[-empyre-] Assyrian resonance

Ana Valdés agora158 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 7 11:20:43 EST 2014

I translated from Swedish to Spanish the testimony of a young
indigenous peasant from Guatemala, she walked from her village to the
nearby village to borrow some corn. The villages were in the
Cuchumatanes mountains, the border between Mexico and Guatemala, old
Mayan lands. She spoke Chuj, a language spoken by 40000 ppl. She was
going home from the village she visited and she saw some choppers
landing at the main square. She hided from sight inside a pyramide in
the square and from the eyes of pyramide, which was modelled as a
face, she saw the soldiers gather all the people at the village,
roughly 300 persons, and starting to kill them. The women were first
raped and beaten, their small toddlers were killed and beheaded with
machetes, the elderly and the women and the kids were put in a big
barn and the soldiers lighted the barn with all the people inside.
They were burned alive.
The men were killed with machetes and guns. The killing took the whole
day. The girl waited until it was dark and the soldiers were drunk and
feasting, she ran to her village and warned them the soldiers were
going for them.
In her village, Chalambochoj, lived three or fourhundred people. All
of them fled during the night, carrying the little they could bring,
the kids, some blankets, some corn, some animals. At down they crossed
the border and sought refuge in Mexico, almost one million indigenous
from Guatemala lived several years in Mexico waiting for the peace
agreements between the amy and the gerilla.
The army tactic was called the "fish and the water tactic". To hinder
the indigenous to give food or shelter to the gerilla they used the
tactic to kill all the indigenous they found and to destroy the
villages. The fish, the gerilla, could not survive without water, the
indigenous acted as the water to the fish, from it the gerilla took
their nutrients.
It was called the massacre
It happened in the nineties, far more recently than in Sargon's time.

On Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 8:04 PM, Erik Ehn <shadowtackle at sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> museveni is known for exerting crowd control by "just killing one or two people" as a ugandan friend pointed out to me. wade into a crowd, kill a couple of folks, and everybody quiets down or disperses. this doesn't always work, but seems to have worked for him in a number of cases... spectacular, specific disasters, broadly instrumental. genocide works to alter the world's relationship to history - stops history for an anti-dramatic period of rest (or a period of concentrating wealth, disguised as rest, as peace, as utopia). so the scale is larger but the principle is similar - kill a minority, spectacularly, and the will-to-change disperses or submits.
> performance, on the other hand, strives to humanize the individual, meaning - moves out from the individual to the plural public - plural to the point where the constitution of audience (witnesses, listeners) is a dramatic act itself, meaning - that audience/artists are co-creators of a collective noun - moving from person to persons, a human to human(e).
> walk out into a crowd and cause a couple of people to listen to each other, and you are reversing the polarity of genocide. only a polarity - a magnetic trace...
> but the only real (sustainable) antidote to genocide that i have ever been able to imagine involves the stillness of listening/self-absenting, versus the stillness of what strejilevich calls the single, numberless death.
> On Thursday, November 6, 2014 3:52 PM, Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> (I sent this to nettime when I started thinking about the
> history of the region; I have a number of texts and books
> from the late Armand Schwerner, who worked with the
> material. I've also been interested in semitic languages
> and the history of the early Mid-East. Anyway nettime
> refused to present this, calling it 'bog-standard' and
> implying the whole area was like this. I beg to disagree;
> in any case, here might be something to consider, or it
> might be something that's a dead-end.)
> The Assyrians publicized their atrocities in reports and
> illustrations for propaganda purposes. In the tenth and ninth
> centuries BCE, official inscriptions told of cruelty to those
> captured. Most were killed or blinded; others were impaled on
> stakes around city walls as a warning. The bodies were
> mutilated; heads, hands, and even lower lips were cut off so
> that counting the dead would be easier. These horrifying
> illustrations, texts, and reliefs were designed to frighten the
> population into submission.
> [...] When surrounding the capital city and shouting to the
> people inside failed, the Assyrians' next tactic was to select
> one or more small cities to attack, usually ones that could be
> easily conquered. Then the Assyrians committed extreme acts of
> cruelty to show how the entire region would be treated if the
> inhabitants refused to surrender peacefully. Houses were looted
> and burned to the round, and the people were murdered, raped,
> mutilated, or enslaved - acts all vividly portrayed in the
> Assyrian stone reliefs and royal inscriptions in the palaces.
> The Assyrian troops regarded looting and rape of a conquered
> city as partial compensation. [...]
> The annals of Assurnasirpal II vividly described such tactics:
> "In strife and conflict I besieged (and) conquered the city. I
> felled 3,000 of their fighting men with the sword. I carried off
> prisoners, possessions, oxen, (and) cattle from them. I burnt
> many captives from them. I captured many troops alive: I cut off
> of some their arms (and) hands; I cut off of others their noses,
> ears, (and) extremities. I gouged out the eyes of many troops. I
> made one pile of the living (and) one of the heads. I hung their
> heads on tress around the city. I burnt their adolescent boys
> (and) girls. I razed, destroyed, burned (and) consumed the
> city."
> This type of "psychological" warfare was especially convincing,
> and the inhabitants, "overwhelmed by the fearful splendor of the
> god Assur," surrendered.
> ----
> From Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat,
> Hendrickson, 2008
> ===================================
> Sargon, the ruler of Bel, the priest of Asur, the darling of
> Anu and Bel, the mighty king, king of hosts, king of Assyria,
> king of the four quarters, the beloved of the great gods
> and the mention of his name caused to go forth for the greatest
> deeds, the mighty hero girt with terror, who for the overthrow
> of the enemy sendeth forth is arms, the valiant warrior,
> forgot and trusted in his own strength. Against the kings and
> governors whom in Egypt had installed the father who begat me,
> to slay, to plunder, and to seize Egypt he marched., Against
> them he went in
> city which the father who begat me had conquered and to the
> border of Assyria had annexed.
> I summoned my supreme forces with which Asur and Istar had filled
> my ends
> the way ...
> he summoned his fighting men, With the might of Asur, Istar, and
> the great gods, my lords, who go at my side, in the battle on the
> broad plain I accomplished the overthrow of his forces.
> heard the defeat of his forces.
> That city I took; my troops I caused to enter and I stationed
> them therein. had conquered
> fortified cities, I captured. Their forces in numbers I slew;
> their spoil, their possessions, and their cattle I carried off.
> Their soldiers escaped and occupied a steep mountain
> Of a vulture within the mountain had they set their stronghold,
> In three days the warrior overcame the mountain
> he cast down the mountain, he destroyed their nest, their host
> He shattered, Two hundred of their fighting men I slew with the
> sword; their heavy booty like a flock of sheep I carried off;
> with their blood I dyed the mountain like crimson wool
> their cities I overthrew, I destroyed I burned with fire.
> they came to make war against me. I fought them and defeated
> them. Their warriors I overthrew with the sword, like Ramman I
> rained a deluge upon them, into trenches I heaped them, with the
> corpses of their mighty men I filled the broad plain, with the
> blood I dyed the mountain like scarlet wool.
> The team of his yoke I took from him, a pile of heads over
> against his city I set, his cities I overthrew, I destroyed, I
> burnt with fire.
> mile and female musicians, the whole of his craftsmen, as many
> as there were, and the officers of the palace I brought out and
> as spoil I reckoned.
> I besieged, I captured, I carried off their spoil.
> The walls of that temple had fallen in ruins. I was anxious, I
> was afraid, I was distressed and my countenance was troubled.
> (tablet translations)
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