(Washington, DC — March 1, 2016) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in February:
RFA Reports on detention of religious rights lawyer in China
Feb. 29 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on the detention of a prominent human rights lawyer on social order and “national security” charges in China. Zhang Kai had been living in an unknown location under “residential surveillance” for six months prior to his arrest.
RFA Reports on non-Communist Party members running for office in Vietnam
Feb. 29 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on more self-nominated candidates, including those not associated with the Vietnamese Communist Party, running for seats in upcoming parliamentary elections. Though Vietnam is a one-party nation, rules dictate that one need not be a party member to seek office.
RFA Reports on Cambodia withholding information on HIV outbreak
Feb. 29 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the Cambodian government suppressing information regarding an HIV outbreak in Kandal province. At least 18 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus in a small provincial village.
RFA Reports on Chinese celebrity blog shut down
Feb. 29 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on China shuttering the social media account of celebrity blogger Ren Zhiqiang after he repeatedly criticized Chinese president Xi Jinping on an online Chinese platform. Ren’s Sina Weibo account, which has 37 million followers, was shut down for spreading “illegal information.”
RFA Reports on Hun Sen ordering rocket attacks on illegal loggers
Feb. 26 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordering that illegal timber smugglers be blasted with rockets fired from helicopters. Hun Sen’s proposed action fails to address the root cause of corruption among high-ranking officials and businessmen, local rights groups say.
RFA Reports on one-party elections in Laos
Feb. 26 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Laotians greeting national and local elections with apathy, as they fail to see change in their one-party communist nation. “No matter how many terms lawmakers have held, the situation never changes,” a resident of Savannakhet province told RFA.
RFA Reports on uproar after Hong Kong stars visit Tibetan exile leaders in India
Feb. 26 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on state media warning two Hong Kong superstars that they could be at the receiving end of a boycott in mainland China. Their reported offense was visiting and being photographed with key figures in the entourage of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at a recent religious event in India.
RFA Reports on imprisonment of Chinese Protestant pastor couple
Feb. 25 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on a husband-and-wife Protestant couple receiving jail terms of 14 and 12 years, as China’s crackdown on Christians continues. The married couple were found guilty of “running an illegal business,” among other charges.
RFA Reports on Lao government taking security measures after violent incidents
Feb. 24 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on the appointment of a Lao military officer who was deputy minister of national defense to the post of governor of Xaysomboun province. A spate of incidents, which began last November, has left 10 dead in the region.
RFA Reports on heavy security presence at Tibetan religious festival
Feb. 23 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on “intense restrictions” imposed by China in Tibetan areas during religious celebrations of the Lunar New Year. Authorities deployed large numbers of armed police and conducted exercises “to intimidate the monks and other Tibetans in the area,” a local source told RFA.
RFA Reports on Cambodian protesters demanding release of labor activist
Feb. 23 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on demonstrators demanding the release of a bus driver and union official in Cambodia. The two were jailed after protesting alleged union-busting actions by a bus company.
RFA Reports on Xi Jinping calling on media to remain loyal
Feb. 22 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese president Xi Jinping calling for unswerving loyalty from the state media to the ruling Communist Party. Xi toured state media newsrooms in a visit that also underlined his support for the expansion of Chinese journalism beyond the country’s borders.
RFA Reports on Aung San Suu Kyi, new NLD parliament settling in
Feb. 22 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Aung San Suu Kyi encouraging fellow NLD lawmakers to steer clear of corruption and not let down the Myanmar people, as a new parliament gets underway in Myanmar. The NLD formally assumes political power on April 1, after winning more than 80 percent of the vote in November elections.
RFA Reports on Myanmar peace negotiator meeting with armed ethnic alliance
Feb. 22 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s chief peace negotiator leading a government peace-making delegation in meeting with an alliance of armed ethnic groups. The groups have yet to sign a nationwide cease-fire agreement to try to persuade them to join the accord.
RFA Reports on Tibetan monk receiving two-year jail sentence
Feb. 22 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on the jailing of a Tibetan monk accused of sharing a photo of the Dalai Lama with friends via social media. The monk was convicted of “undermining social stability and of taking actions aimed at splitting the country.”
RFA Reports on French journalist expelled from China for Uyghur coverage
Feb. 20 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on French reporter Ursula Gauthier being expelled from China as a result of her reporting on the Uyghurs. In an interview with RFA, Gauthier spoke about her treatment at the hands of Chinese authorities and the state media that vilified her in response to her Xinjiang coverage.
RFA Reports on Tibetan writer receiving three-year jail sentence
Feb. 19 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a prominent Tibetan writer being sentenced to three years in prison for writing material the government said could incite discord among nationalities in western China. Shokjang (his pen name) had written about the increased presence of Chinese armed security forced in the area and crackdowns on Tibetans.
RFA Reports on controversial Chinese copper mine in Myanmar
Feb. 19 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on a Chinese mining company planning to begin copper production at a controversial site in central Myanmar in May. Farmers are protesting the mine, as the Myanmar army-owned conglomerate overseeing the project regularly seizes land away from local residents in order to support such projects.
RFA Reports on detention of prominent Chinese rights activist
Feb. 19 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities detaining a prominent rights activist after he went to investigate claims of an illegal government land-grab in Sichuan province. Huang Qi previously served jail time after investigating shoddy school construction blamed for thousands of deaths following a 2008 earthquake.
RFA Reports on illegal timber seizures in Myanmar
Feb. 18 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Kachin state government authorities seizing more than 20,000 metric tons of illegal timber near the country’s border with China over the last five years. Smugglers take advantage of political instability in the region to profit from illegal logging as well as drug activity.
RFA Reports on Hong Kong student leaders forming new political party
Feb. 17 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on Hong Kong's student activist group, Scholarism, planning to set up a new political party to contest seats in forthcoming elections for the city's Legislative Council in the wake of the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement, or Umbrella Movement. The new party, which has yet to be named, will be co-chaired by Joshua Wong, a key figure in the 2014 civil disobedience campaign for fully democratic elections.
RFA Reports on China banning foreign companies from online media business
Feb. 17 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on China announcing new regulations that will ban foreign companies from publishing online media, games, and other “creative” content within China’s borders. The new rules will also ban foreign-invested joint ventures from engaging in online and content provision.
RFA Reports on continued harassment of Catholic Vietnamese activist
Feb. 17 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a Catholic activist living with constant harassment from police because of his activism. Tran Minh Nhat, 24, was released from prison in 2015 and has lived under “controlled residence” since then. In one incident, Tran told RFA that authorities had “sprayed pesticides all over [his] residence.”
RFA Reports on Taiwan blocking Uyghur leader from attending conference
Feb. 12 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Taiwanese authorities preventing a top member of an international Uyghur organization from attending a human rights conference held in Taiwan. Dolkun Isa of the World Uyghur Conference had planned to attend the Asia Pacific Religious Freedom Forum but was unable to travel to Taiwan, likely due to pressure from Chinese authorities.
RFA Reports on North Korean military preparing for sanctions
Feb. 12 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on the North Korean military stockpiling food in anticipation of international sanctions prior to the country’s recent nuclear test. Last year, Kim Jong Un ordered the military to prepare by stockpiling rice for the next three years, a source in Pyongyang told RFA.
RFA Reports on shutdown of joint North-South Korea industrial park
Feb. 11 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on the shutdown of a joint North-South Korea industrial park that was formerly viewed as a symbol of cooperation between the two nations. South Korea pulled out of the Kaesong Industrial Complex in retaliation for North Korea’s recent nuclear test.
RFA Reports on China’s continued use of ‘psychiatric treatment’ on critics
Feb. 11 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on China’s medical profession continuing to carry out psychiatric incarceration of critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, despite legal protections enacted in 2013. The Mental Health Law was aimed at protecting mental health service users from misdiagnosis and involuntary medical treatment in China's state-run psychiatric hospitals.
RFA Reports on Myanmar journalists slamming new restrictions
Feb. 9 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar journalists lamenting new restrictions on press coverage of Myanmar’s parliament, demanding they must be removed by the time a new government takes over in a few months. The rules place limits on the numbers of journalists allowed, put certain areas out of bounds, and call for a reporter dress code.
RFA Reports on Tibetan protester dying in jail
Feb. 8 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan man dying from injuries sustained under torture by Chinese authorities while serving a 13-year prison sentence for refusing to fly a Chinese flag. Trigyal refused to fly the flag when ordered to in 2014 and was one of three men to receive double-digit jail terms for the offense.
RFA Reports on Myanmar president urging caution on constitutional reform
Feb. 8 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar's President Thein Sein calling on lawmakers to safeguard the country’s constitution by amending or nullifying existing laws only in accordance with the charter’s terms. The move comes amid widespread local media reports that the new National League for Democracy party-led parliament could soon suspend a provision barring pro-democracy politician Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president.
RFA Reports on religion ban for retired Party members in China
Feb. 5 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on the Chinese Communist Party issuing new guidelines banning its members from following any religion, even after they retire from official life. President Xi Jinping has cited religion as a means by which “hostile foreign forces” seek to exert a subversive influence in China.
RFA Reports on closure of another Hong Kong bookstore
Feb. 4 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on authorities shuttering yet another Hong Kong bookstore that sold political titles in the wake of the suspicious disappearance of five booksellers. Meanwhile, a Hong Kong newspaper confirmed that three of the five booksellers had been illegally extradited and were being held in Guangdong, China, quoting Chinese police officers.
RFA Reports on Lao pig farmers bankrupted by government program
Feb. 3 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Lao pig farmers going bankrupt after participating in a government loan program. The government issued short-term loans with high interest rates during the run-up to the Southeast Asian Games several years ago, bankrupting pig farmers after pork prices fell rapidly with decreased demand once the Games were over.
RFA Reports on extradition of disappeared Chinese journalist
Feb. 3 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on developments in the case of a former columnist at a top newspaper who disappeared in southeast Asia in February after fleeing China to seek political asylum. Li Xin, who once wrote for the cutting-edge Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper in Guangzhou, is now back in the country and "assisting police with an investigation," his wife said.
RFA Reports on drug problems on the North Korea-China border
Feb. 3 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean youths increasingly using illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, imported from China. Demand for the drug known as “ice” is growing inside North Korea, even as authorities step up efforts to stamp out the drug trade.
RFA Reports on trafficked Cambodian women seeking assistance
Feb. 2 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on two Cambodian women sent to work in Malaysia by a government-licensed employment agency being instead trafficked against their will. When the women tried to escape, Malaysian authorities jailed them.
RFA Reports on police officer heisting land in Cambodia
Feb. 2 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a powerful local police officer grabbing nearly two hectares of public land for his own use. Villagers say the officer bulldozed the land and began using it as his own, while higher government officials turned a blind eye.
RFA Reports on detention of Vietnamese blogger
Feb. 1 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the detention of a young Vietnamese blogger upon returning home after several years of studying abroad. Nguyen Anh Tuan, who also blogs for Radio Free Asia, was detained briefly at the airport immediately after he got off his flight.
RFA Reports on directive for Tibetan stores to surrender Dalai Lama photos
Feb. 1 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on an order for shopkeepers in a Tibetan-populated county in western China’s Sichuan province to hand over all stocks of photos of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The order, which was issued on Jan. 31 by three Chinese government departments in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, adds that the photos can also no longer be sold or displayed in shops or stores serving the public.