RFA Reports (October 2016)

2016-11-18
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(Washington, DC — Nov. 1, 2016) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in October:

RFA Reports on Myanmar lawmaker blaming Muslims for destruction of their own villages

Oct. 31 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on a Myanmar state lawmaker saying that satellite imagery of scorched villages and accounts of rape and looting by soldiers were “wrong.” Following a deadly attack on border guards in western Rakhine state, local villagers say security forces have been arbitrarily arresting residents, killing unarmed civilians, burning down homes, and raping women. The Myanmar government has denied the reports.

RFA Reports on Tibetan Buddhist Institute evictees forced to sign pledges never to return

Oct. 31 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities forcing Tibetan monks and nuns to sign documents vowing never to return to the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute. The pledges, signed by monks and nuns who were forcibly evicted from the important religious center, also contain promises to “uphold the unity of the nation.”

RFA Reports on Uyghur man held for downloading ‘terrorist’ circumvention software

Oct. 28 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese authorities detaining a Uyghur man for using circumvention software to access the global internet. Police accused the man of “downloading violent and terrorist circumvention software.”

RFA Reports on Myanmar army accused of raping Rohingya Muslims while conducting raids

Oct. 28 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on Myanmar security forces continuing to conduct raids and capture suspects following deadly border post attacks in the township of Maungdaw. Rohingya Muslims groups say that security forces deployed in Maungdaw have committed rape under the cover of the ongoing ‘antiterrorism’ campaign.

RFA Reports on Chinese officials tampering with air quality monitoring data

Oct. 27 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on five Chinese officials being detained after tampering with air quality monitoring equipment and falsifying the data it produced. The officials were accused of stuffing sensors with cotton to lower emission readings and removing surveillance camera recordings to cover their tracks.

RFA Reports on North Korea cracking down on petty crime

Oct. 27 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on a government-ordered crackdown on petty crime in North Korea failing to gain effect, as suspects offer bribes to escape punishment. This among other factors is leading ordinary citizens to mistrust the court system.

RFA Reports on detention extension for Cambodian opposition leader

Oct. 27 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a Cambodian court adding six months to opposition party deputy leader Kem Sokha’s pre-trial detention. The announcement of the extensions for the “Kem Sokha five,” which also includes four employees of the human rights group ADHOC, came as U.S. assistant secretary of state Daniel Russel traveled to Cambodia to urge party leaders to resume talks.

RFA Reports on Chinese government sending religious monitors to Xinjiang

Oct. 24 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on China sending more than 350 officials to Hotan prefecture in the Xinjiang region of China. The prefecture recently launched a policy of “staying in villages to monitor mosques” according to which hundreds of Chinese cadres are assigned to keep an eye on mosques and peoples’ religious activities.

RFA Reports on new law targeting Muslims children for ‘correction’ in China

Oct. 21 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese authorities instituting a campaign to prevent Muslims parents from “forcing” their children to follow their faith. As part of the law, children found taking part in religious activities can be sent to “specialized schools for correction.”

RFA Reports on China recalling passports across Xinjiang amid security crackdown

Oct. 20 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese authorities requiring Xinjiang residents, including ethnic minority Uyghur Muslims, to hand in their passports by early next year amid ongoing travel restrictions. Those who do not comply will not be able to leave the country, according to a statement issued by police.

RFA Reports on Lao brewery accused of pollution

Oct. 20 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on the Lao Brewery Co., makers of the popular Beer Lao, being accused of polluting the air and water in a village outside the capital Vientiane. Residents complain of a bad smell and canal water that has been rendered unusable because of pollution from a nearby company factory, local residents say.

RFA Reports on defection of high-ranking North Korean diplomat

Oct. 20 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korea tightening the reins on traders doing business in China following the defection of a high-ranking diplomat. North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the UK Thae Yong-ho defected to South Korea, making him the highest-ever ranking diplomat to defect to the South.

RFA Reports on Myanmar civil society groups calling for end to fighting

Oct. 19 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on civil society groups demanding an end to fighting in Myanmar’s Shan and Kachin states. The ongoing conflicts between the government and armed ethnic groups have hurt the country’s fragile peace process and imposed hardship on local residents, the groups say.

RFA Reports on NGOs facing difficulties delivering aid in Myanmar’s Rakhine state

Oct. 18 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on NGOs being unable to deliver aid to residents in Myanmar’s Maungdaw township in the wake of deadly attacks on border guard posts and ensuing violence. Soldiers and police inundated northern Rakhine state to search for suspects linked to the attacks, which authorities have blamed on insurgents backed by a militant Islamic group.

RFA Reports on thousands of Chinese army veterans protesting in Beijing

Oct. 18 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on thousands of disgruntled Chinese army veterans facing backlash after being sent home from mass protests in Beijing. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) veterans lined the streets in protest over a lack of promised pension payments, and medical and social security benefits.

RFA Reports on Vietnamese Catholic parishioners prevented from filing lawsuits

Oct. 18 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the Vietnamese government moving to prevent Catholic parishioners from filing lawsuits against a Taiwan-owned steel company responsible for a massive chemical spill. Thousands of parishioners found their way blocked by police, while some drivers scheduled to transport parishioners to the courthouse were abducted.

RFA Reports on thousands protesting incinerator plant in China

Oct. 17 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on thousands taking to the streets of the northern Chinese city of Xian to protest plans to build a waste incinerator plant. Authorities issued a security alert in response and to prevent protesters from taking their complaints to the provincial government.

RFA Reports on the late Kem Ley’s enduring legacy in Cambodia

Oct. 17 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the national remembrance of Kem Ley, as crowds participated in a 100-day ritual ceremony to honor the slain Cambodian government critic. Kem Ley was gunned down in Phnom Penh just days after discussing on an RFA Khmer call-in show the extent of the wealth of the family of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

RFA Reports on China expelling Uyghur children from youth soccer program

Oct. 14 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities ordering a regional soccer club to expel nine Uyghur youths, citing “counterterrorism” concerns. The young athletes had been chosen to participate in the club’s intensive soccer training program while completing their education, but now their futures are unclear.

RFA Reports on Tibetan Buddhist scholars holding formal debates

Oct. 14 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on over a hundred senior Tibetan Buddhist scholars gathering at a Tibetan monastery to hold formal debates on the Middle Way, a core subject of Buddhist philosophy. Over a thousand laypersons gathered to hear the debates, which also emphasized the need to preserve the Tibetan culture and language.

RFA Reports on Lao college students feeling financial squeeze

Oct. 12 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on some university students and teachers in Laos feeling a financial squeeze. Students ostensibly on scholarship are increasingly forced to pay fees, while some high school teachers are waiting on overdue paychecks.

RFA Reports on Cambodian opposition leader calling for party unity

Oct. 11 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on embattled opposition leader Kem Sokha calling for unity within the party, hinting that exiled CNRP President Sam Rainsy should return to Cambodia. “If Sam Rainsy is with me, it is better than if I am leading alone,” Kem Sokha said.

RFA Reports on China jailing environmental activist

Oct. 11 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese authorities jailing a prominent environmental activist on charges of “revealing state secrets.” Activists say the arrest is likely a form of political revenge for the activist’s NGO work campaigning for redress for victims of environmental pollution.

RFA Reports on civil liberties suffering in Vietnam amid environmental protests

Oct. 11 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on the Vietnamese government moving to smother dissent in a variety of ways months after a large-scale chemical spill inspired rare protests. In one instance, Vietnam labeled the California-based pro-democracy advocacy organization Viet Tan a “terrorist organization.”

RFA Reports on China offering rewards for departures from Larung Gar

Oct. 11 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese officials offering cash inducements to monks and nuns residing at the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute. Thousands are being forced to evacuate the study center as their homes are demolished by work crews.

RFA Reports on Tibetan linked to self-immolation detained

Oct. 11 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan man accused of supporting a self-immolation protest being detained after evading arrest for three years. Sangdak Kyab was accused in 2013 of transporting the remains of a self-immolation protester to the man’s home so that they would not be seized by police.

RFA Reports on North Korean farmers being denied surplus harvest

Oct. 11 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean authorities again refusing to distribute promised surplus grain to farmers, demanding that potatoes harvested beyond state requirements be used to produce food starch. The order stands in direct contravention of the policy that farmers can keep 30% of their work unit’s production along with any surplus grain.

RFA Reports on more than 20 killed in Myanmar border guard attack

Oct. 10 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on a deadly weekend attack on border guards leaving 20 dead in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state. The attacks provoked a strong government response, as army and police forces conducted house-to-house raids while searching for weapons and suspects linked to the attack.

RFA Reports on Cambodian opposition party again boycotting parliament

Oct. 7 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodia’s opposition party backing away from a pledge to end a months-long legislative boycott. Cambodia’s top two parties have now been locked for months in a political stalemate, with authorities stripping several opposition lawmakers of their legislative immunity.

RFA Reports on bleak future for China’s jailed Nobel laureate

Oct. 7 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on the slim chances that jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, will be granted the chance to ‘seek medical parole,’ as some prominent dissidents have previously done. Liu, whose wife lives under strict house arrest and close police surveillance, is unlikely to qualify for parole because he has never admitted to committing any crime.

RFA Reports on Hong Kong newspaper attacks hinting at Chinese leadership split

Oct. 5 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on a pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong launching a series of unprecedented attacks on the ruling Chinese Communist Party. The written assaults, aimed at high-ranking Chinese official Zhang Dejiang, offer a rare glimpse at factional strife within the Chinese leadership, analysts say.

RFA Reports on firing of Vietnamese state media editor

Oct. 4 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on Vietnam sacking the editor of a state media publication after he published excerpts from an exiled dissident who runs a blog on sensitive topics. The editor of the state-run website PetroTimes was fired “for committing wrongdoing in press activities.”

RFA Reports on critical Chinese website taken offline

Oct. 4 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on the shutdown of an outspoken Chinese website that specialized in wide-ranging political and economic analysis. The shutdown of the Gongshiwang, or ConsensusNet, site comes after an August announcement that Chinese internet regulators would begin round-the-clock monitoring of content.

RFA Reports on more restrictions for Chinese rights lawyers

Oct. 3 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on rights activists and lawyers hitting out at new regulations that place further restrictions on lawyers’ abilities to protest abuses of judicial power. The new rules effectively ban lawyers from speaking to the media or protesting violations of their clients’ rights.

RFA Reports on family visit for Lao man arrested over Facebook post

Oct. 3 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on a Lao citizen arrested for criticizing Laos’s government on Facebook being seen by his family in a brief jail visit. Somphone Pimmasone, 29, was arrested after returning to Laos from Thailand, where he had lived and worked at the time he posted the critical social media post.