Longform’s Picks of the Week
The best stories from around the world.
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.
“In Exile” by Jonathan M. Katz, New York Times Magazine
Deportations and violence have driven tens of thousands of people of Haitian descent from their homes in the Dominican Republic — while the world is silent.
Last summer, people began to show up at the farmer’s mud-walled shack. They could speak Haitian Creole, but often with a Dominican accent. They said they had come from the Dominican Republic, where the government was planning to expel anyone of Haitian descent, by force if necessary. They told stories of vigilantes carrying machetes and axes. The threats reminded them of their grandparents’ stories of 1937, when Dominican soldiers massacred anyone living along the border they thought looked or sounded like a Haitian. “Every time there is a deportation, there is a massacre,” one refugee said.
The farmer said they could set up camp on his land. He figured they would move on or go back home soon. But the people didn’t move. More arrived every day. At bigger crossings farther north, many of the tens of thousands fleeing across the border went on to the Haitian interior. But in the far south, around Anse-à-Pitres, the chalky mountain roads are harder to cross, so the migrants set up camps just past the border.
“Rise of the Drones” by Rudolph Herzog, Lapham’s Quarterly
Drone technology spans a century’s worth of science fiction and military research.
Despite the futuristic concept of robotic air warfare, drone technology goes back a hundred years. The technological groundwork was first established by genius inventor Nikola Tesla, who introduced radio-control technology at Madison Square Garden in 1898. Tesla immediately realized his invention’s military potential, noting that the technology would allow man to build devastating remote weapons that would be a deterrent so inhuman and destructive that, in his imagination, they would “lead to permanent peace between the nations.”
“The refugee who took on the British government” by Ben Rawlence, The Guardian
For British politicians, foreign aid to Africa has become a cherished emblem of our idealism and generosity. But what happens when our funds harm those they are meant to help?
The Anuak have an intimate relationship with their landscape. Their highest traditional authority is a spiritual leader called the wat-ngomi, who must sanction any human intervention in nature. Some trees are deemed sacred and cannot be cut down. Spirits live in certain sites and even the boundaries of their territory are inscribed with religious meaning. Everyone knows where the land of one community ends and that of another begins. This intimacy is reflected in their language: “How are you?” in the Anuak language is piny bede nidi, which literally translates as “how is the earth?” The reply is piny ber jak (“the earth is fine”) orpiny rac (“the earth is bad”).
That morning, the earth was bad. Officials from the regional government in Gambella, accompanied by soldiers from the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) had come to tell Opik and the other inhabitants of the village to leave. It was not the first time they had come. Earlier in the year there had been several meetings. The government had arrived with police and militias and informed the residents that they were to be moved to a new location. There was a national plan called “villagisation” and Gambella was in the first phase.
“The Front Lines” by Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker
On the border of ISIS territory, Iraqi civilians fight for their survival.
In empowering the Yazidi refugees, the P.K.K. had created a new base of sympathy for its revolutionary cause; they seemed unlikely to simply give that up. I spoke with many P.K.K. fighters from Turkey and Syria who said they had no intention of leaving Sinjar. Their presence in the town raised the question: With so many rival factions and competing interests—and in the absence of a unifying national government or army (or identity)—what happens the day after a city in Iraq or Syria is liberated from ISIS? What happens a week after? A year?
“Coming to America (as an Iraqi Refugee)” by Nizar Latif, Foreign Policy
After working for the U.S. military, I had to hide from Baghdad death squads. Finding a new home — and learning Texan slang — hasn’t been easy.
Long before I filled out my application for refugee status, the Mahdi Army and the death squads in my hometown found out that I worked with Americans. Their local agents in my neighborhood began to target me as a spy: I began receiving threats on my cell phone and at my family’s home, where they promised to hunt me down.
When they could not find me, they started pressuring my family. A group came to my father’s house. “Is your son still working with the Americans,” they asked. “Is he a spy?”
Photo credits:Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images; ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images; Getty Images; JENNY VAUGHAN/AFP/Getty Images; JM LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images; Chris Hondros/Getty Images