RFA Reports (September 2008)

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

RFA Reports on Cambodian land deal

September 25 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in Khmer] on a long-term development deal near Boeung Kak Lake in Phnom Penh. More than 3,000 families are demanding compensation at fair market value before moving out. With their requests being ignored, and their homes being threatened, some have retained lawyers for assistance. At least 100 families have appealed to the government with no indications that they will receive a fair deal. Prime Minister Hun Sen has endorsed the company’s plan and has signed the lease. The president of the developer, Shukaku, Inc., is a daughter of a man who has strong connections to Hun Sen.

RFA Reports on Nepal’s Maoists

September 23 – RFA Tibetan reported story [text in English/Tibetan] on experts who are divided on the commitment of Nepal’s Maoists to democracy, following a 10-year civil war and elections in April that gave the party a majority of seats in the country’s legislature. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is now the largest party in Nepal’s constituent assembly, and in August, the party’s leader, Prachanda, was named prime minister.

RFA Reports on appeal to Vatican on Vietnam land dispute

September 19 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a prominent member of a Catholic missionary order in Vietnam who has called on the Vatican to intervene in a land dispute between the Church and the communist government that has sparked months of protests and detentions. "I really wish that the Vatican could intervene with the resolution of the dispute to avoid regrettable incidents," Father Pham Trung Thanh said in a telephone interview from Hanoi.

RFA Reports on Tibetan television journalist detained in Sichuan

September 18 – RFA Mandarin and Tibetan aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities in the southwestern province of Sichuan who have detained a Tibetan television journalist and searched his home and belongings. Tibetan sources in India said Rangjung, 26, was taken away by police on Sept. 11 just before midnight by officials from the Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi] Autonomous Tibetan Prefecture.

RFA Reports on parents’ protest on milk powder scandal

September 18 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on Chinese parents vowing to fight for compensation following a scandal over contaminated baby milk powder, which has led to the deaths of at least four infants. "My child has had a high fever for quite a while, but local hospitals couldn’t find the cause," said a parent who brought his baby to a specialist children's hospital in Beijing.

RFA Reports on Burmese activist arrested

September 16 – RFA Burmese aired story [text in English/Burmese] on police in Burma who have arrested an anti-government activist after she spent a year in hiding. Authorities detained Nilar Thein, known for her role in anti-government protests in 1988 and 2007 when she visited the mother of a jailed associate in Rangoon.

RFA Reports on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il

September 15 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who missed a key chance on September 15 to appear in public and end widespread speculation that he’s gravely ill. Analysts say there’s no clear indication who might take power if he were to become incapacitated or die. Speculation about Kim’s health surged after he failed to appear at huge celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of North Korea’s founding, which included a vast militia parade on September 9.

RFA Reports on Paralympics protest surge

September 13 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on a surge of applications in recent weeks for access to Beijing's official "protest parks" during the Paralympics, after an Olympics official hinted that applicants might get their grievances attended to in a bid to stop them from going forward. "There has been a rush to apply to demonstrate by Beijing people. Petitioners had clutched at the process as a last-ditch attempt to get their cases involving alleged official wrongdoing heard while the eyes of the world were still on China," a Beijing-based petitioner surnamed Wu said.

RFA Reports on bird flu on Laos
September 9 – RFA Lao aired story [text in Lao] on cases of bird flu that were detected in four villages of Luang Prabang province in early September. The transport of poultry was prohibited, with further investigations tracing the illness to a farm selling ducklings from neighboring Oudomxay province. The ducklings belonged to a breed raised in China. Two weeks after the outbreak in Luang Prabang, bird flu was also found in Oudomxay. Similar precautions were taken in Oudomxay. However, a provincial official there believed that the virus originated with wild fowls flying over the province and was not spread by the Luang Prabang outbreak.

RFA Reports on Vietnam Archbishop defending land protesters

September 6 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a top Catholic Church leader in Vietnam who has defended peaceful protests by hundreds of Vietnamese Catholics for the return of church lands seized by the Communist government in the 1950s. This followed the arrest of several demonstrators. “I don’t see anything illegal in this matter, because the lot of land right beside their church belongs to them,” Hanoi Archbishop Ngo Quang Kiet said in an interview.

RFA Reports on Ramadan curbs on China’s Muslims

September 6 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on China stepping up restrictions on its Muslim Uyghur population during the fasting month of Ramadan, following a string of violent attacks in its northwestern region of Xinjiang. Women are being forced by police to uncover their faces in public, while restrictions on teaching Islam to Uyghur children are being intensified, police said.

RFA Reports on Tibetan monks freed from detention in Golmud

September 3 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English] on a group of Tibetan monks, originally from Tibetan-populated regions of China’s southwest Sichuan province, who have been released from detention in Qinghai province and returned to their home areas, according to Tibetan sources. The group had been held for more than four months in the town of Golmud, in Qinghai, with monks from other regions. All had been studying in monasteries in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and were suspected of involvement in protests there in March against Chinese rule.

RFA Reports on earthquake parents barred from protesting

September 2 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on Chinese police who have thwarted a bid by angry parents to confront Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao about poor school construction during his visit to a middle school near the epicenter of May’s devastating earthquake, witnesses said. “With the deaths of so many children, we don’t have a place to voice our grievances and want to talk to the prime minister,” said one parent.

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