Volume V                Issue 25
Eelool 27, 6749                                                                       September 27, 1999

F I N A L    I S S U E

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T H I S  W E E K I N  Z E N D A

The Lighthouse Religious Freedom for Assyrians in Iraq
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain Pope John Paul Pledges to Visit Bet-Nahrain
US/British Planes Bomb Assyrian Monastery
News Digest Barzani on Assyrians
Assyrians Closer to Consensus
National Interest vs Internal Factors in Iraq
AANF on Iraq
British Concerned about Pope's Trip to Iraq
Surfs Up "Assyrian/Assyrian/Assyrian"
Surfers Corner Summit of Assyrian Political Parties
Beyond Malula
Edessa.Com is Back on Track
One-Day Seminar at Bet-Eil Assyrian Church
Assyrians of Las Vegas
Assyrian Surfing Posts ATOUR on Census 2000:  A Final Analysis
The Assyrian Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary
The Language Spoken by Jesus Survives
Back on Line:  AYGV
Pump up the Volume Spark of Fire & the Truth
Back to the Future The lingua franca of the Near East & the Tur Abdin Plague
Literatus In Loving Memory of Edwin Hormozi & Esther Isaac
This Week in History Peera Sarmas
Bravo Assyrian Information Management System
Calendar of Events Gala of the Millennium

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


General view of Kuyunjik, the palace mound of Nineveh (Courtesy Professor John M. Russell)


Based on a U.S. Department of State Annual Report
Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, the Government severely limits this right in practice. Islam is the official state religion.  The Government's registration requirements for religious organizations are unknown.  The Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs monitors places of worship, appoints the clergy, approves the building and repair of all places of worship, and approves the publication of all religious literature.

While a precise statistical breakdown is impossible because of likely inaccuracies in the latest census (1997), according to conservative estimates, over 95 percent of the population are Muslim. The (predominantly Arab) Shi'a Muslims constitute a 60 to 65 percent majority, while Sunni Muslims make up 30 to 35 percent (approximately 18 to 20 percent are Sunni Kurds, 12 to 15 percent are Sunni Arabs, and the rest are Sunni Turkomans). The remaining approximately 5 percent consist of Christians (Assyrians, Chaldeans, Roman Catholics, and Armenians), Yazidis, and a small number of Jews.

The Shi'a, predominantly in the south, are present in large numbers in Baghdad and have communities in most parts of the country. Sunnis form the majority in the center of the country and in the north. Christians are concentrated in the north and in Baghdad. Yazidis are located in the north.

New political parties must be based in Baghdad and are prohibited from having any ethnic or religious character. The Government does not recognize political organizations that have been formed by Shi'a Muslims or Assyrian Christians. These groups continued to attract support despite their illegal status. There are religious qualifications for government office; candidates for the National Assembly, for example, "must believe in God."

The Government--dominated by a repressive one-party apparatus controlled by Saddam Hussein and members of his extended family--has for decades conducted a brutal campaign of murder, summary execution, and protracted arbitrary arrest against the religious leaders and followers of the majority Shi'a Muslim population and has sought to undermine the identity of minority Christian (Assyrian and Chaldean) and Yazidi groups.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report.

The Special Rapporteur and others reported that the Government has engaged in various abuses against the country's 350,000 Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, especially in terms of forced movements from northern areas and repression of political rights.

Assyrians and Chaldeans are considered by many to be a distinct ethnic group as well as the descendants of some of the earliest Christian communities, but the Constitution does not provide for an Assyrian or Chaldean identity. These communities speak a distinct language (Syriac), preserve two important traditions of Christianity in the east, and have a rich cultural and historical heritage that they trace back over 2,000 years. Although these groups do not define themselves as Arabs, the Government, without any historical basis, defines Assyrians and Chaldeans as such, evidently to encourage them to identify with the Sunni-Arab dominated regime.

Assyrian religious organizations have complained that the Government applies apostasy laws in a discriminatory fashion, since Islam is the official religion of the state. Assyrians are permitted to convert to Islam, whereas Muslims are forbidden from converting to Christianity.

Most Assyrians live in the northern governorates, and the Government often has suspected them of "collaborating" with Iraqi Kurds. In the north, Kurdish groups often refer to Assyrians as Kurdish Christians. Military forces destroyed numerous Assyrian churches during the 1988 Anfal Campaign and reportedly tortured and executed many Assyrians. Both major Kurdish political parties have indicated that the Government occasionally targets Assyrians as well as ethnic Kurds and Turkomen in expulsions from Kirkuk, where it is seeking to Arabize the city.

The Government does not permit education in languages other than Arabic and Kurdish. Public instruction in Syriac, which was announced under a 1972 decree, has never been implemented. Thus, in areas under government control, Assyrian and Chaldean children are not permitted to attend classes in Syriac. In northern areas under Iraqi Kurdish control, classes in Syriac have been permitted since the 1991 uprising against the Government. By October 1998, the first groups of students were ready to begin secondary school in Syriac in the north, but some Assyrian sources reported that regional Iraqi Kurdish authorities refused to allow the classes to begin. Details of this practice (e.g., the number of students prepared to start secondary courses in Syriac and the towns where they were located) were not available, and Kurdish regional authorities denied engaging in this practice. There were no reports of elementary school instruction in Syriac being hindered in northern Iraq.

There were no reports of the forced religious conversion of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

On June 19, 1999, the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reported that the partially decomposed body of Helena Aloun Sawa, a 21-year-old Assyrian woman missing since early May, had been discovered by a shepherd in a shallow grave near Dohuk dam. Her family reportedly suspected that she had been raped. Sawa had been a housekeeper for Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Political Bureau member Izzeddin al-Barwari. Reporting that the KDP had offered no assistance in searching for Sawa and that al-Barwari had intimidated the family into not pursuing an investigation, AINA concluded that the murder "resembles a well-established pattern" of complicity by Kurdish authorities in attacks against Assyrian Christians in northern Iraq. It reported that Sawa had been coerced into working for al-Barwari to restore to her family a KDP pension that had been suspended arbitrarily. The pension had been awarded because of the recognition of Sawa's father as a KDP martyr after he was killed in the uprising against the Iraqi regime in 1991.

However, on June 21, 1999, a spokesperson for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced that the Dohuk police Homicide Division and the Dohuk General Security Department were investigating the Sawa murder. A subsequent KRG statement indicated that there did not appear to be a "political or racial" motive. The KRG noted that the al-Barwari family had reported last seeing Sawa when she left Dohuk on her way to a vacation at her family village in the Nerwa O Rakan area, and that al-Barwari had been in Damascus, Syria at the time. Nevertheless, al-Barwari was suspended from official KDP duties pending the conclusion of the investigation. At the end of June, KDP President Massoud Barzani decided to appoint a three-member commission to further investigate the killing.

Assyrian groups reported several instances of mob violence by Muslims against Christians in the north in recent years. Assyrians continue to fear attacks by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish-based terrorist organization operating against indigenous Kurds in northern Iraq. The Christians often feel caught in the middle of intra-Kurdish fighting. In December 1997, six Assyrians died in an attack near Dohuk by the PKK. Some Assyrian villagers have reported being pressured to leave the countryside for the cities as part of a campaign by indigenous Kurdish forces to deny the PKK access to possible food supplies.
Many Assyrian groups reported a series of bombings in Erbil in late 1998 and early 1999. On December 9, 1998, Nasreen Shaba and her 3-year-old daughter Larsa Toma were killed when a bomb exploded on the doorstep of their home in the Tterawa section of the city. Later the same month, bombs exploded at the front door of Salman Toma Khoshaba in the al-Iskan area and in front of a convent in the al-Mal'ab area. On January 6, 1999, a bomb exploded at the door of Father Zomaya Yusip in the 7th-of-Nisan area. No one was killed in these three subsequent incidents. Although the bombings have not been linked to any particular faction or group, Assyrians fear that they are part of a terror campaign designed to intimidate them into leaving northern Iraq. The Assyrian Democratic Movement, the Assyrian Patriotic Party, and other groups have criticized the investigation into these incidents conducted by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Thus far there have been no arrests.

In March 1999, for the seventh consecutive year, the United States joined other members of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), to call on the U.N. Secretary General to send human rights monitors to "help in the independent verification of reports on the human rights situation in Iraq." However, the Iraqi Government continued to ignore these calls. As in the past, it did not allow the U.N. Special Rapporteur to visit nor did it respond to his requests for information. It continued to defy calls from various U.N. bodies to allow the Special Rapporteur to visit the southern marshes and other regions. Denied entry to Iraq, the Special Rapporteur based his reports on the Government's human rights abuses on interviews with recent ?eacute;migr?eacute;s from Iraq, interviews with opposition groups with contacts in Iraq, and other interviews, as well as on published reports.

The above information was excised from a longer report covering all other Iraqi minority groups.  For a complete report visit Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999: Iraq.

Please join AINA & ZENDA in protesting the U.S. State Department on the latest injustice being committed against Assyrians
Email This Protest Form


(ZNDA: Italy)   On Wednesday, September 22, Pope John Paul II gave a firm pledge that he plans to visit the Holy Land and Bet-Nahrain.  The trips is planned to begin in early December with a visit to Ur, the Biblical birthplace of Abraham in Iraq.

The United States and the Iraqi opposition have expressed misgivings, claiming the trip would be a propaganda coup for Iraqi Saddam Hussein.  John Paul insists no political significance should be attached to any of the trips.  On September 2, the Assyrian National Congress sent a letter to the Vatican urging the Pope not to proceed with his plans to visit Iraq in December.  The ANC outlined in its letter the numerous atrocities committed against the Christians in Iraq.  Reliable sources to ZENDA have indicated that other Assyrian political party(ies) are urging the Pope to recognize "Assyrians" in a speech in Baghdad.

The Iraqi newspapers last week said that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has established a committee including officials from the Presidential Office and the Ministers of al-Awqaf (Islamic Trusts), Culture and Information to begin the restoration of the city of Ur in southern Iraq.  Ur was the ancient capital of the Sumerian civilization ca. 3500 B.C.


Courtesy of BBC World Service

(ZNDA:  London)  The Ministry of Defense in London says it is investigating reports that British or American planes bombed a Christian monastery near Mosul, in Northern Iraq, in August.

The Church of England said it had received a report that the bombing had damaged the tomb of the Fourth century Saint Matthew (Mar Tooma), who founded the monastery.

The British defense ministry confirmed there had been bombing in the area on the day in question; it said it was aimed against Iraqi anti-aircraft positions, and aerial reconnaissance pictures would be checked to see if any bombs fell on the monastery. Iraq said at the time of the attack that the bombing had killed or wounded a number of Arab astronomers camping near the monastery to observe the total eclipse of the sun.




On 2 September, the United Arab Emirates newspaper "Al- Shariqah Al-Khalij" interviewed Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), on his relations with Baghdad, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and the Assyrian and Turkomans minorities living within the jurisdiction of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Barzani said the economic situation in the KRG is "constantly improving...despite the difficulties we are having." Despite the destruction of the economic infrastructure, the Kurdish authorities have been able to retool some plants so that they can utilize available resources. Now, the focus is on reconstruction and the building of civil institutions.

On the situation in Iraq, Barzani said he has heard talk of the imminent collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime for the last ten years. He says "we will determine our position in the future whenever the change occurs in light of the position of others toward the Kurdish issue."

As far as relations with the PUK are concerned, he maintains the KDP's position is that the outcome of the 1992 elections should define their relationship. Since the PUK does not accept this position, "new elections should be held and...prior preparations should be made for these elections." He adds that these elections should be held under international supervision.

He dismisses the PKK as a factor in Iraqi Kurdistan because of their insignificant numbers. He says the only thing they can do is to "plant a mine on a civilian road or try to blow up a school or a mosque." (On 3 September the London-based "Al-Zaman" reported that some PKK units had begun surrendering to the KDP.)

Barzani stressed that the necessary dialogue with Baghdad continues. He points out that "this does not mean that we are in agreement with Baghdad. Nonetheless, if we differ with Baghdad, it does not mean that we will take up arms and fight. We are calling for a civilized solution to the Kurdish issue, and the language of the age is dialogue." In conjunction with the Assyrian and Turkomen minorities that also live in Iraqi Kurdistan, both peoples teach their own language in the schools, participate in the Kurdish parliament, and have their own political parties. He expressed the hope that "they (both peoples) will participate in the government of the region and in the forthcoming elections.

Barzani adds that "our minorities are enjoying their rights freely within the bounds of the law."


Talks in Chicago from May to July that were attended by various Assyrian political parties focused on agreeing on pressing the Assyrian case in various international forums addressing the future of Iraq. AINA (the Assyrian International News Agency) reported on 2 September that three Assyrian groups--the Assyrian Democratic Organization, the Assyrian Democratic Movement, and the Assyrian Universal Alliance--have stated that the meetings "targeted our efforts to agree on the selection process to represent us in the new Iraqi opposition group." The delegates selected are to represent Assyrian interests and present the Assyrian proposals. The declaration issued says "this will bring hope of furthering our cause and preserving our identity as a nation, thereby enabling us to pursue our legal and human rights."

Similar meetings have been held in Turlock, California, and London with equal success.

AINA points out that the agreement between the three political organizations has great significance not only because of the wide range of constituents these organizations represent, but also because it includes all the major religious denominations to which Assyrians belong. The three organizations also represent Assyrians in the diaspora and the Near and Middle East. Most important, "the unified consensus also show that Assyrians will no longer tolerate being divided along religious denominational lines."


The London-based "Al-Zaman" newspaper of 2 September carries an interview with Yonadem Yusuf Kenna, a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement's (ADM) Political Bureau, on the current problems faced by the Iraqi opposition in its efforts to unify and the position of the ADM in this process. He says the basic problem in Iraqi Kurdistan is that the two Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), have not resolved the issue of power-sharing in the region and "the struggle is still going on between them." The consequence of this conflict is a "state of no peace and no war." Despite this power struggle between the Kurdish parties, the coalition between the KDP and the ADM in the government and the parliament still exists, but this "does not mean that we are in a struggle with the PUK."

The hope of the ADM is that the two parties will "agree on the minimum in order to extend the rule of law and establish peace and stability in the region so that this democratic experiment becomes a model for Iraqi society." Should this not come about, all of Iraqi society, including the Assyrians, will be harmed.

As far as the Iraqi opposition is concerned, it should put Iraqi national interests above all parties and factions. If, however, the opposition yields to "external factors," the divisions within the opposition will persist. Kenna stresses that "the Iraqi decision-making process must remain independent and linked to Iraqi national interests." He adds this process "must believe in human rights and in a civilized modern society and not a nationalist racist government or a religious extremist government."

Kenna notes that the opposition has gone through three phases: in the first phase, external factors were seen as hostile, that is to say, colonialist and imperialist; in the second phase, which followed the second Gulf War, the majority of the opposition began to think that external forces would decide matters "when in fact time has shown that this is not the case"; and the third stage began after 1996 when the Iraqi opposition began to rely more upon itself and benefit from external support.

The problem with the opposition, he says without elaboration, "lies in the mechanism of its dealings."


The Assyrian American National Federation met in Los Angeles from 2-6 September to discuss issues pertaining to Iraq. According to an AINA report of 3 September, the pressing issues include: the recognition of Assyrians by the Iraqi government and the international community as an indigenous people in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, and the delineation of an Assyrian safe haven, which would provide protection for Assyrians in Iraq who have been exposed to persecution recently, and also "would entail local autonomy within the framework of a democratic and pluralistic nation." The area set aside for this is centered on Mosul (near the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh), and extend north toward the Turkish border, northwest to the Syrian border, and northeast to the Zab River.

Another issue is the return of previously Assyrian lands, villages, and churches. The report adds that "villages and churches destroyed by the government and expropriated by some Kurds need to be returned to their rightful owners or just compensation paid."

The other problems to be discussed at the meeting are an international investigation of the policies of the ethnic cleansing of Assyrians in northern Iraq, the right of return of Assyrians, whether they are still within Iraq or abroad, the lifting of UN sanctions against the civilian population of Iraq, and an international investigation into the plundering of ancient Assyrian archeological sites.


The British Foreign Office confirmed on 20 September that it was pressing John Paul II not to meet with Saddam Hussein during his pre-millennium visit to the Middle East this December. According to a report issued by the London Press Association, the Foreign Office contends that Hussein has the reputation of using state visits to try to "legitimize its brutal policies."

The Foreign Office spokesperson added that "we are not aware at this stage that the Pope will meet Saddam Hussein. But we are in contact with the Vatican on a wide range of issues, including Iraq."

The potential impact of a papal visit to Iraq has also been reflected in the Arabic-language press. The Saudi writer Abdallah Al-Qafari had an article in the London-based "Al- Hayat" on 16 September called "Developments in the Iraqi Question: An attempt to Understand," in which the Pope's upcoming visit has a role as a leit-motif amid a number of questions brought about by the incoherence of current U.S. policy. Al-Qafari makes the point the visit "will not be to U.S. liking." He notes further that "the Vatican's entry is just a sign of the depth of the crisis that is facing the U.S. administration in choosing its future options."

All articles were written by David Nissman.  The RFE/RL Iraq Report is prepared weekly by David Nissman on the basis of materials from RFE/RL broadcast services, RFE/RL Newsline, and other news services.  Direct comments to David Nissman at nissmand@rferl.org


"I miss my weekly dose of news from Zenda.  Are you still publishing?  I hope so, this is a very important source of news, events and opinions.  Please keep publishing!"

S.D. Kumbera

"SHLOMO!!!  We would like to congratulate you on your achievements with the ZINDA magazine.

Every week we enjoy reading OUR magazine on the internet about OUR nation.  We hope you will continue and even improve your informative articles concerning our national questions.

Good luck and as we say it in our west-Assyrian dialect: Koushoro b Foulhono !  Shlome o Iqoreh!"

The Assyrian Students of Amsterdam

"Beautiful!!! And about time too.  I cheer your success and look forward to visiting your website."

Joseph Davida

"Congratulations!  We are looking forward to seeing you become  more successful with the  expansion in the near future.  The program on the KBSV "AssyriaVision" on Tuesday, Aug 31, was very interesting and informative as usual.  "We enjoyed  watching".  Good luck!

By the way I am Assyrian/Assyrian/Assyrian/........."

Romina R. P.

"Congratulations are in order.  Either we hang together or hand separately.  Unity is the password.  Best wishes for many years of success for Zenda Magazine."

Paul Newey (Polus Nweeya)

"I am delighted to see An Assyrian News & Information on the net. I am proud of you guys/girls. "Che booh Al koolh."

I am touched by the determination and perseverance of the staff at the Zinda Magazine to the point that I would like express my readiness as Volunteer to assist you in furthering Zinda Magazine, An Assyrian News & Information cause.

Thank you again for all your hard work and God bless."

Tony Z. BeitMalo

"Great job Zenda! I am one of your readers. I personally would like to extend my sincere thanks to Wilfred Alkhas, to whom I have a high admiration and respect for his love and dedication for his people and great nation "Assyria".

May God bless you all. Cheers."

Dr. Simon Francis Shamoun

"Congratulations for the great job you are doing for our nation.

From my point of view, in order to stay live and current with others "communication" is essential. But I have a concern:

What is the right approach to keep our "Assyrian Language" as the everlasting treasure among our new generation ?.

Unfortunately, we are loosing it. Just walk into a youth group conversation, you will be surprised !!!.

Lets all get focus and do something about this soon. We need to establish an appropriate system. Lets form one ASAP.

Can you start a brainstorm page in the "Zinda Magazine"? Lets gather some feedback, plan and implement it together."

Homer Benjamin

"Excellent!  I am so happy that you guys are right on track.  Keep up the good work and looking forward to the new Zinda magazine."

Ramin Daniels

"It might be a good idea to dedicate one issue of ZENDA to human rights question. While our people are subjected to human rights violations in Iraq and elsewhere. None of our organizations seem to have a consistent agenda to watch, expose and protest these violations. The issue did not even come up during the last convention/Carnival! We need to learn from others on how to speak out in defense of our oppressed people-and not expect others to speak for us."

Ninos David

"An item in the World Briefing section of today's New York Times reports that aides to five United States members of Congress are in Iraq to try to assess the effect of nine years of international sanctions on civilians.

The item, written by Barbara Crossette, lists the delegation, drawn from the staffs of four Democrats and one independent, says that the group was taken on a tour of Baghdad hospitals and a bomb shelter in which Iraq says 403 people died in allied bombing during the Persian Gulf war.

Will this visit by Congressional staff be followed by Assyrian groups and publications?"

H.B. Quoyoon

"The news of Georges Roux's death in Paris at the age of 84 saddened me. I found his book Ancient Iraq one of the most readable books on the history of Bet Nahrain. Roux was not a professional archeologist but a medical doctor working for the Iraq Petroleum Company in the 1950's in Basra. He did his research in his own time and published the result in a series of articles in the IPC's magazine Iraq Petroleum. Later he was encouraged by many, notably Professor Donald Wiseman, Professor of Assyriology at London University, to publish his articles in the form of Ancient Iraq which was published in 1963. A revised edition was published in 1980."

Philimon Darmo

"I came across a local program showing how the local agencies are creating meetings and or seminars for the young people in the high school and college level and try to teach them the leadership. It was so interesting to watch the honesty and seriousness of the experienced older generation, they are preparing and encouraging young and educated people to replace them in the near future. It takes wisdom, knowledge, faith and honesty to do it. However, said local agencies had complicated projects which deal with the technology. I wonder how complicated Assyrian activities are to achieve safe handling the steering for the Assyrian youth, i.e. what efforts it takes to train our Assyrian youth, men and women, to be leaders of our nation and soon? the answer as I see it: honesty and wisdom associated with clear understanding and vision of the Assyrian needs."

Kaiser Shahbaz



September 3-5, 1999
London, United Kingdom

A summit of Assyrian political parties convened in London On September 3-51 1999 to decide on common objectives and a common Assyrian representation within the framework of the Iraqi position groups, especially in the Executive Council and the General Assembly of tile Iraqi National Congress. Invitations for the summit were sent to all Assyrian political groups. Attending delegates represented the following Assyrian groups: Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party, Assyrian Patriotic Party, Assyrian Democratic Party, Ashur Liberation Party, Assyrian Democratic Union, and the Assyrian National Congress (observer). Delegates to the summit held several important meetings with a wide spectrum of Iraqi opposition groups, including those parties associated with the Iraqi National Congress and the Centrist Democratic Movement, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the officials in the political section of the American Embassy in London.

The existing discord prevailing among our political groups has reflected negatively on the Assyrians and their obligations toward the national objectives. In order to overcome this problem and not to give others the opportunity to further usurps our legitimate national rights, the attending delegates of the summit resolved to strive collectively to sow seeds of hope among the Assyrian people, who look forward to the day when Iraq is free, united and democratic.

The decisions reached at the summit can serve as a rallying point wall Assyrian who value the interests of their nation above pity and personal differences. An open door policy, compromise and mutual respect were the hall marks of the summit- The delegates rejected the idea of belittling others and political hegemony. They decided to work in unison to form a strong Assyrian United Front. The founding committee of this front has been given the mandate to prepare the ground work to establish the said front in Spring of 2000. The summit reiterated the Assyrian outlook for a united and democratic Iraq, living in peace with its neighbors and devoid of weapons of mass destruction. In addition, the summit resolved that the participating Assyrian political patties will extend a friendly hand of cooperation to all other Assyrian groups and Iraqi opposition groups in order to work in unison against the dictatorial regime in Iraq.

Bold plans for a better future have often been proclaimed by great statesmen and inspiring; visionaries. However it is not they alone who can realize such vision. The vision, enthusiasm. commitment and hard work of ordinary people count just as much, if not more, for without their participation arid groundwork not even the best of plans will ever become more than a castle in the sky. Further, helping to accomplish the task will be a source of pride and joy to people as they recognize their contribution, no matter how small, to be an indispensable part of the whole.

The Assyrian Nation. at this critical stage of its existence, has certain fateful choices to make concerning the unity of our people and a viable Assyrian leadership to lead our masses. This is a time for Assyrians to reflect on those values that have shaped us as one people and one nation. It is a time to consider how our Assyrian people can diminish the forces that divide and fragment our Assyrian society and strengthen the forces that give us mutual understanding, cohesion and vitality. The summit in London was another important step toward our collective dream: "Let us unite and gather the fragments that nothing be lost."

The Assyrian National Congress
P.O. Box 3539
Modesto, California 95552

Information Bureau, Assyrian National Congress Fax: (209) 538-2795


The following letter was submitted to The New York Times in response to an article entitled "In Isolated Pocket of Syria, the Language Spoken by Jesus Survives" [see this week's ASSYRIAN SURFING POSTS].  Dr. George Kiraz is the General Editor of Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies.

To the Editor:

You imply that the Aramaic language survives only in Malula, Syria, and two nearby villages, and that the language has disappeared entirely in written form, with parts of its alphabet utterly lost to memory (Malula Journal, Sept. 4).

In fact, Aramaic is still the native language of many Christians who live in or migrated from southeast Turkey, Iran, northeast Syria and northern Iraq. Aramaic is also the native language of Nash Didan, a Jewish community that originated in the Kurdistan mountains but now thrives in Israel.

Moreover, Syriac, the most commonly spoken Aramaic language, remains the active liturgical language of many churches, including the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean and the Lebanese Maronite Church.

George A. Kiraz
New Jersey
Sept. 4, 1999

The photo above courtesy of the New York Times:  At St. Sergius Church, the Rev. Fayez Frejat recites the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic.


The Assyrian Information Medium Exchange web site at http://www.edessa.com is now available. It has been an exhausting task of recovering the site from backup that has taken several months. EDESSA.COM is up again and with more information than before. All visitors are urged to sign the guest book since the previous data has been lost. All visitors are encouraged to help in identifying missing links or any other errors or problems, it will be appreciated if you would kindly send an email to the web master at bardaisan@edessa.com. Please send your comments about the web site through the Guest Book and only report problems through the web master email. Work is currently under way to add more historical documents and photos to this vast library of information. You are all urged to send in any material you would like to see added to EDESSA.COM.

Esha Emmanuel Tamras


Bet-Eil Assyrian Church presents One day Seminar with Nate Mirza
October 23, 1999   10:00 AM - 4:00 PM.

Bet-Eil Assyrian Church invites you to spend one day with Nate Mirza in a seminar where he will cover the following topics:

        Who is Jesus
        Make Him known
        Follow Him

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he mediates day and night." Psalm 1:1-2

Lunch will be served at 12:30 PM
Donation:  Adults:  $15:00   Children: $5:00
Location: Bethel Church, 1201 South Winchester Blvd.  San Jose, California
For more information please contact:

        Tel: (408) 264-7058
        Fax: (408) 264-7087
        E-mail: beteilchurch@jps.net

Rita Pirayou

Congratulations to the Assyrian families residing in Las Vegas, Nevada who have recently formed the Assyrian American Society of Las Vegas.  This fast-growing organization held its first Annual Picnic on September 19th.  ZENDA congratulates the AASLV members and invites its readers to watch for this organization's social and cultural events upon their next trip to the Strip.

For more information contact Philip Marcus at (702) 592-3172 or Fred Abajelo (702) 228-0154)

Assyrian Chatrooms and Online Bulletin Boards
Assyria Web Chat
Assyrian Forum
Assyriska Chat
Nineveh Cafe
Suryoyo Online Forum

Links to Other Assyrian Websites

ATOUR on Census 2000:  A Final Analysis
The Assyrian Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary
The Language Spoken by Jesus Survives
Back on Line:  AYGV   :)

 Spark of Fire
 zinda d'noora


BC (539)

Cyrus II of Persia conquers Bet-Nahrain and Babylon falls to the Achaemenids.  Since by this time Aramaic was the lingua franca of the whole of the Near East, different forms of learning were made available to the Persians and later the Greeks.  The Achaemenids (Persian rulers from 539 to 330 B.C.) adopted the paraphernalia of the imperial Mesopotamia.

The Legacy of Mesopotamia, Dalley

AD (774)

A plague strikes Tur Abdin killing many including 95 monks at Qartmin Abbey and the Monastery of the Cross.  The body of Mor Gabriel of Beth Qustan, 130 years after his death, was exhumed and his right hand is brought in to ward off the plague.

Monk & Mason on the Tigris Frontier, Palmer


October 2, 1972:   dies, Dr. Peera Sarmas, Assyrian physician and author of "A History of Assyrian Literature".



                                           A split second in time and you were whisked away.
                                           Now you're in the heavens above to smile each day.

                                           Our hearts are aching and the tears are an endless flow,
                                           But only God decides who can stay, and whose time it is to go.

                                           Everything happens for a reason, or so we are told.
                                           A man and a woman whose hearts were made of gold.

                                           We will always remember the special times that we spent.
                                           How quickly they came, and how quickly they went.

                                            Now that you're gone, you will sorely be missed,
                                            Yet we take comfort in knowing that you're in a state of eternal bliss.

                                            When you look down upon us from that very special place, don't
                                            Forget to show us those smiles that we loved to see on your face.

                                           We shed a thousand tears when you were laid to rest, but now
                                           We know it's true, God only takes the best.

                                                                                           Ashur E. Peyour

Earlier this month, Edwin Hormozi and Esther Issac of Stanislaus County, California were killed in an automobile accident.



What is AIMS?

AIMS stands for Assyrian Information Management Systems. It is a system being developed to provide services for AUA and AANF staff and the public to access and retrieve information on projects, database, reports, email and scheduling systems as well as historical archiving and references. In addition, to define organizational procedures, processes and standards for the two organizations.

What is the system based on?

It is based on Intel platform and Microsoft’s NT core technologies.

Why AUA and AANF have jointly promoted this project?

The underlining factor is the need to work and organize together as well as bringing the two organizations in line with the electronic age.

What is involved with implementing AIMS?

It involves three phases: Phase one involves acquisition of hardware and software; development of database, internal email and scheduling system, collection of data, operational procedure, standards and policies. Phase two involves connectivity to the Internet and the web development as well as database synchronization. Phase three involves on-line merchandising and connectivity with other AIM projects.

Why three phases?

Technologically it may be straightforward. However, the real challenge is to implement the defined operational processes and making sure all procedures and standards are understood, agreed and followed correctly. This will require a focused and concentrated effort. Remember that the success of the two subsequent phases will depend on phase one's successful implementation and subsequently smooth operations.

What if another organization wants to join AIMS?

At the completion of phase three, any Assyrian organization that wishes to join is welcome to do so. Of course AIMS’ rules and regulations would apply.

When will the entire project be completed?

 Obviously when phase three is completed we can safely announce the completion of the AIMS project. But as any business that relies on its information systems to keep up with technology changes, AIMS would also be evolving to meet the new needs of our Assyrian people.

How can one find more information on AIMS?

The development of AIMS site (assyrianaims.com) will start at phase two and it is intended that all correspondence and information to be channeled via the site to the AIMS information center. Of course until then all correspondence should be directed to the AIMS address listed on the previous page.

For the first time in our modern Assyrian history, two Assyrian organizations have started in bringing a unified approach to organize themselves. Assyrian Universal Alliance and Assyrian American National Federation have jointly sponsored and financed the development of AIMS.

Assyrian Information Management Systems (AIMS) is being developed to empower our Assyrian individuals and organizations rapid and useful information and knowledge to served our Assyrian nation.

A united Assyrian nation, a life long dream of every Assyrian, has prompted the Assyrian Universal Alliance to promote a structured approach in organizing and ultimately uniting our Assyrian nation. AIMS project is the start of a long journey in ending the confusion and bewilderment that has accompanied our nation today.

With this bold and challenging initiative, AUA and AANF will jointly share an Information Systems infrastructure based on their respective policies, procedures and organizational structures.

AIMS project is being developed by a team of dedicated Assyrian professionals who have committed to bring a new order to our Assyrian organizations. It is of utmost importance that when a group of Assyrians together with two Assyrian organizations are working side by side, all Assyrians should support them.

We have listened to your comments and desires and are acting accordingly to unite ourselves. AIMS project is a good and undisputed start and we urge you to support us. Let us show you how we can lead our nation to a united front.

God Bless you and our beloved nation.

John J. Nimrod
Secretary General
Assyrian Universal Alliance

Sargon Lewie
Assyrian American National Federation

Oct 23

Bet-Eil Assyrian Church presents One day Seminar with Nate Mirza
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Lunch will be served at 12:30 PM
Donation:  Adults:  $15:00   Children: $5:00
Location: Bethel Church, 1201 South Winchester Blvd.  San Jose, California
For more information please contact:

        Tel: (408) 264-7058
        Fax: (408) 264-7087
        E-mail: beteilchurch@jps.net

Dec 31

The Assyrian American Association of San Jose proudly presents
"Year 2000 Dinner Dance" with Ogin & Martik
Westin Hotel, Santa Clara

Package includes complete dinner with appetizer and dessert, two complimentary Wine/Beer drinks or four soft drinks, Champagne toast , after mid-night coffee/tea service and the best Assyrian and international dance music
Ticket Information:
   Saturdays from   10:00 AM to   2:00 PM
   Wednesdays from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Tickets will only be sold at the Assyrian American Association of San Jose

20000 Almaden Road, San Jose 
408-927-8100  or  408-927-9100

October 2nd to October 21           member $120   non-member $130
October 23rd to November 21      member $130    non-member $140 
November 24th to December 30   member $140    non-member $150 
          *********** Absolutely no refunds or exchanges ***************

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
 Matay Arsan
Assyrian Surfing Posts
Jackie Bejan
Calendar of Events
Ninous Bebla
Surfers Corner
Ninos David
The Lighthouse
 Mazin Enwiya
Assyrian Surfing Posts
 Good Morning Bet-Nahrain

Thank You For Referring A Friend to ZENDA:
 Firas Jatou
Isaac Ramsini


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