Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category.

Hear Our Strangled Voices!

Assyrians against Isis

By Abbey Mikha

Assyrians need the help of anyone who cares about innocent human beings as Christians and most importantly as Assyrians. Assyrians are on the verge of extinction off of the face of this Earth! Our population used to be in the millions in Iraq and Syria and now there are only a few hundred thousand people left because of all the killings, rapping, and destroying. Our people are being murdered in Iraq and Syria and they are suffering so very much. What is happening to them is unbelievable! In the year 2016 there is a Genocide being committed against the Assyrian people and yes even if they call themselves by other names such as Chaldean or Suryoyo, they are true descendants of the Assyrians and people of ancient Assyria.

As Canadians, Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans, Natives, and any other ethnic people of the world please open your hearts to the Assyrians. Please help the families, the children, girls and boys, and our friends who have no one to turn to except us and you. Help them first by finding out more about them. Read about what ISIS has done to our homeland and our people. All of this is happening to the Assyrians and the world media barely gives any attention to the issue because we are not a powerful nation and our people are scattered all over the world and their voices are not being heard by anyone.

You have to know something about Assyrians. Assyrian Christians are a very peaceful people. They strive only for family life, education, and working very hard. They are humble people who are only looking for the hope of living a normal life. There isn’t an Assyrian family who does not strive for their sons and daughters to be teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, or at least very good human beings who would never even think of hurting anyone.

Assyrian Christians are at the end of their rope. They need your voice. They need your help. They need your compassion. Please whoever you are wherever you are from help the Assyrian Christians! Help us be able to survive in countries like Iraq and Syria where humanitarianism is a thousand mile walking journey. Help us be able to have a voice in our homeland. Stand up for us. When we are strong and something happens in your country we will also stand up for you as we are a people who never forget other peoples kindness.

Read about the Assyrians. Find out about us. Read about what is happening in Iraq and Syria. Isn’t it amazing that there are individuals in the world called Assyrians who have survived upon the earth since ancient times! But, please do not take too long to look into our issue as our people in the homeland have been shouting for help for years and months now and not many people have been willing or kind enough to listen to them.  Their voices have been strangled!  Give us a chance. Our children deserve to live. Spread the message about the suffering of the Assyrians and we shall rise up against this threat and survive and thrive into the future. Just believe in us as a people and as a nation and believe in the compassion and sympathy in our hearts for every living being, compared to the ugliness and darkness of the hearts of those who are oppressing us such us the Islamic terrorist group called ISIS and others who want to throw us out of our own ancestral homeland!

Please share this post so that we can spread this plea from Abbey to spread the message about the suffering of the Assyrians which must come to an end as soon as possible! Thank you and may God bless you.

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USA Stop Assyrian Christian Genocide Safe Haven For Assyrians Immediately

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barack-obama-white-house-speech-iraq

Abbey Mikha

In President Barack Obama’s recent speech on authorizing air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria dated August 7th, 2014 he addressed some very important issues. He said:

“We intend to stay vigilant and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad.”

Of course this is typical, but when listening to him it reminded me of the Bush administration and campaign for the war on Iraq in 2003, which was called “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” This “operation” put the government of the United States of America responsible by the principles of humanity for providing a safe haven for the indigenous people of Nineveh and Northern Iraq the Assyrian Christians and other minorities who were being even at that time mistreated and oppressed. The Christian Assyrians were being systemically terrorized and killed, their churches were being bombed, and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee the country. Their national Assyrian name was removed and their national and political rights were at the mercy of the governments in Baghdad, Kurdish government in Erbil, and the terrorists who were silencing them. For these reasons Obama’s recent chosen words proved to me what is important to him. Maybe no one ever told him but he sounded very selfish and conceited. Also it seemed like someone was pulling his ears in order not to mention the Assyrians, which is like a phobia for these people because of the sensitivities of their Kurdish leader allies who have occupied Assyrian lands.

President Barack Obama also said:

“We are also providing urgent assistance to the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more affectively wage the fight against ISIL.”

This is great news for the Kurds but the fact is that the Kurdish peshmerga fighters have retreated in Assyrian Christian areas and contributed to an exodus of Assyrian Christians out of their towns and villages such as in Telkef, Qaraqosh, Karimlesh, Bartila, Batnaya, Baqoufa, Bashiqa, Bahzani, and Alqosh.

Assyrian Christians from all the various churches are dying in crowded camps in Ankawa and Erbil. These people were forced out of their homes by the vicious attacks by the Islamic State hooligans, and they do not know when they will be allowed to go home. Actually they do not even know where home is now. They are being humiliated and treated like beggars. It seems like this is the policy of the land in order to make the people leave their homeland. It seems there is an indirect relation between ISIS and the Kurdish peshmarga fighter policy. These are the groups who are benefiting from the situation of the departure of the Assyrians.

We are seeing pictures everyday of people sleeping on the streets, and in parks in the summer heat. Pregnant women, children, and the sick and elderly are sitting on dirty floors and they barely have any food to eat or water to drink. Our people are facing genocide and as you read this there is a complete extermination of Assyrian Christians being conducted from Iraq. It is a true catastrophe!

The Assyrian Christian people need a solution. Take responsibility USA stop the Assyrian Christian genocide! A Safe haven must be established for Assyrians immediately before it is too late! If President Barack Obama is only looking for American interests and this is characteristic, he must remember there is a responsibility his administration has after taking over from the Bush administration, especially in regards to the Assyrian Christian case and what happened to this people since 2003.

The Assyrians do not have a militia to fight because we are not taking part in the fight for power between Sunni, Shia, and Kurd, but we are paying the highest price because we are losing the last of the lands of Assyria.

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Is History Repeating Itself?

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By Abbey Mikha

            World War I as thought of as an Islamic jihad and or a Christian crusade is in essence very similar, but it involved diverse nations of differing historical background and from opposing regions of the world. Although the terms jihad or crusade had a religious connotation, the actual dealings, which occurred, by the Ottomans and the British were based on interests, benefits, strategy, and not necessarily religion. These religious ideas were used to rationalize war against a perceived enemy. The ordinary individual on both sides and his religious passions were sparked by these religious philosophies, which were used by their leaders to start conflict and continue it for the benefit of the heads of these empires. It is not the ordinary individual who benefited from war rather the planers and thinkers who use ordinary people to condition them to do their dirty work. History is repeating itself as ISIS is doing this today in Mosul, Iraq and other regions against the Assyrian Christians, the Indigenous people of Nineveh. It must be stated that ISIS itself is a tool in the hands of the same schemers who since 2003 until today have been terrorizing, displacing, and killing Assyrian Christians and other minorities. One must ask the question of who is benefiting from these criminal acts and then we will know who is responsible.

During World War I crusade meant a religious war and jihad meant effort or struggle. A call to jihad was made in Constantinople and another in Madina by Arabs. The leaders told the regular people that death or sacrifice for the cause would send them to paradise. In 1914 there were 270 million Muslims. 30 million governed by fellow Muslims. 100 million were British subjects. There were others in Chechnya. Those who opposed holy war were promised the fire of hell. This was to scare the ordinary religious individual. Call to jihad was translated into Persian, Urdu, Arabic, and Tartar. Jihad was also proclaimed in Afghanistan and India. In Persia there was a call for jihad by Shiites. Uganda, Congo, Sudan were also involved.   This was the most prominent instant of state sponsored jihad, for the Ottomans knew that their empire was going to be destroyed unless they made their move. Jihad was seen as a German plan to weaken Britain and her allies at the time.

Enver Pasha the Ottoman Minister of War himself wondered, “Is holy war useful?” In other words how could the Ottomans use the notion of holy war! Jihad was an attempt by the Ottomans to supposedly unite the empire. One must note that history seems to be repeating itself here again because today the Prime Minister of Turkey Tayyip Ordogan and his Turkish Foreign Minister Daoud Oglo are the main players in the fighting of a dirty war in Syria and Iraq in order to selfishly retrieve gas and oil by manipulating many Islamic jihadi groups in the region.

In regards to World War I in the Middle East and the Ottomans using the notion of holy war to unite the empire, one has to consider that there were many non-Turkish nations living under Ottoman tyranny who were also Christians such as the Assyrians, Armenians, and Greeks. If Jihad was going to strengthen the Ottoman Empire what was to become of its Christian inhabitants?

The British Empire had more Muslims living in it than the Ottoman Empire, but there was a religious crusade declared in Europe. The regular soldiers were told that the British army wanted to reclaim the Holy Land for Christendom and perhaps make Jerusalem the capital of the world. Throughout the 19th century the idea of crusade was associated with an act of public good, like crusading for a cause…

The idea of crusade was not just restricted to the Middle East. Anglicans demonized Germany as anti-Christian and perhaps even pagan. This was their propaganda. Though Germany was a European country the British wanted to defeat the Germans because these peoples were of a different culture. The British tried to distance themselves from fighting a Muslim Empire but they did want to reclaim Constantinople supposedly for Christianity.

In March 1917 the British took Baghdad but the British proclaimed themselves as liberators rather than colonizers. Also, when Allenby entered Jerusalem he did so on foot rather than as a conqueror on a horse. For soldiers of the Middle East who relied on the Bible crusading was about Ottoman government not Islam. They wanted to free people from Ottoman rule not Islamic rule. Soldiers many times saw themselves as tourists. They were fascinated by Islamic culture and found this to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.  A chance to see Egypt, tour the Christian Holy sights and Islamic architecture.   Most of the British soldiers were Protestants though and they did not feel a complete connection with the Christianity in the Holy Land. It was not what they expected. Perhaps here again history is repeating itself as the same sentiment can be seen in the reasoning for many if not most European, Canadian, American, and the larger English speaking community of the world today who do not feel a closeness and a need to stand up for the crimes against humanity which are being committed against the Assyrian Christians (also called Chaldeans and Syriacs) in our holdy land. We ask you on behalf of all the Assyrians suffering in the world. Open your eyes and hearts and help this ancient community, which is on the brink of extinction.

Conclusion

Religion is supposed to be about spirituality. Religion is about faith and it is for the individual not for nations to ruin the world through their understanding of religion. Faith is between you and God no one else. It was the leaders of the Ottoman and the British Empires who used the terms jihad and crusade to ignite in the ordinary individual the desire to go to war against another nation and other human beings of differing religions and cultures.

Lets give an example. Had World War I really been a Christian crusade as was thought by some of the British soldiers, the British planers and thinkers would have aided the Assyrians Christians in the Hakkari region, of what is now south east Turkey, and other regions, and not allowed them to be slaughtered and crucified by the Ottomans and Kurds just for being Assyrians of a different and more ancient culture, language, and because they were ancient Christians.

Although the Assyrians were called Britain’s smallest ally the British only used them and made false promises for a homeland for the Assyrians. They abandoned them and were not faithful to their promises. Today history is repeating itself because the Assyrian Christians are asking from the world community the establishment of their own federal region in their ancestral homeland, but the world powers are giving their lands to the Kurdish occupiers who are originally not from this land, rather from nomadic areas such as Afghanistan and Mahabad Iran. The Kurds have lived in the area less than 200 years and they are definitely not indigenous to this land.

Jihad and crusade during WWI had little to do with true religion, which is spirituality. Mahatma Gandhi who was a product of British colonization said something interesting. He said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” These words give witness to British mannerism and their colonial wars. It was not about religion or spirituality and faith, rather it was about the interests of the few at the expense of the ordinary poor individuals, human beings, and nations. Wars and conflicts are always between various sides that know each other well, and know what they want from their campaign or operation. The regular people who die, they don’t know why they are truly there and why they are dying.

Now almost a hundred years after World War I the Assyrian Christians are still suffering and being driven out of their ancestral homeland.  ISIS is a powerful gang who have taken advantage and created a strategy to gain control of an unstable Middle East. The Assyrian activists worldwide should realize that we have to be strong and diligent in speaking out about the events occuring in the homeland.  History repeats itself.  No one will give us our rights unless we ask for it and stand up for it.  It is very sad that basic human rights are not being afforded to the Assyrians Christians of the region. We need to have leaders that will work in the right direction and who wont be afraid to speak the truth and be faithful to the Sacred Assyrian Cause.

*All information from World War I in the Middle East class 2014

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Against all odds and thousands of years of disappointment, Assyrians poised to get some autonomy over ancestral lands

By: Ashur Sada

 

What are the odds of this happening? A great empire, after complete cultural and military domination for centuries, is finally

On January 21, 2014, the Iraqi government declared, in principle, that Nineveh Plains would become a new province, which serves as a safe haven for Assyrians.

On January 21, 2014, the Iraqi government declared, in principle, that Nineveh Plains would become a new province, which serves as a safe haven for Assyrians.

defeated.  Its people go on to live thousands of years with no place to call their own, subject to constant intimidation from neighbors, wars, oppression, cultural subjugation, terrorism and even a genocide.  Yet, despite all of this, the people-though scattered and oppressed-don’t die.  Most of them remain in the same areas and around where their former empire and its capital once stood.

And let us further imagine that after all these thousands of years of demographic changes, forceful migration and land grabbing, these people remain defiantly rooted in the lands of their great ancestors. And at the end of it all, against all odds, they finally get rewarded with something simple for their efforts and persistence: they can claim something back and call it their own. At least symbolically…

If you guessed  ‘Assyrians’ for these people, you are right!

Recent news of the Iraqi government agreeing in principle to turn the ‘Nineveh Plain‘ region-the ancestral homeland and center of the former Assyrian empire-into a province was a dream for a lot of Assyrians in Iraq and worldwide.  In reality, nothing has yet been implemented or passed as a real law in the constitution. But we are now closer than ever before to seeing this dream turn into reality. Sure, Assyrians are not getting their own country back and few are asking for that anyway. Nonetheless, this is a good first step to ensure Assyrians-and Christians in general-are protected and their cultural rights are guaranteed within a multi-ethnic and federal Iraq.

Getting a province or some sort of semi-autonomy for the Christian Assyrian (also referred to as Chaldean and Syriacs) population in Iraq won’t magically solve all their problems. Nor will it help in solving Iraq’s many problems. But it is a good first step. For one, it will help in stopping the indigenous Christian population of Iraq from migrating to the west. At least we hope it will! Since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the number of Christians in Iraq has gone down from 1.3 million to less than 750,000 at the moment. An Assyrian province, one that is safe, coupled with a good and vibrant economy for its residents, will go a long way to ensuring some stability for Assyrians in the the country.

Assyrians have been extremely patient and suffered through so much since the fall of their empire. Yet, they remained defiant and persistent in their effort to survive and stay relevant and rooted in their ancestral homeland. Getting their own province is the least thing that can be done to reward them for their resilience.

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The Spirit of Music and the Revolutionary Influence of Slave Melody and the Fiddle on America

 

 

 

black fidler

By Abbey Mikha

Assyrians care about peoples from other cultures and they sympathize with their struggle!

I wrote this essay a few years ago for Slavery class.  I encourage all of you to read it.  Although it is not about Assyrians we can still learn from what other peoples of other nations have gone through and the struggle they faced at the hands of oppressors.

Introduction

Since the beginning of civilization many prejudiced catastrophic series of events have occurred which the human race should be ashamed of.   Such an event took place during the transatlantic slave trade.  This was certainly a miserable time in history, a strange time, when the human race had not yet understood itself in relation to people who appear different.  In that time Europeans devastated Africa.  They used African people as slaves and for many years they were their main labor force, which made a lot of Europeans materially rich, but in a historical sense evoked an image of them as morally devoid.  Slaves were important to the economic development of various countries and were shipped to the New World, to what is still today called the Americas.  The African slaves though did not forget about their home and always desired Africa.  Although they were not allowed to conjure an image of their homeland, they did so spiritually in the depths of their psyche and soul and through their music.  This psychological phenomenon became a gift to the New World from the slaves.  Although this world was unkind to them they still contributed to the culture. They told folkloric tales, danced, sang and kept alive the melody of their homeland.  It is undeniable that their beliefs were also repressed and substituted for Christianity, which was forced upon them.  Nonetheless, the melody and beat of Africa, which ran through their veins, would find its way into the notes and hymns of the slaves and the innovative rhythm of their descendants.  At first the music continued to be a reflection of the immeasurable sadness and hopelessness of an oppressed people. After, the interaction of African and European musical cultures as a result of the transatlantic slave trade created an undeniable musical revolution, which began with instruments such as the fiddle and the melody, which forever continues to have a major effect on the development of music in America.

Richard Jobson an English captain who visited Gambia during the years of 1620 to 1621 observed the importance of music in the African way of life: “There is without doubt, no people on the earth more naturally affected to the sound of musicke than these people; which the principal person [that is, the kings and chiefs] do hold as an ornament of their state, so as when we come to see them, their musicke will seldom be wanting.”[1] Zora Neale Hurston stated that in the time of slavery blacks “became lords of sounds.”[2] The melody of Africa was in the hearts of every black man and woman.  Although the sad melody of slaves became a mirror of sound of the torture they endured and a certain deep depressive expression of their calamity, one cannot deny the influence it was to have on America forever after.  Shane and Graham White said that, “For nearly three centuries of African American history, much of what was distinctive about black culture was to be found in the realm of sound.[3] Many people today attest to the fact that a large number of African Americans are musically gifted; this is evidenced by the eloquent gift of the spirituals that African slaves gave to people of all color.

For the slaves, as each day drew to a close and fading light made more work impossible, these physically tortured human beings were marched back to cabins for a few hours of rest:

“At night they would begin to sing their native songs, and in a short while would become so wrought up that, utterly oblivious to the danger involved, they would grasp their bundles of personal effects, swing them on their shoulders, and setting their faces towards Africa would march down into the water singing as they marched until recalled to their senses only by the drowning of some of the party”.[4]

In regards to such escapes and in some extreme cases nervous whites wished to silence slaves, at times quite literally.[5] Sometimes slaves were not allowed to even sing during their work so they “quietly hummed against the threat of punishment by the overseer or owner.”[6] This punishment of silence was perhaps why their heart was stubborn and still wanted to sing.  Words, rhymes, notes, and melodies after all are what make any life more bearable.  Although as time passed whites recognized their liking for many of the sounds of slavery. [7] “As would later happen with the paintings of Picasso and Braque, antebellum whites continued to use words such as “wild” or “strange” to describe the sounds that they had heard from colored people, but they also acknowledged the power of what had been revealed to them.”[8]

There were all kinds of songs that the slaves sang.  Some were work songs, dance and play songs, story songs or ballets, satirical songs, field and street cries, spirituals, and poetic forms.  The most common poetic structure was the call and response form, in which the solo verse alternate with the refrain lines. [9] The following is an interesting song with a typical arrangement.  In the song the “springs that never run dry” could be an expression commonly used by slaves to refer to that place where they could indulge in something so natural as a spring, where fresh water flows to the surface of the earth from underground, or even perhaps heaven a place where they would be free from the difficult physical labor which they had to endure on earth at that time:

I meet little Rosa early in the morning.

O Jerusalem! Early in the morning.

And I asked her, how [do] you do, my daughter,

O Jerusalem! Early in the morning.

I meet my mother early in the morning.

O Jerusalem! Early in the morning.

I want to go where Moses trod.

O the dying Lamb.

For Moses gone to the promised land.

O the dying Lamb.

To drink from springs that never run dry.

O the dying Lamb.

Some primary sources such as town and court records and assembly journals of the time reveal matters of musical interest among the lists of facts.  Thus we learn, for example, that the slave Nero Benson was a trumpeter in the company of Captain Isaac Clark.[10] The trial records of one slave revolt in 1741 show that one of the slaves involved was a fiddler named Jamaica, a slave of Ellis.[11] “Fiddling was an occupation that was commonly, if not exclusively, performed by African Americans and the tradition of black fiddling has its roots in slave culture.”[12] The record of slave fiddling was so strong, in fact, that some whites became convinced of the primacy of blacks as dance musicians in antebellum America.[13] Slave musicians had created a custom whereby they provided dance music for white America, and it was some time before blacks were seriously challenged in that field.[14] Therefore, a distinct African American musical tradition, one that combined elements of African and European music, had become well established.  This means there was cultural exchange and African slaves were influencing European music and revolutionizing the culture.  Had the Europeans known that this revolution in melody would occur and influence American culture to such an extent, they may not have allowed it.  It can be said that this gradual musical cultural exchange snuck through with mother time.  There were many songs, but there is a tune fiddlers played called “Lost John” which is said to have originated in black tradition.[15] The fiddlers were the hearts and souls of the party; for slaves it was a way to show their musical expertise and their free spirit.

There are eight important points in regards to slavery and fiddling, which Paul Wells stated in his article “Fiddling as an Avenue of Black-White Musical Interchange.”   These are very worth mentioning and are central to understanding the significance of the slave fiddler:

1.Slaves were playing fiddles for white dances as early as the 1690’s and presumably learned-and possibly adapted-the prevailing popular dance repertoire.

2. Black fiddlers also played tunes that were more African in character-“Negro jigs”-which do not conform to the standard British, Irish, American fiddle-tune mod but which may have influenced later southern fiddling, both white and black.

3. The combination of fiddle and banjo grew out of slave culture, and slaves were playing fiddles and banjos together at least as early as 1774.

4. Syncopated bowing patterns, which were likely borrowed from black fiddling, strongly influenced the development of a particularly southern version of fiddling and later forms of popular music.

5. White minstrels adapted black instruments, techniques, and repertoire and combined them with European musical elements to form a popular synthesis of African and European music.

6. Minstrelsy impacted later white fold tradition.

7. In late-nineteenth-century black urban communities, piano-based music supplanted the older fiddle and banjo dance music, leading to the development of ragtime.

8. The blues exerted a strong influence on white southern fiddling and, ultimately, on commercial genres that grew out of it.[16]

The African fiddler became an expert in his field and through his passion allowed white Americans to see the diligence and effort that the African slave was capable of.  Fiddling eventually became the most reported musical activity of African Americans during Antebellum America.

There have also been many forgotten songs influenced by slave culture but one song that everyone knows is “Amazing Grace” by John Newton.[17] “Although the origin of the melody is unknown, most hymnals attribute it to an early American folk melody. The Bill Moyers special on this song speculated that it may have originated as the tune of a song the slaves sang.”[18] Many people, to this day, do not appreciate the influence of slave cultures on America, and do not like to admit that it contributed anything profound, especially in the field of music.  The argument that slave music sounded very simple and primitive and could therefore not have influenced eloquent American music is not true.  Anyone with blood running through their veins knows that the saddest melodies are those that most touch the soul and influence musical minds that perhaps purposely overheard a song and were then inspired to write something similar combining style and music.  According to Samuel Floyd Jr. a journalist once said that Black music died at the hands of British rock groups in the 1960’s.[19] He says that, “part of the reason that such mythological thought continue to surface in scholarly writings is that too few black intellectuals have been involved in black music research for significant and persistent debunking to take place.”[20] Although he wrote this in 1983 it is still very true today.   It is sad that throughout history and even in this advanced century some scholars still deny the influence of slave music on America.  This gives witness to the fact that sometimes people who we believe to be thinkers, philosophers, and leaders in a certain field should be questioned, especially when the truth is so evident.

It is interesting to note that someone who is considered a great thinker like Friedrich Hegel also rationalized slavery.   He said that Africans lack consciousness, which sets man apart from other “animals”.  He thought that since Africans did not have that consciousness they deserved to be enslaved.[21] These are devastating thoughts and ideas, but even the Pope himself at some points in history sanctioned slavery.  Nonetheless, neither Hegel nor the Pope had enough authority to take away from slaves the power of music. Quite a few ex-slaves stated that their masters and mistresses and sometimes their white guests as well would come down to the slave quarters to witness and be entertained by a slave dance.[22] In the narratives, one finds references to blacks listening to white music and whites listening to black music.[23]

The truth is that racism has been there since anyone can remember,[24] but there have also always been a few kind people who knew that slavery was wrong on every level and tried to destroy it as an institution.  Sometimes the behavior of criminal peoples can be difficult to understand especially when we do not agree with them on any level. The transatlantic slave trade was a devastating event which, to say the least, shook and traumatized millions of Africans perhaps forever.  The creation of the universe may still be a mystery, but the creation of slavery was no accident.  One positive thing that came out of the transatlantic slave trade was the interaction of African and European musical cultures, which eventually created an undeniable musical revolution.  It was initiated by instruments such as the fiddle and the melody that forever continues to have a major effect on the development of music in America.

Imagine the fiddler, a man who happens to be black and also a slave, who in his moment of happiness shows excitement and creativity in play and in movement.  He created in the heart of the humanitarian onlooker a desire for a human uprising, an explosion of feeling, with his deliberate exchange and intermixing of techniques, notes, dancing, and feeling.  This musical expression, which stems from the source of the need to be free and to be allowed to exist is an image and sentiment that alone can influence generations of people in the beat of every second in time.

End Notes

[1] Eileen Southern. The Music of Black Americans A History. New York.  W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1971.  4.

[2] Shane White and Graham White. The Sound of Slavery. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005. Ix.

[3] White, The Sounds of Slavery. Ix.

[4] White. The Sound of Slavery. xi.

[5] White. The Sound of Slavery. xiii.

[6] White. The Sound of Slavery. 55.

[7] White. The Sounds of Slavery. 18.

[8] White. The Sounds of Slavery. 18.

[9] Southern. The Music of Black America. 190.

[10] Eileen Southern.  The Music of Black America. 30.

[11] Eileen Southern. The Music of Black America. 30.

[12] Paul Wells. “Fiddling as an Avenue of Black-White Musical Interchange.” Black Music Research Journal. Vol 23. 138.

[13] Wells. “Fiddling Avenue Interchange.”138.

[14] Wells. “Fiddling Avenue Interchange.”138.

[15] Wells. “Fiddling Avenue Interchange.”142.

[16] Wells. “Fiddling Avenue Interchange.” 145.

[17] Professor Mohamed H. Mohamed. Class notes.

[18] Al Rogers. Amazing Grace: The Story of John Newton. http://www.anointedlinks.com/amazing_grace.html (accessed December 1st).

[19] Samuel Floyd Jr. “On Black Music Research”. Black Music Research Journal. Vol. 3. 1983. 48.

[20] Floyd. “Black Music Research”. 48.

[21] Professor Mohamed H. Mohamed. Class notes.

[22] Robert Winans. “Black Instrumental Music Traditions in the Ex-Slave Narratives”. Black Music Research Journal. 1990.  53.

[23] Winans. “Black Music Ex-Slave Narratives.” 53.

[24] Professor Mohamed H. Mohamed. Class notes.

Works Cited

Floyd, Samuel Jr. “On Black Music Research”. Black Music Research Journal.  Vol. 3, (1983), pp. 46-57.  Published by: Center for Black Music Research – Columbia College Chicago and University of Illinois Press. (accessed December 2nd 2010). Jstor.

Southern Eileen.  The Music of Black Americans A History. New York.  W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1971.

Wells Paul.  “Fiddling as an Avenue of Black-White Musical Interchange.” Black Music Research Journal. Vol. 23, No. 1/2 (Spring – Autumn, 2003), pp. 135-147.  Published by: Center for Black Music Research – Columbia College Chicago and University of Illinois Press.  (Accessed December 1st 2010). Jstor.

White Shane and White Graham.  The Sound of Slavery. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005.

 

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Abbey’s Defense of the Maharashtra Region in India and all Poor Farmers of the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Use for Degraded Lands in Western India Project

Think of the following essay in relation to our homeland.  We have water shortage in Iraq as well and in all our villages, like for example in Bartella.  Our Assyrian people need help as the people of India also need help.  We are an ancient people just like the Indus Valley people.  What is happening in India is happening all over the world.  Take fifteen minutes of your time to read through this report.  Our friendship as Assyrians with peoples of the entire earth is a testament to our humanitarian spirit as a nation.  Let me know what you think.

By Abbey Mikha

Summary

Changing the ideas of modernized people of the earth in relation to poor peoples of other nations has to be part of an education process for modernized people in regards to human and humanitarian issues. Abolition of rural poverty should be an extremely important concern for all persons and nations. We need to help peoples of the Third World! In our project area in the Maharashtra region in India there live a simple ancient people who have not been influenced a great deal by the progress other regions of the world have seen. Though they may be poor they certainly have people of intelligence and wisdom. Our team wants to help improve the situation of the people who are trying to survive on a seasonal basis. We have to aid in the development of farmers who can serve as future leaders in the field of agriculture. Also, we realize that water is the source of life. We want to provide help and opportunities for creative people and even inventors to influence the future of their land and villages by implementing ancient wisdom combined with modern knowledge on water harvesting techniques to cure the ecological degradation in the area. We have researched the opinions of various individuals and experts on the three approaches to land use under consideration. In our research it was our hope to find the best solution for the peoples of the Maharashtra region of India. Although it would be amazing if we could make each person in our project area rich, a more realistic solution is to provide practical advice and support in order to influence their life, so that their living conditions can improve and they will have hope and joy not just for a moment but for a lifetime.

Structuring the Problem definition

Trying to help people of other cultures is every good human beings hope regardless of which culture they are from, but there are problems to achieving those goals and dreams, most of which are financial. In the following research project and report the opinions of various individuals and experts on the three approaches to land use under consideration will be evaluated. The opinions of individuals who are actually from India like Dr. Narayana Shenoy, Greeta Nair, K.G. Kshirsagar, and Madhav Gadgil have been considered. Additionally, the views of Kevin Conway and Thomas Rosin have been presented. We also referred to Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd report called, “Modern Irrigation and Fertigation Methodologies for Higher Yields in Sugarcane.” We are of the opinion that considering a variety of views will lead us to more accurate conclusions.

It is rather confusing to think that poor peoples of the world could not want help from those who are modernized, but the fact is that people are afraid of change. The peoples who wholeheartedly want to help are often times received in a suspicious manner by the villagers in the Maharashtra region. Accepting help from those who are strangers to the ancient land of the Indus Valley is a choice and cannot be provided by force.

The ancient water harvesting techniques that the people have used for generations must be developed and combined with modern techniques to improve the livelihood of the people. To take for granted this ancient wisdom of water harvesting would be a testament to our ignorance. Therefore, we will do our utmost to appreciate this knowledge, which springs from a distant time and even an eternal source.

Background Information

In his report titled, “Conjunctive use of water resources in the Decan Trap, India” Dr. Frank Simpson gives a detailed explanation of the area of Akole Taluka which is very similar to our project area located on the eastern flanks of the Western Ghats mountain range. He says:

“Akole Taluka is located on the eastern margin of the Western Ghats mountain range in the westernmost part of Ahmednagar District, Maharashtra State, India. This area is comprised of uplands to the west and south, which give way to rolling and relatively even topography, at lower elevations to the east. The taluka is part of the Deccan Trap plateau, where generally flat lying basalt lavas make up the bedrock beneath a variable cover of weathered basalt and soil. In these respects, it is similar to much of the Deccan region, which covers an area of 500, 000 km2 in western and central India. Superficial deposits are thin to absent at higher elevations and up to 2 m or more in thickness in the valleys. The annual rainfall, which ranges from 600 to 2,000 mm across the taluka, is largely confined to the monsoon period, from June to September. July is the wettest month. Typically, there are sporadic showers during the post-monsoon period (October–January) and little or no rain in the pre- monsoon months (February–May). Before the onset of the monsoon, temperatures in the 40–50°C range are common.”

The tribal and rural people are subsistence farmers. Their main crops are rice, groundnuts, ragi and local grass during the autumn growing season, and wheat and gram during the spring season (Simpson). The quality of the harvest depends on the amount of soil moisture and there is also fluctuating water availability that decreases gradually after the monsoon period, which affects the soil and agriculture (Simpson). Water is the source of life, and attaining it is part of the difficulty for this region.

Measures of Effectiveness

We will consider that we have succeeded in our project not necessarily when we have changed the whole region. Rather, through simple signs like when the local people trust us and have learned to more effectively subsist from their land, as a result of a combination of their ancient knowledge and our suggestions and expertise. When we have shared our information of modern strategies and combined it with the people’s ancient approaches and they start to believe that we want to help them, we will have accomplished something amazing. Our goal is to help the people of Maharashtra region and those near Akole Taluka in moving forward as a group, society, and even as individuals.

We are certain that humanitarian work will and would be embraced by many individuals of the world if the funds were available. This though should not be an excuse for non-action; we must at least attempt to help poor peoples of every nation. Nonetheless, funds are one aspect of our project that we had to keep in consideration and under control. Our team of agrologists and volunteers have decided to live amongst the people of the Maharashtra region and in this way avoid unnecessary expenses. This also will help us in understanding the daily difficulties of the people. The funds we have been granted have been expended carefully with the hope of making the best of every dollar.

Alternative Solutions

Water Harvesting Solution:

Water harvesting is an ancient water collection method, which has been improved and improvised throughout the ages from the time of the earliest civilizations including that of the Indus Valley. A most pleasant verse indicating a part of the water cycle is found in the ‘Kiskindha Kanda’ of Valmiki’s Ramayana. It states: “The sun’s rays have drunk the water of the seas, and carrying it as an embryo for nine months, is giving out the elixir of life” (Shenoy). The ancient peoples of the Indus Valley realized the necessity of water and its obvious connection with all the living beings on earth.

In the article titled, “Traditional water harvesting methods of India”
 by Narayana Shenoy he states:

 

“Ancient Indian Sanskrit literature reveals the extensive knowledge our ancient predecessors possessed, of very complex and dynamic phenomena of movement of water in nature i.e. knowledge of rainfall, run-off, weather pattern, properties of water, properties of soil, etc. They designed and constructed dams, aqueducts and a variety of water harvesting structures much earlier than the commonly believed Greek, Roman or other ancient civilizations.”

This is a testament to that although the majority of the peoples of this region are poor; they are the descendants of a rich culture and civilization from a mysterious forgotten time in history. They were able to make it to this century from so many thousands of years ago! This is an achievement considering the difficult environment they live in. It is the opinion of our team that the ancient water harvesting techniques should be continued and developed and combined with modern techniques that suit the area. There are solutions, which will cause the least harm for the land and also the people.  On the subject of rainwater harvesting Dr. Narayana Shenoy states:

“It can be simple to construct from inexpensive local materials, and are potentially successful in most habitable locations…Roof rainwater can’t be of good quality and may require treatment before consumption. As rainwater rushes from the roof it may carry pollutants in it such as the tiniest bit of mercury from coal burning buildings to bird feces. Although some rooftop materials may produce rainwater that is harmful to human health, it can be useful in flushing toilets, washing clothes, watering the garden… these uses alone halve the amount of water used by a typical home…Overflow from rainwater harvesting tank systems can be used to refill aquifers in a process called groundwater recharge, though this is a related process, it must not be confused with Rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvested from roofs can contain human, animal and bird feces, mosses and lichens, windblown dust, particulates from urban pollution, pesticides, and inorganic ions from the sea (Ca, Mg, Na, K, Cl, SO4), and dissolved gases (CO2, NOx, SOx)) ( Shenoy ).”

This is exactly where modern science and technology and technique can help. After collecting the water as described in the passage, it must be treated. Clean water can be made available for the population of the region. In this world of coincidence there are so many ways to lose ones life, but not having drinkable water is not an acceptable reason to die for anyone in the world, for any child of any nation. We are responsible for this as human beings and as friends to our fellow human kind.

Another opinion is that of Kevin Conway who asserts that, “Over the past 70 years, human numbers have tripled but our thirst for water has surged six-fold” (p.1). He continues:

“Supply is only one part of the growing water crisis. For an increasing number of people, water quality is every bit as threatening. Population growth, industrialization, and urbanization are not only depleting lakes, rivers, and aquifers, they are polluting them as well. Already more than 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water; 3 billion lack access to basic sewerage systems. For millions, life-sustaining water is now a deadly menace. Water- and sanitation-related diseases will rob many more of their health and a productive future. The history of rain harvesting is rich in technique and innovation. The Greeks, the Mayans, and island peoples around the world all developed ways of harvesting or holding back rain as it cascaded from their roofs or flowed across their fields. IDRC-supported researchers tapped into this broad base of traditional knowledge and used the tools of modern science to improve water-harvesting techniques and safeguard water quality (Conway p.1).”

We agree with this strategy. The water harvesting solution is beneficial for the villagers near the area of Maharashtra. There are no negative consequences for the people using the various ancient techniques of water harvesting. This knowledge may come in handy at times of great need. We can help improve upon this way when combining it with some modern strategies to insure the best results.

The Sugarcane Solution:

According to the Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd report called, “Modern Irrigation and Fertigation Metholodgies for Higher Yields in Sugarcane” India is the world’s largest producer of sugar and sugarcane (p. 5). It also states that sugarcanes requirement for water and fertilizer are also equally high (p. 5). Sugarcane is grown with flood irrigation in all other states except in Maharashtra, which is the location of our project area (p. 5). According to this article the constraints for sugar cane production are:

1. Non availability of high yielding varieties
2. Dearth of good quality seed
3. Improper water management
4. Use of imbalanced fertilize doses
5. Negligence in plant protection
6. Low awareness among the farmers to use improved cultivation practices.

In this article it also states that sugarcane grows extremely well in medium to heavy, well-drained soils, and high organic matter content. Water logged soils and soils of poor drainage are not suitable. Growth of sugarcane will be poor in sandy soils (p. 6). Also, heat, humidity, and sunlight intensity play important role in sugarcane germination, tillering, vegetative growth and maturity. Sugarcane grows well in humid and hot weather (p. 6). In the JISL report it also states that the mean minimum temperature and the relative temperature disparity are comparatively lower in Maharashtra (p. 7). It seems that for all those reasons some are of the opinion that Maharashtra is a good region for growing sugar cane. This must be analyzed further with the reality and truth at heart. The motive of those trying to promote this alternative must be considered. Are these individuals trying to take what they believe to be the easy way out? This idea of making fast money while not considering the future of the land will cost the poor people in the end, not those making big money.

In an article titled, “More Maharashtra farmers shifting to sugarcane cultivation” the author Greeta Nair said the following:
Favorable conditions not necessarily climatic but more political, financial and overall support, are making farmers shift. Increasingly land in Maharashtra is being diverted to sugarcane. This shift is significant in Solapur, Beed and Latur. Traditionally cane has been grown in western Maharashtra and accounts for more than 60% of the state’s contribution to the sugar bowl. But now, cane is also been grown in areas that have historically known to be chronic drought prone areas and they are contributing 25% to the sugar production (Nair p.1).

In this region of India politics hardly considers the destiny of the common folk. Politicians should not make decisions about degraded lands and best alternatives. Politicians study politics and should contribute to their field. Geologists study the earth and these scientists and engineers should be the decision makers in regards to earth issues. This would positively influence our destiny as a human race upon this planet we call home.

All things considered, the district of Maharashtra is actually facing the problems of water scarcity and sustainability due to sugarcane cultivation. Therefore sugar cane cultivation is not the solution. A society cannot make all of its decisions based on a one-year economic plan. The income made within one year of sugar cane production will only be beneficial for those with the money in their pocket.

In the Agricultural Economics Research Review of 2006 called the, “Organic Sugarcane Farming for Development of Sustainable Agriculture in Maharashtra” by K.G. Kshirsagar the issue of how much sugar cane costs to grow is discussed. Also, how much fertilizers cost chemical and non-chemical, costs of irrigation, and plant protection chemicals. In this article he states:

In Maharashtra, about 80 per cent of water is utilized for agriculture (World Bank, 2003), and more than 60 percent of it is utilized for the sugarcane crop alone. Moreover, farmers mine water from deeper aquifers for the sugarcane crop, especially in the study district. This is a cause of great concern and demands conservation and judicious use of water, as it has endangered the stability and sustainability of agriculture. The organic sugarcane farming (OSF) has been found quite successful in the study area and has offered several benefits as compared to those by inorganic sugarcane farming (ISF). Although OSF requires more human labor, cost of cultivation has been found lower due to savings on chemical fertilizers, irrigation, seeds and agrochemicals. The yields have been observed to be relatively lower on OSF but are more than compensated by the price premium fetched by the organic sugarcane and the yield and profit stability observed on OSF. The OSF has been found to conserve the soil and water resources, increases farmers’ income, thereby enhancing their economic well-being and livelihood security. Thus, OSF is important in achieving the goal of sustainable agriculture. It has been suggested that organic farming should receive prime attention from all the stakeholders to realize its full potential in increasing profitability and providing the much sought after sustainability of agriculture.

This is an exaggeration of the reality of sugar cane production in Maharashtra and the future of its lands, soils, and economy. Although it is always good to consider various opinions in the end the truth must be the guide, for the harnessing of truth of those of the poor of Maharashtra region will be a beacon of light that will enable them to subsist well into the future. Their truth may need to be considered on a global level. It may well be a simple truth, that they need honest advice and help. The future of the lands in the region must be well thought out and although the people are being pressured to grow sugar cane by the government this solution is not the best alternative.

Do Nothing Approach

In his article called, “Conjunctive use of water resources in Deccan Trap” Dr. Frank Simpson stated, “Indigenous knowledge, attention to local religious practices, and respect for traditional and folk approaches to communication were indispensable to the success of the project.” This is a very important factor of our project also. Allowing the people of the Maharashtra region to continue on with their traditions and the way they have subsisted since ancient times without any help may be a choice, albeit an unfair one. It allows them to live life as their ancestors have done. So many times throughout history modern peoples have intruded on the lives of ancient peoples and have caused a lot of unpleasantness in the life of the people as a community. Although our project is an honorable one and we want to help the people of Maharashtra, they may not want the help we so want to give. Though they live in poverty they may have found some greater meaning to life.

A simple question may be, “Does what we want to provide for the people of this region fit with their life style as physical and spiritual beings?” The answer to this question may be contradictory depending on whom we ask. Some of the people might be very attached to their practices and consider them holy. Nonetheless, our goal is to try to increase their self-esteem so that they can change their future, but we must remember that this may not be ours to control. The natural way of living may be satisfactory and the most environmental friendly system for human beings to subsist at peace with the earth. Perhaps someday there may not be any better permanent solution and therefore we must think about the meaning behind this approach.

It is true that we should try to influence other cultures in order to help them move forward. Aiding people of the area in the Maharashtra region will benefit them physically, propel them forward as a community, and give them a better life. Nothing is certain in this world but the philosophy of brotherhood and sisterhood is everlasting.

In Madhav Gadgil’s article titled, “Biodiversity and India’s Degraded Lands” she discusses a very interesting topic. She says that, “ecosystem people” subsist by producing or gathering a diversity of biological resources from their immediate vicinity. The people of the Maharashtra region are such “ecosystem people”. She says:

“Their quality of life is intimately lined to the maintenance of modest levels of biodiversity in their own circumscribed resource catchments. Their resources base has been extensively degraded by pressures created by “biosphere people”…the Third World elite and citizens of industrial countries, who can draw resources from all over the world and are thus, indifferent to environmental degradation in the Third World. “Ecosystem people” have a genuine stake in biodiversity maintenance in their immediate surrounding, it is important that conservation efforts include maintenance and restoration of at least modest levels of biodiversity throughout the Third World (p. 167).”

So the question must be considered, “Do we want to help the poor of the region in order to give them bits of our life style, or rather so that we can continue our own life style in the future?”

Our projects incentive is moral so we can help poor farmers and villagers and give them our knowledge. After we do so though we must be careful not to consider ourselves their managers. We must not allow ourselves to believe that after we have given the people in Maharashtra newfound information that we must now stay in the country and become the overseers of events. It has been said many times that the world has become a global village and this is true, but we have overstepped many boundaries as a western civilization. We must deal with the people in a very considerate and sensitive manner. Their culture is fragile. We should help them and protect them but we should not govern them. We should never destroy that which makes them unique. Above all we should ask what they want.

Analysis of Alternative Solutions

The positive and negative consequences of each possible solution to the alternative solutions will now be considered. In Mintesinot Behailu and Mitiku Haile’s report about water harvesting they state:

“The aim of water harvesting is to mitigate the effects of temporal shortages of rain, so-called dry spells, to cover both household needs and productive use. This involves storage component and various forms of storage exist such as: micro-dams, farm ponds, subsurface dams, tanks… Water scarcity is a critical issue for many developing countries in general and for those in the arid to semi-arid areas of the world in particular. It has long been understood that intensive water resource development can have a decisive role in the economic and social development of a country and in alleviating drought. Alleviating food security related to drought and famine through sustainable agriculture and environmental rehabilitation…attempts are being made to harvest runoff water in micro-dams for use both in households and small-scale irrigation schemes. It is recognized that the construction of micro-dams with proper irrigation and agronomic services will result in micro-climatic and environmental changes with positive impact on sustained productivity. Notwithstanding the positive impacts on increased agricultural productivity and improved community welfare, the negative impacts of water resource development require constant assessment and monitoring on environmental changes (Behailu and Haile).”

Therefore, there are innumerable positive aspects to water harvesting. There are no negative consequences for the people relying on their ancient techniques and further developing them through our modern knowledge of water retrieval. This solution can only bring constructive results for the land and the people. Although the water collected may not be directly drinkable instantly, it is usable in many other ways, and there are many procedures to clean the water so that every person in Maharashtra will have enough to survive and hopefully prosper.

The positive aspects of sugar cane productions are that it provides a multitude of jobs and thus influences the economy positively. Negative aspect of sugar cane production other than the negative influence on soils, is that sugar cane is a water intensive crop, and enormous amount of water is required for its cultivation. This water is lacking in the area. The water to cultivate the sugar cane will be taken from the mouths of the people.

Although local politicians, representing both the State and Federal Governments, have proposed that there is money to be made from growing sugar cane on a large scale in our project area, we must consider the needs and the thoughts of the villagers. We are of the same opinion as the villagers. We believe that the proponents of the widespread production of sugar cane and scarce soil nutrients would be depleted on a large scale, with every harvest. Therefore, although the politicians think this strategy would be a big money maker it is not the best long-term solution for the land or the people.

The do nothing approach which would allow the villagers to live their life as they have done in the years before, since many thousand years ago in ancient times, also has positive and negative impacts. The positive aspect of this strategy is that the people would live as their ancestors have lived without disruption of their life style. The negative aspect is that the people may not be able to survive as they have because of changes upon the earth. Also, it must be said that our future as a human race is codependent. Yes, we may also need to learn from the people of the Maharashtra region, perhaps to balance our own life style of greed, waste, and excess. Therefore, we must lift the people of Maharashtra unto a higher standard of living and perhaps in the future lower our standard of living, in order to meet somewhere in the middle in a forthcoming time where we all must coexist together. Balance and equality of living standards will be essential so that we all survive into the next thousand years upon the earth.

Evaluation

Although it might be difficult to explain to all the people of Maharashtra what the solutions are for the project area, our team of volunteers and experts are eager and ready to meet with all the various village councils who oppose the growing of sugar cane as a major crop, and anyone else who may wish to attend our meeting. We believe that the village council is correct in that they believe that the problem of land degradation would get much worse in the longer term as a result of the mass production of sugar cane for profits. We also agree with the village council that the only way to reverse the processes of desertification, which are well under way in the region, is to prevent the monsoon rains from flowing out of the area as surface runoff. This is best done through the widespread introduction of the technologies for water harvesting and water spreading. These involve very simple modifications of the hill slopes, which are cheap, small-scale and easily replicated. The new technologies would raise the amount of soil moisture and permit the production of a higher-yield second crop. When this knowledge is combined with that of ancient harvesting methods the people will feel comfortable because they will sense a familiarity with the practices.

In Thomas Rosin’s article, “The Tradition of Groundwater Irrigation in Northwestern India” he expresses that research indicates that there existed a different groundwater irrigation system of dams and perennial canals redesigned for India by the British during the early nineteenth century and have been continued by modern Indian government. There were though also indigenous principles and practices that the people in the region followed before. He writes about a folk system of hydrologic practices in India and gives importance to the surface impoundments of rain (p. 51). He further expresses that there is a interlinking among surface water facilities and their significance to the all over hydrology. This article argues that the opinion has been voiced that the indigenous system is actually superior to that of the British (Rosin p. 51).

It is very true that some modern civilizations have lost admiration for the ancient world and the knowledge that its peoples hold within their memory. Ancient knowledge is precious and we were all once connected to peoples who were originally ancient. One day we will know perhaps how those ancient people built the great civilizations of the world including that of the mesmerizing Indus Valley, and how they survived for so many thousands of years. Until we better understand these civilizations we should never undermine the knowledge of its people.

In conclusion we cannot accept the sugar cane solution, which would cause further problems down the road for the land and the people. Therefore, we must work with the locals of the Maharashtra region to bring about changes in the area through the ancient water harvesting techniques combined with our modern knowledge. The do nothing approach in our opinion is also not acceptable. We must do something! We must be able to earn the trust of fellow human beings in that we will help them and contribute our knowledge in order to make their lives better. The Indus Valley people are a link to the past and our sincere friendship with them and all peoples of the world is our link to the future.

We should respect all the farmers of the world and not just in Maharashtra.  We must always also remember just like human beings need rest the earth also needs its rest and can only produce so much.  Do not abuse the earth that freely gives of herself and be true to our planet.  God only knows how much time there is left on earth.  This was an Assyrians point of view in regards to Geology and what is going on in India and the world.  The big question is though do you agree and what do you think and believe?

References

Brooks David, Shames Tilly, Wolfe Sarah (2001). Local Water Supply and Management: A Compendium of 30 Years of IDRC-Funded Research International Development Research Centre. Retrieved from: http://web.idrc.ca/uploads/user- S/111711308618Brooks.pdf

Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. Irrigation & Fertigation Methologies for Higher Yields in Sugarcane. Retrieved from: http://www.jains.com/PDF/crop/sugarcane%20cultivation.pdf

K.G. Kshirsagar, Agricultural, (2006). Organic Sugarcane Farming for Development of Sustainable Agriculture in Maharashtra. Economics Research Review Vol. 19 pp 145-153. Retrieved from: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/57785/2/DrKG-Kshirsagar.pdf

Madhav Gadgil, Biodiversity and India’s Degraded Lands. Published by: Springer on behalf of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Page 167 of 167-172. Obtained from Jstor: Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4314063.

Mintesinot Behailu and Mitiku Haile, (2006 June). Highlighting the impacts of North– South research collaboration among Canadian and southern higher education partners. Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada.
http://www.aucc.ca/_pdf/english/publications/colloquium_proceedings_e.pdf

Nair Geeta, (2011 Jan 14). More Maharashtra Farmers Shifting to Sugarcane Cultivation. Financial Express. Retrieved from:
http://www.financialexpress.com/news/more-maharashtra-farmers-shifting-to- sugarcane-cultivation/737292/1

Rosin Thomas (1993). Human Ecology: The Tradition of Groundwater Irrigation in Northwestern India. Obtained from Jstor.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4603074

Shenoy Narayana, (2009 August 16). Traditional Water Harvesting Methods of India. Retrieved from: http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage& pid=304&page=22

Simpson Frank, and Sohani Girish, (2003). India BP-II.13: Conjunctive Use of Water Resources in Deccan Trap. In: MOST/Nuffic (IK-Unit) Database, Register of Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge, Chapter 4 of Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge, Joint Publication of the Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST) and the Centre for International Research and Advisory Networks (CIRAN), MOST Database of Best Practices. Web-link Reference: http://www.unesco.org/most/bpik13-2.htm

 

 


 

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Top 10 Assyrian Events and Persons of the year 2011

By: Ashur Sada

As the year draws to a close, it is time to reflect back on the past 12 months and attempt to make sense of what happened. Assyriangly Speaking that is!

We thought, like we have done in previous years, it would be cool to come up with a top 10 list of Assyrian events and persons for this ending year of 2011.

So how did we come up with this list? It is based on various things and criteria, including people’s nominations, amount of discussions and viewership it generated, buzz on social networks, and last but not least, how much it was debated and talked about in person. We may have missed or forgotten to include some other important ones, and if we did, please don’t hesitate to include them.

 

1-The attacks on Assyrians and their properties in the Northern Kurdish region of Iraq

2-The continuing efforts to unite Assyrian political movements and parties under one voice (started after the horrific terrorist massacre at the ‘Lady of Salvation’ Syriac Catholic church in Baghdad in 2010)

3-The passing of the great Assyriologist and archaeologist Donny George

4-Appointment of an Assyrian (Sargon Lazar, Ministry of Environment) as the first Assyrian minister in the new Iraqi government

5-The continuing threats, attacks, intimidation against Assyrians in Iraq and the resulting escape out of the country

6-The Completion of the Assyrian Dictionary Project

7-The passing of Assyrian singer and musician ‘George Homeh’

8-Assyrian activist, Michael Youash, and his continuing and relentless effort to get more funding and support for Assyrians and the formation of an Assyrian ‘Nineveh Plain’ province, all part of his role at the ISDP.

9-Assyrian soccer player ‘Leena Khamis’, playing for Australia, becomes the first Assyrian female player to make it to the world cup.

10-Launch of a new Assyrian Channel ‘Assyrian National Broadcasting

 

 

Do you agree with the list? do you agree with most choices? Who would you like to have been included, whether it was an event or a person? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our discussion forums.

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It is official: Assyrians are safe nowhere in Iraq

Kurdish officials in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq have been proudly saying for years how safe and progressive their region is. To a certain extent, especially when compared to the rest of Iraq, that was true.

But that all came to an abrupt end last week. That is when Kurdish Islamists-incited and fueled by a mosque preacher-came out after Friday prayers and burnt and destroyed various Assyrian liquor stores, hotels and massage parlors owned by people from other minorities in the region. The rioters and saboteurs apparently did this to show their displeasure with things that go against their religion despite the fact that these businesses were licensed and operating legally.

The legend that Assyrians were safe in the Kurdish part of Iraq is now, well, a legend from the past.  The attackers have vowed to repeat their attacks again with a more extensive target list this time, possibly including churches too.

Assyrians may have been physically safe from any terrorist risks in the north, but politically, they were as oppressed as they had ever been. Unless of course you pay your allegiance to the ruling Kurdish parties, then you are free (by local standards)

Following these attacks, Assyrians have become neither politically nor physically safe. The damages sustained in less than 24 hours is well over 5 million dollars. The destruction sustained, including to a cultural club, is a reversal of years of progress made by Assyrians in the region.

While the government, headed by Barazani, has stated that they will form a committee to investigate these crimes, few have much hope that much will be done. The security forces were very slow to respond-much later after the acts had been performed-they did take better positions to ensure these things don’t happen again next Friday.

While Assyrians living in Baghdad are mostly under a physical threat, Assyrians in the north now have a political as well as a physical threat to deal with.  And when we say physical, it includes both property as well as bodily harm since these rioters will go the extreme to achieve their religious obligations.

Which brings us to the next and very important question: if they are safe nowhere in Iraq, where should they go? although hundreds of thousands of Assyrians have already left, the ones remaining either can’t leave or don’t want to leave. Nineveh Plain anyone? this is an area in the province of Nineveh, just south of Dohuk, where various Assyrian parties and politicians have been lobbying to turn into an Assyrian province and safe-heaven. Make no mistake about it, with every act of terror and adversity faced by our people in Iraq, increases the chance of making the ‘Nineveh Plain’ as an Assyrian province, a reality.

Would our people be safer in Nineveh Plain? compared to the rest of Iraq, and although it wouldn’t be completely terror and problem free, it would be a big improvement. Our people already live there and make up close to a majority in various villages in the region so they are familiar with the land and its demographics. This familiarity and majority will help Assyrians manage it better and keep it as safe as possible.

Creating an Assyrian province and safe heaven for the Assyrian Christian population doesn’t mean separation or isolation from the rest of Iraq. Assyrians will still have their active representatives in the central federal government as well as to the Kurdish region to the north. It simply means a better way to manage, protect and help the Assyrian community prosper within one united Iraq.

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Annahar Newspaper : Christians of Iraq And “Nineveh Plain” Conspiracy

Christians of Iraq

And “Nineveh Plain” Conspiracy


Ashur Giwargis – Beirut
Annahar Lebanese Newspaper: 25/09/2011

Assyrians today are considered the indigenous cultural group in what is known as Iraq. Throughout their history, they have been subjected to different kinds of national and religious persecution since the fall of their political entity in 612 BC. Their religion is Christianity, and they are divided into many sects: Syriac, Chaldean (Catholic) and Assyrian Church of The East. They used to form around 8% of the Iraqi population before the fall of Saddam, while today this rate has decreased to less than 3% due to frequent aggressions implemented according to strategies based on national and religious malice on one side, and international plots on the other side, especially after the Central Intelligence Agency controlled over the rule of Iraq (openly) since the fall of Saddam Hussain.

In the recent eight years, Assyrians have been reluctantly involved in the game of “new Iraq” which was no better than Iraq of Saddam’s time or that of the Islamic and the Ottoman ages. The Assyrian people well knows who blasts its churches and kills its elderly and young only to implant intimidation amongst the people, so that in the end Assyrians are forced to join a scheme much bigger than themselves and even bigger than Iraq itself, the scheme which aims at expanding geographic entities coined at their expense. These entities give greater weight to the powers conflicting in such an area that has been, throughout its history, under the focus of western powers’ greed since the days of “Silk Road” from Europe to the Far East.

In this big game today, Assyrians are playing the role drawn to them: victims, and not players. They are victims torn between the fires of Islamization and kurdification. And some international foreign channels talk about them every now and then to show dissatisfaction about the Iraqi government under internal bargains between kurdish and Islamic racism. And here, western politicians and their media succeeded in showing the problem as “Islamic persecution” and the solution for it is “kurdish protection”, note that kurds themselves executed all the massacres against the Assyrian nation over centuries, and Assyrian lands in occupied Assyria (northern Iraq) are still confiscated by kurdish leaders with the support of kurdish occupation authorities. In addition, the project of the so-called “Christian governorate” or “Nineveh Plain governorate” is nothing but a result of that policy, for the kurdish project of achieving the so-called “greatest kurdistan” is known for those who are interested in the middle-eastern affairs, and the demands of kurds in Syria today are nothing but a sequel to this project, because the map of the project, that joins lands from Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, is still hanging above Barzani’s head in his office as well as in all offices of the kurdish parties under the sight of Iraqi politicians.

All that above is associated with crucial negatively important developments facing the future of the Assyrian nation as people and as culture. Unfortunately, lands and power, if any power, of the Assyrians make the major obstacle for the kurdish scheme. The so-called “Nineveh Plain” zone is considered the historical and national homeland for the Assyrians historically, demographically and truthfully, and is the point around which Assyrians crowd together; it is the most qualified for an inception towards the Assyrian national project which extends from Great Zab to the Tigris River (The Assyrian Triangle) within the one Iraq and along the lines of the other groups. However, unfortunately, this region is the strategic link of what is named “Iraqi kurdistan” to what will be named “Syrian kurdistan” (in case of any change to the Syrian regime). All Iraqi politicians in general, and Assyrian politicians in specific, are aware of this project and of the kurds’ intention to push the Assyrian “people” forcedly and by terrorism to seek kurdish protection under the slogan of “Nineveh Plain governorate” according to the article /35/ of the constitution of the kurdish occupation which, in turn, stipulates that Assyrians be given autonomy (by Kurdish occupation authorities) in the areas where they form the greatest population, whereby kurds avoid the conflict with Arabs of Mosul since the residents themselves demand, though unwillingly, a governorate independent from Nineveh governorate, when the Assyrians take the hit. Arabization has been launched anew against these Assyrians – Today thousands of hectares of their lands are being confiscated by Arabist trends in Mosul as a reaction to the kurdish project: “the Christian governorate”.

In addition, it’s well-known to everyone that:

– No “Islamic” offence has taken place to the kurds who converted to the Evangelist Church.
– No aggression or terrorist act has taken place to anyone inside the kurdish occupation areas.
– The terrorist acts against Assyrians discontinued after their politicians adopted the project of annexing their lands to the kurdish occupation.

Though the article /50/ was issued by the governing council on September 29, 2003, which states that: “All acts, decisions, regulations, directives, instructions and orders that are issued by what is known as revolution leadership council and other Iraqi officials (During Baath Rule), and which are issued for the purpose of changing the political and the demographic reality in Iraq, shall be cancelled”, this was selectively enforced when the Governing Council kept the effects of Al-baath decisions on March 11, 1970 which states the separation of the Assyrian Nohadra (kurdified to “Dohuk”) from the Assyrian Nineveh, hence Assyrians are still divided administratively, politically and demographically under two conflicting authorities: kurdification and Arabization.

Moreover, the project of kurdifying the Assyrian homeland is “constitutional” according to the “democratic” Iraqi state legislations and its constitutional article /143/, which approved to name Assyria as “kurdistan” (land of kurds) without any Assyrian representation (despite the presence of a “representative”), in the Iraqi state institutions.

In this status quo, Assyrians have hope neither in their parties nor in the Iraqi government being no less aggressive to them than Baath or the kurdish trends while their sole hope lies in the Assyrian Diaspora, especially those in the United States and Europe which are actively ruling Iraq and where Assyrians exist powerfully and heavily, the thing that enables them to be heard by international tribunes, for the international ethical duty requires that Assyrians must be treated as the indigenous people of Iraq according to “Indigenous People Declaration” stated by United Nations General Assembly on September 13, 2007 which declares the right of self-determination of indigenous people (articles /3/ , /4/) to reserve its entity and culture which are considered an international trust.

Hence, and according to the UN legislation mentioned above, Assyrians have the right to obtain (at least) a “safe zone” internationally protected just like the kurds since 1991, because Assyrians have no trust in the Iraqi state especially because it is a group of Islamists and kurds, and this will be the first step on the road to achieving “Assyria Region” like that of the kurds, and as long as the Iraqi constitution became mere ink on paper after contradicting the Iraqi state to article /7/ of its constitution, by establishing a racial region on a national basis under the name of “kurd-stan” (land of kurds).

Haaretz newspaper summed up the Assyrian tragedy in a couple of words in the issue of December 24, 2010 under the headline “Christmas requiem for Iraq’s Christian community” by the newspaper political analyst and the historian and ME affairs specialist, Dr. Zvi Bar’el who wrote: “The Kurds object to establishment of a protected Christian enclave, because they want to annex the Nineveh Valley, most of whose residents are Christians”. And the “governorate” project will be the first step to that, constitutionally, since the “Iraqi” constitution permits annexing a governorate to a region, and this is a clear sign to that in case the issue is not redressed by Assyrians themselves before the others, then the Assyrian torture journey will go on by appropriating Assyrian lands and confiscating them by Arabs in the so-called “Nineveh Plain” and also by kurds inside their entity which has been imposed on Assyrians and on others since 1991.

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Omnipresent Harmony and the “Savage”

Remembering the Aboriginal Peoples who once roamed Canada. Wisdom from other ancient peoples…..

By Abbey Mikha

Harmony manifested within the Aboriginal peoples spirituality and spirituality was intertwined with every aspect of their being. Harmony was therefore omnipresent in the Aboriginal way of life.  The ancient Aboriginal peoples understood that to be in harmony with all things was not only the most divine way to live, but for them the only way to live. Their sacrament was one of being in harmony.

Harmony was the vine at the centre of their circle which is life that branched out and touched many aspects of their existence, shaping the ways in which they interacted and related to nature with compassion, creating balance within their autonomous non-hierarchical social organization and embodied within their respect for the individual identity of their children.

Harmony shaped the ways in which the Aboriginal peoples interacted with and related to nature with compassion. They had a deep, close, spiritual connections to their land, to the extent that it was tied to their own identity. In the article Bkejwanong it said that the Aboriginal peoples wanted to protect their land, their Mother Earth, which they believe to be their soul. It also said that Aboriginal peoples retained values, traditions, and knowledge that are inspired by the principle of living in harmony with the natural world. This being a primary ethic in their civilization embodied within their love for the earth and all its creations. If one crop was not available for them, others were used and they never over exploited one specific resource because they believed that the Creator held them responsible for the natural world. A Cree Proverb describing these preservationist attitudes states:

“Only when the last tree is cut; only when the last river is polluted; only when the last fish is caught; only then will they realize that you cannot eat money.”

The Aboriginal peoples valued nature more than the accumulation of riches. In the article Bkejwanong it also said that they believe, “We are spiritual beings, as such, our sources of life are all around us – the four elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire.”  These elements were sacred and respected by the Aboriginal peoples who lived life compassionately at one with them.

The autonomous non-hierarchical social organization of the Aboriginal peoples was balanced because humans were at the centre of all things, rule was communal, and women had high degree of status and were allowed to take part in decision-making. Like for example the sister of Joseph Grant Mohawk who had a lot of power and influence in the Iroquois society. In the article Bkejwanong it said that a strong feature of the Aboriginal culture was that emphasis on community, on sharing resources through good and bad times, and on group decision-making through consensus. When the masculine and female psyches and essences were animate in such an atmosphere harmony was mediating.

Harmony was additionally embodied within the Aboriginal peoples respect for the individual identity of their children. In Eleanor Leacock’s article Le Jeune noted that, “Aboriginals cannot endure in the least those who seem desirous of assuming superiority over others and that they place all virtue in a certain gentleness or apathy.”

He also stated that, “Aboriginals cannot bear to have their children punished or even scolded.” These sentiments are interrelated with Aboriginals child rearing ways since they did not practise corporal punishment. Other societies use this sort of punishment because they want to shape the identity of their children by forcing them into submission restricting the child’s identity and personality. This contributes to a climate of violence, leaves a negative impression on children who are the most sensitive beings of all humankind and implies that society approves of their physical violation. Aboriginals instinctively knew this to be unhealthy and unnecessary to shape the psyches of their children in such a way. This lack of need for control of their childrens identities and superiority over them, speaks of confidence the Aboriginal peoples had in their identity as a nation and in the potential identity of their children within that nation. They knew their children’s individuality would shape themselves naturally more positively without their unnecessary intimidating interferences. A child after all is an innocent being and should be treated with benevolence.

In a society where generosity is of the highest value harmony cannot but be a pre-eminent melody and for the Aboriginal peoples harmony was as much a part of life as wind is a part of spring. Balance within the Aboriginals autonomous non-hierarchical social organization was achieved through an incarnation of harmony within the equality between genders in a community where rule was communal. Aboriginal peoples were part of the cycle of the earth. They lived life in love with nature and in that love abided harmony. Harmony was also found within the respect the Aboriginal peoples had for the individual identity of the most defenceless of souls, their children. These variables all gave witness to an advanced consciousness that embraces the ethos of equality for all.

In modern days it is a great achievement when an ethos is made into law. For the Aboriginal peoples the ethos of equality did not need to be made into law, it existed, as surely as birds own no castles other than the wilderness but one can still hear compassion in their voices when they sing for all of humankind. Authority and culture for the Aboriginal peoples was not based on gender, or even age, but also good will, civility, humanity, and harmony is at peace in such values.

Sources

Eleanor Leacock’s, Montagnais Women and the Jesuit Program for Colonization. An article from a class about Aboriginals.

Jacob Deans, Bkejwanong The Place Where the Waters Divide. An article from a class on Aboriginals of Canada.


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