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Asia Undercovered #12: A holocaust in our times

This week: Forced labor in Xinjiang camps, India’s regional elections, and an assassination in Myanmar.

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A holocaust in our times: Xinjiang

Every week, it’s becoming more and more clear that these concentration camps are a massive human rights atrocity. There are worrying drips of information – unfortunately, hard to verify – that the death rate in these camps is high and that there might be practices like organ harvesting taking place. Intellectuals and business-people are already being purged.

The big news this week – a New York Times report that forced labor factories were being setup on the premises of camps, turning this into a literal gulag. China continues to refuse entry to any outsiders to these camps.

For everyone who wondered how they would have responded during World War II when it became clear that a genocide was taking place in Europe. Right now, the world is failing.

Undercovered this week

The origin of Xinjiang’s camps was in the repression of Tibet after the 2008 protests there. This report from the International Campaign for Tibet connects how one man, Chen Quanguo, was responsible for the horrendous situation in both regions.

The repression could be spreading. Other regions of China with large Muslim populations are looking to learn from Xinjiang. The worrying news this week came from Gansu province, where an Arabic school was shut down (Inkstone News).

Interesting piece on why China loves Jews. Not surprisingly, it’s due to a lot of stereotypes about money and a perversion of history. Quite a contrast from how the country views Muslims (Medium).

Meanwhile, China’s richest businessman is building a theme park to Communism. Disney meets Marx?

Elsewhere in Asia: A year after the arrest and subsequent jailing on false charges of two of its journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Reuters continues to do excellent work in Myanmar. This piece investigates the murder of a Muslim lawyer and the web of political deceit and military involvement.

Undercovered Updates

A new section where I’ll post follow-up stories on previously shared Undercovered News.

#1 - A few weeks ago, I shared how The Japan Times was changing the language it used to describe “comfort women” and “forced laborers.” After the outcry, the paper backtracked on these changes (Global Voices).

#2 – Sri Lanka’s political crisis ended after 51 days as formally sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was reinstated, ending President Maithripala Sirisena’s power grab – for now (Straits Times).

#3 – India’s regional elections were a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP, as they lost over 100 seats and power in three states. The question is – will this translate into a real, national, opposition movement in 2019? (Al Jazeera)

A 19th century Asian travelogue: Shibli Numani’s Imagined Community

I enjoyed this immersive feature piece by Sumaira Nawaz in Himal Magazine about a 19th century Indian Muslim traveler and his travelogue on the Islamic world then. He sought to help Indians understand Turkey, the Middle East, and Egypt and the impacts of colonialism, something that I feel is as much needed today as back then. His critiques of European writing on the Islamic world could apply to how western media portrays Asia today.

Until next week,

Nithin Coca

Asia Undercovered: Journalist Nithin Coca's weekly roundup of the news, events, trends and people changing Asia, but not getting enough attention in the US media.