RFA in the News (December 2014)

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Dec. 31 “North Korea Stops Showing Chinese, Russian Films Following 'The Interview'

North Korea may have already tightened its border controls as part of attempts to keep The Interview out, but the country has now stopped showing all foreign films, including those from traditional allies.

Following direct orders from Kim Jong Un, Chinese and Russian movies have been pulled from North Korea's state television, according to Radio Free Asia.


Dec. 30 “Kim Jong-un offers flights for students' hometown visit

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered that flights be offered to students in Pyongyang to help them visit their hometown for the winter holiday, according to Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA).


Dec. 25 “Chinese Hit Back Against a Foreign Intrusion: Christmas

There may be no exact translation for “humbug” in Chinese, but in recent days, as popular fervor for the trappings of Western-style Christmas enveloped this officially atheist nation, the defenders of traditional Chinese culture have fought back with Scrooge-like zeal. On Wednesday, university students in the central province of Hunan held an anti-Christmas pageant with banners declaring “Chinese should not celebrate foreign festivals.” … According to Radio Free Asia, three people were wounded last week when more than 100 police officers and government workers forcibly removed a cross from a church in Hangzhou.


Dec. 24 “Tibetan woman sets herself on fire in Sichuan town

A Tibetan woman died yesterday after setting herself on fire in protest against Beijing's rule in the Himalayan region, a rights groups and a media report said. Tsepe Kyi set herself alight in the centre of a town in Aba county, known in Tibetan as Ngaba county, in Sichuan , the pressure group Free Tibet and US-funded Radio Free Asia said. The 20-year-old set fire to herself in "protest against China's repressive policies", Radio Free Asia reported, citing anonymous sources in the area.


Dec. 19 “North Korea threatens to behead refugee unless he returns home

A North Korean refugee says government agents tried to strangle him and threatened to cut off his head unless he returns to the country. Bae Jun Sik is in hospital in the Danish town of Hanstholm, where he was attacked earlier this week, Radio Free Asia reports.


Dec. 17 “Tibetan Man Dies After Self-Immolation in Protest of Chinese Rule

A Tibetan man set himself on fire and died outside a police station in the western Chinese province of Gansu on Tuesday, becoming the 134th person to self-immolate in protest of Chinese rule over Tibetan areas, according to a report by Radio Free Asia, which is financed by the United States government.

The man, Sangye Khar, 33, self-immolated in the mountain town of Sangchu, known as Xiahe in Chinese, home to the Labrang Monastery, one of the most important sites in Tibetan Buddhism and a major tourist attraction. The self-immolation, the third in a row to take place outside a police station, coincided with a major Tibetan religious festival.


Dec. 15 “Two years on: Still no answers in disappearance of Sombath Somphone

Two years have passed since the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone, a celebrated civil rights worker in Laos. Sombath was last seen being driven away in an unknown vehicle in Vientiane on Dec. 15, 2012. … Ng Shui-Meng said at the FCCT that she “will not give up asking, looking for and requesting the Lao government, officials and police to please give our family sympathy and give us answers soon, because after Sombath’s disappearance, we felt pain and our lives became difficult,” according to Radio Free Asia.


Dec. 12 “China Is Said to Have Freed Jailed Uighur Linguist

The authorities in Xinjiang, in China’s far west, have reportedly released from prison a Uighur linguist and poet who was jailed after he sought to open schools to teach children the native Turkic language of the region, according to Radio Free Asia. The linguist, Abduweli Ayup, who spent two years in the United States on a Ford Foundation scholarship, was released on Nov. 27, three months before the end of the 18-month sentence he received for “illegal fund-raising,” Radio Free Asia said on Friday, citing an interview with one of his relatives.


Dec. 11 “Suu Kyi, Opposition Lawmakers Question 12-Party Talks Proposal

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has dismissed attempts by the Rangoon Division parliament to propose 12-party talks to resolve the issue of constitutional reform, while other opposition lawmakers also questioned the intentions of the local ruling party lawmakers. … She told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday that Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) lawmakers in Rangoon Division were trying to stymie her attempts to meet with Burma’s key political players, rather than bring the controversial Constitution up for genuine discussion.


Dec. 9 “20 Muslims Facing Trial on Terrorism Charges

Twenty Burmese Muslims remain in prison awaiting a verdict almost five months after they were detained and accused of links to terrorism, with a lawyer representing some of the defendants saying odds for a fair trial look slim despite a dearth of credible evidence against the accused. … Win Khaung, the national police chief, has disputed that claim, telling Radio Free Asia that the 20 detainees had links to an unspecified armed terrorist group and were planning to carry out an act of terrorism, allegations to which the police chief said the accused had confessed.


Dec. 8 “Army officer jailed for signing Article 436 petition

A Burmese army officer was jailed for two years after he signed a petition to amend Burma’s Constitution. … “I was sentenced to jail because I signed the petition while the NLD [National League for Democracy] was collecting signatures for the constitutional amendment,” he said before being taken to prison, Radio Free Asia reported.


Dec. 7 “N. Korean state engaging in genocide against prison camp inmates

On Oct. 28, 2014 South Korea's National Intelligence Service reported to the National Assembly that North Korea was intending to transfer prisoners of Camp 15 at Yodeuk, one of the most notorious DPRK concentration camps with testimonies of atrocities committed there contributing to much of the damning evidence found in the recent UN Commission of Inquiry report. … On November 8, Daily NK cited a military source in the region indicating that Yodok has been effectively shut down, as was the case with Camp 22 (Hoeryong Concentration Camp) in mid-2012, at which time some 20,000 prisoners of conscience or more may have been killed as reported by Radio Free Asia and the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.


Dec. 6 “President agrees to consider six-party talks
The proposal sent by the Union Parliament urging the president to hold six-party talks was in the hands of President Thein Sein and he was considering it, said an official from his office. … Ye Htut, a presidential spokesperson, told Radio Free Asia on November 27: “In our opinion, [talks] cannot happen as our approach is rather different. Our thinking is based on the organisation. However, the approach of the Union Parliament and Aung San Suu Kyi is based on character.”


Dec. 1 “China jails Tibetan singer for political tone

China has sentenced a popular Tibetan singer to four years in prison for calling on Tibetans to unify and speak their language, reports said, highlighting tight cultural controls in the region. … US-based broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA) cited a local source as saying: "He was indicted for organising Tibetan concerts and singing songs...carrying political themes." Yarphel's songs included "We Should Learn Tibetan" and "We Should Unite", RFA reported, adding that he was detained last year. The concerts were in 2012, the reports said.

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