RFA in the News (December 2015)

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Dec. 31 “China Frees 2 Brothers of U.S. Reporter for Radio Free Asia

Two brothers of an American journalist who United States lawmakers say were jailed by China in retaliation for his reporting on ethnic tensions in the country’s Xinjiang region have been freed, the reporter’s employer said. Another brother remained in custody. Rexim Hoshur, 38, and Shawket Hoshur, 54, brothers of Shohret Hoshur, a reporter for the United States government-funded news service Radio Free Asia, were released on Wednesday by the authorities in Xinjiang, in China’s northwest, said Rohit Mahajan, a spokesman for Radio Free Asia in Washington. They have returned to their home in Qorghas County, an area near the Kazakhstan border, Mr. Mahajan said.


Dec. 29 “Two Myanmar arrested over Koh Tao protest

Malaysian police have arrested two Myanmar nationals after they led a protest of about 500 Myanmar residents in front of the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur over the court's ruling on Koh Tao murders on Monday, Radio Free Asia online reported. Police arrived while we were protesting and told us they hadn't given us permission to protest," Ko Kyaw Thein Naing, a member of a support group for migrant workers in Malaysia, said.


Dec. 28 “One defector’s desperate wish: to return home

There are no more passionate haters of the Kim dynasty in North Korea than the people who risked their lives escaping. … Radio Free Asia reported in January 2013 that Ko was arrested by North Korean security officials when she tried to get her remaining two children and husband out of North Korea, citing unnamed sources.


Dec. 25 “China Legislature to Vote on Anti-Terror Law Criticized by U.S.

China’s legislature is scheduled to vote Sunday on a new anti-terrorism law that has drawn criticism from the U.S. government on concerns it could give Chinese authorities surveillance access to users of American technologies. … At least 50 people were killed after a group of men attacked a coal mine in China’s remote western region of Xinjiang, Radio Free Asia reported in October, citing local security officials.


Dec. 21 “China Bars Wang Lixiong From Traveling to Japan

Radio Free Asia reports that writer, historian, and frequent critic of China’s ethnic policies Wang Lixiong has been barred from traveling to Japan due to concerns that his visit would “damage national security.” Wang was heading to Japan to promote the recent release of a Japanese edition of his 1991 political science fiction novel “Yellow Peril,” which is banned in China.


Dec. 19 “North Korea's Political Risk Jeopardizes Oil Exploration

North Korea has attempted oil exploration for decades, but its projects failed to find hidden reserves and attract foreign investment. … In 2008, Aminex and North Korean authorities were locked in a dispute after Pyongyang demanded the British firm refrain from sharing information on the exploration with its investors, Radio Free Asia reported.


Dec. 15 “China, Egypt imprison record numbers of journalists

… The lengths to which China is willing to go to silence its critics is demonstrated by at least three people not on CPJ’s imprisoned list: the brothers of Shohret Hoshur. The Washington D.C.-based Uighur journalist for U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports critically on China’s treatment of his ethnic minority. According to Hoshur and RFA, China, unable to arrest him, has thrown three of his brothers who still live in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region—Tudaxun, Shawket, and Rexim—into jail on anti-state charges in retaliation for Hoshur’s work.


Dec. 15 “Tor hires former EFF chief as executive director

A former Electronic Frontier Foundation executive director will lead the Tor Project, the widely used anonymity tool that frequently comes up in debates over encryption and privacy. … The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory started Tor, although it is now maintained by the nonprofit Tor Project. It has had a variety of donors over the years, including Radio Free Asia and a U.S. State Department bureau this year.


Dec. 14 “BACKGROUND Chinese dissident lawyer Pu Zhiqiang

Pu Zhiqiang, a lawyer known for defending freedom of speech and other civil rights, was detained in May 2014, before the crackdown and arrests of many others this July. … He was sentenced in 2006 for inciting subversion. … His three-year sentence was suspended, but he was repeatedly detained and abused in that period, according to a Radio Free Asia report.


Dec. 10 “China Wants Hukous for Its 13 Million Unregistered Citizens

China declared on Wednesday that it will provide household registration permits (known as a hukou in Chinese) to around 13 million unregistered people. The announcement came in a statement from the Central Leading Group on Comprehensively Deepening Reform, led by Xi Jinping himself. … As one Chinese rights activist put it for Radio Free Asia, “[T]here are still places where local officials use the fact that any bureaucratic process must start at the grassroots level: sometimes even the village chief has the power to initiate hukou applications… Given the endemic nature of corruption in China, these officials use every bit of their power as a way of extracting money from the population.”


Dec. 8 “Critics accuse China of using Paris attacks to hammer Xinjiang

A curious message from China's Ministry of Public Security appeared online on Nov. 14, a day after the Paris terrorist attacks. … It is widely assumed the ministry's announcement referred to the search for suspects in a Sept. 18 attack at a coal mine in Aksu, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, which killed 50 people. Radio Free Asia, a U.S. media outlet, reported the incident within a few days, but the government remained silent -- until the Nov. 14 announcement. … Radio Free Asia deserves credit for its timely and accurate coverage. It broke the news about the Sept. 18 incident and reported that the Nov. 12 raid took place in a cave. Both facts were later confirmed by Chinese state media.


Dec. 7 “Tin Oo: Transfer of power to NLD should come quickly

NLD cofounder Tin Oo said there should be no gap in the work of Parliament in the power transfer, and the process appears to be on track for the power transfer to the National League for Democracy (NLD). - Tin Oo, 88, a retired general who served seven years in prison prior to the formation of the quasi-civilian government in 2011, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) on December 4 that so far there has been no specific information about the dates or process of a power transfer.


Dec. 6 “Myanmar: Former military ruler Than Shwe backs Aung San Suu Kyi

Former military ruler Than Shwe has pledged support for Aung San Suu Kyi, who he has called Myanmar's "future leader". He had headed the former military junta before stepping down in 2011 and had kept the 1991 Nobel peace laureate under house arrest for most of his 19-year rule. … "Their meeting was a crucial step forward for politics in Myanmar, and it will be very helpful in promoting a peaceful transition," NLD spokesman Win Htain was quoted as saying by Radio Free Asia.


Dec. 4 “ASEAN’s New Community – Only a Small Step

At an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit last week, Southeast Asian leaders signed an agreement creating an “ASEAN Community.” … Radio Free Asia’s Laos service reports that Vientiane refused to allow the civil society meeting, “citing potential criticism by participants against governments in the region and inadequate resources as among reasons for the decision.”


Dec. 4 “'Explosives found in Wonsan airport ahead of Kim's inspection'

Explosives found at North Korea's refurbished Kalma International Airport at Wonsan in October caused the cancellation of leader Kim Jong-un's planned inspection of the site, according to a U.S.-based nonprofit international broadcaster, Friday. Citing a source in Pyongyang, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that 100 devices, each weighing 200 grams, were found in the ceiling of an interior counter of the airport on Oct. 6 by security staff, one day ahead of Kim's visit. The explosives are normally used to create tunnels.


Dec. 2 “Xinjiang violence: Does China have a terror problem?

In a raid last month, Chinese paramilitary forces killed 28 suspects accused of a bloody September attack on a coal mine, flushing them out of a cliffside cave with flamethrowers, according to state media. … The knife attack on a coal mine in the town of Aksu was first reported on by Radio Free Asia, which has a Uyghur-language service and is funded by the U.S. government. It said that 50 people were killed and more than 50 injured on September 18. The mine, according to Radio Free Asia, employed mostly ethnically Han Chinese workers, who made up the majority of those killed.

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