(Washington, DC — January 1, 2016) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in December:
RFA Reports on schoolgirl’s suicide sparking riots in China
Dec. 31 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on spates of protests spurred by the suicide of a young girl in western China. A 13-year-old allegedly jumped off a tall building after being accused of shoplifting by a well-connected business owner.
RFA Reports on Aung San Suu Kyi raising concerns of press freedom in Myanmar
Dec. 31 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Aung San Suu Kyi, in the aftermath of her party’s overwhelming victory in November’s elections, voicing concerns about Myanmar’s media environment. She expressed wariness of government controlled media, which she said could hurt the progress of democracy in Myanmar.
RFA Reports on Myanmar’s plans to appeal verdict against migrant workers in Thailand
Dec. 30 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s plans to formally appeal the guilty verdict reached against two Myanmar migrant workers in the case of two murdered British tourists. Two Myanmar men were sentenced to death, causing widespread protests in Myanmar and elsewhere, as many feel the two men are scapegoats.
RFA Reports on Chinese petitioners descending on Beijing
Dec. 30 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on large numbers of Chinese people traveling to Beijing to file complaints against the ruling Chinese Communist Party ahead of New Year’s Day. Petitioners sought answers from the government regarding instances of forced evictions, land grabs, official corruption, and abuse of official power.
RFA Reports on China imprisoning over 100 journalists and bloggers in 2015
Dec. 30 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on China holding 23 journalists and 84 bloggers behind bars during 2015. The majority of writers imprisoned were from ethnic minority groups including Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Mongolians.
RFA Reports on Cambodian leader Hun Sen’s son setting sights on top office
Dec. 30 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s youngest son saying he intends to succeed his father in the authoritarian Southeast Asian country’s top office. He did not specify if he plans to run for the highest office in the next general election in July 2018.
RFA Reports on Lao trucks transporting timber to Vietnam despite export ban
Dec. 30 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Laos transporting logs to Vietnam despite a government ban on timber exports that took effect in August. A Lao government official said he saw dozens of trucks loaded with timber headed across the border into Vietnam in December.
RFA Reports on China jailing Hong Kong Umbrella Movement supporter
Dec. 29 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on a Chinese man being jailed after showing online support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Occupy Central movement. The 18-year-old had posted a picture of himself holding a banner reading “Protesting for Freedom.”
RFA Reports on authorities removing church cross in China
Dec. 29 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities removing another cross from the roof of a prominent Protestant church in Zhejiang province. The cross was removed despite protests.
RFA Reports on attacked Cambodian politicians filing legal complaints
Dec. 28 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the lawyer of two Cambodian opposition lawmakers who were brutally attacked by protesters filing a second legal complaint. The victims are seeking the arrest of those who ordered the attacks as well as additional protest leaders who instigated the violence.
RFA Reports on China passing controversial anti-terrorism laws targeting Muslims
Dec. 28 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on China's parliament passing a controversial new terrorism law that targets Muslims. This was followed by a directive from a Guangzhou police department to deny hotel rooms to anyone not belonging to the majority Han Chinese ethnic group.
RFA Reports on Christmastime restrictions for Chinese Christians
Dec. 24 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on the Chinese Communist Party placing restrictions on Christian worship over Christmas. Many Christians were put under surveillance or warned away from attending Christmas celebration ceremonies.
RFA Reports on Cambodian PM threatening to cut off activists’ electricity
Dec. 23 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen threatening to cut off electricity from the homes of “environmental extremists,” referring to activists who oppose development projects with negative environmental effects or which displace residents.
RFA Reports on Cambodian garment workers protesting over pay
Dec. 22 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian garment workers clashing with authorities as they protested for an increase in the minimum wage. The protests occurred just a day after police detained nearly 60 striking employees and dispersed crowds with water cannons.
RFA Reports on travel ban for Chinese scholar of Tibetan culture
Dec. 22 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities barring writer and Tibet historian Wang Lixiong from leaving the country. Authorities are concerned his exit would “damage national security.”
RFA Reports on guilty verdict for Chinese rights lawyer
Dec. 22 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on prominent rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang being found guilty and handed a suspended jail term after he wrote seven highly critical tweets. Pu, who’s already spent more than 20 months behind bars, had tweeted about influential politicians.
RFA Reports on detention of trafficked Lao women
Dec. 22 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Thai authorities detaining 43 Lao women, some underage, for illegally entering the country to work in the sex trade. The arrests came just two days after the Lao parliament passed an anti-human-trafficking law to ensure protection for victims and punishment for perpetrators.
RFA Reports on detention of Tibetan protester’s family members
Dec. 22 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities detaining three family members of a Tibetan protester who was previously taken into custody. Solo protests have been increasing in frequency, possibly in reaction to Chinese authorities punishing the families of self-immolators.
RFA Reports on North Korean authorities failing to distribute crops promised to farmers
Dec. 21 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean authorities failing to honor a pledge allowing farmers to keep a share of the crops that they produce. Farmers are allowed to keep 30 percent of their work unit’s production as well as any surplus grain produced. But in practice many farmers have received neither.
RFA Reports on Uyghur residents refuting state media claims of Jihadist brainwashing
Dec. 21 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region residents rejecting state media claims that one of the alleged perpetrators of a deadly coal mine attack had been “brainwashed” by Jihadist rhetoric. China’s official CCTV reported that some of the attackers had been influenced by extremist videos.
RFA Reports on sentencing of Myanmar journalist for non sanctioned protest
Dec. 18 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on a local journalist being sentenced for participating in a public prayer event for persecuted reporters. The reporter was ordered to either spend 15 days in jail or pay a fine.
RFA Reports on Shanghai pollution fee scheme ignoring causes of smog
Dec. 17 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on authorities in Shanghai announcing plans to charge polluters a "smog fee." While the move was welcomed by some beleaguered residents, many expressed doubts on social media that major polluters would face penalties.
RFA Reports on thousands protesting waste plant construction in China
Dec. 16 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on protesters blocking the construction of a waste incineration plant they say will put the health of tens of thousands of local residents at risk. Locals are particularly angry because the plant was given the go-ahead by local officials without any public consultation.
RFA Reports on detention of Vietnamese dissident lawyer
Dec. 16 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the arrest of Vietnamese dissident lawyer Nguyen Van Dai on charges of conducting “propaganda against the state.” The arrest comes one week after masked assailants beat him in an apparent reprisal for his recent discussions on human rights with Vietnamese citizens.
RFA Reports on Chinese president calling for state control of cyberspace
Dec. 16 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese Internet users criticizing a "global" Internet conference hosted by the ruling Chinese Communist Party. At the gathering, China’s President Xi Jinping called for more control by governments over cyberspace.
RFA Reports on arrest of Chinese asylum seeker in Thailand
Dec. 15 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on the arrest of another Chinese asylum-seeker in Thailand. Wang Junli, who had been in the country for more than a year and who held a letter of protection from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was arrested by Thai police.
RFA Reports on prison release of Vietnamese musician
Dec. 15 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the release of a prominent Vietnamese musician after serving his full four-year sentence for writing politically sensitive songs. Viet Khang, known for writing lyrics on various social issues, was arrested and jailed in 2011 after some of his songs were deemed to be “propaganda against the state.”
RFA Reports on third anniversary of Sombath Somphone’s disappearance
Dec. 15 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on the third anniversary of missing Lao civil society activist Sombath Somphone as supporters called for an investigation into his fate. Sombath’s abduction at a police checkpoint in 2012 in the capital Vientiane is widely believed to have been carried out by police or some other government-linked group.
RFA Reports on hundreds of Myanmar garment workers striking
Dec. 14 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on hundreds of Myanmar garment workers demanding their salaries after a factory owner withheld pay. Since the strike began, workers have been barred from using the ferry as well as the dormitory where they usually reside.
RFA Reports on sex work fueling spread of AIDS in China’s Uyghur region
Dec. 14 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on a burgeoning sex trade in China’s far west Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS. The southern prefectures of Hotan and Kashgar have been especially hard hit with growing numbers of brothels disguised as barber shops, massage parlors, and spas set up by Han Chinese migrants.
RFA Reports on Myanmar parties forming panels to transfer government duties
Dec. 11 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party and the National League for Democracy, which won a landslide victory in the Nov. 8 national polls, forming separate committees to manage the transfer of government duties. The move is considered by many a step forward in the country’s transition to democracy.
RFA Reports on North Korean shipyard producing troop transport submarines
Dec. 10 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on a North Korean shipyard shifting production from semi-submersible boats to troop transport submarines. The shipyard has already produced at least seven of the new vessels, with laborers and engineers working 16-hour days in order to meet production goals.
RFA Reports on North Korean officials skimming cash ‘donations’ from citizens
Dec. 9 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean officials vying for the top posts of low-level administrative units. These positions are often abused with the goal of coercing money from ordinary citizens who are under their supervision.
RFA Reports on ‘harsh punishment’ for daughters-in-law of Uyghur suspect
Dec. 8 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on two women related to a suspected ringleader of a deadly attack at a coal mine in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region facing “harsh punishment” for not revealing his plans to authorities sooner. Authorities say that by not revealing what they may have known about the attack beforehand, they had expressed loyalty and sympathy to “the terrorists.”
RFA Reports on jailing of Chinese author over book criticizing Communist Party
Dec. 4 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangxi handing a one year and 10-month jail term to an outspoken author and Internet commentator on charges of "running an illegal business." Fu Zhibin, 51, was sentenced after he published a book about brainwashing that was highly critical of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
RFA Reports on Lao soldiers killed in skirmish with ‘bandits’
Dec. 4 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on an exchange of gunfire between an armed group, described by government sources as “bandits,” and local troops in Laos' Xaysomboun Province leaving three government soldiers dead and others injured.
RFA Reports on Aung San Suu Kyi in transition talks with Myanmar’s president, military chief
Dec. 2 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar opposition party leader Aung San Suu Kyi meeting with President Thein Sein and military chief Min Aung Hlaing to discuss a “peaceful transfer of power.” While her party won a majority in parliament and will be able to select the country’s new president, the military will continue to hold 25 percent of the legislature’s seats through appointment, giving it veto power over all constitutional amendments.
RFA Reports on court summoning Cambodian opposition leader
Dec. 2 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a Cambodian court summoning opposition leader Sam Rainsy in connection with defamation charges he faces over a decades-old statement posted to his Facebook account. This was the third charge brought against Rainsy in less than three weeks, leading some to call the charges politically motivated.