RFA in the News (August 2015)

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Aug. 31 “To jar north, South Korea used a pop-music barrage

Chirpy bubble-gum harmonies bop across the desolate Demilitarized Zone. "Look at me, I'm your genie, your dream, your genie," the K-pop band Girls' Generation beckons as grim-faced soldiers patrol the border. … Loudspeakers from across the border represent one of the few public channels of information he cannot control. The United States-sponsored Radio Free Asia is another.


Aug. 31 “Burma raises minimum wage to $2.80 per day

Burma’s minimum wage was raised to 3,600 kyat (US$2.80) for an eight-hour work day on Saturday, a move that may attract more investors and further legitimize the Southeast Asian nation’s long maligned garment industry. … However, the announcement was by no means met with unanimous praise. On July 17 Radio Free Asia reported that 160 business owners and 20 labor groups objected to the then proposed minimum wage.


Aug. 31 “Senior N.Korean Official Purged for Corruption

The deputy head of North Korea's United Front Department and vice chairman of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee has apparently been purged over allegations that he took bribes from a foreign organization. Radio Free Asia on Friday cited unnamed sources saying Won Tong-yon was among several senior North Korean officials who were purged after being accused of corruption involving business deals with North Koreans living abroad.


Aug. 31 “Kim Jong Un provides field guidance at factory for first time since crisis

Kim Jong Un expressed "great satisfaction" after a tour of a corn processing plant that marks his first factory visit after a landmark agreement to defuse tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang was reached last week. … The floods destroyed hundreds of homes in North Korea and killed at least 40 people, and on Tuesday Radio Free Asia reported the damage could be far greater than what North Korea reported in an unprecedented television announcement on Thursday.


Aug. 29 “Dozens Killed, Thousands Homeless in N.Korean Floods

Floods in North Korea have left at least 24 people killed and 14 missing, Radio Free Asia reported last week. North Korea has sent a request to the UN for inspectors to visit. Roads were damaged in over 100 places across the country, and 2,600 houses were flooded in Anju, South Pyongan Province, displacing some 10,600 people.


Aug. 28 “Lawyer Who Represented Churches in China Is Missing

A lawyer who energetically represented Christian churches whose crosses were torn down by the Chinese government has disappeared, probably into police custody, a colleague and supporters said on Friday. … Mr. Zhang and Mr. Liu were in Wenzhou advising Protestant churches about the demolitions when they appeared to be detained on Tuesday night, said Radio Free Asia, which first reported Mr. Zhang’s disappearance.


Aug. 27 “China jails 45 in Xinjiang over terrorism activities and illegal border crossings

China sentenced 45 people to prison in its Xinjiang region for cases involving illegal border crossings, state media reported on Thursday, saying they sought out “holy war” and had committed crimes including organising or funding “terrorist groups”. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of mostly Muslim Uygurs, keen to escape unrest in the far-western region, have travelled clandestinely via Southeast Asia to Turkey. … About 170 Uyghur women and children arrived in Turkey in late June from Thailand, where they had been held for more than a year for illegal entry, the US-based Radio Free Asia has reported.


Aug. 27 “Myanmar Democracy Icon Finds Herself Assailed as Authoritarian

Framed photographs of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate, cover the walls of his small living room, but U Myo Khin, a longtime democracy activist, has harsh words for the woman he idolized for years as a crusader against dictatorship. … As the controversy grew, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s response came across to some as imperious and condescending. “The responsibility of the people is simply to vote for the party, not the name of the candidate,” she was quoted as saying by Radio Free Asia.


Aug. 25 “China: Legal Ordeals for Brothers of a Journalist

A court in China’s western region of Xinjiang tried two brothers of an American reporter on charges of endangering state security and leaking secrets, according to a spokesman for Radio Free Asia, the journalist’s employer. No verdict has yet been announced in the trials of Shawket Hoshur on Tuesday and his younger brother Rexim Hoshur, which took place on Aug. 19, Rohit Mahajan, a spokesman for the United States government-funded R.F.A., said in an interview.


Aug. 22 “Editorial: China’s Overreach

THE CHINESE government has sent covert law enforcement agents to the United States to intimidate expatriates into returning to China, the New York Times recently reported. The effort — called Operation Fox Hunt — is part of an anti-corruption crusade targeting those who have supposedly committed crimes in China. But China’s reach is not limited to corruption cases. The Communist government also works to project its repressive policies and abuse of human rights beyond its borders, with repeated threats to cancel passports, withhold visas and even jail family members of former and current Chinese citizens who criticize the country from foreign ground. … More insidious, however, are the government’s efforts to control Chinese people outside of China. For example, Uighur journalist and U.S. citizen Shohret Hoshur has shed light in his reporting for Radio Free Asia on the conflict between ethnic Han Chinese and Uighurs in his home province of Xinjiang. Mr. Hoshur’s family has received threats for years. Now, one of his brothers is in prison, and two others have been jailed and are awaiting trial on charges of leaking state secrets.


Aug. 18 “CPJ: RFA Reporter’s Brother to Face Trial

The brother of Shohret Hoshur, a journalist for Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur service, is scheduled to go on trial tomorrow in Urumqi. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports: After several false start dates, the trial of Rexim Hoshur, the brother of Shohret Hoshur, a Radio Free Asia (RFA) reporter based in Washington, is now scheduled to start on Wednesday in Urumqi, the capital of China’s predominantly Muslim Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.


Aug. 14 “It isn't 'terror' or 'unstable elements' providing the greatest threat to China's Muslims... it's AIDS, says whistleblower

A Chinese whistleblower has revealed HIV is the most “harmful social phenomenon” sweeping a region in the country’s north-west – rather than “unstable elements” such as terrorism and religious extremism. In an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA), former health official Feruk Pidakar - which is not his real name - told of the increase of HIV and AIDS among young men in Uyghur, in the southern part of north-west China’s Xinjiang region.


Aug. 13 “Chinese dissident seeking political asylum: report

Chinese dissident Gong Yujian (龔與劍), who supported the Tiananmen democratic movement in 1989 and came to Taiwan with a tour group late last month, is said to have sought political asylum in the nation. The news was first broadcast by Radio Free Asia on Monday, through which 38-year-old Gong said he has decided to seek political asylum in Taiwan after more than 20 years of harassment and threats from Chinese security


Aug. 13 “BREAKING NEWS: Shwe Mann purged

Lower House speaker and chairman of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party Shwe Mann has been ousted from the party in a dramatic internal coup. … The reason that we couldn’t run the country democratically is because we didn’t have a parliament, and when we had parliament, it was in name only,” Shwe Mann told Radio Free Asia at the time of his appointment to the speaker’s chair.


Aug. 12 “Report: Kim Jong Un executes N. Korea's vice premier

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly ordered the execution of the country's vice premier earlier this year, South Korea's Yonhap news agencyreported Wednesday. … North Korea is undergoing its worst drought in a century, and the United Nations warned of mass starvation. The country launched a “greenification” plan last year, with authorities planting trees in a bid to replenish soil nutrients and stop erosion, according to Radio Free Asia. However, many of the trees are unsuitable for the task because they take years to grow, but North Korean officials demanded the planting proceed more quickly, Radio Free Asia reported.


Aug. 12 “Catastrophic explosion in Tianjin, China: what we know

On Wednesday, social media users in China posted videos and photos showing a massive explosion — or what appears to potentially be a quick series of explosions — in Tianjin, a port city in the country's northeast. … As background, people in a township near Tianjin had been protesting in May over local pollution. "Thousands of people have taken to the streets...in protest at alleged carcinogenic pollution from a nearby iron and steel plant " according to Radio Free Asia. This doesn't have any reported connection to the explosion, but it is interesting that nearby people had been concerned about health hazards created by industrial products.


Aug. 12 “Zhejiang Official Says Cross Removals Will Continue

As Christians in Zhejiang protest against the forced removal of church crosses, a provincial official has said that the campaign will continue despite rumors that some planned cross demolitions had been halted. Radio Free Asia reports on steady resistance shown by parishioners in Wenzhou[.]:


Aug. 8 “ITU not notified of N. Korea’s bid to change standard time

A United Nations agency for telecommunications said Saturday it has not been notified of North Korea’s bid to change its standard time, amid rising concerns the move may further isolate the country. …The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said North Korea did not notify it of the plan prior to the announcement, adding that the decision was made independently, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA).


Aug. 4 “In Taiwan, protests over history textbooks are about the future

Emotional protests in Taiwan over new history textbooks that students claim will “brainwash” them with “China-centric” views are actually more about the future than the past, analysts say. … Radio Free Asia writes this week as background on Taiwan: Democratic Taiwan has been governed separately from the mainland since the defeated Kuomintang army and government retreated there after being routed by Mao Zedong's communist forces on the mainland, and the government regards itself as the last bastion of the Republic of China created by the 1911 revolution that toppled the Qing Dynasty.


Aug. 1 “N. Koreans ridicule 2 fishers repatriated after being rescued by S. Korea

North Korean residents have been shock to learn that the three North Korean fishers, who defected to South Korea after being rescued by South Korean coast guards while adrift on the East Sea in early July, are members of the North`s ruling Workers` Party of Korea (WPK), Radio Free Asia reported Thursday, citing source in the communist state.

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