RFA in the News (June 2013)

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June 30 “China presented an eyewash Tibet visit for US ambassador

China staged a highly orchestrated visit to Tibet’s capital Lhasa by the US ambassador Gary Locke from Jun 25 to 27, presenting to his delegation a happy and peaceful city devoid of all the heavy security that was otherwise routinely present there, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) June 28. All signs of a typically heavy security presence from the normally tense and tightly controlled central areas of the city were removed before the delegation arrived, the report said.


June 30 “China Boosts Security In Xinjiang After Bloodshed

Chinese paramilitary troops began round-the-clock patrols Sunday in the country's northwestern region of Xinjiang following a series of bloody clashes that have killed at least 56 people over the last several months. … However, U.S. government-backed Radio Free Asia said at least two Uighurs were killed in the Karakax violence, which it said began after Friday prayers at a local mosque that had been raided the week before by police because its resident Imam had defied strict rules on sermon topics. The violence later spread to the city of Hotan, where groups of young men set fires along a major downtown road.


June 29 “Cambodia bans foreign radio programs in run-up to election

Cambodia has banned local radio stations from broadcasting content from foreign media in the run-up to a general election next month and also told them to stop carrying reports on foreigners playing any role in the campaign. … Radio Free Asia (RFA), one of two U.S. funded stations which offer programs in Khmer through local radio and is free from government influence, said the media censorship would hinder democratic elections. In a statement late on Friday, the Ministry of Information said all radio stations must be neutral in their coverage before the election and not carry reports on foreigners playing any role in the election… The statement said stations must also suspend broadcasting Khmer-language programs by foreign media. Radio Free Asia spokesman John A. Estrella called the ban "the most sweeping and stunning frontal assault on media freedom in Cambodia in recent memory" and "a blatant strategy to silence the types of disparate and varied voices that characterize an open and free society".


June 28 “Two monks self-immolate in Tibet: US broadcaster

Two Buddhist monks have burnt themselves alive in Lhasa, the capital of China's Tibetan Autonomous Region, the US-based broadcaster Radio Free Asia said. The monks set themselves on fire on Sunday outside a Buddhist temple in Lhasa, the broadcaster said, in the first reported self-immolations in the city, which has been under heavy security since deadly riots broke out in 2008.


June 28 “Death toll in Xinjiang violence rises to at least 35

The death toll in Wednesday’s clashes in the western Xinjiang region has risen from 27 to at least 35, and China’s state-run media are now referring to the incident as a “terrorist attack.” Initial reports by the official New China News Agency said knife-wielding rioters attacked a police station, a government building and a construction site. … However, Radio Free Asia’s Uighur language service, citing local officials, residents and an imam who helped with burial rites, said Friday the death toll was at least 46 -- including 35 security personnel. The new accounts also for the first time mentioned the ethnicities of those involved, with Xinhua saying 16 of the dead were Uighurs. RFA said of the security personnel that were slain, about half were Uighurs.


June 27 “China urged to end forced resettlements in Tibet

A human rights group appealed to China on Thursday to end what it called forced "mass rehousing and relocation" of ethnic Tibetans that it said had uprooted more than two million people in the past seven years. … Since 2009, at least 117 Tibetans have committed acts of self-immolation in China in protest against Beijing's policies. More than 90 have died. But in a possible sign of a loosening of some restrictions, authorities in Tibetan-populated areas of Qinghai and Sichuan provinces are allowing monks to respect the Dalai Lama as a religious leader, though not as a political figure, Radio Free Asia said.


June 27 “China unrest Uighur groups urge probe in China; 12 more deaths reported Beijing

Two Uighur exile groups on Thursday urged an independent investigation of the death of 27 people in China's far western region of Xinjiang, while a report said 12 more Uighurs died in an earlier explosion. Meanwhile, US-based Radio Free Asia said at least 12 Uighurs died in a previously unreported incident in Ghorachol township in Xinjiang's Aksu district this month when explosive devices they were carrying detonated.


June 26 “Growing pains: Myanmar's ethnic media

AS daily newspapers return and an overhaul of state mouthpieces begins, Myanmar’s ethnic media outlets are quietly finding their place in the country’s shifting media landscape by expanding operations and offering more balanced reporting. … “True ethnic voices can be heard from ethnic media outlets while Bamar-dominated media outlets, including [British Broadcasting Corporation], [Voice of America] and [Radio Free Asia], mainly present news and perspectives from majority Bamar points of views,” said Brang Hkangda, the editor of the English section of Kachinland News.


June 25 “The Stream, June 25: To Understand Groundwater Recharge, Scientists Study Rocks

Scientists from Australia’s National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training are investigating how water moves through dense layers of rock to form and recharge aquifers, PhysOrg reported. The researchers hope that their work will improve the management of groundwater resources, which face extreme pressure in Australia and around the world. … Transboundary rivers in China and Kazakhstan are under increasing pressure from development, but an international management agreement between the two countries is proceeding slowly, Radio Free Asia reported.


June 25 “N. Korea's rice production forecast to drop 5.6 pct this year”

North Korea's rice production is likely to decrease 5.6 percent this year from a year earlier, a United Nations food organization said Tuesday. The North is expected to produce 1.7 million tons of rice this year, compared with 1.8 million tons last year, according to the Food Outlook report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). … FAO economist Kisan Gunjal has said on the Washington-based Radio Free Asia that the North still remains a country with a food shortage and it may need at least 500,000 tons of additional grain to feed its citizens.


June 24 “China’s Red Star flags replace prayer flags in Chamdo, Tibet”

Under China’s massive ongoing three-year campaign of ensuring loyalty to the Communist Party of China and of isolating and persecuting those opposed to its rule, all homes and monasteries in Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) have been forced to fly the Chinese national flag and display an official portrait depicting the five top leaders of the five generations of Chinese leaders thus far, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) Jun 21, citing Beijing-based poet and Tibet blogger Ms Woeser. On the other hand, prayer flags, once an ubiquitous, traditional presence at Tibetan homes and public places, could not been seen any more.


June 23 “Film about N.K. defectors to be shown in Toronto

“The Defector,” a documentary film directed and produced by a Canadian-Korean director, will have a free screening in Toronto next month, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Saturday. The film by award-winning director Ann Shin will be screened at Innis Town Hall of the University of Toronto on July 4, the Washington-based radio station said.


June 21 “Suu Kyi slams proposed inter-faith marriage law

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has criticised a proposal by nationalist monks to restrict marriages between Buddhist women and men of other faiths, describing it as a violation of human rights, a report said on Friday. "This is one-sided. Why only women? You cannot treat the women unfairly," Radio Free Asia quoted the Nobel Peace Laureate as saying in an interview. "I also understand that this is not in accordance with the laws of the country and especially that it is not part of Buddhism," the veteran activist said.

June 20 “Woeser Under House Arrest Once Again

Since 2008, Tibetan writer, activist, and blogger Woeser has repeatedly found herself (along with her husband Wang Lixiong) under house arrest. According to a post published yesterday on her Chinese-language blog, Wang and Woeser are again under detention in their Beijing residence. … A report from Radio Free Asia looks to Woeser’s blog post to mention the alleged Lhasa trip that Beijing is organizing for foreign journalists[.]


June 20 “Watch: Soy milk counterfeiting rampant throughout China

Radio Free Asia takes a look at soy milk counterfeiting in China, a common practice that's come under fire in light of tainted milk scandals.


June 20 “J-school in the land of the junta

The future of Burmese journalism is in a shopping mall. At least, that is what the government hopes. Up the glass escalators of Yangon’s sparkling new Junction Square, past the ice cream parlours and kiosks offering cosmetics, jewellery and jeans, the Myanmar Media Development Centre is tucked away on the third floor. Opened with great fanfare in July 2012, it is one of the few institutions training journalists in a country that until recently had very little use for them. … Yet a Gallup poll from 2012 tells a more complex story. Myanmar citizens trust official outlets only slightly less than the BBC and Radio Free Asia.


June 20 “Tibetan nun dies after self-immolation

A Tibetan nun who last week set fire to herself in protest at Chinese rule has died, a US-based broadcaster and rights group say. The woman set herself ablaze on June 11 near Nyitso monastery, the scene of similar protests, in Daofu country of southwest China's Sichuan province, Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on its website. Wangchen Dolma, aged 31, died on Friday in hospital and was "secretly cremated", RFA said, citing the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) - the India-based government-in-exile - in confirming the death.


June 20 “Cambodia anti-trafficking efforts criticised in US report

Corruption among law enforcement officials and a lack of adequate protection for women, men, and children who were trafficked for sex or forced labour contributed to a "climate of impunity" for traffickers and a denial of justice to victims, the report said. … "Cambodia is moving in a downward direction," Luis CdeBaca, the coordinator of US trafficking policy, told Radio Free Asia.


June 19 “Myanmar’s Speaker of the Lower House Shwe Mann: Economic Reforms Needed Ahead of 2015 Election

On June 10, Myanmar’s speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Thura U Shwe Mann, during the first official visit to the U.S. by Myanmar’s Parliament since the reform process began two years ago, confirmed he would run for president in 2015. Shwe Mann, a former general and widely considered a “key architect” of recent reforms in his country, told Radio Free Asia in Washington, D.C., that he would run for president “because it is the key post to work for the betterment of the country and the people’s interest.”


June 19 “Prison hunger strike by Vietnam revolutionary’s son tests government’s culture of intimidation

Cu Huy Ha Vu’s books come with pages torn out by prison guards. Only some of his letters reach home. He is not allowed to access evidence from his trial or to see his wife alone. … In his dramatic one-day trial in April 2011, Vu’s lawyers walked out of the courthouse after a judge refused to read or distribute interviews Vu was accused of giving to foreign media, including the U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.


June 19 “ILO Lifts All Restrictions on Burma

The International Labor Organization (ILO) announced that it will lift its remaining restrictions on Burma, in a move that Burma’s government hopes will boost trade and increase foreign investment as the country’s economy continues to open after decades of isolation. … In April, after clashes in March between both sides despite a ceasefire, hundreds of internally displaced persons were reluctant to leave temporary settlement camps because they feared forced labor, according to a report by Radio Free Asia.


June 19 “China bans mourning, religious rites for Tibet self-immolation nun

The young Tibetan Buddhist nun who staged a self-immolation protest against Chinese rule near Nyatso Monastery in Tawu (Chinese: Daofu) County of Karze Prefecture, Sichuan Province, in the evening of Jun 11 has succumbed to her burns on Jun 14 and the local Chinese authorities have disposed of her remains without allowing her family to perform the traditional last rites. … Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) reported Jun 17 that on the day the nun died, a group of Chinese officials visited her home and issued stringent orders to her family as well as relatives and neighbours.


June 18 “Myanmar's Democracy Transition Marred by Anti-Muslim Rhetoric and Violence

The Southeast Asian country of Myanmar has taken major steps to turn from a military dictatorship to a fledgling democracy. But that transition has also seen the rise of harrowing, deadly clashes between Buddhists and Muslims. Special correspondent Kira Kay reports from Myanmar. [Radio Free Asia footage was incorporated prominently throughout this televised segment.]


June 18 “Sagaing Division Police Arrested on Drug Smuggling Allegations

Two high-ranking police officers from areas in Sagaing Division on Burma’s remote border with India were arrested this weekend on allegations of involvement in drug smuggling, national police sources said. … Radio Free Asia reported on Monday that Tamu Township Police Chief Hla Win and Kalay District Deputy Police Chief Naing Zaw Htun had been put under arrest.

June 17 “China Dissident Says He’s Being Forced From N.Y.U.

Chen Guangcheng, the dissident legal advocate whose escape from house arrest to the American Embassy in Beijing last year provoked a diplomatic crisis, said he was being forced to leave New York University over concerns that his activism was harming the university’s relationship with China. … In August, he told friends that N.Y.U. was trying to dissuade him from traveling to Washington to meet members of Congress. As he was returning to New York that day, two N.Y.U. interpreters who were accompanying Mr. Chen refused to allow a reporter from Radio Free Asia to interview him at Union Station. The reporter, Zhang Min, said in an interview that Mr. Chen was so angry that he threatened to remain behind in Washington.


June 15 “Burma media reform hampered by three draft laws

The speakers on the panel were Kyaw Yin Myint, upper Myanmar bureau chief for Modern, Kumudra, Dana and Warazein newspapers; Chit Win Maung, member of Myanmar Press Council and leading committee member of Myanmar Journalist Union(MJU); Ms. EiEi Myat, executive editor of Agri Business News Journal published by Ministry of Agricultural and Irrigation and a CEC member of Myanmar Journalist Association (MJA); Ms. Theingi Htun, senior reporter for Mizzima; “Jimmy” Han Htwe Aung, Asahi TV (Tokyo Channel 5); Teza Hlaing, a photojournalist for Irrawaddy News and a freelance video journalist for Radio Free Asia.


June 14 “Shwe Mann calls for ‘a more inclusive society’

Myanmar's influential parliament speaker vowed Thursday to press forward with democratic reforms but said the country already had laws against discrimination amid a furor over anti-Muslim violence. … Shwe Mann told Radio Free Asia while in Washington that he plans to run for president in 2015, making him the only declared candidate besides opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who was freed from house arrest in 2010.


June 14 “China jails Tibetan student for leading language rights protest

Wangchuk Dorje, a student of the Middle School of Nationalities in Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) Prefecture of Qinghai Province, has been jailed for four years for being one of the “main organizers” of a massive student protest which took place last year, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) Jun 12. The date of the sentencing and other details such as the name of the local court and the student’s age, however, remain to be ascertained.


June 13 “‘Banned’ Ramadan for Uighur Muslims

Unlike millions of Muslims around the world, Uighur students returning for summer vacations in northwestern China are banned from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

"They are extracting guarantees from parents, promising that their children won't fast on Ramadan," Dilxat Raxit, Sweden-based spokesman for the exile World Uighur Congress (WUC), told Radio Free Asia on Thursday, June 13.


June 13 “Tibetan Nun Survives Self-Immolation

A Tibetan nun who self-immolated on Tuesday in Sichuan Province in China during a religious ceremony is still alive and in a hospital, according to reports from Tibetan advocacy groups and Radio Free Asia, which is financed by the United States government. The nun set fire to herself near Nyatso monastery in Tawu County.


June 11 “Shwe Mann declares presidential bid”

Myanmar's influential parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann has announced he will run for president in the fast reforming nation in 2015 polls, according to a report, joining opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as the only declared candidates so far. Former general Shwe Mann, a key architect of reforms since the end of the junta in 2011, has long been tipped for a tilt at the nation's top office—currently held by Thein Sein. "I will run for president because it is the key post to work for the betterment of the country and the people's interest," he told Radio Free Asia's Myanmar service during a visit to Washington on Monday, according to a report on their website. "If there were a position higher than or more important than the president, I would want that post," the ambitious lower house speaker said.


June 10 “Shwe Mann Leaves for US to Meet Congress Leaders

Lower House Speaker and Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) chairman Shwe Mann has gone on a “good will visit” to US, at the invitation of the House of Representatives Speaker and Republican leader John Boehner, government newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reports. Shwe Mann left on Saturday accompanied by several senior parliamentarians. Radio Free Asia reported last week that Shwe Mann would seek to build ties with US lawmakers and study the administrative structure of the US Congress “with a view of adopting it”.


June 8 “China's Xi Jinping appears more Maoist than reformer so far

With his photogenic wife at his side and a willingness to make eye contact and engage in small talk, Xi Jinping looks more like an American politician than the gray suits who populate the upper ranks of Chinese politics. … "Before, when the June 4 anniversary came around, they would just call you up and tell you not to go anywhere, not to leave your home, and to tell them where you were going if you did, and not to arrange any gatherings — that sort of thing," Anhui-based activist Qian Jin said in an interview with Radio Free Asia. "This year, I have had the local brigade chief of the state security police come round to my house with a bunch of regular police."


June 8 “UN agency approves food aid to N. Korea

The UN's food agency, the World Food Program, will send emergency food aid to North Korea from next month. Radio Free Asia reports the WFP will send more than 200-thousand tons of food to the North for twelve months from July.


June 7 “Allan Loudell Interview with RFA Executive Editor Dan Southerland”

Radio Free Asia editorial chief Dan Southerland was interviewed by radio host Allan Loudell about President Barack Obama’s weekend meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in California. In addition to discussing the anticipated subjects of that meeting was the anniversary of the crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square, and the deteriorating state of press freedoms in Cambodia.


June 7 “Why the First Lady's Wardrobe Is Such a Sensitive Subject in China

China's censorship regime has never been completely consistent. Seasoned journalists, activists and writers know how to push boundaries and write about sensitive subjects that raise eyebrows but not Communist Party ire, often using code words to discuss sensitive political subjects. The latest taboo topic in China is fashion, and not just anyone's fashion: Peng Liyuan, the First Lady and wife of current Communist Party president, Xi Jinping, has attracted interest through her elegant sartorial choices. … Radio Free Asia has also reported that officials in various Chinese cities have banned searches for the number of properties that politicians own.


June 7 “Singapore Internet crackdown reflects growing Southeast Asian trend

Bloggers and those opposed to the Singapore government’s new licensing scheme, which requires news websites that draw traffic of 50,000 users or more to obtain individual licenses and remove content deemed unacceptable by the authorities, will gather in Hong Lim Park tomorrow to protest the new regulations. … In Vietnam, bloggers have been jailed for writings that were deemed “anti-state,” the most recent case being that of Truong Duy Nhat, who was arrested on May 27. He is charged with “abusing democratic freedoms to encroach upon the interests of the state,” according to Radio Free Asia.


June 5 “Irish NGO to support food, water projects in N. Korea: report

Ireland's largest humanitarian organization plans to support projects aimed at helping North Korea bolster its food output and improve water sanitation, a report said Wednesday. According to Radio Free Asia, Concern Worldwide, a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to helping the world's poorest people, said its 2013 project for the communist country calls for building food production infrastructure in places such as Hwanghae and Kangwon provinces.


June 4 “New generation of defectors expose North Korean abuses

From the streets of Seoul to the European parliament, a new generation of North Korean defectors is stepping into the limelight, telling their personal stories to highlight the human rights abuses in their homeland. … Ji Seong-ho, 31, crossed the Tumen River on the border with China on handmade wooden crutches, having previously lost his left hand and leg after he fell from a moving freight train. He'd been trying to steal coal to make money. Ji, who came to South Korea in 2006, is president of Now, Action and Unity for Human Rights (NAUH), an organisation that does broadcasts to the North via Radio Free Asia and tries to get defectors out of China.


June 4 “Grain shortage halts UN food processing factories in N. Korea: report

Grain shortages caused some United Nations (UN) food processing factories in North Korea to shut down temporarily, hurting ongoing support to nourish people in the communist country, a report said Tuesday. World Food Programme spokeswoman Nanna Skau told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that operations at five of the international organization's 14 food factories in the North have been halted because of grain shortages. The production facilities make fortified biscuits mainly for children.


June 4 “Raw Materials, Products Pilfered from Kaesong Complex

Some finished products and raw materials have been pilfered from South Korean garment factories in the joint-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex and flogged to China, reports say. … Radio Free Asia reported from the Chinese border city of Dandong last Wednesday that a state-owned trading company selling tons of scrap textile from the industrial park.

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