RFA Reports (February 2008)

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

RFA Reports on Lao Hmong being forced back to Laos

February 28 -- RFA Lao aired story [text in English /Laos] on armed Thai soldiers who forcibly returned Lao Hmong asylum-seekers back to Laos. The soldiers dragged a group of Lao Hmong asylum-seekers from a crowded holding camp onto trucks to deport them and sent dongs after two who jumped from a moving truck to avoid repatriation. The military dogs mauled the two men, both in their 20s, and they remain in a Thai hospital, according to witnesses. The witnesses’ accounts contradict Thai and Lao government assertions that the group had volunteered to go back to Laos.

RFA Reports on Vietnam upholding dissident jail terms
February 27 -- RFA Vietnam aired story [text in English /Vietnamese] on a Vietnamese appeals court upholding the sentences of four men convicted of collecting complaints against the government and sharing them with Western news organizations, including Radio Free Asia. Official news reports said Judge Nguyen Xuan Phat of Ho Chi Minh City’s Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the sentences of the four activists to jail terms ranging from 18 months to 4-1/2 years. The four were accused of collecting complaints of government land-rights violations and passing them on to RFA and other news organizations, as well as distributing anti-government leaflets at a meeting in Hanoi before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November 2006.

RFA Reports on Chinese resistance to urban ‘clean-up’ drive
February 27-- RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English /Mandarin/Cantonese] on ordinary Chinese who are increasingly angry at government attempts to “clean up” the nation’s cities ahead of the Olympic Games, with standoffs between local people and the authorities reported across the country. At the forefront of the "clean-up,” which is often an official euphemism for the removal of underprivileged people from public places, is Beijing, which is all too conscious of its international image ahead of the Summer Olympics.

RFA Reports on Chinese villagers battle against pollution
February 22 -- RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English /Cantonese] on villagers in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong who are battling an illegal rare earth mine in their neighborhood. The villagers say the mine has poisoned the local water supply and wiped out their fish-farm stock and rice crops. Around 600 residents of Shangmankeng village, near Heyuan city in the northeastern part of the province, have had their lives devastated by severe pollution from the mine, according to one campaigner.

RFA Reports on Chinese police clash with Tibetans at festival
February 22 -- RFA Tibet aired story [text in English /Tibetan] on a huge clash in the Amdo region of eastern Tibet. Sources reported the major clash between Chinese authorities and hundreds of Tibetans gathered for an annual prayer festival resulted in scores of monks being detained. Chinese authorities in Rebkong county, Malho prefecture, in China's remote northwestern Qinghai province, ordered the prayer festival stopped and sent in three truckloads of armed police after a clash erupted on Feb. 21, the sources said.

RFA Reports on Chinese trial of land activist who opposed Olympics
February 19 -- RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English /Mandarin] that authorities in the northeastern Chinese city of Jiamusi have begun the trial of a land rights activist for “incitement to subvert state power” after he used a slogan calling for human rights instead of the Olympics. Yang Chunlin appeared in court in manacles looking pale and skinny, as his lawyer’s arguments were heard in his defense.

RFA Reports on migrant workers taking on China’s power in Xinjiang
February 16 -- RFA Mandarin and Uyghur aired story [text in English /Mandarin/Uyghur] on small groups of Chinese migrant workers in the northwestern region of Xinjiang who are challenging oil powers and paramilitary farming and mining concerns in a bid to win back money they say is owed to them. Xinjiang petitioner Xiao Yishan, a Han Chinese woman who used to work for the China National Petroleum Corporation in a remote frontier region of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is battling illness and extreme poverty in her effort to win redress.

RFA Reports on assassination of respected ethic Karen leader
February 14 -- RFA Burma aired story [text in English /Burmese] about the assassination of the well-loved and respected ethnic leader Padoh Mahn Sha in Maesot, Thailand. Padoh Mahn Sha was the General Secretary of Karen National Union, and RFA's reporting included an on-the-scene report, next-day reaction, Thailand's official statement, and the perpetrators' alleged escape to Burma.

RFA Reports on activists for North Korea contesting South Korean Elections
February 14 -- RFA Korea aired story [text in English / Korean] on several prominent South Korean activists against human rights abuses in Stalinist North Korea who have vowed to run in the forthcoming general elections in April, which many hope will have a profound impact on the country’s parliament. Among those announcing their plans to apply for nomination was Do-Hee-Yoon, who heads the non-government Citizens’ Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees.

RFA Reports on Lao troops ordered to ‘shoot to kill’ Hmong rebels
February 8 -- RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Laos] on Government troops in Laos who have been ordered to shoot to kill ethnic Hmong “insurgents” in the country’s northern jungle region, with cash rewards offered for every “enemy” killed. A military official in the northern province of Luangprabang said the orders had now become an "open secret" in Laos.

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