RFA in the News (June 2009)

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June 30 “Burma not to allow in NK ship ‘Kang Nam’”

The Burmese government has notified North Korea of its decision not to allow in a North Korean vessel suspected of carrying illicit weapons. … Quoting a Burmese government official, U.S.-based Radio Free Asia said that Rangoon told the North Korean ambassador to Burma last week of its plan to search the North Korean ship at its sea if necessary.


June 29 “Tried in absentia, Cambodian journalist immediately arrested, sent to prison”
The editor-in-chief of the "The Khmer Machas Srok" newspaper, who had been fined and sentenced to a year's imprisonment, was arrested on the same day by the police and sent to the Prey Sar prison, near Phnom Penh, Cambodia, media reports said.

Hang Chakra was arrested at a rented house in Chamcar Samrong commune in Battambang City and was immediately sent to jail, Radio Free Asia quoted Am Sam Ath, director of investigation for the Licadho human rights group, as saying.


June 28 “Martha Bayles: When the revolution isn’t broadcast”

… Like the BBC, Voice of America broadcasts news and information in 45 languages around the world. And its "surrogate" counterparts, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (which broadcasts into Central Asia and the Middle East), use a variety of media platforms, from shortwave radios to social-networking tools on the Internet, to send reliable news to millions of people whose own media are censored.


June 27 “U.S. biding its time over suspicious N. Korean ship”

The United States is apparently watching several North Korean ships apart from the Kangnam now being tracked for suspected violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874.

Radio Free Asia, meanwhile, reported that chances are that the Kangnam is carrying North Korean weapons and will exchange them for food in Burma.


June 23 “Satellite receivers pulled down to block overseas Tibetan services”

… The purpose of the pull down was stated to be to prevent the Tibetans from accessing overseas Tibetan broadcast services such as Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.


June 23 “South Korean, U.S. think tanks to discuss sudden changes in North Korea”

South Korean and U.S. think tanks will hold a joint seminar in Washington from Tuesday, concentrating mostly on the possibility of sudden changes in North Korea.

Radio Free Asia reported that the participants include officials from the U.S. government and the South Korean military.


June 22 “Tibetan TV dishes removed to block foreign broadcasts”

Dharamsala -- Chinese authorities have begun to remove satellite dishes in the Tibetan populated region in Gansu province in an effort to block access to foreign broadcasts, a media report cited Tibetan sources as saying. Locals Tibetans told Radio Free Asia that the latest drive is a new government effort to control what news they hear. Tibetan-language broadcasts by RFA and Voice of America appear to be particular targets of the campaign, one source said.


June 20 “NK randomly gave out leftover U.S. food aid”

Radio Free Asia reports that North Korean authorities have disposed of leftover international food aid at their own will.


June 20 “US, UN continue humanitarian aid to North Korea”

… Speaking to Radio Free Asia, a State Department official said the U.S. is concerned about the North Korean people's welfare. The source said the U.S. government and four civic groups continue a four million dollar project to provide electricity and equipment to a North Korean hospital.


June 17 “Lem illustrates power of free press”

… A 40-year-old Cambodian reporter for the U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia, Pichpisey Lem, aka Piseth Lem, a father of six, who fled Cambodia with his family in 2008 because of death threats, finally arrived in Norway in January of this year under the protection of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.


June 16 “Prominent human rights lawyer arrested in Vietnam”

Public security police arrested a prominent human rights lawyer in Viet Nam on Saturday for "colluding with domestic and foreign reactionaries to sabotage the Vietnamese state." Le Cong Dinh was arrested at his home in Ho Chi Minh City.

… The authorities accused him of communicating with the BBC and Radio Free Asia and of having links with overseas Vietnamese activists.


June 16 “Free prominent rights lawyer Le Cong Dingh”

The Vietnamese government should immediately free respected human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh and repeal national security laws that criminalize peaceful expression and association, Human Rights Watch said today.

… In interviews with the BBC and Radio Free Asia, Dinh has called for political pluralism to accompany economic pluralism in Vietnam, currently a one-party state controlled by the Vietnamese Communist Party.


June 15 “Victory for Tibetans protecting sacred site”

A standoff over a planned gold mine in Tibet’s Markham county has been resolved after authorities and the local residents negotiated a settlement, according to a report by Radio Free Asia on June 9.


June 15 “Vietnamese media advocate arrested for "sedition, spreading propaganda against government”
Prominent Vietnamese lawyer and media advocate Le Cong Dinh, 41, was arrested by the police in his home in Ho Chi Minh City on 13 June 2009, media reports said.

… His writings have been featured in the international media, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Radio Free Asia (RFA).


June 14 “Lawyer arrested for subversion, police say”

Le Cong Dinh, who was working for the Le Cong Dinh law firm in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1, was taken into custody Saturday afternoon at his office, police said.

… Since 2006, Dinh had communicated with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) websites while also writing to websites set up by overseas subversive organizations like “Phong Trao Dan Chu Viet Nam” (Vietnam Democracy Movement), “Viet Tan” (Vietnam Reform), “Chan Troi Moi” (New Horizon), “Thong Luan” (Thorough Discussion), or “Tu Do Dan Chu” (Democratic Freedom), the police said.


June 14 “Lawyer arrested for allegedly acting against state”

The Investigation Security Agency under the Ministry of Public Security on June 13 arrested lawyer Le Cong Dinh for allegedly conducting propaganda against the State.

… The department said that since 2006, he has drawn up many documents and sent them to various foreign press agencies, including the BBC and Radio Free Asia, and to the websites of various overseas dissident groups, including Viet Tan (Vietnam Reform Party), Chan Troi Moi (New Horizon) and Tap San Tu Do Dan Chu (Freedom and Democracy Journal).


June 13 “Subverting democracy”

… This report, “Undermining Democracy: 21st Century Authoritarians,” was released on Capitol Hill, June 4, which was the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
… Freedom House, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Asia sponsored the report. With missions to promote democracy and freedom, the three organizations conducted a study of the “methods these regimes are employing, both within and beyond their borders, to impede human rights and democratic development.”


June 11 “Surprise: Four Chinese detainees sent from Guantanamo to Bermuda”

WASHINGTON -- In a surprise switch, the U.S. government Thursday said it sent four Muslim Uighurs from a prison camp at Guantánamo to resettlement in Bermuda, not the remote Pacific island archipelago of Palau.

… The U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia broke the news first, identifying the four men granted asylum in Bermuda as Abdulla Abduqadir, 30; Helil Mamut, 31; Ablikim Turahun, 38; and Salahidin Ablehet, 32.


June 11 “4 Muslim Uyghurs released from Gitmo”

WASHINGTON, June 11 (UPI) -- Four Muslim Uighurs have been released from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detainment camp after seven years, Radio Free Asia reports.


June 10 “Junta meet with Mongla inconclusive”

The meeting between the National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS) and the junta negotiators yesterday on the transformation proposal ended inconclusively, according to a source close to the NDAA leadership on the Sino-Burma border.

… Meanwhile, the Burmese military junta’s third highest ranking general Thura Shwe Mann, the joint chief of staff, is reportedly visiting China, according to Irrawaddy and Radio Free Asia (RFA).


June 10 “Another monastery demolished in Vietnam”

Vietnamese authorities have demolished another monastery in a move that observers say may signal a new harsh policy on church properties.

… Speaking to Radio Free Asia, Ms. Hanh said she did nothing wrong to be fired and she was sacked due in good part to her Catholic background.


June 9 “SPDC Extends Ethnic Radio Program for Propaganda”

The Burmese military junta has extended its ethnic radio programs to one hour long in order to propagate its strategies and activities among the ethnic nationalities of Burma. Radio Free Asia (Burmese) and the Democratic Voice of Burma also air programs every day in the various ethnic languages, and all major ethnic nationalities in Burma receive nearly 30 minutes a day of programming in their language.


June 9 “Embassy Row – Denouncing Dictators”

… “If anti-democracy regimes are going to work together - and it seems that they are - pro-democracy governments have to work that much harder, and we must work together,” said Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat and co-chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The United States must also set a “good example” for other democratic countries, he added in his remarks last week at a conference sponsored by Freedom House, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty


June 9 “RFA: S.Korea Seeks Delay of US Envoy Dispatch to NK”

South Korea has reportedly asked the U.S. to delay a dispatch of a special envoy to North Korea, which will work for the release of two American female journalists detained in the communist country.

… Quoting a diplomatic source in Seoul, Radio Free Asia said that a South Korean government official asked for a delay of a U.S. special envoy dispatch to the North during a meetign with a U.S. delegation last week.


June 9 “Catholic teacher fired for advising students to seek true information on the Web”

A Catholic teacher has been fired from her job and may face criminal charges for allegedly encouraging her students to access to Web-sites containing “politically sensitive materials.”
… Speaking to Radio Free Asia, Hanh said she did nothing wrong to be fired and she was sacked due in good part to her Catholic background.


June 5 “Jury's out on Myanmar's election”
The ongoing trial and anticipated incarceration of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has revealed the impotency of Myanmar's opposition forces and the inability of the outside world to affect change with the embattled country's ruling military junta.

… Towards evenings in Yangon, old people tune in to the Burmese-language broadcasts of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia in an attempt to smother their anger.


June 4 “Human rights group condemns how China gives aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — A joint report by a human rights group and U.S.-funded broadcast services accuses China of deceptively distributing billions of dollars in aid to Africa and other regions in no-strings-attached packages that promote Chinese power while subverting human rights.

…. It was prepared jointly over two years by Freedom House, a Washington-based nongovernment organization that has supported freedom around the world since 1941, and U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia.


June 4 “Democracy seen threatened by new authoritarianism

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China, Iran, Russia and Venezuela form a clique of authoritarian states that use their wealth and influence to undermine global democracy and rule of law, a study by U.S.-funded agencies said on Thursday.

… "Policymakers do not appear to appreciate the dangers these 21st century authoritarian models pose to democracy and rule of law around the world," said the study by Freedom House, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Asia, all prominent U.S. democracy-promotion bodies.


June 4 “An (iron) fistful of help

China, Iran, Russia and Venezuela have been doling out largesse. Should Western democracies be worried?

… A study this week by a group of American institutions, Freedom House, Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia, looks at the use by China, Iran, Russia and Venezuela of what it calls “authoritarian aid”.


June 4 “Tiananmen 20 Years On: Study slams China on democracy

An extensive new study finds that China is actively undermining democracy at home and abroad and conducting an “organized, sophisticated and well-resourced” campaign to subvert organizations that promote human rights.
… Libby Liu (劉仚), president of Radio Free Asia and one of the analysts involved in the study, said: “China has modernized its strategy of suppression.”


June 4 “Authoritarianism's New Wave

By Jennifer Windsor, Jeffrey Gedmin, and Libby Liu

Today's undemocratic governments are smarter and more sophisticated than ever before. Call it "Authoritarianism 2.0." Today's authoritarian regimes are undermining democracy in updated, sophisticated, and lavishly funded ways. This new class of autocrats poses the most serious challenge to the emergence of an international system based on the rule of law, human rights, and open expression.


June 3 “Voices heard on Tiananmen Square Date; Radio Free Asia reaches users with no other free media access”

BEIJING -- As China limits talk about the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre on Thursday by clamping down on television and new media, one old school news outfit remains harder to squelch.
Radio Free Asia's recent series of local-language broadcasts and call-in shows titled "Remembering June 4" offers shortwave radio listeners around China an alternate perspective on the outcome of the student-led democracy movement in Beijing in the spring of 1989.


June 2 “Tiananmen: Days to remember”

By Dan Southerland

…The good news is that the blackout isn't complete. We know from Radio Free Asia's call-in shows that some younger Chinese know just enough about Tiananmen to want to learn more. I work with several Chinese broadcasters who were students in Beijing on June 4. Many of them saw more than I did. And they are here to remind me -- and many Chinese -- of a history we should never forget.

…The writer is executive editor of the congressionally funded network Radio Free Asia.


June 2 “NK missile launch likely next month”

U.S. military experts predict that North Korea will likely launch an intercontinental ballistic missile mid-July. According to Radio Free Asia, U.S. military think tank GlobalSecurity's senior researcher Charles Vick said in a phone interview that the North Korean missile launch will unlikely take place sometime around a South Korea-U.S. summit scheduled for June 16th.


June 1 “Some Guantánamo detainees to get laptops”

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- These captives already get to order fast-food takeout from the base and have access to a phone booth for weekly calls. Now some 17 Uighur Muslims awaiting a nation to grant them asylum are about to go high-tech, with laptops and web training. … Nury Turkel, a Washington, D.C.-based Uighur rights activist, hailed the computer training development. Internet access could allow the men to listen to Uighur broadcasts of Radio Free Asia, he said.

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