RFA Reports (May 2008)


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

RFA Reports on closing of Cambodian radio station

May 30 -- RFA Khmer aired story [text in Khmer] on the forced closing, ahead of the country’s general election in July, of an independent radio station that gave airtime to Cambodia’s political opposition. The station is headquartered in the northern city of Siem Reap but began broadcasting from the northeastern rural town of Kratie on May 15. It rebroadcast programming for Radio Voice of Democracy, produced by the Phnom Penh-based non-governmental Cambodian Center for Independent Media.

RFA Reports on Burmese struggle to rebuild

May 29 -- RFA Burmese aired story [text in Burmese] on Burma's volunteer groups helping villagers return to their land in the Irrawaddy delta in a bid to kick-start a rice harvest amid severe food shortages that linger in cyclone-hit areas. Relief still is not reliably available to all, with at least 1 million people still falling between the cracks. Some say supplies of food and water remain unreliable despite an increase in the number of foreign aid agencies allowed into the country.

RFA Reports on Korean womans 21 days of asylum
May 29 -- RFA Korean aired story [text in Korean] on a young mother from North Korea who died of lung cancer just three weeks after settling as a refugee with her family in the United States, following a harrowing journey that highlights the plight of North Korean defectors. The crowd that gathered this month to lay North Korean-born Lee Jeong-Ae to rest mourned more than just her death from lung cancer at age 35.

RFA Reports on Uyghur teenagers convicted by Chinese authorities
May 29 -- RFA Uyghur aired story [text in Uyghur] about three Uyghur teenagers who were convicted by the Chinese authorities for participating in a demonstration in Qaraqash county of Hotan on March 2008.

RFA Reports on China probing quake graft claims
May 27 -- RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in Mandarin/Cantonese] on citizens in China forming surveillance groups to supervise aid distribution to millions hit by the May 12 earthquake, as officials promise full accountability for relief supplies administered by the Chinese Red Cross. China’s Red Cross has called in national auditors to keep track of goods and money donated to help the millions left homeless by the Sichuan earthquake, as public anger mounts over allegations of misdirected aid donations and deaths caused by shoddy construction.

RFA Reports on detention of Tibetan for contact with media
May 27 -- RFA Tibetan aired story [text in Tibetan] on the arrest of a Tibetan for allegedly making contact with Hong Kong media. Nyima Drakpa was detained late April 19 in Tawu [in Chinese, Daofu] county in Sichuan, an authoritative source said. “The security forces came in three vehicles from China, and they were not local police,” the source said. Chinese authorities have made numerous arrests and launched a “patriotic education” campaign aimed at Tibetans in the wake of rioting that began in Lhasa in mid-March and then spread to other Tibetan areas.

RFA Reports on permission for Chinese quake victims to have extra children
May 27 -- RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on authorities in Sichuan announcing that China's tough family planning regulations will be relaxed to accommodate parents whose children were severely injured or killed in the recent earthquake, along with those wishing to adopt an orphan from the disaster-hit region. Thousands of parents in China who lost children in the devastating Sichuan earthquake will be permitted to have more children, Chinese officials say, amid a groundswell of public interest in adopting earthquake orphans.

RFA Reports on the millions of homeless in Sichuan

May 22 -- RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on five million people without permanent shelter in the wake of last week's earthquake, with rescuers now beginning to call off the search for survivors. China's leaders have appealed for international aid supplies, saying 3 million tents are needed. At least 80,000 people are dead or missing following the 7.9 magnitude quake last week, and troops spearheading the relief operation have abandoned the search for survivors under the rubble.

RFA Reports on Lao medics being sent to Burma

May 21 -- RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on Laos sending an emergency medical team to neighboring Burma to aid relief efforts there, as more than a million people struggle to survive in the aftermath of devastating Cyclone Nargis. The Lao government has sent 22 medics and two translators to set up a camp for refugees in Burma, and more supply shipments will follow, according to Lao Foreign Ministry spokesman Yong Chanthalangsy.

RFA Reports on the role of Tibetan nuns in protests

May 21 -- RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English] on Chinese authorities having raided a large nunnery in Sichuan province after its leader refused to condemn the Tibetan exiled leader, the Dalai Lama. Security forces surrounded the Buruna nunnery in Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi], Sichuan province and detained 52 of its nuns, Tibetan sources said.

RFA Reports on aftershocks in Sichuan

May 20 -- RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English /Mandarin /Cantonese] on rescuers and relief workers scrambling to get to remote hill-towns in China's southwestern province after the region was hit by a magnitude 6.0 aftershock that destroyed at least two schools, trapping hundreds of school children under the rubble. The dusty road from Jiangyou city to Pingtong township was obstructed at every turn by traffic and fallen lumps of concrete.

RFA Reports on the release of a leading Tibetan, now awaiting trial

May 20 -- RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English] on Chinese authorities who released on bail a leading Tibetan media personality. But Jamyang Kyi is still expected to stand trial on unspecified charges related to massive Tibetan protests in March. Sources who asked not to be named said that relatives had paid 5,000 yuan in bail and that she was awaiting trial on unspecified charges. Phone calls to Jamyang Kyi went unanswered, and her family has urged friends to avoid phoning their home.

RFA Reports on Burma’s surging death toll

May 16 -- RFA Burmese aired story [text in English /Burmese] on Burma's military government sharply revising upward the estimated death toll from Cyclone Nargis, as aid agencies report cholera and continued delays in getting help to survivors. International aid agencies—frustrated by what they describe as unique and inexplicable delays in getting aid to survivors—say the death toll could surge further, amid new storms, aid delays, and reports of cholera in the impoverished Southeast Asian country.

RFA Reports on Vietnamese government arresting two journalists

May 15 -- RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in Vietnamese] on two journalists who were arrested by the Vietnamese government after uncovering cases of gambling and corruption in a transportation ministry scandal that led to the resignation of the minister and the imprisonment of his deputy. The journalists, Nguyen van Hai of Tuoi Tre and Nguyen Viet Chien of Thanh Nie, were indicted for “abuse of power” on account of reporting “false information” on the case. Various experts interviewed by RFA indicated that the arrests violate press law and that the indictment itself should be thrown out. The journalists may be released in late June for health reasons, and it is possible the case will never reach trial, as the government will face difficult questions.

RFA Reports on scattered protests and arrests in Tibet

May 15 -- RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English /Tibetan] on Tibetan residents reporting small and scattered shows of public defiance—along with swift detention by the authorities—two months after a massive crackdown ended the worst unrest in Tibet in nearly 50 years. Chinese authorities have made numerous arrests and launched a “patriotic education” campaign aimed at Tibetans in the wake of rioting that began in Lhasa in mid-March and then spread to other Tibetan areas.

RFA Reports on lack of food and water for quake survivors

May 14 -- RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English /Mandarin /Cantonese] on quake survivors in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan. Corpses remain piled up on the streets of cities, as the authorities mobilize troops to rescue hundreds of thousands of people believed to be still trapped under rubble. Survivors are camping outside, and many say they have run out of food and water.

RFA Reports on Sichuan reeling from quake

May 13 -- RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English /Mandarin /Cantonese] on survivors of the worst earthquake to hit China in decades anxiously awaiting news of missing loved ones as rescue workers struggle to reach tens of thousands of people believed trapped under collapsed buildings in the southwestern province of Sichuan. Thousands of people are waiting for news of the missing, many of whom are believed trapped beneath collapsed buildings. Authorities say the toll od those missing is now around 12,000, and rising.

RFA Reports on China quake that kills thousands

May 12 -- RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English /Mandarin/Cantonese] on an earthquake, with a magnitude of at least 7.8, that struck the southwestern province of Sichuan, with its epicenter about 100 kms (60 miles) from the provincial capital, Chengdu. The official Xinhua news agency said 8,533 people had been killed, quoting government officials.

RFA Reports on the arrest and detaining of Tibetan nuns

May 12 -- RFA Mandarin and Tibetan aired story [text in English /Mandarin /Tibetan] on authorities in China’s southwestern Sichuan province detaining 14 nuns for protesting despite a massive security presence. Authorities handed jail terms to seven others for joining widespread demonstrations in March, Tibetan sources say. Chinese authorities have made numerous arrests and launched a “patriotic education” campaign aimed at Tibetans in the wake of rioting that began in Lhasa in mid-March and then spread to other Tibetan areas.

RFA Reports on Burmese waiting for rescue

May 7 -- RFA Burmese aired story [text in English /Burmese] on Burmese citizens complaining that very little appears to be happening on the ground, even as Burma's state-run media report that officials are working hard to tackle the havoc wreaked by Tropical Cyclone Nargis. They describe innumerable floating corpses, devastated infrastructure, and scarce water, food, and fuel.

RFA Reports on house arrest of Mongolian writer

May 6 -- RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English /Mandarin] on a prominent ethnic Mongolian writer, who has had his home raided and is now being held there under tight surveillance after spending 20 days in detention. Overseas dissidents say China is cracking down on any ethnic minority groups in an attempt to blanket out any form of separatist sentiment ahead of this summer's Olympic Games.

RFA Reports on Tibetan Sichuan undercover

May 6 -- RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English /Mandarin] on Tibetan Kardze, in China’s southwestern Sichuan province, where Chinese authorities continually remove images of Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, from display in a monastery. However, despite a massive Chinese security presence, the monks keep replacing them. Chinese authorities repeatedly removed the photo, one lama said, but every time they did so the monks would put up another one. At a cost of 10 yuan, or about U.S. $1, it’s an affordable expense, he said.

RFA Reports on Burma’s death toll: ‘May hit 100,000’

May 6 -- RFA Burmese aired story [text in English /Burmese] on a top U.S. diplomat in the country saying the number of deaths could reach 100,000. Local residents say the government's response has been sorely inadequate, as an international rescue operation gets under way. Accounts from Burmese residents in the disaster-hit area suggest the military government failed to properly warn citizens of the danger from Tropical Cyclone Nargis. They also accuse the junta of doing too little to relieve widespread suffering.

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