Volume V                Issue 18
Khzeeran 28, 6749                                                                         June 28, 1999

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T H I S  W E E K I N  Z E N D A

The Lighthouse The Road I Follow
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain KRG on the Murder of Helena Sawa
AAP Meeting with Iraqi National Accord
News Digest Astrologers of Nineveh Invented the Telescope
Senate Testimony of Elizabeth Jones
Surfs Up "It seems like we can never resist turning the other cheek."
Surfers Corner The Good Samaritans
Message in the Bottle Nahira's Assyrian Music
Assyrian Surfing Posts Assyrian Top 50
Assyrian Awareness Campaign
A Photo-Diary of the Assyrians in Armenia
Oklahoma Scottish Rite Temple's "Assyrian Room"
Pump up the Volume Humidity & Wetness
Back to the Future The Radially Vaulted Roofs of Ur and Mar Thoma Odo
Literatus For Lack of Butchery
This Week in History The Archbishop of Canterbury's Mission to the Assyrians
Bravo Hanna Al-Haek
Calendar of Events 1999-2000

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


Hakkari Mountains, Turkey



It is I.  I am walking along a dark, gray and gloomy path.  Vision is hazy.  To where this path leads I have no knowledge of, where I come from to me remains a mystery.  I am a child directioniless, I have no identity to help me move forward, I just float along with the atmosphere.

Suddenly, to my surprise I reach a crossroad, as I stand before it I remain confused, invalid, not knowing which road to take, which direction to turn.  I stop, step back as a vision flashes before my eyes.  The vision of a face on which confusion and query grows.  My father.  Had he ever made a decision of this sort?

As I stare endlessly down one option which is open to me, I realise if I don't make a decision in itself I am deciding not to have a choice, and just go with the flow.

I am lost.

Am I to have a life of confusion and mockery?  Am I to be the follower and not the leader of my own life?  Is my dear child to have no life before it is even begun?   Today here in 1996.  I do know something.  I am a very lucky child.  I have a family that loves me and are safe here in the walls of Australia...

As I stand here before you, I ask: "Yes, we are to move forward and also to look back.  The road shall never end, but how is this possible?  How are we to strive, to succeed.  Where does this go?"  In order for our culture to survive, to prosper, to move forward, it is up to the youth to inherit the challenge from our parents.  They are the key.

As the youth are the locomotive, the older generation is the driving force.  It is up to you, to me, to us to move together, so that the circle of life shall never end and that there is always a road to follow...

Through the eyes of a child, from the heart of a child, I say:  "Survival to me as an Assyrian is most important.  As I accept I want others to be proud of me for who I am, what I believe in, and my heritage."
As the youth are being more educated, we shall hold even tighter, and the grip to our inner spirit shall be stronger.

The Assyrian language is going to be preserved, spread and spoken, never to be forgotten.  This language is the symbol of me, as it is a part of me.  My language is my word, my honour, and my dignity.  If it is forgotten then so am I.  The generation to come and those beyond are going to speak the Assyrian language, as birds sing their harmonies.

To the youth, my fellow brothers and sisters, let us hold our hands and our heads high, and be heard.  The strength that is within us, the bond that links us together, is passed down from the older generation, and so we must accept it, acknowledge it and apprehend it for if we lose it, there is no way of resurrection.  To the older generation through your support, unity and setting of example, this will continue, as it has been, as it will be.  Not only for the future, but for today...

To say to the world, lend my your ears, for I am to tell you my joys, of being Assyrian, of being Australian, of being me.  It is thanks to you that I possess this pride and shall be able to fulfill my dreams to the fullest.

I ask you to come with me to that gloomy, grey path which colour has turned into a sharp golden yellow.  Again, it is I, standing before a crossroad.  But as I look back, the fog disappears as I see where I came from.  I look down and see who I really am.  An Assyrian-Australian.  I look ahead, confusion escapes my mind as I take one step forward independently.  I know what I want to do and through you I am able to do it.  Now the doors on which I knock are opening and again a vision flashes before my eyes.  A vision of the future and my child standing before a crossroad making the choice.  The circle of life continues as does the legacy - The Assyrian Legacy.

Nina Nissan

"The Road I Follow" was presented by Ms. Nina Nissan at the Assyrian Australian Academic Society's Ball on 25 May 1996.  Ms. Nissan's speech in its entirety was published in "Purely Academic", the quarterly magazine of TAAAS, June 1996.



Buero Der Irakischen Kurden in Deutschland
Mission of the Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan to Germany


21 June 1999

Re: The murder of Ms. Helen A. Sawa, an Assyrian citizen of Dohuk

1. - The KRG is regretting any such incident costing the live of one of our citizens or of any person from the small foreign community in Iraqi Kurdistan, regardless of faith and ethnicity. Such incidents can happen in Detroit, in Chicago, in California, in Australia, in Germany, and indeed have happened recently, involving persons of Assyrian nationality as well.

2. - The case of Ms. Helen Sawa is being investigated thoroughly by the murder squad of the Police Department of Dohuk and of the General Security Department of the Region. Their findings will be made public as soon as they have been reported to the appropriate authorities and to the judiciary. Appropriate legal action will be taken according to the results of the criminal investigation.

3. - In addition, after the dead body of Ms. Sawa had been discovered, the President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Masud Barzani, ordered an independent 3-man- Committee to be established, headed by one of most senior and respected personalities of the Region. The name will not be disclosed at this stage to avoid undue pressure on the Committee.

4. - No one will be spared, once the findings of the criminal investigation and of the Committee are in.

5. - Mr. Izzeddin Barwari, who has been implied by certain Assyrian circles, was in Damascus at the time when the death of Ms. Sawa was discovered. He is, of course, one of the persons subject to further investigation. Pending this, he has suspended all of his official functions.

21 June 1999


Assyrian Patriotic Party
External Affairs Leadership
June 19, 1999

A delegation from the Assyrian Patriotic Party (APP) leadership has met with the Iraqi National Accord Leadership represented by: Secretary General Dr. Ayad A'Alawi, as well as Mr. Nori Badran, Mr. Dergham Kadem and Mr. Mohammed Khorsheed-  in an Arab country.  During this meeting all the matters concerning Iraqi opposition parties were discussed, in particular the activities and the steps to reactivate the UINC (United Iraqi National Conference) to lead the Iraqi National opposition toward the liberation of Iraq from tyrant dictatorship.

Both sides showed their regret for Assyrian absence in the Executive Council and emphasized the necessity of the Assyrian representation. They also examined the steps that were assigned to achieve this matter, especially by the Assyrian political parties to adopt a front action in order to be able to identify an Assyrian individual as a representative.



An article by Bruce Johnston for the Daily Telegraph London
1 June 1999

The Assyrians, and not Galileo, invented the telescope, and used it to observe the stars and develop astrology, a book by an Italian academic claims.

Giovanni Pettinato, Professor of Assyriology at La Sapienza University, in Rome, said his theory was based on artifacts kept in the British Museum. They include a lens made of rock crystal found by the British archaeologist A H Layard in 1850 in Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian empire, now in Iraq.

Prof. Pettinato said the lens acquired a whole new meaning if considered in the context of Assyrian cuneiform tablets which originated in the royal archives in Nineveh and are now in the British Museum. Their translation was published in 1992.

Dating from about 750 BC, they listed goods that had passed through various offices of the Assyrian court, including "lenses" and "tubes of gold". Other documents said the lenses were used by the court astronomers and had the purpose of "enlarging the eye".

In his new book, La Scrittura Celeste (The Heavenly Scripture), Prof. Pettinato dedicates a chapter to his theory that the Assyrians used the telescope. The observations by ancient astronomers could not have been made with the naked eye, he says.

"The first true compendium of astronomy is Babylonian, and certainly dates back beyond 1000 BC," Prof. Pettinato was quoted as telling Milan's Corriere della Sera. "In this work 72 stars and constellations are listed, including the planets."

He adds that more than 4,000 cuneiform texts on astronomy have been found. "Among these documents, which list the names of no fewer than 4,000 stars, there are to be found texts showing how to calculate the movement of the sun, the moon, and the five planets then known [Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn]."


Excepts from the written statement of Elizabeth Jones
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs

June 23, 1999

I am pleased to appear before you this morning to discuss US policy towards Iraq.

Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, remains dangerous, unreconstructed and defiant. We have come to the conclusion, after more than eight years of effort at seeking Saddam's compliance with UN Security Council resolutions, that his regime will never be able to be rehabilitated or reinstated into the community of nations. This conclusion is based on what Saddam's record makes manifest - that he will never relinquish what remains of his WMD arsenal, and that he will never cease being a threat to the region, U.S. interests, and his own people. It is based on Saddam's policies, not on any predetermined policy of our own. Thus, in November of last year, President Clinton announced a new policy with regard to Iraq: henceforth we would contain Saddam Hussein while we sought a new regime to govern in Baghdad. The President committed the United States to support those Iraqis - inside and outside Iraq - who seek a new government and a better future for all the people of Iraq...

Let me be particularly clear on this point: the United States is concerned for the protection of all Iraqis against the repression of the Baghdad regime. Besides those new living in relative safety in parts of northern Iraq, the world should not forget that Iraqi Shiites in the south, tribal Sunni Arabs in the west and center, the Turkomans and Assyrians, and even Tikritis themselves continue to suffer Baghdad's daily repression. Hence, we believe that the world community should tolerate no backsliding from Baghdad's obligations under any of the UNSC resolutions intended to protect the people of Iraq and its neighbors from the depredations of the current Baghdad regime. In particular, UNSC resolution 688 twice cited the consequences of Baghdad's repression of the Iraqi civilian population as a threat to international peace and security. It therefore demanded not only that Baghdad "immediately end this repression," but it also insisted that Baghdad give "immediate access by international humanitarian organizations to ail those in need of assistance in, all parts of Iraq." Baghdad is in flagrant violation of this UNSC resolution, as it is of so many others...

We have also made progress working with the two major Kurdish factions in the North, the PUK and the KDP, to help them reconcile their differences and better provide for all the people of northern Iraq. Just last week, leading members of both groups came to Washington for talks aimed at strengthening the reconciliation process. The two major Kurdish leaders, the Turkomans, and other groups from Northern Iraq, have played a very positive role in reunifying and reviving the Iraqi National Congress. This portends well for the contribution the Kurds, Turkomans, Assyrians, and Arabs of the North must also make in reunifying and rebuilding Iraq when a new leadership in Baghdad makes this possible...

Last month, as you mentioned, Secretary Albright met with the Iraqi delegation, including the INC interim leadership and prominent independents to underscore the administration's support for their efforts. And we're very grateful that they were very warmly received on the Hill, as well, as you mentioned...

Many have called on the president to use this authority to arm the Iraqi opposition and support armed insurrection against Saddam Hussein. There are a host of issues that must be resolved before we can have confidence that providing arms to the Iraqi opposition would advance our objectives of promoting a change of regime and not just lead to more Iraqis being killed unnecessarily.

One requirement is a credible, broad-based Iraqi political umbrella movement that authoritatively articulate a future vision for those Iraqis who now lack a voice in their own fate. Such a movement is indispensable to reassure those few Iraqis now supporting Saddam Hussein that there is no future for them or Iraq under his regime, while there is a bright future afterwards, even for them.

Hence, the first kinds of support which we aim to provide to the Iraqi opposition under the draw-downs will be to meet their most basic requirements: equipment for the infrastructure vital to the effectiveness of an international political advocacy movement, broadcasting equipment and training in civil affairs, including disaster relief operations. Further kinds of material assistance to the Iraqi opposition can be provided when they can best be absorbed and exploited.


"I have recently started reading a couple of books about the atrocities committed by kurds, turks and persians against our people early this century.  The more I read, the more I become aware of who really are our enemies and what devastation our nation faced at the hands of these criminals.  Nearly two thirds of our people were exterminated early this century and yet, not a word is mentioned in the media world wide.

In my continued effort to educate myself, I have recently came across an image of Hakkari, I would like to share it with you.   As a suggestion, would it be okay to start a new section in your zenda magazine to possible just images of places and art that pertain to us.  I think this is a good way for all of us to get a little more personal with some of the places we about, and remember, a picture is truly worth a thousand words.  So to start things off, I have attached the file below.  Thank you in advance."

Mazin Enwiya

Beginning with this issue ZENDA features a new section entitled "REFLECTIONS" where images will speak louder than a thousand words.  Thanks to our readers' suggestions ZENDA has been able to continuously improve its image and quality.

"I clearly disagree with Miss Joseph's statement (Click Here: June 7) that the intention of herself and the Assyrian Academic Society were of the best interest for Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs. I believe that an academic society is to be made of a body of intelligentsia that has the cognitive ability and the effort to bring all three groups together. To me what the AAS has done is cause a further division! Lets be honest and factual from historical records and word passed down from the simple laymen of people. We all believe and know in our minds and hearts that the three groups are in actuality the same. We can argue from now till the end of time and the facts would still show this.

I am an Assyrian. My father's church is a Chaldean Church; my mother is Eastern Orthodox. But no matter what denominations we carry we are Assyrian descendants and all of us carry Assyria in us! From your average Syria to your average Chaldean to your basic Joe Sham Assyrian and that's the bottom line. The Assyrian Academic Society had no business placing these new official political labels on these groups. We as a people of the same origins have too many group problems already and the last time our people attempted to play politics to a tune we lost an empire. This empire was built on blood, sweat, and tears of every Assyrian (Assyrian,Chaldean,Syriac). Thanks to the AAS's ability to not think of the true consequences of their definition of our people, we have managed to see a Pandora's box open that is showing bad signs all around. In future work the Assyrian Academic society needs to brainstorm ideas that will mend the bad work done before us today and in turn find ways of strengthening our bond as people. A man once said "United We Stand Divided We Fall" maybe a member of the AAS can recall for us whom that person was and build on it.

In closing I would like to make a suggestion and that suggestion is all the groups in controversy are of the same origin. Therefore they are the same. We need not worry about exactly whom we are as groups, but to know and understand that we all come from one group and that a Chaldean need not have a problem speaking to an Assyrian and to think that they are different or visa versa. I have a friend who is Chaldean. This friend  is a female lives in Michigan. It doesn't matter to me she's Chaldean because to me she has the same blood flowing in her veins that I have flowing in mine. Lets remember that in the future!"

Eli Azzo

"I would like to make a few comments on Professor John Joseph’s article: “We seem to have an identity crisis and for no reason.”  First I will begin by showing how we are linked to Assyria and Assyrians.

H.W.F. Saggs, in page 290 of his popular book titled: “the Might That Was Assyria” writes: “The destruction of the Assyrian empire did not wipe out its population. They were predominantly peasant farmers, and since Assyria contains some of the best wheat land in the Near East, descendants of the Assyrian peasants would, as opportunity permitted, build new villages over the old cities and carry on with agricultural life, remembering traditions of the former cities. After seven or eight centuries and various vicissitudes, these people became Christians.” Who were these people who “after seven or eight centuries and various vicissitudes,...became Christians”? Isn’t it clear that he is referring to Adiabene? J.B. Segal, in his book: “Edessa The Blessed City”, in page 51 writes: “and the latter was queen of Adiabene, which was popularly called ‘Assyria’.”.

These Assyrians, who Saggs says became Christians, are the same Assyrians who were in Adiabene, because Adiabene was “popularly called Assyria”.

Now, a part of these Assyrian Christians of Adiabene, in 1551 A.D., decided to join Rome, and thus became Chaldeans. By a decree from the Pope, a part of our Assyrian nation became Chaldean.

Now, what would happen if these brothers and sisters of ours called themselves Assyrians?

Knowing they were Assyrians before the split in the Church of the East in 1551 A.D., it should be easy for them to return to their roots. It won't change their religion a bit. I am a Roman Catholic, but always Assyrian, and this has had no effect, whatsoever, on my religion. Since my childhood my father told me: “you are an Assyrian”, and I still remember his songs about Mar Shumun and Agha Petros, and he was a devout Catholic, who would order me to sit and read the Bible, in Assyrian.

Having ones lineal origin hidden in the mists of history is no cause for confusion and indetermination. We know that all nationalities are mixed, and we know that Assyrian kings brought whole people from conquered lands and settled them in Assyria. We also know that Assyrian kings moved Assyrians to other places (see Saggs, The Might That Was Assyria, page 128).

We are the descendants of that mixture, of the mist, and we call ourselves Assyrians, the same way the Persians, who are mixed with Arabs, Mongols, Turks, etc., call themselves Persians, or Iranians.

We were in Mesopotamia, in Adiabene, that is Assyria, until we became Christians. Christianity has highlighted our name as “Assyrians” on the pages of history, because, as Professor John Joseph says: “Indeed, the majority of their forefathers’ descendants are today Moslem Arabs, Kurds, and Persians”, and, therefore, unrecognizable. The only recognizable Assyrians are the Christians, as we saw above. Christianity has prevented us from mixing with other religions, thus creating conditions for our preservation as Assyrians. The only exception to this is our intermarriage with Armenians and other Christian neighbors, and this is insignificant. Christianity has also been the cause of our massacres, but this question is not relevant in this context. Thus, it is natural for us to claim the name of our ancestors who lived in the same land.

Calling ourselves “Christians, speakers of the Aramaic language, and the descendants of a number of great nations”, although true, does not give us our true name, which is Assyrian."

Dr. George Yana (Bebla)

"First of all I am very glad that an individual like Professor John Joseph has become so active in expressing his opinion to the Assyrian public in various Assyrian media. This would definitely encourage useful discussions in our communities all over the world, and hopefully it will lead to a better outcome for our people.

By reading Professor John Joseph's postings on the "Assyrian Forum" and in Zenda, I have found him very knowledgeable person on both classical and modern history of Assyrians. Indeed, we need to learn from such knowledgeable persons to understand our modern history in order to take steps in the right directions.

Despite all this I have not been able to understand Professor Joseph's obsession with finding the genetic relationship between contemporary Assyrians and ancient Assyrians. We can see it in any piece of comment that he writes. I am sure that majority of Assyrians (including the much disliked nationalists by him) would be interested in his initiative of taking the position of studying and arguing all the complex and inter-related events of modern history of Assyrian (which at least we all remember and share and agree upon). I am sure nobody would dare to question Dr. Joseph's motives and his scientific interest and his love for his nation. I am sure majority of Assyrian would be interested in listening to Dr. Joseph's arguments on historical analysis of modern Assyrian history, on the decisions of our previous leaders, their actions and claims.

We all are thirsty for such arguments and we all are ready to listen to Dr. Joseph and accept his possibly well-founded suggestions on learning from our modern history and move on with better and more mature ideas.

BUT PLEASE! We are tired of having likes of Dr. Joseph come and tell us who we are. WE ARE THE ASSYRIANS. It does not matter if our nation was born 200 years ago or 6000 year ago. What matters is that it was born at some time in the past and IT EXISTS. This existence does not need any proof as any other common knowledge on earth and it is very embarrassing to discuss this obvious issue in this magazine.

Here's an advice from me...let's put these useless arguments aside. At least do it in your break times to discuss it with academics. I am sure it will be an interesting topic of discussion especially for a philosophy department to see whether the Assyrians exit or not! If we really feel like we want to contribute to the betterment of our people, let's use our knowledge and experience to teach lessons from our modern history. That is where Assyrians really need Dr. Joseph and will appreciate his contribution.

By the way, I really have not been able to understand why some people especially among academics in the West are so upset that we, the contemporary Assyrians, are so proud of the accomplishments and glorious history of the ancient Assyrians. We welcome everyone else on this planet including all our neighbors in the Middle East, the Arabs, the Kurds, the Turks, the Persians, the Jews to do the same and take pride and credit for the accomplishments of the ancient Assyrians the builders of human civilization. I look forward to a response from Dr. Joseph."

Tony Khoshaba

"Playing a political game in the guise of science-

Aryan Ishaya wrote "Assyrians call themselves Assyrian for a very simple and convincing reason: they are age old inhabitants of ancient Assyria. That is their homeland. They have churches there that date as far back as 3rd and 4th Centuries A.D. That is sufficient and says it all.”

John Joseph declares the above statement as “ill informed and irresponsible”. Yet it is he who is constantly disregarding, dismissing or trivializing unfairly all the evidences which support the Assyrian claims. He has constantly espoused the contrary point of view which can hardly be considered fair or honest.

He writes: "The vast majority of the Christians who did live in the province of Mosul, geographical Assyria, preferred to call themselves either Chaldeans or Suryoyo. To this day these two groups --Chaldeans and Syrian Orthodox ("Jacobites") -- refuse to be called 'Aturaye.'  John Joseph knows well that the name Chaldean is nothing more than a denominational name given to the Assyrians who joined the Roman Catholic Church. The Chaldean population mainly consists of the Assyrians of the Church of the East who transferred to the new church during the last 450 years. According to Bager during the 19th century “the Chaldean community at Diarbekir could only boast of the name ‘Sooryaya’ and ‘Nestornaya’”. Some fifty years later Rassam conceded that “The peasantry do certainly call themselves ‘Soryaya’ and ‘Msheehaya’”  (see “Asshur and The Land of Nimrod” p. 174). Joseph is also wrong in saying that Suryoyo “refuse to be called 'Aturaye”.

Horatio Southgate, an Englishman who visited Turkey in the first half of the 19th century in his “Narrative of a Visit to the Syrian [Jacobites] Church” (New York, 1844. Pp 80 - 81) writes:

…I began to make inquiries for the Syrians. The people informed me that there were about one hundred families of them in the town of Kharpout, and a village inhabited by them on the plain. I observed that the Armenians did not know them under the name which I used, SYRIANI; but called them ASSOURI, which struck me the more at the moment from its resemblance to our English name ASSYRIANS, from whom they claim their origin, being sons, as they say, of Assour, (Asshur,) who ‘out of the land of Shinar went forth, and build Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resin between Nineveh and Calah; the same is a great city'

Ashur S. Yousuf who lived in Harpoot-Turkey before World War I, was among thousands of Syrian Orthodox church members who prided themselves on being Assyrians. Ashur was a professor and educator, a poet, and a publisher. For six years he published a newsletter in the Turkish and Armenian languages called “Murshid D’ Atour” (the Assyrian Spiritual Guide). An article written by him and originally published on October 20, 1914 in “Murshid D’ Atour” was translated and republished in the “ Assyrian Star” Sep-Oct. issue 1974. In this writing among several reasons which he believes have contributed to the decline of the Assyrians is our religious leaders tendency to divide us along various denominations [and names].

In another article titled: “The unwritten history of the Assyrians” he wrote: “If a tree has no roots deep in the bowls of the good earth, it can not stand upright, draw energy from the sun and air and produce good fruit. If Assyrians do not have roots deep in the true history and land of their ancestors they cannot stand: Political winds will blow them away and away into oblivion. The true history of Assyrians is not yet brought to light. It never will unless by a true sons of Atour.” Unfortunately our religious leaders who discourage their followers from calling themselves Assyrians fail to understand this simple reality.

When Archbishop A.Y. Samuel of New Jersey (Jacobite) wrote if some of the Jacobites used the term “Assyrians”, it was due to the recent influence of the ‘Nestorians’” David Perley a member of the Syrian Orthodox church responded: “under what authority does he speak for the Assyrians ?..There was no communication between Harpoot Assyrians and the Nestorians when Prof. Ashur wrote his articles. Moreover in 1896, Assyrians from Diyarbekir organized the “Assyrian School Association in America” which is still a going concern to the knowledge of the cleric [A.Y. Samuel], in whose school he was educated in Beirut as an orphan in gratis.” ( Assyrian Star” Sep-Oct. issue 1974) Finally in an Arabic book titled “The Political Phobia in the Assyrian Society" Aprim Shapira writes. “There are other examples of Syrian Orthodox sincere pride in their Assyrian heritage. In Midyat, the largest city of Tur Abadin region, a monument erected to celebrate the consecration of the Mar Barsoum Church has the following Syriac and Arabic text :" This church was built during the days of Patriarch Barsoum the 1st, Atouraya."

He continues; “In Al-Za'afaran monastery, one of the most important religious and cultural centers of the Midyat several oil paintings portray the past Patriarchs of the Syrian church some of whom are specifically identified as Atourayee according to the notes following their names. For example there is Botrous the 3rd from Atour and Jacoub the 2nd from Atour....etc. In the same monastery a photograph dating back to 1903 shows the students of the monastery with their teacher who is identified as Rev. Toma Atouraya." (Pages 96-97).

The fact that the Christians of geographic Assyria have often preferred to call themselves Sorayee or “syrian” does not disprove their Assyrians ancestry. It would have been impossible for them to live in Assyria and not realize that they are related to the ancient Assyrians. Especially since they continued to preserve the ancient names while others had forgotten them.  Do we have to remind John Joseph continuously that the name “Syrian” means “Assyrian” as the Greek and Roman historians have explicitly and implicitly stated?

In Syrian church literature Athoor (Assyria) is the name of Mosul, Nineveh, and other nearby towns. Badger in his “Nestorians and their Rituals” writes: “it is not an uncommon practice with the ecclesiastical writers of the present day {before the discovery of the ancient Assyrians ruins} to use the same phraseology, ‘Mosul, which is Athoor’ “

In 1812 Claudius Rich ( the appointed resident of the British Tea Company in Baghdad) could report that across from Mosul, atop of the Nabi Yunus mound, there still stood a village called Ninouah, a name resembling that of the ancient city. However he was blocked from exploring it by the fanatic guardians of the "Tomb of Jonah". Ibn-Battuta the 13th century Barber geographer wrote that the Nabi Yunus mosque of Nineveh was once a Christian church before being confiscated by the Arabs. This edifice still stands today. According to Wigram it was once the cathedral of the independent patriarch of Nineveh [See of Nineveh].

Hormuzd Rassam who belonged to the Chaldean church in his book “Asshur and the land of Nimrod” wrote: "The site of ancient Nineveh has never been lost in the memory of the inhabitants of Mosul, because both tradition and history indicate Koyunjik, and Nabee Yonis as localities where the Assyrian monarchs reigned with unlimited power. Nabee Yonis, a mound about half a mile from Koyunjik, contains a mosque dedicated to Jonah, wherein is shown the shrine of the prophet. It was formerly a Chaldean [Assyrian] church..

..Though the mound is commonly called "Nabee Yonis" by the natives of the country, after the prophet Jonah, yet, officially, it is styled "Nenweh". This I learned when I entered into an agreement with the guardians of the mosque to excavate there. They merely mentioned the word "Nenweh" in the document; and when I asked them why they omitted the common name of "Nabee Yonis," they said that that was the only name they could use officially."

When Arab Geographer Al Mas-udi visited Nineveh and its Christian villages in 943 A.D. he wrote " It was to these settlements that God sent Jonah". This statement certainly echoed the sentiments of the Christian Assyrians . Some of the better known Assyrian villages of Nineveh were: 'Takshur', mentioned by Bar Awraya, 'Tarrut D' Nineveh ' [Gate of Nineveh], 'Ba Gabbari' [ the Braves], the birth place of Patriarch Ishu Barnon located between the walls of Nineveh and Mosul, mentioned by Yagut in 1220 . 'Bori', where a beautiful church was built in 7th century, consecrated by Mar Yokhanan Metropolitan of Adiabene, and 'Gorba', a Jacobite Assyrian village.

John Jospeh writes that the Hakkari and Urmiyah communities which were brought to Iraq by the British had an intense longing to return to their former homelands. It is not clear what his point is? It was naturally human for these people who had been uprooted from their homes, farms, livelihood and lived in tent camps in abject poverty with uncertain future to want to return to their former homes where they hoped they could live a better life. All former Urmiyah residents were later allowed to return but most chose not to.

The fact that Assyrians of Hakkari and Urmiyah lived some 50 to 100 miles northeast of Nineveh does not make them less Assyrian. Persecuted people often are forced to leave their homeland in search for safer refuge as we witnessed in the Kassovar’s case. During this century alone Assyrians of Turkey, Hakkari and Iran were forced to migrate several times. In the beginning of the 20th century Armenian and Jews could be found in Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria and many other lands far from their homeland. History of a people has to be considered in its totality and not by its bits and pieces at this or that random moment as John Joseph prefers to do.

It is the half baked and biased claims of John Joseph and his cohorts which Assyrians object to. They object to the fact that despite solid evidence supporting their claim to the Assyrian heritage John Joseph continues to spread his adversarial and misleading propaganda wherever he goes. It is hard not to suspect a correlation between the efforts of the Iraqi Baath party to destroy our Assyrian identity and people like John Jospeh who seem to have similar goals.

Since 1975 the Iraqi government has implemented a policy to deny the existence of the Assyrians in Iraq. The name Assyrian has been removed from the Census forms and Assyrians are forced to identify themselves either as Arabs or Kurds. Their schools and organizations were nationalized, disbanded or given no Assyrian names. They have been prohibited from publishing books other than prayers in the Assyrian language. The school texts have been rewritten to identify the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians as ancient Arab cultures. This certainly should make Mr. Joseph happy. If Joseph is interested in historical inquiries there are plenty of other nations which he can research to find out if their name is legitimate. Undoubtedly all of them will welcome his attempts to prove their illegitimacy with open arms.

Another disturbing issue is the Assyrian media willingness to accommodate John Joseph in his destructive crusade. Will the Jewish media publicize the neo-Nazi’s writings disputing the Jewish holocaust? Will the Armenians publish Turkish writings which claim there was no Armenian Genocide? Will the Kurds give aid and comfort to the Turkish writers who claim that Kurds are Turks? They definitely will not and that is why they are far ahead of us. It seems like we can never resist turning the other cheek. It is true that we can write rebuttals to John Joseph’s biased and historically untrue claims, but our enemies would prefer to believe and quote writings which are the most damaging to us regardless of their accuracy.

William Warda

"Even though there are many talented Assyrian Artists, the Assyrian Art is still in the baby steps regarding the required performance, based on the current size of Assyrian's support. Mainly, the art of songs is the most practiced among Assyrians due to the popularity of the entertainment, which is common among people of different nationalities. I would like to discuss this part of Assyrian art at this point in brief.

We see that all our Singers send certain massages locally, i.e. for Assyrian people only. We would like to see our Singer Artists go farther than that, mainly communicate with other nations who are closer to us or we are in the sphere of their influence.

It will be fruitful to let other orients understand Assyrian's needs, as a nation. It is not effective when the words of a song is directed to other nations or United Nations, while it is in the Assyrian language. like sending a message to other people on a street, while that street is empty. If the artists direct their products to other nations, then they have to talk their language and be in contact directly or indirectly with them.

Assyrian TV programs are already broadcasting international songs and movies, so let our Artists use that medium to communicate internationally and present the Assyrian case through the songs, were it is more convenient presently, in different languages that serves our people the most. It will be very important to let the other people understand Assyrian's rights, that will happen when the message is clearly understood by others.

Those projects may require financial assistance to the Assyrian Artists. Here is the real role of the social organizations to support such projects by helping our Artists sell their products for better performance."

Kaiser Shahbaz



I had the privilege of visiting Iraq, as part of a delegation of British church leaders invited by Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. I was deeply moved by the suffering I saw. The average monthly wage is 2 pounds, the same amount as the price of one kilo of meat. Six to seven thousand children die each month as ordinary people cannot afford food and cannot obtain medical supplies. These are the harsh consequences of economic sanctions. The Christian community has shrunk from 1.5 million to half a million people since the Gulf war through death and emigration. During my stay we meditated on the story of the Good Samaritan. He had mercy on the man who had fallen into the hands of robbers simply because that man was in need. He disregarded his race, and the fact that he was from an "enemy" people. He didn't consider whether he had brought his fate on himself by traveling a dangerous road late at night. He didn't take into account the risk to himself.

We might wonder if it is right for us to "have mercy" on Iraqi Christian. After all, our government may consider their nation an enemy, their problems may be caused in part by their own leaders. Helping them takes us into a risky political area. But I believe we should learn from the Good Samaritan and help Christians in Iraq simply because we see they are in need. More than that, as Christians, they are not just our neighbours but our brothers and sisters.

Yours in Christ's service

Patrick Sookhdeo

This letter appeared in 'News and Prayer Update' Sheet, issued by Servants Fellowship International.
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 Humidity in the air:  rteevoota d'hawa
 Wet:  taleela


BC (2500)

Working with sun-dried mud brick and mud porter, Mesopotamian masons built arches and vaults centuries before the first known Roman building.  At Ur, the tombs of King Abargi and Queen Shubad for example, had radially vaulted roofs and radially arched doorways.  The vaulted ceilings span rooms that are as  much as 3.8 meters wide and stairway is supported by eight radial arches of progressively increasing height.

Arches & Vaults in the Ancient Near East (Scientific American, July 1987), Van Beek

AD (1892)

Mar Thoma Odo is appointed an Assyrian Church of the East Metropolitan for Urmia and Salamas.  Among Odo's literary accomplishments are the now classic "Odo's Aramaic Dictionary", Assyrian translation of "Kleela and Demna" (from Arabic), and religious books.  In 1918, Mar Thoma Odo and several other Assyrian clergy were murdered in Urmia during the uprising of the Turkish and Kurdish troops against the Assyrian population of Urmia.



Why do you stay in town like a feeble old man?
How can you stay at home like a lisping child?
Are we to eat women's bread, like one who has never marched on to the battlefield?
Are we to be fearful and nervous as  if we had no experience of war?
To go on to the battlefield is as good as a festival for young men!

And we, who know the mountain passes, we have quite forgotten the road!
Spiders' web are spun over our campaign gear,.
Our trusty bows have rebelled and become too tough for our strength.
The points of our sharp arrows are blunt.
Our daggers are corroded with verdigris for lack of butchery.


From the Epic of Erra, a Mesopotamian myth

Mesopotamian Myths, McCall


July 1, 1915:   On this day the Archbishop of Canterbury's Mission to the Assyrian Christians, instituted in 1886 by Archbishop Edward White Benson, ended shortly after the declaration of the alliance between Germany and the Ottoman Empire.



 Sifo Massaker 1915-18 (1985)
Akryl: 280x160 cm
To view Al-Haek's Gallery:  Click Here

The artist, Hanna Al-Haek, is a well known cultural personality to the inhabitants in Sodertalje. Hanna Al-Haek moved to Sweden in 1977 from Syria and he has been living in Sodertalje since then. As an intellectual individual he is used to express himself in writing, poetry or prose and has a strong need for telling his cultural heritage, about himself and his experiences to his fellow beings. Yet his will to express himself in picture and mainly in painting is what dominates Hanna Al-Haeks work.

In Hanna Al-Haeks paintings we meet martyr's, shepherd's or veiled, sealed and silent figures, sometimes surrounded by dove's of peace or some other symbolic attribute. The colour is restrained with a hint of melancholy. Lately his pictures have been more abstract. In the pictures you might imagine a world of city landscapes, houses, huts and other more unidentifiable things in warm and intensively bright colours.

The artist wants to recall his memories from the childhood, from the landscape, the air and the events in his former native country. In his paintings we may participate in his long and emotional journey from something far and distant to the present.

Pia Thunholm

As published in Hanna Al-Haek: An Assyrian Artist Web Site:  Click Here


Sept 1-6

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Jan 28,

Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Assyrian Rite (Chaldean and Malabarese)
Basilica of St Cecilia in Trastevere



This Week's Contributors:
in alphabetical order

 Mazin Enwiya
Assyrian Surfing Posts
 Dr. George Habash
United Kingdom 
Surfers Corer 
 Onnik Krikorian
 Assyrian Surfers Corner
Sam Shlimon
Good-Morning Bet-Nahrain

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