RFA Reports (December 2008)

(Washington, DC—January 1, 2009) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in December:

RFA Reports on Bao Tong writings

December 30 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on a series of writings by Bao Tong, former aide to ousted late premier Zhao Ziyang. The writings commemorated 30 years of economic reforms in China with Bao criticizing the Communist Party for damaging the country's economic development. This was the 4th part of the series that RFA translated and aired.

RFA Reports on China tightening press controls for 2009
December 29 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities launching new press controls in the coming year to focus on the "accomplishments" of the Communist Party. This comes in advance of the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in October. Writings on Taiwan and other “sensitive” topics will face closer scrutiny.

RFA Reports on media ban of Charter 08 activists
December 24 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on China's powerful Central Propaganda Department ordering a crackdown on Chinese media workers who signed the Charter 08 document. Charter 08, a document calling for sweeping political reforms, was published online in early December. The crackdown sparked a flurry of interrogations, police searches, and detentions. Signatories to Charter 08 will now be barred from contributing articles to state-controlled media.

RFA Reports on Chinese court jailing more Tibetans

December 22 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on authorities in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan handing down further prison terms to Tibetans detained in protests earlier this year. The sentences follow a wave of jailings last month in which a court employee said that detained Tibetan protestors were being sent to prison “one after another,” and promised “more will be sentenced.” Many of those recently sentenced are said to have taken part in a March 18 last year protest in Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture that a source there described as “major” but “peaceful.”

RFA Reports on China bracing for social unrest

December 22 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on the president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), Wang Shengjun, calling for the courts to maintain social stability amid the global economic slowdown. As waves of laid-off migrant workers continue to head home from China's once-booming coastal cities, authorities are bracing for a winter of discontent sparked by the global economic downturn. "The most urgent task is to resolve economic, civil, and administrative disputes caused by the financial crisis," Wang told the annual conference of China's top judicial officials conference, citing "a large number" of financial disputes in coastal areas.

RFA Reports on silence over bird flu in China

December 18 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on poultry farmers in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, site of a recent outbreak of avian influenza, complaining that they know little about what is happening and have seen little help from the government. China's official Xinhua news agency said officials had culled 377,000 birds on farms around Dongtai city and neighboring Hai'an county after an outbreak was confirmed to have been caused by the deadly H5N1 virus. But poultry farmers were unaware of the potential health risks of the outbreak, and local official news outlets said they hadn't reported the story.

RFA Reports on Burmese activist calls for wife’s release

December 15 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on a Burmese social activist, wanted for helping the victims of Cyclone Nargis, who called on the ruling military junta to release his pregnant wife. Tun Tun, who is also known as Myo Min Oo, said that after authorities were unable to find him in early September, they instead detained his wife and have now sentenced her to 26 years in jail.

RFA Reports on Cambodia’s lack of rights progress
December 11 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian rights groups reporting “no progress” this year in human rights, with human trafficking, forced evictions, and official impunity persisting as major concerns. “Like last year, there has been no progress,” said LICADHO [Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights] president Phung Chhivkek in an interview. “The land issue, the human trafficking issue, and the issue of sexual assaults have remained problems,” he said. Journalists also are subject to physical and legal attacks, leaving press freedoms a “mirage,” LICADHO director Naly Pilorge said.

RFA Reports on Uyghur students claim of beaten by police

December 11 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on authorities at a top university in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong who are in talks with police over the alleged beating of several ethnic minority Uyghur students, two of whom were seriously injured. "After they recovered, the students wrote a letter to the school demanding that the authorities speak to the police about what happened," an official in the student affairs department of the University of Petroleum's East China campus in Dongying, near Qingdao, said.

RFA Reports on calls for rights in Laos
December 10 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on overseas activists who say human rights in Laos have improved little in recent months and years, amid calls for the release of political prisoners and for greater freedom of expression on World Human Rights Day. "Laos is still a country where the rights to free speech and written expression, peaceful assembly, education, and a fair hearing in the judicial system are not available to all," Vanida Thepsouvanh, president of the organization Lao Human Rights in France, said in an interview.

RFA Reports on Vietnamese police monitoring blogs
December 9 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on Vietnamese authorities planning to police the content of dissident blogs through random checks and self-policing by the country’s blogging community. “There should be a legal corridor to assure better operation of the blogs,” the director of the state-run Bach Khoa Internet Security Center, Nguyen Tu Quang, told RFA’s Vietnamese service. “We’ll manage them by randomly checking—we don’t need to control all the blogs.” “When we create a legal corridor, determining what is legal and what is a violation of Vietnamese law, the blog community will detect such things on its own and will let the government know of violations,” Quang said.

RFA Reports on Kaesong closure impacting North Korea

December 5 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on the potential economic impact of shutting down the jointly operated Kaesong industrial complex. Experts say that shutting down the complex is intended to give North Korea some bargaining leverage with South Korea on the jointly operated project, but that this would cause grave economic damage to the cash-strapped country.

RFA Reports on Chinese enforcement of Microsoft switch

December 2 – RFA aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on authorities in the southeastern Chinese city of Nanchang who are requiring all local Internet cafes to replace their Microsoft Windows XP operating systems with a Chinese-made system, Red Flag Linux, according to officials and Internet cafe owners. An official with the Nanchang Cultural Discipline Team, which oversees the roughly 600 Internet cafes operating in Nanchang city, said the new operating systems are mandatory. “We have already started installing the new software in all Internet cafes. All of them must have this new one,” the official said

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