RFA Reports (March 2008)

(Washington, DC—April 1, 2008) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in March:

RFA Reports on new protests erupting in Lhasa

March 29 -- RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English /Tibetan] on several hundred Tibetans rallying around 2 p.m. on March 29, beginning in the area near Beijing Road. Shops near the central post office on Lhasa Youth Road were closed as security forces surrounded the Tibetan residential areas in Barkhor, Kama Kunsang, Ramoche, and the Jokhang temple. Another source who declined to be identified reported seeing "fistfights" but she didn't give details. The protest continued for several hours but no further details were immediately available.

RFA Reports on Buddhist monk harassment claims in Vietnam

March 29 -- RFA Vietnamese interviewed [text in Vietnamese] a Vietnam hamlet police chief about their treatment of Buddhist monks and followers in Phu Yen province. The chief denied harassment, prompting many listeners, including monks, to call with reports refuting the chief’s version of the incident.

RFA Reports on protest in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

March 29 -- RFA Uyghur aired story [text in Uyghur] on several hundred ethnic Uyghur’s staging protests in China’s remote Xinjiang region following the death in custody of a prominent Uyghur businessman and philanthropist, Mutallip Hajim, 38. Witnesses reported protests at two locations in Khotan prefecture – in Khotan city on March 23-24 and in Qaraqash county on March 23. In both areas, the protesters were demanding that authorities scrap a bid to ban head scarves, stop using torture to suppress Uyghur demands for greater autonomy, and release all political prisoners, sources told RFA. Several hundred protesters were taken into custody.


RFA Reports on Bao Tong’s statement: Talk to the Dalai Lama

March 26 -- RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English /Mandarin] on a former top official in China’s ruling Communist Party who called on the Chinese government to urgently open talks with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. Bao Tong, former aide to ousted late premier Zhao Ziyang, says both Tibetans and Han Chinese have suffered at the hands of a Maoist political philosophy.


RFA Reports on witness to self-immolation in Burma

March 23 -- RFA Burmese interviewed [text in Burmese] a witness to a self-immolation at Shwedagon Pagoda in protest against Burma’s military rule. A monk discussed this method of protest, drawing comparisons between the current protests and the Vietnam War protests, saying that although it is against Buddhism to kill oneself, certain situations can justify it.

RFA Reports on Beijing authorities holding Tibetan writer under house arrest
March 21 -- RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English /Mandarin] on authorities in Beijing holding Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser and her Chinese husband under house arrest in the capital since the beginning of the recent anti-Chinese protests in Tibetan regions of the country, her husband told Radio Free Asia.


RFA Reports on Chinese sweep, arrest of 40 North Koreans
March 21 -- RFA Korean aired story [text in English /Korean] on Chinese police arresting some 40 North Koreans in a series of raids on a border area in Liaoning province, with others detained as they tried to cross the Tumen River into China. Analysts say the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing are pushing China to crack down on undocumented North Koreans, whose suffering will likely escalate further.


RFA Reports on Tibetans staging more protests; more deaths, arrests reported

March 18 -- RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English /Tibetan] on Tibetans in China’s southwestern Sichuan province saying at least two Tibetans were shot dead when police fired on crowds of anti-Chinese protesters, as authorities tightened security in Lhasa and Beijing. The protests, which have ripped through Tibetan areas of China since last week in the worst unrest there in decades, occurred in Sichuan’s Karze area (in Chinese, Ganzi), on March 18.

RFA Reports on deforestation crises in Laos

March 17 -- RFA Lao aired story [text in Lao] on Lao cabinet minister and president of the Land Authority, Kham Ouane Boupha, admitting that land use has been wasteful over the past 30-odd years, causing an alarming depletion of forest resources. In 1988, only 47 percent of Laos forests remained, prompting the government to institute a reforestation program in 2000, with the plan of increasing forest coverage to 70 percent. However, as of 2008, forested areas in Laos have declined to 35 percent.

RFA Reports on China clamping down on Tibetan protests as many deaths, injuries reported

March 14 -- RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English /Tibetan] on Chinese authorities locking down the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, after mounting anti-Chinese protests turned violent. An unknown number of people were killed and injured when Chinese forces fired on rioting crowds. Sources in Lhasa said in separate interviews that residents had been warned to stay indoors after the worst unrest in Tibet in two decades. Authorities meanwhile offered leniency to protesters who surrendered to authorities by midnight Monday. China's official Xinhua news agency said 10 people, including two hotel employees and two shop owners, had been burned to death. But unofficial estimates, from witnesses and exiled Tibetan groups, set the death toll higher.

RFA Reports on Tibetan monks in critical condition after attempted suicide, as protests mount

March 13 -- RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English /Tibetan] on Two Tibetan Buddhist monks in critical condition after stabbing their wrists and chests amid mounting anti-Chinese protests in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, according to authoritative sources in the region. Two monks from Drepung monastery on the outskirts of Lhasa attempted suicide Thursday and were in critical condition at the monastery clinic, the sources told RFA’s Tibetan service. Monks at another major Lhasa monastery meanwhile launched a hunger strike aimed at pressuring the Chinese authorities, as protests against China's heavy-handed presence in the region spread to other Tibetan Buddhist convents and monasteries, according to sources who declined to be identified.

RFA Reports on Guangdong detaining 14 as strikers protest reported death
March 13 -- RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English /Cantonese] on authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong holding 14 people in custody, as a strike continues at a Taiwan-owned factory in Boluo county. More than 1,000 striking workers clashed with police Monday, and a woman is reported to have died after being hit by a tear gas canister.

RFA Reports on China charging AIDS activist with subversion

March 13 -- RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English /Mandarin /Cantonese] on authorities in Beijing formally charging AIDS activist Hu Jia with "incitement to subversion" after he wrote articles online critical of China's hosting of the Olympics, his lawyers said. Hu is formally charged with "incitement to subvert state power" and will be tried at the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court Tuesday, according to his lawyers, Li Jinsong and Li Fangping.


RFA Reports on apathy in Cambodia’s 2008 parliamentary election

March 13 -- RFA Khmer aired story [text in Khmer] that many Cambodians are not planning to vote during the upcoming 2008 parliamentary election, although they have voted in past elections. RFA interviewed voters who believe land grabs, deforestation, poor infrastructure, and government corruption will continue, regardless of election results.

RFA Reports on Chinese police firing tear-gas at protesting Tibetan monks

March 12 -- RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English /Tibetan] on armed Chinese police firing tear-gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred Tibetan Buddhist monks protesting near the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. It was the second day of protests by monks around a key Tibetan anniversary, after hundreds of monks from a major monastery staged a rare demonstration March 10 that was stopped by police.

China detains Tibetan monks protesting on key anniversary

March 10 -- RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English /Tibetan] on Chinese authorities in Tibet detaining dozens of Tibetan monks staging a rare protest march into the regional capital, Lhasa, on a key anniversary. An authoritative source who declined to be identified told RFA’s Tibetan service as many as 300 monks set out from Drepung monastery outside Lhasa on the roughly 10-km (5-mile) walk into the city center. Authorities at a checkpoint along the way stopped and detained between 50 and 60 monks, the source said.

RFA Reports on education: key to women’s rights
March 7 -- RFA Mandarin and Uyghur aired story [text in English /Mandarin] on the eve of International Women's Day that the United Nations has stepped up a campaign to end violence and discrimination against women, saying that education holds the key to protect future generations of women and girls. A Chinese Internet company has collected 125,000 supporters for the U.N.-backed anti-violence campaign.

RFA Reports on China detaining 1,000 petitioners ahead of Parliament
March 4 -- RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English / Mandarin] on authorities in the Chinese capital detaining around 1,000 people with grievances against the government ahead of the country's annual parliament. Dissidents and rights activists are detained or held under house arrest.

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