RFA Reports (March 2013)

2013-04-01
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(Washington, DC — April 1, 2013) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in March:

RFA Reports on jailing of Uyghurs over online activism

March 29 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese media controls playing a central role in the jailing of 20 ethnic Uyghurs on terrorism and separatism charges. The charges stem from their alleged online activism to spread “Muslim religious propaganda.”

RFA Reports on detentions of Chinese Nobel laureate’s family

March 29 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on authorities in Beijing detaining the brother-in-law of jailed Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo. Liu Hui, brother of Liu's wife Liu Xia, who is herself under house arrest in the capital, was detained on Jan. 31 on criminal charges linked to a property dispute.

RFA Reports on Tibetan monk’s burning death

March 28 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan monk burning himself to death near a monastery in northwestern China's Gansu province in protest of Beijing’s rule. Kunchok Tenzin, 28, torched himself at a major road intersection near his Mori monastery in the Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

RFA Reports on China expanding banned activities for Tibetans

March 28 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities circulating a new list of 13 “unlawful” behaviors in a protest-hit Tibetan county in China’s northwestern Qinghai province. The list warns Tibetans against involvement in self-immolation protests and other activities deemed supportive of challenges to Chinese rule.

RFA Reports on arson attack by Wuhan eviction gang

March 27 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on a gang of unidentified men setting fire to a building in Wuhan in an early morning arson attack. The building’s residents were protesting evictions in a standoff with Chinese authorities. The township has become a flashpoint for recent pro-democracy protests.

RFA Reports on court rejecting of Cambodian land rights activist’s appeal

March 27 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the Cambodian Supreme Court rejecting a jailed land rights activist's appeal to be released on bail. Yorm Bopha, who had championed the right to housing for residents forcibly evicted from the capital Phnom Penh’s former Boeung Kak Lake neighborhood, had cited health and family reasons to be let out of jail pending her appeal on a conviction.

RFA Reports on popularity of foreign currency in North Korea

March 27 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Koreans increasingly using foreign currency to conduct daily business due. When asked about the cost of goods in North Korea, residents told RFA that prices are often referred to in Chinese Yuan near the border with China or in U.S. dollars in the capital.

RFA Reports on forced abortion prompting online outcry in China

March 26 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on accounts of a forced abortion perpetrated on a woman who was seven months pregnant by family planning authorities in China’s eastern Anhui province. The incident has generated an online outcry by Chinese netizens on social media.

RFA Reports on security alert for Rangoon amid unrest

March 25 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on Burmese authorities placing Rangoon on security alert. This order was given amid worries of communal riots spreading to the country’s commercial capital after sectarian violence between Muslims and Buddhists in central Meikhtila left dozens dead and thousands displaced.

RFA Reports on Tibetan mother of four self-immolating

March 24 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan mother of four burning herself to death in protest against Chinese rule in Sichuan province. Kalkyi, 30, torched herself near a monastery "to highlight the Chinese policy of violent rule in Tibet and Tibetan populated areas."

RFA Reports on Burmese monks threatening reporters covering riots

March 22 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on a group of young armed Buddhist monks threatening several journalists who witnessed them damaging a mosque and a house in Burma's riot-torn Meikhtila city. The monks spotted the journalists, including a reporter from Radio Free Asia, taking photographs from a car and surrounded the vehicle, demanding that they give up their memory cards.

RFA Reports on Chinese art collective staging demolition protest

March 22 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on a group of hold-out artists coming out in what may be a final protest against the demolition of an avant-garde art district in southeastern Beijing. The Songzhuang art community, which has attracted cutting-edge artists from around the mid-1990s, is, like so much else in China, threatened with imminent demolition.

RFA Reports on harassment of Vietnamese blogger’s family

March 21 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on authorities in Vietnam stepping up their harassment of an outspoken blogger’s dissident family. Huynh Khanh Vy, the sister of online political and social commentator Huynh Thuc Vy, and her husband have been targeted for frequent residence permit checks and have lost job and study opportunities due to police intervention, Khanh Vy told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

RFA Reports on longtime simmering tensions behind Meikhtila’s violence

March 21 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on the antecedents of the communal violence that gripped central Burma's Meikhtila city. Muslims and Buddhists in the city have been holding grudges against each other since one of the country's biggest ethnic clashes erupted last year between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhist Rakhines in western Burma's Rakhine state.

RFA Reports on pollution of Cambodia’s Tonle Sap lake

March 20 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on residents of a floating village on Cambodia’s Tonle Sap facing serious water shortages. Villagers told RFA that the water is not clean enough to wash their clothes.

RFA Reports on probe of Chinese house churches

March 20 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong probing local unofficial Protestant "house churches." The move could herald a broader campaign to abolish the institutions across the country, religious groups worry.

RFA Reports on worries spreading over floating animal carcasses in China

March 19 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on concerns over Shanghai's gruesome tide of dead pigs in the Huangpu River. For residents, the incident has become a visible reminder of a far-reaching environmental crisis, which could have dire effects on public health.

RFA Reports on funding woes of North Korean water initiative

March 19 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on funding woes delaying implementation of an international effort to provide North Koreans with safe drinking water. More than one-quarter of the people in the nuclear-armed but impoverished nation have no access to safe drinking water.

RFA Reports on Chinese police removing Tibetan cliff prayer

March 18 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese police obliterating a prayer written on the face of a cliff by Tibetan villagers. The prayer called for the long life of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, as security forces continue to clamp down on expressions of national identity in Tibetan-populated areas.

RFA Reports on Laos blocking U.S. inquiries into disappearances

March 17 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Lao authorities blocking U.S. investigations into the whereabouts of two U.S. citizens and an American permanent resident who have been missing in the Southeast Asian nation for several months. Local police contacted by RFA’s Lao Service had earlier confirmed that they are looking for the men, who disappeared after leaving Savannakhet city to drive to Kengkok village in Champon district for a funeral.

RFA Reports on Tibetan monk self-immolating on crackdown anniversary
March 16 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan monk from the restive Kirti monastery in Sichuan province burning himself to death. He was protesting against Chinese rule and to mark the fifth anniversary of a bloody Chinese crackdown on Tibetans in the region.

RFA Reports on Aung San Suu Kyi facing hostility over mine

March 14 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi assuring villagers protesting against a China-backed copper mine that they will be paid swift and higher compensation. But hostility was palpable as the Nobel laureate moved to calm crowds angry over her probe commission’s decision to proceed with the controversial project.

RFA Reports on death of Khmer Rouge co-founder

March 14 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the death of Ieng Sary, the ailing co-founder of the brutal Khmer Rouge movement standing trial for genocide and war crimes. The 87-year-old foreign minister in the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror from 1975 to 1979 had been hospitalized several times since being detained more than five years ago by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) tasked with seeking justice for crimes committed during that era.

RFA Reports on Cambodian radio chief’s unexpected release

March 14 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the release of veteran journalist Mam Sonando, whose conviction for allegedly masterminding a “secessionist” plot was overturned. "I thank all the Khmer people and everyone who has supported my struggle to find justice," Mam Sonando, who has rejected the charges and has been in custody since last July, shouted to reporters in Phnom Penh.

RFA Reports on Tibetan singer’s jailing

March 13 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a court in China’s Qinghai province ordering a popular Tibetan singer to be jailed for six years. His music was cited as calling for an end to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, while a monk who had written some of his lyrics has been imprisoned on unknown charges.

RFA Reports on detentions of Chinese wealth-disclosure activists

March 13 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on authorities in the Chinese capital detaining five activists who tried to submit a letter calling on ruling Chinese Communist Party officials to declare their assets at the annual parliamentary session. The activists had targeted 205 ministerial-level officials in their open letter, but were detained by police on Tiananmen Square.

RFA Reports on Xi voicing military loyalty fears

March 12 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on China's president Xi Jinping warning the country's military that they should draw lessons from the collapse of the communist regime in the former Soviet Union. In a speech ahead of the closing session of annual parliamentary sessions in Beijing, Xi told delegates from the People's Liberation Army that the military should avoid the mistakes made by Soviet military commanders and remain loyal to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

RFA Reports on enduring Cambodian democracy in doubt

March 12 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on worries ahead of July’s election that Cambodia’s political process will continue to backslide. The Committee for Free and Fair Elections warned in its annual report that Cambodia’s democracy is “increasingly fragile” and that the electoral process is excluding opposition and dissenting voices.

RFA Reports on poll showing Chinese sympathetic to Tibetan cause

March 11 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English] on a poll of mainland Chinese largely showing sympathy for the Tibetan cause. The survey, carried out by RFA, however, also found respondents generally were not supportive of the self-immolation protests challenging Beijing’s rule.

RFA Reports on mobile restrictions in Tibetan capital

March 11 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities beginning a security sweep of mobile phones in the Tibetan capital Lhasa’s major monasteries. They are searching for images and writings deemed politically sensitive in a bid to restrict the flow of information to the outside world.

RFA Reports on Aung San Suu Kyi facing hostility over mine

March 8 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party holding its inaugural national congress with an estimated 900 delegates in attendance. The conference marks a significant transition for the party, which, due to restrictions during its 25 years of existence, had been forced to operate in much the same way as the regime it opposed, handpicking its delegates.

RFA Reports on workplace discrimination of women in China

March 8 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on workplace discrimination against Chinese women remaining common, despite official media’s publication of positive women-in-work news stories for International Women's Day. Hiring practices have also fallen under accusations of sexism, with women job applicants often asked to disclose their age and submit a photograph.

RFA Reports on Tibetan writer dedicating award to self-immolators

March 7 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser, among 10 women set to win the International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. State Department, dedicating the prize to the more than 100 Tibetans who have set themselves on fire in protests challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas. She also said she would not relent in her struggle to uphold Tibetan rights.

RFA Reports on Uyghur-Han clashes prompting security clampdown

March 7 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region placing a city under security lockdown after deadly violence between ethnic minority Uyghurs and Han Chinese. Police said a security clampdown had been imposed following clashes in Korla city, confirming an undetermined number of fatalities.

RFA Reports on criticism of Burma draft media laws

March 7 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on Burma's Information Minister Aung Kyi defending a highly criticized draft press law. He said some restrictions in it are aimed at preventing "poisonous" writings and protecting religious sensitivities, but journalists maintained that it was "regressive" step.

RFA Reports on North Korea holding military drills, war games

March 6 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on rising tensions on the Korean peninsula. Among a series of provocative actions, North Korean authorities have also clamped down overseas travel by both residents and officials.

RFA Reports on medical restrictions for Uyghur scholar

March 5 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese authorities barring outspoken ethnic Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti from receiving medical treatment at a facility of his choice after he complained of heart problems triggered by daily interrogations by the police. Tohti, who has been under 24-hour surveillance at his home in Beijing since he was prevented from leaving China for the U.S. in February, told RFA’s Uyghur Service that his minders had chosen a hospital outside the city for his treatment.

RFA Reports on questions over deaths of seven at Chinese orphanage

March 1 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on central Chinese authorities denying online reports that seven children froze to death at a child welfare center in Hubei. Instead they are claiming the children died of illness.

RFA Reports on restrictions on Uyghur religious activities

March 1 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on a recently appointed official of a county in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region cracking down on religious activities—from mandatory daily prayers to traditional burial rites—of the mostly Muslim Uyghurs. Vice governor Haki had severely tightened restrictions since taking office two years ago, forcing residents to hold religious practices normally performed at home in mosques, where women and anyone under 18 are not permitted.

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