RFA in the News (April 2010)

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April 30 “Shanghai Expo opens under cloud”

Shanghai's World Expo 2010 will open Saturday under a small cloud of criticism -- largely ignored by corporate media owners -- over Chinese government restrictions on press freedom echoing the information clampdown in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

… Also on Thursday, U.S. Congress-backed Radio Free Asia president Libby Liu issued a statement reminding media consumers that, “Despite recent economic gains, media freedoms throughout Asia have continued to decline and worsen.”
RFA broadcasts news in nine languages into China, North Korea, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, where governments actively censor information in all media and intimidate and harass reporters.


April 27 “Flip side to China’s censorship at home: PR in America”

While China practices harsh media control at home, it has embarked on a major campaign abroad to present itself as a modernizing and open nation.

… The broadcasting effort would presumably challenge US government broadcasting systems like the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, as well as the British BBC.


April 26 “SRP accuses CPP of ‘making up’ defections”

Hundreds of former opposition party members have defected to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), Takeo provincial Governor Srey Ben said Sunday, a claim denied by opposition lawmakers.

… He also disputed statements by Hem Heng, the Cambodian ambassador to the United States, who told Radio Free Asia last week that between 400 and 500 Cambodian-American SRP members had defected to the CPP during the Khmer New Year holiday earlier this month.


April 24 “Fake dollars flood N.Korea-China border area”

Counterfeit US$100 notes printed in North Korea are widely circulated in the North Korea-China border area, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.
... A source told RFA that Kim Yong-chol, the director of the Reconnaissance Bureau, ordered the release of the fakes.


April 22 “Tibetan monks ordered to leave China's quake zone”

Earthquake survivors say the Tibetan monks helped first, bringing food, pitching tents and digging through rubble after disaster hit far western China a week ago, killing and injuring thousands.

Radio Free Asia on Wednesday quoted a Tibetan man in Yushu as saying monks held a candlelight vigil on April 19 that officials feared might take on political significance.


April 20 “Risks loom for opposition media”

As opposition publisher Hang Chakra prepares to resume publication of his newspaper next week, observers say he faces a media environment in which the place of opposition outlets has, if anything, grown more precarious during his time behind bars.

… Radio Free Asia reporter Sok Serey was acquitted of disinformation charges by the Takeo provincial court in February, and Siem Reap provincial police filed a complaint against Koh Santepheap newspaper journalist Sim Samnang earlier this month, accusing him of disinformation and defamation. He is currently behind bars awaiting trial on unrelated extortion charges.


April 19 “GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: Carlton Delfeld – Who'll Save Divided Thailand?”

You have probably seen the pictures of the ongoing political turmoil in Thailand with the red shirts (the largely rural backers of the former prime minister) doing all they can to force out current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, thereby forcing new elections.

… In a sentiment that would warm the heart of any Radio Free Asia supporter, a mother of two at a recent political rally put it this way: “I used to think we were born poor and that was that but I have opened my mind to a new way of thinking: We need to change from the rule of the aristocracy to a real democracy.”


April 17 “No light yet at end of tunnel for Uighurs’ long struggle for their own homeland”

Alim Seytoff would be on China's list of top 10 public enemies, if it published one.

He has devoted his life to what seems mission impossible: to carve out the country's vast Xinjiang region, twice the size of NSW, as a separate country.

… He moved in 1996 to the US, where he worked as a journalist with Radio Free Asia, and graduated as a lawyer.


April 16 “OPINION – Peter M. Beck: North Korea’s radio waves of resistance”

North Korea remains the most isolated country on earth, with its people effectively cut off from the outside world—or so the world has been told. But there is reason to believe this is no longer the case.

… Voice of America (VOA), one of the most popular stations, has been broadcasting to the North since 1942, while the equally popular Radio Free Asia (RFA) began its Korean service soon after its establishment by Congress in 1997. … One listener on RFA's Web site described RFA as “our one ray of hope.”


April 16 “China understating earthquake deathtoll: exile Tibetans”

Tibetans in exile claim that the Chinese government is understating the death toll in the earthquake that struck the remote Tibetan area of Yushu County (Kyegudo in the traditional Tibetan province of Kham) in Yushu Prefecture, Qinghai Province.

… “The Chinese rescue workers helped mainly at official Chinese buildings that had collapsed. Residents where predominantly Tibetans live did not receive immediate help,” a Yushu native has told the Radio Free Asia.


April 14 “Area Tibetans attempt to contact family after quake”

Area Tibetans try frantically to reach family members after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck in Qing Hai province of the Tibetan region of China, April 14, 2010, at 7:49 a.m. Guru Choegyi of Radio Free Asia says her parents and sisters felt slight tremors early around 5 a.m. But they did not leave the house until the last moment.

“As soon as they just stepped out, the house just collapsed,” she says. The death toll at this report is near 600 lives lost.


April 12 “FACTBOX – North Koreans show sense of humor”

A comedy show on North Korean TV has the distinction of being one of the longest-running in the world, although there's very little that's actually funny in it.

Following are some jokes from North Korean defectors compiled by Radio Free Asia, a U.S.-government affiliated broadcaster for the region.


April 8 “Korean sailors say ‘outside’ shock sunk ship”

SEOUL—The South Korean naval patrol boat that sank last month near the North Korean border was torn apart by an external explosion, surviving members of its crew said Wednesday in their first public appearance.

Radio Free Asia, citing sources in North Korea it didn't name, said the North Korean alerted soldiers on Sunday to be more vigilant. "All military should closely watch every move by our enemies … and be ready to strike as soon as they provoke," the message said.


April 4 “Rich N. Korean women lead craze for S. Korean goods”

South Korean goods remain popular among well-to-do North Koreans, especially women, Open Radio for North Korea station reported on March 25. North Korean women wear “tattoo” stockings in this photo released on March 5 by Radio Free Asia, which claims it was taken by a foreigner in front of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace and submitted by U.S. economist Curtis Melvin.


April 3 “EDITORIAL: A Company that makes freedom its business”

After censoring its search results in China for four years, Google has taken a stand against repression.

… Sites like Radio Free Asia can only be accessed with difficulty and bloggers whose posts upset authorities can end up in jail.
Libby Liu, the president of Radio Free Asia, said the government has mounted a major effort to suppress information about Google’s decision. Writing for the Huffington Post, she commented: “The events also throw a spotlight on China's draconian restrictions of the Internet and its use of the far-reaching medium to enforce its perpetual prohibition of free speech and the unfettered exchange of ideas.”


April 2 “Doubts remain over Gao Zisheng’s Freedom”

Friends, family, and the international community sighed a breath of relief when Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng made contact with the public on Sunday, March 28th.

… But [Chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party Albert] Ho believes Gao is still under threat. This suspicion is shared by many who’ve spoken with Gao. Beijing-based human rights lawyer Li Heping told Radio Free Asia that Gao was eager to get off the phone.


April 1 “China’s censors thrive in obscurity”

The confusion over a major outage in China of Google Inc.’s search sites on Tuesday spotlights one of the most remarkable aspects of the Chinese government's Internet censorship apparatus: It is designed to be obscure.

… Because the string contained the initials for Radio Free Asia, an organization China's government dislikes, it triggered the Great Firewall to block access in China to all results pages, Google said.

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