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Turkey

What’s A Turk? Balkan And Greek Turkic Organizations Call For End To Discrimination In Turkey

Visitors to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey
Visitors to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

ISTANBUL – Earlier this month, a federation of Balkan and Greek Turkic organizations held a huge Iftar dinner to end the Ramadan daily fast. Held at the Topkapi-1453 public grounds, the dinner included notables from the art, business and political worlds. Many of the guests were Turkish citizens, but with family roots in the Balkan peninsula and Greece. Others had arrived from as far away as Germany, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia and Romania. But they had one particular interest in common: how to protect the rights – both inside and outside of Turkey – of ethnic Turks who find themselves as an excluded minority.

As part of the legacy of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1923), there are significant long-established ethnic Turk minorities in countries around southern and eastern Europe. There has also been significant immigration from Turkey in the post-War era to Western European countries, as well as to the United States and Australia.

The Balkan and Greek Turkic federation president, Suheyl Cobanoglu, detailed the breadth of service the different organizations provide: from international symposiums and conferences, elections oversight in the Balkans, support for Turkish candidates, and support for Turks living in difficult conditions looking to move to Turkey.

Still, the list of problems that these populations face in Eastern Europe is just as long: racist attacks on Turks and Muslims, poor education, limits in Balkan countries on the public use of the Turkish language, restrictions on the building of new mosques, and inadequate access to social security and health care services across Eastern Europe.

Cobanoglu cited a famous phrase from modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. "Turks, whether they be from Diyarbakir, Van, Erzurum, Trabzon, Istanbul, Thrace or Macedonia are all veins of the same gem stone." But these words, he said, were intended for those in Turkey who have been known to discriminate against newly arrived Turks from abroad.https://worldcrunch.com/node/3602/edit?destination=admin%2Fcontent%2Fnode

"In America, people have come from all over the world. And in 150 to 200 years, they have come to dominate the world," Cobanoglu. "From that point of view, is it possible for we Turks to lose the connection that we feel with each other over a 1,000 years of history of living in Turkey and Europe?"

Read the full article in Turkish by Yalcin Bayer

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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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