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Asia Undercovered 9 Dec 2020

Asia Undercovered 9 Dec 2020

Another Year of Uyghur Genocide

It’s becoming cliché to talk about how terrible 2020 was. And it was, for many around the world. But for Uyghurs, it was just another year of terror, following several in which millions were rounded up into camps, jailed, mosques and cemeteries bulldozed, part of a deliberate plan by the Chinese Communist Party to destroy and their culture and identity.

The latest news is especially cruel and inhumaneChina is expanding pig farms in Xinjiang, and there are widespread allegations that camp detainees were forced to eat pork, a violation of Islamic halal laws – and their human rights (Ted Regencia, Al Jazeera).

It’s part of a bigger ideological plan, one that involved destroying the identities of not only Uyghurs, but Tibetans, Mongolians, and non-Mandarin speaking Han such as Cantonese speaking Hong Kongers. As Bertil Lintner calls it, a masterplan for a homogenous China (Asia Times)

Majoritarian ethnic rule and the growing preponderance of evidence that this is, truly a genocide, is leading many to connect modern China with pre-war Germany. It turns out that Beijing is even using Nazi legal arguments to justify their hard-handed rule over Hong Kong. No surprise that locals in the city-state often refer to their oppressors as Chinazis (Chang Che, The Atlantic).

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Also undercovered

In Asia’s second largest country, repression against Muslims is also on the rise. India’s largest state has just passed a law that makes forcible religious conversions a crime – despite no factual backing for claims that Muslims actively are trying to convert Hindus (Anurag Bhaskar, The Print).

Also undercovered in India: a massive ongoing strike by workers, farmers against proposed law amendments that they feel will harm labor rights across the country. Here’s a good overview of the key issues by S.R. Praveen.

Takna Jigme Sangowas Tibet’s longest serving political prisoner, spending decades in Chinese prison for advocating for freedom. He passed away in October, in exile in Switzerland. Here’s a thoughtful piece on this man, his life, and the ongoing struggle for Tibetans around the world (High Peaks Pure Earth).

MalaysiaKini has just released this immersive, multimedia piece on the journeys that child refugees take to come to Malaysia, focusing on four stories. Great journalism by Aidila Razak that humanizes the struggles of migrants.

Remember when I highlighted articles about the forced disappearance of Thai dissident Wanchalearm Satsaksi in Cambodia last year? His sister is searching for him, even traveling to Phnom Penh to find answers (Southeast Asia Globe).


Indonesia is looking to revise its election law and increasing the threshold for parties to gain seats in Parliament. This could harm women and diversity in politics, argues the authors of this piece in Indonesia at Melbourne.

In Pakistan, the politcal landscape has increasingly turned into a battle between two personalities – former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and current Prime Minister Imran Khan. In this piece for New Directions Tridivesh Maini illuminates the dynamics in the country, with a short, violent history of democracy.


China is growing increasingly concerned about the “Clean Network” program which aims to force countries around the world to exclude Chinese technology from its 5G and other telecommunications networks. This piece explores why these moves are upsetting China, and how it might respond (China Media Project).

And it’s a little out of the normal scope of Asia Undercovered, but I found this piece in Madras Courier about India’s failure to stand up for Armenia, a former ally, during the conflict with Azerbaijan, and how it connects to Kashmir, fascinating.

Solutions Stories

In his piece, Tim Mann celebrates the legacy of Indonesia’s Legal Aid Institute, which turns 50 and has long been fighting for human rights and democracy in the country – often facing huge odds, particularly during the Suharto military junta era (The Conversation).

And, despite all odds, a poet by an Uyghur poet has been smuggled out of an internment camp. Listen to it here – words that cannot be spoken in Xinjiang today.

Asia Undercovered: In-depth round-ups and analysis of the news, events, trends and           people changing Asia, but not getting enough attention in the US media.