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Asia Undercovered #25

Asia Undercovered #25

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Still Undercovered: Xinjiang Human Rights Crisis

I wrote a piece about the use of technology in Xinjiang nearly a year ago, after several stories broke what was becoming a massive human rights crisis. Despite this, today, not a single country has spoken up to China, and there have been no sanctions nor hearings at the global level. China is getting away with genocide – and it’s getting worse.

We now have a better idea of what’s happening in camps, due to a few prisoners being let free. Chilling details of torture, sleep deprivation, and more in this piece by Sophia Yan in Telegraph.

Turkish nationals of Uyghur origin are also being sent to camps. One man – who was lucky to be let free – endured 38 days of interrogations, hunger, sleep deprivation, and abuse in Chinese custody (Megha Rajagopalan and K Murut Yildiz, Buzzfeed)

It’s not just Uyghurs. Kazakhs are being detained, as are, we now know, ethnic Kyrgyz. Gene Bunin writes in Foreign Policy about how Chinese- Kyrgyz students studying in Kyrgyzstan have been caught-up in China’s camps.

And a new (secret) law about “sinicizing” Islam could bring Xinjiang-style policies to China’s other Muslims such as the Hui, reports Massimo Introvigne in Bitter Winter.

Also Undercovered

Minority Hmong Christians are increasingly being persecuted in Vietnam, reports Josep Prat for SCMP. The reason? Fears of separatism connected to their unique version of Evangelical Christianity.

60 years after the Dalai Lama fled Chinese occupation, China is no longer willing to engage with the exiled spiritual leader, according to its latest white paper on Tibet (Catherine Wong, SCMP)

Malaysia’s reform has stalled. Religion and race are being used to revive the former ruling coalition and putting the future of plurality in the country at risk (Nile Bowie, Asia Times).

Brunei passed a draconian law that, among other things, makes gay sex a crime punishable by death. A huge step backwards for human rights in the wealthy Sultanate (Hannah Ellis-Peterson, The Guardian).

More evidence of rapid melting in the Himalayas. Only a quarter of the world’s population – over one billion people – rely on these waters for the livelihoods (Dechen Palmo, The Third Pole).

Myanmar has failed to reach peace with its armed minority groups. Bertil Lintner puts part of the blame on foreign peacemaking groups who rarely understand the complexities on the ground (Global Asia).

Japan has a new era, Reiwa (令和 ), starting on my birthday, May 1st. A great thread on the history of eras and what this really means.


Indonesia – Polls are tightening a bit ahead of April 17th, but incumbent Joko Widodo still holds a safe lead over challenger Prabowo Subianto. I’ll have a special Indonesia election issue next week with details on what to expect in the world’s largest single-day election.

India According to a new study, candidates who use hate speech in campaigns are three times more successful than those who don’t. A worrying sign as the first round of elections approaches next week (The Wire).

Thailand – Prachatai publishes a piece by Harrison George entitled: How to have an election and avoid having democracy. A good read on last month’s faux-election.

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.