3 min read

Asia Undercovered #8: An Indonesian Hero

Asia Undercovered #8: An Indonesian Hero

This week: The ongoing crisis in Xinjiang, a horrific assasination in the Phillipines, and the dedication of Indonesia’s cancer-striken disaster spokesperson.

My favorite newsletters

To start this issue, I thought I’d share some of my favorite newsletters for keeping track of what’s happening in Asia. For China, Freedom House’s China Media Bulletin, edited by Sarah Cook, is a detailed and thorough look at Chinese media, press freedom, and digital issues. New Naratif’s Akan Datang is a great roundup of Southeast Asia current events. I also enjoy Jon Russell’s Asia Tech Review not only for its broad, regional scope, but because Russell regularly includes links to stories on the human rights and social impacts of technology.

Have any Asia oriented newsletters you enjoy? Please respond and let me know so I can sign up! And if you like this newsletter, please share with your friends and colleagues.

Getting more, but still not enough attention: Just how bad it is in Xinjiang

This excellent visual report from ABC Australia used satellite imagery to show just how huge the scale of China’s concentration camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are.

Radio Free Asia wrote on how the crackdown has even ensnared of one of the most prominent Uyghur philanthropists Nurtay Hajim. Even helping Uyghur orphans is a crime now.

One sign that gives me hope is that the Xinjiang human rights crisis is getting more attention in the press of other Muslim-majority countries in Asia, such as this piece in Tolo News calling on the Afghanistan government to speak up on how it’s neighbor treats its Muslim minorities. I hope to see more attention on this across Asia in the world, because it is, as Mamtimin Ala wrote in Foreign Policy Journal, a genocide.

Undercovered this week

Another tragedy in the Philippines, as lawyer and human rights defender Ben Ramon was assassinated, making him the 34th lawyer killed since Rodrigo Duterte took power in 2016 (CHPR)

While it’s often the refugees attempting to enter the US or Europe that dominate global media stories, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees in Asia, too, in countries like Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia. This excellent piece in Inside Indonesia by Gemima Harvey tells the story of refugees in Indonesia who are stuck in limbo yet still living their lives far from home.

As elections approach in Thailand, one thing that the ruling junta does not want is a repeat of their last post-coup election, when a party run by sister of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra won. Will they dissolve the Shinawatra-connected Puea Thai Party? And if so, what about the new, similarly aligned Thai Raksa Chart party? Lots of intrigue there (Channel News Asia).

Some turmoil in Hong Kong as the venue that was supposed to host an event for author Ma Jian, one of my favorite writers, initially withdrew, then, after public outcry, changed their mind. A sign, many feel, of tightening Chinese control (China Digital Times).

It took 26 years, but Imedla Marcos, the wife of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was convicted on seven counts of graft, a welcome sign that the fight to tackle corruption is still on in Southeast Asia (Rappler).

An Indonesian hero

You probably haven’t heard of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, but you should. He’s the spokesperson for Indonesia’s disaster agency, and was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Despite this, he refuses to retire, working from his hospital bed tackle misinformation and share details of the recent tragedies that have hit Indonesia, from the Sulawesi earthquake to the crash of Lion Air flight JT-610. His dedication to his work, and to the people suffering from these disasters, has made him a national hero in the country (ABC).

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.