Volume IV, Issue 25
Tishrin 12, 6748                                                            October 12, 1998

T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z E N D A

The Lighthouse Step By Step to Unity
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain  Malnutrition Affects 1/4 of Children in Northern Iraq
News Digest Tomb of Christ Collapsing Under Its Own Weight
Surfs Up "Assyrian Nationalism is the last thing you should represent."
Surfers Corner 15 Years in the Life of the Assyrian Academic Society
Calendar of Events AAS Party in Chicago
Walter Aziz CD Release Dance Party
Assyrian Surfing Posts Nakosha Magazine: October Issue
Our Church Leaders:  by Dr. Mariam Doreen Joseph
Assyrian Monasteries in Present Day Iraq
Khudra October 1998
Pump up the Volume Uterus & Ovaries
Back to the Future Qalaat Al Bahrain & the Settlement of Assyrians in Syria
Literatus The Siege of Ein Werdo
This Week in History Malik Yacu in Sidney
Bravo Assyrian Academic Society's Human Rights Conference

All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.



Our homeland has been divided into 4 countries. The borders have been like the Berlin Wall, nobody knew what the other side looked like, the other side of Beth-Nahrin. This is the reality or this WAS the reality because time changes, the politics change and so does our aim. We have now the opportunity to reach our people by the Internet, telephone, fax, newspapers, or very simply by buying an airplane ticket and visiting even the Assyrian associations in Urmia or Tehran.  But our organizations must have the goal of forming unity and the return to our country.  The only things which can bring us together are these practical steps. We can plan everything to the finest details, but when no one takes the first step, our words and ideas are like dust in the wind. The time will blow them away.  Until now there was not enough practice but thank God our new generation wants to work for this nation. And that's why I can offer you this article about the lives and the existence of the Assyrians in Iran.

The Assyrians/Suryoye have always lived in Beth-Nahrin. Unfortunately the countries we live and lived in have a system which did not provide us with the opportunity to remain in our homeland. So we left our homeland, our paradise, and started a life in these cold and strange countries.

The organizations in Beth-Nahrin and in the diaspora have always used different names; Assyrian, Sur(y)oye, Chaldeans. Beside the different names these organizations work in a special part of Beth-Nahrin, for example; Most of the members of ADO come from Syria and Turkey, ADM from Northern Iraq and so on. From experience I can say that these organizations showed us in the last 25 to 50 years that they did not have a plan for unity.  They worked only on a specific region of Beth-Nahrin or rather the members were from one of the church denominations. I call it this system "the second sword" because it kills our nation as did the last one in 1915 when the Turkish authorities killed 500.000 Assyrians.

To survive and create unity we have to reach every Assyrian in Beth-Nahrin and Diaspora. This means that we have to make contact with Beth-Nahrin. We have to  meet them, to work with them and hear what they really want. This was one of the reasons that I went to Iran.  In this article I will try to write my experiences and thoughts about the Assyrians in Iran, a part of my people which does not exist for most of us.

The Journey

After a long flight early in the morning on Wednesday the airplane lands in Mehrabad Airport in Iran. The first steps on the ground and the first breaths of the Iranian air felt like being in a natural sauna. It was hot but the Iranian people brought us quickly into an air-conditioned bus and showed us the place to our suitcases. While waiting for my suitcases I noticed that a policeman smiled friendly and welcomed us to their beautiful country.

Without any problems I took my  bags and held the blue paper on which  I  had written in Assyrian:  "Mootva Aturaya d'Tehran”.  In the crowd a little man waved his hand and came towards me. It was the president of the Assyrian Association  in Tehran, Mr. Younathan Bet-Kolia.  A blue paper with a few Assyrian words on it was enough to reach the people, which only exist in books and writings, and it felt incredible when I heard: "Shlama”.

Assyrian Association of Tehran

Behind the walls of the Association the Assyrians are quite active. The telephone rings the whole  time. Mr. Younatan Bet-Kolia works 24-hours a day in the Motva. He will be very busy in the coming weeks, because the Assyrian Universal Alliance will hold its annual Congress at the end of  October in Tehran.  In a building  that has so many rooms we met Juliana who lives there with her mother and sister. In the office of the Newspaper we met Nancy and Antoinette who were busy with writing articles in Assyrian. This monthly newspaper is published by the Association. Mr. Babakhan was calling the Assyrian football players, Enlil and Ramsin.  Mrs. Flora  was talking with Reverend Yuseph about the last Kha b'Neesan Celebrations.

Motva in Tehran is formed for all Assyrians and Chaldeans in Tehran. We have  almost 20,000 Assyrians/Chaldeans in the capital of Iran.  Most of them are in good contact with the Association. The Association helps the Assyrians/Chaldeans with different problems and has done so since 1950.  It was an Assyrian student association at that time. The first election was  held in 1952 and the first president was Prof. Osipov, then Rabbie Addi Alkhas, the father of the famous painter Hanibal Alkhas. Motva  organises many activities including the Assyrian New Year (1 April) festival, the Martyrs Day (7 August) commemoration,  Picnics, and all the observed religious celebrations. Additionally, Motva is the central meeting place for the Assyrians in Tehran.

A representative for us in Iran's Parliament (Majlis)

Not in Syria, not at all in Turkey and unfortunately not even  in Iraq.  But fortunately we have an Assyrian representative for the Assyrian/Chaldean people in the Iranian parliament called Majlis e'Iran.  We obtained this right in 1963 and before this time the Assyrians/Chaldeans where represented by an Armenian. The Assyrian students in that time, likes of William Ebrahemi, Miss Nellie Ishak Naserie, Dr. William Piroyan and many others, worked very hard to get the right to have our own representative in the parliament in Iran. The first Assyrian/Chaldean in the parliament was Mr. William Ebrahemi,  35 year ago. At that time, in my village in Tur-Abdin,  most Assyrians could not even think of having such a right in Turkey. The Assyrians/Chaldeans in Iran had to struggle very hard to obtain their right of representation as a minority group.  After Mr. William Ebrahemi came Dr. Wilson Bet-Mansoor, then Mr. Homer Ashurian, Dr. Sargon Bet-Ushana, Mr. Ashur Khnaneshoo. The current representative in the Majlis is Mr. Shemshon Maksud-poor.  He is serving his second term in office.

After my long discussion with Mr. Maksud-poor he offered the following message: "We have to create unity, we have to teach our children our language, our history, but the most important goal should be for all Assyrian organizations,  be it political, cultural or religious-- the Unity. The churches can play a very important role in this.   Without the churches the political organizations cannot succeed. We have to put all our energy in this and when we reach this we finally can begin with the real work."

There are two Assyrian-Chaldeans churches, 2 Assyrian Church of the East churches and one Protestant church in Tehran. From a distance one can see the Assyrian-Chaldean Church of Mar Yuseph, in Tehran. Anyone can easily see that it is an Assyrian church because it was build like our famous "Ishtar Gate" in ancient Babylon.  Here I met  Bishop Mar Youkhanna.   He said that he would never leave Iran and our people for a European country or for the USA.  Bishop Mar Youkhanna, Reverends Ashur and Yuseph from the Assyrian church of the East, and all the others are very actively work for our churches in Tehran and have a very important position in the community.  Until now there haven't been any political parties/organizations in Tehran. What the people told me was that they did not have faith in the political organizations, because they appear only when they need money and then quickly disappear. A women said: "Those organization do not want to politicize the Assyrians in Iran. They do not educate the people or make them aware oft a specific goal. They come here form North of Iraq when they need books, flags and money. From now on the Assyrian people in Tehran want to see if a political organization really wants to work and stay in Tehran.”

After being seven days in Tehran and having met many, people like  George Bit Atanus “the Father of the Assyrian flag”, Prof. Youkhanna Petros and his family, Dr. Sargon Gevargis, Romina and Hanibal Gervargis, Violet,  Ramsin, Arbela and so many more I decided to go and visit the dream and destiny of my journey: our historical city of Urmia.

Historical city of Urmia

The name Ur-mia comes from  Ur (cradle) and Mia (water), and that is exactly what you see: Water, mountains and peaceful green pastures.  Not one Assyrian can ever stop his tears when seeing the beauty of this city and its environment.  No words can explain the atmosphere,  the beautiful fields and mountains of Urmia. In every part  you can see the rich and proud  history of this city. The fresh air, the green fields, the high mountains, the salty water, the fertile land, the marvelous taste of the fruits and vegetables. In the center of the city- The Khayam Square- is a proof of the rich civilization brought by the Assyrians.

Around the city of Urmia the Assyrians have built 72 villages. Most of these villages are still inhabited by Assyrians and few by the Kurds.  The villages like Sangar, Tazakan, Goytapa, Satlowe, Kizlashok, Mar Sargis, Khusrawa and many others are inhabited by Assyrians/Chaldeans. In Urmia and around we have 30 thousand Assyrians. Assyrians with our own schools, gardens, big houses, an Association.  Every little Assyrian child could fluently read and write in the Assyrian language.

The celebration  of Mart Maryam, Mar Zaya , Mar Sargis and other Assyrian holy days are celebrated and respected by all Assyrians. The government of Iran gives the Assyrians all the freedom they need to celebrate these days and are allowed to express it in their own way.

The Assyrian Association in Urmia is one of the oldest associations of our people. The Assyrians founded it in 1906.  Assyrians have since been very active in Urmia. They have the "Beth-Nahrain" music choir, sports teams, religious and cultural activities.  One of the notable activities is the picnic every Friday in the village of Mar Sargis. Only Assyrians are allowed to be there on Fridays and the women do not need to be dressed in the Muslim attire.

The president of the Assyrian Association of Urmia has been Mr. Sargon Beit-Seem since 1970. Sargon told us that the Association is working on a project to construct a building to be named "Tishrin” (Assyrian "Autumn"). This building will be a meeting place and will be rented to organizations and the money will be used for different community activities.

In Urmia we have many churches of which the oldest is  Mart Maryam (St. Mary's) built 1800 years ago.  Reverend  Daryavosh told me about the architecture and the Holy Men who are buried here. The small gates and doors indicate the age of this Church built by Assyrians. Mart Maryam is the oldest church in Iran and every year attracts many visitors.

Visiting Urmia without visiting Delemon, now Salamas, is unacceptable. Delemon is a large city,  80 kilometers north of Urmia. It is surrounded by many villages. The most historical one is Kuhneshahr. In this village Mar Benjamin Shimun was killed on 16 March 1918.  There is a small church by the name of Mar Benjamin Shimoun.  Assyrian/Chaldeens no longer live in this village but the fields and acres are used and kept well.  There are many Catholic churches in Delemon pointing to the influence of the Missionaries. The French, German and English missionaries had schools and monasteries here.  Assyrians here hold a high regard for education and even changed their religious denomination to become Catholic and take advantage of the schools built by the foreign missionaries.   Hence, we are left with more Catholic churches here than those of the Assyrian Church of the East.

The Assyrians in Urmia and in the villages wants to establish contact with the Assyrians in Diaspora and want them to come back to their homes. Most of the Assyrians in Urmia and Tehran watch the Assyrian programs on Med-TV and are very happy with them.  The Assyrians in Europe are making many programmes in Assyrian language by and for our people at the MED-TV studio in Belgium. The programmes are sent via Satellite to Europe and the Middle East.  The Assyrians in Iran want us to visit them in Iran.  On the last day of my journey I met Mar Dinkha, the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. He had come to visit the Assyrians in Iran and was planning to stay for a long time.

My last remarks on my journey are these:  I’m originally not from Iran and I do not speak the East-Assyrian dialect, but when I met my people there, they saw and treated me as one their own daughter. Those Assyrians want to stay there and keep our heritage alive. They have achieved many goals with their own strength without any help from the political organizations. The respect and credit is all theirs.  Until now these Assyrians have not received any support from the “hard” working Assyrians in the rich and wealthy West or the USA.

The disappointment and disbelieve in our so-called political organizations must change. The hard work of our people there and here must give the Assyrians their beliefs and faith back.  And everyone of us can help in his or her own way.

Attiya Khamri

The author is originally from the village of Arbo in the mountainous region of Tur-Abdin, in south-east Turkey. She is a member of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and speaks in the western Assyrian dialect. She has been active in the Assyrian associations and political organisations in Europe, "like every proud Assyrian should be!" she comments.



(ZNAF: Baghdad)  More than a quarter of all children in northern Iraq are suffering from malnutrition, according to a UN spokesman last Monday.  A survey of northern Iraq revealed that 25.3 percent of children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition the spokesman for the UN's humanitarian
efforts in Iraq, Eric Falt said.  The survey covered the three Kurdish provinces which have been ruled by two rival factions in defiance of Baghdad since the 1991 Gulf War.  The oil-for-food programme, which began in December 1996, allows Iraq to sell limited amounts of crude in return for humanitarian
supplies. Falt said Iraq had received seven million tons of basic products worth a total of 2.25 billion dollars since the start of the program.



(ZNSO:  Syria)  The Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church presided by His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I convened at the Monastery of St. Ephraim the Syrian in Ma'arrat Saydnaya between September 22 and 26, 1998. The agenda was focused on three major items: the Constitution of the Church, the Unified By-laws of the Parish Councils, and the Personal Status Law. Amendments. In addition, the 800th anniversary of the passing away of Patriarch Michael the Great, the 2000th Jubilee of the Incarnation of the Lord and the International Syrian Convention, the revival of the Council of the
Ancient Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Middle East (Syrians, Copts and Armenians), fixed date
for celebration of Easter, etc., were discussed at the Synod.

For full story click here


(ZNAP: Jerusalem)   The building which many Christians believe houses the tomb of Christ is collapsing under its own weight, according to a husband and wife team who are experts on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  The aedicule -- or little temple -- which stands beneath a large enormous dome in the center of the church is still supported by steel scaffolding which was put up by the British mandatory authorities in 1947.  But the east front of the small structure, which thousands of pilgrims enter to pray at the site where Christians believe Jesus was buried and rose again after his resurrection, is unsupported and is sagging badly.  The walls of the current structure, which is less than 200 years old, are constructed without mortar. A thin outer skin contains other earlier structures and bears the enormous weight of two domes and a balustrade.

Plans to restore the aedicule, along with the floor and electrical systems of the church, are being held up by the illness of one of the church leaders who decide on restoration work in the building.  The Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, who along with the Armenian and Latin (Roman Catholic) leaders has a vote in deciding on maintenance, is seriously ill in Athens.  The church has suffered much in the 1,700 years since it was built by Constantine the Great.  The current aedicule was built by the Greek Orthodox community  after it was destroyed in a disastrous fire in 1808 which caused the overhead dome to collapse.  Five churches -- the Coptic, Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Syrian -- control different areas inside the church --while a sixth, the Ethiopian, occupies a former Crusader cloister on the roof above the eastern end of the church.  Traditionally, the chapels which the different rites control
have been jealously guarded.  Indeed the Israeli authorities have recently stepped in to pay for repairs
to three arches outside a small chapel at the west end of the church disputed by the Armenians and the Syrians.

Meanwhile the Palestinian Authority is seeking control over Christian churches to gain a foothold in Israel and influence in the West, concludes a report issued by the Israeli government.  The Jerusalem Post reports that "the Palestinian Authority has intensified its effort to control Christian Churches in Israel as part of its campaign to acquire their extensive land holdings in the country" and that it began with the takeover of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the Churches of Mary Magdalene and the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.  The Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, has replied that the report "has no
foundation, neither correspond to any truth. How would the PA interfere in the Church of Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem where the PA does not have access? On the contrary, we are grateful to the PA who is helping with its utmost to secure the rights and the old status quo."  According to the report, the PA is now trying to take over the Armenian Patriarchate; the Franciscan Order, which oversees Catholic sites on behalf of the Vatican; the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, valuable because it owns lands and assets in the western part of the town, including the land on which the Israeli parliament stands; and the Greek Catholic Bishopric in the Galilee, which owns considerable land holdings in the north of Israel.

Father Labib Kobti, the United States representative for the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem commented,  "it is only a new way to divert the attention from the main issues in the Middle East at a time when US
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be in Israel and Palestine."  "Palestinian Christians live as brothers and sisters with the Palestinian Muslims. They suffered the same way as anybody else in Palestine, because of the Israeli occupation: confiscation of their lands, demolition of their houses, the jailing of their youth, the ban on visiting Jerusalem " center of their faith " the building of settlements on their land..." he adds.


"For some unknown reason I have not received any Zenda newsletter for this month - October.  Any reason?  I'm addicted to it and am having withdrawal pains.  Raba shlamee from Paul Newey - age 84 and old enough to know better."

Paul Newey

In the process of upgrading our servers last week, between Saturday and Wednesday, we were cut off from the ever expanding universe of the Internet.  No ZENDA was published last week.

"To Mr. Wilfred Alkhas, Publisher of ZENDA Magazine:  While recently watching a clip of the conference that was held in Chicago, that featured Dr. Shamoun as the main speaker (see this week's BRAVO), I was astonished and shocked when started verbal attack against Dr. Shamoun when you were given the chance to a ask a question.

Aren't you the same person that was preaching to us a few months ago at the state convention and was being held at the Doubletree Hotel in Modesto, about Assyrians attacking and negatively criticizing your work, and now your doing it to other people.  The abused has become the abuser!

And what do you know about the Assyrian politics ?  Do have Ph.D. in Politics, History or or law. From the way you spoke it doesn't seem that you have any.

For people coming from Iran, Assyrian Nationalism is the last thing you should represent, when most of you think of Iran as you country, practice persian language in this country, and even have names
like them, so you wouldn't be recognized (e.g. Alkhas).

I think the Maronite and the Syriac have much more to offer than what we have, for a small culture like ours, that have nothing, but the past (6000 years ago) to hang on.  Oh, I forgot, we have someone like you to offer.

Albert Mulhim

See last issue's THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

"Sarmas died the death of a worthless dog.  He had taken a Moslem woman from her husband.  At the time the British were in control of Southwest Iran, Kermanshah.  He married her while she had two children.  She was young and attractive, but her husband was a poor labourer.  You put yourself in his shoes- his name was BAHARLOO!!! The brainless trash that comes out of you people cannot be anything but pure defecation.  Use your brain (if there is any) and research well,.

Ipsen Chung

"After centuries of occupation of our historic Assyrian land, we the Assyrian people must no longer accept the status quo.  The time is ripe for the rebirth of our nation in our historic Assyrian land.  We are not a party in opposition but a people persecuted, deprived and exiled. If we can not take this step now the extermination of our people and our nation by intolerant theocratic militancy is certain.  The Assyrian people are the predominantly Christians inhabitants of historic Assyria but are divided by centuries of dominion by occupiers using the doctrine of divide and rule coupled with persecution. It succeeded in splitting our people to the point that they have neglected their ancestral heritage or been forced to acquire false nationality to obliterate their national identity.

We are left with village/town entities differing from each other and with a large exiled community. Not since the Great War 1914-1918 when a great chance was lost due to wrangling, has the time been so propitious.  We must not go on squabbling, expanding our existing social clubs and encouraging more of our people to leave. Now it is the time to a wake and speak for ourselves.  We must not be distracted by regional interests which have debilitated our cause and our people. The nationalism of the fifties and sixties has produced autocratic sultans or religious militancy, usually with Christian slaughter. The salvation of our people must come from their unity and concerted actions. We will no longer accept those who speak for us as Christian Arabs or Christian Kurds or Christian Turks but we must speak for ourselves as Christian Assyrians.  We are a nation, a nation which adopted the Christian faith from
the early Christian era, a nation with its own history and culture.  We the Assyrian people have the duty and responsibility before God and to ourselves and the generations to come, to gather and proclaim
the rebirth of our Assyrian Nation.

Dr George Habash
United Kingdom



Fifteen years in the life of the AAS marks an achievement that the AAS is certainly proud of.  We are honored to celebrate the educational, cultural and literary pursuits that have sustained the AAS as an organization through time, an organization that will continually strive to strengthen its base within the Assyrian community.  It is our objective to build on its foundation as an educational and cultural resource center.

Ingraining an image of the Society that is larger than life in the minds of our people is not the trend of thought that supports the work of the Society. In its stead, we aim to reach out to all of you and ask you to enfold the significance of the AAS into your embrace. In order for us to journey forth from survival to success, we advocate and require in return, constructive feedback in addition to a realistic and methodical approach to challenges that probe our minds for instruction and direction.

We are faced with rapid technological and social changes as we approach the new Millennium. Therefore, your support in varying capacities is needed for us to rise above our circumstances in order to keep apace with the currents of time.  We encourage you to maintain and communicate an active interest in our programs and activities at all times.

In the interim, allow me to interrupt the space between words and dispense with sobriety as we prepare to dance the night away on Saturday, October 24, 1998.  The well-known singer, OGIN will be on hand to keep us firmly rooted in place on the dance floor.  There will also be a performance by the Gilgamesh dance group.  We promise you a fun and enjoyable evening.

Portions of the proceeds will be allocated towards an AAS Scholarship Fund.  Ticket price is $35.00, to include dinner. Party begins at 7:30.  Raffle prize will be drawn.  All are welcome.

Please call (773) 461-6633 for more information.  Or visit our web site,  http://www.aas.net.  Many thanks.

Nadia E. Joseph
Assyrian Academic Society


Oct 16

Assyrian American Association of San Jose
at San Jose Capitol Club (formerly San Jose Athletic Club)
196 North 3rd Street
Admission: $20.00 ($25.00 at the door)
8:00 PM
Tickets:  408-927-8100

Oct 24

Dinner/Dance Party 
Entertainer:  Ogen
Location:  Edens Banquet Hall
               6313 N. Pulaski Avenue
Cocktails at 7:30 PM 
Dinner at 8:00 PM
Tickets: $35 per guest
To order tickets call (773) 461-6633

Oct 31
CD Entitled: "Change"

Walter Aziz will be performing at Bet-Nahrian Club
Admission: $16.00 (includes free CD or Cassette)
7:00 PM
For more information/Tickets:  (510) 724-8207
No Video Cameras Allowed

Nov 14

Organized by the Assyrian Aid Society (United Kingdom Branch)
Location: Assyrian House, Ealing
Time:  8:00 PM
Entertainer:  Nawfal Shamoun from Germany
All proceeds will be sent to the Assyrian Aid Society in Northern Iraq
Our aim is to raise a minimum of £10,000 < > ~ $16,000.

Nov 18

Lecturer:  S. Parpola,  Asian and African  Studies, University of Helsinki
Location:  University of Toronto
Presented by:    The Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies
The Society was founded in 1980 to stimulate interest among the general 
public in the culture, history, and archaeology of Mesopotamia (ancient 
Iraq and parts of Iran, Syria, and Turkey). Each year it presents a 
symposium and lecture series. 
For further information, Grant Frame at gframe@chass.utoronto.ca

Dec 3-6

A Sample of Presentation Topics at MESA '98: 
Gary David, Wayne State University
"Becoming Americanized" vs. "Becoming American": Concepts of Assimilation and Acculturation in the Arab and Chaldean Communities of Detroit
Daniel P. Wolk, University of Chicago
The Emergence of an Organized Assyrian Diaspora: The Role of Discourse Against the Khachaqoghé ("Thieves of the Cross")
Ninette S. Fahmy, University of Exeter
Human Rights of Minority Groups and the Copts of Egypt 
Magnus Bernhardsson, Yale University
Reclaiming History: Iraq, Britain and the Samaraa Antiquities (1918-1936)
Various Presentations on:
Settlements and Settlement Policy in Northern Mesopotamia from the Third Millennium to the Ninth Century AD [4 presentations]
Selcuk Aksin Somel, Bilkent University
Chrypto-Christianity in the 19th Century Ottoman Empire

To Register Click Here


Hurrian settlements in Bet-Nahrain during mid-2nd millennium B.C.   Hurrians settled between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers during the mid-second millennium B.C.  The Pharaohs of Egypt sought marriage alliances with them and the Hittites feared them.  More than 100 objects excavated by Harvard between 1927 & 1931

Harvard University's Semitic Museum
-cuneiform tablets
-beaded jewelry
-lion statuettes from the temple of Ishtar at Nuzi

Links to Other Assyrian Websites

Nakosha Magazine: October Issue

Our Church Leaders:  by Dr. Mariam Doreen Joseph

Assyrian Monasteries in Present Day Iraq

 Uteral Cancer:  serta d'Marbaaya
Ovarian Ligament:  aasoora d'beetanaya

Cycles & Observances of the Eastern Assyrian Liturgical Calendars

 Mar Adday & Mar Abay
 Mar Sergius & Mar Bachus
 Mart Shmoone
Mar Assia
Mar Isaiah
 Mar Elia the Prophet

AAC = Ancient Assyrian Church of the East
ACE = Assyrian Church of the East
CCC = Chaldean Catholic Church
MCC= Maronite Catholic Church
MOC = Malankara Orthodox Church
SKC = Syrian Knanaya Church
SOC = Syrian Orthodox Church


BC (700)

Few finds have excited scientists quite as much as Qalaat Al Bahrain (Bahrain Fort). When a team of Danish archaeologists began digging into a large mound a few kilometres east of Barbar they began peeling back the centuries uncovering cities built on cities going back 5000 years. Visitors can see remains of five occupations from an ancient walled city from the third millennium which was probably the chief city of Bahrain at that time, to a comparatively recent grand Assyrian palace built around 700BC. On the nearby seashore more digging has unearthed the Bahrain Fort. The original fort is thought to have been built during the Hellenistic period.

AD (1933)

After the August massacres in northern Iraq, nine thousand Assyrians, led by Malik Yacu d'Malik Ismael, flee into Syria, where they settle along the Khabur River in Jazira province.  For eight years the League of Nations operates a special administration to assist the settlement of Assyrians in Syria.

Historical Dictionary of Syria, Commins



I am currently reading a book called FROM THE HOLY MOUNTAIN - A JOURNEY IN THE SHADOW OF BYZANTIUM.  It is written by the Scottish travel writer William Dalrymple and published by HarperCollins in 1997.

In the book the writer retraces the footsteps of a sixth century Greek monk called John Moschos who set off on a journey across the Byzantine world, from the shores of Bosphorus to the sand dunes of Egypt.

Mr. Dalrymple's journey started in June 1994 in the Monastery of Iviron, Mount Athos in Greece.  The following month, July 1994, he moved to Turkey.  Among the places he visited in Turkey was the Monastery of Mar Gabriel, Tur Abdin.  According to Mr. Dalrymple, the monastery was built by the Emperor Anastasius in 512 A.D.  However, the abbey's original foundation dates back to 397 A.D.   Only a handful of churches anywhere in the world as old as Mar Gabriel have survived and are still in use.

During his stay at the monastery the author met and spoke with the monks and priests who told him how tough life was for them, being constantly persecuted by the PKK on the one hand, and by the Turkish authorities on the other.  In the course of his talk, Father Thomas Bektas, the priest of one of the Christian villages that had recently been destroyed by the Turkish authorities, remarked with tears streaming down his face: "Not since Ein Wardo has the situation being so desperate for us here".   This is the brief story of Ein Wardo as the author tells it on page 114 of his book:

"At the beginning of First World War the Suriani saw the Armenians being led away by the ottoman troops and heard the rumors of what was happening to them.  They feared that they would be next, so they made preparations.  They bought guns and stored wheat.  They chose the most inaccessible of their mountain villages, Ein Wardo, and began to fortify it.  They strengthened the walls of the church and secretly prepared barricades to fill the gaps between the houses.

"When the Ottomans, backed by Kurd irregulars, began their attacks on the Suriani villages, the then Patriarch gave orders for all the villagers to retreat with their food and weapons to Ein Wardo.  For three years the Suriani defended themselves there.  Anyone outside the barricades was killed.  Nearly every Suriani alive in eastern Turkey today is there because his parents or grandparents took shelter within those walls."

The author later met a 94 year survivor of the siege of Ein Wardo, Abouna Shabo, who told him that the survivors of the siege came Midyat, Kefr Salah, Arnas, Bote Kefr Zeh, Zaz Mzizah, Bas Brin.  The village of Ein Wardo had 160 houses, but by the time everyone had gathered there were at least twenty families in every house.  The following is how Abouna Shabo remembered the siege:

"We built walls between the houses so that the village looked like a fort.  Then we dug tunnels so that we could go from house to house without getting shot by the Muslims.  The strongpoint was the church, and on the roof we had a cannon that we had captured from the Turks in Midyat.

"They came after fourteen days: around 12,000 Ottoman troops and perhaps 13,000 Kurds - irregulars who just wanted to join in the plunder.  Any Christian left outside Ein Wardo was killed.  Many were too slow and did not make it.  In Arnas the Kurds captured 35 pretty girls.  They locked them up  in the church, hoping to take them out and rape them one by one.  But there was deep well in the courtyard.  All the girls chose to jump in rather then lose their virginity to the Muslims."

The village's supplies were adequate during the first summer of the siege in 1914.  However, by the middle of winter supplies began to dwindle.  Abouna Shabo told of a  group of about 100 escaped one night to get some salt from Midyat.  Most of them made it back, but 15 men, among them Abouna Shabo's brother, were ambushed by the Ottomans and Kurds and killed.

As the siege stretched, food and supplies became scarcer and scarcer so that the people in the village were at times forced to eat anything including lizards, beetles, worms etc.

 In 1917 disease struck the Ottoman and Kurdish camps.  This weakened the attackers and strengthened the defenders who would dare to break out at night and attack the enemy's camps.

"After three years," continued Abouna Shabo, "they despaired of ever conquering us and said that we were being protected by our saints, Mar Gabriel, John the Arab and especially Mar Hadbashabo.  Eventually a famous Imam, Sheikh Fatullah of Ein Kaf, came to the Muslim army and said he would try to make peace between the two sides.  The Muslims asked the Sheikh to say "give up your guns", but the Sheikh, who was an honorable man, advised us not to surrender all our weapons.  In the end we handed over 300 of our guns.  The Sheikh gave us his son as a hostage and said we should kill him if the Muslims broke their word.  He then went on his donkey to Diyarbakir and took a written order from the Pasha-Commander that the soldiers and the Kurds should leave.  I will never forget the sight of the Ottoman army taking down their tents and marching away down the valley towards Midyat.

"We gave the Sheikh back his son, saying we could not bear to kill the son of such a man, even if the Ottomans did break their word.  Before the siege there were three Kurdish families living in Ein Wardo.  When the fighting began we sent them away, but afterwards we welcomed them back."

The author later visited the fortress church of Ein Wardo.

Philimon Darmo
Sydney, Australia


October 15, 1972:  Malik Yacu d'Malik Ismael arrives in Sidney, Australia where he is greeted with much enthusiasm.


Assyrian Academic Society's Human Rights Seminar

On Saturday, October 3, the Assyrian Academic Society in Chicago, sponsored a seminar on the Assyrian Human Rights in the Middle East.  Several noted speakers were invited to discuss and analyze the history and the current conditions of the Assyrian in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iran.  The seminar was an effective way to commence a dialogue between many concerned Assyrian political groups and such human rights organizations as Human Rights Watch.  U.S. Congressman, Rod Blagojevich, was also on hand to offer his support for the solidarity of the Assyrian people in stopping human rights violations in the Middle East.  ZENDA will publish a report of this seminar in the near future.

Among the many speakers invited to this seminar was Dr. Imad Chamoun from Lebanon.  Dr. Chamoun spoke on Sunday at the Assyrian American Association hall on the topic of "The Future of the Assyrian-Syriac People in the Middle East."  He eloquently discussed the importance of cultivating an awareness among the Christians of Lebanon to return to their "Syriac roots."  Dr. Chamoun received a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Islamology from Kaslik Univerity and has published several books on the religious conflicts in Lebanon.  Fluent in Arabic, English, and French he is currently studying Syriac language.  Dr. Chamoun's lecture was also sponsored by the Assyrian Academic Society.  For more information on the upcoming activities of the AAS visit their website at http://www.aas.net.


American University in
Guadalajara, Mexico
Northern Illinois University
Moscow, Russia
Wiesbaden, Germany

This Week's Contributors:
in alphabetical order

Matay A.A. Arsan, Amsterdam, Holland The Lighthouse
David Chibo Australia Assyrian Surfing Posts
Albert Gabrial Turlock, California Assyrian Sufring Posts
Dr. Zaineb Istrabadi New York, NY News Digest
Firas Jatou Toronto, Canada Back to the Future
Assyrian Surfing Posts

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