RFA Reports (February 2013)

2013-02-01
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(Washington, DC — March 1, 2013) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in February:

RFA Reports on Tiananmen families calling for probe

Feb. 28 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on relatives of the victims of China's 1989 Tiananmen crackdown urging transparency from the country’s incoming leadership. The families sent a letter to Chinese officials, as Taiwan’s government publicly marked the anniversary of a Feb. 28, 1947 massacre on the island.

RFA Reports on trial of alleged Tibetan supporters of self-immolators

Feb. 28 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on nine Tibetans going on trial in China's Gansu province on charges of inciting self-immolation protests challenging Beijing’s rule. Sources inside Tibet see the trial as part of Beijing's efforts to criminalize the burning protests and crack down on Tibetans deemed to have provided encouragement or support to self-immolators.

RFA Reports on disappearance of three Lao-Americans

Feb. 27 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on the disappearance of three Lao-Americans who were visiting southern Laos. Missing since early January, the relatives of the three are concerned for their safety in the wake of the prolonged disappearance of prominent local activist Sombath Somphone.

RFA Reports on HIV/AIDS protest in Beijing

Feb. 27 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on a clash in Beijing between police and AIDS/HIV protesters. More than 100 from the central Chinese province of Henan who were infected with the virus via tainted blood transfusions demonstrated at the ministry of civil affairs, demanding promised welfare benefits.

RFA Reports on harassment of Chinese netizens calling for wealth transparency

Feb. 26 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangxi stepping up pressure on activists who called on local officials to make public their assets. This despite vows by incoming president Xi Jinping to crack down on official corruption.

RFA Reports on beating of Chinese environmental activist

Feb. 26 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on the beating of an environmental activist from the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang who dared a local official to take a swim in a polluted river. A group of unidentified men attacked Chen Yuqian, one of several Zhejiang residents to tweet challenges offering officials a cash prize for swimming in local waters.

RFA Reports on Laos moving forward on Mekong dams

Feb. 26 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Laos stepping up plans for three hydropower dams on Mekong River tributaries. Authorities have also updated an eight-year-old deal with a Russian investor to build the projects for 1.5 billion $U.S.

RFA Reports on Tibetan monk’s burning protest

Feb. 26 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan monk self-immolating in a protest against Chinese rule in Sichuan province’s Ngaba county. The burning was the third in two days despite heightened security.

RFA Reports on Tibetan language push in China

Feb. 25 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Tibetans marking a special day to promote the use of traditional Tibetan language in China. The move comes amid reports of a revival of the Tibetan mother tongue in Beijing-governed Tibetan areas.

RFA Reports on clash over power outage in Burma

Feb. 25 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on Burmese police clashing with residents after the electricity supply to a village in central Burma was cut off. Local residents allege the outage was punishment for supporting the opposition party in last year’s elections.

RFA Reports on campaign promoting ethics in Cambodian journalism

Feb. 25 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a media group in Cambodia launching a campaign to promote ethical journalism with the aim of improving reporting standards in the country. Rights groups, however, allege the organization lacks independence from the ruling government party and seeks to clamp down on freedom of expression.

RFA Reports on Beijing restaurant sign prompting online outrage in Vietnam

Feb. 25 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a Beijing restaurant’s refusal to serve customers from countries locked in maritime territorial disputes with China drawing the ire of Vietnamese netizens. An image circulated on social media shows the restaurant’s front window with a sign in Chinese and English reading, “This shop does not welcome Japanese, Filipinos, Vietnamese, and dogs.”

RFA Reports on Tibetan artist’s sentencing for photos of self immolators on mobile

Feb. 23 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on the sentencing of a young Tibetan traditional artist to two years in a reeducation-through-labor facility for having photos on his mobile phone of two Tibetan self-immolators. Ngawang Tobden, 20, was detained in October last year in Lhasa but relatives learned of the sentence four months later.

RFA Reports on Chinese authorities blaming barbecue for smog

Feb. 22 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on Beijing authorities considering a ban on barbecues in densely populated urban areas in a bid to clear the eye-watering smog plaguing the nation's capital. The announcement was met with ridicule among Chinese netizens and environmentalists.

RFA Reports on Hong Kong link in China cyber attacks

Feb. 22 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on Hong Kong police investigating the use of an IP address belonging to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in connection with recent reports of hacker attacks on U.S. companies originating in China.

RFA Reports on passport denial for Chen Guancheng’s family

Feb. 22 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong refusing to issue passports to the mother and brother of Chinese rights activist Chen Guangcheng. Chen's elder brother, Chen Guangfu, said he and his 78-year-old mother had applied for passports to travel to New York to visit Chen, his wife, and the couple's daughter.

RFA Reports on Cambodian ruling party’s family members running in election

Feb. 22 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on family members of Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen and other government leaders running for parliament in upcoming elections. The selection may consolidate power within the elite establishment of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

RFA Reports on mob attacking Muslim quarter in Rangoon

Feb. 21 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on police detaining several people after an angry Buddhist mob attacked a Muslim school and shops in a suburb outside Rangoon. The attacks were triggered by reports that the school was being used as a house of worship despite objections from the predominantly Buddhist area residents.

RFA Reports on North Korea issuing cash cards among military in loyalty bid

Feb. 21 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korea’s regime distributing special monthly payments in U.S. currency via a cash card system to high-ranking military officers. The move is a bid to maintain loyalty, an inside source tells RFA.

RFA Reports on self-immolation deaths of two Tibetan teenagers

Feb. 20 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on two Tibetan teenagers dying after staging self-immolation protests in China's Sichuan province. The incident highlights the human rights plight of the new generation of Tibetans born under Chinese rule.

RFA Reports on prayers for missing Lao activist

Feb. 19 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on family members holding special prayers for Lao activist Sombath Somphone, who has gone missing for almost three months. He was last seen stopping at a police checkpoint, prompting international concern that his disappearance could be tied to his human rights work.

RFA Reports on Kachin army’s forced recruitment of minors

Feb. 15 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on rebels in Burma’s Kachin state forcibly recruiting civilians, including teenagers. The Rev. Thomas Gwan Rai Aung, an ethnic Kachin Roman Catholic pastor, told RFA that soldiers from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) had come to his village and pressed teachers and students into military service.

RFA Reports on Cambodian garment workers protesting for back pay

Feb. 14 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on thousands of Cambodian factory workers caught in a limbo after their employers bolted without paying them. The resulting protests have brought additional attention to the plight of Cambodia’s garment workers, who labor under often harsh conditions.

RFA Reports on petitioners’ detentions resuming after Chinese New Year festivities

Feb. 14 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities resuming a round-up of petitioners in Beijing and Shanghai following New Year celebrations. There was a brief hiatus of detentions immediately before and following festivities.

RFA Reports on Chinese reactions to North Korea’s nuclear test

Feb. 13 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese online commentators and rights activists saying they see the test as a threat to China. Among others, Beijing-based rights activist Hu Jia took to social media, saying China's North Korea policy suffered a humiliation.

RFA Reports on 100th Tibetan self-immolation

Feb. 13 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on the 100th Tibetan self-immolation in China since the burning protests began three years ago in Beijing-controlled Tibetan regions. Separately, a Tibetan man self-immolated in Nepal close to a sacred pilgrimage site.

RFA Reports on escalating assault on Vietnamese bloggers

Feb. 13 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on an international Internet watchdog’s report saying Vietnamese bloggers have become prime targets of government repression. More than 30 bloggers and netizens are behind bars amid a crackdown on online dissent that has intensified over the past three years.

RFA Reports on reaction to travel ban on Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti

Feb. 13 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on a group of global scholars and human rights organizations criticizing China’s imposed travel ban on Uyghur professor llham Tohti. The ban epitomizes the intimidation of intellectuals generally in China and suppression of ethnic rights, the groups say.

RFA Reports on concerns over price of North Korean nuclear test

Feb. 12 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean rights groups and defectors expressing frustration over Pyongyang’s third nuclear test. They say the event underscores the diversion of scarce funds toward weapons programs instead of coping with chronic food shortages in the country.

RFA Reports on new press restrictions for Cambodian lawyer

Feb. 11 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen taking aim at the country's lawyers, who have been championing land rights and criticizing courts used to imprison or intimidate government critics. A recent governmental directive bars lawyers from giving media interviews without the Cambodian Bar Association’s permission.

RFA Reports on crackdown on Tibetans connected with self-immolations

Feb. 8 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese courts ordering seven Tibetans to serve up to 14 years over their suspected roles in self-immolations and other protests. Authorities have stepped up efforts in recent months to criminalize the burnings and crack down on Tibetans believed to have provided encouragement or support.

RFA Reports on Burmese political prisoner panel

Feb. 7 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on the Burmese government’s announcement to establish a presidential steering committee to “grant liberty” to those imprisoned for voicing political dissent. This is the government’s first public acknowledgement that it is holding political prisoners in the country’s jails.

RFA Reports on freeing of Vietnamese rights lawyers

Feb. 6 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on Vietnam freeing a U.S.-trained human rights lawyer who had served more than three years of a five-year jail sentence. Le Cong Dinh, 44, was released after being jailed for “activities aimed at overthrowing” the one-party Communist government.

RFA Reports on Henan mine causing water shortage

Feb. 6 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on mining operations in China’s central Henan province polluting the local water supply. Villagers claim the water, upon which thousands once relied, has been rendered completely undrinkable.

RFA Reports on Uyghur mother’s detention after petitioning authorities

Feb. 5 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on a Uyghur mother being held for eight months after petitioning Chinese authorities. Nurgul Tohti was seeking redress over her son’s kidnapping.

RFA Reports on China hosting Kachin-Burmese government cease-fire talks

Feb. 4 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on a Burmese government delegation meeting with ethnic Kachin rebel leaders in China. The meetings are to set the stage for eventual peace talks aimed at ending an armed ethnic conflict that has escalated in northern Burma since December.

RFA Reports on Chinese farmers guarding fields

Feb. 4 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on ethnic minority farmers in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan setting up a vigil over their crops in a bid to fight the loss of their farmland. Residents, who are holding mass protests amid clashes with police, allege the government plans to seize their property for a tourist development.

RFA Reports on Chinese authorities barring Uyghur scholar from boarding flight

Feb. 1 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on the detention of outspoken ethnic Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti. The professor was detained by Chinese authorities as he was about to leave Beijing airport for the United States for a teaching opportunity at Indiana University.

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