RFA in the News (March 2014)

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March 31 “Promoting True Democratic Transition in Cambodia

On July 28, 2013, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) again won Cambodia’s national elections, this time by the slimmest margin. … The ban on foreign broadcasting limited the capabilities of the American-run radio stations Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.[22] After the international community and the U.S. government expressed concern regarding the restrictions, the Cambodian government rescinded its directive on foreign broadcasting but retained other restrictions on broadcasting opinion polls and campaign coverage.


March 31 “Tibetan nun sets herself on fire: reports

A Tibetan nun set herself on fire in southwestern China at the weekend, a campaign group and a report said, in the latest apparent act of protest against Chinese rule. The self-immolation by the nun, whose name and age were not immediately available, occurred on Saturday in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province, according to British-based advocacy organisation Free Tibet and US-funded Radio Free Asia.


March 25 “A Back Door to Chinese Internet Freedom

In January, when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a U.S. journalism nonprofit, published an exposé of the use of offshore tax havens by Chinese politicians and business moguls, the Chinese government blocked access to the consortium's website and to news articles about the report. … The blocked sites include not only fairly obvious targets like the websites of human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Freedom House, but also news organizations such as Radio Free Asia and the New York Times and social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.


March 25 “Pyonyang to build statues of Zimbabwe's president: RFA

North Korea has recently completed two statues for Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday. The $5 million project will be the reclusive nation’s latest lucrative project in Africa, it said.


March 24 “Hundreds of Tibetan farmers protest forced Chinese confiscation of their land

Hundreds of Tibetans staged protests over two days in Sangchu (Chinese: Xiahe) County of Kanhlo (Gannan) Prefecture, Gansu Province, after authorities confiscated their farmland to build road to environmentally destructive state-run mining and industrial sites, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Mar 22. The incident, which was only the latest in the region recently, took place in the county’s Hortsang Township over Mar 16-17.


March 24 “Is the Kremlin’s propaganda chief ‘a journalist’?

Last week, the European Union expanded its sanctions list in reponse to Russia’s invasion and annexation of Ukrainian Crimea, and added an interesting name: Dmitry Kiselev (Kiselyov), the Kremlin’s chief propagandist, who calls himself a journalist. … Then again, look at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) or Radio Free Asia (RFA). They both do great work. And I’ve written about, and linked to, their stories before, because they do great “journalism.” But they’re government-funded, even if they are officially private organizations.


March 22 “Knife attack at central China train station injures three

A knife-wielding man injured two children and one elderly person Saturday at a railway station in central China, state media reported. … Police identified the Urumqi attacker as a Uighur, US-based Radio Free Asia reported. That attack came two days after five people were hacked to death and one fatally shot in a knife fight between two Uighur bakery shop workers in the central Chinese city of Changsha.


March 20 “Uighur activist’s detention rallies China’s dissidents to his cause

In the six months before Uighur rights activist Ilham Tohti’s arrest, his website Uighurbiz.net filled with a crescendo of reports of an intensifying religious and socioeconomic crackdown on ethnic Uighurs in China — characterized as Beijing's response to episodes of political violence that it blames on the predominantly Muslim minority. … Tothi’s “willingness to talk openly about issues affecting Uighurs has made him an important Uighur voice within China," said Radio Free Asia spokesman Rohit Mahajan.


March 20 “China vents anger over self-immolation on local Tibetans, monasteries

The Chinese authorities in Pema (Chinese: Banma) County of Golog (Guoluo) Prefecture, Qinghai province, have imposed severe new controls on six monasteries in the area after a monk belonging to one of them carried out a self-immolation protest last year, reported the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) Mar 18. Tsering Gyal, a monk of Akyong monastery, burned himself to death in that protest in Nov 13.


March 19 “Policeman killed, attacker shot dead in Xinjiang

A policeman has been killed and his attacker shot dead in Urumqi in China’s restive northwest region of Xinjiang, a report from the city government said. The officer was attacked at the entrance to a government building by an ethnic Uygur and died later from his wounds, according to an article posted on a news website run by the authorities in Urumqi. … He was a Uygur and US-funded Radio Free Asia identified him as Osmanjan Ghoji.


March 18 “Suspected Uyghurs Rescued in Thai Raid of Human Trafficking Camp

Reuters and South China Morning Post are reporting that 200 people rescued from a human trafficking camp in Thailand are suspected to be Uyghur refugees. … Brad Adams, the Asia director at HRW, told Radio Free Asia that “Uyghurs forced back to China disappear into a black hole.”


March 16 “Tibetan 'sets self on fire' to protest China

A Tibetan monk in southwestern China has set himself on fire to protest against a 2008 crackdown, overseas groups said, adding to a string of self-immolation protests in recent years. Lobsang Palden carried out the act Sunday on "Heroes Street" in Aba county in Sichuan province, said the British-based advocacy organisation Free Tibet and the US outlet Radio Free Asia (RFA).


March 15 “Thailand urged to aid Uighurs

The United States on Friday urged Thailand to protect about 200 asylum seekers who belong to China’s Uighur minority, and activists fear Beijing will pressure the kingdom to deport them. … Radio Free Asia’s Uighur service quoted relatives as saying the asylum seekers pretended to be Turkish for fear that they would be deported to China if the Thai authorities knew they held Chinese citizenship.

March 15 “Kunming killings are seen in a new light

The horrific mass knifings on March 1 at Kunming railway station, in the capital of China’s southwestern Yunnan province, in which 29 people were killed and more than 100 injured, would still have been reverberating globally but for the Ukraine and Malaysian Airlines dramas. … However, the Caixin and East by Southeast websites and Radio Free Asia’s Uighur service have this week pointed to a scenario explaining the attack.


March 14 “Rohingyas left out of census

Muslim Rohingyas will not be included as an official ethnic group in Myanmar's first census in more than 30 years, an official has confirmed. The government does not recognise the Rohingyas as belonging to a national ethnicity, Radio Free Asia quoted Myint Kyaing, director-general of the Department of Population under the Ministry of Immigration, as saying. … "This is not the government’s list — it is from the Muslim group’s [proposed] list," he told the Radio Free Asia Myanmar Service.


March 14 “China intimidates Tibetans on uprising day with show of force

Anticipating protests from Tibetans seething under more than five decades of occupation rule on the 55th anniversary of their uprising anniversary Mar 10, China carried out massive, highly intimidating displays of forces in the Tibetan populated regions of the People’s Republic of China, reported the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) Mar 12.


March 14 “Thailand Arrests More Than 200 Uighurs Fleeing China

Thai authorities have detained more than 200 ethnic Uighurs from China’s Xinjiang region after officials raided a secret camp on a plantation in Songkhla province, where the group was waiting to be trafficked to Malaysia. … Following the raid, Thai officials notified the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok, who is in the process of intervening in the case, reports Radio Free Asia. Members from the group apparently claimed they were Turkish in order to prevent being deported back to Xinjiang, and have refused to cooperate with Chinese officials. According to RFA, they were headed to Malaysia where they hoped to apply for political asylum.


March 14 “U.S. NGOs offer humanitarian aid to N. Korea

Private agencies in the United States have provided North Korea with aid to help its people have access to clean water and medicine, media reports said Friday. … According to the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA), Wellspring, a non-governmental organization in the U.S., sent a large truck to the North earlier this week to support its groundwater development project. The aid was provided at the request of the North's underground water development research institute, and the lorry was purchased in China, according to the RFA.


March 13 “In Cambodia, Voicing the Struggle

As freedom fighters go, Mam Sonando stands out as somewhat eccentric. The entrance to his radio station, which is described by his loyal supporters as Cambodia’s only truly independent broadcaster, is decorated like a nightclub, complete with colored lights and a disco ball. It also has at least four Buddhist shrines. … Beehive Radio sells airtime to Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, both of which are sponsored by the United States government, and Radio France Internationale, part of the broadcasting arm of the French government.


March 13 “China arrests citizen journalists for reporting Tiananmen 'self-immolation'

Chinese authorities have detained the director of a human rights website and three citizen journalists, one of them 17 years old, for reporting two recent "incidents" in Tiananmen Square, including an apparent self-immolation. … "There was smoke coming from near the Jinshui bridge, and I ran over to see what was happening," Wang told the broadcaster Radio Free Asia. "I saw white stuff [extinguisher foam] everywhere; you couldn't see the person, and then they started to clear the area and the police wouldn't let people take photos."

March 13 “Activist believed to be detained after returning to mainland from Taiwan”

Mainland dissident Chen Kaipin has disappeared after returning from Taiwan, where he had a brief encounter with Taiwanese opposition leader Su Tseng-chang, a friend said yesterday. … Chen Kaipin travelled to Taiwan on a two-week cycling tour and participated in a rally on February 28th in Taipei in memory of the victims of the 1947 protests against KMT rule which were brutally put down, according to a Radio Free Asia report. Chen Kaipin told RFA that he spotted Su Tseng-chang, chairman of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, at the rally and he shouted to him across the crowd.


March 12 “Jailed Tibetan Leader Khenpo Kartse in ‘Very Poor Health’

The health of the popular Tibetan religious leader Khenpo Kartse is failing under his detainment, Radio Free Asia reports. Khenpo Kartse was jailed in December on suspicion of “anti-state’” activities.


March 12 “China knife attack: three suspects 'detained two days before massacre'

Chinese authorities detained three "terror suspects" two days before this month's gruesome knife attack at a south-western Chinese train station, an independent Chinese magazine has reported, deepening the mystery surrounding the incident. … Yet Radio Free Asia (RFA), a broadcasting platform sponsored by the US government, provided an alternative account: that the assailants had tried to flee China to escape persecution in Xinjiang, and that they lashed out in "desperation" after failing repeatedly.The suspects came from Hanerik township in Xinjiang's Hotan prefecture, RFA said, and fled after police opened fire on a crowd of unarmed Uighur protesters.


March 12 “N. Korean, Hong Kong firms to develop border city of Sinuiju

North Korea has joined hands with a Hong Kong-based company to develop the country's northwestern border city of Sinuiju into a special economic zone, a North Korean official said. … Meanwhile, Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday that the country has allowed foreign tourists to make stay-over trips to the Sinuiju area.


March 10 “Journalist Unions Urge Chinese President to Allow Free Movement of Foreign Media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), together with journalist organisations across North America and East Asia, have written to Chinese President Xi and Premier Li calling on them to honour the public promise made in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympics to allow a free foreign press in China. … Last month, two journalists from Taiwan's Apple Daily and Radio Free Asia were excluded from a group of 89 Taiwan journalists who applied for visas to report on the historic four-day nation-to-nation talks in Nanjing between China's Taiwan Affairs Office Director Mr Zhang Zhijun and Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Mr Wang Yu-chi. The authorities gave no public explanation for these delays and rejections.


March 10 “Burma Govt Sends Emergency Medics to Arakan After MSF Suspension

Burma’s health ministry has deployed an emergency response team to Arakan State following the suspension of Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) operations there, but concerns are growing over a sudden gap in medical care for hundreds of thousands of people who previously depended on the humanitarian organization’s services. … It is possible that more medical aid groups will face trouble in Arakan State in the coming months. The state legislature is now considering a proposal to block unregistered NGOs from operating in the region, to prevent them from “causing bigger problems” between Buddhists and Muslims, according to a report by Radio Free Asia.


March 8 “Better tomorrow? The world’s vilest regime flirts with economic reform

CAN you be both the world’s most brutal wielder of state terror and a fan of economic opening? … In December Radio Free Asia claimed that an armed clash took place between soldiers and Mr Jang’s agents over control of a profitable fishing spot off the west coast.


March 8 “China detains Tibetan monk for WeChat separatism

In a second reported incident of its kind from the area in recent days, Chinese authorities have detained a second Tibetan Buddhist monk in Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Prefecture on Mar 4 after they found on him documentary and audio-visual materials considered separatist by them. The detention of Lobsang Choejor, a senior monk of Drongsar monastery in the prefecture’s Pashoe (Basu) County, followed a police raid and search of his living quarter in his monastery, reported the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) May 6.


March 6 “Chinese Governor Signals Crackdown on Separatists

A government leader in the western region of Xinjiang said Thursday that officials would “rigidly crack down” on separatist groups in the area and that “foreign forces” were behind the separatist activities. … There have been different accounts of the motivations of the attackers and explanations of why they were in Kunming in Yunnan Province. Radio Free Asia, which is financed by the United States government, reported Wednesday that the group was made up of Uighurs fleeing a crackdown near the southern town of Khotan in Xinjiang who had tried to cross the border into Laos from Yunnan. The party chief of Yunnan, Qin Guangrong, told China National Radio that members of the group had been trying to leave China at a border in the southwest to train to become jihadists.


March 5 “Knife gang tried to leave China before attack, says official

Attackers who launched a brutal mass knifing at a Chinese train station acted in desperation after a failed attempt to leave the country and become jihadists overseas, a Chinese official was Wednesday quoted as saying. … His comments had some similarities with an earlier report by US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA), which quoted sources as saying the eight attackers travelled from Xinjiang to Yunnan in order to cross the border into Laos on their way to seek sanctuary elsewhere. RFA's sources said the eight may have been Uighurs fleeing a police crackdown in Xinjiang's Hotan prefecture.


March 5 “N. Korea punishes those involved in S. Korean missionary case: report

North Korea has punished dozens of its citizens for helping a South Korean Christian missionary with his alleged spying activities in the communist country, a news report said Wednesday. … After the press conference, dozens of residents in Pyongyang believed to have been involved in Kim's case disappeared, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported, citing an unnamed source in Sinuiju, a northwestern North Korean city bordering China.


March 5 “NEA on ‘gutter oil’ scare: Waste oil from grease traps sent for biodiesel processing

The National Environment Agency (NEA) clarified on Wednesday that cooking oil extracted from grease traps was in fact sent for processing into biodiesel. … A undercover documentary by Radio Free Asia exposing the “gutter oil” practice in China in late 2013 went viral. Chinese experts estimate about a tenth of China’s cooking oil is gutter oil, according to the documentary.


March 3 “Who's Behind The Mass Stabbing In China?

The Chinese government has blamed the deadly stabbing attack in southwest China on Muslim separatists from the country's northwest, but it has yet to provide hard evidence for the claim. … World Uyghur Congress spokesman Dilxat Raxit said in a statement to Radio Free Asia that there was "no justification for attacks on civilians," but added that repressive policies provoked "extreme measures."


March 2 “China releases tortured Tibetan in near-dead condition

In an apparent attempt to avoid responsibility for custodial killing, Chinese police in Machu (Chinese: Maqu) County of Kanlho Prefecture, Gansu Province, have released on Oct 27, 2013, a Tibetan man whom they had kept torturing since detaining him in May 2010. The condition of Goshul Lobsang, 43, was so bad that he was not even able to swallow food, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington), citing his brother Demjong who lives in Australia.


March 1 “‘They can’t kill us all’: Is China stifling press freedom in Hong Kong?

Last week, on Wednesday morning, a man called Kevin Lau Chun-to was the victim of a horrific attack on the streets of Hong Kong. He was slashed repeatedly with a meat cleaver. … “Sources are less willing to go on the record [now], fearing they could face consequences,” Shiny Li, a journalist at Radio Free Asia, tells me.


March 1 “Myanmar: A Nation Living a Lie

… Now everybody professes to want democracy, even the generals who spent half a century crushing it. Late last year, for example, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, was quoted by Radio Free Asia as saying that he wanted “real, disciplined democracy.”

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