rohingya camp in Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar: Six Rohingya were killed early Friday after a blaze tore through an overcrowded camp for the persecuted minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the local fire service said.
Global attention has focused on the 720,000 Rohingya Muslims forced from the state’s north into Bangladesh last year by a brutal military crackdown.
The UN Human Rights Council has accused top Myanmar generals of genocide over the bloody campaign, allegations the country strongly denies.
But less visible are the 129,000 Rohingya confined to squalid camps further south near the capital Sittwe following an earlier bout of violence in 2012.
Hundreds were killed that year in riots between Rakhine Buddhists and the stateless minority, who were corralled into destitute camps away from their former neighbors.
The conflagration in Ohndaw Chay camp, which houses some 4,000 Rohingya and lies 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Sittwe, started just before midnight and lasted several hours, fire department official Han Soe told AFP.
“Six people, one man and five women were killed,” he said, adding that 15 communal longhouses were also destroyed in the blaze thought to have been started in a kitchen accident.
“We were able to bring the fire under control about 1:10 am this morning and had put it out completely by around 3 am,” he said.
A total of 822 people were left without shelter, local media reported.
Conditions in the camps are dire and Rohingya trapped there have virtually no access to health care, education and work, relying on food handouts from aid agencies to survive.
Access into the camps is also tightly controlled, effectively cutting their inhabitants off from the outside world and leaving their plight largely forgotten.
Fires in the camps are common because of “severe” overcrowding, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“Many camp residents have built makeshift extensions to their shelters to create more space for their families. So when a fire breaks out, it is more likely to spread quickly,” said OCHA spokesman Pierre Peron.
Hla Win, a Rohingya man from a nearby camp, told AFP that fire trucks were slow to arrive along the dilapidated roads from Sittwe and the lack of water also hampered efforts to extinguish the blaze.
“We have no ponds near the camps,” he said. “That’s why the fire destroyed so much.”
Myanmar has vowed to close nearly 20 of the camps around Sittwe in the coming months.
Rights groups say the move will achieve little without ending movement restrictions or granting Rohingya a pathway to citizenship.