Indian journalist opposed to deporting Rohingya killed

Prominent Indian journalist, Ravish Kumar, left, speaks at the Press Club of India, during a protest against the killing of eminent writer Gauri Lankesh on Wednesday in New Delhi. (AN photo)
Updated 07 September 2017

Indian journalist opposed to deporting Rohingya killed

DELHI: Just a few hours before her murder in Bangalore on Tuesday, allegedly by Hindu right-wingers, Gauri Lankesh, a secular journalist and civil rights activist, spoke up for the rights of Rohingya Muslims in India.
“Are Rohingiya ‘terrorists’ killing Hindus and burning their homes and temples?” she tweeted, citing an article in Quint news magazine about fake news being used to incite anger against the minority in India.
“She took a strong line against the deportation of Rohingya from India and their genocide in Myanmar,” said Kavita Krishnan, a prominent civil rights activist and secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association. Lankesh’s killing “is an attempt to strike terror in the heart of dissent,” Krishnan added.
Lankesh, 55, was found lying in a pool of blood on her doorstep in the city of Bangalore. She was returning home from work when she was gunned down by three men who came on a motorcycle in the early evening in front of her home in Bangalore.
She was an editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a popular weekly magazine in the local Kannada language.
Her killing has sparked outrage across India, with civil rights activists, journalists and others taking to the streets in protest. But the government has remained largely silent.
MP Smriti Irani tweeted a condolence message, but “such tweets are meaningless,” said Krishnan.
“There are Twitter handles followed by (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi that are busy celebrating Lankesh’s death.”
When contacted by Arab News, many members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) refused to comment.
When asked about Lankesh’s opposition to deporting Rohingya, Rakesh Sinha, director of the India Policy Foundation — a think tank promoted by the BJP — simply said: “It’s not good to go into specifics.”
The BJP’s ambivalence about the killing of a prominent voice of dissent has not gone down well with opposition leaders.
Krishnan said “a strong section of media in India” is also “responsible for creating an atmosphere where any political dissent is termed anti-national.”
Modi landed in Myanmar for talks with its leader Aung San Suu Kyi on the same day Lankesh was killed.


Philippines begins termination of US deal

Earlier, Duterte said he would give the US a month to restore Dela Rosa’s visa. (AP)
Updated 25 January 2020

Philippines begins termination of US deal

  • The move comes after Washington’s refusal to issue a visa to ally of President Duterte

MANILA: The Philippines has started the process of terminating the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which allows the deployment of US forces to the country to conduct military exercises, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced on Friday.
The move comes one day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to do away with the agreement if the US did not reinstate the visa of his political ally and former police chief, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.
Although in a speech on Thursday night the president said he would give the US one month to restore Dela Rosa’s visa before terminating the VFA, Panelo told reporters the process had already begun.
“The President feels that we cannot sit down and watch idly,” he said, adding he had relayed the matter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin.
Locsin, in a Twitter post on Friday, confirmed he had called Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana “to start the process of terminating the VFA.”
Lorenzana, in a statement on Friday evening, said that he would discuss with the president “the various scenarios concerning the possible termination of the VFA, and what future actions may be undertaken by the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) regarding this matter.”
The defense chief said he could understand why the president was angered by the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa, over alleged extrajudicial killings in connection with the government’s anti-drug war.
“It is a direct affront to (the president) being the architect of the drug war upon his assumption of office,” the defense chief said.
He noted that Duterte ordered Dela Rosa when he was installed as police chief in 2016 to launch the drug war, and promised to back him. “He is just being true to his promise,” Lorenzana stressed.
Dela Rosa himself said details surrounding the revocation of his US visa remain unclear to him. He added that it “might be related” to the anti-drug war.
The Philippines Department of Justice said it was studying the “proper procedure to terminate the VFA.”
Responses from Philippine lawmakers have been mixed.
“In the absence of a Philippines Supreme Court ruling on the president’s power to unilaterally break a treaty or bilateral agreement like the VFA, without the consent of a 2/3 supermajority vote of the members of the senate, the president can do that without the senate’s approval or consent,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the VFA termination would work in favor of China, and so did not come as a surprise.
According to Lorenzana: “The termination of the VFA may be unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, and it is well within the right of the government to do so if it determines that the agreement no longer redounds to our national interest.
“Such a termination does not need the approval of the Philippine Congress. All that is required is that a notice of termination be served to the US government. The termination shall take effect 180 days after the date of the notice,” the defense chief stressed.