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Taiwan mourns Cardinal Shan as a great man with the common touch

TAIPEI (SE): Paul Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi died in Gengxin Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, of multiple organ failure at the age of 88 on August 22 after a six-year battle with lung cancer.

Mourned across the his adopted homeland of Taiwan, his picture appeared on the front page of major newspapers on the following day and tributes were paid to what the media described as a simple man of the ordinary people.

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Down’s Syndrome child in prison for blasphemy

KARACHI/RIMINI (SE): The arrest and imprisonment of Rimsha Masih, a young Christian girl suffering from Down’s Syndrome for desecration of a holy book in Islamabad, Pakistan, has caused both fear among other Christians in the area and sparked a strong call from minority rights’ advocates for reason to prevail over prejudice.

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China forcibly returns Myanmese refugees to hostile areas

NEW YORK (SE): In a mysterious deal worked out between the Kachin Independent Organisation (KIO) in the Union of Myanmar and authorities in the province of Yunnan, China, up to 1,000 Myanmese refugees sheltering on the Chinese side of the border from the civil war in the Kachin state have been forcibly repatriated since August 19.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a press release on August 24 that a further 4,000 are in imminent danger of being forced to follow.

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Asian students reflect on Internet preoccupation

TAICHUNG (AsiaNews): The Association of Chinese Catholic University Students held its annual meeting from August 10 to 15 at Providence University, in Taichung, Taiwan, on the theme, You are written in my love.

The annual meeting looks at issues of social importance, connected with the right of every Christian community on the island to make a journey of faith.

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Court makes landmark ruling on abortion

SEOUL (UCAN): A court in Seoul, South Korea, ruled on August 23 that medical personnel can be prosecuted for conducting abortions

An appeal filed by a midwife with the Constitutional Court seeking to overturn a clause in the Criminal Act stipulating that doctors, midwives or pharmacists performing abortions upon request can be punished by imprisonment or fined, was dismissed by the court.

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When people really need a break

KOBE (UCAN): While it may not be payback time in Kobe in Japan, people still remember the shock and uncertainty of life in the wake of the 17 January 1995 earthquake that practically destroyed the whole city, and especially how important the helping hands that reached out to them were.

So this summer, 11 parishes in the city invited people from radiation threatened Fukushima to come and spend a bit of time at the seaside with them.

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Christians begin to emerge in Myanmar

YANGON (UCAN): In a sign there is a push for change in the Union of Myanmar, 450 Christian people met with the opposition leader and national democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, on July 20 to discuss the role of young people in the nation.

Social commentators say that such a gathering would have been unthinkable even a year ago in the predominantly Buddhist country, as most Christians belong to minority groups, whose movements are severely restricted, and Suu Kyi was still under close surveillance.

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Ho Chi Minh photograph replaces cross

VIETNAM (UCAN): Government authorities from a district in the Central Highlands of Vietnam compelled ethnic villagers to remove Catholic images and religious symbols from their chapel and replaced them with portraits of communist revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh, during the second week of August.

The chapel is in Dak Pnan village, whose inhabitants suffer from Hansen’s disease.

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Pope prays for calamity victims in Asia and Iran

VATICAN (SE): Two countries in Asia, as well as Iran were battered in the week beginning on August 6, as extreme climactic conditions left much of the Philippine capital, Manila, under water and the population of Shanghai, in the People’s Republic of China, sheltering from 120 kilometre-an-hour winds.

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There is no soil under my feet on which to walk

HONG KONG (SE): “Declaring a state of emergency is not a licence to commit human rights violations,” Benjamin Zawacki, a researcher from Amnesty International said in relation to the June 10 declaration of a state of emergency in the Rakhine state by the government of the Union of Myanmar.

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