Vietnam: Church and Civil Society respond to draft law on religion


Vietnamese CatholicsA group of 27 civil society organizations have called on Vietnam to edit a controversial draft law on religion, saying it is wide open to abuse. Lawmakers in Vietnam are expected to pass a new law on religion that religious leaders and rights monitors have long warned will likely worsen oppression.

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Myanmar: UNICEF hails joint interfaith declaration seeking tolerance



In the light of upcoming elections in Myanmar and amid reports of rising religious intolerance, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Wednesday welcomed a joint statement by the leaders of four main religious groups in the country calling for tolerance and respect of religious freedom as essential conditions for every child to grow and develop to their full potential.

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Myanmar: Anti-Muslim Buddhist Group Gains Political Clout




“There should be lawmakers in parliament who are reliable for the country,” Ashin Tilawkar Biwonsa said in an interview. ”There might be some people, especially Muslims, who are working on weakening Buddhism, so we need strong people for our religion.”

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Vietnam moves closer to passing restrictive religion bill


Church VietnamVietnam is moving closer to passing a restrictive law on religion, Christian groups have warned. The country’s most powerful political organ, the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, discussed the bill Aug. 14 with few signs major amendments would be made before passing next year, said the religious freedom advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

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All at sea: what lies behind Southeast Asia’s migrant crisis?


The plight of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers from Myanmar and Bangladesh, left adrift without food and water for nearly a week, has all the hallmarks of a full-blown humanitarian crisis. Yet despite statements of concern from governments, aid agencies and human rights groups, there is little sign of a coordinated plan to address the issue. Boats have been spotted off the coasts of Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, apparently abandoned by human trafficking gangs who operate across maritime and land borders and shunned by regional powers.

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Buddhist-Muslim Meeting Pushes for Peace

“Yogyakarta Statement” – Responding to Interreligious Tensions

As reported in The Jakarta Post, the Muslim and Buddhist leaders of Southeast Asia and South Asia released the Yogyakarta Statement to refute the “use of Islam and Buddha in the politics of discrimination and violence.” As a result of the “Overcoming Extremism and Advancing Peace with Justice” meeting, which drew leaders from Buddhism and Islam to Indonesia, the Yogyakarta Statement was released Thursday, March 5. The Sri Lanka Council of Religions for Peace President, Bellanwila Wimalaratana Anunayake Thera, was there to speak as a representative of the Buddhist community in Sri Lanka at the Borobudur temple in Magelang.

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Christianity and Interreligion in South and Southeast Asia


Marcus Braybrooke, agent for the Interfaith Observer in Asia, writes: Living in a multi-religious society is still a new experience for many people in Europe and America, but in Asia members of one faith community have traditionally coexisted in the same geographical space with those of others. Crossing boundaries – for example, marrying a member of another community – could result in social ostracism. At times, sharp controversy and, sadly, horrific violence has been suffered, as when India was partitioned. At other times, for centuries in millions of villages and town, neighbors from different traditions have gotten on well, been friends, and even enjoyed some practical cooperation.

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