RFA in the News (February 2015)

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Feb. 27 “China’s fertile ground for the Islamic State group

Three hundred Chinese citizens, members of the country’s Uighur ethnic group, have recently traveled to the Middle East to join Islamic State. … On Monday, Radio Free Asia reported that a suicide bomber had killed eight in southern Xinjiang the previous week. Government retaliation for attacks has been brutal.


Feb. 27 “Young Tibetan monks are being forced to disrobe by China

Tensions between Tibetans and the Chinese authorities persist as usual at this time.Radio Free Asia reports that underage Tibetan monks are being confronted with a new crackdown on religious life.


Feb. 26 “Deadly Attacks in Xinjiang Go Unreported in China

The reports of bloodshed are nonstop. On Feb. 13, a man grabbed a police officer and then set off explosives strapped to his body, killing as many as eight people. Three days later, a father and son were shot and killed in another clash with the police. The following day, four police officers were stabbed to death, nine suspects in the attack were shot dead, and four bystanders were killed. … But these events, all reported by Radio Free Asia, took place in China, and the country’s news outlets, controlled by the ruling Communist Party, have yet to acknowledge they even took place.

… Radio Free Asia, a United States government-financed news organization that operates a Uighur-language service, confirmed the reports, which often appear on Chinese social media platforms, by calling local officials, residents and hospitals. The New York Times was able to independently corroborate some of the details in the Radio Free Asia reports.


Feb. 26 “Questions Remain Over Chinese Involvement in Myanmar Violence

Violent clashes between government troops and ethnic rebels have continued unabated in Myanmar’s northern Shan state since February 9. … Local citizens sympathetic to the cause could simply be taking matters into their own hands. Radio Free Asia reports that local Chinese citizens have been trying to send food and medical supplies across the border, but that local authorities frown upon those efforts. “A lot of places got into a lot of trouble when the authorities found out they were doing this,” a source told RFA. Despite local government efforts, the source said, shipments continue “through secret channels.”


Feb. 26 “China is an online world of its own

A series of recent measures by Beijing to ostensibly protect its cyber sovereignty have raised serious questions about whether the country is turning its back on the World Wide Web, a key facet of globalisation. Even though the government had blocked access to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, subscribers to virtual private networks (VPN) and other such services were easily able to view those sites, as well as news sites like the BBC, Radio Free Asia and Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper.


Feb. 25 “More Questions than Answers in Kokang Dilemma

After more than two weeks of intense fighting between Kokang rebels and the Burma Army around Laukkai, a number of questions remain unanswered. … Last week, Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Wai Lwin told Radio Free Asia that recent fighting in the Kokang Special Zone could “damage Myanmar’s democratic reform and peacemaking process.”


Feb. 25 “Garment workers call for more strikes if demands not met

Myanmar garment workers demonstrating over pay and factory conditions threatened to continue strikes unless their demands are met and authorities release two of their representatives detained earlier this month, according to Radio Free Asia on February 24.


Feb. 24 “China puts 82-year-old writer on trial amid political crackdown

An 82-year-old writer is expected to stand trial in southwest China on Wednesday afternoon as Xi Jinping’s sustained offensive against critics of the Communist Party enters a third year and shows no sign of abating. … Mr Tie’s article described Mr Liu as "a person of the lowest order,” according to Radio Free Asia, a US-funded website.


Feb. 23 “Tibet marks Dalai Lama's birth year in public, private celebration

With Chinese authorities seemingly busy with the Lunar New Year celebrations, Tibetans openly celebrated the birth year of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama last week. Radio Free Asia reported that Tibetans from Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces commemorated the Dalai Lama's 80th birth year, which coincides with the traditional celebration of Losar, or the Lunar New Year.


Feb. 21 “Clashes kill 17 in China’s restive west

Seventeen people have reportedly been hacked, stabbed or shot to death in the latest episode of deadly violence to hit China's far west. The killings came during a bloody "showdown" between police and villagers in Xinjiang's Aksu prefecture, according to Radio Free Asia.


Feb. 20 “Refugees pour across border into China
Two ethnic Han Chinese refugees contacted by telephone across the border area told The Myanmar Times that they believed some 100,000 people had fled. … Radio Free Asia quoted a worker of the Chinese Red Cross in Yunnan province as saying more than 100,000 refugees had crossed the border into China’s Zhenkang county since the clashes began.


Feb. 20 “CNRP defector slams reports on departure

Opposition party defector Van Sam Oeun yesterday slammed reports that his recent move to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party was due to alleged bankruptcy and that he had been “bought” by Prime Minister Hun Sen. … Radio Free Asia reported this week that Sam Oeun’s pig farm in Kampot province had gone bankrupt, precipitating his move. He dismissed such suggestions yesterday, citing the US pension he currently receives as proof he had not defected for financial reasons.


Feb. 20 “North Korea Shines Spotlight on the Disabled

North Korea recently aired a series of television programs featuring disabled citizens, part of Pyongyang’s effort to refute accusations from the international community that it routinely violates the human rights of the disabled. … Ji helped support his family by stealing coal and selling it. While doing so, Ji fell off a train and crushed his left hand and foot, resulting in portions of his limbs being amputated. Ji’s testimony for the CIO was repeated later in an interview with Radio Free Asia. “The disabled people tend to suffer more in North Korea because they don’t have ability to work. Many of them die of starvation,” Ji told RFA.


Feb. 19 “RFA’s Tibetan Service Launches Satellite TV Broadcast

Marking Losar, the Tibetan new year, Radio Free Asia’s Tibetan Service has launched its first satellite television broadcast. The half-hour program airs daily at 6 p.m. in China’s Tibetan regions and 3:30 p.m. in Dharamsala, India. “With the launch of RFA Tibetan’s daily satellite TV broadcast, we begin a new and exciting chapter for both RFA and our Tibetan audiences,” said Libby Liu, President of Radio Free Asia (RFA). “Starting today, as we join Tibetans everywhere around the world in celebrating Losar, RFA will provide a great way to access uncensored news and information.”


Feb. 19 “11 dead, 30 injured in N. Korean sinkhole accident

A sinkhole collapsed in North Korea leaving 11 dead and 30 others injured according to Radio Free Asia.

The incident occurred while farmers plowed through an icy patch.


Feb. 17 “Suicide Bomber Kills Up to 8 in Xinjiang, Radio Free Asia Reports

A suicide bomber in the volatile Chinese region of Xinjiang killed as many as eight people on Friday when he grabbed a police officer and set off an explosive device attached to his body, according to a report by Radio Free Asia.


Feb. 14 “Taiwan slips to 51st in press freedom rankings

Taiwan slipped one place to 51st out of the world’s 180 countries in this year’s Press Freedom Index, released on Thursday by Reporters Without Borders. … Released in Washington, the report continues to paint “a grim picture of the future of press freedom in Asia,” Radio Free Asia president Libby Liu (劉仚) said. … Liu said the seriousness of the situation was evidenced in areas once considered the few bright spots in the region.


Feb. 12 “Despite limits on liberty, Vietnam's new cardinal-designate sees hope

Vietnam's cardinal-designate sees hope and continuing challenges ahead for the church in a nation that still has to fully embrace religious freedom. … Because of continued dialogue and high-level exchanges of visits between the two sides, "we can see there have been efforts to hold productive dialogue," he said in a report published by Radio Free Asia in early January, after Francis announced he was among 20 men who would become cardinals Feb. 14.


Feb. 12 “Concerns about North Korea’s army recruiting youths

Report cites Radio Free Asia reporting on NGO urging North Korea to stop conscripting teenagers below the age of 18.


Feb. 6 “Laos Cracks Down on Drug Trafficking in Golden Triangle

Northern Laos Authorities near the Golden Triangle have vowed to crack down harder on illegal drugs seen as threat to society by going after important ring leaders and dealers on the street as well as increasing border inspections around the Golden Triangle area where narcotics are smuggled in and out of Laos-Myanmar and Thailand. According to a Radio Free Asia [report,] authorities in Loas will be seeking out the country’s main drug rings, including small dealers and producers, by focusing the operation on the Laos-Myanmar and Thai borders where drugs are often smuggled into the country.


Feb. 5 “In Little Saigon, evolving views on gay rights

The rose oolong tea steamed on the table as regulars at the Little Saigon cafe debated politics, border disputes and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris — a running conversation in French and Vietnamese.

Then a man who had been listening to Radio Free Asia spoke up. "Brother, did you hear about Vietnam abolishing its ban on gay marriage?"


Feb. 4 “Self-Immolations. Threats From Beijing. Playing Politics With the Dalai Lama. All in a day's work for Lobsang Sangay, the Harvard-educated prime minister of the quixotic Tibetan movement in exile.

These days, the Dalai Lama seems to make news mostly when world leaders decide whether or not to meet with him. On Feb. 5, the Dalai Lama will attend the annual U.S. National Prayer Breakfast — a rare victory for the globetrotting spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, as President Barack Obama will also be in attendance. … [Tenzin] Tethong, who now serves as the head of the Tibetan language section for Radio Free Asia in Washington, D.C., told me that Sangay “is very capable, and he’s able to communicate well, and that’s a large part of his appeal.” He praised Sangay’s ability to translate complicated ideas into easy-to-understand slogans about the need for progress and modernization.


Feb. 4 “Why China Is Banning Islamic Veils

This week, regional authorities outlawed Islamic veils from all public spaces in the regional capital of China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The Urumqi ban, which went into effect on Sunday February 1 (coincidentally the third annual*World Hijab Day), empowers Chinese police to punish violators and dole out fines of up to U.S.$800 for those who fail to enforce the prohibition. … A May 2014 Radio Free Asia report claims that police in Aksu prefecture fired into a crowd protesting the detention of several women and middle school-aged girls who defied a local school ban on head-coverings.


Feb. 4 “Kim Jong Un’s uncle made ambassador to Czech Republic

Kim Pyong Il, the uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has been appointed the new DPRK ambassador to the Czech Republic, The Prague Post and Radio Free Asia reported.


Feb. 2 “Torn apart by Tiananmen, father, son still fight for free speech in China

He spends his days under house arrest in a grungy west Beijing apartment block. Government minders track his every move and communication. At age 82, Bao Tong has every right to be bitter. He once was a top dog in China’s Communist Party, but for a quarter century, his former comrades have kept him on a leash. … Yet Bao and his family haven’t been completely stifled. Bao Tong writes regular commentaries for Radio Free Asia, a U.S.-funded news operation, that are stridently critical of the party’s policies.


Feb. 2 “The Hundred-Year Marathon' outlines a long-term Chinese strategy to replace the US as world leader

Serving in various senior national security positions in the United States government, Michael Pillsbury has been meeting for decades with Chinese military planners and civilian strategists in an effort to figure out what they think. … Dan Southerland, executive editor of US-government funded Radio Free Asia, is a former Asia correspondent for the Monitor and former Beijing bureau chief for The Washington Post.

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