RFA in the News (December 2011)

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Dec. 31 “Report of clash disputes China’s account”

The latest report about a confrontation on Wednesday in the far western region of Xinjiang appeared to contradict versions carried by the state media that suggested the police had killed “violent terrorists” on their way to jihad training. In the new report, Radio Free Asia said on Friday that four of the people detained after the confrontation in a mountainous area of Xinjiang were children, ages 7 to 17, and that they had been part of a group trying to flee the country to escape repression.

…Radio Free Asia cited interviews with people in the region. It quoted the chief of Mukula village, where the confrontation took place, as saying that two women were among those killed by the police; they were identified as Burabiye Anduqadir, 29, and Buzohre Seydehmet. The police had their bodies, said the village chief, Minever Ehmet.


Dec. 30 “Reports describe deadly shootout in restive region of China”

Police officers killed seven people they accused of being kidnappers in a remote mountainous area of Xinjiang on the turbulent western frontier, according to reports by state-run news organizations on Friday…. Xinhua did not specify the ethnicity of the people who were killed by the police, but Radio Free Asia, which has a Uighur-language service, quoted local residents as saying on Thursday that all of the victims were Uighurs. A spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, an exile group in Germany, told Radio Free Asia that he doubted the official version of events.


Dec. 28 “Train riders in China must identify themselves”

China’s Ministry of Railways plans to make everyone who buys a train ticket use their names and present their ID cards. Authorities say the measure is meant to ease the difficulty of buying tickets and curb scalping. … “If the system was really for striking criminals, we’d have nothing to say,” said petitioner Ma Yalian from Shanghai, in an interview with Radio Free Asia. “However, many petitioners go to Beijing. If they use their real names to register, they will be arrested on the way.”


Dec. 23 “Port project renews political-economic relations between India and Myanmar

As a token for stronger economic and trading relations between India and Myanmar, New Delhi will finance the construction of a big port in the Burmese city of Sittwe, capital of the State of Rakhine, in the west of the country.

… The new port in Sittwe would allow the Indian government to counterbalance Chinese plans to bring oil and gas from the Burmese coast to the Chinese province of Yunnan, Radio Free Asia reports.


Dec. 22 “Is a clue to China’s future on its dinner tables?”

In Vaclav Havel’s essay “The Power of the Powerless,” the central character is a grocer who hangs a sign in his window: “Workers of the World Unite!” Havel wondered: “Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world?” On the contrary, he concluded, the grocer’s slogan is the lament of a double life, a public substitute for the truth that he bears only in private[.]

… As Michael Anti, a blogger and activist, put it, Havel’s effect in China was less an exhortation than a habit of mind. “I try to live in the truth and as a normal person,” Anti told Radio Free Asia. “Only when you lead a normal life can your confrontation against the regime last longer.”


Dec. 22 “Will Kim Jong-il's exiled relatives attend the funeral?”

Observers are wondering whether dead North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's estranged half-brother Pyong-il and his eldest son Jong-nam will return from overseas to attend the funeral next week. … Radio Free Asia on Tuesday quoted a source in Poland as saying Kim Pyong-il seems to have left Warsaw and is highly likely to attend.


Dec. 20 “Kim Jong-il, the sportsman”

In the political world, Kim Jong-il of North Korea was a despot and nuclear antagonist. In the sporting world, he might have been the only guy ever to wear platform shoes, a bouffant hairdo and “Dear Leader” embroidered on his bowling shirt. … According to a report by Radio Free Asia, which could not be independently confirmed, the team was placed on a stage at the Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, the capital, and was publicly humiliated for six hours in front of 400 government officials, students and journalists.


Dec. 20 “Kim Jong-il's down escalator shows North Korea's rising powers”

The last photograph taken of Kim Jong-il before his death shows North Korea's former leader, wrapped up against the cold, descending an escalator in a supermarket. … Standing behind him, and in front of the officials, are his son and two people who could determine the course of the country's leadership in these delicate, early days of transition. The woman is Kim Kyong-hui, Kim Jong-il's younger sister and a regular companion in the last years of his life.

… According to Radio Free Asia, [Kim Jong-il’s sister Kim Kyong-hui] also owns Pyongyang's only hamburger restaurant.


Dec. 19 “China: Unrest in ‘showcase’ Wukan Province unnerves leadership – analysis”

The Chinese leadership has been unnerved by the persisting and spreading protest of the people of Wukan, a fishing village ( population 13000) in the Guangdong province of Southern China, where the Chinese economic miracle started in the 1990s and which is always projected as a “showcase” province of China.

According to Radio Free Asia … a video showing several thousand villagers congregating at the Mazu Temple in Wukan village, near the port city of Shanwei, was posted on popular microblogging sites Sina and Tencent Weibo, and was quickly removed by censors.


Dec. 16 “Crackdown on microblogs targets more than vulgarity: Chinese dissidents”

The Chinese regime is stepping up its censorship of microblogs—a medium growing in popularly for the public to express opinions and share news. Last week, state-run media Xinhua News Agency reported authorities shut down more than 200 accounts with ‘pornographic’ or ‘vulgar’ content. … A volunteer for an online rights advocate tells Radio Free Asia, the Chinese regime’s latest censorship campaign is a pretence to crack down more on critical online content.


Dec. 14 “CAMBODIA: The people must no longer wait for Preah Batr Dhammik to come to their rescue ”

The end of 2011 is filled with less than happy news on Cambodia and her people that dampens the holiday mood. On the first of December, Radio Free Asia presented a somber broadcast on the culture of corruption permeating Khmer youth, starting with kindergarten children, the teaching corps, and moving up to education officials in government. Allegations of corruption at this foundational level do not bode well for Cambodia's future.

Dec. 12 “Burma needs more to relax censorship laws on the media”

Burma’s Information and Culture Minister Kyaw Hsan met executives of Myanmar Motion Picture Organization, members of Motion Picture Censor Board and Video Censor Board, and responsible persons of script writers, film directors, actors, supporting actors, technicians, producers, managers, editors, video (central) and background music layers at the hall of Myanma Motion Picture Enterprise (Head Office) in Bahan Township on Friday.

… The director of Burma’s state censorship board – the Press Scrutiny and Registration Department – gave a rare interview to the Washington DC based Radio Free Asia (Burmese Branch) on 8 October. Tint Swe, a retired major and head of PSRD, said that he believes press freedom will come in accordance with democratic norms within an appropriate time in Burma.


Dec. 10 “First TAR self-immolation protester dead, wife still missing”

A former Tibetan Buddhist monk who immolated himself on Dec 1 in the course of protesting against Chinese repression in Tibet has died on Dec 6, suggesting that his condition was far more serious than that indicated by China’s official Xinhua news agency Dec 2. … Tenzin Phuntsog’s son Choying Nyima was said to be among a group of young monks expelled by the authorities from the monastery after the imposition of the crackdown, which, according to RFA.org (Radio Free Asia) Dec 8, also saw some 70 monks being arrested.


Dec. 10 “Sit-in strike by Hitachi workers in Shenzhen”

Over 2,000 workers at a Japanese hard-disk factory in Shenzhen, southern China, have been on strike since Sunday over severance pay. The strikers have staged a sit-in to block the entrance of Hailiang Storage Products Co, a subsidiary of Hitachi, accusing Japanese bosses of bullying Chinese workers.

Radio Free Asia quoted a worker representative as saying a Japanese manager told the workers that the amount of time they worked at the company will be discounted, wiping out their severance pay altogether.


Dec. 9 “WFP Earmarks $80 Million to Support N.Korea in 2012”

The World Food Programme has decided to set aside nearly US$80 million to help the impoverished North Korean people next year. According to Radio Free Asia, $43 million will go to its relief operations in the North, while another $4.6 million will be directed towards emergency operations there.


Dec. 8 “NLD 'Guardian' U Lwin dies aged 88”

A prominent leader of the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and former deputy prime minister of the Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) regime, ex-Col U Lwin passed away in Rangoon on Tuesday evening aged 88. … U Lwin's position as party spokesman did not make life easy for himself or the media he addressed. He was controversial and will be remembered for impatiently scolding journalists—particularly those from foreign-based shortwave radio station such as Radio Free Asia, the BBC and VOA.


Dec. 7 “North Korea applied for two patents this year”

North Korea applied for just two international patents from the World Intellectual Property Organization this year, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported on Wednesday. The WIPO said that the North applied in April for a patent on cast-iron welding rods. But it did not disclose what the other was for.


Dec. 6 “WFP to supply food aid to North Korea in December”

The World Food Program will be supplying more than 32-thousand tons of food aid to North Korea sometime this month. According to Radio Free Asia, the 32-thousand and 7-hundred tons of food aid scheduled to be sent to the North is the largest amount ever supplied to the communist regime in a one-month period. It should be enough to feed around 35-thousand people.


Dec. 2 “Opposition, NGOs say election airtime boost insufficient”

The National Election Committee yesterday pledged that both political parties contesting elections for the Senate on January 29 will receive television and radio airtime on state-run broadcasters. … Ek Tha, spokesman for the Council of Ministers and deputy director of its press department, disagreed, saying the opposition had its own newspapers and plenty of access to radio through stations funded by the US State Department, such as Radio Free Asia.


Dec. 1 “Tibet 'sees first monk self-immolation protest'”
A former monk has set himself on fire in Tibet, reports say, in the latest such protest against Chinese rule. … Radio Free Asia reported that the monk, a 46-year-old named as Tenzin Phuntsog, had scattered leaflets and shouted slogans before setting fire to himself on Thursday afternoon. The US-based broadcaster quoted an anonymous source living in India, and another source calling from Tibet as confirming the incident.

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