RFA in the News (July 2009)

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July 30 “Rebecca Novick: The will to survive – one man’s harrowing escape from Tibet”

As a child growing up in a remote village in the mountainous region of Kham, Tsewang Dhondup loved to listen to the heroic fables recounted by the local elders.

… Even today, Tsewang's home region is causing headaches for the authorities. Radio Free Asia reports that on July 17, 2009, a man named Yonten Gyatso--another native of Kardze--staged a lone protest in a sports stadium in the town of Chamdo.


July 30 “Government campaign turns back clock on press freedom”

PRESS freedom is in its worst state in Cambodia since the early 1990s, say reporters for the country's independent and opposition newspapers, who argue that the current crackdown against government critics risks bringing the country full circle to the repressive environment of the 1980s.

… Lem Piseth, a former Radio Free Asia journalist who now edits the online Free Press Magazine from Norway, said that even before the current crackdown, the country had been “moving steadily towards the restrictions on the free press that existed under the communist regime before 1993.”


July 29 “Frank Ching’s Column: Witness Protection”

Few people know that anti-corruption authorities in Namibia said last week they wished to speak to President Hu Jintao's son, 38-year-old Hu Haifeng . And, on the mainland, the government is doing its best to see that nobody learns about it.

… The Chinese authorities have reportedly begun to remove satellite dishes in Tibetan-populated areas in an attempt to block access to foreign broadcasts, such as those by Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.


July 23 “Daily fight over land in China”

Local authorities are subject to little or no supervision and act as they please, expelling farmers from their land, indifferent to their fate, which is often hunger.

Dongba village resident Wang Dengyou told Radio Free Asia that people in his village will never sell the land.


July 23 “Death toll rises in Xinjiang Uighur ‘Autonomous’ Region”

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party said on Wednesday, July 15 that the death toll from the violent incidents between the Han people, Uygurs and police in Xinjiang Province, which broke out on July 5, increased to 192 people.

Radio Free Asia quoted a witness from Urumuqi, the capital of the Region, as stating the death toll was several hundred.


July 21 “Is Myanmar going nuclear?”

BANGKOK -- The recent aborted voyage of a North Korean ship, photographs of massive tunnels and a top secret meeting have raised alarm bells that one of the world's poorest nations may be aspiring to join the nuclear club - with help from its friends in Pyongyang.

… And a recent report from Washington-based Radio Free Asia and Myanmar exile media said senior Myanmar military officers made a top secret visit late last year to North Korea, where an agreement was concluded for greatly expanding cooperation to modernize Myanmar's military

muscle, including the construction of underground installations.


July 21 “Tyrants don’t just cede power”

Some people continue extralegal behavior simply because they can do so without consequences for their actions.

… In Khim Sarang's Feb. 8 report on Radio Free Asia, Sen boasted of his role in breaking up the royalist Funcinpec Party into 11 splinter groups, and warned all opposition parties that his men are hidden inside them.


July 21 “Lawyer ejected because of ‘no use:’ monk sentenced to life”

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - The Court does not allow the lawyer, because the client already has one appointed by the court: Sentenced to life imprisonment.

Radio Free Asia yesterday reported a number of cases in which the court has not accepted the legal representation of Tibetan defendants.


July 21 “Incorrect analysis misleading on famine risk”

… For example, in a Radio Free Asia interview with WFP’s spokesperson Paul Risley on July 19, we learned that the WFP worries that if food aid to North Korea is not increased, many will suffer from malnutrition, with the possibility of deaths.


July 18 “Congress postpones resolution on imprisoned journalists”

U.S.-based broadcaster Radio Free Asia reports the U.S. Congress has postponed its voting on the resolution calling on Pyongyang to release two U.S. journalists detained by the North for almost four months.


July 16 “Parent of student who died in earthquake sentenced”

Mr. He Hongchun’s child died in the Sichuan earthquake 14 months ago. His repeated appeals for justice got him three years imprisonment camp and five years of probation for “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.”

… According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), Mr. He’s lawyer and other parents whose children died in the earthquake were unsatisfied with the verdict.


July 15 “Intellectuals Call for Release of Uighur Economist”

BEIJING — Prominent Chinese intellectuals and writers have signed a petition calling for the release of a well-known ethnic Uighur economist in Beijing who was apparently detained last week during a bloody outbreak of ethnic violence in western China.

…Mr. Tohti had been increasingly critical of the lack of jobs for Uighurs in Xinjiang and policies that had encouraged the influx of Han settlers. “Unemployment among Uighurs is among the highest in the world,” he said in an interview in March with Radio Free Asia, which is supported by the United States government.


July 14 “U.S. eyeing N.K.-Myanmar nuke ties”

The newly-appointed U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific reportedly said Washington was eyeing nuclear ties between North Korea and Myanmar. Kurt Campbell said in a written reply for a Congressional confirmation hearing that the Southeast Asian country and North Korea were strengthening their partnership, according to Radio Free Asia, a private station funded by the U.S. Congress that broadcasts in nine Asian languages.


July 14 “EDITORIAL: Scapegoats for official violence”

… Ms. Kadeer, a leader of the roughly 1,000 exiled Uighurs living in the United States, is clearly in touch with developments in Xinjian Province. Her husband works for U.S.-government-sponsored Radio Free Asia.


July 14 “15 Tibetans arrested for fresh Kathmandu protests”

… The bill also funds the office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the State Department, and provides full funding for Tibetan broadcasting by Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America.


July 11 “China’s flood of fortune seekers”

… The Chinese government doesn't release figures on unemployment among ethnic groups. But a leading Uighur intellectual, Ilham Tohti, an economics professor at the Central Nationalities University in Beijing, has estimated that 1.5 million Uighur workers -- the equivalent of half the adult males -- are unemployed. In an interview aired by Radio Free Asia in March, he warned that there could be “no peace without equal development between Han immigrants and native Uighurs.” Tohti has since disappeared from public view and is believed to be under house arrest.


July 10 “OPINION: The right way to help the Uighurs”

Unrest in China's far western region, known as Xinjiang, should not come as a surprise. The communist authorities maintain intense and unrelenting pressure on Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority group. … Radio Free Asia broadcasts in Uighur one hour a day.


July 10 “Op-Ed by Rebiya Kadeer – ‘The Uighurs’ cry has echoed round the world’”

The massacre of Uighur demonstrators in the cities of Urumqi and Kashgar has been reported in every language, from English to Chinese to Portuguese to Arabic. … According to Radio Free Asia interviews of Uighurs working at the factory, a mob of Chinese workers and gang members from the local area stormed into the dormitory housing Uighurs, beating them and hacking at them with machetes. The attack was carried out in response to an unsubstantiated rumour that Uighur workers had sexually assaulted two Chinese workers.


July 9 “The mother of the Uighur movement; Leading protest on Chinese Embassy, rioting region's exile looms large”

… The work is more than full time, says Kadeer's second husband, Sidik Rouzi, who works part time for Radio Free Asia. “Even on weekends, she never gets off the phone, sometimes two phones to her ears, talking to the people around the world,” he said.


July 9 “Chinese economist missing, apparently detained”

BEIJING (AP) — An outspoken economist who championed rights for fellow Uighurs in his native Xinjiang has disappeared, presumably detained by police who questioned him after deadly ethnic violence in China's restive far west.

… He told U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia in May that "Xinjiang's situation is the worst of the worst — compared with other regions of China."


July 9 “China threatens death penalty for Xinjiang rioters”

Radio Free Asia has reported that Ilham Tohti, an outspoken Uighur economist who lives in Beijing and who was publicly named as a possible instigator on July 5, has gone missing.

… “They are calling me now, and I have to go. I may be out of touch for some time,” he told RFA's Uighur service. “I wasn't involved in anything, but I am not safe. The police are calling me,” Tohti said, and then hung up. Subsequent phone calls rang unanswered.


July 9 “Media savvy in Xinjiang: Beijing learned important propaganda lessons from the Tibet riots last year”

…Effective policy responses will require political leadership and adequate resources for deploying a range of both offensive and defensive capabilities to combat censorship. A good start would include expanding existing alternative Chinese-language media such as Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and the BBC.


July 9 “Uighur economist feared detained in Beijing”
… Ilham Tohti, an economist at the Central Nationalities University in Beijing, told US-based Radio Free Asia Tuesday that police had summoned him for questioning. “Police have been watching my home for two days now,” the broadcaster quoted Tohti as telling its Uighur-language service in a brief telephone interview. … Radio Free Asia said it had been unable to contact Tohti since the interview.


July 9 “EDITORIAL: Why China’s ethnic riots help the Communist Party”

… After this week's riots, a prominent and exiled Uighur leader, Rebiya Kadeer, told Radio Free Asia: “Through political brainwashing, the Chinese government purposely induces the Han Chinese to hate the Uighur, painting Uighurs as the enemy of China.”


July 8 “Clash at factory employing Uighurs triggered rioting”

SHAOGUAN, China -- One of the sparks that ignited Xinjiang's ethnic powder keg this week came from a toy factory here in southern China nearly 2,000 miles from Urumqi, the northwestern city hit by the riots.

… A Uighur man who said he was present at the factory clash was interviewed by the Uighur-language service of Radio Free Asia, a broadcaster funded by the U.S. government. He denied Uighurs were involved in sexual assaults and said they were unable to fight back when attacked by a large number of Hans.


July 8 “Big FM and Radio Mango win bronze at New York Festivals”

The title of NYF's 2009 Radio Programming and Promotion Broadcaster of the Year was awarded to Radio Free Asia, the forum that provides timely news to Asian countries where access to free press is prohibited by the government. RFA was honoured with three Gold World Medals, one silver metal and three bronze metals.


July 7 “China riots: 300 Uighurs stage fresh protest in Urumqi”

…The security operation in Urumqi since Sunday's riots has been relentless and Radio Free Asia reported today that a large population of Uighurs living in a shanty town around the old racetrack had been strip-searched and arrested this morning.


July 7 “Urumqi lockdown after 156 die”

… What led the Urumqi protesters to clash with police and go on a rampage against civilians in unclear. But witnesses told Radio Free Asia that police had beaten demonstrators viciously as they moved in to break up the protest.


July 7 “How a peaceful protest turned into a bloody ethnic vendetta”

What turned a seemingly peaceful protest in the centre of Urumqi into a violent ethnic vendetta is unclear. But what is clear is that most of the victims were innocent men, women and children.

… “We decided to hold a demonstration and stressed that it shouldn’t be violent,” an organiser of Sunday's demonstration told Radio Free Asia. The radio station said the violence started when armed police moved in to disperse the demonstrators. “They beat them. Beat them, including girls, very, very viciously,” a witness told the station.


July 7 “Tight security after deadly Xinjiang clash”

Residents of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) report a heavy police and paramilitary presence inside and outside the regional capital, Urumqi, where deadly clashes erupted at the weekend following a protest by ethnic minority Uyghurs, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported."The situation in Gulja is so intense right now. I saw armed police everywhere when I went out to buy oil this morning. I saw five armored vehicles patrolling the streets. There are many police cars, patrolling on every street," one man told RFA's Uyghur service


July 7 “Overnight Brief”

Radio Free Asia reports that “Three youths belonging to the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group and now under Chinese government protection after ethnic clashes in the southern province of Guangdong said fighting began when Han Chinese laborers stormed the dormitories of Uyghur colleagues, beating them with clubs, bars, and machetes.


July 6 “Suspected weapons ship to return to NKorea: official”

SEOUL (AFP) — A North Korean ship that was tracked by the US Navy on suspicion of carrying banned weapons is expected to return home later Monday after aborting its voyage, South Korea's defence ministry said. … Radio Free Asia, in a report last week, said Myanmar's junta had warned North Korea that it would inspect the ship's cargo and ban it from entering port if it carries contraband.


July 6 “North Korean Missiles Defy U.N. Resolution”

SEOUL -- North Korea's test-firing of seven mid-range missiles on Saturday, America's birthday, again demonstrated the ability of the country's authoritarian regime to grab headlines and defy penalties imposed on it by the United Nations, the U.S. and other countries for its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

… This weekend, Radio Free Asia, a U.S.-supported radio service focused on Asian countries, reported that high-level military officials from Myanmar visited North Korea in November and signed an agreement to cooperate in arms production.


July 3 “NKorean Ship Under US Scrutiny Changes Course”

(AP) A North Korean ship monitored for more than a week by the U.S. Navy has changed course and is heading back the way it came, U.S. officials said, as Pyongyang warned Wednesday it will take military action if anyone attempts to search its vessels.

… Myanmar's authorities had informed the North Korean ambassador that it would not allow the Kang Nam to dock if it was carrying weapons or other banned materials, a Radio Free Asia report said.


July 3 “Burma expands military ties with North Korea”

The revelation that the two rogue states have stepped up their cooperation in weapons trading and military training came as Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, arrived in Rangoon for a controversial visit. … A 37-page document in Burmese obtained by Radio Free Asia detailed a visit by 17 Burmese officials, including General Thura Shwe Mann, the chief of staff of the army and Burma's third-ranked leader, to Beijing and Pyongyang last November.


July 3 “Myanmar, N. Korea expand military cooperation: report”

BANGKOK, July 3 -- The Myanmar military government's third-ranked leader made a top-secret visit to North Korea in November last year during which the two sides pledged to significantly expand cooperation in military training and arms production, Radio Free Asia online reported Friday, quoting a leaked report purportedly drafted by the junta.


July 3 “Who is the North Korean human rights envoy?”

Robert King, who has been designated as the Barack Obama administration's North Korea Human Rights Special Envoy, was chief secretary to former House Foreign Relations Committee chairman Tom Lantos. … King has researched the fall of the communism in Eastern Europe and is known among working-level officials in the U.S. Congress as an expert in the region, according to Radio Free Asia.

July 1 “SKorean official: Kim successor not final in north”

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The decision on who will become North Korea's next leader may not be final despite reports that Kim Jong Il has tapped his youngest son to succeed him, South Korea's defense chief said.

… The move came after Myanmar's authorities told the North Korean ambassador they wouldn't allow the Kang Nam 1 to dock if it was carrying weapons or other banned materials, a Radio Free Asia report said.

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