RFA in the News (June 2008)


On June 19th 2008, Kyodo News, Japan’s largest wire service with over 50 million subscribers, did a profile piece on RFA’s Tibetan language service. The piece outlined the Tibetan service’s critical role in breaking news to the world about the Tibetan unrest in March. RFA Executive Editor, Dan Southerland, was quoted on the role of the Dalai Lhama during the unrest and the unlikelihood of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet coordinating protests with each other during the unrest. Jigme Ngapo, RFA’s Tibetan Service Director, was also interviewed and quoted in the piece and the work of RFA’s Uyghur Service was mentioned as well.

Chosun Ilbo “The US Congress has estimated that it will cost the country $575US million over the four years from 2009 to dismantle and replace North Korea's nuclear facilities, Radio Free Asia [RFA] reported Thursday.”

The Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2008. “China's reaction to a U.S. resettlement of Uighurs” discusses how the idea would be a fiercely negative one. The former president of the Uyghur-American Association maintains that the U.S. can explain that it is acting in accordance with the rule of law and also verify that none have been judged to a threat to the U.S. He assures readers that if the U.S. resettled the 17 Guantánamo Uyghurs, the more than “10 million Uyhurs inside China would learn of this decision via America's Radio Free Asia broadcasts -- as they have learned of so many others of American efforts to promote human rights inside China. They would understand that American society will not assist China in crushing the Uighurs and their secular democratic aspirations.”

The Associated Press, June 10, 2008. “BEIJING—Students have clashed with security forces at a People's Liberation Army artillery school in eastern China in a dispute over their degrees, the father of one of the students said Tuesday. About fifty students were wounded in last week's clashes at the Artillery Corps Institute in Nanjing city, according to an account by parent Liu Qijun, and a Monday report from Radio Free Asia. They said some of the injured had head wounds and were taken to a hospital….”

Yonhap news agency (Seoul), June 10, 2008. N.K. denies rumors on bird flu outbreak: report. "SEOUL—North Korea has denied rumors that avian influenza or hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) is spreading in the country, a radio report said Tuesday. The North's heath authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) that there has been no single case of bird flu or HFMD reported to the authorities this year, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia said."

Yonhap news agency (Seoul), June 3, republished an RFA Korean report that North Korea was sending construction workers to Poland. Saying “cash-strapped North Korea has dispatched dozens of construction workers to Poland to earn much needed foreign currency…Approximately 42 North Koreans are working in the Eastern European country, a part of which are experienced construction workers, Radio Free Asia reported…”

The BBC news Web site and blog repeatedly republished RFA coverage of protests by parents whose children died in the May 12 Sichuan earth quake as a result of shoddy school construction. These included:

--Police guard Juyuan Middle School, block memorial: On 12 June, the one-month anniversary of the earthquake, hundreds of police officers blocked roads leading to Juyuan Middle School, Dujiangyan, and prevented bereaved parents from holding a memorial on the anniversary of their children's deaths, the US-funded radio station Radio Free Asia reported. Three parents were arrested by the police and detained for three days, said Radio Free Asia. Foreign journalists were driven away, some even had their equipment broken, the report said. (Radio Free Asia Web site, Washington DC, in Chinese 13, 22 Jun 08)

--More than 150 parents rally at school ruins in Mianzhu: On 20 June, more than 150 bereaved parents rallied at the ruins of Fuxin No 2 Primary School, Wufu Township, Mianzhu city, demanding the government publicize results of its investigation into the collapse of the school, Radio Free Asia reported. More than 100 police officers were sent to the scene to "maintain order" and prevent foreign media from interviewing the parents, the report said. (Radio Free Asia Web site, Washington DC, in Chinese 21 Jun 08)

--Dujiangyan parents clash with police at local court: On 21 June, about 200 bereaved parents clashed with police in Dujiangyan city when they petitioned the local court for an explanation on the collapse of Xinjian Primary School during the earthquake, Radio Free Asia reported. Several parents were beaten up by the police and at least three were arrested, the report quoted parents as saying. (Radio Free Asia Web site, Washington DC, in Chinese 22 Jun 08)

Korea Times, Seoul, June 26, 2008 . North Korean Orchestra May Perform in US." SEOUL— North Korea's main symphony orchestra may be running into a scheduling conflict for its overseas tour involving performances in Britain and the United States. Pyongyang's State Symphony Orchestra has been planning to perform in Britain this year, marking the Stalinist nation's largest-ever musical performance abroad, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Thursday…”

Christian Science Monitor, June 11, 2008. Spotlight on China, darkness in Tibet (op-ed), Dan Southerland. “China's media covered the country's earthquake tragedy more openly than any past disaster. But the Chinese government still maintains a blackout over news from Tibet, which experienced its biggest uprising in decades this spring…”

Christian Science Monitor

At the end of May, the chief editorial writer at The Christian Science Monitor called Dan Southerland to commission an op-ed piece on the recent uprising in Tibet. Dan produced a piece, published on June 11, that focused on China’s offer to hold talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama. Dan’s piece cast doubt on any chance that the talks would produce a positive outcome, given the Chinese government’s inability to grasp the centrality of Buddhism to the Tibetan people’s national and cultural identity and unwillingness to acknowledge the deep causes of the recent Tibetan unrest. The failure of the first round of new talks, held in early July, to produce any concrete results seemed to bear out Dan’s analysis.