RFA Reports (January 2016)

2016-02-26
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(Washington, DC — Feb. 1, 2016) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in January:

RFA Reports on China detaining highest-ranking Christian pastor since Cultural Revolution

Jan. 29 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on authorities in the eastern province of Zhejiang detaining a pastor of a major Protestant church after he clashed with authorities over the demolition of its cross. Pastor Gu Yuese, also known as Joseph Gu, of the Chongyi Protestant Church in Zhejiang's capital Hangzhou, is incommunicado along with his wife.

RFA Reports on Myanmar lawmakers marking end of era, beginning of new one

Jan. 29 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s outgoing speaker of the lower house calling the November elections the “people’s victory” during his farewell speech at the final session of the outgoing parliament. Former House Speaker Shwe Mann expressed disappointment over the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party’s loss to Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party in the Nov. 8 general elections, but also said the results reflected a triumph for the country’s citizens.

RFA Reports on North Korean winter water shortage

Jan. 29 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on subfreezing temperatures in North Korea causing water main pipes to freeze and burst, cutting off tap water supplies to local residents. The scarcity of tap water has caused conflicts among residents, as those with enough money can afford more water.

RFA Reports on jail sentence for ‘China’s Gandhi,’ rights activists

Jan. 29 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities issuing jail terms of up to five years for the “Guangzhou Three” rights activists. The group attempted to launch a nonviolent civil disobedience campaign to promote human rights.

RFA Reports on bomb explosion killing two Chinese officials in Laos

Jan. 28 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on a bomb blast at a road construction site near a military camp in Laos killing two Chinese officials. The blast was the third explosion in the area in less than a month.

RFA Reports on joint Tibetan-Muslim student protest in China

Jan. 28 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Tibetan and Muslim students coming together to demand better funding for the education of minority groups in northwest China. China’s central government agreed to provide additional support and facilities for a local school serving Tibetan and Muslim students, but those funds have been withheld and misappropriated.

RFA Reports on defiant Tibetans praying for Dalai Lama’s health

Jan. 27 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on over a thousand Tibetans gathering in open defiance of authorities and praying for the long life of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama while he received medical treatment in the United States.

RFA Reports on China shutting down Uyghur websites

Jan. 27 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities shutting down two websites aimed at the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group for “harming ethnic unity.” Locals report that authorities have ramped up Internet monitoring and control methods recently, with hacks on a number of Uyghur and Tibetan websites also reported.

RFA Reports on Chinese military testing weapons on traditional grazing lands

Jan. 26 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on ethnic Mongolian herders protesting the use of their traditional grazing lands for military weapons testing. Herders protested over a lack of monetary compensation for the damage done to their land and have been warned against speaking to any foreign news media or overseas organizations.

RFA Reports on missing Hong Kong book publishers

Jan. 25 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on the apparent abductions of Hong Kong book publishers by Chinese authorities, raising alarm that China is breaching Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” arrangement. Book publisher employees have gone missing from Hong Kong, been detained while on vacation in Thailand, and appeared on Chinese state-run TV to deliver forced confessions.

RFA Reports on forced disappearance of Chinese activist in Thailand

Jan. 21 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on a rights activist and former newspaper columnist disappearing while attempting to flee China and apply for political asylum. Li Xin, who previously made public details regarding the inner workings of China’s propaganda machine, disappeared after boarding a train in Thailand.

RFA Reports on Cambodia granting refugee status to Montagnards

Jan. 21 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodia granting refugee status to a group of ethnic minority Montagnards seeking asylum after fleeing Vietnam. Cambodia now plans to send the 13 refugees to the Philippines in what appears to represent a more tolerant policy from Cambodia.

RFA Reports on Cambodia banning memorial demonstration for union leader

Jan. 21 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodia’s government banning supporters from holding a march in commemoration of a prominent union leader who was murdered. The government said the anniversary of Chea Vichea’s murder could be used to “promote a political agenda.”

RFA Reports on China jailing Xinjiang rights activist for 19 years

Jan. 21 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities jailing a Han Chinese rights activist for 19 years on subversion and spying charges. Zhang Haitao had openly criticized the Chinese government’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region policy before receiving the “extraordinarily harsh” sentence.

RFA Reports on China extending crackdown with Swedish national’s confession

Jan. 20 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on the detention and televised "confession" of Swedish human rights worker Peter Dahlin on Chinese national television. The move shows Beijing’s willingness to extend its crackdown on rights activists beyond its borders.

RFA Reports on new pressures buffeting Vietnam’s Communist Party in leadership selection

Jan. 20 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the unprecedented political jockeying engulfing the Vietnamese Communist Party as it selects new leaders. Party leaders are dealing with a population that is increasingly restless with corruption, a business community seeking market reforms, and an emboldened China that is making incursions on Vietnam's sovereignty.

RFA Reports on Myanmar jailing Saffron Revolution leader

Jan. 20 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on a former Buddhist monk who helped lead the 2007 Saffron Revolution being jailed on an illegal border crossing charge. U Gambira, who has lived mainly in Thailand since being released from prison in 2012, had traveled to Mandalay to apply for a passport with his wife when he was arrested.

RFA Reports on new controls on Tibetan language

Jan. 20 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on tightened security measures discouraging local efforts to promote the study of the Tibetan language. Many locals have taken to studying in secret due to fear of arrest, as Tibetans are increasingly restricted in their travel, movements, and gatherings.

RFA Reports on jailers abusing Uyghur inmate for not speaking Mandarin

Jan. 20 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on prison authorities abusing a Uyghur petitioner in jail for his refusal to read and speak Mandarin Chinese. The Uyghur man had three of his teeth knocked out by prison guards after he was unable to read and understand the regulations of the detention center in Mandarin Chinese.

RFA Reports on tax collectors in Laos profiting from extortion

Jan. 19 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on pervasive corruption within the Lao tax collection system. Tax collector jobs are highly coveted in Laos for their high earning potential as obtained through corrupt practices like extortion and inconsistent, illegal tax schemes.

RFA Reports on Chinese feminists welcoming Taiwan’s first female leader

Jan. 19 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on Chinese women’s rights activists welcoming the landslide election victory of Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first-ever female leader. Grassroots activists said they see Tsai’s historic presidency as an inspiration.

RFA Reports on new military members of Myanmar parliament

Jan. 19 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on the selection of the new batch of military officers selected to serve in the country’s next parliament. Twenty-five percent of the parliament’s seats are allotted for military officers, who will now serve under an NLD-majority parliament.

RFA Reports on freed Vietnamese activist facing homelessness

Jan. 15 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a recently freed female human rights activist being left with nowhere to go after the Vietnamese government confiscated her house and land. The activist returned to a village cultural house, but police and thugs came, assaulted her, and threw her belongings out.

RFA Reports on illegal video crackdown in North Korea

Jan. 15 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korea’s attempt to crack down on illegal videos filling the pockets of corrupt law enforcement rather than preventing North Koreans from watching forbidden material. North Koreans continue to obtain and consume foreign media, despite recent increases in punishments for such offenses.

RFA Reports on Beijing’s Internet monitoring army

Jan. 14 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on China saying it now has more than 3,000 official “Internet monitors” volunteering to police online speech, though the true number is believed to be far higher. Beijing announced the number as it unveiled the Volunteer Internet Monitors as an official civilian security organization.

RFA Reports on Myanmar police stopping farmers’ protest

Jan. 14 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar police halting farmers intent on protesting land abuses tied to a Chinese-owned copper mine. Farmers are outraged after the mining company decided to forego compensation for crops that have been destroyed or displaced by the controversial mine.

RFA Reports on rising death toll in Uyghur coal mine attack

Jan. 14 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on the addition of three police officers to the list of security personnel who were killed during operations following a deadly attack at a coal mine. The officers were killed while attempting to apprehend suspects in a fatal knife attack that killed around 50 people.

RFA Reports on postponement of Vietnamese bloggers’ trial

Jan. 14 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the case of two Vietnamese bloggers whose criminal trial has been postponed. The bloggers are just two of the estimated 150 to 200 activists and bloggers believed to be serving prison time in Vietnam.

RFA Reports on Cambodian leader warning of nepotism, despite own family holding office

Jan. 13 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen warning officials about the dangers of nepotism even as several of his relatives hold high positions of power. Hun Sen’s youngest son, a member of parliament, said he intends to succeed his father as the authoritarian country’s leader.

RFA Reports on formal arrest of top Chinese rights lawyer

Jan. 13 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities formally arresting a prominent rights lawyer and her husband on subversion charges, six months after she was first detained along with other attorneys and activists. Wang Yu faces a charge of “subversion of state power,” which carries a minimum jail term of 10 years.

RFA Reports on 40 missing in Myanmar jade mine landslide

Jan. 13 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on at least 40 migrant mine workers going missing after a massive landslide in Myanmar’s Kachin State. The landslide occurred not far from the site of another deadly landslide which killed over 100 in November, as unregulated mining operations continue to flourish.

RFA Reports on Vietnamese authorities detaining land-grab protesters

Jan. 12 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the detention of about 30 Vietnamese protesters in Hanoi for protesting local government attempts to seize family farms. Several hundred police surrounded the demonstrators and herded a group of them onto a bus, which then took them straight to a police station.

RFA Reports on Aung San Suu Kyi urging efforts toward ‘lasting peace’

Jan. 12 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s incoming government working to build peace with separatist ethnic armies left out of a cease-fire agreement signed in October. National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi expressed publicly the desire to mend rifts among disparate ethnic groups.

RFA Reports on former Tibetan prisoner in ‘critical’ condition after torture

Jan. 12 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a former Tibetan protester in critical medical condition after being tortured while in detention. Kelsang Tsering had failed to respond to treatment following his release, and family and friends have “little hope for his recovery.”

RFA Reports on demolition of Mongolian homes

Jan. 11 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities launching a massive demolition project in ethnic Mongolian herding communities. The plan called for bulldozing houses and pastures without warning, sparking protests from locals who were forcibly evicted.

RFA Reports on fears among local population following North Korea nuclear test

Jan. 11 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean residents near the nuclear test site in North Hamgyong province expressing concern about potential disasters from the recent testing. Residents felt vibrations as if an earthquake had occurred on the day of the test, which foreign monitors said registered a 5.1 on the Richter scale.

RFA Reports on China jailing rights lawyer for six months

Jan. 8 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities handing a six-month jail term to a detained rights lawyer who was tortured while in police custody. Shu Xiangxin was punched, dragged, and denied medical treatment and food and water while being held in detention.

RFA Reports on increased surveillance of Uyghur Smartphone users

Jan. 8 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese police stepping up and extending security checks of ethnic Uyghurs who use smartphones to “ensure stability” in the area. Police manned security checkpoints for 24 hours in order to check phones that could connect to the Internet for any content deemed undesirable or dangerous by the state.

RFA Reports on former Lao finance minister arrested in corruption probe

Jan. 8 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on authorities in Laos taking into custody a former finance minister and four colleagues. They were arrested in connection with a scheme in which private companies cashed government bonds issued in promise of payment for work they never performed.

RFA Reports on Chinese hotel lifting ban on spoken Tibetan after outcry

Jan. 8 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a hotel in northwestern China’s Qinghai province rescinding a rule that Tibetan staff may speak only Chinese while at work after the local Tibetan community launched a storm of protest online. The Shang Yon hotel in the Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture had initially forbidden Tibetan workers from speaking their own language on the job, threatening a fine of 500 yuan (U.S. $75) for noncompliance.

RFA Reports on Cambodian officials colluding with illegal loggers

Jan. 6 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on villagers in northeast Cambodia accusing local forestry officials of colluding with illegal loggers to clear trees in a designated wildlife sanctuary. The loggers, with the blessing of local authorities, planned to sell the timber for personal profit.

RFA Reports on continuing controls on Uyghur mosques, villages

Jan. 6 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on tight security restrictions in ethnic Uyghur areas of northwestern China being extended into the new year. Patrols in one township in Guma county in the western prefecture of Hotan are now carried out “day and night,” a Mokuyla township police officer told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

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