(Washington, DC — May 1, 2016) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in April:
RFA Reports on Uyghur villagers being forced to spy on one another
April 29 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Uyghur villagers being forced to spy on their neighbors, watching constantly for behavior deemed “suspicious” or opposed to Beijing’s rule. The policy, put in place almost two years ago, demands that residents sign a “Joint Responsibility Contract” that threatens collective punishment for villagers found not in compliance with 30 specific regulations.
RFA Reports on stolen North Korean flag sparking investigation
April 28 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on the theft of a North Korean flag in front of Chongjin’s city hall. “Law enforcement authorities were fully mobilized for the investigation, as the elimination of the North Korean national flag is a significant matter,” a source from North Hamgyong Province told RFA’s Korean Service.
RFA Reports on China’s new restrictive NGO law
April 28 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on China’s parliament approving a new law requiring overseas NGOs and rights groups to submit to police control. The NGO law will make it even more difficult for Chinese civil society to operate with any semblance of autonomy as they are placed under the control of China’s ministry of public security.
RFA Reports on Myanmar nationalists protesting U.S. embassy’s use of 'Rohingya’
April 28 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar protesters rallying outside the U.S. Embassy after the embassy used the term ‘Rohingya’ in an official statement. The embassy was extending condolences to the families of 21 people who died in a recent boat accident. Many of those who died were ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims.
RFA Reports on Tibetan writer being placed under house arrest
April 28 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities holding prominent Tibetan poet and author Tsering Woeser under house arrest during a U.S. NGO’s visit to Beijing. State security police prevented Woeser, along with her dissident writer husband, from leaving their Beijing home while a delegation from the American Himalayan Foundation was in town.
RFA Reports on stupas stoking religious tension in Myanmar
April 27 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on an influential Buddhist monk building stupas near churches and mosques in Myanmar, where tension between religious groups has run high in recent times. Locals who have called for peace and tolerance saw the “stupa-building spree” by Buddhists as inflammatory and likely to increase tensions.
RFA Reports on massive fish kill in Vietnam
April 27 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on an unprecedented amount of dead fish washing up along Vietnam’s central coast. Some say pollution caused by a huge steel plant is to blame, while Vietnamese authorities claim the cause is not yet known.
RFA Reports on plight of jailed Uyghur scholar
April 27 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on jailed Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti being nominated for the Martin Ennals award, a prominent human rights award named for the founder of Amnesty International. Tohti is serving a life sentence on a “separatism” charge.
RFA Reports on Cambodian opposition lawmaker jailed over border criticism
April 26 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the jailing of a Cambodian opposition lawmaker following his remarks that the government had conceded land to Vietnam along its border. Um Sam An has been subjected to round-the-clock surveillance and his prison visitation rights restricted.
RFA Reports on Chinese rights activist barred from meeting with foreign diplomats
April 25 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities preventing Western diplomats from visiting the home of eviction activist Ni Yulan. Ni has been under house arrest with no food since April 13.
RFA Reports on traffic stop shakedowns in North Korea
April 25 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on cash-strapped North Korean authorities setting up checkpoints along major roads, stopping and fining car owners for real and invented infractions. “Once you’ve been stopped, you can’t go through without paying something,” one resident said.
RFA Reports on Chinese journalist being jailed for reporting on self-immolation
April 25 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on the jailing of a Chinese citizen after reporting on the self-immolation of a petitioner in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Wang Jing was sentenced to five years in prison for posting reports and photos of the self-immolation protest online, as well as for giving phone interviews to overseas media.
RFA Reports on official documentation of unconfirmed Uyghur clashes
April 22 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on the release of an official list of deceased Uyghur police officers confirming details of clashes previously unacknowledged by Chinese authorities. The list, titled “Our Heroes,” appears to corroborate a June 2015 RFA report on a deadly clash between police and ethnic Uyghurs that killed as many as 28, including a police officer named in the list.
RFA Reports on jailing of Vietnamese asylum seekers
April 22 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a group of refugees who were returned to Vietnam by Australia being sentenced to prison. The four asylum seekers who had fled Vietnam by boat in March 2015, but were returned in April of last year, were charged for their roles in attempting to help their extended families flee the country.
RFA Reports on Cambodia’s illegal logging battle
April 22 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian authorities using helicopters and armed vehicles in their battle to stop the illegal logging trade. Illegal logging has decimated Cambodia’s forests, leading Hun Sen to advocate the use of extreme measures, including using rockets against pirate loggers.
RFA Reports on arrests of Lao bus shooting suspects
April 21 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on military and police officials arresting 30 people suspected of being involved in a bus shooting in April that left one Chinese national dead and six others wounded. The shooting was the latest in a string of attacks targeting Chinese nationals in Laos.
RFA Reports on Laos coming up short again in press freedom survey
April 20 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Laos’s latest dismal ranking on an annual international press freedom index. The country enacted a regulation five months ago that requires foreign journalists, embassy personnel, and international organizations to submit their reports to government officials for review before publication.
RFA Reports on more than 20 dead in Myanmar boat disaster
April 20 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on at least 20 victims reported dead after an overloaded boat carrying dozens of Rohingya Muslims capsized off the coast of Sittwe in western Myanmar. The Rohingya, severely limited in their rights to movement, are often forced to rely on dangerous and outdated modes of transport.
RFA Reports on Chinese parents suing over tainted vaccines
April 19 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on dozens of Chinese parents filing lawsuits after tainted vaccines harmed their children. Protests have been growing over the weeks and months since news of the vaccine scandal first broke.
RFA Reports on shutdown of North Korea’s Tanzanian medical clinics
April 19 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on the Tanzanian government shutting down two North Korean medical clinics because of their use of fake medicine, unqualified doctors, and ineffective treatments. RFA first reported on the clinics last month as part of an ongoing investigative series on North Korean labor abroad.
RFA Reports on North Korean restaurants in China offering more than food
April 15 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korea’s restaurants in China overcoming dismal customer numbers by offering other services to Chinese clients. The restaurants provide valuable business contacts for Chinese partners seeking trade across the border, allowing them to skip out on rent payments and receive preferential treatment.
RFA Reports on difficulties for Cambodian PM’s son during U.S. visit
April 14 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the son of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen encountering difficulties on what was supposed to be a celebratory tour of the United States. Hun Manet was named in a lawsuit against him for his role in the 2014 arrest of a media director and was also involved in an altercation in Long Beach, California.
RFA Reports on Lao villagers growing wary of Chinese plantations
April 14 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Lao villagers, once welcoming banana plantations brought to Laos by Chinese investors, souring on the arrangement. The Chinese-financed plantations have brought with them lots of cheap labor, but have also wreaked havoc on the environment due to their heavy use of chemical fertilizers.
RFA Reports on Myanmar cronies destroying monastery
April 13 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on a company with ties to Myanmar’s military destroying a building on the grounds of a Buddhist monastery. The company, which has been implicated in land-grab cases before, claimed the religious site was on land requisitioned for a development project. Locals have disputed that claim.
RFA Reports on large cash rewards for terrorism tips in the Xinjiang
April 12 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on officials in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region offering a cash bounty of up to 5 million yuan (U.S. $765,000) for tips about suspicious activity linked to terrorism or religious extremism. The amount of money informants receive depends on the quality of information they give, local law enforcement officials told RFA.
RFA Reports on Cambodian cop threatening reporter’s life
April 11 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a police officer threatening to kill a local Cambodian villager if he published stories about the officer firing at villagers’ homes for fun while drunk.
RFA Reports on creation of new Hong Kong political party
April 11 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on student leaders of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement establishing a new political party in Hong Kong. The Demosisto party, led by Joshua Wong, plans to field candidates in the city’s legislative elections later this year.
RFA Reports on Tibetan monk being held incommunicado for years
April 8 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities releasing a Tibetan monk who had been held incommunicado in jail for almost five years. Aku Tenzin Gyatso disappeared after greeting a popular Tibetan singer upon his release from jail five years ago, and had not been seen or heard from since.
RFA Reports on court dropping charges against jailed Myanmar students
April 8 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on a Myanmar court freeing 69 detained students in keeping with a pledge by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. Most of those let go during the first round of releases were students who had been jailed for more than a year while awaiting trial for participating in a protest against national education policy in March 2015 in the central Myanmar town of Letpadan in Tharrawaddy district.
RFA Reports on detention of Tibetan government workers
April 8 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities detaining Tibetan government workers after they protested the loss of their jobs amid allegations of corruption. The protesters asked for a review of the layoff decision, but were detained instead.
RFA Reports on Chinese censors in overdrive over Panama Papers
April 7 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese censors fighting to ensure that news implicating Chinese officials in the Panama Papers leak is deleted from the internet. Propaganda officials issued a national-level directive ordering the deletion of any and all content related to the Panama Papers from their websites.
RFA Reports on industrial waste plant pumping polluted water into Lao village
April 7 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on a Lao industrial plant pumping polluted wastewater into a neighborhood surrounding the plant. Contamination levels have jumped dramatically in the fields and water supply surrounding the Vientiane neighborhood in recent years, raising concern among locals.
RFA Reports on Vietnamese Catholics injured in clash
April 7 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the injury of three Catholic parishioners in a clash with local authorities at a church in Vietnam. The altercation came just days after the top U.S. diplomat for religious freedom worldwide left Vietnam.
RFA Reports on China executing most people worldwide
April 7 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on China remaining the world’s top executioner in 2015, executing thousands. China’s secrecy around the implementation of the death penalty makes the exact number of executions difficult to confirm.
RFA Reports on Chinese veteran journalist Gao Yu in hospital after raid
April 6 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on veteran journalist Gao Yu being hospitalized when she fell ill after her garden and home office were demolished by Chinese authorities. Police and urban management officials, known as "chengguan," raided her Beijing home on March 31, tearing down what they claim was an illegal garden and structure while they roughed up Gao's son.
RFA Reports on violent clash underscoring labor law vote
April 4 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian security forces violently breaking up a labor demonstration by opponents of proposed trade union regulation legislation. Labor leaders and human rights groups say the new law is an attempt to dilute organized labor’s power in Cambodia.
RFA Reports on Chinese policy leaving Uyghurs impoverished
April 1 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on how China’s policies have increased poverty among ethnic minority Uyghurs in the Hotan prefecture of the country’s far west. This evidence comes despite government claims that it has poured funds into development and the improvement of local livelihoods.
RFA Reports on Tibetan suicide in jail
April 1 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan man detained by Chinese police killing himself while in custody. Sources told RFA that his suicide at a Markham facility was an act of last resort to end brutal torture he had endured at the hands of his jailers.
RFA Reports on Hong Kong government warning of free speech limits in independence fight
April 1 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on Hong Kong's judicial chief saying free speech has its “limits” despite constitutional protections. He added that the city's police would consider investigating members of a new political party advocating independence for the former British colony.
RFA Reports on detention of Tibetans for social media election chats
April 1 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities detaining three Tibetans for allegedly discussing recent elections for the Tibetan government in exile. The Tibetans “were detained for taking part in a group chat on social media,” likely on the popular Chinese WeChat platform, a source inside Tibet told RFA.
RFA Reports on Aung San Suu Kyi’s role in new government
April 1 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s parliament creating a special advisory role for Aung San Suu Kyi in the new democratically elected government run by her NLD party. Aung San Suu Kyi will serve as state counselor in addition to serving as head of the foreign affairs and President’s Office ministries.