This week: Internet shutdowns in Asia’s two largest democracies, nationalist pro-China trolls, palm oil industry copying bit tobacco tactics, and a forest heroine in India.
Internet shutdown in Kashmir and West Papua
Seven million people in Kashmir, and a similar number in West Papua are facing severe restrictions on accessing the internet. In both regions, the impetus are local protests and the need to cement colonial control over restive provinces.
Imagine if Virginia has its internet cut-off? Or Belgium has all communication with Europe disconnected? This is essentially what is happening in India and Indonesia, and it deserves more attention.
Undercovered this week
In addition to shutting off internet and telecommunications, in Kashmir, the Indian government is doing all it can to stop local journalists from reporting whats happening (while empowering pro-government, fly-in reporting).
Ian Morse reports for Mongabay on a flood disaster in Sulawesi, Indonesia which was likely connected to deforestation for mining and agricultural plantations.
The Hong Kong protests have shone a light on nationalist Chinese trolls spreading disinformation throughout the web. In this personal piece for Sydney Morning Herald, Vicky Xiuzhong Xu writes about her own transformation from hyper-nationalist to an open minded journalist.
Myanmar is trying to reap the benefits of Chinese investment. The only problem is that the regions bordering its giant neighbor are also where ethnic and separatist conflicts have raged for decades (Nan Lwin, The Irawaddy).
Reuters published an investigation into the Malaysian groups pushing palm oil abroad, using tactics straight from the tobacco industry. An illuminating read about commodity and export politics.
Re-education camps are spreading in Chinese-occupied Tibet. And stories are emerging of horrific persecution, torture, and even sexual abuse of nuns evicted from monasteries and other religious institutions (Bitter Winter).
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As Hong Kong remains on edge, James Flynn wonders if Tibet could be the next area to see increased unrest, especially when the Dalai Lama, who has always pushed for non-violence, passes away. India and Pakistan will play a key role in the ever-contested Himalayas (The American Interest).
A new great game is taking place across the Pacific, as China seeks to counter US power in the region (Nikkei).
A hero for the forest
Sasi Mausi, a 67 year of villager in the Indian state of Odisha, has led a group of women to successfully fight timber smugglers and regenerate a 600 hectare forest. With fires burning in Brazil and Indonesia, we need to empower more local leaders to manage and conserve their land (Priya Sahu, Down to Earth).
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.