(Washington, DC — June 1, 2013) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in May:
RFA Reports on Laos deporting North Korean refugees
May 31 – RFA Lao and Korean aired story [text in English/Lao/Korean] on Lao officials admitting they handed North Korean refugees directly to North Korea and not to China as widely reported. The Lao Foreign Ministry said in a two-paragraph statement sent to RFA's Lao Service that the government had handed the nine North Koreans to the North Korean Embassy in Vientiane.
RFA Reports on reconsideration of Myanmar two-child policy
May 31 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar saying it would reexamine a controversial two-child policy in restive Rakhine state after rights organizations and the international community said the law unfairly targets members of the Muslim Rohingya ethnic group.
RFA Reports on Myanmar signing cease-fire with Kachin
May 30 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar signing a tentative cease-fire agreement with ethnic Kachin rebels. The breakthrough agreement followed three days of talks, with the two sides hoping it will end hostilities that have marred the country’s transition to democracy from a military dictatorship.
RFA Reports on Khmer Rouge chief expressing remorse
May 30 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a top leader of Cambodia’s notorious Khmer Rouge accepting responsibility for the deaths of millions during the regime’s reign of terror in the 1970s. The 86-year-old Nuon Chea, known as “Brother Number Two” after former regime chief Pol Pot, took responsibility and offered an apology to families of the victims of the regime’s atrocities while testifying before a U.N.-backed tribunal where he is being tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
RFA Reports on clampdown in Kunming over petrochemical plant protests
May 29 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on authorities in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming clamping down on public protests against a planned petrochemical plant. Protests against government plans to produce paraxylene (PX) at a petrochemical plant have brought large crowds onto the streets in face-masks emblazoned with slogans and with printed placards opposing the plan.
RFA Reports on sentencing of Montagnards in Vietnam for ‘undermining unity’
May 29 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a court in Vietnam’s Central Highlands sentencing eight ethnic minority Montagnards affiliated with an unregistered Catholic church to between three and 11 years in prison for “undermining unity.” The Gia Lai provincial court said some of the eight had worked with a banned exile organization to establish an independent state for indigenous peoples in the Central Highlands.
RFA Reports on Cambodian police using water cannons in land protest
May 29 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian police using water cannons to disperse around 200 women demanding a quick resolution to long-running land disputes. The cannons rendered some protesters, including a 72-year-old, unconscious.
RFA Reports on Tibetan self-immolation after month-long hiatus
May 29 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan man self-immolating after protesting against Chinese rule after a month-long hiatus of burnings. Tenzin Sherab, 31, torched himself in Qinghai province’s Yulshul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
RFA Reports on Tibetans protesting against mine on sacred site
May 28 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on 5,000 Tibetans protesting against Chinese mining operations at a site considered sacred by local residents. The mass demonstrations have drawn a large security force to the area, prompting fears of clashes.
RFA Reports on jailed Vietnamese dissident’s hunger strike
May 28 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the hunger strike of a prominent dissident jailed in Vietnam for trying to “overthrow the state.” In jail for more than two years, Cu Huy Ha Vu has accused authorities of ignoring complaints of “unsuitable” prison conditions that have affected his health.
RFA Reports on Mam Sonando calling for Cambodian poll revamp
May 28 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian activist and independent radio station chief Mam Sonando, who was recently freed from prison, discussing the prospects of a fair and free election in his country. He told RFA in an interview that the outlook is grim unless authorities revamp the National Election Committee, which will conduct the polls.
RFA Reports on web filtering ahead of Tiananmen anniversary
May 28 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities banning online discussion and searches linked to the June 4, 1989 military crackdown in Beijing a week ahead of the 24th anniversary. Keyword searches in Chinese for "24th anniversary" and "demonstration" were blocked on the popular microblogging site Sina Weibo from May 25.
RFA Reports on deadly clashes between Han Chinese and Uyghurs
May 26 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on deadly clashes between Han Chinese and Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, renewing ethnic tensions. A clash at the local bazaar in the Kashgar prefecture left five people dead – three of them Uyghurs and two Han Chinese – and others wounded.
RFA Reports on tainted rice scandal underscoring China’s lack of openness
May 24 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on illegally high levels of poisonous heavy metals found in rice grown in southern China, highlighting a failure and a lack of transparency in China’s food safety enforcement.
RFA Reports on Uyghur students protesting headscarf ban
May 23 – RFA Uyghur and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Uyghur/Mandarin] on high school students in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region taking to the streets in protest of a ban on Uyghur girls wearing traditional head-coverings in school. Nearly 100 students in the city of Atush marched in anger following the announcement of the ban.
RFA Reports on former U.S. official’s read on North Korean missile tests
May 22 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on the perspective of a former White House arms control adviser on North Korea’s recent missile tests. The current situation on the Korean peninsula is part of an ongoing cycle of tensions and diplomacy, he said.
RFA Reports on counterfeit yuan flooding North Korea
May 22 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on counterfeit Chinese yuan bills spreading fast in North Korea, flooding local marketplaces, and causing headaches for traders and merchants. The fake bills have been changing hands at local markets near the border with China recently, posing problems for North Koreans who are barred from using the foreign currency in the first place.
RFA Reports on Vietnamese blogger’s detention over leafleting
May 22 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the brief detention of a prominent blogger and her two colleagues by authorities in southern Vietnam’s Khanh Hoa province over the distribution of leaflets and balloons promoting international human rights standards. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh told RFA after her release that they were handing out copies of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Nha Trang city when they were detained.
RFA Reports on aging Chinese parents protesting one-child policy
May 22 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on bereaved parents from across China stepping up pressure on the government for a change in the country's draconian one-child policy. The policy, they allege, has left more than a million people with scant financial support in their old age.
RFA Reports on concerns over ailing Chinese democracy activist
May 17 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on ailing democracy activist Zhu Yufu being subjected to abusive treatment at his jail in the eastern province of Zhejiang. Prison authorities handed out "punitive abuses" to Zhu, 60, after his relatives traveled to the United States to garner more support for his release.
RFA Reports on Myanmar releasing prisoners ahead of US visit
May 17 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar releasing around 20 political prisoners, including a prominent activist who had recently been thrown back in jail after receiving a pardon. The releases came ahead of President Thein Sein’s historic visit to Washington.
RFA Reports on plans to modernize Lhasa upsetting Tibetans
May 17 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on criticism among Tibetans and exile groups of a project to modernize an historic area of Tibet’s capital Lhasa. The remodeling of the area, which includes Jokhang temple and the Barkhor, are a part of Beijing’s efforts to encourage tourism.
RFA Reports on sentencing of Tibetan writer
May 16 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetans] on a Chinese court in Qinghai province handing a five-year prison term to a popular Tibetan writer after holding him in secret following his detention in January. “On May 14, Gartse Jigme was secretly sentenced to five years in jail by the Tsekhog county court,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
RFA Reports on Asics factory collapse in Cambodia
May 16 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a building at a factory complex in Cambodia, contracted by Japanese footwear company Asics, collapsing and killing at least three workers and injuring 10. Around a half million people work in Cambodia’s garment industry, which earns some U.S. $4.6 billion a year producing goods for Western clothing firms.
RFA Reports on widening China graft probe
May 15 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on the likelihood of more high-profile corruption cases being prosecuted as the administration of President Xi Jinping seeks to consolidate power during its first year in office. But analysts say that many officials with friends in the right places will not be touched by any wide-reaching probe.
RFA Reports on beating death of Tibetan over banned Dalai Lama tapes
May 14 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on the beating death of a detained Tibetan monk found in possession of recordings of speeches by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. In Dzogang county, where the incident occurred, Chinese authorities have been known in recent years to take harsh action against Tibetan protesters who assert Tibetan national identity or challenge Beijing’s rule.
RFA Reports on lawsuit against Chinese mental hospital
May 14 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on a lawsuit against a mental hospital in Guangdong. The suit is being filed by a man who was forcibly committed to the institution following a public confrontation.
RFA Reports on China providing aid to North Korea
May 14 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on China providing large amounts of fertilizer to its ally North Korea despite backing international sanctions. North Korean sources told RFA’s Korean Service that Beijing had delivered fertilizer to assist in collective farm production even earlier this year than it had in years past—and in larger quantities.
RFA Reports on disappointment of Sichuan quake parents on fifth anniversary
May 13 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on the parents of thousands of schoolchildren who died in collapsed school buildings in rural Sichuan during the 2008 earthquake saying they have been let down by the ruling Chinese Communist Party. They say they have been harassed, beaten, and detained in their fight to be heard and their quest for answers.
RFA Reports on Cambodian opposition negotiating for ballot inclusion
May 10 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodia’s exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy saying his party is in negotiations with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party for his return to contest upcoming national elections. “There are ongoing negotiations because this is not only a Cambodian issue—the world is watching,” Rainsy told RFA’s Khmer Service in Washington.
RFA Reports on Aung San Suu Kyi pushing for changes to constitution
May 10 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi pushing for amendments to the country's constitution before 2015, when elections will be held in which she could be barred from becoming president. The constitution was crafted under the previous military junta and prevents Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming the country's president.
RFA Reports on China state media lashing out at tweeters
May 8 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on China's state-run media publishing a stinging attack on some of the biggest names on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. The reports and commentary accuse these tweeters, some of whom have millions of followers, of rumor-mongering and call for tighter curbs on shared content.
RFA Reports on Vietnamese dissidents forming online pro-democracy group
May 8 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a group of mostly former jailed dissidents in Vietnam establishing a new online group to coordinate efforts to bring democracy to the country.
RFA Reports on assurances of protection of Muslims’ rights in Myanmar
May 6 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on President Thein Sein assuring minority Muslims rattled by a spate of attacks by Buddhist-led mobs that their fundamental rights will be protected. In a speech on state television, the reformist leader called for "peaceful coexistence" and "tolerance" among all communities in the mainly Buddhist country.
RFA Reports on detention of protesting Uyghur vendors in Shanghai
May 6 – RFA Uyghur, Mandarin, and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Uyghur/Mandarin/Cantonese] on authorities in Shanghai detaining six Muslim Uyghurs following clashes between police and dozens of protesting Uyghur street vendors outside a major mosque in the city. The vendors were protesting alleged ethnic discrimination they claim was behind a ban on their selling food outside the mosque.
RFA Reports on delay of Chinese publication over labor camp exposé
May 6 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities halting the publication of a cutting-edge magazine after it ran a harrowing expose of life inside a labor camp. The magazine Lens, which is published by the Beijing Caixun Media Group, had its next issue delayed after the article sparked widespread horror and debate online.
RFA Reports on questions over killings, detentions of Uyghurs
May 3 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on an exile group challenging Chinese authorities to reveal the identities of ethnic Uyghurs killed in deadly violence in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and those subsequently arrested and accused of being terrorists. The April 23 violence in Kashgar left 21 dead, and officials said that 19 Uyghur suspects have been held.
RFA Reports on release of imprisoned Tibetan political prisoner
May 2 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on the release of one of the Tibet region’s longest-serving political prisoners, who was sent home in critical condition following a quarter century of torture and abuse in prison. Lobsang Tenzin, who was serving a 25-year term, was released in June 2012, but is said to be under heavy, continued surveillance.
RFA Reports on garment worker demonstrations in Cambodia, Myanmar
May 1 – RFA Khmer and Myanmar aired story [text in English/Khmer/Myanmar] on garment workers in Cambodia and Burma holding protests to mark International Labor Day. The workers from both countries staged demonstrations, demanding higher salaries and other benefits and alleging mistreatment, exploitation, and poor working conditions.