Must-Reads from Around the World

Today's picks: the en masse arrival of Pakistan's Hindus into neigboring India to escape religious persecution, lingering questions over Turkey's human rights record, as it attempts to reposition itself as the Middle East's paragon of democracy, and signs that economic change is afoot in North Korea.

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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (R) speaks with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari during a meeting in New Delhi on on April 8, 2012

Pakistani Hindus — Hundreds of Pakistani Hindus have been arriving in India over the past month to avoid alleged religious persecution in their home country, notes VOA News. Since August, roughly 400 Pakistani Hindus are believed to have arrived in India’s northwestern Punjab and Rajasthan states, which share a border with Pakistan. The Pakistanis reportedly told local media that they want to stay in India as refugees because many Hindus in Pakistan face “alleged harassment, forced conversion [to Islam], extortion, and forced marriages.”

Turkey’s Human RightsIn These Times analyzes Turkey’s human rights record, stating that it’s raising troubling questions, as it tries to position itself as a model of democracy in the Arab world. “Long bedeviled by military coups, an intolerance for dissent, uprisings from the right and left and a worsening struggle with its large Kurdish minority and militants, Turkey is trapped by its disregard for human rights,” it noted. Because of Turkey’s “anti-terrorism laws that violate freedom of expression and fair trial rights,” dissenters are often imprisoned, making Turkey the world’s top jailer of journalists.

20 Nile Rivers — A study by a group of former leaders said the world has to find the equivalent of the flow of 20 Nile rivers by 2025 to produce enough food for a rising population and to prevent conflicts over water scarcity, reports Reuters. Issued by the InterAction Council of former leaders, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and South African President Nelson Mandela, the report said that global agriculture alone will require another 240 cubic miles (1,000 cubic km) of fresh water annually — the same as the annual flow of 20 Niles or 100 Colorado Rivers — to feed one billion more people by 2025. Growing demand for water will be most pronounced in China, India, and the U.S. because of “population growth, increasing irrigation, and economic growth,” noted Reuters.

Witch Hunt — The BBC investigates the “systematic and deadly persecution” of gay men and women by Iraqi law enforcement agencies, which the Iraqi government has refused to acknowledge. Analysts have avoided pinning the nation’s conservatism and religious culture as the sole explanation for the scale of persecution, which exceeds the likes of Saudi Arabia. In Lebanon, the radical Islamic group Hezbollah has shown a “degree of tolerance towards homosexuals,” while Iran tolerates an underground gay scene, despite homosexuality being illegal and punishable by law.

Experimenting with Change — Noting the reported reorganization of North Korea’s collective farms into “something closer to family farms,” the Associated Press considers whether it is the “first flicker of reform” in “the rigidly planned economy of this Stalinist state.” Marcus Noland of the Washington, DC-based Peterson Institute for International Economics, said: “My gut sense is that something is changing.” He claimed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “is trying to do something new,” though “whether that succeeds or not is a completely different issue.”

The Godfathers — Reuters examines Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s battle to “reform one of the world’s most corrupt nations, without support from the shadowy “godfathers” who wield power from behind the scenes.” Although Okonjo-Iweala has been lauded by the West, she lacks endorsement from Nigeria’s elites, who “use huge patronage – or sometimes violence – to drive politics back stage.” A senior adviser to Nigeria’s national assembly, who asked not to be named, said: “Her only ‘godfather’ is the international community, and that doesn’t cut it.”