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Turkey

Jailed PKK Leader Declares Ceasefire - Will It End 29-Year Kurdish-Turkey Conflict?

AL-JAZEERA,HURRIYET, TODAYS ZAMAN (Turkey)

Worldcrunch

ISTANBUL - Jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan has called upon the armed PKK forces to recognize a ceasefire and withdraw from Turkey, reports Hürriyet.

In what may turn out to be a historic announcement in the nearly three-decade-long conflict between Kurdish separatists and the Turkish government, Ocalan's written statement was read out loud to a massive crowd celebrating the Kurdish New Year in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir.

One day Baskan Öcalan WILL celebrate Newroz with the millions who love and support him. #twitterkurds#newrozpirozbetwitter.com/xatarkurdi/sta…

— Kamber (@xatarkurdi) March 21, 2013

Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence in an island prison off of Istanbul, had the statement read by two members of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in both Turkish and Kurdish:

"Today we are waking up to a new Middle East, a new Turkey. A new era starts today. A door has been opened from armed struggle to democratic struggle," he said. "Our fight has been against all kinds of pressure, violence, and oppression. A door is opening on democratic process after a period of armed struggle. Guns should fall silent and politics should come to the foreground.”

This is real Kurdish Spring, I mean spring spring, Newruz the beginning of Spring. #TwitterKurdstwitter.com/abdullahawez/s…

— Abdulla Hawez (@abdullahawez) March 21, 2013

Al Jazeera reports that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Öcalan both appear to have staked their political futures on the renewed push to end the Kurdish 29-year armed campaign for self-rule that has left some 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, dead.

The expected cease-fire is likely to be in return for wider constitutional recognition and language rights for Turkey's 15 million Kurds. The war has drained state coffers, stunted development of the mainly Kurdish Southeast and scarred Ankara's human rights record.

Istanbul daily Todays Zaman writes that this move would be a major boost to Turkey's candidacy for European Union membership. A settlement would also bolster the NATO member's credibility as it seeks to further extend its influence across the Middle East.

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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