RFA in the News (November 2011)

2011-12-03
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HUFFINGTON POST

Nov. 30 “Is There a Flicker of Progress for Freedom of Information in Burma?”

Burma is one of the world's most repressive countries for the media, ranked 174 out of 178 countries in our latest worldwide index. … But in September, and following a visit by the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, access to a number of previously banned foreign news websites including Youtube, BBC, Reuters, The Bangkok Post, Straits Times, Radio Free Asia, Irrawaddy, DVB, and the Burmese service of Voice of America has been unblocked. Internet connections nonetheless continue to be very slow.

WASHINGTON POST

Nov. 29 “Radio Free Asia potluck features unusual dishes

In pursuit of home-cooked recipes from abroad, I scored an invite to one of the hottest multicultural tickets in town: Radio Free Asia’s semiannual potluck, held the week before Thanksgiving. The scope of the fall event has grown over its seven-year history, says the nonprofit agency’s director and potluck advocate, Libby Liu: “It’s gone a long way toward uniting the [agency’s nine language] news services.”

Space at RFA’s downtown Washington headquarters gets understandably elbow-to-elbow once the buffet tables are laden and 300 employees and guests slide in and out of tortuous queues.

IRRAWADDY NEWS

Nov. 29 “US lawmakers urge Clinton to maintain pressure on Burma”

US lawmakers said today that the visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Burma—which begins on Wednesday—is significant, but the US must continue to pressure the country’s new government with respect to such issues as conflicts and human rights abuses in ethnic areas and military ties with North Korea.

… Congressman Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and a senior member of the Asia Subcommittee, said that any stepped-up US engagement with Burmese leaders should be outweighed by engagement with civil society leaders and the Burmese people through Radio Free Asia broadcasts and other programs.

CNN

Nov. 28 “Khmer Rouge legacy: Land disputes

[Exclusive Radio Free Asia footage of protests used in video segment]

In a week where three top surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime stand trial for crimes against humanity, the legacy of that era is still creating upheaval more than 30 years later.

KI-MEDIA BLOG (Cambodia)

Nov. 27 “Theary Seng's withdrawal from her civil party at the KR Tribunal

RFA’s forum on Friday 25 November 2011 will center on “the withdrawal of civil party in Case 002”. Guests in the forum included Ms. Theary Seng, President of the Association of Khmer Rouge Victims in Cambodia (AKRVC) and a civil party in Case 002, and Netr Pheaktra, ECCC spokesman.

ASIAN CORRESPONDENT

Nov. 26 “Burma: NLD re-registers while by-elections still uncertain”

Burmese people are highly concerned about the issue of releasing political prisoners in Burma. … In his remarks reported by Radio Free Asia Burmese service and the Democratic Voice of Burma, Thein Sein said: “We punished the prisoners since they violated the law. In our prisons, there are lots of people due to breaking the law. So if we give favour to some of them by using the term ‘prisoner of conscience’, then it will be unfair for the other inmates.”

KOREA HERALD

Nov. 23 “North Korean media spreads rumors on war with South, U.S.”

Scaremongering about an imminent war with North Korea is quickly spreading among residents in the communist state, as the media in Pyongyang have increasingly distorted facts about Seoul’s military drills in recent weeks, sources said. … The Washington-based Radio Free Asia on Nov. 8 reported scaremongering among North Koreans that a war might break out late this year or early 2012.

EPOCH TIMES

Nov. 22 “Ai Weiwei Responds to Pornography Charge”

While still facing down charges of tax evasion, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has now been accused by communist authorities of “producing pornography.” On Nov. 17 his assistant photographer was hauled away by police regarding a picture he took last year showing a naked Ai Weiwei with four naked women.… “I was asked to confess to how these pictures were shot, how it was planned, what the message was,” Zhao Zhao, the photographer, said in an interview with Radio Free Asia on Nov. 18.

SHANGHAIIST BLOG

Nov. 21 “Photos: ‘Unpatriotic’ Southern Chinese newspapers burned in Taiyuan”

In a throwback to the bad old days, a loose collection of Chinese nationalists got together in the Shanxi provincial capital of Taiyuan on the afternoon of November 17th, to "angrily denounce" four "traitorous sellout" publications based in Guangzhou (汉奸媒体), by burning several hundred copies of the publications. … A similar anti-rightist protest against Guangzhou-based publications also took place recently in Hebei province, according to Radio Free Asia.

CHINLAND GUARDIAN

Nov. 21 “Continued violation of religious freedom debated In US Senate”

Testifying before the US Congress on Thursday [17 November 2011], Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader of the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said that violation of religious freedom continues in Burma. … In an interview with the RFA (Radio Free Asia), Pu Zo Zam, CNP Chairman said the letter was signed by over 1,000 Chin Christians from Kanpetlet Township, adding: "Chin Christians have been suffering from some of the worst forms of religious discrimination."

EPOCH TIMES

Nov. 19 “Shanghai Fire anniversary”

On Nov. 15 of last year a fire raged through a Shanghai high-rise apartment building for teachers, causing 58 deaths and 71 injuries. Despite interference by police, survivors and victim’s family members held a memorial at the site, expressing their grief and hope that authorities might reveal the true facts surrounding the fire. … Mr. Wang, who lost two family members in the fire, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that they first held a memorial at his house in the morning and then stayed at the site of the event until midnight.

ABC (Also ASIA TIMES, EURASIA REVIEW)

Nov. 18 “Obama pivots to engage Myanmar, sees reforms too important to ignore”

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States will engage with the government of Myanmar after seeing “flickers of progress in these last several weeks … on the path toward reform.”

… Specifically those steps included releasing more than 100 political prisoners in October, passing new laws that would potentially allow Aung San Suu Kyi’s party to run in elections, allow trade unions, unblocking some websites, and allowing access to Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, a senior administration official said.

NEW TANG DYNASTY TELEVISION

Nov. 8 “10K Tibetans Protest after Nun’s Self-Immolation”

A Tibetan Buddhist nun burned to death last week after she set herself ablaze as an act of protest. On Sunday, more than ten thousand people reportedly gathered outside of the Tawu Nyitso monastery in China’s western Sichuan Province to honor 35-year-old Palden Choetso. … According to a Radio Free Asia report, the Dalai Lama called the self-immolations “very, very sad.”

KOREA HERALD (Also in ARIRANG TV)

Nov. 8 “N. Korea growing more sensitive to foreigners’ travel”

North Korea is becoming stricter on foreigners’ travel in the country, apparently sensitive to the impact of outside news on the recent death of Libya’s longtime dictator, a U.S.-funded radio station said Tuesday. Not wanting outsiders to bring in recent news on Libya, the North Korean regime is asking foreign officials and businessmen not to leave Pyongyang without approval, Radio Free Asia reported, quoting people in Pyongyang.

WALL STREET JOURNAL – CHINA REALTIME REPORT (ONLINE)

Nov. 7 “U.S. proposal would crimp visas for state-run media”

Propaganda chief Li Changchun reiterated calls for the state-run Xinhua news agency to grow into a multinational news organization even as pending legislation from a California congressman could sharply limit the number of Chinese journalists allowed to work in the U.S.

… The comparison is a bit of an odd one considering the U.S. doesn’t have a tradition of state-controlled press like China does. The two U.S. journalists in China working for U.S. government-owned media work for Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, Rep. Rohrabacher’s office says.

DAILY NK

Nov. 7 “Even i-Pads are in Pyongyang now”

As the use of multimedia devices continues to spread among wealthy kids from the Pyongyang elite keen to ride the ‘Korean Wave’ of South Korean cultural influences, it appears that ownership of an Apple i-Pad tablet computer has now also become one symbol of “cool.”

In an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) on the 8th, an official with the Egyptian company stated, “We are planning to develop a SIM card so that I-pads can be used in North Korea by the end of this year,” explaining “There is a 3G network for cell phones in North Korea, so as long as you insert a SIM card you’ll be able to use it.”

SHANGHIIST (BLOG)

Nov. 6 “Students protest against university in Mianyang, Sichuan”

Around 300 students from Sichuan province's Mianyang Normal University (绵阳师范学院) hit the city's streets on November 4 in protest for their diplomas. Students gathered at the main entrance of the university and then marched towards the municipal government building, holding banners saying they had been deceived by university authorities.

… One student at the university, who did not participate in the protest himself, tells Radio Free Asia that the police did not beat students but just tried to get them back to school. He adds that the actual number of protesters might be only a few dozen.

UNIVERSITY WORLD NEWS

Nov. 6 “Academic freedom reports worldwide”

… Twelve years after the suppression of student protests in Laos, rights groups are calling for the release of all political prisoners - including four student leaders who have been incarcerated for participating in peaceful protests, Radio Free Asia reported on 25 October.

ASIAN CORRESPONDENT

Nov. 6 “Burma govt paves the way for Suu Kyi into parliament – Why?”

Burma’s President Thein Sein has signed an amendment to the law on political parties in a noticeable effort to persuade the National League for Democracy led by democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, to reregister as a party recognizing the new political structure.

… At the same time, Burma is expected to release at least 600 political prisoners in the coming days, government and opposition sources said, as part of an amnesty program by President Thein Sein’s nominally civilian government. A top government official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Radio Free Asia (Burmese Service) in an interview on Thursday that the release would likely come next week.

YONHAP

Nov. 5 “Senior N. Korean official leaves on apparent trip to Germany”

A senior North Korean official left for Europe on Saturday as head of the country's parliamentary friendship delegation, Pyongyang's state media reported. … The report did not say where the delegation was headed. But Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported earlier that Ri planned to make a three-day visit to Germany from Sunday at the invitation of German parliamentarian Stefan Muller.

ARIRANG TV NEWS

Nov. 5 “0 funding for N. Korea second half of the year”

Many people are reportedly suffering from extereme poverty in North Korea. Unfortunately for the lower classes in the North, the UN's humanitarian fund has given no emergency funding to the hermit kingdom in the second half of this year. According to a Radio Free Asia report on Saturday the UN decided in July to take the North off a list of recipients for financial aid that is provided by the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund.

KOREA HERALD

Nov. 4 “U.S. plans to offer $5.7 million for excavation work in N.K.”

The U.S. Defense Department plans to offer some $5.7 million to North Korea for a project to search for and excavate the remains of the U.S. war dead in the communist country, Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported on Thursday. Citing an email message from Pentagon’s publicity officer Carie Parker, it said that the money will be used to establish base camps for the work in North Pyongan Province and South Hamgyeong Province and also cover overhead expenses.

EPOCH TIMES

Nov. 2 “Ai Weiwei Will Appeal $2.4 Million Tax Penalty”

On Tuesday, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s company, Fake Cultural Development, was billed over 15 million yuan (US$2.4 million) in back taxes and penalties—a bill Ai has decided to fight. His supporters believe the bill is not for wrongdoing—tax evasion—but rather for what Ai has done right in supporting human rights. … When Fake’s legal representative (and Ai’s wife) Lu Qing was interviewed by Radio Free Asia on Tuesday, she said, “I refuse to accept this penalty.”

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