(Washington, DC—August 1, 2008) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in July:
RFA Reports on North Koreans in Czech transit
July 31 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on five North Korean defectors who are currently sheltering in the Czech Republic, awaiting word on whether or not they will be allowed to immigrate as refugees to the United States. According to the director of the Department for Asylum and Migration Policies in the Czech Republic, the three men and two women from Korea had been in Beijing under the protection of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. If admitted, this group would raise to 72 the number of North Korean refugees in the United States.
RFA Reports on questions of press freedom at the Olympics
July 31 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English /Mandarin] on Chinese confirmations that foreign journalists working out of Olympics press facilities won’t have unfettered Internet access, although some previously blocked sites appear to have been opened. Hundreds of websites considered by the ruling Communist Party to be sensitive are still blocked to thousands of journalists based in Beijing for the games. The Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called the move “yet another broken promise,” saying that more than 20,000 journalists have been affected.
RFA Reports on claims of flawed election in Cambodia
July 29 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English /Khmer] on Cambodia’s national election in which Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party won nearly sixty percent of the vote amid charges by international monitors that the election failed to meet standards of transparency. In a preliminary report, some 130 European monitors said that the voting was marred by the overwhelming control of the media by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and by the absence of some 50,000 names from voter registration lists. Cambodia’s four opposition parties rejected the outcome and accused the ruling party of fraud.
RFA Reports on labor camp sentence of quake teacher
July 28 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English /Cantonese] on Liu Shaokun, who has been sentenced to a year of reeducation through labor for “inciting a crowd to cause trouble and disturbing social order,” according to his wife. Liu, a teacher from Guanghan Middle School in Deyang city, was openly critical of the construction of schools which collapsed during the May 12 earthquake. Liu was detained on his way to school and the school principal notified his family of the arrest. Liu’s lawyer said that he was being sent to a labor camp to serve his sentence, but no date for his transfer has yet been set.
RFA Reports on house arrests of key Chinese activists during Olympics
July 25 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English /Mandarin] on key Chinese activists and dissidents who will spend the Olympic Games period confined to their homes under 24-hour surveillance. Some have been warned about talking to the media, while others cannot be reached by phone. Read about Beijing-based rights activist Qi Zhiyong, Shanghai civil rights lawyer Zheng Enchong, former China Democracy Party member Zha Jianguo, Zhao Ziyang’s former political secretary Bao Tong, jailed pro-democracy activist He Depu’s wife Jia Jianying, and Yuan Weijing, wife of Chen Guangcheng, who was jailed for his meticulous documentation of abuses by family planning officials in Shandong province.
RFA Reports on treatment of petitioners in Beijing
July 25 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English /Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese citizens hoping to lodge complaints in the Chinese capital. Authorities have intensified a crackdown on people who they don’t want to see in Beijing during the Olympics, and China’s thousands of petitioners are major targets. They are often intercepted by local police en route to Beijing. Those who do make it have been met with row upon row of official vehicles, armed police, and public security officials from around the country. Authorities also appear to be curbing the number of migrant workers allowed into the capital, suspending regular labor recruitment until the games are over.
RFA Reports on Raided homes in Xinjiang
July 23 – RFA Uyghur and Mandarin aired story [text in English /Uyghur /Mandarin] on a house-to-house search campaign by authorities in the city of Gulja (Yining, in Chinese) in China’s northwestern Xinjiang province, a city known as the traditional center of regional opposition to Beijing’s rule and the site of an armed crackdown on protests in 1997. A police officer from Gulja said that the campaign began a few weeks ago and that it is not aimed specifically at Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs, among whom opposition to Beijing’s rule is widespread. He declined to give details on how many have been arrested, and on what charges.
RFA Reports on jailing of Chinese dissident ahead of Olympics
July 21 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on Hubei-based cyber dissident Du Daobin, whom authorities sent back to jail ahead of the Olympics. Du Daobin, 43, one of China’s best-known cyber dissidents, was taken away shortly after noon on Monday, July 21, in Yicheng city, Hubei province. On June 11, 2004, Du was sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for four years, on charges of “incitement to subvert state power.” Arrested on August 28, 2003, Du was also sentenced to loss of civic rights for two years. His wife says she was given no information regarding his whereabouts.
RFA Reports on Burmese women in abuse claims
July 17 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English /Burmese] on three Burmese women who went to work legally in Malaysia two years ago and are now being held in custody pending deportation after lodging complaints with police about sexual harassment and mistreatment in the workplace. Police initially detained the women’s supervisor on June 14, following the complaint. Local rights groups said they also found an electrical device which he used to threaten them. On the 17th, however, the tables were turned and the women were arrested, their work permits revoked.
RFA Reports on deals signed by China’s quake parents
July 15 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English /Mandarin/Cantonese] on bereaved parents in China’s quake-stricken Sichuan province, many of whom have accepted a revised compensation deal offered by officials. A bereaved parent in Shifang city said that he and many others had signed a revised compensation package of 100 yuan per month for life, on top of an existing lump sum of 100,000 yuan already on the table. Some parents, however, have vowed to continue an enquiry into shoddy construction in the collapsed schools after officials refused to publish the results of an investigation.
RFA Reports on alleged abuses under China’s family planning policies
July 12 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/audio in Mandarin] on individuals who claim that they have suffered abuses as a result of China’s population planning policies. Police have recently tightened security around the home of Yuan Weijing, wife of jailed family planning activist Chen Guangcheng, whose work did much to reveal the dark side of China’s secretive family planning policies. Another woman, a former resident of Chengguan No. 3 Village, has spent years pursuing a claim that authorities are responsible for her mother’s death following a forced sterilization operation in 1992. Local officials rejected the woman’s claims.
RFA Reports on shooting death of Khmer journalist and his son
July 12 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English /Khmer] on veteran Cambodian journalist and vocal government critic Khim Shambo, who was shot and killed with his son by an unknown gunman in the Cambodian capital, according to Phnom Penh’s police chief. The 47-year-old Shambo was shot five times while driving near the Phnom Penh municipal court, apparently by a single gunman who fled the scene. Shambo’s son, a 21-year-old university student, was also shot through the heart and died in the hospital.
RFA Reports on cancellation of Tibetan festival
July 11 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English /Tibetan] on authorities in China’s southwestern Sichuan province ordering a buildup of security in the region and cancelling a horse racing festival that was marked by protests a year ago, according to residents and exiled Tibetans from the area. According to an exiled resident of Lithang, Tibetans from neighboring counties are not allowed into Lithang town. Other residents say security forces are carrying out intimidating live-fire drills in the area. The 2007 standoff occurred after police detained one man who stirred the crowd into shouting support for the Dalai Lama.
RFA Reports on execution of two Uyghurs in China
July 11 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English /Uyghur] on the execution of two ethnic minority Uyghurs and the sentencing of 15 others for alleged terrorist links. Chinese authorities found them guilty of links to terrorism, separatist activities, and illegally manufacturing explosives. According to local sources, authorities ordered local residents to attend the public announcement of their sentences, but banned cameras, lighters, and recording devices. No details were immediately available about the defendants’ appeals, which are automatic in capital convictions under Chinese law, or the approval of the sentences by the Supreme Peoples Court (SPC), which is required under a legal amendment that took effect on Jan. 1, 2007.
RFA Reports on Uyghurs killed in raid
July 10 – RFA Mandarin, Cantonese, and Uyghur aired story [text in English /Mandarin/Cantonese/Uyghur] on a dramatic raid by Chinese police on a residence occupied by ethnic Uyghurs in the restive Xinjiang region. A witness to the incident said that police used smoke to force open the residence before shooting dead five ethnic Uyghurs who the official media said were planning a “holy war.” In March, Chinese authorities said they had broken up and arrested members of a group that was threatening to sabotage the Beijing Olympics, but exiled Uyghurs deny the existence of an organized terrorist campaign.
RFA Reports on Camodia’s long-lost ‘jungle girl’
July 9 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English /Khmer] on Cambodia’s “jungle girl,” who lived alone in the forest for 18 years after vanishing at age nine. She has learned to dress herself, bathe, and laugh in the year-and-a-half since she returned to her family, but she remains unable to speak, her father and a local police officer say. Sal Lou, 43 and a retired police officer, identified his oldest child, Rochom P’ngieng, by a scar on her arm after villagers reported seeing a naked woman stealing food. She has lived with Sal Lou, his wife, six other children, and six grandchildren since then.
RFA Reports on Riots in Guizhou
July 7 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on riots in Guizhou province which, according to provincial Communist Party chief Shi Zongyuan, are part of a much darker picture of oppression meted out by officials who use armed security forces “however they like” to solve disputes with citizens. In a striking departure from government-style rhetoric, Shi expanded on official comments to say that it was shortcomings of local officials, who had failed to pay attention to disputes over mines and the relocation of migrant workers, that caused long-simmering anger among local people.
RFA Reports on death of Buddhist patriarch
July 7 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the death of Thich Huyen Quang, 87, the patriarch of Vietnam’s outlawed Unified Buddhist Church. He died on July 5 at Nguyen Thieu Monastery in Vietnam’s southern Binh Dinh province. The Paris-based international Buddhist Information Bureau said Quang had been treated in intensive care since May for kidney, heart, and lung ailments. His death was announced by the UBCV’s deputy leader Thich Quang Do, the presumed successor, who, like Quang, has spent decades under house arrest and police surveillance.