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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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Call for freeedom from fear of radiation

HONG KONG (SE): On the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, August 9, the mayor of the city, Tomihisa Taue, added his voice to the call from the bishops of Japan for a world free from the fear of radioactivity, during a ceremony at the city’s peace park to mark the 1945 attack.

He called on the government in Tokyo to move away from the use of nuclear fuel for the production of power and instead promote new energy sources to replace the country’s reliance on nuclear reactors.

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Korean police disrupt Mass on troubled Jeju island

JEJU (SE): The all out confrontation between the Korean government and the people of what is known as the Island of World Peace over the construction of a giant naval base went up a notch on August 8 when the local diocese demanded an apology from riot police for knocking a priest to the ground while he was celebrating Mass and treading on the Eucharist.

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Orissa court reopens murder case previously dismissed by police

MUMBAI (AsiaNews): Following the killing of a Protestant minister, Michael Nayak, on 20 July 2011, in Kandhamal, India, by a group of extremists professing to be Hindu, police dismissed the case as accidental death.

However, it was reported on August 8, just one year on, that a court reopened the case and issued orders for the suspects in the killing to be apprehended.

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Papal greetings to interreligious meeting in Japan

VATICAN CITY (Agencies): “The commitment to the cause of peace by religious leaders is of the greatest importance and I am happy to learn that, thanks to your efforts, the Summit on Mount Hiei has become a major annual event that contributes effectively to dialogue between people of different beliefs,” Pope Benedict XVI said in an August 3 message to the Venerable Kojun Handa, supreme priest of the Tendai Buddhist Denomination, on the occasion the 25th annual interreligious gathering at Mt. Hiei in Japan.

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President wants action on Soeharto massacre

JAKARTA (UCAN): The president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has ordered the attorney general to follow up on the findings of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), which has determined that the crackdown on the communist presence 45 years ago was a gross violation of human rights.

“We must be clear, honest and objective about what happened in the past. We’re not going to distort the history and facts,” the president said on July 25.

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The cloud over Hiroshima today foreshadows hope not destruction

HIROSHIMA (SE): “On this day in 1945, someone climbed not to a holy mountain, but to the cockpit of a plane… On August 6 an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Here we have a new voice booming from heaven. Here too there was brightness… Here too is cloud… Truly under this new cloud we are right to be afraid,” reads an ecumenical liturgy developed in New Zealand commemorating the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945.

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