(Washington, DC — Sept. 1, 2016) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in August:
RFA Reports on Hong Kong independence at issue in election
Aug. 31 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on the issue of Hong Kong’s independence dominating the run-up to the former British colony’s legislative council (LegCo) elections.
RFA Reports on Myanmar peace conference seeking nationwide cease-fire
Aug. 31 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi kicking off a five-day peace conference in Myanmar. The 21st Century Panglong Conference brings together armed ethnic groups, political parties, military officials, and government representatives in an attempt to forge a nationwide cease-fire.
RFA Reports on jailed Cambodian-American keeping up the fight
Aug. 31 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a jailed Cambodian opposition member continuing to fight for a reprieve in Cambodia’s courts. Cambodian-American Meach Sovannara is serving a 20-year prison term for allegedly fomenting insurrection against the Cambodian government.
RFA Reports on exiled Cambodian opposition leader decrying government tactics
Aug. 30 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s plans to return to Cambodia to participate in upcoming elections. Rainsy, who faces arrest upon returning, called the current government’s tactics “savage.”
RFA Reports on growing concerns for missing Chinese rights lawyers
Aug. 30 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on concerns growing for the safety of dozens of Chinese human rights lawyers and associates locked up in an unknown location. Some of the legal professionals who remain incommunicado were officially released and yet remain “disappeared.”
RFA Reports on Myanmar government halting jade mine operations
Aug. 30 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on the suspension of more than 2,000 jade mines in resource-rich Kachin state. Operations will cease until environmental impact studies have been completed.
RFA Reports on return of Thailand-based Chinese refugees
Aug. 30 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on two Chinese refugees repatriating to China from Thailand. One of the returned asylum-seekers had already received approval for resettlement as a political asylum-seeker and held a UNHCR letter of protection, yet still “voluntarily” returned to China.
RFA Reports on suicides in wake of demolition of Tibetan Buddhist study center
Aug. 29 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on three Tibetan Buddhist nuns killing themselves to protest the destruction of large parts of a popular study center. Chinese authorities destroyed thousands of dwellings at the Larung Gar Academy, one of the world’s most important centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.
RFA Reports on wife of slain activist fleeing Cambodia
Aug. 29 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the widow of slain government critic Kem Ley leaving Cambodia with her children for an undisclosed third country. Bou Rachana’s husband was gunned down in broad daylight in July, just days after appearing on an RFA call-in show.
RFA Reports on striking miners demanding equal pay in China
Aug. 26 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on some 1,500 workers at a state-owned coal mine in northern China striking over deductions from their paychecks. Authorities say the cuts are ostensibly for “social security” purposes.
RFA Reports on the forcing of Uyghurs to wear traditional Chinese garb, perform tai chi in public
Aug. 25 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese authorities forcing Uyghurs to participate in a mass event where they had to dress in traditional Chinese garb and perform tai chi in public. The purpose of the event was to “foster the Chinese nation’s valuable traditions and spread patriotic education.”
RFA Reports on North Korean crackdown on popular digital device
Aug. 24 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean authorities worrying that a popular digital device will be used by North Koreans to access forbidden TV stations and videos. The Chinese-made Notetel is cheap, small, is capable of playing DVDs, and is compatible with USB sticks.
RFA Reports on Laotians facing high prices, stagnant wages
Aug. 24 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on the rising cost of living in Laos, where the minimum wage has remained stagnant at about $120 a month. Ordinary citizens are struggling to afford basic necessities while expressing a lack of surprise at the situation as the government has struggled to control the price of goods.
RFA Reports on Vietnamese jailed over Facebook posts
Aug. 23 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a court convicting two Vietnamese activists of conducting propaganda against the state over Facebook posts. Both activists received multiyear terms in a closed trial in which observers were blocked from entering.
RFA Reports on Myanmar opposition party reshuffle
Aug. 23 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on a reshuffle of Myanmar’s main opposition party displacing ex-president Thein Sein as chairman of the former ruling party. The USDP is strategically reorganizing ahead of by-elections early next year.
RFA Reports on Vietnamese beaches contaminated by chemical spill
Aug. 23 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the Vietnamese government failing in its attempt to convince citizens that beaches affected by a steel plant spill are safe for swimming. Top officials even took a dip in the ocean to prove it is clean enough for swimming, but local fishermen continue to dispute that claim.
RFA Reports on new push for ‘political education’ of Uyghurs
Aug. 22 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese universities pushing to strengthen faculty loyalty to Beijing. Instructors have been forced to write papers promoting “ethnic unity” and praising initiatives of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, including president Xi Jinping’s call to prevent Western ideology from entering the schools.
RFA Reports on China increasing internet monitoring
Aug. 19 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on China’s powerful internet regulator ratcheting up controls, requiring constant monitoring of all live-streaming and holding editorial chiefs responsible for “problem” content. Chinese media editors may consequently be even more cautious with what is published.
RFA Reports on Chinese authorities fencing off Uyghur neighborhoods
Aug. 19 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese authorities fencing off entire neighborhoods in Xinjiang to conduct security checks. The fenced-in neighborhoods have check systems at the gate and some require people to swipe an ID card before entering, sources told RFA.
RFA Reports on Chinese province banning religious activities in hospitals
Aug. 18 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities banning all forms of religious activity in hospitals in the eastern province of Zhejiang. The ban is part of a larger crackdown targeting the region’s burgeoning Protestant Christian community.
RFA Reports on fears of unfair election in Cambodia
Aug. 18 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian officials rolling out a new voter registration system amid fears that the country’s current political situation could poison the process. International observers expressed concern over Cambodia’s ability to conduct free and fair elections.
RFA Reports on Myanmar and China cooperation on dam project
Aug. 18 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar and China agreeing to work together to jump-start the stalled Myitsone Dam project. China is eager to see the Myanmar government allow the $3.6-billion Chinese-backed project restart after a five-year suspension.
RFA Reports on high-level North Korean defector
Aug. 17 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on a senior North Korean diplomat defecting from the North Korean embassy in London. Tae Yong Ho was in charge of monitoring defectors before becoming one himself, sources told RFA.
RFA Reports on Cambodian police detaining land rights activist
Aug. 16 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian authorities holding a pair of land-rights activists for their part in a “Black Monday” protest. The two protesters were among a group calling on the government to resolve land-grab issues across the country.
RFA Reports on Myanmar dropping charges against activists en masse
Aug. 16 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar authorities closing more than 450 cases against activists. The move, facilitated by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw, comes alongside the release of more than 200 political prisoners in a presidential amnesty.
RFA Reports on Vietnamese police assaulting thousands of Vietnamese protesters
Aug. 16 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on police blocking and assaulting thousands of Vietnamese Catholic parishioners who were protesting government inaction over a massive pollution-linked fish-kill. The protesters were attacked as they attempted to march to township offices and demand relief in the wake of the environmental disaster.
RFA Reports on commercial development project displacing Tibetans
Aug. 16 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities forcing Tibetans from their homes to make way for commercial development. The Tibetans were not willing to sell their land, but were forcibly evicted so that a tourist complex could be built.
RFA Reports on Cambodian human rights workers forced to testify against opposition politician
Aug. 15 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a Cambodian court ordering a second human rights organization official to testify in the government’s legal battle with opposition leader Kem Sokha. Sokha, who has been barred from leaving the country, had his parliamentary immunity lifted in the case after he refused to heed a court summons.
RFA Reports on Uyghur students questioned over religious habits
Aug. 15 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on the Chinese government asking schoolchildren to tell authorities who in their family prays, who hears a hijab, and who has a beard. Chinese authorities told educators the survey was designed to curb the religious and separatist ideology of students entering the school.
RFA Reports on police beating pollution protesters in Vietnam
Aug. 12 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on Vietnamese police beating demonstrators protesting a waste-management plant that local villagers fear is polluting the area. Villagers said they had gathered at the factory seeking some explanation from the factory, but instead were attacked by police.
RFA Reports on justice for Lao restaurant owner in land-grab case
Aug. 12 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on a Lao land-grab victim who is now entitled to lease back nearly 6,000 square meters of land seized from her last year by the government. The victory is a rare one in communist Laos, where all land belongs to the state.
RFA Reports on Myanmar soldiers killing unarmed civilians
RFA Reports on North Korean Olympic athletes denied complimentary smart phones
Aug. 9 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korea’s Olympic Committee refusing to give complimentary smart phones to North Korean athletes at the Rio Olympic Games. South Korean company and official Olympics sponsor Samsung provided free phones for all athletes, but they were not distributed to the North Korean team by their management.
RFA Reports on thousands protesting nuclear plant in China
Aug. 8 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on thousands of Chinese protesters flooding the streets of Jiangsu province over plans to build a nuclear processing plant near their homes. Authorities deployed truckloads of riot police in response, beating citizens with guns and batons.
RFA Reports on ban of Tibetan festival following refusal to fly Chinese flag
Aug. 5 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on the banning of a traditional Tibetan religious gathering and horse-race festival after participants refused to fly the Chinese national flag at the events. The annual gathering, in which villagers burn juniper branches to propitiate mountain deities for timely rainfall and a good harvest, was to have been held at the beginning of August, with the horse race to follow.
RFA Reports on Laos searching for Facebook ‘friends’ of government critics
Aug. 5 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Lao authorities looking for the Facebook “friends” of three Lao citizens arrested for criticizing their government on the social media platform. The Laotians were working in Thailand at the time but were arrested after returning to Laos to renew their passports.
RFA Reports on methamphetamines fueling North Korean workers
Aug. 4 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on growing pressure to finish a showcase construction project, leading project managers in North Korea to supply their workers with powerful methamphetamines. The practice has led to pushback in the form of graffiti mocking production slogans, such as “Pyongyang speed is drug speed.”
RFA Reports on jailing of Chinese human rights lawyer
Aug. 4 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on a leading Chinese human rights lawyer being sentenced to seven years in prison on subversion charges. Fifty-two-year-old Zhou Shifeng was the director of Beijing’s Fengrui Law Firm, which took on the sensitive cases of dissidents.
RFA Reports on secret trial of Tibetan monk
Aug. 4 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan monk missing since his detention last year being located by his family in prison. The monk known as Adrak had been sentenced to three years in jail in a secret hearing, leaving his family uninformed of his sentencing.
RFA Reports on purged Chinese political magazine editors vowing to fight back
Aug. 3 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on supporters and editors of a Chinese political journal vowing to fight back against a management purge. The reshuffle came at the hands of the National Academy of Arts, which owns the cutting-edge publication.
RFA Reports on ISIS death threat for Aung San Suu Kyi
Aug. 3 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on the Myanmar government arranging greater security for Aung San Suu Kyi after her name appeared on a hit list sent by the militant extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to police in Malaysia. The threat is not the first in recent months to be made against the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and democracy icon, considered by many to be Myanmar’s de facto leader.
RFA Reports on Cambodia rejecting call for independent investigation of activist’s murder
Aug. 3 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen rejecting calls for an independent investigation into the murder of popular government critic Kem Ley. Days before his murder, Kem Ley had appeared on RFA to discuss an NGO report on wealth and corruption among Hun Sen and his family.
RFA Reports on clampdown on demolition site in Tibet
Aug. 3 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities clamping down on telephone calls and social media messages in the area around a Tibetan Buddhist study center that is being demolished. No photos or videos of the demolition activities were permitted in a bid to limit scrutiny of the project.
RFA Reports on processing-plant stream pollution affecting Lao villagers
Aug. 1 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on hundreds of villagers no longer able to use water from a local stream due to pollution from a nearby processing plant. Plant operators created waste pools to hold polluted water, but the tainted water ends up in the stream anyway.
RFA Reports on TV ‘confession,’ release of Chinese human rights lawyer
Aug. 1 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on top human rights lawyer Wang Yu making a televised “confession” on Chinese television before she was released on bail. Wang Yu was detained in July 2015 in what marked the beginning of a large-scale crackdown on Chinese rights lawyers, legal employees, and activists.