RFA in the News (September 2011)

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Sept. 29 “AAPP: rechecking number of political prisoners in Burma”

How many political prisoners are in Burmese jails? The Thai-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP-B) joint secretary Bo Kyi says his group is updating its records to try to determine an exact number.

… Bo Kyi responded to Mizzima’s question after presidential adviser Ko Ko Hlaing was interviewed on Radio Free Asia-Burmese Service during his tour of the U.S. In the interview, he said that the actual number of political prisoners was less than the figure cited by AAPP-B when the government rechecked it.


Sept. 28 “Encourage Burma to democracy – Analysis”

Following her meeting with ex-general President Thein Sein in August, pro-democracy leader and icon, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi said that she believed the President wanted “real positive change”.

… Very recently, in an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA), Thein Sein’s advisor Ko Ko Hlaing said Suu Kyi’s international connections and international influence will be of great advantage to the welfare of the Myanmarese people. Choosing RFA to speak was a direct message to the US and the West.


Sept. 26 “Reporter threatened for exposing China sex slave case”

A journalist in China has been accused of "leaking state secrets" after he exposed the grisly case of a government employee who dug a basement and used it for the kidnapping and rape of six women, two of them were murdered. Ji Xuguang, a reporter with the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily, documented how the young women in Luoyang, Henan Province, were kidnapped and imprisoned as sex slaves by an employee of the Luoyang Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) contacted Ji on Sept. 23. He said that he had already left Luoyang but that his phone was probably being monitored, and he didn’t want to discuss how he was threatened.
“Without freedom of the press, journalists’ safety is at stake. I am not in a position to talk about the situation any further,” he told RFA.


Sept. 23 “Leveling the playing field in the U.S.-China media battle”

Most Americans identify China as the country most likely to challenge the United States globally, and many even expect China to replace American dominance.

… Consider these numbers: China’s state media (whose news reporting blends seamlessly into intelligence gathering) was able to obtain 650 I-visas (international journalist visas) from the U.S. Department of State in 2010. By contrast, last year, the American government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) was able to obtain from China a grand total of two visas for Radio Free Asia and Voice of America’s (VOA) hard-working and much-harassed reporters.


Sept. 22 “China: Tiger Moms beware

It is one of the more horrifying news items of the day: Three 10-year-old students from the eastern Chinese jumped from the second story of a building to escape academic pressure. They are currently being treated in a local hospital, according to Radio Free Asia.

… Many blame an intense culture of competition that has certainly helped propel China's economic rise but is also having a negative impact on younger and younger members of society.


Sept. 22 “N. Korea orchestra may hold U.S. performance”

North Korea’s national symphony orchestra is expected to hold a performance in the U.S. next month, a U.S.-funded radio station reported Thursday. Quoting multiple sources close to North Korea, Radio Free Asia reported Pyongyang and Washington are currently “discussing details” such as the exact day of the performance.


Sept. 23 “Suu Kyi ‘welcome in parliament’, says chief”

Burma’s long sidelined opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is “welcome” to join the country’s legislative body should she choose, parliament chief Khin Aung Myint said in a surprising announcement yesterday.

… In an interview yesterday with Radio Free Asia, Khin Aung Myint acknowledged the reverence with which the 66-year-old was held among Burmese, particularly in light of her father’s pivotal role in gaining Burma independence from Britain.


Sept. 20 “N. Korea escapees tell of atrocities in labor camps”

North Korea is “one of the darkest places on Earth,” but there are chinks in the wall that the communist dictatorship uses to keep its people isolated. Exiles in the South are beginning to exploit them by smuggling in DVDs, flash drives and shortwave radios that are floated across the border in helium-filled balloons, members of Congress were told Tuesday.

… Up to 200,000 people are held in North Korea's prison camps, according to the testimony of Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

… Nonetheless, Mr. Scarlatoiu said, surveys of those who had escaped indicated that as many as 30 percent of the population have listened to foreign radio broadcasts, including those from the U.S. funded Radio Free Asia.


Sept. 19 “Neo-Brahminic verses about change in Burma”

Unprecedented and fast-paced changes are taking place in Naypyidaw, or so the emerging caste of Burma Brahmins would like the world—and the Burmese public—to believe.

… On Sept. 13, Retired police Col Sit Aye,and currently an “independent” political adviser to the president, told the Radio Free Asia Burmese service in Washington that the new (military) government is reviewing hundreds of laws to make legal changes.


Sept. 16 “Myanmar unblocks some banned websites”

Myanmar's repressive government was allowing access to banned news websites Friday for the first time in years, including several operated by exiled dissidents. … Censors this week unblocked the websites of international media outlets including the Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Corp., as well the Democratic Voice of Burma, Radio Free Asia and the video file-sharing site YouTube.


Sept. 13 “China no longer Gaddafi's BFF

“The turmoil in Libya is only temporary, while the China-Libya friendship is everlasting.” That's one way to put it — specifically, the Chinese state media’s way.

Radio Free Asia reports that China has agreed to help Libya with reconstruction efforts in exchange for having business contracts ($20 billion worth) they signed with Gaddafi's regime honored by the National Transitional Council.


Sept. 13 “Khun Htun Oo: Bloody but unbowed”

Hkun Htun Oo, the imprisoned Shan leader whose party, Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), won second place nationwide and first place statewise during the 1990 elections, is said to be getting fragile in health, but still kneeling down to nobody in spirit, according to Shan cartoonist Hsailed Banyen, better known as Harn Lay to his worldwide fans, on Sunday, the day Hkun Htun Oo turned 68.

… According to Radio Free Asia, the issue of political prisoners was high on the agenda during the meeting between President Thein Sein and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on 19 August.


Sept. 12 “Exiled Comedy Troupe Returns to Burma”

Four members of an exiled Burmese comedy troupe flew to Rangoon on Sunday, nearly a month after Burmese President Thein Sein invited exiles to return home.

… However, Sein Kyaw Hlaing, a Burmese journalist working for Washington-based Radio Free Asia, was reportedly detained for questioning before being released after returning to Rangoon last month.


Sept. 11 “Academic freedom reports worldwide”

Chinese constitutional scholar and activist Yao Lifa has been freed but is suffering from multiple injuries after spending almost a month in detention.

Yao Lifa, a constitutional scholar and activist in Hubei province in central China, has been freed in complex circumstances and is suffering from multiple injuries after spending almost a month in secret detention, Radio Free Asia reported on 5 September.


Sept. 9 “China water resettlement: ‘Honest folk have lost out’”

State media is hailing the success of a huge project to relocate 345,000 people from the path of diversion channels that will carry water from the south to the arid north. But those who have lost their homes tell a different tale of corruption, shoddy housing and friction in their new communities

… Elsewhere, there have been reports of demonstrations. Last November, police clashed with thousands of migrants in Qianjiang city to protest shoddy housing and inadequate compensation, according to Radio Free Asia.


Sept. 9 “Chinese court sentences yet another Tibetan activist to three years”

A court in Sichuan, the south-western province of China, has sentenced Tibetan activist Paljor, 38, to three years in prison for taking part in anti-Chinese protests in Ngaba March 16 last. The news was reported by the Tibetan exiles to Radio Free Asia (RFA). ... Protests broke out after the death of a young monk, Phuntsok, who set himself on fire last March 16.


Sept. 7 “USDP MP, a former colonel, says Suu Kyi not right for peace committee”

A person who says “Burma” instead of “Myanmar” should not be appointed to the country’s peace committee, a former colonel who is a Union Solidarity and Development Party MP told Burmese lawmakers in the Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday. … Hla Swe, who represents Magway Region Constituency 12, did not mention Aung San Suu Kyi by name, but MPs said they believed he was referring to the opposition leader.

… In 1989, the former junta changed the country’s name from Burma to “Myanmar.” In May, Suu Kyi told Radio Free Asia (Burmese service) that she would continue to call the country “Burma” because the former junta changed the country’s name without consulting its citizens.


Sept. 7 “Protest against Chinese flags in mosques, 5 Uyghurs detained”

Exile Uyghur groups say that five ethnic Uyghur Muslims were detained for refusing to honour the Chinese national flag at a flag raising ceremony held inside a mosque in the volatile north-western region of China. The men were detained on charges of “inciting separatism.”

… However, local Uyghurs are reportedly angered at the government’s decision. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a local resident told Radio Free Asia that Uyghurs throughout the prefecture were angered by the campaign and believed that "raising the national flag in mosques is an insult to the Uyghurs."


Sept. 6 “China cracks down on two popular Beijing newspapers, reining in their control”

Authorities in China have placed two popular Beijing papers under the supervision of the dominant Chinese Communist Party's local propaganda department, prompting fears the papers will face even tighter censorship.
Radio Free Asia reports that Beijing News and Beijing Times, previously under the control of state-level propaganda authorities, will now be supervised by the publicity department of the Beijing Municipal Communist Party Committee.


Sept. 6 “Chinese democrat Yao Lifa: kidnapped by the police then released only to ‘disappear’”

Human rights activist Yao Lifa, who was only just released from illegal police detention after 10 months, has “disappeared” again.

Radio Free Asia reports that he was subjected to deprivation and psychological torture, like not being able to wash his clothes or wear clean clothes.


Sept. 6 “Exiled journalist detained after returning to Rangoon”

Sein Kyaw Hlaing, a veteran Burmese journalist working in exile for the BBC Burmese Service (BBC Burmese) and Radio Free Asia (RFA), was reportedly detained and interrogated in Rangoon after accepting President Thein Sein's offer to exiles to return home.

… With the Washington-based RFA, he covered the affairs of the ruling generals and ministers. … Currently, he is an outside contributor for RFA.


Sept. 3 “Int'l relief group to send US$600,000 in aid to N. Korea: report”

An international relief organization plans to send emergency aid to parts of North Korea that have been hit hard by recent torrential rains, a U.S. report claimed Saturday. Radio Free Asia, citing a spokesperson at Samaritan's Purse, a Christian relief and evangelism organization, said US$600,000 worth of aid will be sent to parts of Kangwon and South Hwanghae provinces near the border with South Korea.

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