Philippines’ Duterte terminates peace process with Maoist rebels

Above, New People’s Army fighters in formation at the Sierra Madre mountain range east of Manila. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the cancelation of peace talks with communist rebels as he criticized the insurgents over attacks against his security forces, adding he would categorize them as a terrorist group. (Reuters)
Updated 24 November 2017
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Philippines’ Duterte terminates peace process with Maoist rebels

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday he has terminated intermittent peace talks with Maoist-led rebels and would consider them “terrorists” because hostilities had continued during negotiations.
Ending the nearly half-century long conflict with the communists, in which more than 40,000 people have been killed, was among Duterte’s priorities when he took office in June last year.
Duterte said he would consider the political arm of the Maoists a “terrorist group” and was demanding that dozens of rebel leaders he freed last year in order to restart talks turn themselves in.
“I am ordering those I have released temporarily to surrender or face again punitive action,” Duterte in a speech to soldiers.
“Let it not be said that I did not try to reach out to them,” he said.
Duterte on Thursday signed a proclamation ending the peace talks, which started in August last year and were brokered by Norway. Talks have been intermittent since 1986.
“We find it unfortunate that their members have failed to show their sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peaceful negotiations,” Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, said in a statement late on Thursday.
In May, government negotiators canceled a round of formal talks with the Maoist-led rebels in the Netherlands as the guerrillas stepped up attacks in the countryside.
The rebels had no choice but to intensify guerrilla warfare in rural areas, Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF), said in a statement.
The NDF, the political arm of the Maoist guerrillas, said it regretted the unilateral cancelation of talks on such vital social and economic reforms.
Government troops were advised to stay alert on the movements of the estimated 3,800 leftist guerrillas, said military spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
Government forces are also battling Islamist fighters in the south of the largely Christian country, some of whom recently occupied a town for several months in the biggest battle in the Philippines since World War Two.


Mob lynches Muslim man over cow smuggling charges in India

Updated 26 min 1 sec ago
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Mob lynches Muslim man over cow smuggling charges in India

  • Cows are considered sacred in the Hindu-majority country, where attacks on minority groups, especially Muslims, have been on the rise
  • The mob intercepted two men carrying two cows around midnight in a forested and began punching and beating them with sticks

NEW DELHI: Police say a Muslim man has been beaten to death by a mob in western India over allegations of smuggling cows despite calls by the country’s highest court for immediate steps to stop such deadly violence.
Police say the mob intercepted two men carrying two cows around midnight in a forested area in Alwar district of Rajasthan state and began punching and beating them with sticks.
One managed to escape while the other was taken to a hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival.
Cows are considered sacred in the Hindu-majority country, where attacks on minority groups, especially Muslims, have been on the rise since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party swept national elections in 2014.