RFA in the News (May 2015)

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May 29 “China detains artist for mocking leader Xi Jinping

Chinese police have detained an artist for creating an image of Communist leader Xi Jinping with a crinkled face and a moustache, according to a human rights group. Radio Free Asia, which is backed by the US government, quoted his friend and fellow artist Wu Tun as saying: "He did a satirical portrait of Xi Jinping, merging his own face with Xi`s in Photoshop."


May 28 “Tibetan mother burns herself to death in China: reports

A Tibetan mother-of-two burned herself to death to highlight repression in the Chinese Himalayan region, overseas media and rights groups said, the second such fiery protest in eight days.

Sangye Tso died after setting herself on fire in Zhouni, a Tibetan-majority area of the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu, sources told Radio Free Asia (RFA), which is backed by the US government.


May 27 “Maoist tragedy in the quake-hit Himalayas

India’s permanent representative to the United Nations Asoke Kumar Mukerji has led a UN effort to raise $423 million to assist Nepal as powerful earthquakes continue to strike the fragile Himalayan nation. India’s Operation Maitri has led the world in rescue and relief missions to Nepal and has already donated over $13 million in aid. … In the 1990s, I worked for Radio Free Asia in Kathmandu, and observed that diplomats and analysts ignored the link between the rise of Maoist insurgencies in India and Nepal and the legacy of Chairman Mao in Tibet, China’s most prized and restive possession.


May 25 “Desperate Chinese people are turning to mass suicide to get their government's attention

BEIJING, China — The location was chosen for maximum impact: a downtown boulevard, famous for Beijing's swankiest shops and its plushest hotels. Studded with these symbols of Western capitalist chic, Wangfujing Shopping Street could hardly be further from the more desperate concerns of rural China. … Theirs was a particularly sensitive location: Locales around Tiananmen Square are heavily policed, and officers are equipped with fire extinguishers to deal with self-immolators. "I have chronic leukemia," one of the group told Radio Free Asia. "There is no way out except to die fighting."


May 22 “Tibetan father of four sets himself alight in China: reports

A Tibetan father-of-four set himself on fire in protest at China's rule over the Himalayan region, overseas media and rights groups said, adding it was unclear whether he survived. Tenzin Gyatso attempted to self-immolate after being "upset" by tightened security ahead of the 80th birthday of exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, sources told Radio Free Asia, which is backed by the US government.


May 21 “More Chinese Citizens Injured in Spillover From Myanmar Conflict

On May 14, several Chinese citizens were injured during a Myanmar government shelling operation against armed ethnic rebels. Radio Free Asia, citing local sources, reports that eight people in the township of Nansan were injured in the blasts. Witness reported five separate explosions in a half-hour period on the evening of May 14. One resident told RFA the incident wasn’t an isolated occurrence:

“There have been bombs exploding a lot in recent days, and a lot of people are terrified.”


May 20 “Going Offline? The threat to Cambodia’s newfound Internet freedoms

On the surface, the Cambodian media appears one of the freest in the region. The country’s Constitution guarantees “freedom of expression, press, publication, and assembly.”5 Pre-publication censorship by the state is rare. Two main English-language daily newspapers, the Phnom Penh Post and Cambodia Daily, publish reports on sensitive issues like government corruption, political violence, and illegal logging, while two US-funded broadcasters, Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, beam critical reports deep into the country.


May 18 “North Korea building more statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, expert says

North Korea may be building more father-and-son statues of the late Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Using Google Earth satellite imagery, Curtis Melvin of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, told Radio Free Asia that four previously undisclosed locations are the sites of construction for the monuments to the dynastic leadership.


May 18 “Security forces deployed to southwest China after ‘deadly’ clashes

Hundreds of security forces have been deployed to a rural county in southwest China after violent clashes between police and protestors erupted over the weekend with unconfirmed reports suggesting up to four people had died and more than 100 been injured. …. Conflicting and unconfirmed online reports suggested that up to four people had died as a result of the clashes. Hospitals in the area received instructions from authorities not to reveal details of any casualties or deaths, Radio Free Asia, a US-funded news agency, claimed.


May 15 “N.Korean Ex-Army Chief 'Locked Horns with Technocrats'

North Korean armed forces minister Hyon Yong-chol was executed because he fell foul of a younger generation of technocrats that make up the core of leader Kim Jong-un's regime, American experts estimate. Ex-State Department official John Merrill told Radio Free Asia there was probably conflict between Kim and the military over where to spend resources and money.


May 15 “We will send Rohingya back, says Malaysia, amid calls to rescue migrants

A top Malaysian official says the surge of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh seeking asylum in his country and neighboring Indonesia in recent days is unwelcome -- and his government will turn back any illegal arrivals. … In an interview with Radio Free Asia Wednesday, a senior official from Rakhine State denied that the hundreds of migrants who had come ashore in Malaysia and Indonesia hailed from his region.


May 14 “Ili, Xinjiang Residents Must Turn In Passports

… Due to the strict control over the media narrative exercised by authorities in Xinjiang, journalist access to Xinjiang is limited, and Western media outlets often rely on U.S.-government funded Radio Free Asia as a source for developments in the region, as many did while covering the alcohol and tobacco directive.


May 14 “OPINION: West must get facts on Xinjiang right

Some recent reports in the Western media have brought Aktash, a small village in Hotan, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, in the limelight. Quoting some individuals, Radio Free Asia recently said the local government has forced shop and restaurant owners to sell liquor, which is against the teachings of Islam.


May 14 “'This Could Be a Mess': An Apparent Drought in North Korea Brings Fear of Famine

A severe drought could bring North Korea to the brink of famine this summer, according to experts who keep close tabs on the Hermit Kingdom. …. Noland's comments came after Curtis Melvin of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University told Radio Free Asia that satellite imagery showed alarmingly low reservoirs and dry lakebeds throughout the country's agricultural region.


May 13 “Vietnamese editor faces anti-state charges for reporting on corruption

Authorities in Vietnam today levied anti-state charges against a former news editor who published reports on official corruption, according to news reports. The accusations mark a trend of legal harassment against journalists who probe sensitive corruption issues in Vietnam, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. The Elderly had in recent months published several reports on official corruption, including one story about wealth amassed through alleged bribery by a former high-level government official, Radio Free Asia reported. Hoa told RFA in December 2014 that his publication had reported over 2,500 cases of official corruption since he took over the paper's editorship in 2007, the report said.


May 13 “Reported execution of North Korean official could hurt relations with Russia, expert says

While speculation grows over North Korea defense minister Hyon Yong Chol, analysts said that if he was executed, it could harm relations with Russia. Dennis Halpin, formerly of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, told Radio Free Asia that Hyon had concluded a trip to Russia to discuss ways to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries just before he was supposedly executed.


May 11 “Chinese boss sends 6,400 employees on $14.5 million holiday in France

… Hundreds of Tibetans staged protests across several Chinese cities in 2009 claiming to have been cheated in a pyramid scheme run by Tiens, and a group of 26 people representing 1,500 Tibetans were preparing a suit against the company and Li Jinyuan after claiming to have been scammed out of tens of thousands of dollars, Radio Free Asia reported.


May 8 “Kim Jong-un builds airstrip near family compound

North Korea has established a runway for light aircraft close to leader Kim Jong-un's family compound in Wonsan. Radio Free Asia (RFA) said the runway was built next to Kim's private railway station. It was discovered on images from Google Earth dated March 26.


May 5 “China orders Muslim shopkeepers to sell alcohol, cigarettes, to ‘weaken’ Islam

Chinese authorities have ordered Muslim shopkeepers and restaurant owners in a village in its troubled Xinjiang region to sell alcohol and cigarettes, and promote them in “eye-catching displays,” in an attempt to undermine Islam’s hold on local residents, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. Establishments that failed to comply were threatened with closure and their owners with prosecution.


May 2 “United States congressmen to meet Leung Chun-ying in Hong Kong on 2017 reform plan

A bipartisan group of US congressmen is flying into Hong Kong this week to meet Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and pan-democrats to discuss the city's constitutional reform. … Leung's office yesterday confirmed a Radio Free Asia report about the meeting, but declined to give details. … According to the Radio Free Asia report on Thursday, US Democrats Eliot Engel and Brad Sherman and Republicans Edward Royce and Matt Salmon will be in town from May 7 to 9.

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