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Top Asian News 10:26 a.m. GMT

by June 14, 2016 General

SINGAPORE (AP) — A tragedy half a world away has created an unlikely opening for a repressed community in Singapore. The mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, has galvanized LGBT people in Singapore, where a candlelight vigil will be held Tuesday to express solidarity with the victims. In the process, they will highlight the predicament of their own largely underground community. Although there is little fear of gun violence in Singapore, “we must remember that violence takes many forms, not only physical,” said Lynette Chua, an assistant professor of law at the National University of Singapore. The gay, lesbian and transgender community is “still unprotected by the law from discrimination on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity,” she said.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Abandoned by family and mocked by their society, the life of a Pakistani transgender is lonely. It can even be deadly. Alisha was just 23 years old when she was shot five times last month, allegedly by a boyfriend who has since been arrested. She died of her wounds three days later. Her friends say she was neglected by doctors and medical professionals who taunted her, rather than treated her, and that three hours passed before Alisha went into surgery after arriving at the hospital. As she lay bleeding, the hospital’s health workers crowded around her, making jokes and ridiculing her, said her friend Paro, herself transgender.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — The limits of forgiving and forgetting are being tested by the former U.S. senator picked to be board chairman of the new Fulbright University Vietnam: Bob Kerrey, who has described how his squad killed civilians including women and children during the Vietnam War. It’s an unusually sensitive point in a relationship between two nations that in many ways have put the war behind them. While a top Vietnamese Communist Party official has expressed support for Kerrey’s appointment, and many people interviewed by The Associated Press were pragmatic or forgiving, others find his role upsetting. Ton Nu Thi Ninh, a former Vietnamese ambassador to the European Union, wrote in an article published this month in the state-run online newspaper Zing that when she learned of the appointment she was “extremely stunned and could not understand.” Whether Kerrey truly felt remorse for his wartime actions was something only he could know, she wrote, but “taking a leadership role in the university with ambitions like Fulbright University should not be considered to atone for the wrongdoing in the past.” Ninh declined to comment further when contacted by telephone in Ho Chi Minh City.

BEIJING (AP) — One of China’s best-known dissident lawyers said his newly launched memoir is his latest act of resistance to show he has not been silenced by years of solitary confinement and torture, accounts of which have drawn international criticism of Beijing. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Gao Zhisheng, 52, who has been living under near-constant surveillance by Chinese authorities since his release from jail in 2014, said he wrote his book “to expose the truth and crimes of this regime.” The Chinese-language book, titled “Stand Up China 2017 — China’s Hope: What I Learned During Five Years as a Political Prisoner,” was launched in Hong Kong on Tuesday at an event attended by Gao’s daughter.

BEIJING (AP) — In a rare interview, Chinese dissident lawyer Gao Zhisheng talked with The Associated Press on the eve of the launch in Hong Kong of his memoir, using a messaging app to circumvent the constant surveillance he lives under. Gao, whose accounts of torture while in the custody of Chinese authorities triggered international criticism of Beijing, discussed his efforts to circumvent his minders and the faith and hope that sustain him. He also described a long-standing dental problem that he says he can’t fix because the security services are blocking treatment. Some edited excerpts from Monday night’s interview: AP: How is your health now?

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine officials confirmed Tuesday that Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded a Canadian man, the second Canadian hostage to be killed in two months after their demands for a large ransom were not met. The hostage, Robert Hall, was abducted from a marina last September along with another Canadian, a Norwegian and a Filipino. The other Canadian, former mining executive John Ridsdel, was beheaded in April. Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma condemned “the brutal and senseless murder” of Hall. He had been held by the Abu Sayyaf in the jungles of southern Sulu province for nine months. “This latest heinous crime serves to strengthen our government’s resolve to put an end to this reign of terror and banditry,” he said in a statement.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Facebook has apologized for featuring an inverted Philippine flag to mark the country’s June 12 Independence Day after Filipinos pointed out the mistake. The social media giant on Sunday greeted users in the Philippines with the comments: “Happy Independence Day! Here’s to all of the Philippines’ health, happiness and prosperity.” But the button that allowed users to share the greetings had the red portion of the flag on top, instead of blue — traditionally meaning the country was at war. Facebook took down the post after several people pointed out the error and apologized, but a screenshot was circulating on social media.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia is considering canceling the visa of an Islamic cleric who has reportedly preached against homosexuality, the government said on Tuesday. British-born Farrokh Sekaleshfar arrived in Sydney a week ago as a guest speaker of the Imam Husain Islamic Center, The Australian newspaper reported. Asked about homosexuality at a lecture at the University of Michigan in 2013, Sekaleshfar said: “Death is the sentence,” the newspaper reported. “Out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now,” he reportedly added. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Department of Immigration and Border Protection was reviewing Sekaleshfar’s visa. “We have zero tolerance for people to come to Australia who preach hatred.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The father of the Orlando nightclub gunman came to the U.S. from Afghanistan more than 30 years ago and has made a series of rambling political videos about his former homeland, even once describing himself as its “revolutionary president.” Seddique Mir Mateen maintained a high profile on social media in the U.S., but is a mystery to Afghan authorities. Some government departments ran background and security checks Monday and found no trace of him, an official said. Mateen met with reporters Monday at his home in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and called the massacre by his son, Omar Mateen, “the act of a terrorist.” The deadly weekend attack shocked the family, the father said, and went against what he had taught his son.

NEW DELHI (AP) — A small group of Donald Trump fans in India celebrated the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s 70th birthday Tuesday with a cake and balloons in a New Delhi park. About 20 members of the right-wing Hindu Sena political group cut the three-tiered cake and held a piece up to a photo of Trump while singing “Happy Birthday to You.” They invited journalists to the gathering under a tent decorated with balloons and posters of Trump, including one showing him wearing a suit and holding a rifle. Sena leader Vishnu Gupta said they were inspired by Trump’s hard talk against Islamic militants, and called him the future “king of the United States.” This is the second event the group has staged for Trump in New Delhi.