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Asia Undercovered: 8 April 2020

Asia Undercovered: 8 April 2020

The pandemic is shifting media attention - already lacking - away from the ongoing human rights and environmental crisis taking place across Asia. So this week, I focus on Asia’s Undercovered Crisis.

First: Uyghurs and Muslims in China

Millions of Uyghurs remains trapped in concentration camps, or in forced labor situation, now far from the public eye as access to Xinjiang becomes even more difficult for foreign observers and media. So kudos to PBS Frontline for devoting an entire episode this week to the human rights crisis in the region.

On a more persona level, Samira Imin, a Uyghur American, made this video for her father, a renowned Uyghur scholar, who has been missing for years.

And there are more signs that the repression is spreading, as Arabic language schools are being shuttered in ethnic Hui regions, another Muslim minority, according to Ma Xiagu in Bitter Winter.

The Environment

Bribes, corruption and scandals are part and parcel of Indonesia’s extractives industries. However, The Gecko Project reports that the country’s corruption agency could begin to try companies in the same way it tries individuals – a potentially huge shift.

Before the pandemic, China was waging a war on garbage, with new collection systems and regulations on plastic imports, with potentially global impacts. That is now all under question, reports Bloomberg Green.

Also Undercovered

Illegal fishing by Chinese and other foreign vessels remains an issue in Indonesia’s Natuna Sea, the only part of the archipelago which touches the seven-dash line, writes Nabiha Shahab for The Diplomat.

The 88 Project interviews the mother of Le Ahn Hung, a Vietnam blogger and reporter who often criticized the government and who is facing psychological abuse in prison. She is calling for support for his release.

New Government, old tactics. In Malaysia, the tough questions by a Chinese-Malaysian journalist to a politician resulted in her being targeted by hate speech and racist attacks online. Another worrying sign of ethnic tensions in the country (Mong Palatino, Global Voices)

And in the Philippines, the unjust war on drugs continues, with extrajudicial killings getting even less attention due to the media’s focus on the pandemic. This is worrying, writes Gideon Lasco, as it gives the state even more impunity (East Asia Forum)

Hopeful Stories

This Ladhaki lama lost his brother while studying in Tibet. 60 years later, they are reunited in India. A heartwarming story in The Better India of a long waited reunion.

Also on Tibetan exiles in India – a beautiful photo essay of the largest community in exile, in Mundgod, where there are now seven monasteries continuing the traditions being destoyed by China in Tibet itself.

Finally, I really enjoyed this Reuters piece on the all-female squad who are clearing out the country’s unexploded bombs – left by Americans during the Vietnam war. They’ve helped rehabilitate 150,000 acres of agricultural land (Mihn Nguyen).

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.