RFA in the News (April 2011)

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April 28 “Respect Dalai Lama's decision to transfer his power: Sangay

Lobsang Sangay, who has been elected as Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government in exile, has said that the decision of the Dalai Lama to transfer political powers needs to be respected.

“The Dalai Lama has decided to transfer political power to the Tibetan people by entrusting whom they have magnanimously chosen as the head of their exile government,” Sangay said in an interview to the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia.


April 27 “EU prohibits N. Korea’s aged planes for six years”

Antiquated North Korean airliners have been banned from operating in European countries for six years in a row as part of the European Union’s prohibition on 21 states that have failed to meet its safety standards, a U.S.-funded private radio station reported Tuesday. Under the EU ban, Pyong­yang’s Air Koryo can only fly two new airliners it purchased from Russia last year to the E.U. member states, according to Radio Free Asia.


April 25 “Matthew Smith: Publicity, New Media, and Human Rights in Burma”

… Internet access is still limited in Burma. Only 1 percent of the population of 53 million are online and they're primarily in urban centers. On Monday, Freedom House ranked Burma second to last in the world for internet freedom. This makes old technologies like radio handy to raise domestic awareness about human rights issues. In this case, Burmese language radio stations like the BBC Burmese service, Radio Free Asia, and DVB broadcasted the story nationwide in Burma, despite the ruling generals' repression.


April 25 “Mideast unnerving North Korea”

North Korea's ruler and his heir apparent are scared stiff at the prospect of prodemocracy movements spreading from the Middle East and northern Africa to their home turf.

… Radio Free Asia (RFA), broadcast from the United States, has reported that high-ranking officials of the Korean Workers’ Party were informed in February of the situation in Egypt through an intraparty publication circulated exclusively to the top echelon. The paper attributed antigovernment demonstrations to economic mismanagement, but made no mention of Egypt's protracted autocratic rule. This indicates all the more clearly, the RFA says, that Pyongyang is becoming increasingly nervous about the situation in the Middle East.


April 22 “Kirti monks released after torture, other arrests continue”

Chinese police have returned to Kirti Monastery in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) County of Sichuan Province a group of monks they had taken away two weeks earlier after torturing them severely, reported Radio Free Asia online, citing two monks at Dharamsala with contacts there.


April 22 “Strike by truck drivers turns violent at Shanghai port”

Striking truckers clashed with police at a port in Shanghai, a day after they blockaded part of the facilities to protest rising fuel prices and port fees.

'We were initially discussing things pretty peacefully, but then the riot police came charging in,' one truck driver was quoted as saying by US-funded Radio Free Asia.


April 22 “Expert calls for safeguards on N.K. reactor”

The light water reactors being built in Yongbyon, North Korea, will not be a danger as long as IAEA safeguard measures are properly in place, a nuclear expert said. The remarks came from Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency until last year, in an e-mail interview with The Korea Herald.

In a recent interview with Radio Free Asia, he was quoted as saying that a light water nuclear reactor the North is building had a higher risk of causing radiation leak than its existing nuclear facilities. His remarks may fuel worries around the peninsula.


April 17 “U.S. sent medicine to citizen held in N. Korea”

The United States government has sent medicine and checked up on the health of its citizen detained by North Korea since November, a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report said Saturday. The report, citing sources in South Korea, said the U.S. State Department has been sending medicine to Jun Young-su, a Korean-American who has been accused of conducting illegal religious activities in the communist country


April 15 “Thousands protest waste-incineration power plant in eastern China”

Residents in eastern Jiangsu province in China are concerned about their safety. Thousands protested in front of the power plant in Huangtutang town in Wuxi city to stop the launch of a waste-incineration power plant.

… A Wuxi-based environmentalist Wu Lihong told Radio Free Asia last week he is doubtful authorities can guarantee that fumes from the plant are safe.


April 16 “21 foreign golfers to tee off in N. Korea

The North Korea's inaugural golf tournament has drawn 21 amateur golfers from 10 countries with a rare chance to visit the isolated country and play golf within its borders, a U.S. broadcaster said Saturday.
… Radio Free Asia said that a group of 26 people from Britain, France, Germany and Sweden will visit North Korea on a golf tour package arranged by the British travel agency, but five of them will not play, citing the firm's president Dylan Harris.


April 14 “One year on, Tibetans still suffer in earthquake-hit Kyegudo”

On this day in 2010, tragedy unfolded in Kyegudo (Chinese: Yushu) in eastern Tibet's Kham province after a massive 6.9-magnitude earthquake unprecedented in the history of the region struck, which left over 2,700 people and thousands homeless.

… Earlier this month, local Tibetans staged protest against the Chinese government's attempt to usurp their land, according to information received by the Central Tibetan Administration.

… In an interview with Radio Free Asia's (RFA) Tibetan service, one of the participants in the demonstrations said that “the protesters were beaten, and many were injured. Several of them were detained and taken away.”


April 14 “Vietnam dissidents released”

Vietnamese authorities have released two prominent pro-democracy activists who were taken into custody last week while appearing outside a fellow dissident's trial.

An official at Hanoi's Temporary Detention No. 1, who declined to give her name citing policy, said Thursday that Le Quoc Quan and Pham Hong Son were freed Wednesday night.

… In an interview with U.S.-based Radio Free Asia after his release, Son said he protested the decision to detain him, search his house and confiscate his belongings because “these decisions were illegal, absurd and perverse.”


April 13 “Anti-radiation honey provided to N.Korean workers”

As radiation concerns mount worldwide about Japan's nuclear crisis, iodine tablets and foodstuffs known to block radiation have been selling like hotcakes.

A North Korean special remedy for radiation has received great attention Tuesday as broadcast media specializing in North Korean news reported anti-radiation honey is being provided to North Korean workers.

Radio Free Asia reported that anti-radiation honey is categorized as one of the special offers for workers and is made by a local pharmaceutical company. Honey itself is known to be invaluable in North Korean as apiculture in the country has collapsed due to reckless logging.


April 13 “China seals off restive Tibetan monastery, reports say”

Paramilitary police have surrounded a Tibetan Buddhist monastery whose monks were involved in several recent protests, holding hundreds of people inside the compound in south-western China's Sichuan province, exiled Tibetan support groups reported Wednesday.

… The crowd held back the police but the confrontation flared up again later Monday afternoon when monks and lay Tibetans tried to push their way out of the monastery.

US-based Radio Free Asia carried a similar report of the incident, quoting two exiled Tibetan monks with contacts in Ngaba.


April 13 “North may want to put casino at Mt. Kumgang”

North Korea’s statement last week that it would take away Hyundai Asan’s right as the sole contractor for cross-border tours to the Mount Kumgang resort may have been motivated by the North’s potential desire to build a casino there. According to U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) yesterday, North Korean officials believe building a casino at the picturesque mountain resort could draw many Chinese visitors.


April 9 “In bold move Tibetans protest in earthquake-hit area over Chinese government reconstruction plans”

Hundreds of Tibetans in Kyegu town held bold peaceful demonstrations over three days starting late last week to protest against Chinese government policies of reconstruction and allocation of land in the Kyegu area after last year's major earthquake leveled the area, killing over 2,600 people.
… In an interview with Radio Free Asia's (RFA) Tibetan service, one of the participants in the demonstrations said that “the protesters were beaten, and many were injured. Several of them were detained and taken away.” Another local Tibetan told RFA that approximately 12 of the 40 detained were released by April 5 (see: 'Tibetans protest land grab,' RFA, April 5, 2011).


April 7 “Vietnam detains 2 pro-democracy activists when they appear outside another dissident's trial”

Vietnam has detained two prominent pro-democracy activists who appeared outside a courthouse in support of another dissident who was being tried. Pham Hong Son and Le Quoc Quan were taken into police custody for causing public disorder, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga told a regular briefing Thursday.

… Son's wife, Vu Thu Ha, told U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia on Wednesday that police hit her husband with batons and arrested him when he appeared Monday outside the court in Hanoi where dissident Cu Huy Ha Vu was on trial.


April 7 “Milk activist tells of force-feeding on hunger strike”

Melamine-tainted-milk activist Zhao Lianhai has spoken for the first time of his ordeal in jail and the circumstances of his release.

… He gave the Post permission to publish the interview yesterday morning, after he tweeted and spoke to Radio Free Asia about Ai, who disappeared into police custody on Sunday morning.


April 7 “Radiation frets over North”

A former top UN nuclear inspector warned that a light-water nuclear reactor that North Korea is building has a higher risk of causing a radiation leak than its existing nuclear facilities, Radio Free Asia reported yesterday. The remark by Olli Heinonen, who served as deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency until last year, came as safety is emerging as a major concern amid the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan.

On its South Korean Web site, Radio Free Asia, which is based in the U.S, quoted Heinonen as saying that a radiation leak is more likely to occur at the light-water reactor under construction in Yongbyon than at its existing facilities.


April 4 “Vietnamese dissident lawyer sentenced to 7 years for calling for end to Communist government”

A dissident lawyer and son of a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader was sentenced to seven years in prison and another three years house arrest Monday for calling for an end to Vietnam's government and its one-party system.

… Vu’s lawyers walked out of the courthouse after the judge refused to read or distribute 10 news interviews Vu was accused of conducting with foreign media, including Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. The interviews were used as key evidence against him.


April 3 “Family members held hostage for runaway Tibet protesters”

Angry at failing to get their hands on three young Tibetans who had signed and put up on Mar 6 posters and distributed leaflets calling for freedom and independence, the authorities in Dzakhog town of in Dege county in Kardze Prefecture, Sichuan Province, have detained and imposed heavy fines on their family members, reported Radio Free Asia online Apr 1.


April 3 “Generation change in N.Korean army”

Commanders in the North Korean Army are getting younger as the old guard is being replaced in basic combat units, Radio Free Asia reported last week. The U.S.-funded station quoted a source as saying that one officer in his mid-30s who graduated from Kim Il Sung Military University has already been promoted to commander of an Army battalion. According to the source, officers in different age brackets are given different ranks and positions.


April 1 “N. Korea in need of new meteorological equipment”

A meteorological expert called for international assistance for North Korea, saying it was lacking in up-to-date meteorological equipment.

The Radio Free Asia quoted Avinash Tyagi, director of the climate and water department of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), who visited North Korea in mid-March, as saying “equipment and computers used for weather forecasting were in urgent need of replacement.”

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