RFA in the News (July 2012)

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July 31 “Proportional representation for Burma?”

Burma’s Election Commission chairman and a small group of political party leaders met last week to discuss a proportional electoral system, a representative from the group told Radio Free Asia last week.


July 30 “North Korea faces U.S. in nuclear women's clash”

North Korea faces the United States in an Olympic women's football match on Tuesday that will pit the hermit state against the global superpower it has loathed since they fought a Cold War conflict six decades ago.

… But the picture is very different for the North Korean players, who carry the hopes of a country where unsuccessful athletes risk rather more than bad headlines. The North Korean men's football team were subjected to six hours of public "ideological criticism" in Pyongyang after they returned without a win from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, according to Radio Free Asia, a Western-influenced, pro-democracy broadcaster.


July 30 “Imprisoned blogger's mother self-immolates in Vietnam”

The mother of an imprisoned Vietnamese blogger died after setting herself on fire to protest her daughter's detention on anti-state charges, her family has told international news outlets. … She died en route to a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, where her daughter is due to stand trial next week, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia, citing Ta Phong Tan's sister, Ta Minh Tu.


July 28 “N. Korea disables key functions in new mobile phones: report”

North Korea has disabled video camera and memory card functions in new mobile phones, a news report said Saturday, in what appears to be Pyongyang's latest move to tighten control over the flow of information within and across its borders. The North also removed the Bluetooth function, a protocol that allows mobile phone users to exchange data over short distances, and blocked subscribers from using mobile phones beyond the city where they are registered, Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported, citing a Japanese journalist familiar with the issue.


July 26 “Tibet Poll Finds Word of Mouth Most Trusted for News”

Members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors have unveiled findings gathered recently during the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra teachings in Bodhgaya, India between Dec. 25, 2011–Jan. 15, 2012.

… Of the 117 subjects questioned, most being male and a third being in the monastic profession (monk, lama or nun), 77% of those surveyed gave the unprompted response that they considered friends and family to be the most trustworthy way to hear about the world; 7% said they didn’t have any reliable news source and 6% said foreign radio, which Betsy Henderson, director of research, training and evaluation at Radio Free Asia, said translates to U.S. broadcasting through Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.

… Using a couple anecdotes to illustrate the power of RFA and VOA in Tibet, Henderson shared one Tibetan’s words that, “If there is no Radio Free Asia, it is like there is no light in the house.” Another, she said, declared that for Tibetans, the first and foremost uniter is His Holiness the Dalai Lama; the second is Voice of America.


July 25 “Chinese activists 'sentenced' for Hong Kong protests”

Officials have sentenced two activists from mainland China to labour camp for joining Hong Kong's annual pro-democracy protests, reports say. … Ms Zeng's son, Liu Zhonghua, told Radio Free Asia on Tuesday that the police told him that his mother and Mr Song "took part in an illegal demonstration".


July 25 “20 NK defectors arrested in Laos, face risk of deportation”

More than 20 North Korean defectors were arrested by border guards in the northwestern region of Laos last week, and face the risk of repatriation to China, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday.

Kim Hee-tae, chairman of North Korean Human Rights Missionary, told the broadcaster, “More than 20 defectors are detained at the detention house of Luang Nam Tha immigration office of Laos, and they include a 32-month-old girl,” adding, “We`re urging Lao authorities not to forcefully repatriate them to China on humanitarian grounds.”


July 18 “Vice Marshal's Dismissal May Signal Economic Reforms in N. Korea”

North Korea's sudden dismissal of its army chief this week may signal the beginning of major economic reforms under its new leader Kim Jong-un. Vienna-based North Korea expert Rudiger Frank told Radio Free Asia that Pyeongyang's former Vice Marshal Ri Yong-ho was likely removed from his posts after clashing with the ruling party over economic reforms.


July 17 “Chinese dissident writer wins Civil Courage Prize”

Yu Jie, a noted Chinese dissident writer who left China for the United States in January, has won the 2012 Civil Courage Prize, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday.


July 17 “Rohingyas issue lands in Asean forum”

The Southeast Asian body vows to monitor the plight of the ethnic group unwanted both in Myanmar and Bangladesh, reports US-based online newspaper Radio Free Asia (RFA). The head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) raised the issue of the Rohingyas with the top diplomats of Myanmar and Bangladesh on Friday, vowing to monitor the Muslim ethnic group unwanted by both countries, says RFA, a private nonprofit corporation that broadcasts news and information in nine native Asian languages.


July 11 “China: 43rd Tibetan Sets Himself on Fire”

A Tibetan man in his 20s set himself on fire in a village near Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, according to reports by Radio Free Asia and Free Tibet, an advocacy group. … Radio Free Asia, citing a person from Lhasa, said the self-immolation took place in an area that Tibetans call Damshung, and the Chinese call Dangxiong.


July 10 “Burma's Irresponsible New Media”

The emergence of free media in Myanmar after six decades of oppression is not going the way anybody expected just weeks ago, and the trend is ominous. … The conflict in Arakan state puts more internationalized media such as the Burmese services of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Voice of America (VOA), and Radio Free Asia (RFA), as well as the Irrawaddy and Democratic Voice of Burma in a difficult position.


July 7 “Burma’s fresh arrests of students may reverse the reform course”

In keeping with media reports, on 3 July, Burmese government released some 46 prisoners as a result of President Thein Sein’s decree. Yet, hundreds more are obviously still in prison. … Min Ko Naing, a leader of the 1988 democracy uprising who spent over a decade in prison, told Radio Free Asia (Burmese Service), “In such a time of democratic reform, government must allow peaceful events held inside buildings. Authorities’ banning on peaceful in-house ceremonies means pushing the students to take the street unnecessarily.”


July 6 “Shallow victory for China's journalists, protesters”

Shi Junrong, Xi'an Evening News bureau chief in the city of Wei'an, ran into trouble recently after he reported on the costly brand of luxury cigarettes favored by local officials. He announced on his microblog that the paper suspended him soon after, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia.

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July 6 “Blogger harassed, briefly detained by police in Vietnam”

Vietnamese authorities must stop their harassment of independent blogger and rights activist Huynh Thuc Vy and allow her to report freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today…. According to a Radio Free Asia report, officials had blocked several other independent bloggers from attending and reporting on the event.


July 4 “Disappearing China’s Uighurs”

Three years after a harsh crackdown on Uighur protests, dozens of members of the minority ethnic group who disappeared following mass arrests in the wake of the demonstration are still missing. … “For almost three years, I have not known where my son is – even whether he is alive or dead,” Patigul told Radio Free Asia.


July 3 “Brief Olympic broadcasting”

The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that a South Korean TV network has the right to broadcast the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games to North Korea, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday. According to the U.S.-funded international radio station, the IOC plans to provide free internet broadcast of the Games to 64 countries without rights-holding broadcasters for the London Olympics, but North Korea is not among them, because Seoul Broadcasting System has the broadcasting rights for the territories of both South and North Korea.

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