Philippine rebels declare holiday truce, government says won’t be fooled

Rebel attacks have stifled growth in resource-rich areas in the poor Southeast Asian country as guerrillas target mines, plantations, construction and telecommunication companies, demanding “revolutionary taxation” to finance their fight. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2018
0

Philippine rebels declare holiday truce, government says won’t be fooled

  • Guerrillas from the Communist Party of the Philippines have been battling government forces for 50 years, in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies
  • Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana rejected the offer, saying that for the first time in 30 years, the government would not suspend offensive military operations over the holidays

MANILA: Maoist rebels in the Philippines declared a cease-fire on Friday for the Christmas and New Year holidays, but the government said it would not be fooled into joining the truce.
Guerrillas from the Communist Party of the Philippines have been battling government forces for 50 years, in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.
The party said in a statement it would suspend attacks on the military from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26 “in unity with the Filipino people’s observance of traditional holidays.”
Most people in the Philippines are Christian.
The rebels also declared a New Year cease-fire from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1.
But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana rejected the offer, saying that for the first time in 30 years, the government would not suspend offensive military operations over the holidays.
“We’re fooling ourselves about this cease-fire,” Lorenzana told reporters.
“What for? To give them freedom to regroup and to refurbish so that after the cease-fire, we’ll be fighting again.”
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said government forces did not want to give the rebels the opportunity to “propagandize,” and would not stop combat operations.
The rebel forces, estimated to number 3,000 fighters, have been waging a guerrilla war in rural areas for nearly 50 years in a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.
Rebel attacks have stifled growth in resource-rich areas in the poor Southeast Asian country as guerrillas target mines, plantations, construction and telecommunication companies, demanding “revolutionary taxation” to finance their fight.
Since 1986, the government has been holding on-again, off-again talks with Maoist rebels, brokered by Norway, but President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped negotiations last year due to rebel attacks and taxation.


Members of first all-female Afghan orchestra missing in Slovakia

Updated 35 min 39 sec ago
0

Members of first all-female Afghan orchestra missing in Slovakia

  • Zohra, an ensemble of 35 teenagers and young women musicians, played a concert on Saturday at a festival in the western town of Trencin
  • Some members of Zohra are orphans or from poor families

BRATISLAVA: Police in Slovakia said on Thursday they were searching for four members of Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra who went missing from their hotel after performing at a local festival.
Zohra, an ensemble of 35 teenagers and young women musicians, played a concert on Saturday at a festival in the western town of Trencin, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Bratislava, near the Czech border.
Four members went missing from their hotel on Sunday, Slovak police said.
“I can confirm that the search for two female teenagers and two female adults from Afghanistan is ongoing,” Pavol Kudlicka, a spokesperson for the Trencin regional police, told AFP on Thursday.
He added that the musicians returned to their hotel after the concert but went missing the next morning.
“Due to legal reasons and the ongoing investigation no names can be disclosed for now,” Kudlicka added.
Local Slovak media reported that some orchestra members had said that one of the girls had a cousin in Germany.
Some members of Zohra are orphans or from poor families.
They have faced death threats in their homeland where music was banned during the Taliban’s repressive 1996-2001 rule.
Music is still frowned upon in much of Afghan society, which is tightly segregated by gender.
Despite the disappearance, the Zohra orchestra, named after a Persian goddess of music, played several concerts in western Slovakia this week.
They have performed at home and abroad, notably at the closing the World Economic Forum in Davos two years ago.