Dhaka, Sept 5 (UNB) - Myanmar National Human Rights Commission has urged the Myanmar government to provide basic human rights to two Reuters journalists including the right to appeal and to consult their lawyers.
The Commission also urged the Myanmar government to seriously consider all aspects in the larger interest of the country, according Myanmar Ministry of Information.
There have been serious criticisms and comments both domestically and internationally, the Commission said in a statement on convictions of Reuter reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.
The statement said it is now learnt that the two of them have been sentenced to seven years imprisonment by Yangon Northern District Court.
According to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Law, the Commission has no particular comment on the sentencing of the two journalists.
Manila, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — A Philippine senator who is President Rodrigo Duterte's fiercest critic in Congress remained holed up in the Senate on Wednesday to avoid what he considers an illegal arrest after Duterte voided his amnesty for his role as a rebel military officer.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV told reporters after staying overnight in the Senate that his lawyers would file a petition to the Supreme Court to challenge the legality of Duterte's proclamation voiding his amnesty for taking part in failed coup attempts years ago.
Duterte also ordered the Department of Justice and the military to pursue criminal and administrative complaints against Trillanes, a former navy officer.
Trillanes told the police and military not to follow Duterte's "illegal order" for him to be arrested without a court warrant, saying his rebellion and coup cases were dismissed in 2011 without being questioned by the government after he availed of an amnesty offered by Duterte's predecessor.
Addressing military and police officers who may be pressured to enforce Duterte's order out of fear, Trillanes said "Duterte will not be there for long, please do not do anything illegal or unconstitutional."
Duterte's order, which was made public Tuesday while he was on a trip to Israel, has sparked a legal debate. Some legal experts have questioned whether Duterte can invalidate a rebel amnesty declared by a previous president and approved by legislators.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told a news conference Tuesday that Duterte voided Trillanes' amnesty because the senator had failed to comply with all of its requirements, including a clear admission of his involvement in past coup attempts.
Trillanes cannot invoke his congressional immunity from arrest because the crimes he allegedly committed, including rebellion, were serious and punishable by life imprisonment, Guevarra said.
During a televised Senate session, however, Trillanes showed video footage and news reports denying Duterte's basis for voiding his amnesty. The news reports showed an image of his amnesty application, which officials said they could not find, and carried remarks by Trillanes acknowledging his participation in the uprisings.
"That presidential declaration should alarm the justices of the Supreme Court because Duterte there exercises executive, legislative and judicial powers," Trillanes said. "If they affirm the presidential declaration, the president can issue warrants of arrest."
Despite questions on Duterte's move, military spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo said Trillanes "will be reverted to his status as active military personnel subject to military law and military discipline." A military court may be reconstituted to try Trillanes after his amnesty was voided, Arevalo told reporters.
The 47-year-old former navy officer was detained for several years before his election to the Senate for involvement in three military uprisings from 2003 to 2007 to protest government corruption.
Duterte has openly expressed anger against Trillanes, who has accused him of large-scale corruption and involvement in illegal drugs. The volatile president has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Aside from Trillanes, another opposition senator, Leila de Lima, has been detained after being accused by Duterte of involvement in illegal drugs, a crime she has vehemently denied. A former human rights commission chief, de Lima investigated Duterte's alleged role in extrajudicial killings in a yearslong anti-drug crackdown when he served as mayor of southern Davao city for years.
Another Duterte critic, Maria Lourdes Sereno, was ousted by fellow justices from the Supreme Court in May after the government alleged that her appointment by Duterte's predecessor was legally flawed and petitioned for her removal.
Manila, Sep 4 (AP/UNB) — The Philippine Navy extricated one of its largest warships from the shoal where it ran aground last week near a hotly disputed region in the South China Sea.
Two Philippine security officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday that tugboats were used to pull the BRP Gregorio del Pilar from the shallow fringes of Half Moon Shoal, which the Philippines calls Hasa Hasa, before midnight.
The frigate, which was being towed back to a Philippine port, ran aground during a routine patrol Wednesday night, damaging some of its propellers. Its more than 100 crewmen were unhurt.
The barren shoal is on the eastern edge of the disputed Spratly archipelago, where tensions have run high in recent years after China built seven disputed reefs into man-made islands and reportedly installed missile defense systems.
Philippine defense officials notified their Chinese counterparts after the accidental grounding of the Philippine Navy frigate at the shoal, which Beijing claims, to avoid any misunderstanding, said the two Philippine officials, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said last week that China offered to help but that the Philippines would handle it.
A Chinese frigate ran aground on the shoal in 2012 and was pulled away by Chinese military ships.
Half Moon Shoal lies about 110 kilometers (68 miles) from the southern tip of the western Philippine island of Palawan and south of the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, where a Philippine navy transport ship was intentionally grounded in 1999 and has since served as a Philippine military outpost.
China has repeatedly demanded the now-rusty BRP Sierra Madre be removed from Second Thomas Shoal, which is claimed by the Philippines and China.
A military report seen by the AP said the propellers of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar were damaged by the grounding. The crew reported, however, that the frigate was not taking in water.
At least four Philippine Navy and Coast Guard ships were deployed to secure the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and provide food and other supplies to its sailors. Tugboats were hired to extricate the ship, military spokesman Col. Noel Detoyato said.
The frigate is one of three former U.S. Coast Guard cutters acquired by the Philippine military and are the Philippines' largest warships.
The United States and Asian governments which have claims in the disputed sea, including the Philippines, have raised alarms over China's island building and militarization of the strategic territory.
The Philippines has been one of the most vocal critics of China's assertive moves in the disputed waters. In 2016, it largely won a complaint it lodged before an international tribunal, which invalidated Beijing's sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, however, took steps to revive once-frosty ties with China after he took office in 2016 as he sought infrastructure funding and more trade and investment from Beijing.
Tokyo, Sep 4 (AP/UNB) — Heavy rain and crashing surf were striking western Japan as a powerful typhoon neared its Pacific coast Tuesday, disrupting train service and air travel.
Typhoon Jebi, heading north, was forecast to make landfall later in the day and cross the main island of Honshu. The Japan Meteorological Agency said it had sustained winds of 160 kilometers per hour (100 miles per hour) with gusts to 215 kph (130 mph).
More than 600 domestic flights have been cancelled, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK. High-speed bullet train service was suspended between Osaka and Hiroshima cities.
In Osaka, the Universal Studios Japan theme park and U.S. consulate were both closed. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancelled a scheduled trip to Kyushu, Japan's southernmost main island, to oversee the government's response to the typhoon, Kyodo News service said.
Jerusalem, Sep 4 (AP/UNB) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who once compared himself favorably to Adolf Hitler, paid a solemn visit to Israel's national Holocaust memorial on Monday, branding the Nazi leader "insane" as he lamented the genocide of 6 million Jews.
The comments marked a dramatic turnaround for Duterte, who just two years ago had compared his anti-drug campaign to the Holocaust and said he would be "happy to slaughter" 3 million addicts. He later apologized.
Duterte, known for his profane outbursts and accused of committing widespread human rights abuses, spoke quietly and respectfully during his stop at the Yad Vashem memorial. He said the Holocaust should never be repeated and that "despots" have no place in the modern world.
"I could not imagine a country obeying an insane leader, and I could not ever fathom the spectacle of the human being going into a killing spree, murdering old men, women and children. I hope this will not happen again," he said.
"There is always a lesson to learn: that despots and leaders who show insanity, they should be disposed of at the first instance," he said.
Duterte, the first Philippine president to visit Israel, has received a warm welcome from the government, despite criticism that it is embracing a leader accused of rights abuses in his deadly crackdown on drug dealers.
The agenda reportedly is expected to include an arms sale to the Philippines. Israel agreed in the past to sell assault rifles to the Philippines national police force.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked Monday on the countries' long friendship. He said the Philippines took in Jewish refugees after World War II and was the only Asian nation to vote for Israel's establishment. He noted that Filipino health aides now assist the elderly in Israel, including Netanyahu's father.
"We remember our friends, and that friendship has blossomed over the years and especially over the last few years," Netanyahu told Duterte. "There has been a remarkable phenomenon in Israel where thousands and thousands of families have taken heart from the support given by Filipino caretakers for the elderly."
Duterte thanked Israel for hosting some 28,000 Filipino workers and for assisting his country in times of need.
"We share the same passion for peace. We share the same passion for human beings. But also we share the same passion of not allowing our country to be destroyed by those who have the corrupt ideology, who know nothing but to kill and destroy," he said at a joint appearance with Netanyahu. "And in this sense, Israel can expect any help that the Philippines can extend to your country."
The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1957. Netanyahu has worked to cultivate new allies in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where many countries have historically sided with the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel, to help chip away at the number of anti-Israel votes at the United Nations.
But Netanyahu has come under fire for embracing Duterte, a 73-year-old former government prosecutor whose forces are accused of killing thousands in anti-drug raids since he took office in 2016.
Duterte drew outrage that year when he compared his anti-drug campaign to the Holocaust and himself to Hitler. More recently, he forcibly kissed a woman on stage and said there would be many rape cases in a Philippine city "if there were many beautiful women."
In its lead editorial Monday, the liberal Haaretz daily accused Netanyahu of selling out Israeli values for dubious allies.
"Under the shadow of Duterte's visit, Israel once again proves it's willing to overlook leaders' human rights violations for the sake of opportunities for arms deals and defense contracts," the newspaper said.
Duterte, who calls U.S. President Donald Trump a friend and in 2016 cursed President Barack Obama for alleged meddling, offered the former occupant of the White House an apology of sorts.
"I said, 'Son of a bitch, Obama you can go to hell. You son of a bitch.' I said that because he was not a civilized person," Duterte said in Israel. "It would be appropriate also to say at this time to Mr. Obama that, 'You are now a civilian and I am sorry for uttering those words.'"
Duterte has been criticized for a brutal crackdown on the Philippine drug trade. Reports of extrajudicial slayings of alleged dealers surfaced during Obama's presidency.
Official Philippine police tallies put the number of suspects killed in police-led drug raids at more than 4,500 since Duterte took office.
International human rights watchdogs have cited far higher death tolls. Duterte denies condoning extrajudicial killings, but has openly threatened drug dealers with death.
His visit to Israel was to include a stop at a monument commemorating the Philippines' rescue of Jews during the Holocaust.