RFA in the News (January 2011)


Jan. 31 “N. Korea dissent on rise: US study”

Long imagined as docile followers, North Koreans are increasingly skeptical of their leaders as a burgeoning marketplace and foreign media broaden their worldview, a study said Monday.

… The experts also called for the United States to step up radio broadcasts to give more North Koreans access to US-backed services such as Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.


Jan. 29 “Chinese travel agency offers ‘Juche’ tours”

North Korea has long been considered the world’s most mysterious travel destination. Now, a new tour is to offer travelers the chance not only to see tourist attractions, but also to learn about North Korea’s guiding principle of “Juche.”

… A Chinese travel agency is to run the Juche Study Tour from Feb. 28 to March 13, Radio Free Asia reported on Wednesday.


Jan. 28 “Suu Kyi praises city educator”

Burma’s famous Nobel Peace Prize winner lived abroad during her formative teenage years.

Maybe that accounts for Aung San Suu Kyi’s interest in the education of Burmese children in the U.S.

Whatever the motivation, Fort Wayne resident Kyaw T. Soe hasn’t recovered from the shock of hearing Suu Kyi mention him by name on a recent international radio broadcast, in which she praised his efforts to promote literacy and sent a heartfelt message to refugee Burmese children and their parents.

Radio Free Asia is a private non-profit that broadcasts in nine Asian languages to listeners who do not have access to full and free news media. Last month, Radio Free Asia announced it would have a weekly forum with Suu Kyi.


Jan. 28 “N. Korean ship detained for 10 months by Somali pirates'”

Radio Free Asia (RFA) of the United States reported Friday that a North Korean ship has been detained for the 10th consecutive month by Somali pirates.

“The Chilsanbong Cheonnyeonho of the North was hijacked near Somali waters on March 31 last year and has since been detained,” the Washington-based shortwave radio reported, quoting a report on ships taken by pirates in 2010 published by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). “Nine sailors suffered wounds from armed pirates, while resisting their attack.”


Jan. 27 “NK Soldiers deserts from barracks for food shortage”

Radio Free Asia says that more North Korean soldiers desert from their barracks due to the insufficient distribution of food. The broadcaster said that North Korean soldiers frequently desert from corps based in Gangwon Province near the inter-Korean border. RFA made the report by quoting a North Korean it met in the North Korea-China border area.


Jan. 26 “Death of village chief reflects systemic corruption in China”

New eyewitnesses to the death of a village chief on Christmas Day have come forward, saying that they saw the man murdered by local authorities. The man, Qian Yunhui of Zhaiqiao Village, Zhejiang Province, was an open opponent to forced demolitions in the area.

… Liu Dejun, a labor movement leader who went to Zhaiqiao Village to conduct an independent investigation of his own, told Radio Free Asia that villagers said the female eyewitness, who had told the media that Qian was murdered, was seen on the night of Dec. 30 kneeling in front of Qian’s photo crying and saying: “Please forgive me. I didn’t want to lie, but they threatened my family, so I had to give them false testimony.”


Jan. 25 “OPINION: Aung Zaw -- Speaking Truth to Burma”

… As the editor of The Irrawaddy, a magazine that is named for a river that is symbolic of Burma's long and often tortured history, I have tried to fight back in my own way, by joining forces with other exiled journalists to resist a tide of lies with a river of information about what is really happening inside the country. … Recently we came to the difficult decision to end publication of our print magazine -- our signature product since our founding in 1993 -- to commit more of our limited resources to reaching wider audiences both inside Burma and abroad. In addition to our Burmese- and English-language websites and blog, we are producing a television program for the Democratic Voice of Burma and a radio program for the Washington-based Radio Free Asia.


Jan. 25 “He Depu, democracy activist released after eight years of prison and torture”

The dissident He Depu, a founder of the (outlawed) Democratic Party was released yesterday after serving eight years in prison. Right outside the prison he got into a discussion with the police and was beaten. He, writer and political activist, was convicted in November 2002 for having collaborated with members of the Democratic Party and for written in defence of democracy. Jailed in Beijing No. 2 prison, he told Radio Free Asia he was tortured for at least 85 days, describing them as “the worst days of my life.”


Jan. 25 “Yangon: Aung San Suu Kyi challenges censorship, promotes opposition online”

Aung San Suu Kyi has turned to new technologies to reach out to her supporters, and this despite tight controls by Myanmar’s military regime on media and the internet.

… Since 26 November, the opposition leader has participated in a weekly programme on Radio Free Asia to speak to Burmese abroad. Titled ‘The People and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’, the programme allows her to address concerns voiced by ordinary people, both inside and outside Burma, who can call in or write via e-mail.


Jan. 21 “Is the N.Korean regime unraveling?”

Chun Young-woo, the presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, reflected government views when he said Friday that North Korean regime would face "a short cut to its demise," experts believe. Chun was speaking in an interview with the U.S.’ PBS. Why does the government believe that the regime is on its last legs? … Radio Free Asia, quoting an official of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reported in December that international aid to the North in 2010 was about $20.6 million, a mere 35 percent of the $58.75 million that flowed there in 2009.


Jan. 20 “Chinese Communist Party bans media from reporting social problems”

Hundreds of workers at a factory in Wuhan, Hubei, clashed for hours with police in anti-riot gear. They were trying to prevent their company boss from fleeing aided by police before back wages were paid. In the meantime, the authorities ban media from reporting public unrest or social problems that might tarnish China’s image.

… Quoting a local source, Radio Free Asia reported that protesters each want 30,000 to 40,000 yuan of housing subsidy and the moving allowance, which the factory had promised to pay, as well as an accounting on what will happen to the factory.


Jan. 19 “N. Korean people ordered to donate food to military: report”

North Korea has again begun to collect foodstuffs from its residents for military use, as food shortages for its 1.2 million troops have been getting increasingly worse, the Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Wednesday, citing sources in the communist state. It is the third time in history that the regime in Pyongyang is known to have requisitioned foodstuffs from the people to feed its military, the broadcaster said, noting the previous two occurred in the mid-to-late 1990s, when millions starved to death, and in July 2002, when an emergency economic management measure was enforced.


Jan. 20 “DVDs criticizing NK power transfer circulate in NK”

Radio Free Asia says North Korea is strengthening its crackdown on DVDs containing criticism of the North's power transfer to Kim Jong-un. Quoting a source familiar with North Korean affairs, the broadcaster reported that late last year, hundreds of DVDs containing videos that criticize the North's move to transfer power to Kim Jong-un circulated at a market in Hoeryung City, North Hamgyeong Province. The circulation was reported to the North’s security authorities.


Jan. 16 “Beijing: entire families evicted from home, without notice and without protection”

Authorities have forcibly evicted the families of entire buildings in the area east of Beijing, throwing their possessions into the street. In place of the old houses new modern skyscrapers, roads and shopping centres, to the profit of construction companies and local leaders.

… “There were about 100-200 people,” says Wu Lihong, a resident, to Radio Free Asia, “who entered the homes ... and drove the people from them. It was really horrible.”


Jan. 14 “N. Korea among 'worst of worst' in human rights: Freedom House”

North Korea is among the "worst of the worst" countries in terms of human rights conditions, according to a Freedom House report. … Radio Free Asia said the 2011 report marks the 39th year in a row that Pyongyang has been labeled one of the worst of the worst.


Jan. 12 “OPINION: Kelley Currie -- An American message for the Chinese president”

Chinese President Hu Jintao's arrival in Washington for a state visit next week provides insight into how the Obama administration's thinking on the U.S.-China relationship has evolved -- especially on how Washington factors in human rights into this relationship.

… The best way for Mr. Obama to honor his connection to Mr. Liu would be to use every means at his disposal to show the Chinese people that freedom of expression is one of the crown jewels of American society. For example, Mr. Obama should meet with Chinese dissidents who have suffered for trying to exercise this right. His staff should forget interviews with China's censored state-owned propaganda organs, and instead host uncensored Chinese-language media like Radio Free Asia, leading Chinese bloggers and cutting edge media for presummit briefings.


Jan. 6 “U.S. Protests Treatment of Diplomat in Vietnam”

The U.S. government Thursday said it has strongly protested Vietnam’s treatment of a U.S. diplomat who was detained and wrestled to the ground while attempting to visit a dissident Roman Catholic priest – a development that could further inflame concerns in the U.S. about the Southeast Asian nation’s human rights record.

U.S. Ambassador Michael Michalak confirmed an incident occurred after the American-funded Radio Free Asia reported that an embassy political officer it identified as Christian Marchant was intercepted by police Wednesday outside the home of the Rev. Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly in Hue, central Vietnam.


Jan. 4 “N. Korea ranks lowest in Asia in ability to secure outside food”

North Korea ranks the lowest in Asia in terms of the ability to secure food from outside to meet the demand projected for this year, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Tuesday. Citing a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, RFA said the North needs to import about 800,000 tons of food to make up for the shortfall in food supplies needed until November this year.


Jan. 4 “Suspended death sentence for Uygur teenager”

US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia said Pezilet Ekber was working as a saleswoman at a shop in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang region, when riots broke out between the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uygur minority and Han Chinese on July 5, 2009. The riots left nearly 200 people dead and were the deadliest outbreak of violence in Xinjiang in years.

The report cited a letter from a classmate of the woman as saying Miss Ekber was sentenced to death in April last year with a two-year reprieve by the Urumqi Intermediate People's Court.

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