(Washington, DC — Feb. 1, 2013) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in January:
RFA Reports on sentencing of Tibetans in connection with burnings
Jan. 31 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese courts convicting eight Tibetans accused of encouraging self-immolation protests against Beijing’s rule or of blocking government efforts to stop the burnings. One of them was handed a suspended death sentence, believed to be the first time such a harsh sentence had been imposed on offenses linked to the self-immolations that have occurred since 2009.
RFA Reports on new allegations in Burma mine protest crackdown
Jan. 31 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on a probe’s revelations that Burmese police used white phosphorous—a highly flammable chemical—to disperse protesters of a Chinese-backed copper mine in northern Burma. The move comes in defiance of international law, said a legal group that conducted tests on empty canisters at the site.
RFA Reports on renewed criticism of Chinese press, online freedoms
Jan. 30 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on an annual assessment of press freedom with China having one of the world's worst records on free speech. In its report, French media rights group Reporters Without Borders called China "the world's biggest prison for Internet users," as the authorities step up the pressure on netizens over what they can see and what they can say online.
RFA Reports on pressured Vietnamese authorities freeing US pro-democracy activist
Jan. 30 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on authorities in Hanoi freeing an American pro-democracy activist of Vietnamese descent detained for nine months on charges of subversion. Nguyen Quoc Quan, 59, was released and deported home following international pressure, including from Washington.
RFA Reports on delayed Lao anti-trafficking legislation
Jan. 29 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Laos being unlikely to meet its self-imposed deadline to implement anti-human trafficking legislation by next year. Delays in Laos’ parliament have impeded progress in approving the draft legislation, which has been touted as an essential tool in combating the country’s vast trafficking woes.
RFA Reports on concerns over child labor in Cambodia
Jan. 29 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a group of opposition lawmakers urging Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to take action against a sugar factory owned by a ruling party official. The owner is accused of exploiting child labor and grabbing land from villagers.
RFA Reports on Vietnamese subversion trial
Jan. 28 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a court in central Vietnam beginning proceedings against nearly two dozen members of an obscure environmental group for trying to “overthrow” the country’s communist leadership. The 22 members of the Hoi Dong Cong Luat Cong An Bia Son organization appeared before the court in Phu Yen province at the start of a five-day trial, which involved one of the largest numbers of defendants charged with subversion against the one-party communist state in recent history.
RFA Reports on Chinese police pressuring journalist to hand over scandal sex tape
Jan. 28 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on police in Chongqing putting pressure on a whistle-blowing journalist to hand over incriminating sex tapes exposing a local member of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Ten city officials were reportedly fired in connection with the scandal.
RFA Reports on Vietnamese blogger in mental hospital
Jan. 26 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on Vietnamese authorities arresting a blogger critical of the government and placing him in a mental institution. The move is understood as one of many taken against cyber dissidents and netizens with the hope of curtailing dissent in the one-party communist state.
RFA Reports on Shandong burning death in protest of forced eviction
Jan. 25 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on a man protesting the forced eviction from his home in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong by setting himself on fire in front of government advisors during a parliamentary meeting. Tan Shuguang poured gasoline over himself before self-immolating outside the Shandong Towers building in Jining city, as delegates to the local Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference were emerging from the opening session.
RFA Reports on harassment of Uyghurs during Turkish visit
Jan. 24 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on authorities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region detaining and harassing several families of missing Uyghurs during the visit of a Turkish opposition leader. Security measures put in place during the Jan. 17-18 visit by Kemal Kılıcdaroglu to the regional capital Urumqi specifically targeted the families of those who had been disappeared in the aftermath of deadly ethnic violence between Han Chinese and Uyghurs on July 5, 2009.
RFA Reports on major strike at Beijing Foxconn factory
Jan. 23 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on a labor strike involving close to a thousand workers at a Beijing factory belonging to Foxconn, maker of Apple's iPhone. The strike comes after a series of labor incidents at Foxconn's factories in recent years, including a string of worker suicides.
RFA Reports on suspected corruption in Burma telecom network
Jan. 23 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on Burmese authorities placing the recently resigned Minister of Posts and Telecommunications under house arrest over possible corruption in a proposed nationwide telecommunications network. Former minister Thein Tun and more than 50 officials from his ministry are under investigation as the government invites companies to submit investment proposals for nationwide telecommunications services, including telephone and Internet connectivity.
RFA Reports on China training Cambodia’s military
Jan. 23 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on China planning to train Cambodia’s military under a new deal. This announcement follows an earlier agreement to sell 12 helicopters to Phnom Penh. Together, these moves are seen as China exerting greater military influence in Cambodia and Southeast Asia.
RFA Reports on poisoning death of would-be Tibetan self-immolator
Jan. 23 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on the self-poisoning death of a Tibetan teenager who was planning to burn himself in protest of Chinese rule in Gansu province. Soaked in gasoline and holding two lighters, Jigji Kyab left a suicide note on his bed, praising Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and asking Tibetans to "rise up" against Beijing’s rule.
RFA Reports on Tibetan self-immolation amid jailing of monks
Jan. 22 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a young Tibetan father of two setting himself on fire and dying in protest against Beijing’s rule in Gansu province. Four monks in a neighboring province have been jailed for up to 10 years over alleged links to previous self-immolations.
RFA Reports on Aung San Suu Kyi pledging help for Kachin women
Jan. 22 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi pledging to help alleviate the plight of women in northern Burma’s Kachin State. They are among the groups of people most vulnerable to the state’s long-running armed ethnic conflict for greater autonomy.
RFA Reports on Chinese authorities trying chemical factory activists
Jan. 22 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on authorities in the northeastern port city of Dalian trying six activists who campaigned against a major petrochemical plant in the city. The individuals are being charged with "libel" and "concocting false information."
RFA Reports on pregnant Chinese woman in labor camp
Jan. 21 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on the husband of a pregnant woman in northeast China saying authorities are refusing to release her from labor camp as required by current laws. She was placed in the camp last August.
RFA Reports on barring of outside travel for Tibetans
Jan. 20 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on the issuance of hardly any international passports to Tibetans since Chinese authorities introduced tough travel rules nearly a year ago in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Under the April 2012 procedures issued by the TAR authorities, prospective Tibetan travelers are subject to arduous—and what some call discriminatory—procedures in an apparent attempt by Beijing to clamp down on their travels abroad.
RFA Reports on controls during family visit of jailed Chinese rights lawyer
Jan. 18 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on the family of jailed lawyer Gao Zhisheng, one of China's highest-profile dissidents, visiting him at a remote jail in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang. But family members told RFA they were forbidden from speaking with him freely.
RFA Reports on backlash against Chinese social media restrictions
Jan. 18 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese users of social media sites provided by Internet giant Tencent slamming the company for recent changes in an open letter. These include closing down discussion rooms, blocking users' accounts, and preventing them from posting articles in the popular online service QQ.
RFA Reports on continuing questions over missing Lao activist
Jan. 16 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on conflicting accounts in the disappearance of prominent local social activist Sombath Somphone, last seen on Dec. 15. Southeast Asian lawmakers who went to Laos to investigate the disappearance questioned the government's political will in resolving the case.
RFA Reports on outcry in China over air pollution
Jan. 14 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on China reeling from a long cloud of choking smog swathing the country as prominent experts and state media alike hit out at official pollution monitoring practices. The air quality has prompted a rare moment of openness and calls for transparency in China’s restricted media environment.
RFA Reports on North Korean officials buying Viagra in China
Jan. 14 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on Chinese traders claiming Viagra to be a top-selling item with North Korean officials traveling to China. In Shenyang, the capital of China's Liaoning province bordering North Korea, advertisements hawking Viagra and Cialis adorn the windows of certain shops, shoppers say. The ads are written in broken Korean.
RFA Reports on the first Tibetan self-immolation of the year
Jan. 12 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on the first Tibetan self-immolation death of the new year. A Tibetan teenager burned himself to death in protest against Chinese rule in Gansu province, calling for an end to Beijing’s rule in of the Tibetan areas and the return of the Dalai Lama.
RFA Reports on agreement in Southern Weekend censorship standoff
Jan. 10 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on an agreement between propaganda officials and senior editors at a cutting-edge Chinese newspaper that has been at the heart of a row over political censorship. The Southern Weekend newspaper, known in Chinese as Nanfang Zhoumo, resumed publication after protests throughout China.
RFA Reports on questions for Cambodian judge over convictions
Jan. 10 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodia’s opposition lawmakers summoning the country’s top judge over allegations of misuse of the country’s justice system to punish dissent. Specifically, questions have arisen over the jailing of independent radio station chief Mam Sonando and others linked to an alleged secession plot, as well as convictions of exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy and a land activist.
RFA Reports on Google chief calling for open Internet in North Korea
Jan. 10 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on Google chairman Eric Schmidt saying he prodded North Korean officials with whom he met to allow their citizens to access the Internet. The remarks came after a controversial trip to the isolated country.
RFA Reports on banning of Tibetan language classes
Jan. 10 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on authorities in China’s Sichuan province banning Tibetan language and culture classes taught by volunteers to Tibetan students during their winter break. The move has angered local residents who seek to preserve Tibetan national and cultural identity among their children.
RFA Reports on Tibetan satellite crackdown
Jan. 9 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities in Tibetan-populated prefecture Malho launching a crackdown on satellite equipment used by Tibetans to tune in to foreign radio and TV programs. The move is part of a government clampdown on communications to stifle information on self-immolations protesting Chinese rule.
RFA Reports on suspected seizing of Uyghurs’ organs
Jan. 9 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on accusations of human organs being “harvested” from a number of Uyghurs, including youngsters detained by security forces following ethnic unrest in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Researcher Ethan Gutmann said that the forced disappearance of hundreds of Uyghur men and boys following the 2009 ethnic riots in the region’s capital city of Urumqi “should be of great concern to the world no matter what else may be occurring.”
RFA Reports on order for North Koreans to study Kim speech
Jan. 7 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korea allocating the month of January for its citizens to study a rare New Year's speech by its young leader Kim Jong Un. The people have been asked to virtually memorize the speech—the first televised New Year's Day message by a North Korean leader in 19 years, North Koreans living along the Chinese border told RFA's Korean Service.
RFA Reports on detained Vietnamese lawyer’s hunger strike
Jan. 4 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the hunger strike of a prominent Vietnamese lawyer and dissident blogger detained by authorities. Le Quoc Quan began refusing food three days after he was arrested on his way to drop off his children at school in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.
RFA Reports on civilians caught in crossfire of Burma’s Kachin war
RFA Reports on illegal logging accusations for Vietnamese companies in Cambodia
Jan. 4 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a rights group calling on the Cambodian government to suspend the licenses of two Vietnamese companies over allegations of illegal logging and smuggling timber.
RFA Reports on Thailand deporting Rohingyas to Burma
Jan. 3 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on Thailand deporting dozens of Rohingya boat people back to Burma. The move defies appeals by rights groups that members of the stateless Muslim minority group fleeing sectarian violence be granted refugee status.
RFA Reports on Tibetan leaders calling for China dialogue
Jan. 2 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Tibetan exile leaders affirming their commitment to nonviolence and dialogue with China at the conclusion of internal talks. The leaders discussed a “deepening political crisis” amid a wave of self-immolations and other protests challenging Beijing’s rule in Tibet.
RFA Reports on doubts over official account of Uyghur writer’s death
Jan. 2 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on looming doubts in the case of a jailed celebrated Uyghur writer Nurmuhemmet Yasin in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. A relative of the writer has questioned reports that he suffered from illness, saying he was in good health when she last met him.