RFA in the News (July 2013)

2013-08-07
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CHOSUN ILBO

July 31 “Young Brits Launch N.Korea Human Rights Group

An activist group has been launched in the U.K. to publicize human rights violations in North Korea, Radio Free Asia reported on Tuesday. Dubbed the North Korea Campaign U.K., it was launched by young professional Brits in their 20s and 30s led by parliamentary researcher Jack Hands last Saturday, the 60th anniversary of the armistice that halted the Korean War.

CAMBODIA DAILY

July 30 “Rural Voters Get Results With Others’ Help

Voters in rural areas said Monday they had heard Sunday’s national election results, after hours of waiting, from independent radio and TV broadcasts and from rumors and relatives on the telephone.

Hey Sarin, 48, from Oddar Meanchey province’s Samraong City, said he heard the preliminary results Monday morning on Radio Free Asia. “I listened to Kiri Dong Reak Radio [a local radio station] about the primary result, but I knew that the CPP [Cambodian People’s Party] had won through Morning Report from Radio Free Asia,” he said.

BELFAST TELEGRAPH

July 30 “Video: Cambodian Opposition Disputes Ruling Party Victory

Citing huge polling irregularities, the opposition rejected the government’s claims the ruling party had won the National Assembly election 68 seats to 55, amid suggestions the opposition had gained nearly as much of the popular vote as its rival, according to reports. This video from Radio Free Asia shows footage of the voting on election day and the Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy at a press conference. Credit: Radio Free Asia

KOREA HERALD (Also in YONHAP, KOREA TIMES, ABC, NBC NEWS, WASHINGTON TIMES, POLITICO, ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION, CHRISTIAN POST)

July 29 “Carter to visit North Korea ‘soon’ for release of Bae: report

Former United States President Jimmy Carter plans to visit North Korea “very soon” to win the release of a Korean-American man detained there, a U.S. radio station reported Sunday. Carter “is scheduled to visit North Korea very soon to discuss the release of Kenneth Bae,” the Washington-based Radio Free Asia said in a report, citing multiple human rights officials.

BANGKOK POST

July 27 “Social media's influence on Cambodian politics grows
A month before Cambodia's general election which takes place tomorrow, the government announced a directive banning local radio stations from airing foreign programmes, including Voice of America and Radio Free Asia’s Khmer-language services, during the campaign and election period. In response, the Cambodian public immediately turned to Facebook and other social media voicing their condemnation, followed by the US government and international media outlets, resulting in the government and international media outlets, resulting in the government reversing the ban the next day.

CHINA DIGITAL TIMES

July 26 “Outspoken Singer Detained Over Explosion Remarks

AP reports that Wu Hongfei, singer for the Beijing-based rock outfit Happy Avenue (幸福大街), has been detained for comments that she posted on her Weibo account. … As the AP report cites friend and activist Hu Jia mentioning that Wu has been “singled out… partly because she has been outspoken on social ills in the past,” Radio Free Asia’s coverage of Wu’s detention quotes Human Rights Watch on Wu’s past bluntness.

YONHAP

July 25 “U.S. non-profit group to help flood victims in N. Korea

A U.S. non-profit group plans to provide aid to North Korean flood victims in the southwestern part of the country after it was hit hard by torrential rains in recent weeks, a report said Thursday.

Christian Friends of Korea (CFK), which is already engaged in providing humanitarian assistance to people living in the Hwanghae region, will offer clean drinking water, food and medicine to flood victims, Radio Free Asia reported.

WASHINGTON POST

July 25 “Buddhist monk blames Muslims for Myanmar bombing

Ashin Wirathu’s portrait appeared on the July 1 cover of Time magazine’s Asia edition, above the headline, “The Face of Buddhist Terror: How Militant Monks are Fueling Anti-Muslim Violence in Asia.” … In a digital disc being passed around Mandalay, a “Muslim religious leader says that the Prophet Muhammad is asking for the heads of Wirathu and (fellow monk) Pyinnya Tharmi,” Wirathu, 45, told Radio Free Asia’s Myanmar Service.

ALBAWABA NEWS

July 24 “The right to fast: Why is China barring Xinjiang Muslims from their Ramadan ritual?

Uighur Muslims in China’s northwest province of Xinjiang face severe abuses in practicing their religion, including prohibition from the required fast during the holy month of Ramadan, according to religious rights watchdogs and news reports. … In Xinjiang, officials “are extracting guarantees from parents, promising that their children won’t fast on Ramadan,” Dilxat Raxit, Sweden-based spokesman for the exiled World Uighur Congress, told Radio Free Asia.

TIBETAN REVIEW (Also in TIMES OF INDIA)

July 23 “Hired Chinese gang attacks Tibetan villagers in land dispute”

Residents of a Chinese township in Gansu Province have on Jul 17 set an around 100-strong armed gang on a neighbouring Tibetan village in Qinghai Province to settle score over a long-running land dispute, severely injuring at least 17 Tibetans, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) Jul 21. Such tactic is commonly employed by officials and builders in mainland China to illegally dispossess villagers of their commercially valuable land.

YONHAP

July 23 “N. Korea kicks off mass games to mark 60th anniversary of Korean War armistice

North Korea kicked off its annual Arirang mass games performances to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice Agreement that halted the 1950-53 Korean War, the country's official news agency said Tuesday. … Meanwhile, Radio Free Asia commented that the first mass games performance on Monday appeared to indicate the North's wish to point out traditionally close ties between Pyongyang and Beijing, as well as its desire for cordial relations with the rest of the international community.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE (Also in XINHUA)

July 22 “Cambodian opposition leader barred from standing in election

Cambodia's newly returned opposition leader cannot be a candidate in upcoming polls, election authorities ruled on Monday, rejecting his application to stand against strongman Premier Hun Sen.

Sam Rainsy, who was greeted by huge crowds on Friday after his return from self-imposed exile in France, "did not fulfil the conditions in the process of registering candidates", National Election Committee (NEC) president Im Sousdey said in a letter. … In an interview with Radio Free Asia on Friday the French-educated former banker warned that demonstrations might break out if he is not allowed to stand. "If I can't participate, after the elections all the Cambodian people will protest and the whole international community will condemn the result and regard this as a sham election," Rainsy was quoted as saying.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS

July 22 “Decree targets online freedoms in Vietnam

A new decree aimed at regulating Internet-related information and services in Vietnam represents a significant new danger to online journalists and bloggers, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The decree was signed into law on July 15 and will be implemented on September 1, according to news reports. … According to a Radio Free Asia report, the decree prohibits using the Internet to "go against the state of the socialist republic of Vietnam, jeopardize national security or social order, damage national unity, issue war propaganda, carry out acts of terrorism, create hatred between ethnic groups ... or reveal state secrets, including those related to the military, security, and foreign affairs."

HANKYOREH (Also in CHOSUN ILBO, SINA, XINHUA)

July 22 “Kim Jong-un’s younger sister reportedly managing events in North Korea
It has been reported that the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is working as the manager of events for the North Korean National Defense Committee. Her name is Kim Yo-jong, and she is 27 years old. … “We heard that Kim Yo-jong was taking a direct role in the events for Kim Jong Un after the death of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il from several figures who took part in the first event,” a North Korean source was quoted as saying in a July 18 report by Radio Free Asia.

REUTERS (Also in ASSOCIATED PRESS, INDEPENDENT)

July 22 “Bomb during sermon by radical Myanmar monk wounds 5

A bomb exploded metres away from a radical Buddhist monk as he delivered a mass sermon in Myanmar, police said on Monday, the latest flare-up as inter-religious tensions simmer. … However, the monk told Radio Free Asia's Burmese service that he had previously received a sound recording containing a threat to his life, which he believed was the voice of a Muslim cleric. … "I've no idea who exactly carried out this explosion. But it must have been done by those who usually carry out terrorist acts," he told Radio Free Asia.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESS (DEUTSCHE PRESSE AGENTUR, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

July 21 “Tibetan monk sets himself on fire, report says

A Tibetan monk died after setting himself on fire in Sichuan province, reports said yesterday, in the first such protest for more than a month. Kunchok Sonam, 18, carried out the protest on Saturday outside a monastery in Aba prefecture, Radio Free Asia said in a report that cited residents in the area. Sonam shouted slogans "crying for Tibetan freedom", the broadcaster, which is funded by the US government, cited a local resident as saying.

TIBETAN REVIEW

July 21 “China shuts down civil society think-tank, detains anti-graft activists

In a renewed crackdown on civil society and human rights activists, China recently detained a leading anti-corruption activist and also shut down a prominent non-government think-tank in a sudden raid. “Dozens of municipal civil affairs bureau officials and police searched the offices of transition Institute on Social Economic Research in Beijing, confiscating its publications and issuing it with an abolition order,” Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) Jul 19 quoted the institute's director Guo Yusan as saying in an interview.

LOS ANGELES TIMES (Also in CAMBODIA HERALD, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, DEUTSCHE PRESSE AGENTUR)

July 20 “Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy returns to stir up election

The joyous scene of Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s return to Phnom Penh from self-imposed exile Friday has stirred expectations – some would say unrealistic ones – of young voters throwing their support behind an alternative to Southeast Asia’s longest-reigning leader, Prime Minister Hun Sen. … Radio Free Asia reported that lawyers for the opposition faction are combing the law books and legislative records for precedent to back their campaign to put Rainsy on the ballot. The deadline for registering a candidacy has long passed, but the legal experts argue that the royal pardon should expunge the punitive measures that stripped Rainsy of his elected office.

TIME MAGAZINE

July 19 “Back from Exile, Cambodia’s Opposition Leader Brings Thousands onto the Streets
“I have returned to rescue the country,” Sam Rainsy told the cheering crowd of thousands gathered Friday morning at Phnom Penh Airport. Cambodia’s opposition leader has landed amid a general election campaign in full swing — elections are slated for July 28 — but can be forgiven for missing the first three weeks of campaigning. … Earlier this month, Hun Sen banned foreign media broadcasts in the country, but made a swift U-turn amid an international uproar. Voice of America and Radio Free Asia are the only Khmer-language media that carry opposition views.


SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

July 19 “Economy suffers as racial tensions simmer in troubled Xinjiang

… An influx of ethnic Han to the vast, impoverished land has generated resentment among the Muslim Uygurs who say the Beijing government's appointees in the west are restricting their culture and religion.… Radio Free Asia (RFA) quoted local ethnic Uygur officials as saying that 15 Uygurs had been killed when the police opened fire on them at a market in Hotan.

YONHAP

July 19 “Seoul continues to seek Pyongyang commitment to prevent another complex shutdown”

South Korea is focusing on securing a commitment from North Korea not to cause another suspension of the now-shuttered inter-Korean factory park in its long-drawn-out talks with Pyongyang, the government said Friday [19 July]. … The remarks came after Washington-based Radio Free Asia said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies provided emergency aid goods to flood-stricken North Koreans.

TIBETAN REVIEW

July 19 “China transferred county party chief as he was popular among local Tibetans”

An ethnic Tibetan serving as a county party secretary in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) Prefecture of Sichuan Province was transferred last month to a low-profile post as he was responsive to the needs of the local Tibetans and was therefore popular among them, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) Jul 17.

PBS NEWSHOUR

July 17 “Myanmar Farmers at Risk from Government Land Seizures

In the Asian country of Myanmar, also known as Burma, farmers are facing the destruction of their family’s homeland as the government enters into numerous development contracts with large corporations in the race to develop the impoverished country. Farmlands that have been owned and farmed for generations will soon be high-tech food and textile factories. [Radio Free Asia video is shown at 4:18 and credited in this special report.]

YONHAP

July 17 “Int'l community continues aid to N. Korea despite sanctions”

International humanitarian groups are continuing their assistance to North Korea despite sanctions imposed on the North for its nuclear test early this year, a report said Wednesday. … The World Food Program told Radio Free Asia earlier this week that a lack of donation has pushed it to scale down its food aid to North Korea by 85 percent. The U.N. food agency has halted operations in June at five of its 14 food factories in the North due to grain shortages.

ASIAN TRIBUNE

July 14 “Burma: Government resolves tensions with Wa Army

Burma’s Union Peace-making Work Committee led by Vice-Chairman Thein Zaw and “Wa” Special Region (2) Peace-making Delegation led by Zhao Guo-an launched peace talks at Triangle Region Command Headquarters in Kengtung in Shan State (East) on Friday, the state-run New Light of Myanmar reported. … Aung Kyaw Zaw, a military observer from China-Burma border, told Radio Free Asia (Burmese Service) that, aside from the helicopters, there were also reports that China had sent a large number of armaments and military-use vehicles to the China-Burma border in Sept. 2012, and that new weapons had recently appeared in the area.

YONHAP (Also in KOREA HERALD)

July 13 “N. Korea population estimated at 24.7 mln: report”

North Korea has a population of 24.72 million as of this month, a media report based on data provided by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) showed Saturday. The numbers released by Radio Free Asia named the communist country as the 49th most populous country in the world among 239 states checked.

ECONOMIST

July 13 “Not quite the usual walkover; Cambodia's election

SUPREMELY confident that his Cambodian People's Party (CPP) will romp to yet another handsome majority in the general election on July 28th, Hun Sen, the prime minister, is hardly bothering to campaign himself. … When the government recently tried to stop local radio stations from rebroadcasting Khmer language foreign programmes (from the likes of Radio Free Asia), it was a thinly veiled attempt to take Mr Kem Sokha off the air. These stations are how he reaches the people in the countryside who make up the majority of voters. Embarrassingly, the government quickly had to back down after a deluge of domestic and foreign protests. Mr Kem Sokha has rattled Mr Hun Sen, who is usually imperturbable.

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

July 12 “Chinese Dream becomes mosque, university and prison dream

The Chinese Dream has made recent appearances in a variety of unexpected places, including mosques, university campuses and even prisons. … “Every mosque has at least six to seven government officials stationed outside it, monitoring all activities inside,” Rexiti said in an interview with Radio Free Asia. “The mosques have to abide by all rules and provisions set forth by the Chinese government, and mosque visitors have received notification that during prayer hours, they are expected to pray to the Chinese Dream.”

SINA NEWS

July 10 “Mainland former diplomat’s century residency faces demolition

Radio Free Asia reported today that Su Hongtan’s residence at Xicheng District in Beijing faces demolition, even though he was a former Chinese diplomat and his residence has a history of about a century.

IRRAWADDY

July 10 “500 Sentenced Since 2012 for Arakan Violence

Radio Free Asia reports that about 1,200 people have been arrested and 500 have been given jail terms for their roles in the inter-communal violence that broke out in western Burma’s Arakan State last year. Burma’s Vice-President Sai Mauk Kham said 662 people are still on trial in 45 different cases.

NEW YORK TIMES (Also in BBC, DEUTSCHE PRESSE AGENTUR, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE)
July 9 “Chinese Police Said to Fire on Tibetans

Chinese police officers opened fire on a crowd of unarmed Tibetans who were celebrating the birthday of the Dalai Lama in a volatile area of Sichuan Province, injuring nine people, two of them critically, rights advocates reported this week. … According to the International Campaign for Tibet, Radio Free Asia and other groups, the crowd included Buddhist monks and nuns from nearby monasteries but also scores of laypeople who were celebrating the 78th birthday of the Dalai Lama, an event that has traditionally been banned by the authorities. … “They smashed doors and windows of our vehicles and started beating Tibetans gathered in the area and dispersed the Tibetans and started shooting at the crowd,” one local resident told Radio Free Asia.

HUFFINGTON POST

July 8 “Boss-napped: What We Can Learn From China's Labor Banditry”

Many workers struggle to hold onto their job, but when you're feeling especially insecure about your employment situation, you might want to try to hold onto your boss instead. Last month, a worker-led siege at a factory near Beijing gave the world a dramatic glimpse into the workplace dynamics of Chinese capitalism. … This radical tactic was at play in another labor dispute this week at a Huizhou piling factory, where, according to Radio Free Asia, workers who feared they would be laid off detained five managers to demand assurances that they would be properly compensated.

XINDEX

July 8 “Censorship: The problem child of Burma’s dictatorship

I became familiar with censorship as a boy in the 1990s, when certain pages of the monthly magazines I read were covered with black ink, which censorship officials manually brushed over printed words. … From about 2005, browsing the internet became part of my daily routine. Low-speed internet connection, which continues today, made it difficult to access information. In addition, though, a great number of websites were banned, including the BBC, Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA).

STRAITS TIMES

July 8 “Cambodian strongman 'eyeing political dynasty'

ASIA'S longest-serving prime minister Hun Sen is seeking to build a political dynasty, analysts say, with both his son and son-in-law running in Cambodia's upcoming general elections on July 28. … "We don't just make the appointment, they must be qualified," he said, adding that it is important that young people run for office in order to replace ageing politicians. "No one starts their work when they are old," he was quoted as saying by the Radio Free Asia.

CAMBODIA HERALD

July 7 “U.S. Ambassador William E. Todd -- Opinion: The Road to a Lasting Democracy

… [T]he United States welcomed the Royal Government’s decision to rescind its ban on Khmer-language programming from outside the country during the election campaign period. This decision means that Cambodians will continue to have access to high-quality, independent news from sources such as Radio Free Asia and Voice of America. I sincerely hope that the Royal Government will also seriously consider requests by civil society and news broadcasters to rescind the media bans currently planned on election day and the five preceding days.

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS

July 4 “Xinjiang suffers information blockade four years after demonstrations

Chinese authorities clamped a week-long communications blackout on the Uighur autonomous region as part of a military repression prompted by disturbances in 2009. On the eve of those events, Reporters Without Borders has concluded that authorities are maintaining their tight control of information in the most heavily monitored area of China. … As in the rest of mainland China, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are prohibited. Broadcasts of some radio stations, such as Radio Free Asia, manage to reach Xinjiang. But listening to them is a very risky activity.

HUFFINGTON POST

July 3 “Greg Fay – Opinion: Crackdown, Misunderstanding of Uyghur Faith

At a holy site in the Central Asian desert, the indigenous Uyghur people tie rice and corn to grave-markers to "feed" spirits and protect the souls of their dead. … It is the most restrictive period of the year for Uyghur religious practice, and reveals China's brutal repression of the Uyghur faith. Already Radio Free Asia reports that Chinese authorities are commencing "political study classes" and preparing for the annual crackdown.

TELEGRAPH (Also in CHOSUN ILBO)

July 3 “Kim Jong-il's widow 'purged from party posts by North Korea's Kim Jong-un'

Kim Ok, the late dictator's fourth wife, and her father, Kim Hyo, have "recently been dismissed from all their posts," Radio Free Asia reported. The Seoul-based radio station, which is run by defectors from North Korea, suggested that Kim Ok had been sacked by Kim Jong-un to enable the young leader to tighten his grip on power in Pyongyang.

YONHAP

July 3 “More than 1,700 N. Korean workers employed in Mongolia: report”

A total of 1,749 North Koreans are working in Mongolia with most of them employed in the construction sector, a news report said Wednesday. The number of North Korean workers, tallied at the end of April, accounts for the second largest foreign workers' group in the central Asian country, after the Chinese, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia said, citing Mongolia's labor ministry. The figure represents North Koreans legally working in the country.

TIME MAGAZINE (Also in SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST)

July 2 “Signs of the Dalai Lama: Is China’s Tibet Policy Changing?”

Can he be seen or not? Last week, different organizations that follow Tibet, including Radio Free Asia, reported that in certain Tibetan regions, local authorities appeared to be allowing images of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, to be openly venerated for religious purposes. The seeming policy shift in parts of Sichuan and Qinghai provinces with large Tibetan populations was seen as possible evidence of a gentler approach to the troubled region by the new Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chief Xi Jinping.

AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION (Also in AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, TIME, RTHK, CAMBODIA HERALD, CAMBODIA DAILY, REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS)

July 1 “Foreign media welcome Cambodia's media ban reversal

Foreign media have welcomed the Cambodian government's decision to reverse a ban on local radio stations airing foreign-produced broadcasts in the lead-up to elections this month. Radio Australia and America's Radio Free Asia, which both produce Khmer language content for local broadcast, say they are pleased with the government's decision. However, Radio Free Asia says it remains concerned about other "arbitrary press restrictions" including a proposed foreign media blackout during the election weekend. "We look forward to the remaining press restrictions being removed and the Cambodian people having full access to the accurate information they deserve," RFA said in a statement.

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