Cantonese and Mandarin Services Recognized by New York Festivals

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Bronze Worldmedal. The New York Festivals Radio Programming and Promotion Awards recognizes "The World's Best Work" in radio. Courtesy of New York Festivals

WASHINGTON—Cantonese Broadcasters Shiny Wo Tak Li and Nashi Ni were awarded a bronze medal for their 2006 story “Lead Poisoning in China Villages” in the Environmental Programs category of the 2007 New York Festival Radio Broadcasting Awards.

Mandarin Broadcaster and Program Host of ‘Journey of the Soul’ Zhang Min received a Finalist Certificate for her 2006 story “Blind Rights Activist Chen Guangcheng’s Eyes – Yuan Weijing, His Wife” in the Profiles/Community Portraits category.

Blanquita Cullum, who chairs the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ committee that oversees Radio Free Asia, said this recognition by the New York group reflects the remarkable work produced by RFA reporters all year round.

“Day after day, these intrepid journalists bring the uncensored news to people across Asia in their native language who would otherwise have to rely on state-sponsored media,” Cullum said.

A gala was held on the evening of June 28th in New York City at the Tribeca Rooftop Hotel to honor the journalists.

The story by Shiny Li and Nashi Ni covers the fate of villagers in the northwestern province of Gansu, China, who have battled lead poisoning for more than ten years. Most of the inhabitants of Xinsi as well as six nearby villages have been found to have excessive levels of lead in their blood. Groups of up to 100 people regularly stage protests on the doorsteps of village government offices at the risk of being detained by police and interrogated.

Chinese authorities say that they found the main source of poisoning within a day and watch developments closely. Only one factory was shut down. But villagers continue to complain about other factories which still spew out black smoke and dump heavy metal waste on land and in nearby rivers. Villagers outside of the monitoring program also want their blood tested but are not allowed to have this done. Coverage of this story has been ongoing since disclosure of the incident in August 2006. The report also features interviews with a medical expert and a soil pollution expert.

Blind Rights Activist Chen Guangcheng’s Eyes – Yuan Weijing, His Wife

Zhang Min's story was aired on the occasion of blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng's 35th birthday while incarcerated for his exposure of Chinese authorities’ abusive implementation of family planning policy. The story features a moving interview with Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, who was under house arrest at the time.

Chen Guangcheng became famous at home and abroad for his work documenting forced abortion, the destruction of family homes, and the detention and torture of those who have children without permission.

Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, tells stories about how she and Chen first met and fell in love. Yuan Weijing eventually gave up her teaching job to help her husband in his fight for human rights. She calls herself “the eyes of Chen Guangcheng”.

Chen Guangcheng was arrested on March 11, 2006 and sentenced to four years and three months in prison on two charges he denied on Aug. 24. Chen lodged an appeal to a higher court and was waiting to hear the results at a detention center when the program was aired.

Part of a series on Chen's case, the program also discusses his university education as a blind man and his family life.

Also interviewed for the story were village neighbors of Chen’s family, Chen’s lawyer, as well as Chen's mother and brothers.

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