RFA Reports (May 2017)

(Washington, DC — June 1, 2017) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in May:

RFA Reports on Cambodia using courts to silence opposition

May 30 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on an investigation finding that Cambodia’s government is using the courts to silence rights campaigners and opposition activists ahead of local elections. Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government has influenced the courts to jail at least 27 prominent activists and opposition officials since the country’s 2013 general election, an Amnesty International report says.

RFA Reports on crackdown on Tibetan social media in wake of protests

May 30 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities clamping down on social media use among Tibetans in the wake of a surge of self-immolation protests. Many have now been detained for reporting politically sensitive developments with media contacts outside China, a source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

RFA Reports on North Korean crackdown on unofficial cell phones

May 26 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korean authorities tracking and hunting down people using Chinese cell phones to communicate with relatives in the South. North Koreans’ use of cell phones to keep in touch with relatives living in South Korea has dramatically increased in recent years, with security agents scrambling and failing to control and shut down communications links, local sources say.

RFA Reports on Vietnamese court upholding jail terms for dissidents

May 26 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on Vietnam’s Appeals Court upholding the jail sentences of a former army officer and soldier for attempting to form a pro-democracy organization. Retired Lt. Colonel Tran Anh Kim and ex-soldier Le Thanh Tung were sentenced in December 2016 by a court in Thai Binh province to 13 years and 12 years in prison, respectively, for “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

RFA Reports on cameras being installed in Chinese Protestant churches

May 24 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang installing surveillance cameras in the majority of Protestant Christian churches in a region known as "China's Jerusalem." Officials have forcibly entered church buildings to install cameras in some cases where church followers have offered resistance to the plan, and have intervened to cut off water and electricity to others, sources told RFA.

RFA Reports on Chinese student apologizing for U.S. graduation speech

May 23 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on a Chinese student apologizing after she referred in public to breathing "the fresh air" of free speech after arriving to study in the United States. Yang Shuping later issued an apology on the popular Sina Weibo social media platform, after her graduation speech at University of Maryland sparked a storm of online abuse and criticism in China.

RFA Reports on Myanmar banning Ma Ba Tha Group

May 23 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on the Buddhist clergy banning the Ultranationalist Ma Ba Tha Group in Myanmar. The controversial group has been ordered to disband due to its documented involvement in protest and violence.

RFA Reports on Beijing court tossing complaint by housing activist and congressional honoree

May 19 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on authorities in Beijing rejecting a lawsuit filed by housing rights lawyer Ni Yulan against the Beijing police department. Wheelchair-bound Ni, 54, a recipient of the 2016 International Women of Courage award made by the U.S. Congress, claimed to have been repeatedly targeted and forcibly evicted by police.

RFA Reports on 150th Tibetan self-immolation protest since 2009

May 19 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a young Tibetan monk setting himself on fire and dying in northwestern China’s Qinghai province in an apparent challenge to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas. The protest brought to 150 the number of self-immolations by Tibetans living in China since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009.

RFA Reports on forced medical exams, DNA sampling of Uyghurs

May 19 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on ethnic Muslim Uyghurs being given mandatory health examinations that include DNA collection. The mass checkups have raised concerns about Beijing’s motives.

RFA Reports on North Koreans becoming scientists to reap privileges from regime

May 18 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on the regime of Kim Jong Un granting exceptional privileges to scientists and engineers who study nuclear and missile technology and development.

RFA Reports on Myanmar military filing defamation lawsuit against independent newspaper

May 17 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on Myanmar’s military filing a defamation lawsuit against a local independent newspaper editor and columnist. The military filed charges citing alleged defamation over an article that was published in March.

RFA Reports on Lao and Cambodian troop standoff

May 16 – RFA Khmer and Lao aired story [text in English/Khmer/Lao] on soldiers from Cambodia and Laos locked in a standoff across their shared border since February despite denials from the neighboring governments over friction. Cambodian soldiers who are stationed along the border area in Stung Treng province told RFA that Lao soldiers have remained in Cambodian territory in the northeastern corner of the country.

RFA Reports on Cambodia’s defense chief threatening to ‘smash teeth’ of political opposition

May 15 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodian defense minister Tea Banh warning that the army will “smash the teeth” of anyone protesting a win by the ruling party in elections. Speaking at the opening of a public building in Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia, Tea Banh said that the country’s military will quickly suppress any protests by Cambodia National

Rescue Party members like those that followed the CNRP’s loss in national elections in 2013.

RFA Reports on closing of more Chinese-owned plantations in Laos

May 12 – RFA Lao aired story [text in English/Lao] on the Lao government expanding its order to close environmentally destructive Chinese banana farms throughout the country. Illnesses and deaths have long been reported among Lao workers exposed to chemicals on the Chinese-owned farms, with many suffering open sores, headaches, and dizzy spells, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

RFA Reports on Hong Kong rejecting permit for annual pro-democracy protest

May 11 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on Hong Kong's government rejecting an application for the city's traditional pro-democracy rally marking the anniversary of the 1997 handover to China. Officials said they had decided to allow a pro-Beijing group to use Victoria Park instead.

RFA Reports on China ordering Uyghurs studying abroad to return

May 9 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Uyghur students enrolled in schools outside China being ordered by Chinese authorities to return to their hometowns. Launched at the end of January by authorities across the Xinjiang region, the campaign has frightened targeted students, some of whom have disappeared or been jailed after coming back.

RFA Reports on corruption fueling illegal timber smuggling in Cambodia

May 8 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on an investigation claiming corrupt government officials and military personnel in Vietnam have been smuggling huge quantities of illegal timber from Cambodia.

RFA Reports on arrest warrant for Vietnamese activist blogger

May 5 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on authorities in Vietnam issuing a warrant for the arrest of an activist blogger who has drawn attention to the government’s handling of a toxic waste spill last year that devastated the country’s central coast. The order comes shortly after thugs believed hired by local police assaulted Hanoi-based activist Le My Hanh, who had slammed the government’s handling of the spill, and two others at her friend’s home in Ho Chi Minh City.

RFA Reports on Myanmar’s Magwe embezzlement scandal

May 5 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Burmese] on Myanmar’s Magwe region confirming the receipt of 8 billion kyats (U.S. $ 5.8 billion) in missing money from the region’s previous leader in an alleged embezzlement of regional development funds. The money has now been transferred into the Magwe regional government’s bank account.

RFA Reports on police surveillance of hospitalized Chinese dissident Hu Jia

May 4 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on China's state security police were closely watching a Beijing hospital where veteran dissident Hu Jia is being treated for an acute illness linked to long-running health problems. Hu Jia, 43, a former winner of the European Union's Sakharov human rights prize, was taken to Beijing's You'an Hospital on Saturday with acute pancreatitis, and is being evaluated for surgery, Hu's supporters said.

RFA Reports on calls for freeing jailed Chinese rights lawyer Xie Yang

May 2 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on the international outcry for Beijing to release jailed human rights lawyer Xie Yang. Xie was detained during a nationwide crackdown on the legal profession beginning in July 2015. His trial at a court in the central province of Hunan was called off in April.

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