(Washington, DC — Jan. 1, 2017) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in December:
RFA Reports on death sentence for petitioner in China
Dec. 30 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities handing down a death sentence to a petitioner and a three-year jail sentence to his wife. The veteran activist couple was first detained on suspicion of killing a police officer who was escorting them home to prevent them from complaining about the local government.
RFA Reports on Myanmar official rejecting idea of aid for Rohingya
Dec. 30 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on Myanmar’s home affairs minister calling a Malaysian Muslim organization’s plan to send aid to Rakhine’s state’s Rohingya population “an insult.” The official said that boats laden with rice, medical aid, and essential supplies “shouldn’t be accepted.”
RFA Reports on Muslim man found dead in western Myanmar
Dec. 29 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on a third Muslim man who had worked closely with local government officials being found dead in western Myanmar’s Maungdaw township. The man was a former ward administrator and had been working with local authorities on regional development activities.
RFA Reports on northern Myanmar villagers fleeing to refugee camps
Dec. 29 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on more than 150 villagers in northern Myanmar’s Shan state escaping intensified fighting between government and ethnic armed forces. The villagers fled to internally displaced persons (IDP) camps amid renewed fighting.
RFA Reports on Vietnamese authorities raiding a civil society training class
Dec. 29 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a group of thugs and police officers attacking a civil society training class in Vietnam, breaking up the class and beating two of the participants. The class facilitator was accused of organizing a training session intended to overthrow the government.
RFA Reports on Vietnam extending detention of human rights attorney
Dec. 28 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on Vietnamese authorities extending a rights attorney’s time in prison for the third time. Nguyen Van Dai was detained last December on his way to meet with EU representatives researching Vietnam human rights issues.
RFA Reports on Myanmar army attacks forcing refugees out
Dec. 28 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on mortar shelling by the Myanmar army forcing more than 2,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) to flee their camps in Kachin state. Fighting between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has intensified over the past three months.
RFA Reports on Chinese rights website founder arrested for subversion
Dec. 28 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on the founder of a Chinese rights website being arrested on subversion charges. Liu Feiyue, founder of the Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch website, has been routinely detained or placed under house arrest in the past.
RFA Reports on hundreds more Tibetan monks and nuns expelled from Larung Gar
Dec. 27 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities expelling 500 more monks and nuns from the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. The group was taken away by buses and military trucks to a desolate temporary camp for those expelled from the Tibetan Buddhist study center, which the Chinese government is downsizing.
RFA Reports on death of Rohingya Muslim who spoke to journalists
Dec. 23 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on the headless body of a Muslim man being found a day after he spoke with reporters who visited western Myanmar’s Maungdaw Township. The villager had cast doubt on stories he heard from local residents of atrocities committed by security forces in the area.
RFA Reports on China cracking down on Christmas celebrations
Dec. 23 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on China cracking down on Christmas celebrations, banning Protestant services, and placing restrictions on events to mark the holiday. China sees Christmas as a dangerous foreign import, Christians in China say.
RFA Reports on search for stolen weapons in Myanmar’s Rakhine state
Dec. 22 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on a search for weapons stolen during raids on border guard posts in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state. A surprise attack by assailants left nine border officers dead and more than 50 weapons stolen in volatile Maungdaw Township, home to a large population of ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims.
RFA Reports on Cambodian opposition lawmaker returning to jail
Dec. 22 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a Cambodian opposition lawmaker returning to jail after his appeal was turned down. The charges against Um Sam An arose after a post on his Facebook page criticized how the government has handled a border dispute with Vietnam.
RFA Reports on Cambodian National Assembly blocking murder investigation inquiries
Dec. 22 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the president of Cambodia’s National Assembly blocking the opposition party’s attempts to interrogate members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet regarding the murder of popular political analyst Kem Ley. The head of the National Assembly said the investigation falls outside the legislature’s jurisdiction.
RFA Reports on North Korean defector turned rapper
Dec. 21 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on a North Korean “defector rapper” who has taken a unique path in his new life in South Korea. Kang Chun-hyok’s flowing verses touch on his life under the oppressive regime and on themes of freedom and self-expression, and are critical of the North Korean leadership.
RFA Reports on detention of Chinese rights website founder
Dec. 21 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities formally arresting the founder of a rights website on state secrets charges. Huang Qi, the founder of the Tianwang rights website, had previously served a three-year prison sentence for launching human rights investigations.
RFA Reports on Tibetan teen detained and beaten after protest
Dec. 20 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese police detaining and beating a young Tibetan after he launched a solo protest calling for freedom for Tibet. The young man, a former monk, was apprehended while carrying a photo of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
RFA Reports on China demolishing thousands of mosques
Dec. 19 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on the Chinese government destroying thousands of mosques in the western region of Xinjiang. Under the “Mosque Rectification” campaign, the supposedly dilapidated mosques were demolished because they allegedly posed a safety threat to worshippers.
RFA Reports on China banning user-made video from social media
Dec. 19 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on China banning social media platforms from disseminating user-generated audio and video or video programs about current events. The ban appears to be aimed at stifling citizen reporting.
RFA Reports on jailing of Vietnamese pro-democracy activists
Dec. 16 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a former Vietnamese army officer and soldier facing lengthy prison terms for attempting to form a pro-democracy organization. The two were sentenced to 13-year and 12-year prison terms for “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration.”
RFA Reports on surveillance, patrols boosted in Xinjiang
Dec. 16 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on stricter security controls being implemented in China’s Xinjiang region following the appointment of a new Communist Party secretary. Police patrols now work around the clock, and checkpoints have been built throughout all the region’s townships.
RFA Reports on China holding rights lawyer on ‘state secrets’ charges
Dec. 16 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities holding top human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong on charges including “illegal possession of state secrets.” Jiang is being held under “coercive measures,” meaning he could be held in secret for up to six months while awaiting trial.
RFA Reports on anniversary of missing Lao activist
Dec. 15 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of Lao activist Sombath Somphone. Sombath was abducted after stopping at a police checkpoint in the capital Vientiane.
RFA Reports on Cambodian opposition leader in exile
Dec. 15 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaking about changes within the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and his thoughts on prospects for political change in Cambodia. In an exclusive RFA interview, Sam Rainsy said he believes that “change is imminent” and that the country’s “dictatorship will be uprooted.”
RFA Reports on China shutting down popular Muslim website
Dec. 14 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on China shutting down a popular Muslim website after it was denounced for “religious extremism” by a leading pro-government figure. The closure came after an open letter to Chinese president Xi Jinping was posted to the website calling for an end to the “brutal suppression” of activists.
RFA Reports on Uyghur farmers forced to attend ‘anti-extremism’ classes
Dec. 13 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Uyghur farmers being forced to attend evening classes, ostensibly about poverty eradication and Chinese government policies, that attendees say are actually about countering religious extremism. One attendee said they were taught that it is wrong to send children to religious schools, and that they can no longer pray outside in the fields.
RFA Reports on Myanmar journalist found beaten to death
Dec. 13 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on a journalist from Myanmar’s Eleven Media Group being found dead on the side of a highway. The journalist was reporting on illegal logging and wood smuggling in the northwestern part of the country.
RFA Reports on China cracking down on smog protests
Dec. 13 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities clamping down on spontaneous public protests after several days of heavy smog hit the provincial capital city of Chengdu. Schools have imposed a ban on wearing face-masks for students and teachers in spite of heavy smog conditions.
RFA Reports on Vietnamese villagers petitioning government over toxic chemical spill
Dec. 12 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on about 1,000 Vietnamese villagers submitting a complaint over what they consider to be unfair compensation following a steel plant’s toxic chemical spill. Petitioners have argued over the slow pace of the payouts and that the $500 million offered by the steel company is inadequate.
RFA Reports on Tibetan self-immolation
Dec. 9 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan man setting himself on fire in an act of protest against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas of China. Tashi Rabten, a husband and father of three, called out for freedom for Tibet and for the return of the Dalai Lama as he lit himself on fire.
RFA Reports on continued logging in Laos despite export ban
Dec. 7 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on timber smuggling continuing between Laos and neighboring countries like Vietnam and China despite a government ban on timber exports. The illegal trade continues in part because provincial governors profit from the trade.
RFA Reports on Hong Kong extending purge of pro-democracy lawmakers
Dec. 6 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on Hong Kong’s chief executive seeking the disqualification of four pro-democracy members of the city’s Legislative Council (LegCo). Last month, two other LegCo members were stripped of their seats, as an ongoing purge looks to weaken pro-democratic voices in Hong Kong.
RFA Reports on Cambodian prime minister criticizing U.S. for ‘double standard’
Dec. 5 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen attacking the United States at the opening ceremony for Coca-Cola’s new bottling plant in the country. With the U.S. ambassador sitting on the stage, Hun Sen attempted to paint post-election demonstrations in the U.S. as large and serious while attacking the U.S. for what he said is a double standard.
RFA Reports on train accident in North Korea killing at least 40
Dec. 2 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on a railway accident in North Korea blamed on poor track maintenance killing at least 40 and injuring hundreds more. The train was loaded with construction workers returning from flood-damaged areas along with their machinery, vehicles, and tools. The incident went unreported in North Korea’s state-controlled media.
RFA Reports on Chinese dissident’s sudden death in prison
Dec. 2 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on a prominent Chinese dissident who later died in prison writing a letter warning his family to suspect foul play should he have an “accident.” Peng Ming died suddenly at the age of 58 while serving a life sentence for “terrorism.”
RFA Reports on Cambodian king granting royal pardon to opposition leader
Dec. 2 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha receiving a royal pardon, freeing him from serving a five-month sentence. The pardon sets the stage for an easing of political tensions heading into elections in 2017 and 2018.
RFA Reports on Lao village suffering from factory pollution
Dec. 1 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Lao villagers suffering the effects of exposure to pollution from a nearby brick kiln. The factory pumps toxic smoke into the village and is still running after a brief, government-imposed shutdown.