RFA in the News (July 2016)



July 31 “Hun Sen to sue opposition senator over alleged Kem Ley remarks

Prime Minister Hun Sen is preparing to launch a legal case against an opposition senator for suggesting he was behind the murder of political analyst Kem Ley, according to a government lawyer and the premier’s own comments to CPP-friendly local media. … However, in an interview with Radio Free Asia on Saturday, she dismissed the accusation, saying her voice had been edited and she did not accuse the premier of killing Ley, who was shot dead while he drank coffee in a Phnom Penh petrol station on July 10. Fellow SRP Senator Teav Vannol yesterday said he was unaware of the threatened case but said the party would provide a lawyer for the senator, whose whereabouts he said he did not know.


July 29 “N. Korea diplomats threaten African news outlets

North Korean diplomats are threatening media outlets in Africa that exposed the country's illegal activities, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA), a broadcasting agency operated by the U.S. government, Friday. "We will never tolerate such dirty articles criticizing our supreme leader who is our nation's destiny and future," wrote Kim Chang Ryop, the North Korean ambassador to South Africa, to the Daily Maverick, a South African newspaper.


July 28 “North Korea: Kim Jong Un jailed his widowed stepmother

Kim Ok, the fourth wife of deceased North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and formerly a high-ranking member of the North Korean government, was sent to prison within a year of her husband's death and his son and her step-son Kim Jong Un assuming power, according to a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA). Kim Jong Un took power in the end of 2011 after his father Kim Jong Il's death on Dec. 17.


July 28 “N. Korea constructs new military facility near Pyongyang: report

North Korea has built a large-scale military facility near its capital city for training purposes, the U.S.-based Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.



July 27 “Lawmaker and Real Estate Developer Condemns Suspended High-Rise Construction

A Lower House lawmaker behind a Rangoon high-rise project has criticized the division’s chief minister for a decision to suspend the construction of more than 200 buildings in the commercial capital. During an interview with Radio Free Asia on Saturday, Thet Thet Khine, a businesswoman who is also a National League for Democracy (NLD) MP from Rangoon’s Dagon Constituency, said that Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein’s decision—made in May—has negatively affected job opportunities for local workers on sites where construction was halted.



July 27 “News of Tibetan's arrest due to We-Chat group last year emerges

A man from the restive Ngaba County has reportedly been jailed by Chinese authorities for participating in a group chat in the popular we-chat micro messaging site that celebrated the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama’s birthday last year. … A source of Radio Free Asia said he is currently being held at a prison in Lunggu County. Another Tibetan, a monk named Lodroe, is also reported to be jailed for connections with the same we-chat group chat.



July 27 “Kim Jong-il's Widow Sent to Prison Camp

Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's fourth wife Kim Ok was purged and sent to a prison camp less than a year after her stepson Kim Jong-un took power, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday.



July 27 “Activist monk ‘in hiding’, says friend

But Buntenh, an activist monk and member of the funeral committee for slain political analyst Kem Ley, has gone into hiding after receiving a tip off that he was being hunted by authorities, according to a friend and local media reports. … According to another story by Radio Free Asia yesterday, authorities in Siem Reap province’s Varin district had visited Buntenh’s mother’s home to obtain his birth certificate. Speaking to RFA, Buntenh said the village chief told his mother that they wanted to make an identification card for him.



July 25 “Second fire at NK Security Department building

Another fire broke out in a building of the State Security Department (SSD) of North Korea in North Hamgyeong Province in May, U.S. based Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Monday. The report said there was a fire in the same place in January. North Korean authorities have been investigating the cause of the latest fire, according to RFA. The number of casualties, if any, is unknown.


July 25 “Tens of thousands farewell Cambodian government critic Kem Ley”

Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, was brought to a standstill on Sunday as tens of thousands joined a funeral procession for slain political analyst Kem Ley, who was gunned down on July 10. … In the days before his death, he was a guest on a Radio Free Asia programme, where he discussed a Global Witness report that accused Prime Minister Hun Sen’s family of building a $200m fortune through a vast, corrupt network of patronage.



July 25 “Hun Sen tried to split CNRP: Rainsy

Opposition leader-in-exile Sam Rainsy took to the airwaves over the weekend to detail what he said was Prime Minister Hun Sen’s direct involvement in attempts to split the CNRP. In an interview with Radio Free Asia aired on Saturday, Rainsy said that the premier had at various points courted both himself and his deputy, Kem Sokha.



July 24 “That's a very funny joke boss! North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has his generals in stitches as Supreme Leader visits factory

North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un seemed a world away from worry as he visited a fish food factory, amid reports of a shrinking economy and a UN ban on the import of luxury goods. … Despite Kim's jocularity however, the leader has been dealt a huge blow as the Swiss government imposed a ban on the export of luxury watches to North Korea, according to the US-backed Radio Free Asia.



July 23 “Radio silence: As Barack Obama prepares for his first visit to Laos, its civil society struggles

A HIGHLIGHT of Ounkeo Souksavanh’s years as a radio host in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, came in late 2011 when he hosted an episode of Wao Kao (“News Talk”) on land disputes in the south of the country. Near the end of the programme, Mr Ounkeo says, a listener called in and criticised the son of a Politburo member for allegedly grabbing land from farmers for a property-development project. … He now works there for Radio Free Asia, a station funded by America’s Congress.



July 22 “China to shut churches in G20 host city on safety grounds – reports

Chinese authorities have reportedly ordered the closure of churches in the eastern city hosting the G20 summit later this year to “create a safe environment” for world leaders when they meet. … Another report, by the US-backed news service Radio Free Asia, said the city’s unofficial churches had been ordered to stop gathering.



July 22 “Former Italian chef describes luxury yacht of Kim Jong-il

Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il enjoyed the luxury lifestyle of parties and gourmet food on a yacht which he had kept secret from the outside, a U.S.-based media report said Friday, citing an Italian chef who worked in the reclusive country. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), Ermanno Furlanis said the expensive yacht anchored at the North's east coastal city of Wonsan in 1997 had a big swimming pool, three desks for accommodations and a watchtower.



July 19 “U.N. requests N. Korea to release fate of 14 abductees including former KAL crew

The United Nations has officially called on North Korea to release information on the fate of 14 people held captive in the reclusive country, including a South Korean plane crew kidnapped 47 years ago, a U.S.-based media outlet said Tuesday. Radio Free Asia (RFA) said the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) also requested the Pyongyang regime confirm whether the five North Korean defectors who were forcibly taken back to North from China and six people who were arrested in North Korea for their anti-state activities are still alive.



July 18 “NGO: Stop force-feeding of rights activist Yang Maodong in Guangdong prison

China should halt the force-feeding of Yang Maodong, a rights activist imprisoned in China, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday. … Yang’s sister Yang Maoping received permission to visit him on Friday and plans to see him again this week, she told US-backed Radio Free Asia. Yang Maodong looked very weak when his lawyer Zhang Lei saw him on June 20, Zhang told RFA.



July 17 “N.Korean Envoy Rejected by Germany 'Was a Spy'”

Germany refused to accredit a new North Korean ambassador apparently because he has a background in espionage, Radio Free Asia reported Friday quoting an unnamed German source.



July 15 “NK soldier dies following stone-throwing attack

A North Korean border guard died from his wounds in a rock-throwing attack while on patrol last Sunday near the border town of Hyesan in Ryanggang Province. Radio Free Asia reported Friday that a group consisting of at least two suspects pelted two guards with stones several times, leaving one dead and the other unconscious. Their weapons were found left on the site, the U.S.-based media said.



July 15 “Berlin 'Rejects New N.Korean Envoy'

Germany has declined to approve a new North Korean ambassador, Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday. Incumbent ambassador Ri Si-hong, who had been recalled to Pyongyang in late April, had to rush back to Berlin to continue his former job.



July 15 “EU to provide $340,000 for N. Korea disaster control project

The European Union has decided to provide US$340,000 to a North Korea disaster control project, a U.S.-based media outlet said Friday. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) will send the funds to the Finnish Red Cross that has been engaged in rural disaster management projects in the reclusive county.



July 14 “Myanmar: Anti-Muslim monk now faces defamation charge

A notorious firebrand monk whose hate speech has helped fuel attacks on Myanmar's Muslim community now faces a defamation charge days after the ultranationalist group he belongs to was labeled an unlawful association under monastic law. … "I requested Mahana's head monks to stop or take action against monks or others who make hate speeches that can incite bad blood between people or conflicts," Thura Aung Ko was quoted as saying by Radio Free Asia, "because it is very important that we have stability and development in the country."



July 14 “Report: North Korean ambassador appointment delayed in Germany

There has been a months-long delay on a new North Korean ambassador to Germany, and Berlin may have rejected the new appointee, according to a recent report. The delay in the appointment has led to the temporary return of the former North Korean ambassador to his post, Radio Free Asia reported.



July 14 “US Draft Resolution Estimates N. Korean Capacity to Produce 21 Nuclear Bombs

The U.S. Congress will vote on a resolution containing an updated assessment of North Korea’s enhanced ability to produce nuclear weapons. Radio Free Asia(RFA) Thursday quoted House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce as saying that his committee will put House Resolution(H.Res.) 634 up for a vote at a general meeting.



July 13 “North Korea Illegally Sends Workers to Chinese Coal Mines

The North Korean authorities have been illegally sending their own citizens to work in coal mines in China since mid-May, Radio Free Asia reported, citing a source from North Korea.



July 12 “Ex-Soldier Charged in Killing of Cambodian Government Critic

A former Cambodian soldier was charged with murder Wednesday in the killing of a prominent government critic, a brazen attack that has raised accusations of a political conspiracy. … Kem Ley was widely known because he was frequently heard on the popular Cambodian-language services of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, U.S. government-funded services that are among the few independent news sources in Cambodia.



July 12 “North Korea chides citizens for 'wasteful' behavior

A combination of heavy sanctions and a mass mobilization movement known as the "200-day battle" may be taking a toll on North Korea. … North Korea's flourishing gray markets are also struggling because of state-related intervention, according to Radio Free Asia.



July 12 “N. Korea to compete in 9 sports at Rio Olympics

North Korean state media said Tuesday the country will be represented in nine sports at the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics. … Last week, Radio Free Asia reported the North will have at least 36 athletes in nine sports, with the Olympic qualifications for some sports still underway.



July 11 “Land seized from Tibetans sold at profit by officials in Riwoche

In an alarming new development in Riwoche County, Chinese officials have been forcefully buying lands from local Tibetans at a nominally low price and selling the same at higher prices to Chinese developers, thus spinning a hefty profit for themselves. The County officials in the Riwoche County in the Chamdo have even threatened local Tibetans with imprisonment saying the land belonged to, “local government and the ruling Chinese Communist Party”, according to source of the Radio Free Asia Tibetan Service.



July 11 “U.S. Urges ‘Thorough and Impartial’ Investigation Into Cambodian Activist’s Murder

The U.S. on Sunday said it was “deeply saddened and concerned” by the murder of Kem Ley, a prominent Cambodian political commentator and activist, in the capital, Phnom Penh, hours earlier. … Just two days earlier, a report published by U.K. watchdog Global Witness alleged that the Premier and his family have established an economic stranglehold on the country in order to preserve his political power. Kem Ley had commented on the report to Radio Free Asia on Friday.



July 8 “China: Xinjiang government to 'clear up' ethnic names

According to recent official media reports, the vice chairman of Xinjiang's regional government, Zhu Changjie, recently told reporters that "the government is trying to develop a standardised system to input minority members' names". … According to US-funded Radio Free Asia, "the authorities have so far 'corrected' 20 million names that exist on social security accounts where the data is 'non-standardised'."


July 8 “Government Issues Final ‘Samdech’ Warning

The Ministry of Information on Thursday issued a final warning to media outlets that have failed to refer to Prime Minister Hun Sen and select officials as “Samdech,” while a ministry official said that failing to use the honorific could lead to the termination of licenses. … The country’s three English-language dailies, together with U.S.-funded radio broadcasters Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, had yet to comply with the order as of Thursday.


July 7 “Korea aims for 10 golds for top 10 finish in Rio

With less than 30 days to go before the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the Korean delegation to the quadrennial global sporting event aims to clinch at least 10 gold medals for a top 10 finish. … North Korea will compete in Rio, according to U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA). The report said Tuesday that North Korea will dispatch 36 athletes, including 10 weightlifters and six marathoners.


July 7 “Report: North Korea overseas laborers monitor each other

North Korea keeps surveillance of its forced laborers in China through a tightly monitored network, according to a report. A source on North Korea in China told Radio Free Asia surveillance has been "enhanced" and the system consists of North Korean workers monitoring each other.


July 6 “State newspaper reveals details of Beijing human rights activist’s apparent suicide

Details surrounding the death of human rights activist Jin Zhongqi have been revealed by a state newspaper after police reported on Sunday that he had committed suicide. … Sources cited by US-backed Radio Free Asia said that the people attacked by Jin may have been state security officers, but there is no mention of their identities in Chinese media.



July 6 “Sanctions Inflate Prices of Chinese Products in N.Korea

Business along the border between North Korea and China is in disarray amid tighter international sanctions. Prices of Chinese products in North Korea have surged more than 50 percent after Beijing banned dollar dealings with North Korea, according to a source in Dandong. … Radio Free Asia reported that North Korean security agents arrested around 300 people in North Hamgyong Province near the border with China who have been implicated in an espionage incident.