Just days before an expected court date for a volunteer in Thailand, who is accused of facilitating the beaming of censored radio signals into China, protesters in Washington appealed to have the man released.
More than 60 protesters gathered peacefully Friday afternoon June 14, at the embassy of Thailand to request the release of Mr. Chiang Yung-Shin, a Taiwanese national. Mr. Chiang was arrested on Nov. 22, 2018, after renting a house that was used to broadcast Sound of Hope Radio (SOH) from northern Thailand into mainland China.
“Mr. Chiang is a volunteer who helped SOH, he didn’t do this for his own gain,” said SOH spokesman Frank Lee. “We urge the Thai government to free Mr. Chiang so that he can return to Taiwan to his wife and two children.
“Giving in to the pressure from Beijing to suppress free press is not good for Thailand and its people,” he said.
Charges from Beijing
Mr. Chiang is charged with violating Thailand’s communications business law. He is out on bail, but is forbidden to return to Taiwan. The next court dates are set for June 19 and June 20 in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.
The SOH broadcasts via shortwave that Mr. Chiang assisted with carry news that cannot be heard on Chinese media, including human rights violations and religious persecution in China.
After Thai police raided Mr. Chiang’s rented house in August 2018, and arrested him in November, they admitted that both actions were the result of pressure from the Chinese communist regime.
Chinese authorities, through their proxies in other nearby countries, such as Vietnam, have caused the arrest and imprisonment of other volunteers who have set up SOH broadcast facilities in their own countries. Such is the reach of Chinese censorship.
Peaceful protest in DC
The protest lasted one and a half hours, and included several speakers.
Ms. Yang, originally from China, talked about visiting Chiang Mai, where she found the Thai people to be kind, and was impressed by the many beautiful Buddhist temples, showing the people’s belief in compassion. She was shocked that the Thai government would do something like detaining Mr. Chiang for assisting with broadcasting truthful information.
Ms. Ma, also from China, escaped to Thailand as a refugee and eventually came to the United States and became a citizen. She said that SOH gives Chinese people hope through its shortwave broadcasts, and hopes that the Thai government will do the right thing.
The two main requests from the protesters, as expressed on banners they held, were to ask the Thai government to free Mr. Chiang, and for Thailand not to follow Beijing’s pressure against free press.
Mr. Lee carried a formal letter expressing these requests, which was accepted by Thai Embassy personnel.
According to a SOH statement, Sound of Hope Radio Network is based in San Francisco and is the first and largest Chinese-language public radio in the United States. Besides serving Chinese-Americans in over 10 cities through its network of AM/FM stations, it has also been providing shortwave radio service to mainland China since 2004. Its programming includes up-to-the-hour news, news commentary, lifestyle and cultural programs, and more.