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Asia Undercovered Round-up: 15 June 2021

Asia Undercovered Round-up: 15 June 2021

Undercovered last week

We’ve highlighted in past issues the shocking disappearance of Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a Thai dissident, in Cambodia last year. This just released, in-depth, detailed joint investigation from NewNaratif, Prachatai and VOD explores his last days in Phnom Pehn, and why the case remains unsolved to this day.

This type of reporting is brave and necessary. And its getting harder, as media workers face an increasingly repressive legal landscape in not only Cambodia and Thailand, but also neighboring Vietnam (Prachatai).

A huge environmental catastrophe is taking place off the shores of Sri Lanka, where a massive shipping container has been burning for weeks, polluting the coastline and harming the island nation’s biodiversity. Quite frankly, it is shocking how little attention this is getting (Channels News Asia).

Another journalist killed – this time, in Afghanistan.

Worth watching: The BJP has been hyping up terrorism concerns, and pushing draconian laws, on the Indian islands of Lakshadweep, which happen to be Muslim-majority. As Natasa Aziz argues, it’s more politics (and geopolitics) than factual (Madras Courier).

Protests are dissipating in Myanmar due to the overwhelming use of force by the military. Despite this, for now, there is unity among the anti-coup forces, including ethnic minorities and the Bamar-dominated National League for Democracy. In this piece for East Asia Forum, Mikael Gravers argues that its future depends on inter-ethnic dialogue and collaboration.

In this interesting piece, Dédé Oetomo explores the contrast between contemporary homophobia and transphobia and the more tolerant past in Southeast Asia, exposing several contradictions (HB Stiftung).

It’s only a matter of time before another (climate-connection) cyclone hits Bangladesh. And when it does, thousands of Rohingya refugees, now living on a low-lying offshore island, will be at harms way (Salem Noman, The Third Pole).

And another Asian hero lost – Indonesian feminist poet and scholar Toeti Heraty.


Mongolia, an often forgotten Asian democracy, held its presidential election last week, with Khurelsukh Ukhnaa of the Mongolian People’s Party winning in a landslide. Here’s a good overview on the results, the campaign, and the implications of Khurelsukh’s victory by The Diplomat.


In Kyrgyzstan, the most open of the central Asian nations, a Chinese oil refinery remains opaque, contested, and, for now, quiet. In this piece for Global Voices, Aizat Shailoobek looks at concerns around Chinese investment, pollution, and economic development.

Solutions Stories

Two pieces from India this week – the first is on Sohrai art, a traditional wall mural painting practices by tribal women in Jharkhand for centuries – and efforts to revitalize it in the face of modenization (Deepanwita Gita Niyogi, GaonConection).

And Tulu, a language spoken by millions in Southern India but lacking recognition, saw activists use Twitter to raise awareness and push for official language status in the states where it is spoken – Karnataka and Kerala (Deccan Herald).

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