RFA Reports (March 2016)

2016-04-22
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(Washington, DC — April 1, 2016) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in March:

RFA Reports on ethnic rebel clashes resuming in Myanmar

March 31 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on new clashes flaring between government troops and an armed ethnic group in northern Myanmar’s Shan state. The fighting came on the same day that a new civilian president was sworn into office, vowing to work towards peace and national reconciliation in the country.

RFA Reports on police raid on home of veteran Chinese journalists

March 31 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on plainclothes police raiding the home of veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu, sending the 72-year-old heart patient to the hospital. Authorities also roughed up and detained her son and destroyed her garden in what appears to be an attempt to intimidate her.

RFA Reports on political animosity approaching ‘tipping point’ in Cambodia

March 31 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodia’s contentious and at times violent political situation pushing it “close to a dangerous tipping point.” UN special human rights envoy to Cambodia Rhona Smith said tensions between the leading and opposition parties have worsened in recent months.

RFA Reports on Uyghur mother charged over RFA interview

March 30 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on a Uyghur woman charged with leaking state secrets for discussing her son’s disappearance with RFA. The woman, whose son was forcibly taken away after 2009 riots in Urumqi, will stand trial next month.

RFA Reports on prison sentence for RFA blogger in Vietnam

March 30 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a Vietnamese court giving four people stiff prison sentences for anti-government speech. Among the sentenced was regular RFA contributor Nguyen Ngoc Gia, jailed for four years for carrying out “propaganda against the state.”

RFA Reports on Hong Kong warning independence activists

March 30 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on Hong Kong’s government warning it would take action against anyone suggesting the city should break away from China. The warning was unprecedented given Hong Kong’s tradition of freedoms of speech and association.

RFA Reports on Myanmar’s first civilian president in over 50 years

March 30 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on new Myanmar president Htin Kyaw being sworn in as Myanmar’s first civilian president in more than 50 years. Htin Kyaw will serve as proxy president for Aung San Suu Kyi, who is barred from becoming president by an obscure constitutional clause.

RFA Reports on China looking to further increase control of Internet

March 30 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on China announcing draft plans to force companies to run their websites and portals from servers inside China. The move would affect both foreign and Chinese companies, and would likely increase China’s censorship powers.

RFA Reports on new restrictions for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries

March 29 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities imposing new restrictions on Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, intensifying existing constraints. The new orders place further limitations on displaying photos of the Dalai Lama.

RFA Reports on vaccine scandal in China

March 29 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on growing protests in reaction to a nationwide tainted vaccine scandal in China. Parents of affected children as well as lawyers have sought clarity from the state regarding the faulty medicine, which has resulted in reports of deaths and health problems among recently vaccinated children.

RFA Reports on continuing Rohingya discrimination in western Myanmar

March 29 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar lifting a state of emergency in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state, a measure that had been in place for nearly four years. A policy restricting the movement of ethnic Muslims Rohingya interned in displacement camps remains in place, however.

RFA Reports on resignation of Chinese editor in response to new media controls

March 29 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on a top Chinese news editor resigning after China imposed new restrictive media controls. Increased censorship drove Yu Shaolei to a breaking point, saying he was “…old and my knees can’t take it anymore,” in an apparent jab at Chinese censors and their control over the media.

RFA Reports on China launching crackdown on families of overseas dissident

March 28 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities launching a nationwide probe into an open letter calling on President Xi Jinping to resign, extending the crackdown to include family members of dissidents abroad. The letter, published on the Watching News website, accused Xi of a major power grab that had damaged China’s interests.

RFA Reports on travel ban for Chinese award winner

March 28 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on Chinese housing rights lawyer Ni Yulan winning an International Women of Courage award, but being unable to travel to accept the award due to travel restrictions imposed upon her. “Authorities froze my passport,” Ni said.

RFA Reports on anti-Kim leaflets and graffiti in North Korea

March 25 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean authorities increasing efforts to find the writers of anti-regime leaflets and graffiti, which have been cropping up with increasing frequency in recent months. The writings, found on the walls of train stations and other public places in major cities, have denounced leader Kim Jong Un.

RFA Reports on Vietnamese political prisoners ending hunger strike after authorities relent

March 25 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on four political prisoners and another inmate in Vietnam’s Xuyen Moc prison ending a 13-day hunger strike after authorities agreed to meet their demands, which included being able to share food and send email.

RFA Reports on reappearance of missing Hong Kong bookseller

March 25 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on a missing Hong Kong bookseller reappearing in Hong Kong briefly before returning to China after less than 24 hours. Lee Bo, who went missing on Dec. 30, was forcibly removed by Chinese authorities in retaliation for the publication of books deemed controversial by the Chinese Communist Party.

RFA Reports on detention of 41 Uyghurs for skipping funeral of Communist Party member

March 24 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese authorities detaining more than 40 Uyghurs for failing to show up for a prominent Communist Party member’s funeral. Local law enforcement acknowledged detaining the Uyghur group but said it was because they are religious extremists.

RFA Reports on Mongolian herders detained following WeChat discussions

March 24 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities detaining a group of ethnic Mongolian herders for “instigating illegal gatherings, protests and demonstrations via the Internet.” The herders were discussing recent protests and detentions of herders on the popular chat app WeChat, which was surveilled by authorities.

RFA Reports on roadside shooting attack in Laos

March 24 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on unidentified gunmen killing a truck driver and wounding six Chinese nationals on a bus in Laos. The incident is the latest in a series of shootings targeting drivers and passengers along roads in northern Laos, possibly linked to local discontent around China’s growing economic footprint in the country.

RFA Reports on five-year sentence for Vietnamese blogger

March 23 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on Vietnam sentencing blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh to five years in prison for posts that were critical of the government. The former police officer and his assistant were both convicted on a charge of abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state.

RFA Reports on Cambodian PM siding with soldiers in land dispute

March 22 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen urging local authorities to ignore a Cambodian Supreme Court ruling that favored a local villager over a cadre of soldiers. The Supreme Court made the ruling in 2011, but authorities have refused to enforce the order.

RFA Reports on Chinese media using Uyghur mother to promote ‘harmonious’ society

March 22 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on China’s state-owned media touting the story of a 76-year-old Uyghur woman as evidence of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region being a “harmonious society.” The woman, who raised nine orphans from four different ethnic groups and was an orphan herself, said she had no political or social motivations in caring for her children.

RFA Reports on multiple ministerial posts for Aung San Suu Kyi

March 22 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s incoming NLD government tagging Aung San Suu Kyi for several top ministerial posts. In lieu of the presidency, Aung San Suu Kyi was nominated to head the ministries of foreign affairs, education, electric power and energy, and the President’s Office.

RFA Reports on election of new Tibetan government-in-exile

March 21 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Tibetans abroad choosing a new political leader to head the Tibetan government-in-exile. Initial tallies indicate incumbent Lobsang Sangay holding a substantial lead, with official results scheduled for release on April 27.

RFA Reports on Cambodian cabinet shuffle

March 18 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun revamping his cabinet ahead of coming 2018 elections. Three long-serving ministers agreed to give up their posts, including Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who had held the post for 18 years.

RFA Reports on struggle for North Korean restaurants in China

March 18 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean restaurants in China struggling to boost their business amid strained relations between the two allies.  China has become increasingly frustrated with North Korea, whose recent nuclear test and missile launches were the latest points of contention.

RFA Reports on 15-year prison term in North Korea for American college student

March 16 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on a North Korean court handing a prison term of 15 years of hard labor to detained U.S. college student Otto Warmbier. A student at the University of Virginia, Warmbier was charged with attempting to steal a propaganda banner.

RFA Reports on sentencing of Uyghur imam, farmers for religious violation

March 16 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on the sentencing of an imam and eight farmers from a village in Aksu prefecture to serve prison sentences from seven to nine years. The charges are for illegally practicing religion and comes as officials enforce a “strike hard” campaign in China’s northwest.

RFA Reports on human rights problems for incoming Myanmar government

March 15 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on the UN reporting on a slew of human rights problems facing Myanmar’s new civilian government. Among the issues are ending civil wars in Kachin and Shan states and granting basic rights to the Rohingya minority group.

RFA Reports on Myanmar’s military pushing hard-liner for key leadership spot

March 11 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s military nominating the chief minister of Yangon region as its candidate in the parliamentary vote to determine the country’s top leaders, posing a potential threat to Aung San Suu Kyi’s reform plans for the developing democracy.

RFA Reports on Myanmar civil society demanding release of jailed student activists

March 9 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on 26 Myanmar civil society groups demanding authorities free detained student protesters. In one prison alone, roughly 60 students and their supporters remain behind bars, stemming from a protest last March.

RFA Reports on China spending at least 25 billion USD on security stability

March 8 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on China publishing spending projections on domestic security and law enforcement in the name of "stability maintenance." Analysts said the true sum is likely to be much higher.

RFA Reports on call for release of jailed Chinese women activists

March 8 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on rights groups calling for the release of key women activists on International Women's Day. Five feminists detained for planning a campaign event this time last year came under renewed pressure from police.


RFA Reports on safety fears in China amid delays for nuclear plant construction

March 7 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on the delay of completion of a major nuclear power project in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. The unanticipated delays have sparked safety concerns from local residents who cite a lack of transparency by officials.

RFA Reports on North Korea ramping up army conscription amid nuclear threats

March 4 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordering his military to be in "pre-emptive attack" footing, ratcheting up tensions after the U.N. Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear program. North Korea’s official media are reporting a groundswell of volunteers to join the nation’s military.

RFA Reports on Chinese man killed, others injured in Laos shootings

March 3 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on three near-simultaneous shootings which killed a Chinese man and injured eight others in Laos. Chinese nationals working for a logging company were targeted in the attacks, which come as Lao villagers are becoming increasingly restive over construction of a dam on the Ngum River.

RFA Reports on Tibetan monk self-immolating in protest

March 1 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan monk setting himself ablaze and dying in an apparent challenge to Beijing’s rule. The self-immolation is the first such protest this year, and brings to 144 the total number of burnings since 2009.

RFA Reports on Umbrella Movement leaders on trial in Hong Kong

March 1 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on three leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong defending against government charges linked to the demonstrations. Joshua Wong, 19, who heads the academic activist group Scholarism, Alex Chow, 25, former secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, and Nathan Law, 22, current leader of the student federation, are on trial for offenses related to the protest.

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