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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Lugar introduces bill to permanently authorize Radio Free Asia

March 15, 2010

U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar introduced legislation that would promote the free
dissemination of information in East Asia through the permanent
authorization of Radio Free Asia (S.3104).

Sens. Kaufman (D-DE), Franken (D-MN), and Inouye (D-HI) are original
cosponsors of the bill.

Congress created Radio Free Asia (RFA) in 1996 to broadcast news into Burma,
Cambodia, China, Laos, North Korea, Tibet and Vietnam in local languages and
dialects. The hope at the time was that the nations served by RFA would
loosen their grip on censorship as their economies modernized and living
standards improved; however, these reforms never materialized.

The human rights non-governmental organization Freedom House, which monitors
press freedom throughout the world, has noted that censorship and
intimidation of the media have worsened in the areas served by RFA,
particularly in the last five years as documented in its annual Freedom of
the Press Index. RFA still can only reach most of its audiences through
short-wave radio and via the internet using proxy servers. Governments
routinely jam AM transmissions and hack into RFA's websites and servers.

RFA has been funded by Congressional appropriations each year since it began
broadcasting but it has never been permanently authorized. Rather, its
continued existence is dependent on annual legislation extending its life by
another fiscal year.

"Recent high-profile cyber attacks underscore the reality that certain
governments still believe in blocking uncensored news from their citizens,"
Sen. Lugar said. "Permanent legal authority for Radio Free Asia would send a
strong signal that the U.S. supports freedom of the press across the globe."
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