Duterte wants to bomb tribal schools to halt rebel indoctrination

Human rights groups urged Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to retract a threat to order airstrikes against tribal schools he accused of teaching students to become communist rebels, warning such an attack would constitute a war crime. Angered by recent communist rebel attacks on government forces, including a gun battle last week that wounded five members of his elite presidential guards, Duterte has called off peace talks with the Maoist guerrillas and threatened their perceived sympathisers, including Lumad schools which he alleged were operating under rebel control without government permits. “Get out of there, I’m telling the Lumads now. I’ll have those bombed, including your structures,” the president said.

What next? US-based Human Rights Watch said international humanitarian law “prohibits attacks on schools and other civilian structures unless they are being used for military purposes”.

Two systems, one station in Hong Kong

Authorities released long-awaited details of the Hong Kong-mainland China high-speed rail line, including the floor plan for the terminal and steps passengers will go through, amid concerns about mainland laws being enforced at the station. To catch a train from the future station at West Kowloon, travellers will have to pass through two port areas straddling four levels of the building on route to the platform. Under the arrangements for joint immigration and customs facilities with mainland authorities that were announced on Tuesday, travellers will have to abide by mainland laws within a designated 105,000 sq metre area to be leased to the mainland for the creation of a port inside the terminal, where passengers can expect to see mainland police officers armed with batons on patrol.

What next? While mainland laws will be enforced inside the mainland port zone, officers there will not be permitted to leave that area and will have to return to the mainland after their shifts. Passengers on board a moving train on the line will be subject to mainland laws, although Hong Kong laws will apply to areas outside train compartments and on the track and in tunnel areas until the train goes beyond the Hong Kong border.

Dozens of Indonesian maids in Hong Kong radicalised

A security think tank has claimed that about 45 Indonesian domestic workers have been radicalised and linked with Islamic State while living in Hong Kong. While leaders from the 153,000-strong Indonesian community in Hong Kong and local Muslim representatives said they had not seen cases of radicalisation in the city, they urged authorities to look at the root of the problem, which they believed could be related to isolation and exploitation that many domestic helpers experience in Hong Kong. The study was published by the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, which has produced several reports on conflicts in Southeast Asia.

What next? The report called on the Indonesian government to work with employment agencies and migrant rights groups to alert Indonesian women to the risk of exploitation by extremist men. It also called on the Hong Kong authorities to ensure that known extremist clerics were “not given visas to spread hatred in the migrant community”.

‘Revenge rape’ sentence leads to arrest of 28 villagers in Pakistan

Mohammad Ashfaq, a villager in Pakistan’s Punjab province, came to the village council with a harrowing complaint: his 12-year-old sister had been raped by a 15-year-old boy, a distant cousin.

The council prescribed an equally harrowing punishment: Ashfaq, 20, should publicly rape the boy’s sister, who is 16. Ashfaq carried out the punishment in a case of “revenge rape” that has shocked Pakistan and reached all the way to the Supreme Court.

Police have arrested 28 people in a village outside the city of Multan, in southern Punjab, including the head of the council, which included family members of both alleged rapists. The 15-year-old was also arrested, but police were still searching for Ashfaq, said Shahida Nasreen, a senior police official in Multan and head of the Violence Against Women Centre.

What next? Jamshed Rizwani, a veteran journalist in Multan, said many crimes against women in the area went unreported. “Most of these areas are governed by tribal traditions,” Rizwani said. “These districts are among the most backward areas of the country when it comes to education and health indicators.”

Woman dies after being bit by tick-infected cat

A Japanese woman has died from a tick-borne virus after being bitten by a stray cat in what is possibly the world’s first animal-to-human transmission of the disease. The woman in her 50s died about 10 days after being bitten by the cat last year after she took the animal to the vet. Authorities have since confirmed that she developed SFTS, a disease transmitted by ticks. Human-to-human infections of the tick virus through blood contact have been reported, but officials believe the woman’s death could be the first case of a human dying from the bite of an infected animal. “It’s still not confirmed the virus came from the cat, but it’s possible that it’s the [world’s] first case,” a health ministry official said.

What next? SFTS triggers symptoms including severe fever, vomiting, and diarrhoea. It is a relatively new infectious disease and was first found in northeast and central China. In some places, it has a fatality rate as high as 30 per cent.

Compiled by Thomas Sturrock