Longform’s Picks of the Week

The best stories from around the world.

Milos Bicanski/Getty Images; Getty Images; SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images; LIONEL HEALING/AFP/Getty Images; JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images
Milos Bicanski/Getty Images; Getty Images; SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images; LIONEL HEALING/AFP/Getty Images; JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images

Every weekend, Longform highlights its favorite international articles of the week. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.


Did A Rapper’s Murder Bring Down Greece’s Neo-Nazi Party?, by Dorian Lynskey, Buzzfeed

For a country torn apart for years, this was either a breaking point or a new wave of trouble.

So, while the rest of Europe was being rebuilt along Cold War lines, Greece was plunged into a bloody civil war between the U.S.-backed government and the armed wing of the Communist Party (KKE). Between 1946 and 1949, 158,000 Greeks were killed. The conflict destabilized the country so badly that, in the 22 years following VE Day, Greece had 26 different prime ministers. Between 1967 and 1974, a military coup suspended democracy altogether. When the U.S. ambassador in Athens complained that the coup was “a rape of democracy,” the local CIA chief retorted, “How can you rape a whore?”

“We didn’t get a chance to enjoy peace like everyone else,” the Greek rapper Nikitas Klint tells me, smoking roll-up cigarettes in Exarcheia Square, the epicenter of left-wing dissent in Athens. “The civil war is a trauma in the Greek soul. That’s why we can’t get along. That’s why we’re not tolerant. That’s what fucks it all up.”


India’s Golden Chance, by Meera Subramanian, VQR Online

 How will the next generation of Indian women break the cycle?

By March 2013, the Indian Parliament had passed a law that expanded the definition of rape and criminalized sexual harassment, voyeurism, and stalking, though marital rape is still not a criminal offense. Even with the new law, there are grave concerns about enforcement, especially when victims find the police as threatening as their attackers. Add to this India’s notoriously torpid judicial system, in which rape cases can take five to ten years to reach judgment. The intense public scrutiny of the New Delhi incident arguably led to swift convictions- four of the rapists were sentenced to death less than a year after the attack- but if and when the sentences will be carried out remains unclear, while thousands of similar, low- profile cases don’t receive such focused attention. 

In this climate, girls and women in India are fighting for rights often taken for granted in the West- the right to an education and the right to be physically safe, whether at home or in public. They are striving for a new way of life and asking, sometimes demanding, rights that have only been afforded their male counterparts since before The Ramayana was written. Many men are joining their ranks, but many others are putting up a fierce resistance. I came to Bihar to find out if power is a finite thing. Can one person gain it only at the expense of another’s loss?


In the Darkness of Dick Cheney, by Mark Danner, the New York Review of Books

Cheney’s name evokes a question about power. Untrammeled power. Hard power.

Richard Bruce Cheney, the man who had acceded to Governor George W. Bush’s request in 2000 that he lead his search to find a perfect vice-president, and who found that this arduous and exacting effort led to none other than himself, would be there at Bush’s side, or somewhere in the murk behind him, until the bitter end. For all his experience and sophistication, that grimly blank expression-calmly unflinching gaze, slightly lopsided frown-embodied a philosophy of power unapologetically, brutally simple: attack, crush enemies; cause others to fear, submit. Power from time to time must be embodied in vivid violence, like Voltaire’s executions, pour encourager les autres.


Redemption Songs, Richard C. Paddock, Medium

How 12 children scarred by Congo wars are learning to cope in adulthood.

These are the stories of 12 young people who survived the long-running wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo that have claimed, by one estimate, more than 5 million lives through violence and disease since the late 1990s. All were children or teenagers when they were ensnared by one of the dozens of rebel groups that have battled for supremacy in eastern Congo.

Some were kidnapped to become soldiers. Others enlisted to defend their village or because they had no food. Many of them became killers. Some were raped. All of them were traumatized by what they did and what they saw. Now, with Congolese and United Nations forces holding out hope for an end to the perpetual battles with rebels, these young adults are attempting to rebuild their lives.


Where the Girls in Trouble Go, by Tom Hundley, Foreign Policy

A dispatch from Southeast Asia’s abortion underground.

Indonesia, with an estimated 2 million abortions a year — about 37 for every 1,000 women of child-bearing age — is second only to Vietnam in the percentage of pregnancies that end in abortion. Among Muslim nations — and Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation — it appears to have the highest rate of abortion. The Philippines also has an alarmingly high abortion rate — about 600,000 a year, or 27 per every 1,000 women of child-bearing age — but one that is in line with other Catholic countries in the developing world, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute and local NGOs.

In a region that already suffers from some of the highest abortion rates in the world, predominantly Muslim Indonesia and its neighbor, the profoundly Catholic Philippines, offer a set of instructive case studies on the failure of public policy dictated by religious teachings to dent the abortion rate or provide a viable alternative.

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