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Remain open to North Korea Church in Seoul urges

HONG KONG (SE): The Church in the Republic of Korea is taking the death of the leader of the hermit state to the north of the Demilitarised Zone, Kim Jong-il, as an opportunity to seek reconciliation with the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in Pyongyang.

It was announced on North Korean state television on December 19 that Kim died on a train of a heart attack, brought on by physical and mental exhaustion from overwork. However, this information has not been verified.

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Sister cleared of trafficking charges in Colombo

 COLOMBO (Agencies): Sister Mary Eliza, from the Missionaries of Charity in Colombo, Sri Lanka, was cleared of a charge of trafficking children on December 15 at a court hearing, after spending three days in police custody before being released on bail.

Indian-born Sister Eliza was arrested on November 25, after police acted on information given by an anonymous caller accusing the sisters of profiteering from adoptions and selling children to foreigners.

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Church to boycott state events over sister’s arrest

COLOMBO (SE): The archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, said at a press conference on December 3 that the Catholic Church will boycott all functions sponsored by the government over the Christmas period, as a protest against the November 25 arrest of Missionary of Charity, Sister Mary Eliza.

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Serious questions linger over Myanmar’s about tur

HONG KONG (SE): While the government in Naypyidaw parades its democracy icon, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, before the world media in an attempt to show that the repressive state of the Union of Myanmar is opening up to democracy and is on the road to becoming a law abiding citizen, a peep at the flip side of the coin reveals a totally different reality.

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Malaysia’s security law will restrict religious freedom

 

KUALA LUMPUR (UCAN): An inter-religious body of minority faiths has denounced a bill regulating peaceful assembly and demanded it be withdrawn.

The Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 “clearly hands the police and home minister more powers and is restrictive, repressive and against freedom of assembly and against freedom of religion,” a December 2 statement from the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, says.

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Defiant flag raising as Papuans call for independence

JAYAPURA (UCAN): Thousands of people gathered at the grave of an independence leader in Sentani, the district of Jayapura in Papua, on December 1 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of what some refer to as the true declaration of independence in Papua.

The ceremonies marked the anniversary of the raising of the first flag of the independence movement, the Morning Star, an act which today, is an offence under Indonesian law.

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Bishop raises alarm at Korea’s empty cradles

DAEJEON (AsiaNews): Looking at the empty cradles dotting the nursery’s of South Korea, Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, from the Commission for Pastoral Care for Migrants, commented, “The country needs a new culture of life.”

The bishop of Daejeon continued, “The Catholic Church always points this out, but for us Koreans, it is a major challenge on the ground. We must strive to change social attitudes by example and teaching, but also through concrete help.”

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Aging Taiwan population poses conundrum for schools

TAIPEI (UCAN): Catholic schools in Taiwan have reached a crossroads, with some asking whether they should aim at becoming international schools for students from mainland China and southeast Asia, rather than opting to serve the needs of local students.

Further complicating the situation is an educational divide about the focus of meeting local needs. Should schools seek to assist the poor or establish themselves as elite institutions that require high tuition fees?

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Missionary of Charity arrested for trafficking

COLOMBO (AsiaNews): Sister Mary Eliza, from the Missionaries of Charity, was arrested by Sri Lankan police on November 25 and was being held in the Women’s Prison of Welikada, accused of trafficking children.

She is the first sister from the congregation founded by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta to be arrested.

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Clinton plays a wildcard in currency debate

HONOLULU (AsiaNews): United States of America (US) treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, said Asia should do more to stimulate global growth to offset the Eurozone crisis, following a meeting of Asia-Pacific finance ministers in Honolulu, Hawaii, on November 8 in the run up to the start of the APEC summit.

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