RFA in the News (April 2014)

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April 30 “Chinese dissident freed after nine years

A Chinese activist who has spent nearly half his life in detention has been freed from prison, reports said Wednesday, in a rare move amid clampdowns on other dissidents. Xu Wanping was released this week from the Yuzhou jail in the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing, according to the New York-based campaign group Human Rights in China and US-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA).


April 30 “Outspoken Chinese Journalist Disappears

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned about the apparent disappearance of an outspoken freelance Chinese journalist and two of her family members, who have not been seen since April 24. … Gao is currently working for Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Asia and Hong Kong magazine Mirror Monthly. She was jailed for 15 months after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in June 1989, and for six years in November 1994 for “publishing state secrets”.


April 30 “U.N. agency collects virus sample from cow in N. Korea: report

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has collected a virus sample from a cow infected with foot-and-mouth disease in North Korea, a U.S. radio report said. The Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday that the U.N. body is taking steps to send the sample to a lab of the World Organization for Animal Health in China for analysis.


April 30 “In Xinjiang, a Call to Report Extremism – and Long Beards

“Intelligence information” is the “essential factor” in safeguarding citizens’ lives and property, the Shayar County government in the far-western region of Xinjiang has said, announcing rewards ranging from 50 to 50,000 renminbi ($8 to $8,000) to anyone who reports people planning violent attacks or hoarding guns and bullets, men growing long beards, women wearing veils or youths under 18 visiting a mosque. … The announcement came the same week that Radio Free Asia reported that dozens of men and women were detained in the village of Gulboyi near Turpan in eastern Xinjiang for wearing veils or other traditional Islamic clothing or having beards.


April 29 “China detains Tibetan monk who staged lone street protest

Chinese police in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) County of Sichuan Province have detained on Apr 26 a 19-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk after he carried out a lone street protest against Chinese rule. … He was noticed by a group of Chinese police on patrol duty who beat him severely before taking him away, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Apr 27. The protest lasted only a short while and the monk’s whereabouts remain unknown.


April 25 “Thousands Expected at Municipal Court in Support of 23

Union leaders say they expect upwards of 1,000 people to jam the streets around Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday in a show of support for 23 unionists, workers and bystanders who are on trial for their alleged part in violent protests in Pur Senchey district in January. … “We do not expect the court will release them,” said Dyna, 49, from under a blue tarpaulin as she slurped a bowl of soup in front of the Yakjin factory where she works. … “I have listened to RFA [Radio Free Asia] every day. They report that international and local NGOs are calling for [the 23] to be released—but the Cambodian government does not care.”


April 25 “NLD questions electoral commission on new rules

The National League for Democracy has contacted the Union Election Commission (UEC) over reports that new rules will only allow candidates to campaign in their own constituencies. Radio Free Asia quoted NLD chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi saying: “First of all, we request an official position of the UEC on this matter. It was not officially announced but we have learnt about it from the media. So we want to seek an official confirmation whether it is true or not. Then we will prepare for the by-election based on the commission’s policies.”


April 23 “U.N.-backed body closely monitors N. Korea's possible nuclear test

A U.N.-backed organization monitoring possible breaches of a nuclear test ban is keeping a close eye on North Korea amid concerns Pyongyang may conduct another nuclear test, a U.S. radio report said Wednesday. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) said a 24-hour monitoring system is in place to inform its member states and the U.N of North Korea's nuclear test within an hour of detecting a nuclear explosion, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported.


April 23 “Organizers of Tibetan language event forced to cancel contest

Chinese authorities in Muge Norwa town in Zungchu County, Ngaba prefecture, have forced the organizers of a Tibetan language contest to cancel their event saying it had “political implications”, the Radio Free Asia reported.


April 22 “Welcome to Uighur Web — Now Watch What You Say

China’s Internet is vast, with millions of sites and more than 618 million users. But nest-egged within that universe is a tiny virtual community comprising just a few thousand websites where China’s Uighurs, the country’s fifth-largest ethnic minority with a population of approximately 11 million, gather online to communicate in their own language and script.

… Enver Uyghur, the web editor for Radio Free Asia online, a nonprofit, U.S.-based media outlet, estimates that there are just under 2,000 Uighur-language sites in China, many of them listed on the Ulinix.com web portal, which catalogs useful and popular sites. … Imin was detained again in January 2014, according to Radio Free Asia, and has not been heard from since.

April 22 “Can Cambodia’s Media Reform?

The elections of 2013 should have been a wakeup call, not only for the Cambodia’s ruling Cambodian People Party (CPP), but also for its allies in the traditional media. … Additionally, the rising popularity of international broadcasters (among them the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Radio France International, citizen journalism, donor-driven media initiatives, foreign-language newspapers (such as the Cambodia Daily and Phnom Penh Post) gives news consumers more options and access to independent coverage.


April 20 “China detains Tibetan over photos of his self-immolated relative

Chinese authorities in Tawu (Chinese: Daofu) County of Kardze (Ganzi) Prefecture, Sichuan Province, had recently detained a Tibetan man on suspicion that he took and sent to outside contacts photos of his relative’s self-immolation protest, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Apr 18. The self-immolation referred to that of Thinley Namgyal, 32, who torched himself and died on the spot on Apr 15 in the county’s Khangsar Township.


April 20 “U.S. Promotes Network to Foil Digital Spying

This Mediterranean fishing town, with its low, whitewashed buildings and sleepy port, is an unlikely spot for an experiment in rewiring the global Internet. … Radio Free Asia, a United States government-financed nonprofit, has given $1 million to explore multiple overseas deployments.


April 18 “5 Tibetans, including two monks, held for questioning Chinese rule, policies

Five men, including two monks, had been detained by the Chinese authorities in Tibet Autonomous Region over the last two weeks for a range of politically banned activities, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Apr 16. Their unspecified but apparent crimes included painting Tibetan independence slogans, praying for Tibetans who had “sacrificed” their lives for the Tibetan cause and storing politically prohibited contents in their mobile phones.


April 16 “Russia's deputy PM to visit N. Korea soon: report

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev plans to visit North Korea soon, a U.S. radio report said Wednesday. The trip by Trutnev, who is also President Vladimir Putin's envoy to Russia's Far East, is the latest in a series of exchange visits of high-level officials between the two countries, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported, citing Russian media.


April 16 “Tibetan man in China sets self on fire: Reports

A Tibetan man in China burned himself to death on Tuesday, overseas media and a rights group reported, the latest in a string of self-immolation protests in recent years. Thinley Namgyal, 32, died soon after he set himself alight in Kardze prefecture in Sichuan province, according to British-based advocacy group Free Tibet and the US-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA). Namgyal, the youngest son of a semi-nomadic farming family, self-immolated "in protest against Chinese policy and rule" in Tibetan areas, RFA reported, citing a local resident.


April 16 “Uygurs protest over teenager's fatal shooting in Aksu city, Xinjiang

Uygurs, reportedly in their hundreds, have taken to the streets in a Xinjiang county to protest the shooting of a 17-year-old student, allegedly by police officers, during a traffic incident. … The high-school student reportedly ran two red lights and refused to stop at a checkpoint on Saturday, Radio Free Asia reported, citing a Uygur police officer. Armed policemen shot him dead, sparking rallies on the day and into Sunday.


April 15 “'Telephone Bus' a booming business in NK

Some North Korean businessmen introduced a “Telephone Bus,” Radio Free Asia reported Monday. The business works well as an alternative to using illegal cellphones people smuggled in from China, the report said.


April 15 “North Korean officials visit salon over Kim Jong-un 'bad hair' advert

North Korean officials paid a visit to a London hair salon to question why it had used their leader Kim Jong-un's picture in a poster offering haircuts. … Last month it was reported by Radio Free Asia that male university students in North Korea were now required to get the same haircut as their leader.


April 14 “Vietnam frees Nguyen Tien Trung and Vi Duc Hoi

Democracy activists Nguyen Tien Trung and Vi Duc Hoi were freed from prison over the weekend. … Vi Duc Hoi told US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia: "It was due to international pressure that the government of Vietnam had to release me."


April 14 “Minitrue: Uyghur Youth Killed by Police in Aksu

Last weekend, police shot dead a 17-year-old Uyghur high school student and seriously injured his two passengers after they ran a red light on a motorcycle. Radio Free Asia reports that “mammoth protests” erupted last weekend in response to the police shooting, which were eventually quelled by a “brutal” security crackdown. The following pictures, along with many others and much netizen commentary [zh], have been deleted from Sina Weibo.


April 11 “China detains Tibetan youth from lone street protest

A Tibetan youth was held by Chinese police in Manikengo Town of Sichuan Province’s Dege County around midday on Apr 8 after he took out a lone protest march along a highway, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) and other sources Apr 9. He threw up paper flyers and shouted slogans praying for long life for Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and demanding freedom for Tibetans, as he walked towards the local government offices.


April 10 “Unions Spread Word of Strike Through Radio, Web

With new garment factory strikes only one week away, union activists are using new means to spread the strike call, trying to duck harassment from factories and arrest by police. … “We are spreading the information about the upcoming days off through Facebook, VOD [Voice of Democracy] and Radio Free Asia,” said Yaing Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions.


April 9 “Chinese authorities order removal of prayer wheels from clinic

Chinese authorities in Matoe County in Qinghai province have ordered a local Tibetan clinic to remove Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels from its compound, the US funded Radio Free Asia reported.


April 8 “Tiananmen memorial museum in Hong Kong mysteriously threatened with legal action before April opening”

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China have made plans to open the world's first museum dedicated to the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, but it seems as if other forces at hand are doing whatever they can to prevent its opening later this month. … This incident is but one in a series of pro-Beijing forces' attempts to suppress any commemoration for the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen incident. According to a report by Radio Free Asia, members of the Tiananmen Mothers advocacy group, "which represents all victims of the crackdown who died or were maimed", claimed that they were prevented from visiting the graves of loved ones over the Qingming ("Tomb Sweeping") Holiday .


April 7 “Blogging Outreach

The late American writer Ernest Hemingway and Myanmar blogger Nay Phone Latt couldn’t be more different. Where Hemingway was raucous, Nay Phone Latt is quietly spoken, almost unnoticeable in a crowd. … “I’m writing about political and social affairs for news journals and also contributing to Radio Free Asia’s Burmese programme,” Nay Phone Latt said.


April 6 “China detains 3 in restive Tibetan county”

Chinese authorities in Trido Township of Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) prefecture’s Sog (Suo) County, Tibet Autonomous Region, have on Mar 28 detained two Tibetans for text messaging about local events and incidents and also a monk over Tibetan independence slogans painted near a local bridge, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Apr 4.


April 4 “China presses Thailand to return Uighur refugees

A group of mainly Muslim refugees from western China has become the focus of an international tug-of-war in Thailand as Beijing flexes its diplomatic muscle and western powers warn Bangkok not to send them home. … At the time, Radio Free Asia quoted Uighurs who knew them and other sources saying the assailants were trying to flee China through well-established underground routes into southeast Asia but were unsuccessful and carried out the attack in an act of desperation.


April 3 “Meet China's Protest Archivist

Chinese protesters often post photographs of their actions on social media, with the hope of drawing public scrutiny. … Lu's work has not gone unnoticed. Feng Riyao, a reporter at nonprofit (and partially U.S. government-funded) Radio Free Asia, told Foreign Policy that she based her report on protests over the death of three schoolchildren in Henan province on Feb. 21 on Lu's post.


April 3 “N. Korea's execution sweep reignited

North Korea allegedly executed Jang Song-thaek’s another three confidants known to be in a movie business, Radio Free Asia said Wednesday. The report said the victims were Choi Woong-chol, who is the executed former No.2 man’s nephew-in-law and a former actor, and actresses Kim Hae-kyong and Park Mi-hyang.


April 3 “Maoming Protests Continue, Officials Admit Injuries

Protests that began Sunday against a proposed paraxylene (PX) plant in Maoming, Guangdong Province, swelled in size as they entered their fifth day on Thursday, according to a report from Radio Free Asia[.]


April 2 “China detains Tibetan Buddhist nuns after another's self-immolation”

Chinese police have detained five or six Tibetan Buddhist nuns said to be known to nun Dolma, 31, who carried out a self-immolation protest on Mar 29 near Ba Choede Monastery in Bathang (Chinese: Batang) County of Kardze (Ganzi) Prefecture, Sichuan Province, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Mar 31. China has a policy to severely punish families, friends, villages, and monasteries associated with those who carry out self-immolation protests against its repressive policies in occupied Tibet.


April 1 “China crackdown on petrochemical plant protest

China must launch a "swift" investigation into claims police used excessive violence to quell an environmental protest this week, leaving dozens of people injured, human rights activists say. … "The police used batons to beat people, and this resulted in clashes," one local businessman told Radio Free Asia, adding that some police officers had also been "beaten up really badly."


April 1 “U.N. fund gives $6.5 mln to its partners in N. Korea

The United Nations humanitarian fund created to speed up relief efforts around the world has given US$6.5 million to its partners operating in North Korea, a U.S. radio report said. The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) provided the money to the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization and the U.N. Population Fund, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia said Monday.

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