VIETNAM: At a Crossroads, 10 Years after CPC Designation

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the 10th anniversary of the State Department’s removal of Vietnam’s designation as a “country of particular concern” (or CPC), the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) sees a country that has made progress but still has a long way to go before it fully respects religious freedom. USCIRF also watches with concern as the Vietnamese National Assembly is poised to vote on a new law governing religion.

“Vietnam is at a crossroads,” explains USCIRF Chair Thomas J. Reese, S.J. “Its government needs to stop oppressing believers and enact legislation that respects religious freedom. If it does not, USCIRF will have to continue calling for its designation as a country of particular concern.”

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Vatican continues talks with Vietnam

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A Vietnamese Delegation to the Vatican has concluded its visit and there are postivie outcomes. The two sides acknowledged the progress in Vietnam – Holy See relations, including regular contacts and consultations, the exchange of high level delegations and frequent pastoral visits to Vietnam by the papal representative and non-resident special envoy, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli.

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Bangladesh: Religious leaders vow to fight extremism with harmony

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Leaders of four major religions have vowed to unite and promote religious harmony as part of efforts to combat a sharp rise in religious extremism and militancy in Bangladesh. The pledge came at an interfaith conference organized by Bangladesh police in Dhaka on April 28. The gathering brought together about 1,500 people, mostly leaders from Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist communities.

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Religions for Peace Advances Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar

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On 28-29 March 2016, U Myint Swe, President of RfP Myanmar and Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Deputy Secretary General of RfP International, visited Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar, the scene of major inter-communal violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in 2012. Further sporadic outbreaks since then have left scores dead and over 140,000 displaced.

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Singapore: Religious heads work to build trust, maintain harmony

jakartaisJust two hours after the Jakarta blasts, about 30 religious and community leaders of the Braddell Heights’ Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle received information about what was happening on the ground there. They were also asked by the authorities to look out for reactions in their communities.

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Islamic State’s Influence spreads across Asia


Pakistan civil society activists light candles outside the French consulate in Karachi on Nov. 15, as they condemned the deadly attacks in Paris. (Photo by AFP)

While the detention of eight suspected members of the group that calls itself the Islamic State in Malaysia on Jan. 22, following the deadly bomb attacks in Jakarta earlier this month, confirmed the arrival of the terrorist group in Southeast Asia, it had already been murderously active in the South Asian countries of Bangladesh and Pakistan.

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