Amoeblog

Happy MLK Day - Yo, whatever happened to peace?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 16, 2012 08:19am | Post a Comment

Today the USA celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (1929-1968). As we all know, Dr. King preached nonviolent activism in the global civil rights movement. Ironically, the other two persons honored with national holidays are Christopher Columbus and George Washington, two powerful slaveowners who advocated (and in Washington's case, waged) genocidal violence against people who fought for their civil rights.



Calls for the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day began almost as soon as King was assassinated in 1968 but it wasn't until 1983 that president Ronald Reagan signed it into law, over the objections of vocal opponents including Senator Jesse Helms and then-Arizona Congressman John McCain -- primarily over King's objections to the US's bloody invasion of Vietnam.


Outside of the US, the holiday is observed in Hiroshima, Toronto and probably elsewhere. But let's not get it twisted, his principles of nonviolence, as well as those of Henry David Thoreau and Mahatma Gandhi before him, were not merely calls to pacifism -- silently accepting the rule and direction of those in power. On the contrary, they were calls to action. 

Today, one of the most articulate (if not loudest) voice on behalf of  the civil rights deprived of the world's indigenous peoples, minorities, and unrecognised or occupied territories is UNPO, or, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. The idea was conceived by Tibetan activist Tsering Jampa and Uyghur activist Erkin Alptekin, who were dismayed by blood-lusting global media's single-minded focus on violent struggles for independence such as have characterized Palestine's fruitless struggle through 65 years of occupation.


Although nonviolent struggles continue to be comparatively ignored, several former UNPO members who embraced and practiced nonviolent struggle have succeeded in gaining autonomy, including Abkhazia, Armenia, East Timor, Estonia, Georgia, and Latvia. Other former members, like Aceh, Albanians in Macedonia, Bougainville, and Gagauzia have withdrawn their membership after their nonviolent struggles achieved agreeable settlements with the states that govern them.



If you wish to support peaceful struggle, please consider making a donation by clicking here. If you wish to read about civil rights struggles and issues of autonomy for under-recognized people around the world that I've acknowledged on this blog, check out whichever regions interest you: Balochistan, Chechnya, East Turkestan, Little Bangladesh, Ngulu Mapu, Ossetia, Palestine, Papua, Southern Africa's Bushmen, Tatarstan, Unrecognized Caucasia, Unrecognized Eastern Europe, Unrecognized North Asia, and Unrecognized South Asia.


On a final note, no doubt President Obama will invoke King's name and say some nice things about him today. Just remember, candidate Obama promised to spend more of our money on the military than any president in history. President Obama merely kept his word, every year since taking office spending over $680 billion on funding two wars, proliferating nuclear weapons and the military's over $500 billion "base budget." As MacGruber said, "Oh mamma, that's a whole lotta wampum." Meanwhile we spend less than $34 billion annually on foreign economic aid. I have to wonder what the world might look like if those figures were reversed. Don't just pay lip service to the Reverend, but take a moment to actually consider his words. RIP Dr. King and PEACE! 

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A Look at Baloch Arts and Culture and an Urgent Appeal to Prevent the Execution of a Child

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 28, 2010 01:48pm | Post a Comment


Balochistan (بلوچستان) is a UNPO member nation that lies along the division between the Middle East and South Asia. It is currently divided between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.


Mehrgarh

The area was first settled c. 7000-6000 BCE by the Dravidian ancestors of the modern day Brahui. The ruins of the Neolithic Mehghar reveal it to be one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming and herding in South Asia.

From the first to third centuries, AD, the area was ruled by Indo-Scythian or Indo-Parthian kings, the Pāratarājas. During the Arab Conquest in the 700s, Islam and Arabic culture arrived. In the 1000s, fleeing the Seljuk Turks, and in the 1200s, fleeing the Khagan of the Mongol Empire, numerous Aryan tribes arrived. All found the harsh, arid and mountainous ideally isolated and today, Baloch people's DNA reveals a rich genetic mix with varying degrees of Arab, Aryan, Dravidian, Greek, Kurdish and Turk ancestry.

Continue reading...

South(ern) Africa's Indigenous People and their Culture Presented in Music and Film

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 19, 2010 12:16pm | Post a Comment


Dusty Bushmen toddlers

I'm not a big spectator of sports (or player of them, for that matter) but it seems that events like The World Cup and The Olympics are often used to spotlight various aspects of the host country's culture. I did read one such article about South Africa in National Geographic but I haven't seen anything during the current cup about the indigenous population. OK, so maybe there aren't any bushmen on the pitch or in the stands but... well, I don't care... I started the blog entry a while ago and I'm just trying to make it relevant whilst South Africa's on our collective minds -- especially since Bafana Bafana appear to be on their way out of the cup (except as hosts) unless something miraculous happens.

 

A BIT ABOUT TERMINOLOGY

Many object to the use of the term "Bushmen," which I understand. Saying Bushmen women certainly seems odd. It's imperfect but widely accepted and used among the people it describes, just like black, white, Asian or Indian (for Native Americans). The ancient common culture of all Bushmen groups is retroactively known as Sangoan, although we have no idea what they called themselves. Capoid is a term used by some... chiefly people who throw around words like Negroid, Caucasoid and Mongoloid in polite conversation. Khoisan is often used but "san" means "outsider" in the Khoi language and is therefore considered offensive by the very people it's meant to describe. Khoi Khoi is literally, "People People." The Dutch called the Khoi "Hottentots," meaning "stutterer" or "stammerer" -- a reference to the array of clicks in their language. The so-called San were generally distinguished by whites as bushmen, although now "Bushmen" is the most commonly used generic term for the entire group, so for lack of a better word, Bushmen it is.          

Continue reading...

Obscure and Unrecognized South Asia & Indian Ocean

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 30, 2010 11:30am | Post a Comment


South Asia
is the most populous and densely populated region in the planet's most populous continent. Not surprisingly, therefore, it's home to many culturally rich nationalities who still struggle in the post-Colonial world for recognition, equality and self-determination.

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(If interested, there are similar entries about Caucasia, Eastern Europe and North Asia.)

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Assam


Assamese dancers (photo by Ramesh Lalwani)

The earliest known settlers in Assam are believed to be the Khasi and Synteng people of southeast Asia. The were later marginalized by the arrival of the Tibeto-Burman language speaking Monpas, Sherdukpens, Bhutan, Mishings, Deuris and Bodo-Kachari. The last major wave of immigrants seems to have been the Hindus around 500 BCE, although small numbers of many other groups have arrived since. As such, Assam today is a highly hybridized place that nonetheless is struggling for autonomy.


Assamese Music
Ankiya Nat
(Onkeeya Naat) is a traditional Vaishnav musical theatre dating back to the 1400s. Borgeet are popular Vaishnav songs dating back from the same era. There's also a significant folk music tradition that shares many characteristics with Burmese, Chinese and Thai music and is a significant influence on the popular music of artists like Anima Choudhury, Bhupen Hazarika, Javanta Hazarika, Jitul Sonowal, Khagen Mahanta, Luit Konwar Rudra Baruah, Nirmalendu Choudhury, Parvati Prasad Baruva, Utpalendu Choudhury and Zubeen Garg.

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Balochistan


The Dravidian-speaking Brahui of Balochistan are thought to be a remnant of the Dravidian migration to India thousands of years earlier. After the area was ruled by several people, the Iranian Baloch people first settled the arid desert of Balochistan about 1,000 years ago after fleeing the Seljuq Turks. Today, Balochi are widely believed to have assimilated varying degrees of Arab, Greek and Turkish ancestry. Today Balochistan is a member of UNPO.


Music of Balochistan
The music of Balochistan incorporates various influences from Iran and Pakistan and includes Sepad, Shabtagi and Vazbad (various types of hymns), and melancholic Zayirak. Famous performers and composers include Ali Reza Askani, Aref Baloch, Asim Baloch, Bakshi Baloch, Saeed Borhanzahi, Shah Jaan Dawoodi and Abdul Sattar Baloch.

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Bangabhumi


Human rights activist and Hindu Bangladeshi Taslima Nasreen

The Hindu Republic of Bangabhumi declared independence from Bangladesh in 2003. The movement was founded in 1973 in India soon after Bangladeshi independence to support the Hindu refugees from Bangladesh, who were targeted by the Pakistani army in the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities.


Music of Hindus in Bangladesh
Many Hindus in Bangladesh have achieved fame either as musicians (Subir Nandi, Tapan Chowdhury, Shuvro Dev, Rathindranath Roy, Aroti Dhar and Shefali Gosh) or composers (Ajit Roy, Subal Das and Subhash Datta). However, with the dwindling, persecuted Hindu minority spread throughout the country, there's no reason to think all of these artists identify with Bangabhumi.

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Bodoland


Bodo dancers

The early history of Bodos is largely unknown. Cultural assimilation with Assamese was not productive. By the end of 70's it became clear that Bodos had a little or no influence in the Indian political process. The official Bodoland Movement[1] for an independent state of Bodoland started on March 2, 1987 under the leadership of Upendranath Brahma of the All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU).


Music of Bodoland
The Bodos traditionally dance the Bagurumba. Their traditional music is played on local instruments including the Siphung, the Serja, the Tarkha, the Kham and the Khawang.

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Gilgit Baltistan


First mentioned by the Chinese in the 700s, according to the GBUM, the region enjoyed a brief period of independence between November 1, 1947, when the suzerainty of the Dogra rulers of the Kashmir princely state ceased to exist, and November 16, 1947, when the local inhabitants liberated their region and opted to join Pakistan. The territory is part of the larger disputed territory of Kashmir and has been in dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. On 29 August 2009, the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 was passed by the Pakistani cabinet and later signed by the President. They are a member of UNPO.


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Chagos Archipelago


The Chagos Archipelago is a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 individual tropical islands roughly in the centre of the Indian Ocean. The Chagossian people's ancestry is mostly of African heritage, particularly coming from Madagascar, Mozambique and Mauritius. There is also a significant proportion of Indian ancestry. The French brought them over as slaves from Mauritius in 1786. The Chagos were home to the Chagossians for more than a century and a half until the United Kingdom and the United States expelled them in the 1960s in order to allow the US to build a military base on Diego Garcia, the largest of the Chagos Islands. Many have fought for their right to return, only to be stymied by the British government.



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Chittagong Hill Tracts


The indigenous peoples, collectively known as the Jumma, include the Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Tenchungya, Chak, Pankho, Mru, Murung, Bawm, Lushai, Khyang, Gurkha, Assam, Santal and Khumi. The early history of the Chittagong Hill Tracts is a record of constantly recurring raids on the part of the eastern hill tribes, and of the operations undertaken to repress them. The earliest mention of these raids is to be found in a letter from the Chief of Chittagong to Warren Hastings, the Governor-General, dated April 1777, in which he complains of the violence and aggressions of a mountaineer named Ramu Khan, the leader of a band of Kukis or Lushais. The Chittagong Hill Tracts, combining three hilly districts of Bangladesh, were once known as Korpos Mohol, the name used until 1860. In 1860 it was annexed by the British and was made an administrative district of Bangladesh and a member of UNPO.



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Dimasaland


Dimasa women sorting snails

In the Mahabharata there is mention of the foothill dwellers of the Great Himalayas called Kiratas, which some suspect is a reference to the Kacharis. One of the tribes of the Kacharis is the Dimasa.
Originally established in the Brahmaputra valley, the Dimasa resettled in Sadiya and Assam and established the Dimapur Kingdom in the thirteenth century. In 2009, after years of fighting to regain independence, the Dima Halim Daoga stopped fighting.


Music of the Dimasa
The traditional dance forms of the Dimasa Kacharis are largely instrumental and played on the khram (drum) and muri (a wind blown instrument).

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Garo

 

Garo musicians

The Garo are a people who call themselves A·chik Mande ("hill people"). They appeared in Meghalaya, according to tradition, from Tibet, around 400 BCE. Originally they settled in the valleys but other groups persecuted them until the headed for the hills. In 1872, the British army, armed with guns and cannons, subjugated the Garo, who relied on swords and spears in their attempted defense.

Music of Garo
There are several traditional musical forms among the Garo, including Nangorere, Serejing, Pandu Dolong. Instruments include Kakwa, Nanggilsi, Guridomik, Kamaljakmora, gongs, Rangkilding, Rangbong, Nogri, Adil, Singga, Sanai, Kal, Bolbijak, Illep (or Illip), Olongna, Tarabeng, Imbanggi, Akok (or Dakok), Bangsi rosi, Tilara or Taragaku, Bangsi mande, Otekra, Wa·pepe or Wa·pek, Dotrong, Sarenda, Chigring, Dimchrang (or Kimjim), Gongmima (or Gonggina), Am·beng Dama, Chisak Dama, Atong Dama, Garaganching Dama, Ruga and Chibok Dama, Dual-Matchi Dama, Nagra and the popular Kram... to name a few.
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Gondwana


(photo by Ramesh Lalwani)

Gondwana is homeland of the Gondi people. Numerous kingdoms were established there in the past, including in 1398, when Narsingh Rai, is said by Ferishta to have ruled all the hills of Gondwana. Between the 14th and the 18th centuries, three main Gond kingdoms flourished: Garha-Mandla, Deogarh-Nagpur and Chanda-Sirpur. They were conquered by the Maratha and subsequently, the British and now, India. The Gondi's main voice of change is the Gondwana Ganatantra Party, founded in 1991 in Madhya Pradesh.

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Gorkhaland


Gurkha dancers

The Nepali-speaking Gurkha claim descent from the Hindu Rajputs of Northern India, who entered modern Nepal from the west. They were long used, after the subjugation of South Asia, by the British to do their military dirty work. Since 2007, some of the Nepali-speaking Gurkha (led by  Bimal Gurung) have struggled for independence. The political arm of the movement is Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJMM).



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Jharkhand

During the Mughal period, Jharkhand was known as Kukara. The principle peoples of Kukara were the Asur, Baiga, Banjara, Bathudi, Bedia, Binjhia, Birhor, Birjia, Chero, Chick-Baraik, Gond, Gorait, Ho, Karmali, Kharia, Kharwar, Khond, Kisan, Kora, Korwa, Lohra, Mahli, Mal-Paharia, Munda, Oraon, Parhaiya, Santal, Sauria-Paharia, Savar, Bhumij, Kol and Kanwar. In 1765 it was conquered by the British and renamed Jharkhand. Revolts against the colonizer were common until 1900. Finally, in 2000, the disenchanted Jharkhandi were given a modicum of recognition.


Music of Jharkhand
I'm sure there's an indigenous musical tradition in Jharkhand but it seems that Jhumar, a dance/music form from Balochistan, is the most popular.

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Kashmir


In the ninth century, Kashmir Shaivism arose, replacing the previously popular Buddhism and Hinduism. In 1349, Shah Mir introduced Islam to the region. Muslims ruled until 1751 until they were toppled by the Afghan Durrani Empire, whose reign ended when Ranjit Singh conquered it for the Sikhs. Today, it's still hotly contested by rival parties including India, China and Pakistan.


Music of Kashmir
The traditional music of Kashmir reflects its cultural and geographic location at the crossroads of Central, East and South Asia. Chakri is one of the most popular forms. Sufiana Kalam is the local classical form, having arrived from Persia in the 1400s.

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Kamatapur


Kamatapur is the ancient name of the Koch-ruled kingdom, whose lands included parts of Assam, Biher, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The Kamatapuri have claimed persecution at the hands of India and Kamtapur Peoples Party (KPP) was founded in January 1996 by Atul Roy.

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Karbi-Anglong


The Karbis are a people who speak a Tibeto-Burman language and who were among the first to settle the hills of Assam long ago. Karbi Anglong is currently an autonomous state within Assam although some residents are campaigning for full independence.

 

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Khālistān


Khālistān is a proposed Punjabi Sikh state, meant to revive the Sikh Empire of the 1700s. The movement to establish the nation peaked in 1970s and 1980s and has since grown much quieter.


Well known Punjabi Sikh performers include Kuldeep Manak, Daler Mehndi, Jaspinder Narula, Shingara Singh and Sukhbir.

The situation in Ngulu Mapu intensifies

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 31, 2009 01:16pm | Post a Comment
Although it's received little-to-no coverage in most mainstream media, clashes between Mapuche activists and the Chilean government have intensified as of late. Two days ago, thousands of Mapuche and other Chileans gathered around the country to protest plans for damming many of the country's rivers. This was only the latest round in a growing protest movement over land rights issues in Ngulu Mapu, the Mapuche homeland.


Just two weeks ago, a young Mapuche, Jaime Mendoza Collío, was shot in the back and killed by a Chilean police officer. The police were attempting to evict a group of about eighty Mapuche who were occuypying the San Sebastián farm. Following Collío's death, many Mapuche took to the streets of Temuco demanding direct talks with the Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet. The killing of Collío was only the latest death of a Mapuche at the hands of Chilean police. On January 3, 2008, 22-year-old Mapuche student Matias Catrileo was shot and killed by police. 17-year-old Alex Lemun was similarly shot and killed in November of 2002.


The Mapuche, whose claims to Ngulu Mapu stem from thousands of years of continuous presence, routinely clash with the Chilean governments as it sells off more and more of the Mapuche homelands to foreign mining companies which wreak considerable environmental destruction whilst reaping considerable profits. Meanwhile, large timber firms (most state-owned) continue to deforest the countryside. Most of the timber ends up in the US, at an annual profit of about $600 million. After the forests are destroyed, the timber firms replant the area with thirsty, non-native trees like eucalyptus. Those who speak out against what they call environmental racism are frequently arrested under the banner of counter-terrorism. The government regularly applies laws enacted during the Pinochet dictatorship to imprison activists, especially those belonging to Mapuche organizations like Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM).


In 1993, the government passed a law that recognizes Mapuche and Chile's other indigenous peoples and allows for Mapudungun, their language, to be taught in schools. For many, much more needs to be done. In addition to seeking the ownership of their ancestral homeland, the Mapuche seek constitutional recognition of their tribal identity, rights and culture. Toward that aim, a delegation of Mapuche leaders recently traveled to Geneva to appear before the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), where they hoped to gain condemnation of the Chilean goverment's alleged environmental racism.


Susana Abgélica y Los Peñis

The Mapuche's origins aren't agreed upon and their languaage, Mapudungun, is variously classified as relating to other Andean languages, Carribean Arawak, Mayan and even North American Penutian. Recent DNA analysis has shown that the Mapuche's Araucana chicken is native to Polynesia and was a staple of their diet before the European colonization of the Americas, suggesting that there was trade between Pacific Islanders and Native Americans (Rapa Nui is off the Chilean coast). The Mapuche also succesfully resisted several attempts by the mighty Inca empire to subjugate them. Although the Spaniards first claimed the lands in the 16th century, the Mapuche proved so effective in driving them away that it wasn't until 1862 that any permanent Chilean presence was established. It was the longest indigenous resistance struggle in the western hempisphere and, as recent tensions reveal, for many Mapuche, it continues.


Nancy San Martín
For those interested in Mapuche in film, there are several movies that focus on Mapuche issues, including Mapuche (1972), La Nave de Los Locos (1995) and the documentary Huinchan. There are also, of course, many CDs representing the music of Mapuche people, ranging from traditional to, inevitably, hip-hop. In addition to the artists featured above, Mapuzungun, Groupe Kalfucanelo, Tino La Guitarra Mapuche, Beatriz Pichi Malen and many other examples of music representing the voice of the Mapuche are available.


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