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Filipino archbishop honoured for environmental advocacy

MANILA (UCAN): Archbishop Sergio Utleg of Tuguegarao, the Philippines, has been given the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan (hero for the environment) award for his “exemplary deeds and initiatives” to advance environmental protection and his strong advocacy against mining, especially in the northern part of the country.
 
The award is given to those who “serve as an example” in protecting the environment by advocacy groups led by the Centre for Environmental Concerns.
 

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Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City mourned

HO CHI MINH CITY (UCAN): Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc of Ho Chi Minh City died of a stroke on March 6 in Rome while he and 32 other Vietnamese bishops were on their ad limina visit to the Vatican. He was 73-years-old.
 
Church sources said the archbishop suffered the stroke as he was celebrating Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside The Wall.
 

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Clampdown after Catholic hospital attacked in Madhya Pradesh

BHOPAL (UCAN): On March 15, three days after suspected Hindu activists demolished the boundary wall of the 44-year-old Pushpa Mission Hospital in Ujjain town in Madhya Pradesh province, in central India, the local authority issued a prohibitory order to check tension and further activities in the disputed area.
 

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Freedom of expression curbed in Myanmar

MANDALAY (UCAN): Civic groups in Myanmar have warned that amendments to laws governing demonstrations could be used to curb freedom of expression in the country.
 
Thet Swe Win, an interfaith advocate and director of the Centre for Youth and Social Harmony, said that the language used in the amendments to the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Act was not in line with democratic values.
 

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Inquiry after religious unrest in Sri Lanka

KANDY (SE): Sri Lanka’s president, Maithripala Sirisena, will appoint a commission comprised of three retired judges to investigate attacks on Muslims in the city of Kandy by Buddhist mobs in Sri Lanka, Firstpost reported.
 
The government declared a 10-day nationwide state of emergency on March 6 and police imposed a curfew in the Theldeniya and Pallekele areas of Kandy after Buddhist mobs attacked a mosque, Muslim businesses and houses on March 4. 
 

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Korean Church calls on Japan to atone for comfort women

SEOUL (UAN): A coalition made up of Catholic diocesan justice and peace committees, religious institutions and non-goernment organisiations in South Korea, has called on the Japanese government apologise for forcing Asian women—known as comfort women—to provide sexual services for its troops during World War II.
 

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Indonesian women march for legal protection

JAKARTA (UCAN): An estimated 1,200 women as well as children, students and women’s rights advocates took part in the second Women’s March in Indonesia on March 3, to push for new regulations to protect women from violence.
 

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Respect separation of state and religion Japanese bishops urge government

TOKYO (UCAN): The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan has written to the country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, demanding strict observance of the constitutional separation of state-sponsored ceremonies and the imperial family’s private religious ones when the change of emperors takes place in 2019.
 

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Rohingya face oppostion to resettlement plans

MANDALY (UCAN): Plans by Myanmar’s government to resettle Muslim Rohingya refugees in southern Maungdaw in the restive Rakhine State are meeting up with opposition from other ethnic groups from the area.
 
Some 80 people from civil society groups across Rakhine held a meeting in the state capital, Sittwe, on February 24 to discuss the resettlement of Rohingya returning from Bangladesh.
 

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Philippines struggles against human trafficking

MANILA (UCAN): Michelle thought her prayers had been answered when she finally left her home in the Philippines for Saudi Arabia last year to work as a domestic helper. She thought the employment contract she had signed was her ticket out of poverty.
 
Sadly, she was gravely mistaken. In fact, she had joined a throng of her compatriots who have become inadvertent victims of human trafficking.
 

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