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Celebrating 350 Years of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam

THAILAND (UCAN/Agenzia Fides): Almost 350 years have passed since the first Catholic mission in Siam began: to commemorate the forthcoming anniversary of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam (Mission of Siam: 1669-2019), the Bishops’ Conference of Thailand organised a celebration at Chiang Rai Rajabhat University, in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, on July 7.  
 

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Indonesia takes softer approach with drug users

JAKARTA (UCAN): Church leaders and activists in Indonesia welcomed what they think is a possible softening in the government’s hardline drug policy after the anti-narcotics agency said it would push for drug users to be rehabilitated rather than imprisoned.
 
The move was announced on June 26 when the Indonesia National Narcotics Agency (BNN) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) agreed on June 26, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, to boost cooperation in rehabilitation efforts for drug addicts.

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Vietnam celebrates canonisation of martyrs

HANOI (UCAN): Some 20,000 Catholics from the Archdiocese of Hanoi, along with nine dioceses in northern Vietnam, braved the scorching heat to attend a special Mass on June 19 in Ha Nam province to open a jubilee year to mark the 30th anniversary of the canonisation of 117 Vietnamese martyrs.
 
The opening ceremony was held at the Martyrs Pilgrimage Centre of So Kien, which includes the 135-year-old Minor Basilica of Immaculate Conception of Mary in Ha Nam province.
 

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Chapel of peace for Panmunjom

SEOUL (UCAN): A new chapel will be built in the Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom, the truce village on the inter-Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that was established when Korean War (1950-53) ended in an armistice.
 
The chapel will replace an older structure built in 1958. Bishop Francis Xavier Yu Soo-il, of the Military Ordinariate of Korea, celebrated a ground-breaking ceremony on June 5.
 

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Many beaten and injured as police suppress protests in Vietnam

HANOI (UCAN): In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, around 200 protesters were detained, beaten and interrogated by police on June 17, in a crackdown aimed at suppressing opposition to a proposed special economic development plan and the approval of a controversial cyber security law.
 
Eyewitnesses said the police action was aimed at stopping any demonstration talking place. 
 

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Protesting the Philippines kowtow foreign policy

MANILA (UCAN): Protesters in Manila marked the country’s 120th Independence Day on June 12 marching against what they described as the Philippine government’s continuing “subservient foreign policy” to both China and the United States of America (US).
 
Only a week earlier, Chinese Coast Guard personnel drove Filipino fishermen out of their traditional fishing grounds at Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. A video report released by GMA News showed the fishermen watching helplessly their catch was seized.

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Philippine police arrest suspect in priest’s killing

MANILA (UCAN): Philippine authorities announced on June 15 that they had arrested their “prime suspect” in the killing of Father Richmond Villaflor Nilo, the same day his body was laid to rest.
 
Identified as Adell Roll Milan, the suspect was arrested in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, on June 14.
 
A witness reportedly identified Milan, an alleged former drug user and hitman, as having shot the priest on June 10.
 

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March for life in Seoul

HONG KONG (SE): As South Korea awaits the outcome on the Constitutional Court’s deliberations on the constitutionality of the country’s ban on abortions, the country’s seventh March for Life Korea, hosted by the Prolife Federation, was held at Myeongdong Cathedral on June 16, in opposition of any move to repeal the ban and in support of the rights of mothers and unborn children, the Committee for Communications of Archdiocese of Seoul reported.
 

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Vietnam sends human rights lawyer into exile

HANOI (UCAN): Prominent rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, and fellow jailed Brotherhood for Democracy group member, Le Thu Ha, were released from prison in Hanoi late on June 7 and, together with Nguyen’s wife, Vu Minh Khanh, were taken to the airport and put on a flight bound for Frankfurt, Germany, according to a pro-democracy group.
 

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Only the lowly can confront corruption

GWANGJU (SE): Father Nandana Manatunga thanked the people of South Korea for their continuous support of those struggling against repression and state violence throughout Asia as he was presented with the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights at the Culture Centre in Seogu on May 18 this year.
 

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