RFA Reports (July 2016)

2016-08-29
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(Washington, DC — August 1, 2016) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in July:

RFA Reports on Chinese refugees no longer safe in Thailand

July 29 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on Chinese political refugees no longer feeling safe in Thailand, previously considered a safe haven for dissidents, as Thai authorities willingly hand refugees back over to Beijing with increasing frequency. Several UN-recognized refugees have been deported for immigration violations, throwing the expatriate dissident community into a state of constant fear.

RFA Reports on Myanmar government seeking nationwide cease-fire

July 29 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s upcoming Panglong Peace Conference, a dialogue bringing together the nation’s armed ethnic groups and government forces in pursuit of a nationwide cease-fire. The leaders from two large armed ethnic groups, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and Mongla Army, told State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi that they believe the conference is the only way for Myanmar to attain peace through dialogue.

RFA Reports on police shootout with North Korean army deserters in China

July 29 – RFA Cantonese and Korean aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Korean] on police in northeastern China’s Jilin Province conducting a manhunt for three North Korean soldiers who deserted their units and crossed into China. The three allegedly went on an armed robbery spree in the Chinese countryside and exchanged gunfire with Chinese police.

RFA Reports on destruction of Tibetan Buddhist study center

July 29 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities destroying at least 600 structures at the Tibetan Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. Monastic leaders urged the institute’s monks and nuns not to protest or resist the destruction of their homes, so the work has proceeded unimpeded.

RFA Reports on Cambodian opposition leader found guilty of defamation

July 28 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian political opposition leader Sam Rainsy being found guilty of defaming a leading lawmaker in a one-hour, closed-door court session. Rainsy told RFA the trial was based more on “politics and corruption” than an impartial judicial review.

RFA Reports on living restrictions imposed by China ahead of G20 Summit

July 28 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities imposing a multitude of restrictions as the city of Hangzhou prepares to host the G20 Summit. China is shutting down businesses, issuing citizens baffling English phrasebooks, and sending residents on vacation in advance of the economic summit.

RFA Reports on torture of Tibetan prisoner

July 28 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on the release of a former Tibetan prisoner after a two month detention in which he was beaten and tortured. Lodroe Gyatso, who previously served more than 20 years in prison, was detained again after criticizing what he called China’s “oppressive policies” in Tibetan areas of China.

RFA Reports on Cambodian activists in fear after murder of outspoken critic

July 27 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodians with close ties to murdered pundit Kem Ley fleeing the country or going into hiding out of fear for their personal safety. Kem Ley had spoken on an RFA call-in show just two days prior to being gunned down at a Phnom Penh gas station.

RFA Reports on Chinese internet users arrested for sharing “false news” on social media

July 27 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities detaining three people for sharing “false news” following intense flooding in the northern province of Hebei. Several dozen people were killed in the overnight flooding, but the social media users were detained for sharing reports indicating that hundreds had died, which authorities considered “false information that created panic.”

RFA Reports on increase in human trafficking along North Korea-China border

July 27 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on more and more North Koreans making the risky and illegal border crossing into China. North Koreans risk the dangerous journey seeking the promise of relatively higher wages.

RFA Reports on niece of revered Tibetan monk escaping China

July 27 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on the niece of a revered monk fleeing China for her safety. Nyima Lhamo and her mother were detained by Chinese authorities for two weeks last year on suspicion of sharing information related to the death of her uncle, monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who died last year in a Chinese prison while serving a life sentence.

RFA Reports on Hong Kong journalists jailed in China

July 26 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on the jailing of two veteran Hong Kong journalists after they sent political magazines to subscribers on the mainland. Chinese authorities in the southern city of Shenzen sentenced both men to multiyear jail terms amid an ongoing crackdown on Hong Kong’s media industry.

RFA Reports on Tibetan jailed for discussing Dalai Lama online

July 26 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan man being arrested and imprisoned for discussing the Dalai Lama on WeChat, a Chinese social media platform. Argya Gya participated in a WeChat group celebrating the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday last year and was the second person punished for his participation in the group.

RFA Reports on Vietnamese government skirting blame amid mass fish kill

July 26 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on questions surrounding how and why the Vietnamese government came to approve a Taiwanese firm’s steel mill plans following a chemical spill that has devastated Vietnam’s fishing industry. The Formosa Ha Tinh steel mill has accepted blame for the environmental disaster, but many feel the Vietnamese government should shoulder more of the blame given their approval of the project.

RFA Reports on detention of hundreds of former teachers in Beijing

July 25 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on more than 1,000 former teachers protesting in Beijing over years of service with unequal pay. In response, hundreds of the peaceful protesters were forced onto buses and taken to a large, unofficial detention center outside Beijing.

RFA Reports on China banning independent journalism

July 25 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on China banning major online news sites from conducting independent journalism. The government “criticized in the strongest terms” several major news sites, ordering them to shut down areas of their sites that feature original reporting.

RFA Reports on North Korea banning previously approved films

July 22 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korea banning 10 films formerly approved by the state and produced with government funds. Authorities feared that the movies’ themes may inspire popular discontent with the rule of national leader Kim Jong Un.

RFA Reports on guilty verdicts for Hong Kong student protest leaders

July 21 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on a Hong Kong court issuing guilty verdicts for three leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy movement. The charges of “unlawful assembly” for the three, including student leader Joshua Wong, are linked to the mass sit-in that kicked off the 79-day Occupy Central campaign for fully democratic elections in the former British colony.

RFA Reports on concerns for three jailed Lao workers who criticized country on social media

July 21 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on the denial of family visits for three Lao citizens arrested in March for criticizing their government and ruling party via social media while working in Thailand. Since the arrest and RFA’s original report, media controls have been stepped up as the country hosted the July ASEAN meeting.

RFA Reports on forced relocations killing traditional Uyghur way of life

July 21 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on a small group of Uyghur villagers in China’s western Xinjiang province refusing to sign agreements to be relocated, holding on to their traditional way of life. Chinese authorities plan to move hundreds of thousands of local Xinjiang farmers and herders away from their land to more urbanized settings, with little regard for the Uyghur residents and their livelihoods.

RFA Reports on Phnom Penh pushing back on U.S. human rights concerns

July 20 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the Cambodian government and ruling party rejecting Washington’s call to release opposition politicians and human rights workers who have been jailed in a series of arrests over the past few months. Tom Malinowski, U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights, democracy and labor, wrapped up a two-day visit to the country this week telling reporters “the situation has deteriorated” since the opposition and Prime Minister Hun Sen reached a compromise two years ago.

RFA Reports on China issuing warning to unofficial Christian “house church”

July 20 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities warning an unofficial Protestant “house church” that they are hosting “illegal gatherings.” The church is receiving backlash after resisting the state’s desire for the church to join the state’s official body responsible for regulation of Protestant Christians in China.

RFA Reports on Tibetan monk charged in secret trial

July 19 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities sentencing a Tibetan monk to three years in prison for staging a solitary protest opposing Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas. The monk was sentenced in a secret trial following a ten-month detention during which he was beaten and tortured.

RFA Reports on Vietnam dropping Chinese TV program

July 18 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a Vietnamese television station dropping a Chinese series after actors from the show criticized an international court ruling rejecting Beijing’s South China Sea claims. Actors on ‘Shanghai Bund,’ a popular show, had defended China’s claims in a petition criticizing the court’s ruling, causing the series to get cancelled.

RFA Reports on court order for Cambodian opposition leader to stay in the country

July 14 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian authorities barring opposition leader Kem Sokha from leaving the country as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government continues to ratchet up the pressure on rivals. In a court warrant posted in front of Kem Sokha’s home, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court announced that it had placed the acting Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president under court monitoring as a “charged person.”

RFA Reports on legal loophole allowing mass land grab in Laos

July 14 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on a Chinese-backed construction company using a loophole in Laos’ land laws to appropriate hundreds of hectares of land from residents of three Lao villages. The residents lack legal titles for their land, which opens the door for state officials to take over the land now being cleared to make way for cattle farms.

RFA Reports on Myanmar minister calling for end to hate speech among mainstream Buddhists

July 13 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s minister of religious affairs and culture seeking to end hate speech by some of the country’s Buddhist monks. Ma Ba Tha, an ultranationalist religious group, routinely attacks Myanmar Muslims in its rhetoric.

RFA Reports on Lao women increasingly used as drug mules

July 12 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Lao women increasingly taking part in the illicit drug trade, as drug lords find they make good smugglers and can blend into their surroundings better than men. Local police say they have noticed a sharp increase in the number of women arrested for drug offenses, who often come from poor economic backgrounds.

RFA Reports on questions after slaying of well-known Cambodian critic

July 11 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on family members and others raising questions about the investigation into the slaying of outspoken government critic Kem Ley as they cast doubt about the suspected killer’s identity and the motive alleged for the killing. The 46-year-old was attacked execution-style in broad daylight at a gas station.

RFA Reports on rescue of Myanmar migrants from Thai fishing boats

July 11 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Thai police and a Myanmar NGO rescuing 19 trafficked Myanmar fishermen forced to work aboard an Indonesian fishing boat in slave-like conditions. The men, ranging in age from 13 to 34, were sent to immigration camps in Thailand where they could wait anywhere from six months to a year to return home.

RFA Reports on Vietnamese activists beaten by unidentified attackers

July 11 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on unidentified assailants attacking and beating a prominent Vietnamese protester, sending him to the hospital. The assault was carried out by plainclothes attackers believed to be linked to the police amid a recent surge of similar assaults on dissidents.

RFA Reports on Cambodian authorities dropping honorific title demand for media

July 8 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen rescinding an order that would have required all news media to attach the honorific term ‘samdech’ to the autocrat’s name. Roughly translated, the term means “lord prime minister and supreme military commander.”

RFA Reports on China’s lawyers facing ‘complete powerlessness’

July 8 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on China’s legal profession reeling from the shock of a year-long, coordinated, and nationwide silencing campaign. Top human rights lawyer Wang Yu, now under formal arrest, was first detained one year ago in what marked the start of a campaign that widened to include the detention and interrogation of some 319 legal professionals.

RFA Reports on Myanmar farmers protesting military land grabs

July 6 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar farmers demanding that the army return more than 4,000 acres of land it confiscated 25 years ago. Farmers organized the protest after hearing of a new NLD government policy that is returning confiscated land to farmers in other parts of the country.

RFA Reports on North Korean parents catching “private education fever”

July 6 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on more and more North Korean parents risking arrest and paying top dollar to obtain private tutors to help their children get into a top university. Hiring a tutor is risky as it is illegal and also expensive since it requires bribing education officials to get kids out of regular class or other state obligations.

RFA Reports Catholic priests in Vietnam challenging government in land grab case

July 6 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the head priest of a Catholic monastery in central Vietnam sending a petition to national and foreign officials in the country protesting what it says is the local government’s illegal appropriation of its land.

RFA Reports on suspicious death of Chinese rights activist in Beijing

July 4 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on a Chinese rights activist being found hanged in what appeared to be a suicide a week after an alleged altercation with two state security police. Some have called on the media to investigate Jin Zhongqi’s death more closely amid concerns that he may have “been suicided” in an act of retaliation.

RFA Reports on controversy surrounding term used for Myanmar’s Rohingya

July 1 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Rakhine Buddhists decrying the Myanmar government’s chosen description for the country’s ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims. Rakhine nationalists say they will only accept the derogatory term “Bengali,” as opposed to the phrase “Muslim community in Rakhine state,” which the government recently ordered state media to use.