James Tay­lor can­cels Manila show over drug war killings

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Grammy award-win­ning singer James Tay­lor said yes­ter­day he has can­celled a Fe­bru­ary 2017 con­cert in the Philip­pines in protest at the al­leged ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings in Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte's bru­tal drug war. "I don't think of my mu­sic as be­ing par­tic­u­larly po­lit­i­cal but some­times one is called upon to make a po­lit­i­cal stand," the US star said in so­cial me­dia posts on Twit­ter as well as on his Face­book page. "For a sovereign nation to pros­e­cute and pun­ish, un­der the law, those re­spon­si­ble for the il­le­gal trade in drugs is, of course, un­der­stand­able, even com­mend­able," he said, call­ing drug de­pen­dence a "scourge" and a "world­wide prob­lem". "But re­cent re­ports from the Philip­pines of sum­mary ex­e­cu­tions of sus­pected of­fend­ers with­out trial or ju­di­cial process are deeply con­cern­ing and un­ac­cept­able to any­one who loves the rule of law." Duterte, a fiery pop­ulist pro­vin­cial politi­cian, was elected by a land­slide ear­lier this year largely on a vow to 100,000 crim­i­nals. Po­lice or sus­pected vig­i­lantes have killed more than 5,300 peo­ple since July, but the gov­ern­ment re­jects the al­le­ga­tions of ex­tra­ju­di­cial ex­e­cu­tions and in­sists those killed by po­lice had re­sisted ar­rest and fought po­lice.

Tay­lor, 68, rose to fame in the 1970s for writ­ing and per­form­ing sen­si­tive songs such as "Fire and Rain" and "You've Got a Friend" and has won five Grammy Awards over his long ca­reer. In re­cent press in­ter­views he has openly dis­cussed his re­cov­ery from heroin ad­dic­tion in his teens, just be­fore he be­came glob­ally fa­mous. Tay­lor in­formed lo­cal pro­moter Ova­tion Pro­duc­tions about his de­ci­sion late Tues­day and re­jected last-minute ap­peals to re­con­sider, Ova­tion pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive Re­nen de Guia told AFP.

De Guia said Tay­lor was the first for­eign per­former he is aware of to have can­celled a Philip­pine con­cert over the killings, and hoped he would be the last. "As far as we're con­cerned we're push­ing through with the oth­ers," he said. Tay­lor was sched­uled to have played in Manila on Fe­bru­ary 25 next year as part of a for­eign tour. He said his Manila boy­cott would not af­fect the Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore, Aus­tralia and New Zealand legs of his tour. Asked to com­ment on Tay­lor's stand on the drug-re­lated killings, de Guia said: "This is a very sen­si­tive is­sue and I don't want to say any­thing more." — AFP

A cloth­ing ven­dor (L) ped­als his bi­cy­cle past a bill­board pro­mot­ing a planned con­cert by US singer James Tay­lor in Manila yes­ter­day.

In this file photo, mu­si­cian James Tay­lor per­forms in Manch­ester, New Hamp­shire. — AP Pho­tos

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