RFA Reports (August 2008)


(Washington, DC—September 1, 2008) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in August:

RFA Reports on Tibetan monks held in Qinghai
August 28 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English] on hundreds of Tibetan monks who were detained after widespread protests against Chinese rule earlier this year. The monks were deported from the Tibetan capital Lhasa to remote Qinghai province, where they remain in custody, according to Tibetan sources. Monks from two major Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, Sera and Drepung, both in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), may have been targeted because they were seen as playing a leading role in the demonstrations, the sources said.

RFA Reports on police killed in Xinjiang
August 28 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on two ethnic Uyghur police officers who were killed and at least two critically injured in a new clash near the Silk Road city of Kashgar, according to authoritative sources and witnesses. The dead and wounded officers all belong to the Muslim Uyghur ethnic group, according to police and the chief nurse at Peyzawat [in Chinese, Jiashi] county hospital. “All of them were stabbed,” the nurse said. “Two of them died at the hospital today [8/27] and two of them have been sent to the Kashgar Prefecture Hospital because they were in critical condition.”

RFA Reports on army recruiting in Burma

August 26 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on troops from Burma’s powerful military making an unusual bid to recruit underage Buddhist novices into the country’s armed forces. This has prompted an angry protest from the boys’ monastery in southwestern Burma, according to two local sources. On Aug. 22, a lance corporal from the 534 communications battalion visited the Yadana Bone monastery in Mawlamyine Kyun township. He then left with two novices identified as Shin Aindaka, 13, and Aindaray Sara, 15, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

RFA Reports on worsening inflation in Vietnam

August 23 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in Vietnamese] on Vietnam’s economy and its high rate of inflation. In an interview with Dr. Le Dang Doanh, an independent economist in Hanoi, Dr. Doanh said government measures have started to work but will take time. He cited the U.S. economy and its crises in banking and commerce as having an impact throughout the world. Dr. Doanh also said that the Vietnamese government is trying to stabilize gas prices, but this effort does not have much influence.

RFA Reports on deadly Lao floods

August 20 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on landslides, caused by the worst flooding in decades, which have killed four people in Laos. Major Lao transportation routes shut down and electricity was cut off in flooded suburban areas, including the popular tourist locale Luang Prabang. Water levels in Vientiane declined Wednesday [8/20] from flood stage, but the Mekong River Commission (MRC) acknowledged that other areas will remain above alarm and flood stages for the next two to three days.

RFA Reports on China’s empty protest zones
August 18 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on authorities in Beijing turning down dozens of groups and individuals with grievances who wished to use the officially sanctioned Olympic “protest parks” in the capital, activists and police said. Beijing police said a total of 77 applications were made to protest in Beijing during the Games, but 74 applications were withdrawn. Another two applications needed additional paperwork, while one application was rejected for legal reasons. In a news briefing, Beijing Olympics committee spokesman Wang Wei said "… in order to solve their problems, they should go through legal procedures, not stage protests."

RFA Reports on the crackdown on Xinjiang mosques
August 14 – RFA Uyghur and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Uyghur/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities calling for tighter controls over mosques and religious activities around the Silk Road city of Kashgar after a series of violent attacks in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang. A directive issued Aug. 5 by Party authorities in Yengisher [in Chinese, Shule] county and obtained by Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur service sets out to test the loyalty of Muslim Uyghur officials in charge of religious activities. “If, in the...management of religious affairs, ethnic minority officials merely stick to the form of the regulations, going through the motions, but do not educate, direct, and investigate the activities going on in public places of worship...the officials responsible for maintaining contact with the mosque concerned will be subjected to punishment in a case which will be regarded as a conspiracy,” the directive said.

RFA Reports on Khmer woman seeking her sister

August 14 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a Khmer-American woman who launched a new quest to find a sister who disappeared in Cambodia 33 years ago. Sophonna Valerie Nong recalls in detail the day in 1975 when her younger sister vanished in a crowd of Cambodians being force-marched out of the capital, Phnom Penh, by the Khmer Rouge. The car carrying her mother, four sisters, grandmother, and uncle suffered a flat tire three miles northwest of the city, and the family had to get out and walk. “But there were too many people,” she said.

RFA Reports on ExxonMobil’s hiring of North Koreans

August 13 – RFA Korean aired story [text in Korean] on ExxonMobil’s hiring of foreign workers, including North Koreans, on the Russian island of Sakhalin, as it develops offshore natural gas and oil production there. An estimated 1,000 North Koreans have two-year work permits and visas, according to a Sakhalin radio journalist.

RFA Reports on Tibetan monks confined during Olympics
August 13 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities placing a curfew on Tibetan Buddhist monasteries during the Olympics, confining monks and forbidding travel to Beijing. “Since the beginning of August, many monks have been confined to their monasteries day and night,” a spokesman for the Tibetan government-in-exile in India said.

RFA Reports on India’s restrictions on Tibetan activist
August 13 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on high-profile activist and writer Tenzin Tsundue, who was ordered to stay in his northern Indian town after police detained him for nine days. Tenzin Tsundue, known as a voice for angry young Tibetans, was arrested while trying to sneak into Tibet to protest the Beijing Olympics. Police released Tsundue on Aug. 11, after detaining him Aug. 2 in Mandi district jail in India’s northern Himachal Pradesh state. For four days, he staged a hunger strike and was then force-fed intravenously.

RFA Reports on Uyghurs detained amid attacks
August 12 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur/Mandarin] on Chinese police detaining 15 ethnic minority Uyghurs, including three women, in connection with a series of deadly bombings in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang. Meanwhile, assailants killed three security guards in the town of Yamanya near Kashgar in the third attack in little more than a week.

RFA Reports on Burmese detained on 1988 anniversary

August 8 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on Burmese authorities detaining dozens of activists who marched in T-shirts commemorating the 20th anniversary of Burma’s 1988 pro-democracy movement, as key activists remained behind bars from last year’s “Saffron Revolution.” Security around the country was tight in the run-up to the anniversary. The junta feared a repeat of the 1988 demonstrations, which lasted six weeks and saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets. Government forces staged a bloody crackdown that September after six weeks of escalating protests, killing as many as 3,000 people.

RFA Reports on former Communist official slamming Olympics
August 6 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on former top Communist Party official, Bao Tong, who slammed Beijing's hosting of the Olympic Games as being built on the back of corruption and human rights abuses. "In China, we produce miscarriages of justice and trumped-up charges like a high-intensity industrial zone," wrote Bao Tong, who is under house arrest at his Beijing home. Bao, former top Communist Party aide to the ousted late Chinese premier, Zhao Ziyang, has been under house arrest at his Beijing home for nearly two decades after his boss's fall from power during the 1989 pro-democracy movement.

RFA Reports on Beijing’s spy cabs

August 1 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English /Cantonese] on Beijing's thousands of taxicabs being fitted with video cameras and satellite technology which transmit a live audio feed of what is being said in the cab back to a computer for monitoring and linguistic analysis, according to industry sources. "It was about two or three months ago. All the taxis in our company had this fitted," an employee at a major Beijing cab company said. "There is a screen which displays the exact location of the vehicle. The taxi is also able to send information back to us at the control station. All the taxis registered with us have had the modifications."

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