RFA in the News (July 2010)

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July 30 “China jails 3 Uighurs for sites deemed sensitive”

China has jailed three minority Uighurs who ran websites with content considered politically sensitive by the government, according to a media report and an advocacy group.

… Last week, the three men, identified as Dilshat Perhat, webmaster of Diyarim; Nureli, webmaster of Salkin; and Nijat Azat, webmaster of Shabnam, were sentenced to five years, three years and 10 years respectively, said Radio Free Asia and the Uyghur American Association, citing a brother of one of the men.


July 28 “N.Korean leader transfers secret fund to son: report”

North Korea's ailing leader Kim Jong-Il is transferring his secret personal wealth to his youngest son and likely successor, a Seoul-based radio station said Wednesday.

The transfer of money has been managed by Ri Chol, who stepped down in April as the communist country's ambassador to Switzerland, said Open Radio for North Korea, which specialises in North Korean news.

Ri has been considered one of Kim's closest aides and looks after his secret funds abroad, it said. The US-based Radio Free Asia carried a similar report about the transfer of money.


July 28 “Khmer media outlets take stock of judgment”

Khmer-language media outlets have struck an ambivalent note following the landmark verdict handed down against Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday. Although some newspapers described the verdict as a historical milestone, most lamented the brevity of the sentence handed down to Duch, who has at most 19 years of his 35-year jail sentence, reduced to 30 years, left to serve.

Radio Free Asia, meanwhile, broadcast the views of Chum Nuong, a former Khmer Rouge commander living at the movement’s former stronghold at Phnom Voar in Kampot province, who said Duch’s sentence should have been reduced because of his old age.


July 27 “China court gives Uyghur reporter 15 years for talking to foreign media”

A district court in Xinjiang has sentenced an ethnic Uyghur journalist to 15 years in prison after he spoke to foreign media about last year's riots in the western Chinese province, a friend of the defendant said Tuesday.

… According to the U.S. government-run radio station Radio Free Asia and other reports, Gheyret spoke to the foreign media after the clashes and allegedly criticized Chinese authorities for their handling of the violence.


July 26 “As tensions rise, U.S. and South Korea begin naval drills”

The United States and South Korea began their largest joint war games in years on Sunday, with a nuclear powered American aircraft carrier prowling off the east coast of South Korea while North Korea threatened to retaliate and reportedly put its military on alert for war.

Radio Free Asia reported that the North had put both its military and its people on high alert. North Korea often uses tensions with the United States to rally solidarity at home and to justify development of nuclear weapons.


July 23 “Internet access booms across China”

Internet usage in China has proliferated in the past couple of years as computer ownership in homes becomes more common in urban areas of China, according to a recent Gallup poll.

… But teens are getting their dose of Internet consumption outside of home too, in Internet cafes. This could be partially due to busy migrant workers considering these cafes as a safe and inexpensive playground. But this could change as Radio Free Asia reports that from July 2010 onwards the Public Security Bureau announced Internet cafes must install ID swipe card machines, ensuring only those residents with second generation ID cards will be able to access the Internet.


July 23 “N. Korean leader dispatches air force to rescue flood victims: report”

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dispatched his country's air force to save dozens of people stranded by flash floods, official media reported Friday, as heavy rains continued to pound the communist state prone to natural disasters.

… Rains may lead to the spread of contagious diseases in North Korea because of the country's inadequate sanitary systems, Radio Free Asia, a U.S. media outlet, reported Friday.


July 17 “In Poster, North Korea Boasts of Ship Sinking”

A propaganda poster recently smuggled out of North Korea depicts the North Korean military smashing an enemy warship in half, a scene evocative of the sinking of a South Korean warship earlier this year.

Although the poster did not identify the ship in the poster as the Cheonan, the South Korean corvette sunk in March, it raised suspicions that North Korea may have begun bragging about the sinking for domestic propaganda purposes, said Radio Free Asia, which released a photo of the poster this week.


July 15 “RFA delivers truth to North Koreans: defectors”

Big Brother controls the news, radio, Internet and every other form of communication. This is not George Orwell’s “1984.” This is North Korea and a U.S. government-funded organization aims to change that.

Media oppression is omnipresent in the North, but information for and from Radio Free Asia’s shortwave radio broadcast flows through the communist state’s iron curtain. By informing the public of oppressive nations, RFA hopes to reduce censorship, while improving the economy and living standards. And the nonprofit organization has seen glimmers of that hope.


July 15 “O.C. Asian-Americans lobby Congress”

A group of Orange County Asian community leaders got some personal attention from Rep. Ed Royce to meetings and rallies in Washington this week.

… The O.C. contingent said they had a more positive experience at Radio Free Asia.

The radio station, which broadcasts information and ideas of freedom into East Asian countries, was established in 1996 by a bill sponsored by Royce. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed legislation granting the station a permanent license. The station is an example of the work the U.S. is doing in the region, said Brea attorney Linda Sarno.

“I’m really very appreciative that the US government is doing something about the situation there because we were built on that,” said Sarno, a Filipino immigrant. “Democracy, human rights, those are our values. We were built on that. So we should be spreading it.”


July 14 “N.Korea to hold talks with UN Command on sinking”

North Korea's military is scheduled to hold talks Thursday with the US-led United Nations Command, the first since the sinking of a South Korean warship sent regional tensions soaring.

… Despite denials of involvement in the sinking, the North is apparently using the incident in its propaganda, Radio Free Asia reported. The US-funded station on its website depicted a poster which it said it obtained from a Chinese trader recently returned from a trip to the North.


July 14 “N.Korea's ex-railways minister executed”

A nationwide campaign is underway recently in North Korea to get rid of photos and publications of executed former senior officials, Radio Free Asia claimed Tuesday.


July 13 “Chinese think tank says Facebook threatens national security”

Social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are banned in China by the ruling communist regime. And now their top-think tank is calling them potential risks to national security.

… But a press-freedom advocate Oiwan Lam from Hong Kong In Media, tells Radio Free Asia that Western social-networking sites are being singled out for another reason.


July 13 “Radio’s future may be in the clouds”

As radio moved from analog technology into the digital age, it has redefined itself. Once thought of as a medium that provided news and entertainment in audio form, it has been restructured as a multimedia content provider.
As the digital age matures, it again may need to redefine itself, this time as a data center.

Such a transition may be a leap for some; but according to A.J. Janitschek, director of program and operations support for Radio Free Asia, who talked about cloud computing at the recent NAB Show, coming to grips with this concept gives some direction to radio’s future IT operations.


July 9 “Fun facts to know and tell”

Was Kim Jong-il responsible for North Korea's meltdown in the 7-0 loss to Portugal? According to an unnamed source quoted by Radio Free Asia, the North Korean leader wanted more offense after the Koreans' defense-based 2-1 loss to mighty Brazil in the opener and "gave orders twice" to a team official during the Portugal game to open things up. The orders, according to the report, were carried out by Manager Kim Jong-hun, to disastrous effect.


July 7 “WFP to Spend $2.8 Mln on NK Food Aid”

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) has decided to spend nearly two-point-eight million U.S. dollars on food aid for North Korea. … Radio Free Asia quoted WFP global media coordinator Greg Barrow as saying that his agency will use the Swedish donation to help North Korea, which is in desperate need of emergency food aid.


July 5 “China's 'state secrets law' set to widen ambit soon”

U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who attended a court session on Monday in Beijing, was apparently given the taste of state secrets law when an American geologist was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of supplying secret data to a US firm.

… “They want to use the this law to force telecommunications and Internet companies to cooperate with the Chinese authorities in exposing the identities of people leaking state secrets,” Vincent Brossel of the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders told Radio Free Asia recently.


July 4 “OPINION – Paul Donovan: Words of freedom”

Amnesty International, the human-rights group founded by an Old Etonian barrister in 1961, is appealing for £50,000 to buy 4,000 radios for the people of Burma. They hope the sets will "break through the wall of censorship" and enable listeners to hear the BBC Burmese Service (which celebrates its 70th birthday this autumn), Voice of America's Burmese Service, Democratic Voice of Burma (based in Oslo) and Radio Free Asia (based in Washington)


July 2 “Capitol Hill”

The House passed by voice vote on Wednesday night a bill to permanently reauthorize Radio Free Asia (S-3104). Radio Free Asia, which uses radio and social media websites to send news to Asian countries lacking a free press, is currently scheduled to stop getting funding in September. The Senate passed the bill last week (CD June 28 p7), and it now moves to the president's desk.

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