RFA Reports (June 2016)

2016-07-26
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(Washington, DC — July 1, 2016) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in June:

RFA Reports on villagers arrested by Myanmar military being found dead

June 30 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on five Shan state villagers being found dead just days after they were arrested by the Myanmar army. Government soldiers had detained a group of villagers after fighting erupted between the military and armed ethnic soldiers.

RFA Reports on Taiwan steel mill owning up to toxic spill in Vietnam

June 30 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a Taiwanese-owned steel mill admitting that toxic chemicals discharged from their massive industrial plant caused one of the largest environmental disasters in Vietnam’s history. The company offered Vietnam $500 million in compensation, as tens of thousands of fish have died as a result of the environmental accident.

RFA Reports on Tibetan filmmaker in hospital after police detention

June 29 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on an award-winning Tibetan filmmaker receiving hospital treatment after “suffering serious injury” while in police detention. Pema Tseden was detained at an airport in what police said was a dispute over baggage.

RFA Reports on charges for commemoration of Tiananmen massacre

June 28 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on a prominent Chinese rights activist standing trial on public order charges after marking the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Chen Yunfei, who has campaigned vigorously for human rights protections and against environmental pollution the past two decades, had just visited the grave of a Tiananmen massacre victim along with a group of fellow activists when he was detained.

RFA Reports on no pay for Cambodian opposition lawmakers

June 27 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodia’s ruling party looking to find a way to stop paying lawmakers who boycott legislation proposed by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Opposition lawmakers began boycotting National Assembly sessions to pressure the government to develop a peaceful solution to the country’s ongoing political crisis.

RFA Reports on Myanmar ethnic groups discussing peace process

June 27 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups holding a summit in northern Kachin state ahead of Aung San Suu Kyi’s Panglong Peace Conference. The armed ethnic groups make up a political alliance that did not sign a nationwide cease-fire agreement last October with the previous junta government.

RFA Reports on prohibited press conference in Myanmar

June 27 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Yangon authorities preventing an ethnic women’s organization from holding a press conference on a report detailing abuses committed by the government army. The report, “Trained to Kill,” contains information about human rights violations in northern Shan state and is based on interviews with more than 100 local residents.

RFA Reports on Buddhist mob destroying mosque in Myanmar

June 24 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on an angry mob destroying parts of a mosque and a Muslim family’s house following a disagreement between villagers. The dispute began over the building of a Muslim school, with the argument escalating to draw hundreds of Buddhist residents who learned about the dispute via Facebook.

RFA Reports on China detaining Tibetan protesters in a ‘show of force’

June 24 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese police descending in force at a Tibetan protest site near Qinghai Lake, assaulting and detaining villagers. Following a police assault on protesters in which eight were badly beaten, an unknown number of Tibetans were detained “on suspicion of taking photos of the Chinese crackdown.”

RFA Reports on intensifying protests in rebellious Chinese village

June 23 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on thousands of residents of the Chinese village of Wukan continuing their protests for a fifth day, demonstrating over the detention of their village leader and the loss of their land. Wukan was also the site of large-scale land-grab protests in 2011.

RFA Reports on safety fears surrounding China’s Taishan nuclear plant

June 23 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on design flaws in a nuclear reactor currently being tested on the southern China coast sparking safety concerns in neighboring Hong Kong. Despite the design flaws, officials are still pushing for the plant to go ahead as planned. The plant will store three times the amount of radioactive nuclear fuel as Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant.

RFA Reports on Tibetan protests halting mining activities

June 22 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities calling a temporary halt to mining activities near a sacred mountain amid continuing Tibetan protests. Tibetans living in the area remain skeptical, though, that the work has been halted for good.

RFA Reports on harassment of Vietnamese family over religious ties

June 22 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a Vietnamese family belonging to a Buddhist sect facing harassment by state-linked enforcers. Intimidation and physical attacks have targeted the family, which follows an unsanctioned branch of a Vietnamese Buddhist church.

RFA Reports on Cambodia’s dying “culture of dialogue”

June 22 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on escalating political tensions leaving little hope for Cambodia’s “culture of dialogue” to operate, as the ruling Cambodian People’s Party pursues a number of cases against high-profile opposition party officials and rights workers.

RFA Reports on China banning media coverage of Wukan protests

June 22 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on China issuing a directive to all media outlets and websites ordering them to delete news of protests in the village of Wukan. Protests there were sparked by the arrest of a former village chief who spearheaded earlier protests over lost farmland in 2011.

RFA Reports on disappeared Lao deckhand

June 21 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on a Lao deckhand who went missing after shipping out on a Thai fishing boat just after he called his family and said that someone was trying to kill him. Working on Thai fishing boats is notoriously dangerous and poses numerous threats for vulnerable migrant workers, who often lack rights and legal protection.

RFA Reports on Myanmar government banning use of ‘Rohingya’ in state media

June 21 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on the Myanmar government ordering state-run media not to refer to the persecuted Muslim minority Rohingya by that name. The Ministry of Information instructed official news outlets to describe the 1.1 million Rohingya as the “Muslim community in Rakhine state.”

RFA Reports on detention of Chinese protest blogger

June 21 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on a prominent Chinese blogger and social media commentator being held incommunicado along with his girlfriend. Blogger Lu Yuyu had gained a following online for compiling meticulous daily lists of protests in China and publicizing his findings via social media.

RFA Reports on Laos cracking down on illegal logging

June 20 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on new Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith prioritizing a crackdown on illegal logging since taking over the top government post in April. Thongloun has been critical of the current system, saying its measures meant to prevent deforestation are insufficient and make it too easy for log pirates to cheat.

RFA Reports on North Korea’s growing technology ‘gray market’

June 20 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on a growing “gray market” for computer repairs in North Korea as residents increasingly manage to purchase electronic devices. Engineering graduates and otherwise handy people are finding an extra source of income by utilizing their technological know-how to help others troubleshoot their computer issues.

RFA Reports on returned Hong Kong bookseller speaking out

June 20 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kei speaking out about his months-long detention in direct defiance of Beijing’s orders. Lam endured months of questioning after suddenly disappearing, and, upon returning to Hong Kong, led thousands of demonstrators in protest over China’s extrajudicial actions.

RFA Reports on China warning media to toe the party line

June 20 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on China warning the country’s media that publishing reports deemed to be mocking or speculative could result in forced closure and other forms of sanction. “Hostile Western forces” are constantly trying to divide China and the party must hold its own, a top Chinese Communist Party official wrote.

RFA Reports on China jailing veteran democracy activists

June 17 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on two veteran democracy activists being found guilty of subversion and jailed for sentences of 10 and 11 years. The two were members of the China Democracy Party (CDP), a banned opposition party.

RFA Reports on Chinese dissident lawyer launching prison memoir

June 14 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on dissident rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who remains under house arrest since his release from prison in August 2014, launching a harrowing memoir of his time in prison. Gao, 52, launched his Chinese-language book in Hong Kong.

RFA Reports on China’s new ideology command center

June 14 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities setting up a volunteer-based online task force to wage an ideological “struggle” on behalf of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. The project's aim is to "resolutely and totally engage in a life-or-death struggle with harmful content and with those who propagate it," a leaked document quoted an official as saying.

RFA Reports on contamination causing hardships for Vietnamese fishermen

June 13 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on Vietnamese fishermen experiencing financial hardship in the wake of the death of thousands of fish along the country’s central coastal provinces. Fishermen were not able to fish offshore for several weeks, as the Vietnamese government stalled on assessing blame for the fish kill.

RFA Reports on Hun Sen’s patience wearing thin

June 13 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen warning that his patience with the political opposition is wearing thin, reminding the nation that the levers of power in Cambodia are in his hands. In a speech, Hun Sen addressed Cambodia’s current political crisis, dismissing the concerns of the international community and rejecting talks with the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

RFA Reports on North Korea sending soldiers to work in the Middle East

June 13 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korea sending a growing number of active-duty soldiers to work at construction projects in Kuwait and Qatar. The engineering battalion soldiers are told to grow their hair long to disguise their identity.

RFA Reports on detention of Uyghur web masters and writers

June 13 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese authorities detaining several Uyghur web administrators and writers for two months prior to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The website owners and managers were detained to keep them from criticizing Chinese regulations that restrain Uyghurs’ activities during this time.

RFA Reports on Uyghur man dying in police custody

June 13 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on the death of a Uyghur man who had been detained for watching a banned Islamic video on his cell phone. The man died while in police custody, raising suspicions of torture at the hands of authorities.

RFA Reports on Ramadan restrictions for Muslim Uyghurs

June 9 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese government workers routinely blocking Muslim Uyghurs’ right to fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. China issued a white paper on June 2 lauding “unprecedented” levels of religious freedom in Xinjiang, but the Ramadan restrictions suggest otherwise, local sources say.

RFA Reports on unconvincing Chinese propaganda

June 9 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on China’s powerful propaganda department failing to exert enough control over public opinion, according to the discipline arm of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. China’s state propaganda lacks attractiveness and appeal, the report said.

RFA Reports on DNA, voiceprint requirements for Uyghur passports

June 8 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region requiring residents of one northern prefecture to provide DNA samples and other biometric data before they can be issued travel documents. The announcement was made by police in Xinjiang's Ili prefecture, who ordered residents to hand in their passports last year, with officials saying no new ones would be issued.

RFA Reports on thousands attending Tibetan Buddhist ceremony

June 8 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on thousands of Tibetan devotees converging in an open plain for advanced Buddhist rituals and teachings. The ancient Kalachakra ceremony is frequently conducted outside Tibet by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

RFA Reports on Vietnamese police questioning Montagnards in Cambodia

June 8 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Vietnamese police questioning a group of Montagnards living in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in an attempt to persuade them to return to their native country. The move by the Vietnamese authorities was condemned by civil society as intimidation of the Montagnards, who rights groups say have been victims of persecution and repression in Vietnam.

RFA Reports on Myanmar’s Rohingya denied right to self-identify in census

June 7 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Rohingya villagers refusing to participate in a census because they were not allowed to mention their race or religion. The census was taken as part of a qualifying process for national identification cards.

RFA Reports on arrest of ‘Black Monday’ protesters in Cambodia

June 6 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian authorities arresting seven women who were participating in anti-government “Black Monday” protests. The protesters, who wear black clothing and hold protests on Mondays, were calling for the release of human rights workers and a national election official jailed on what many say are politically motivated charges.

RFA Reports on Vietnamese police stopping protests over massive fish deaths

June 6 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on Vietnamese police breaking up a protest by people highlighting what they called a slow and irresponsible government response to a mass fish kill-off. Tens of thousands of fish have washed ashore in central Vietnam, with many suspecting that pollution from a huge steel plant is to blame.

RFA Reports on North Korean fishing boats remaining in port amid defection fears

June 3 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on most of North Korea’s smaller fishing vessels remaining anchored at dockside because of new regulations forbidding boats without wireless equipment from going to sea. The tightened rules appear aimed both at preventing sinkings in bad weather and at reducing defections by crews of the smaller craft.

RFA Reports on former Myanmar government officials accused of embezzlement

June 2 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on the disappearance of roughly U.S. $100 million from a Myanmar gem association’s funds, including $1.1 million allegedly taken by former President Thein Sein. The fund, opened under the Ministry of Mines during former President Thein Sein’s government, was made up of fees paid by entrepreneurs who worked in the gem industry.