RFA in the News (June 2015)

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June 26 “US Urges China to Free Family Members of US-Based Journalist

The State Department is urging Chinese authorities to release family members of a Washington-based Radio Free Asia journalist who have faced harassment in apparent retribution for his reporting. Shohret Hoshur, a U.S. citizen, works for the U.S. government-funded radio's service for minority ethnic Uighurs in China's far west. Hoshur says his family has learned that two of his brothers, detained since last August, will go on trial next week on anti-state charges. A third brother was sentenced last June to five years, accused of endangering state security. Michael Quinlan, a spokesman for the department's East Asia bureau, urged China Friday to release the family members who have been detained and treat them fairly and with dignity. He said the department continues to closely monitor the case.


June 26 “No fair, China: Trying to tempt Muslims from fasting during Ramadan — with beer

The Chinese Communist Party has been known to prohibit its Muslims citizens from fasting during the month of Ramadan. But this year, they are taking a cue from Homer Simpson. … Radio Free Asia published an official notice issued by Aktash village Communist Party committee on April 29 that stated “all restaurants and supermarkets in our village should place five different brands of alcohol and cigarettes in their shops before [May 1, 2015].”


June 25 “Shameless slander

Truong Minh Tam gave the Radio Free Asia (RFA) an interview on human rights in Vietnam on June 13th when he was in the US. Among the questions and answers, Tam “revealed” his “plans” and “informed” of what he “witnessed” during his days in jail in Vietnam. We should make Tam and RFA staff clear that firstly, in Vietnam there are no so-called “prisoners of conscience” or “political prisoners” as paranoids said.


June 25 “Chinese war veterans protest over missing benefits

Disgruntled Chinese military veterans converged on Beijing this week in a protest over what they say is the government's failure to make good on promised pensions, medical insurance and other benefits. … There was no indication any veterans had been arrested, although the U.S. government-funded station Radio Free Asia said several had been intercepted and forcibly returned home by police from their places of residence.


June 24 “Deadly Clash Between Police and Ethnic Uighurs Reported in Xinjiang Region of China

More than a dozen people were killed in the Xinjiang region of far western China this week in a clash between ethnic Uighurs and the police, according to a report by Radio Free Asia that was largely corroborated by local residents, including a police officer. Radio Free Asia, a news service based in Washington and funded by the United States government that employs Uighur reporters, said that at least 18 and as many as 28 people had been killed in the knife and bomb attack early Monday in Kashgar, a predominantly Uighur city on the ancient Silk Road near China’s border with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The clash has not been reported in China’s state-controlled news media.


June 24 “Washington-based ethnic Uighur journalist says his brothers to go on trial in China next week

A journalist for the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia says two of his brothers are set to go on trial in China next week on anti-state charges. Shohret Hoshur, a U.S. citizen, is a Washington-based journalist for the radio's service for minority ethnic Uighurs in China's far west.

A third brother was sentenced last June to five years, accused of endangering state security. A lawyer retained by the family informed them that Hoshur's brothers Rexim and Shawket, held since last August, will go on trial July 2 and July 3. No family members will be allowed to attend. Radio Free Asia president Libby Liu said Thursday that Chinese authorities have harassed and threatened Hoshur's family because of his reporting on ethnic unrest and tensions in China's Xinjiang region.


June 23 “America’s Asia Policy: The New Reality

During this week’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Washington officials presumably will demonstrate their recognition of a new reality in America’s Asia policy. … For its part, the West must provide a level of support comparable to the role it played in those earlier cases, not the least of which is moral and informational. Reinvigorated and adequately funded, Voice of America and Radio Free Asia can help do [in China] what VOA and Radio Free Europe did in the Cold War.


June 21 “North Korean drought is hobbling the power supply, and the economy with it

Light showers are forecast for Pyongyang over the next few days, but the torrential downpours that drench northeast Asia this time each year have not yet reached North Korea. … North Korea has recently switched to diesel trains reserved for wartime use because it does not have the power to run electric locomotives, Radio Free Asia has reported.

June 21 “No Ramadan Fasting Allowed for Muslims in Xinjiang, China

Residents of the majority- Muslim province of Xinjiang in China are not being allowed to celebrate their religious holiday this year. … “They are extracting guarantees from parents, promising that their children won’t fast on Ramadan,” Raxit said in an interview with Radio Free Asia.


June 18 “Man fatally shot by police at Xi'an train station

A man was shot dead by a police officer after allegedly attacking passengers at a train station in Xi'an, Shaanxi province yesterday morning, according to reports. … A post from the official Weibo account of the Xi'an Railway Police initially said that the suspect was a Muslim Uyghur from Xinjiang, but that bit of information was later deleted, Radio Free Asia reports.


June 18 “Korea ranks 42nd out of 162 in peace index: report

Korea has been ranked 42nd out of 162 countries in the Global Peace Index (GPI), according to a global security report Thursday. … "When assessing the level of militarism, we found North Korea maintains the largest portion of military spending for its economic size in the world. It needs to cut military spending to be acknowledged as a country securing peace," IEP research director Daniel Hyslop was quoted as saying by Radio Free Asia.


June 12 “North Korean Kids Interrogated About Parents' Drug Habits

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has restored the once-suspended practice of surveying and interrogating children about whether their parents are drug users, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday. The country has struggled in recent years to quell a surge of addiction to methamphetamines, and it appears security officials are now cracking down by attempting to use children as sources.


June 12 “Building Decisions Show Kim Jong-un's Capricious Side

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has embarked on around 100 building projects in the impoverished state since he came to power, from a ski resort to a water park. … Curtis Melvin of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University told Radio Free Asia on Thursday that satellite photos on Google map revealed that a new skating rink in South Pyongan Province was demolished within a year of construction and is being turned into a movie theater.


June 10 “EDITORIAL: China exports repression beyond its borders

… Now we are concerned about how China is attempting to punish the ethnic Uighur journalist Shohret Hoshur of Radio Free Asia by imprisoning his three brothers in China. Mr. Hoshur left China in 1994 after he ran into trouble with the authorities because of his reporting. He has since become a U.S. citizen, and his work has provided an important window on events in the largely Muslim province of Xinjiang, beset in the past few years with a violent conflict that China blames on Uighur separatists.


June 8 “Researchers Apologize for Gaming Reddit with Fake Accounts

It should be pretty clear by now that Reddit, like Facebook, is a giant digital petri dish primed for experimentation. Even so, as demonstrated by a recent apology posted to Reddit by researchers who gamed the site, it’s not always obvious when a platform is being toyed with. … The purpose of the research, which was funded by Radio Free Asia, was to investigate how fake accounts in news website comment sections and on voting-based sites like Reddit and Hacker News could influence discourse and what kind of content people see.


June 3 “Here’s 12 Photos of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Crackdown China Wants You to Forget

Thursday, June 4, marks the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre that left as many as a few thousand of people dead when the Chinese Communist Party ordered the military to take out pro-democracy protests. Ahead of the anniversary of the bloody 1989 crackdown, the regime has arrested a number of pro-democracy activists and other dissidents, according to Radio Free Asia.


June 3 “Dissidents detained ahead of June 4 anniversary, activist group calls on China to atone for 'crimes'

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the violent 1989 military crackdown on protesters at Tianamen Square, meaning that the annual round-up of dissidents and rights activists across China is well underway. Chinese authorities have detained dozens of people in the past week, Radio Free Asia reports, placing some of them under house arrest and forcing others to go on a police-chaperoned "vacation". The latter was the case for 82-year-old Bao Tong, a former aide to purged Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang. Bao served a seven-year prison term for "revealing state secrets and counter-revolutionary propagandizing" in the wake of the 1989 democracy movement, and has remained under house in Beijing arrest ever since.

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