Tishrin II 16, 6749 November 16, 1999
|Assyrian Identity in the Ottoman Empire
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain
|Kurdish Mayor Denies Assyrian Allegations of "Blockade"
|Assyrian Pope Addresses Pope in Georgia
|"No guaranteed Assyrian rights without a democratic Iraq"
|Geographic Magazine Fails to Mention Assyrians
|NPR Interview: Pope's Visit to Iraq
|This Week in History
|Assyrian Mission Press
|Calendar of Events
|New Year's Eve Party in Hollywood
All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.
The Levant was barren ground for the missionaries, and the few conversions there were obtained by outright bribery. According to Marten von Bruinessen, as soon as the British and American missionaries 'discovered' the Eastern Christians, ‘a not very edifying competition for the conversion of the Nestorians started’. (Maarten Martinus Van Bruinessen, Agha, Shaikh and State, Utrecht, 1978, p.226). Pelletiere observes that theses missionaries having infiltrated were heavy-handedly inciting the Christian tribes against the Turkish authorities. (Stephen C. Pelletiere, The Kurds - an unstable element in the Gulf, London, 1984, pp.38-39).
The appearance of missionaries in the Ottoman Empire, despite some of their humanitarian and other welfare activities, brought a catastrophe to the Eastern Church, including that of the Assyrians. Having come to the East with the intention of converting the Muslims, and discovering in time the futility of their undertaking, these missionaries - Catholic and Protestant alike - turned to the native Christians as a fertile field for converts. These conversions, however, created an irreparable schism among the Ottoman Christians who had accepted Christianity long before the forefathers of these same missionaries had themselves become Christian. Lamsa believes that, the foreign missions had not only destroyed the ‘native faith, but had also ‘broken the solid unity and pride of the native church’ so that ‘hatred and intolerance’ were fostered among the worshippers of the same God. (George M. Lams, The secret of the Near East, Philadelphia, 1923, pp.90-106).
When the Young Turks came to power after July 1908, the Assyrians did not like a centralised and more efficient system of government’ and intensified their intrigues with Russian agents. From 1908 until the outbreak of the Great War, the Russian gradually increased their influence in northwest Persia, and ultimately the administration of the whole plain came under the influence of a weak consul and a powerful and fanatical Orthodox bishop, who naturally supported the local Christians. These Christians, in consequence, lorded it over, and made themselves generally unpleasant towards the Muslim population. Even Canon Wigram, who had a good opinion of the Nestorians’ ability to look after themselves, admits that, by 1910, a situation hitherto ‘tolerable and picturesque’, had become intolerable. (W.A.Wigram, The Assyrians and their neighbours, London, 1929; see also his Cradle of Mankind, London, 1922).
During the Balkan wars (1912-3) Russian agents continued their activities among the Nestorians in the Van district. The head of the Nestorians, Mar Shimoun, had been promised Russian protection, while the well-known Kurdish Agha, Sadi of Neri, had also place himself in Russian hands, and example which was about to be followed by the Sheikh of Barzan. (FO 371/1781/574, Sir Gerard Lowther to Sir Edward Grey, 31.12.1912 ).
In the autumn of 1913 a Russian envoy toured the Assyrian tribal districts, distributing lavish gifts and promising them modern rifles, on condition of their acceptance of Orthodoxy. In the following months the Holy Synod at Petrograd and Kotchanis - the Patriarchal residence - began to exchange letters between them, which continued until the outbreak of the First World War, but without their coming to an understanding. (FO 371/4192/137252 Note by G.S.Reed, dated 1.7.1919). Thus, before the outbreak of the Great War, religious propaganda was being disseminated by the Russians among the Assyrians on the Turco-Persian border, as revealed by Sir Francis Humphrys, the British minister at Baghdad, in a confidential dispatch he sent to Foreign Secretary Sir John Simon, on 12 October 1933. (FO 371/16894?E 6229, Humphrys to Simon, 12.10.1933).
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War, the Assyrians living within the Ottoman boundaries had no cause to take up arms against their rulers, despite the intrigues carried among them by a number of powers, through their missionaries and consuls, particularly since the 1890s. According to the Reverend John Panfil, the Assyrians live ‘quite happily’ in the hills of southeastern Turkey in pre-war days. They had no serious trouble for over 200 years, and although they were surrounded by the tribal Muslims, those Muslims were quite friendly towards them, before the advent of Europeans to those regions. (FO 371/15315/E 2416). Even Agha Petros, a hardliner, admits: "At the beginning of 1914 all were quiet, and we were happy". (FO 371/8993/E84). Disaster did not befall them until they, like the Armenians, made common cause with the Russians and betrayed the Turks and their own country during World War 1. (Eric Feigl, A myth of terror, Austria, 11986, p.31.)
When the war broke out in August 1914 the Ottoman government, which was aware of the Russian intrigues then carried on among the Nestorian Assyrians, approached their Patriarch Mar Shimoun, through Tahsin Pasha, the governor of the province of Van, with the suggestion that the Assyrians at least stay neutral if Turkey participated in the war. In return, he promised the Patriarch that all the complaints of the Assyrians would be dealt with, and that their financial, administrative, and religious problems would be taken in hand and solved. The Patriarch replied that his people would remain neutral on condition that the Turks, on their part would promise not to ill-treat them. (FO 371/8993/E 84 and FO 371/10089/E 8457; see also FO 371/7793/E 12115, ‘The Assyrians during the Great War’ by W.A..Wigram, 12.12.1919). This promise the Turks undertook to fulfill.
According to another version, after the entry of the Russian forces into Persia, and before the declaration of war by the Ottoman government, the Ottomans sent emissaries to Mar Shimoun and offered him large sums of money in gold on condition that the Patriarch and his people should remain neutral. Mar Shimoun, however, sent envoys to the Russian military authorities at Urmia, by whom he had previously been approached and from whom he had received a promise of 25,000 rifles, and informed them that he had decided to declare war against the Ottoman Empire. (FO 371/4172/111181).
Meanwhile the commander of a Russian military force at Urmia was intriguing with, and inviting, the Assyrians to take up arms against the Kurdish tribal Muslims, who were having occasional skirmishes with them, and against the Turks, in the event of war. Much friction developed between the Kurds and the Assyrians owing to the machinations of the Russians who provoked the former to attack Christian villages in the districts, in order to persuade the Assyrians to join forces with the Russians. The Kurds dealt severely with a number of Christians in the locality. Thereupon the Russian commander persuaded the Assyrians to take up arms against the Kurds.
Over the centuries a fine balance of coexistence had developed among the peoples of eastern Anatolia - Turks, Persians, Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians and others - but this harmony had now begun to fray simply because the chauvinistic leaders of the Turkish Armenians and Assyrians had decided to join forces with the enemies of their country. (See also Pelletier, p.53).
During the first part of the war, when Turkish troops were reported to be approaching in large numbers in eastern Turkey, the Russian military officers, thinking that their army was not adequate to confront them, at once began to recruit from the Assyrians for military service. A regiment was formed, and in a short time the Assyrians, who were armed by the Russians, were put under training. This regiment fought a number of battles with success, and earned the approval and admiration of the Russians. In December 1914 when the Turks began to advance In the Sarikamis front, the Russians suddenly evacuated Urmia and Salmas on 2 January 1915, without giving any warning to their allies, the Assyrians. In the short space of time all those who had horses succeeded in escaping from Urmia to the Caucasus, but about 10,000 of them were left behind. At the ensuing fight with the Turks some of them lost their lives and others died of various diseases. Those who were left behind were sick, famished and physically weak. According to British estimates about 4,000 Assyrians had lost their lives (FO 371’4192/137252, Memo by Captain Reed, 1.7.1919), but these estimates did not indicate the number of Muslims who had also died of the same causes. Over 100,000 Turks and other Muslims were estimated to have lost their lives during the Sarikamis catastrophe, as a result of direct and indirect Armeno-Assyrian actions.
Those Assyrians, like some of the Armenians, who has betrayed their own country and then fled to the Caucasus, suffered untold agonies from privation and cold. Hundreds of them dropped dead on the way. The winter of 1915 was, indeed, a black one, not only for the Assyrians, but also for the Turks. (See also FO 371/4177/269952, Sir Percy Cox to Balfour, Tehran, 1919). This calamity that had befallen both people was the result of Russian incitement of, and treachery against, the Assyrians, Armenians and Kurds, and this was confirmed by Sir Francis Humprhys 15 years later, during his meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury on 12 June 1931, when he categorically declared that it was the Russians who had encouraged the Assyrians to revolt against the Turks, and had then betrayed them, leaving them defenseless near Lake Urmia. (FO 371/15315/E 2981, Memo by G.W.Rendel, 12.6.1931). The Assyrians could have remained neutral, and this would have been to their advantage, but they were told that, being Christians they would be involved and persecuted anyhow, so they had better side with the allies. A number of promises were made to them, and they were supplied with arms and ammunition, sent into country from Russia, but now their losses were immense. (FO 371/153/15/E 2416) After the Sarikamis disaster of the Turkish army the Russians reoccupied Urmia and began to advance into eastern Anatolia whereupon the Assyrians, under Mar Shimoun, and at the instigation of the Russians who made lavish promises to them, including armed assistance and ‘a national territory of their own, with autonomy,’ (FO 371/9006/E 10167, Memo by Agha Petros, 1923), attacked isolated Turkish posts and settlements in their neighbourhood (FO 371/16894/E 6229, Humphrys to Simon, 12.10.1933) perpetrating, in the process, many atrocities against the Turks and other Muslims.
In committing a number of atrocities the Assyrians were merely following the example of the Russians, for, according to a British report, ‘wherever the Russian armies went, there followed murder, rapine and famine. This culminated in the complete destruction, in 1915-16, of Rowanduz and the surrounding districts, by the Russians, and the mixed following of Christian levies which followed in their train’.(FO 371/4192/130560 India Office to Foreign Office, 17.9.1919). Agha Petros was the leader of the Assyrian bands which perpetrated many atrocities against the Muslims. He was also intriguing with the British as early as 1915. Letter from Paul Shimoun (brother of the Patriarch) to Reverend F.N.Heazell of the Archbishop of Cantebury’s Assyrian Mission, dated 5 July 1915: ‘Mar Shimoun was in Salmas a few days ago, and left again last week. He was received with great military honours. Cossacks with drawn swords, were always in attendance. General Chernezohoff did him great service, and paid him every attention. On leaving, he was escorted by a thousand Cossacks. The Russians have given him 300 rifles and 150,000 cartridges, and have promised him 20,000 more rifles. (FO 371/2433/118272, Randall Cantaur to Sir Edward Grey, 20.8.1915).
At the time, the armed assistance of the Assyrian tribes was seen to be of importance to the Russian military operations against the Turks. Apparently the Russian promises were considered by an assembly of Assyrian notables which had met at Dez early in May 1915. The notables decided that in view of the promised Russian support the Assyrian people should throw in their lot with the Entente Powers, and on May they issued a formal declaration of war against Turkey, calling their people to arms. (FO 371/15316/E 3791, Memo by W.J.Childs, 22.5.1931). According to another version, as revealed by Agha Petros in one of his prolific letters, dated 2 Dec 1922, in May 1915 Patriarch Mar Shimoun received a telegram from General Chernobuzoff, commander-in-chief of the Russian forces, urging the Assyrians to attack the army of Turkish General Halil Pasha, and thereby become an ally. ‘We finally decided to throw in our lot with the Allies and fight for the common cause of our individual freedom’ he declared. (FO 371/8993/E 84). The Turks had done their best to remain on good terms with the Assyrians, but Russian and American propaganda, conducted through the missionaries, had induced them to throw in their lot with the Russians. Towards the end of the war Britain began to use Assyrian levees and Armenian guerrillas in order to stall the Turkish advance. On 31 July 1918 the Turks and the Assyrian Jelous came face to face. This threw the Assyrians into a panic, and they rushed out of Urmia town with their wives, children and flocks. They managed to break through the Kurdish tribes of the Mahabad region, but were attacked in Miandoab by an Iranian detachment, and there sustained heavy losses. About 10,000 Assyrians were killed or taken prisoner; neither Kurds nor Assyrians gave any quarter. ‘Though it was not fully realised at the time, the Assyrian nation had been destroyed’ claims Eagleton (pp.9-10).
The Assyrians are better known by their ecclesiastical designations representing the three main religious sects into which they were divided after their schism in 1551 CE, namely a) Nestorians, or East Syrians, b) Chaldeans, or East Syrian Uniates, and c) Jacobites, or West Syrians, who are Orthodox. Uniate churches are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
While Chrisitianity united the Assyrians, in the long run it divided them. With the dissemination of Christianity various christological beliefs and doctrines were put forward the supporters of which began to struggle against each other. During these struggles the Assyrian ‘National’ Church was established; but owing to different religious doctrines and to the political intrigues of the Byzantines and the Sassanians, the Assyrian Church and people were divided. The Eastern Assyrians and the Nestorian Church, on the one hand, and the Western Assyrians and the Assyrian Orthodox Church, on the other, began to struggle with one another. This schism lasted for almost six centuries and destroyed completely their unity. Today they are mainly divided into the Eastern Assyrians, who consist of Nestorians and Chaldeans, and the Western Assyrians, who consist mainly of the Suryanis of Turkey, who are also known as Jacobites or Arameans.
The Reverend F. N. Heazell observes : ‘ In 1917 Britain sent up two officers of the British Intelligence Staff, Captain Gracey and Lieutenant McDonell to form a common plan of campaign with them and the Russians. The Assyrians acted upon the advice given them (Heazell, The woes of a distressed nation: being an account of the Assyrian people from 1914 to 1934, London p.7) but in so doing, they lost their former homes and two-thirds of their number. Ultimately, like the Armenians, they were let down by their champions.
In a memo prepared for submission to the Paris Peace Conference early in 1919, Assyrian leaders pointed out that, from the time of Turkey’s entry into the war the Assyrians had fought incessantly, as a distinct unit, in the group of the allied nations. They stated that the victories credited to the Russian forces in eastern Turkey were in reality won by the Assyrian forces in that front. Even after the collapse of Russia, they went on, the Nestorian Assyrians remained loyal to their allies; and now they sought independence, but not as a charity; they demanded it by appealing to the sense of justice and equity. A nation that had lost nearly one-third of its people because of the part it had played in the world war, they claimed, must surely be entitled to recognition and independence, especially in view of those political declarations which had repeatedly proclaimed the inauguration of a new era, wherein the principle of self-determination was to be recognised as a sacred and inherent right of mankind. They concluded as follows: ‘We have the most conclusive proofs to show that the Assyrians were urged by the official representatives of Great Britain, France and Russia, to enter into the war on the side of the Allies, and were induced into a state of belligerency with the most solemn promises of being given a free state. The Assyrians, therefore, having risked the existence of their nation, and having made such appalling sacrifices upon the altar of freedom, demand that these promises of the Allied Governments should now be honorably redeemed’. (See also FO 371/4177/110919, Balfour to FO, Paris, 31.7.1919).
The tragedy of the Assyrians, particularly of those who were Ottoman subjects, who themselves admit that their homeland in the Ottoman Empire, before their self-inflicted exodus took place was ‘Christ’s kingdom on Earth’, is a story of betrayal, according to David Perley. (Whither Christian missions, 1946, p.13). It is the betrayal of a Christian minority that had lived under autonomous conditions, benefiting from Ottoman Muslim toleration, and all the advantages of the millet system, until they were deceived, first by Tsarist Russia, and then by Britain, with false promises of assistance in the fulfillment of their extraneous aspirations, and were persuaded to take up arms against their own state and its government.
The Assyrians themselves admit the folly of their ecclesiastical and lay leaders, who had led them to the path of treachery, rebellion, atrocities, and all kinds of misdeeds incompatible with the tenets of a people who were supposed to be the congregation of the Christian Church of the East. It is, perhaps, as a result of their misguidance and ‘sins’ that they were ultimately deprived of ‘Christ’s Kingdom on Earth’, and ended up as refugees in an alien country. Even the Churches Committee on Migrant Workers in Europe admits ‘The Nestorians are historically linked with Armenian politics....They joined ranks with the Armenians in alliance with the Russians, took revenge on the Kurds, and killed hundreds of thousands of them’ (p.9).
If the Assyrians of today are in danger of ‘complete extinction’, as Perley seems to suggest (p.13), it is a travesty of justice to put the blame on the Ottoman Empire and to accuse the Turks of having ‘exterminated’ them together with the Armenians, another Ottoman Christian minority that benefited from Ottoman lenience and Muslim toleration for centuries, whose leaders have equally sacrificed them on the altar of the expansionist, imperialist major powers of the time. Again Perley suggests that if the ‘extinction of the Assyrians materialises’, which is unlikely, then the British (I would add the major powers) would have succeeded in doing, in the course of a few decades, what the Ottoman Turks refrained from doing, in the course of many centuries. After all, the Turks were by no means illiberal, for they allowed minorities a large measure of autonomy, and encouraged them to maintain their own religion, laws, language and customs. According to A.H. Hamilton (Road through Kurdistan, p.135; see also John Foster, The Church of the T’ang Dynasty, p.34), ‘Neither Mohammed nor the Caliphs, nor the all-conquering Mongols, nor the Seljuk Turks did them (the Assyrians) much harm’.
The Assyrians had no need to help Russia and Britain in the Great War. They had every reason to prefer a strict neutrality; for whichever side eventually won the war, would not have harmed them. But they rebelled against their own government, left their mountain heights and poured every man into the ranks of the Allies’ armies, believing that, by their self-sacrifice and invaluable work, they would pile up a debt of gratitude which, in honour bound, the Russians or the British must repay if victory crowned their arms. Major Douglas V. Duff remarked as follows: ‘The betrayal of your followers by friends you once trusted is the basest in history! The lust for economic power rode rough-shod over principle and promise, leaving the Assyrians stranded in a no-man’s land, at the mercy of strange and hostile Arab tribesmen. They are now deserted , broken, and bleeding! They are dying! (‘Guardians’, Dublin Review, October 1937, pp.20-21).
Finally Perley poses the following question: And in the name of moral justice, let us ask, was there, in reality, any terrible oppression by the despicable Turk? The Assyrians, who enjoyed an autonomous existence in Turkey since the 13th century, and in whose territory the Turkish writ did not run, must surely know the answer, and in these days of dispersion and exile of their nation and Church, they must surely remember with nostalgia the good old days of the Ottoman Empire’. (p.12).
Dr. Salahi Ramsdan Sonyel
This paper was presented at the Genocide Conference organized
by Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. The Centre for Comparative
Genocide Studies at Macquiarie University held its inaugural biennial conference,
"Portraits of Christian Asia Minor", Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th September,
1999. Papers were presented on various aspects of the indigenous Christian
civilizations of Asia Minor (Hellenic, Armenian and Assyrian) focusing on the
early decades of the twentieth century: education, sport, religion, art, popular
culture, economy and politics. See Dr Abdul Massih Saadi's paper on the
Assyrian Genocide printed in the previous issue of Zinda Magazine.
GOOD MORNING BET-NAHRAIN
KURDISH MAYOR DENIES ALLEGATIONS OF BLOCKADE
Courtesy of the The Kurdistan Observer
Press Release from the Mayor of Akra - Iraqi Kurdistan
November 8, 1999
On October 16, 1999 the Assyrian News Agency reported that the KDP forces applied a blockade late August over eight Assyrian villages in the Nehla region of the District of Akra. The Agency added that the KDP forces warned the villagers against transporting food products to these villages. This action, the Agency claimed, led the villagers to plea for intervention by the International Red Cross, which, allegedly, resulted in a temporary lifting of the blockade.
We at the District of Akra wish to unravel the following facts:
In 1987, the Iraqi Government started evacuation of the Assyrian and Kurdish villages as part of a plan to destroy villages and the village life in Kurdistan. Indeed, the Assyrian villages were evacuated, and in an attempt to instigate division between the Kurds and Assyrians, the Iraqi regime repopulated these villages with Kurdish factions allied with the regime. However, following the Kurdish uprising of March 1991, the KDP leader Mr. Masoud Barzani visited Akra and urged the Assyrians to return to their villages and participate in rebuilding Kurdistan, promising to facilitate and provide the necessary assistance for their return. Given this noble stance and countless others like it, these fabricated reports and false claims by the Assyrian News Agency came as a complete surprise not only to the Kurds but also to the Assyrian people residing in these villages. To back this response to claims of the Assyrian News Agency, we will gladly accept investigation and reporting of the facts by any independent exploratory committee or agency.
I’ll take this opportunity to assure all that there is no blockade of any kind in Kurdistan by the KDP forces or the Regional Government. It is for the first time in the history of modern Iraq that the Assyrians have enjoyed political, cultural and religious rights, not to mention the freedoms and democratic rights enjoyed by the Assyrian parties and by their national and religious organizations.
Rasheed Hussien Ahmad
Mayor of Akra
November 8, 1999
ASSYRIAN PRIEST ADDRESSES POPE IN GEORGIA
(ZNDA: Tbilisi) Last week John Paul II read
Mass in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, to an audience of 15,000, including
top Georgian officials. Among the leaders and delegates was the Assyrian-Chaldean
priest, Father Benny Yadgar, who read a brief address to the audience.
John Paul II then read a Eucharist prayer, whose Christian message is the
turning of the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Christ.
The wine was poured into the pontiff's cup for the prayer from a huge Georgian horn. Then children wearing national costumes, presented to the Pope a lamb, a symbol of life and innocence.
According to TASS News Agency, the head of the Georgian Catholic administration, Monsignor Juzeppe Pazotto, will be elevated to the order of bishop of the Catholic Apostolic Church in the Caucasus. The ordination and presentation of the episcopal mitre and the staff will take place in the Vatican on January 6, 2000. This news was announced on Tuesday by Pope John Paul II at a mass in the Tbilisi Palace of Sports.
Father Benny Yadgar is the only Assyrian priest in Georgia,
completing his service for the Chaldean-Catholic mission in that country.
Georgia has around 50,000 Catholics: Georgians, Armenians,
Assyrians, Russians and Poles. The Vatican recognized Georgia's independence in May 1992. The two
states established diplomatic relations at the same time. Immediately after, the Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic office in Detroit dispatched Father Yadgar to aide the Assyrian communities in Georgia. Father Benny has successfully brought together Assyrians of all religious denominations under one "Assyrian-Chaldean Christian" church.
"The London-based international Arabic newspaper AZZAMAAN published in its Monday Nov 15th issue (Page 4) an important and interesting interview with Mr. Nimrud Baito of APP (Assyrian Patriotic Party). Find it in: http://www.azzaman.com/
The importance of the interview is that besides giving a brief information on the APP's establishment (on 14 July 1973 as a fruit of the visit of late Malik Yako accompanied by AUA delegation), and APP role in introducing the Assyrian cause in a nationalistic (Assyrian) and patriotic (Iraqi) frame besides the whole Iraqi components, it gives the APP political vision on the Iraqi future: No stable and democratic Iraq if the Assyrian and all Iraqi nations are not recognized and guaranteed constitutionally.
No guaranteed Assyrian rights without a democratic Iraq.
This future can only achieved when the current regime is removed.
It is the interest of Iraqi people and the whole region to remove the current regime.
On the issue of the credibility of US and international community to support the Iraqi opposition, Mr. Nimrud did explained that the international governments and states are not non-profit organizations to struggle on behalf the Iraqi people.
They have their own interests. the political reality is to deal with such issue in an open mind. I urge you to read the interview. GOD bless you."
Rev. E. Youkhana
GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE FAILS TO MENTION ASSYRIANS
The following letter was written by a reader of Zinda Magazine in response to an article published in this month's issue of the National Geographic Magazine. Mr. Mishel is the president of the Assyrian American Society of Las Vegas.
National Geographic Magazine
P.O. Box 98198
Washington, DC 20090-8198
I enjoyed reading your article "Eyewitness Iraq" in Volume 196, No. 5, November 1999 issue. Your article mentions Arabs and Kurds, however, it fails to mention the Iraq's indigenous people-- Assyrians who are the second largest minority in Iraq. Your article covers the role and activities of the KDP and PUK as two Kurdish political parties which are based in northern Iraq, but it does not mention anything about the ADM (Assyrian Democratic Movement) which is also based in northern Iraq and has played a vital role in that area for peace, stability, and general welfare of the people.
Mr. Edwards, who wrote the article, and who had "a six-week excursion" in Iraq, owed your readers to inform them of Assyrians and their political parties. Information on Assyrians and ADM is available not only in Iraq but also all over the world through media and the Internet.
Persi J. Mishel, Esq.
Supreme Court of Nevada Settlement Judge
Las Vegas, Nevada
Links to Other Assyrian Websites
BACK TO THE FUTURE
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
November 21, 1840 : Assyrian Mission Press begins publishing in Assyrian (Syriac) in Urmia, Iran. The first published work was the Lord's Prayer in Assyrian.
NPR INTERVIEW: POPE's VISIT
Courtesy of National Public Radio (NPR)
Weekend Edition Sunday, October 17, 1999
Anchor: Liane Hansen
Reporter: Dale Gavlak
Yesterday, Pope John Paul II marked his 21st anniversary as pontiff. In that time, he's visited nearly 120 countries and now he wants to visit Iraq. But it's still uncertain whether the trip will take place. The United States and Britain argue the visit would give President Saddam Hussein an unwanted boost. Jewish groups and Iraqi opposition figures assert that such a visit should be made after Saddam's ouster. Iraq's faithful, however, have high hopes that the pope will come. Dale Gavlak reports from Baghdad.
Scores of Iraqi Catholics pack Baghdad's Mother of Sorrows Cathedral) to celebrate Mass on Sunday evening. Women wearing lacy head scarves are seated to the left of the ornate church. Men and boys worship to the sanctuary's right, typical of Middle Eastern church tradition. Parishioners, like medical doctor Faddar Sami), say they're thrilled about a possible visit by the pope to Iraq despite the fact that the Vatican has yet to make any official announcement. Sami says they're hoping the papal visit will lead to the lifting of international sanctions against Iraq.
Dr. FADDAR SAMI (Parishioner): We are told pontiff to see this situation, to visit hospitals and to tell the world about this unjust embargo against the people who didn't do anything.
GAVLAK: It is most likely that the pope would make a quick trip to Ur but spend most of his stay in Baghdad. There, he could minister to many of Iraq's 800,000 Christians, most of whom are Catholic but represent various rights-- Chaldean, Serbian, Armenian and Latin. Although Christians are a minority among Iraq's 24 million people, Archbishop Emanuel Dally of the Chaldean community argues they are able to practice their faith and freedom.
Archbishop EMANUEL DALLY: (Through Translator) The government publishes books written by Iraqi Christians explaining our religious beliefs. It also provides churches with real electricity and water.
GAVLAK: But the State Department has accused Iraq of forcing Christians to move from the country's north to Baghdad and repressing their ethnic and political rights. Those who have criticized the pope's planned pilgrimage believe it would be nearly impossible to separate religion from politics. They worry the pope would have to meet with President Saddam Hussein. But Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, himself a Chaldean Christian, hopes that a papal visit would focus attention on the hardship sanctions have caused Iraq.
Prime Minister TARIQ AZIZ (Iraq): But, of course, when a person like the pope comes to Iraq, there will be a lot of media. That will be good. Even those who completely hate Iraq, when they come to Iraq and return, they will say something less worse.
GAVLAK: If the pope does decide to go through with this pilgrimage to Iraq, it will be the first visit by a head of state to Baghdad since the 1991 Gulf War.
Copyright 1999 National Public Radio (R). All rights
reserved. To obtain a full copy of this interview contact NPR's at (202)
In 1989, Ray Kamoo was browsing through a history text at work, looking for information about his Chaldean ancestry.
One thing led to another. And in between working full time and pursuing his doctoral degree, he ended up spending more than 1,000 hours in libraries, combing through everything from modern articles and dissertations to rare tomes chronicling the ancient culture.
Now, anyone who will need to do a paper or a project on Chaldean history owes him a debt of gratitude.
Kamoo, 36, of Southfield, has written a book called Ancient and Modern Chaldean History: A Comprehensive Bibliography of Sources. The 244-page book, published by Scarecrow Press of Maryland, has a 30-page introduction that traces Chaldean history from 5800 B.C. to the modern day.
The rest of the book exhaustively details hundreds of articles -- some ranging from the 1500s -- their authors and where they were published.
"I've basically done a lot of the sweat work for anyone interested in Chaldean history," said Kamoo, whose family immigrated to the United States from Baghdad, Iraq, when he was 4 years old. "It took me the better part of seven years but it was truly a labor of love."
Chaldeans are Roman Catholics who trace their ancestry to the Mesopotamian region. The ancient Chaldeans were the last of the Babylonian dynasties that lived in what is now the southern part of Iraq.
Kamoo is a clinical psychologist who has worked in mental health agencies. He's worked closely with other Chaldeans over the years and and is the chairman of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute Liaison Committee to the Arab and Chaldean communities.
History, to him, is just a hobby.
He believes there's a market for his work. The book costs $ 47.50 and can be ordered through major book sellers such as Borders and Amazon.com. Kamoo is starting his own promotion of the book.
He doesn't have to go far. There are an estimated 100,000 Chaldeans in the United States. And about 80 percent live in Michigan. Southfield has more than 15,000 Chaldeans -- about 20 percent of the city's population.
The city is also home to the Mother of God Church. The church opened its doors more than 50 years ago and is the largest Chaldean church in the nation.
Ray Kamoo, a Southfield psychologist, spent his spare
time over several years writing the book that is now available at major book
TALES FROM ANCIENT SUMER
Fiona Collins, June Peters and Fran
JULIET MORADIAN EXHIBITION
Juliet Moradian and Rob Bearden
exhibit their works
BAZAAR AND FOOD FESTIVAL
Delicious food, crafts, gifts, and face painting
THE MILLENNIUM GALA
The Assyrian American Association of San Jose proudly
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
Tickets will only be sold at the Assyrian American Association of San Jose
20000 Almaden Road, San Jose
October 2nd to October 21
member $120 non-member $130
NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY
Celebrate the Millennium
MEMORIAL OF ST. EPHREM
Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Assyrian Rite (Chaldean
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P.O. Box 20278 San Jose, California 95160 U.S.A.
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Fax: (408) 918-9201