|Z I N D A M A G A Z I N E|
|Eelool 28, 6750 Volume VI Issues 24 September 28, 2000|
|The Lighthouse||From Survival to Revival:
In the Aftermath of the Assyrian Genocide
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain||47 Countries Take Part in Babylon Festival
Maronites Endorse Church Call for Syrian Withdrawal
|News Digest||Assyrian-Chaldean Detainees Join Their U.S. Families
Ninos Betyo and Khodada Petros Speak in Modesto
Turks Angered Over U.S. Genocide Ruling
|Surfs Up||"We must open our eyes and most importantly our minds"|
|Literatus||A Tragic Tale is Told at Last|
|Bravo!||St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Church|
|Assyrian Surfing Posts||The Ashurai|
|Pump Up the Volume||Church & Church|
|Back to the Future||The Urartan Defeat & the Massacre of Edessan Christians|
|This Week in History||Dr. Peera Sarmas|
|Calendar of Events||A Concert of Spiritual Songs in San Jose|
All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.
FROM SURVIVAL TO REVIVAL
In the Aftermath of the Assyrian Genocide
From the dawn of civilization, empires and peoples have risen to greatness, left their gifts for posterity, and then fallen into obscurity or extinction. Among these is the Assyrian nation, not extinct but still living and breathing, thousands of years after Babylonia, Akkad, Nineveh and Aram. Its people have ridden the tides of time longer than any other nation on earth now living, and cling tenaciously to their culture and language. This monumental achievement of survival, however, has been long and bitter, and has not come without a price. The Assyrian men, women and children, when faced with their own extinction, have paid over and over again in blood and in numbers for the right to exist and to have a name in their ancestral homelands.
If you talk to Assyrians, you will hear them call themselves by more than one name (Suraye/ Suroye, Suryoye, Othoraye, Aramaye, Chaldaye ..etc). This is because their rich and ancient heritage has left many historic classifications by which various groups came to identify themselves. In fact they all share the same language, with a few dialectical difference, the same socio-cultural cohesion, same long history of survival and now the same fate. While they maintain these historic naming choices for some community or religious purposes, they all as one acknowledge their core identity as one and the same nation. Out of the ten great civilizations in human history, the Assyrians created one of the greatest many years before Christ, and their legacy was to be the world standard of civilization for commerce, government, law, literature and culture in general for two thousand years. And despite the lost of political and military power, their language remain the Lingua Franca for more than a thousand year. Most importantly, centuries have passed, and they continue to seek a productive life and peace for themselves as well as for everybody around them.
Geographical Location of the Assyrians on the Eve of World War I
At the turn of the century, the Assyrian people, the torchbearers of the earliest civilization in the world, and the living remnant of over 6,000 years of history in the region, lived under the Ottoman and Persian Empires. Their region was roughly known as “Upper Mesopotamia,” which includes: south and southeastern present-day Turkey, [they were spread from Miyafarqin, Hakkari, Bohtan, Tur-Abdin (over 240 villages), Nisibin, Mardin, Urfa (Edessa) all the way to Adana West; in the north, from Siirt, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, Malatia. Under Persian rule, they were mostly in western Azerbaijan, at Urmia and the Salamas districts.
The other Assyrians (Syriac people) were spread over places in present day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and in the Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia).
Ecclesiastical Diversity Among the Assyrians
Like most peoples, the Assyrians have various ecclesiastical traditions, although mostly they are Christian denominators. The Assyrians of the Church of the East include: Orthodox (or Nestorians), Catholic (Chaldeans) and Protestants. Similarly, the Assyrians of the West Syriac Church encompass several traditions: Orthodox (or Jacobites), Catholic, Melkites (Roman Orthodox & Roman Catholic), Maronites, and Protestants.
For thousands of years, while the Assyrians maintained their civilized continuity and peaceful cooperation with their neighbors or partners in the region: Armenians, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Kurds and Turks, they suffered many severe persecutions, suppression and massacres. Yet in the end of the 19th century (Abdul-Hamid’s massacres) and by the turn of the 20th century in the World War One, the Assyrians received the biggest blows time and again from the Ottoman authorities, which reduced them to desperation and annihilation.
As a surviving remnant of our parents’ genocides, living the consequences of its aftermath, we modern Assyrians are anxiously struggling on several fronts: (1) to understand the reasons behind the genocide of our parents, (2) to determine the ways and means to prevent such a fate from ever happening again; (3) to secure a civilized continuity for our next generation; and lastly (4) to restore the civilized and civilizing role of our ancestors.
Implication of Genocide
The survivors from our parents told their stories in terms of Killing (Qettla), Deportation (sawqiaat), and Sword (Sayfo). This is because the word and concept of Genocide had not yet been coined nor its concept was determined. Contrary to the concept of homicide, the intentional of murder of an individual, Genocide means the destruction of a group as the outcome of governmental policy. It was on December 9, 1948 the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution delineating the full meaning of Genocide and condemned it as “a crime under international law.” Specifically speaking, the Genocide, according to the statement issued by the U.N., “means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, such as:
1. Killing members of the group;
2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
This inclusive definition of Genocide by the U.N. presented a spectrum of acts and policies. All five of defined points of Genocide unequivocally are applicable to our Assyrian people, from physical massacres to forcible deculturation. The history of millions of native Assyrians in the region witnesses that they endured their fate century after century. On one hand, they honestly and earnestly presented to their partners the most civilized production ranged of literary, spirituality, science, economy, and peace; on the other hand, they suffered all kinds of atrocities, brutality and overall decimation from many of their neighbors or partners. The horrific massacres in WWI by the Ottoman authorities was neither the first nor the last; the instance of SEMILE in Iraq in 1933, which we often commemorate on the 7th of August where 3,000 innocent civilian Assyrians were massacred by the Iraqi regular troops led by Baker Sedqi, the chief army. The constant process of deculturation against our people continues not only by Turkey but also by many other countries, as their own language, values, patriotism, folklore, personal security, dignity and economical survival are threatened and almost nullified. Specifically, the Assyrians (all various denominations) of “Upper Mesopotamia,” they were numbered one million persons on the eve of WWI. And had there been no Genocide, they Assyrians could have numbered 20 million by now. In fact, because of the Genocide and its aftermath, now, at that same region they number only a couple thousand.
By the turn of the century, and due to nationalistic awakening, many members of the above-mentioned churches preferred to be identified with one nationalistic name, Assyrian, rather than by the various names of the church traditions. Generally speaking, the Assyrians of the Church of the East were distributed in the Eastern part of “Upper Mesopotamia,” while the Assyrians of the West Syriac Churches lived in the middle and Western part of “Upper Mesopotamia.”
For the last 2500 years, the Assyrians experienced many persecutions as a powerless people. Although they were among the first people to adopt Christianity, through which they demonstrated their prolific literary and civilized contribution, becoming Christians did not prevent their fate of constant persecution and perseverance. But despite all the obstacles, and for two more millennia, the Assyrians proved their vitality of productivity, peace, and loving intention for all the people of the earth. Their writers and philosophers did not cease to contribute in most kinds of constructive knowledge, cordial interfaith tracts, and even science. Likewise, their spiritual people generously enriched the culture of their region. And their missionaries, without distinction or prejudice, reached out to all their surrounding world, as far as India and China, to show, through their unprejudiced and indiscriminate good deeds, the power of love that makes all people around the world one through faith. This civilized nature, despite all the blows throughout their long history, proved to be like an elastic and flexible willow tree, that bends with the stormy winds and weather, but afterwards stands tall, proud and unbroken, once more to continue to bear fruits.
The harshest, most pitiless blow, however, like a fiery sword falling time and time again on the trunk of our tree, occurred in the beginning of this century by the so-called “civilized, modern nation,” Turkey, and under the observation and silence of the “most civilized western nations.”
In the aftermath of the horrible massacre by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Hamid in 1894-1896, which claimed thousands of Assyrians, the Assyrians were unable to heal their wounds because the direst time of their entire history on earth, their genocide, was waiting like an angel of death at the door. The Young Turk dethroned Abdul-Hamid in 1908, and contrary to the optimistic expectation of the Assyrians, the new movement demonstrated even more scathing cruelty and severity.
Many historians and politicians have analyzed the reasons behind the brutal deportations and massacre by the Ottomans authorities against their Christian (Greek, Armenians, Assyrians) subjects. The crux of the matter is that the Assyrians were not responsible in any way or deserving of such a fate. This is the real bottom line and the real reason we are all here today. According to historical analysis, it might be said that among the various motives that the Ottoman authorities had to commit such various and stupefying atrocities were: first, the new, national ideology and identity of the Turks; second, the dramatic territorial loss of Ottoman Empire: Bulgaria in 1908, Bosnia, Herzegovina which in 1908 were annexed to Austria, Libya in 1911 by Italy, and the Balkan states in 1914. Such losses not only eliminated large territories and their subjects, but also shook to its foundations the multinational and multi-religious character of the Empire. Accordingly, the Young Turk regarded the Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians not only as foreigners, but also as distrustful and unwanted people who could only be dealt with through dissolution and extermination. The Young Turk’s distrust of non-Turks was such that Young Turk could not imagine a future Turkey which had as its national base any ethnic or cultural entity not purely their own, in fact mirroring an attitude later manifested fully by Hitler and Turkey’s World War I ally, Germany. It was no surprise, therefore, for Adolf Hilter to justify the massacres committed by the Young Turk, stating in August 1939 as follows: “Who, after all, speaks today of the extermination of the Armenians?” The eruption of a fanatic, nationalistic ideology in both Turkey and Germany led their leaders to be convinced of the necessity of destroying the people they had defined as the target. In Turkey, in WWI, the victims were the Greeks, Armenians, and the Assyrians of all their denominations. For the same reason of confronting a fanatic, nationalistic ideology, the Assyrian survivors of WWI had to suffer another Genocide in 1933 in SEMELE and countless incidences, which reduced them to dispersion and annihilation.
While the evidence abounds in a huge corpus of documents, the U.S. Major General James G. Harborad, the chief of a Fact-Finding Mission to Anatolia, reported in 1919 as follows:
Massacres and deportations were organized in the spring of 1915 under a definite system, the soldiers going from town to town. The official reports of the Turkish Government show 1,100,000 as having been deported. Young men were first summoned to the government building in each village and then marched out and killed. The women, the old men, and children were, after a few days, deported to what Talaat pasha called “agricultural colonies,” from the high, cool, breeze-swept plateau of Armenia to the malarial flats of the Euphrates and the burning sands of Syria and Arabia.. Mutilation, violation, torture and death .. the most colossal crime of all the ages.
Our people, with no means to defend themselves, received the biggest blow. No course of action was safe, not one. Those who tried to flee from their historical territories, such as Hikkari, could not save themselves. Neither could those who chose to remain under the Ottoman role escape their horrific destiny. Realizing their pending fate, the terrified Christians made every effort possible to appease their Ottoman masters, whether through distancing themselves from other Christian denominations, namely, the Armenians and Nestorians (as they were called by the Ottomans), or showing neutrality and loyalty in a variety of more subtle ways. For example, the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox church wrote a telegram to the grand vizier, condemning the “Armenian disturbances,” and thanking “his Majesty for the protection he has ever accorded to it, as also to our Mussulman compatriots.” Finally, the Patriarch begged, “under these circumstances, we can but appeal to the Sovereign, our sole refuge, to protect us in his mercy.” It should be clear from such a communication that the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch felt forced to demonstrate a reproach of a Christian group in order to stake a claim for his own survival.
Few days later, on December 20, 1916, in the New York Times reported: “Syrian Patriarch Slain: Murdered in His Residence in [Mardin] by Band of Turks”.
Meanwhile, the language of “the holy war,” Jihad, aroused Muslims against their powerless Christian neighbors. Between the so-called “acts of mobs,” and direct orders of the Ottoman authorities, one third of the Assyrian nation, people of various denominations, were killed. The rest remained “a hostage people,” subjected to all sorts of humiliations, dispersion and annihilation. The following Syriac Patriarch, I. Ephrem, reported (and I quote): “the ‘rumor’ was that the Armenians had rebelled; in reality the mobs were calling for extermination of “all the Christians.”
Thus, the Assyrians of the East had no choice but to try to broker their fate with the Russians. By doing so, they lost one third of their people and gained another ally with imperial pretensions who exacted from them more than they returned. On the other hand, the Assyrians of the West Syriac Churches, who until the end remained loyal to the Ottoman authorities, the only course of action left open to them, were humiliated, dispersed and also lost one third of its people. Finally, when Syria was under the French mandate, the Turks granted “permission … to all Christians” to leave Turkey, creating another flight of refugees. Assyrian Christians (of East and West Syriac Churches) in large numbers fled their land, bringing to an end their centuries old history in Hikkari, Tur Abdin, Mardin, Urfa, Adana and others. The vast majority of them were helpless victims, and innocent of all political ambitions.
The Reaction of the World
The world (the victorious World War I allies) reacted to these holocaustic events with a unified and categorical denunciation of what they determined was criminal massacres. They roundly condemned the Ottoman authorities. Various encouraging statements were issued by the allied nations affirming their support of the Assyrians and Armenians. The American president, Woodrow Wilson, took this to a practical level by delineating fourteen humanitarian principles in the Sevres treaty of 1920. One of these clearly and unambiguously stated that it was the obligation of Turkey to protect the rights of its ethnic minorities and to promote their progress and independence. While Turkey signed the treaty, ostensibly bowing to the terms, the new nationalistic Turkish movement, led by Mustafa Kemal gained momentum and supported by the incipient Soviet Union, created a counter-government at Ankara in the spring of 1920, challenged the treaty and virtually canceled it. The rise of Mustafa Kemal was followed by various shifts in the political balances in the region. At this stage, the allies were exhausted from their effort against the Germans and its allies, who, we must not forget, included Turkey. This fact should be mentioned because it shows a similarity of feeling towards nationalism and ethnic purity, which was later to erupt so effectively and tragically in World War II. In any event, at this point the allies were feeling the need to look homeward for the post-war cleanup, and possibly did not see Turkey, with its newly shrunken borders, as any kind of threat, either to its internal constituents or anyone else. As such, they conceded, though unwillingly, to Mustafa Kemal. A new treaty was signed in Lausanne in 1923, in which no real obligation toward ethnic minorities was acknowledged. As an outcome of this treaty, the Allies recognized the new frontiers of Turkey, including southern boundary that left a string of cities from Aintab to Urfa, Mardin, Tur Abdin, and Hakkari within new Turkey.
Assyrians in the Aftermath of Genocide
Turkey’s national policy and its priorities did not serve any group except ethnic Turks with no regard whatsoever to their victims, confirming Hitler’s statement: “who, after all, speaks, today, of the extermination of Armenians.” But regardless of contemporary circumstances, the crime of genocide does not expire over time like a penalty in a game of football. The right to exist, the right to live and work and not be harassed on a daily basis for one’s religious beliefs and ethnic background, and the right to have a name and a modicum of protection and civil rights, is stressed and guaranteed in international law. And if in the past the policies of the international communities were totally focused on the balance in the Cold War at the expense of small, oppressed people; now the Cold War is over, and the process of settling these issues begin. But this right means nothing if one does not lives up to it, and appropriately claims it. Thus the Assyrians have to face two challenges: an internal one and a broader based external one. Internally, we need to have our own vision, mission and civilized goal. Our claim will not and cannot be taken seriously by either our partners or by the international community if we cannot rise to this most basic challenge of unity and consistent vision. Externally, as a civilized people, we need to effect an approach which leverages the power of logic and international law for reclaiming our rights. Our most peaceful and logic case is and will continue to be the real test for the credibility of the International Community, U.N. and the whole New World Order, including our partner Turkey for making justice. For the sake of justice, and even for antiquity’s sake, for the sake of the remnant people who created one of the earliest civilization in the world), for the sake of setting our case as an exemplar case pursuing only logic, law and peaceful means for restoring its rights, we appeal to justice. Otherwise, what kind of credibility is this when the victim cannot acquire his justice unless he becomes strong enough to impose his case, and sometime to impose it by force, and virtually, he makes his case “a problem” to the world? Only at that time, the International Community, U.N., and the intended countries move towards solving that “problem”? Such kind of equation between the victim and the International Community with its International Law is just a ridiculous scandal! On our part, thanks be to God, we cannot violently threaten anybody. But, as a civilized people, our only way to pursue our justice will be through peaceful and legal means.
The internal and external challenges may be one and the same in our modern days. Modern technology, computers and telecommunications and especially the Internet, have shrunken the world in a cold fusion of new ideas, startling pathways to success and revolutionary ways of achieving and disseminating information and therefore truth. We must not forget for one minute that at this crucial time we are facing the new, compacted world community in which our people are challenged with its reality: to be “contributors to the new civilization” or not to be. For us, this principle was our challenge throughout our long history; and previously, our people successfully proved their civilized contribution for themselves and for the people(s) they lived with. Moreover, they played the major role as connecting bridges and mediators among a number of civilizations: Greek/ Roman, Persian and Arab. Thus, our mission, today, would become our only identity and entity. We need to be aware that NOT living up to this challenge will spell our destruction and national death. This is because the power of the information highway can work as well in our favor, if we choose to harness it, as against us, if we simply ignored our mission and production; the quick result of it is “total assimilation.” Thus, we may face a different type of genocide/homocide, “hidden genocide: assimilation” leaving behind the precious legacy both of the historical and the living. Today, although the potential of our people lies scattered around the world, as a result of the genocide and its aftermath, we need to determine ways and means, in a unified manner, to turn such scattering into a blessing and productive power. There is in this a tremendous opportunity to make use of such decentralization, and it consists of the possibility to have not just the ears or sympathy of one city or nation, but literally to every corner in the world, and most importantly our partner, Turkey. As someone once said, “Defeat is only Victory Turned Inside Out.” How can we do this?
While many viable answers may be suggested, none will result from the outpouring of emotions or disorganized verbal and counter-effective “sniper attacks” at each other. We need to present ourselves as an example of a peaceful people, which insists on solving its problems peacefully and cooperatively and only through law and logic. I suggest that, in the interest of creating and maintaining national credibility, a professional, Assyrian, working committee(s) may be constituted, which should consist mostly of university scholars in various humanitarian specialties. The committee(s) must be inclusive to include all our branches and religious, linguistic affiliation. Such committee(s), through its constant conferences and promulgation of information, may handle, the critical issues that concern the future of our people. For example, the issue of the genocide would be imperative to be treated first by professionals in genocidal studies, International law, political science and other relevant humanitarian specialties. As specialists in this field know, there is much international legislation that favorably affect our national case. Among such legislature is: the 1948 International Proclamation for Human Rights, which recognizes the equality of all peoples, be they small or large in number; the Right of self-determination; the Right of Native Peoples; the law that the Crime of Genocide never expires; and the most recent one is the 1993 UN Resolution concerning linguistic, religious, or ethnic groups, who live as minorities in a certain country. The 1993 UN Resolution demands from those countries to legislate laws and ways to help protect, develop and revive the culture of their minorities. Its details are even more favorable and persuasive. Thus, a major and most sensitive role is upon the shoulders of the Assyrian professional Committee (of Genocidal Studies, International laws etc.): that is, to prepare a bill of legal case for the genocide of our parents and the rights of their children to live in peace in their extracted territories with guaranteed human, cultural and political rights. This bill needs to be presented to the UN and also directly to Turkey, which is showing its intention to resolve its old problems before 2004.
As we pursue in our aspiration, the committee may demand the UN, for instance, to provide a satellite T.V. channel running 24 hours a day for the Assyrian people as a means of constant connection among its scattered remnants around the world, which occurred as a result of the Genocide. Such a T.V. channel, if executed properly, would go a long way toward preventing the otherwise pending “hidden genocide: Assimilation.”
As another example, we have just finished Symposium Syriacum. Although there are many good things we can relate about it, the most conspicuous feature of the Symposium is that it consists chiefly of non-Assyrians, who have as their scholarly interest the ancient language and manuscripts of our forefathers. While we should be gratified and indebted to them for their achievements in keeping our ancient heritage and literature alive, it would have been more appropriate for the Assyrian “Syriac scholars” to initiate additional, constant conferences on relevant themes that serve our vision, mission and goal. Thus, a committee of Assyrian specialists in the “Syriac Studies” field should be created and follow up on this goal.
The suggestion of creating several working, professional committees [as pillars on which our nation can be erected] may include every vital aspect of the community life, such as genocide studies, education, economy, art, music, society, spirituality, sport ..etc. Each of these committees should be encouraged to intensify their own communications between each other, and they should have their own regular conferences. Furthermore, to demonstrate our willingness to treat others in the world community as we ourselves would like to be treated, the activities of these committees should be open to all interested peoples of all nations, creeds and races. Encouraging unbiased inter-community relations should be a primary objective, to the end that de-isolating ourselves as a people is a crucial component of our overall credibility and as such our world success.
In other words, the collective, cooperative efforts of these committees can plan and help execute their inclusive agenda, and would go a long way toward demonstrating the singularity of purpose and united front that the rest of the world will notice and appreciate. However, our institutions now, as they are, whether cultural, churches, arts or politics can and should still have their role separately and in cooperation with the committees. As a separate activity, the example of the convention of the AUA in 1998 was exemplary. At that convention, a Middle Eastern President, personally and publicly recognized our people as an ethnic and civilized people integral to the homeland. President M. Khatimi said, “Today, although the Assyrians are few in number in comparison with world population, they are present and active in our human society as well as an independent ethnic group and as the masters of a culture with a historical record, bearers of a rich civilization.”
In conclusion, I would like to say that no matter how dire our situation may seem, the fact is that our ancestors and parents succeeded in the challenge of their time, and this truly means that we can succeed in ours: “to be contributors to the new civilization or not to be.” Otherwise, what! Shall our nation die, now, in this time of unprecedented possibilities and renewed world interest in native cultures and peoples, when our ancestors somehow scraped up their survival as actual slaves and servants with all the barbaric, uncivilized attitudes of empire-grasping masters as their added challenge? If for no other reason than for the respect we owe to the memory of their monumental achievement, and to ourselves as a nation, we likewise MUST prove our competence and pride; God willing.
Abdul-Massih Saadi, Ph.D.
Lutheran School of Theology
47 COUNTRIES TAKE PART IN IRAQ'S BABYLON FESTIVAL
(ZNAF: Baghdad) More
than 47 countries take part in the 10-day Babylon cultural festival which
opened on September 22 in sanctions-hit Iraq, according to Information
Minister Human Abdel Khaleq.
Their participation in the festival bore "witness to the solidarity of several countries with Iraq in its struggle to get the embargo lifted and put a stop to the plots by the US and British administrations, supported by the Saudi and Kuwaiti regimes," he said.
According to the festival organisers, the Arab countries participating include Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
The annual festival in the historic city of Babylon, some 90 kilometres (55 miles) south of the Iraqi capital, was launched in 1987. Last year, 38 countries took part.
According to a 1999 UNICEF report, one child under 5 years old dies every eight minutes in Iraq from disease and malnutrition. The death toll amounts to more than 5,000 children every month and 1.5 million civilians annually.
In the past two weeks, Russia, France, and Jordan have begun discussing regular commercial flights to Iraq. This week Syria called for an end to the U.N. sponsored and U.S.-backed embargo. Iraq is now producing almost 3 million barrels of oil every day. About 200,000 barrels are sold through black market. At press time, Neither Al Gore nor George W. Bush have made any comments on their the future of U.S.-Iraqi relations and the economic sanctions against the government in Baghdad.
MARONITES ENDORSE CHURCH CALL FOR SYRIAN WITHDRAWAL
Courtesy of Lebanon Bulletin, Beirut, New York; September 20
In a statement issued in response to the call by the Council of Maronite Bishops, which called on the Syrian Army to redeploy out of Lebanon, the Executive Council of the World Maronite Union (WMU) issued the following communiqué:
"The WMU endorses the appeal of the Maronite Church, particularly the call for the redeployment of the Syrian Army as a first step for its complete withdrawal from Lebanon. The Union totally supports this call and asks all Maronites around the world to come to the support of this historic move. The WMU, as it requests the pull out of the Syrian occupation based on UN Resolution 520 and on the Taif Agreement , reasserts the resolutions of the three world maronite congresses held in Mexico (1979), New York (1980) and Montreal (1985) as well as the international Maronite seminars held in Limassol (1988), Lausanne (1989) and Rome (2000), all of which clearly called on the Syrians to withdraw from Lebanon. The WMU call on its branches worldwide, as well as on all Maronite Leagues in the Diaspora to mobilize and pressure their respective governments in view of implementing that withdrawal. The WMU also warns some of the Maronite politicians and feudal leaders from siding with the Syrian occupation and against the Maronite Church and people, as a way to protect their privileges and financial and political interests with the Syrians. The WMU will not be silent in response to those alleged Maronite voices, manipulated by the intelligence services against the Maronite Patriarchate and the Lebanese Christians. No voice will be louder then the voice of Bkerke (Maronite Church) and its people. The World Maronite Union also warned the Muslim spiritual leaders who have responded to the Maronite Council of Bishops and endorsed Syria's role, that such an attitude will drag them in a campaign against Lebanon's freedom and sovereignty and against the Maronites and the Christians, in defense of Syria and its interests. "Those spiritual leadership must stand by Bkerke against the foreigners (Syrians), not with the foreigners against a large segment of the Lebanese people." The WMU was signed by the President ot the Union, Sheikh Sami el-Khoury and its secretary general, Dr Walid Fares.
The SCDP Calls for a March to Bkerke
The Social-Christian Democratic Party issued a press-release in Beirut calling on the Christian People of Lebanon to express its support to the Patriarch and to the call of the Maronite Council of Bishops by marching on to Bkerke and expressing their support directly. The SDCP said this call os historic and must rally all Lebanese, particularly the Christians around their spiritual leadership to start working on the withdrawal of the Syrian occupation from Lebanon.
The Historic Call by the Maronite Church
It is to note that at the end of its Tuesday meeting, the Council of Maronite Bishops chaired by the Patriarch issued a call asking the Syrians to start re-deploying in Lebanon as a first step to withdraw from the country. The release, issued in the afternoon criticized the oppression of the Lebanese people by the Syrian-controlled intelligence services and the ongoing presence of Syrian military forces in the country. Reacting to the declaration, the spiritual leaders of the Sunni and Shiites issued a joint release responding to the Maronite Council.
ASSYRIAN-CHALDEAN DETAINEES JOIN THEIR U.S. FAMILIES
(ZNDA: San Diego) Last Sunday some 1700 Assyrian-Chaldeans crammed into St. Peter's Chaldean Catholic Church in El Cajon, California to give their support to the 22 detainees who were freed to enter the U.S. and join their families. At press time, 41 more detainees have been released from Mexico and have stepped on American soil. Over 200 immigrants are asking for asylum from the U.S.
The trouble began last week when Federal Mexican authorities detained 38 Assyrian-Chaldeans in the Suites Royal Hotel in Tijuana. Others fled to the border and were taken in by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. After negotiations made between the U.S. and Mexican governments and the pressure from the Assyrian organizations and the local Chaldean church, an agreement was reached between the U.S. and Mexico which allowed the immigrants to seek political asylum in the U.S.
According to Mr. Carlo Ganjeh -- former president of the Assyrian United Organizations of California -- the Assyrian Universal Alliance, the Assyrian American National Federation affiliate in Southern California, St. Peter's Chaldean Catholic Church and other Chaldean organizations in the U.S. worked together to bring about the release of the detainees since last Thursday. Mr. Ganjeh noted that: "the Mexican government released a total of 63 Chaldean-Assyrian to the US Immigration official...The INS has agreed to approve the asylum of all remaining refugees and all of them will be release to the INS authorities in the next few days." Families with children were first on the list.
For months, these Assyrian-Chaldeans have been living in a Tijuana hotel while applying for political asylum. They waited for their US immigration interviews which were being processed at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The Mexican government had been providing them with medical attention, food and finally paying for the hotel. But last week, Mexican federal police raided the hotel and detained the Iraqi refugees, questioning whether they legally entered Mexico.
Among the 9 people arrested by the Mexican authorities on charges of smuggling people through the Mexican-U.S border were 5 Assyrian-Chaldeans including a mother and son team. Mark Mikho was released late Friday night from a juvenile detention center. His mother, Anjie Mikho - a U.S. citizen, and Raymond, Gabe and Kathy Barno, were reportedly at the hotel serving as translators for the Iraqis. Police accused the Barnos and Mark's mother of smuggling and claiming they organized the trip for the Iraqis. Mark wasn't charged with anything, but was held for four days. Today, their relatives said that all five will soon be released and returned to the U.S. For Mark the pain was also physical. He suffers from lymphoma cancer and needs medication every four hours.
The Assyrian-Chaldean immigrants are smuggled through Jordan, Albania, Greece, and finally arrive in Mexico where they await the documents granting them permission to enter the United States.
The Rev. Michael Bazzi, pastor at the St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Church in El Cajon, Calif., near San Diego, said that 40 of those who were being questioned by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service were released late Thursday. In fact, 45 people were bused from Mexico to the United States. 35 others were released on Saturday for interviews with the U.S. INS. At Zinda press time Mexican authorities have released or agreed to release over 130 Assyrian-Chaldeans. Fr. Bazzi also said that over the years members of the Chaldean Christian minority have fled Iraq seeking a better life and religious freedom. Many have settled in the San Diego area, now home to one of the largest Chaldean communities in the United States.
Modesto Bee article printed on September 14; Written by Suzanne Hurt
Local Assyrians should call on U.S. officials to help deter Iraqi military forces poised at the edge of a protected zone in northern Iraq, said the head of an Iraqi opposition party who is in the area this week to drum up support for his cause.
Speaking through an interpreter, Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) Secretary-General Ninos Betyo said Assyrians living in the no-fly zone feel threatened by the Iraqi troops that have been gathering for the last month along the 36th parallel, the border of a zone protected by U.S. and British aircraft.
"We will guide (Assyrians) to ask the American officials, now that this is an election year, to play a bigger role in protecting the region," Betyo said Wednesday.
The ADM was started in 1979 as an underground organization and is now one of five opposition groups that control the quasi- government in the northern region. The movement's goals in Iraq are to have Assyrians be recognized as a nation, have the right to political participation in the country, and be allowed to teach the language and culture, he said.
Betyo and another ADM leader, Khodeda Agha Putros, came to the United States to address the Assyrian National Convention held last week in Chicago. They are traveling to Assyrian communities in California and other parts of the country to ask Assyrians for political and financial support.
This weekend, they will attend a dinner and political rally open to all Assyrians. They hope to persuade people to support their political agenda, as well as give financial assistance through the Assyrian Aid Society and other philanthropic groups here.
"We expect Assyrians in this region, since they are Americans ... to play a role for the Assyrian cause along with the Iraqi people's cause," Betyo said.
The biggest problem people are facing in northern Iraq is having little or no electricity. The United Nations has sent generators for hospitals and wells that need electricity to pump and purify water. The ADM is seeking contributions to buy more generators.
The ADM delegation will head to Washington, D.C., to meet
with U.S. officials.
Courtesy of the Associated Press; Story by Harmonite Toros
(ZNDA: Instanbul) Turks expressed anger and disappointment last Friday when the House International Relations Committee's panel on human rights passed a resolution Thursday recognizing the killings of approximately 1.5 million Armenians by Turks from 1915 to 1923 as a genocide. The bill would require that training and education on the episode be provided to Foreign Service officers and government employees involved in human rights issues. The panel called on President Clinton to label the deaths a genocide, which means the systematic annihilation of a racial, political or cultural group. The resolution, adopted by voice vote, was passed on to the full Committee on International Relations for consideration.
"Turkey is doing its best for peace in the Caucasus, but taking a position in favor of the Armenian resolution is an extremely ugly and saddening event,'' said Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. "Some irresponsible politicians have an impact on foreign policy and this is creating tensions," Ecevit warned, adding that Turkey's "very good relations with the United States ... are being harmed." The Clinton administration has come out strongly against the resolution, arguing that it would damage vital Turkish-U.S. ties. Turkey, a NATO member, is a close U.S. ally. U.S. forces use the Incirlik Air Base base to patrol northern Iraq and bomb Iraq's air defense system there.
Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual leader of Turkey's 70,000 Orthodox Armenians, also lamented the approval of the resolution. "I do not believe anyone will profit from this, and I think it will hurt Turkish-Armenian relations,'' the patriarch said in a statement Friday. Turkey's Armenian community disassociates itself from the Armenian diaspora that has been pressuring Turkey and the international community to recognize the Armenian genocide.
Some 1.5 million Armenians and 350,000 Assyrians were slaughtered between 1915 and 1923 as part of a campaign of genocide aimed at forcing the Christian population from the east of Turkey. Turkey says both Armenians and Assyrians along with Turks were killed during civil unrest.
Angry over the bill, Turks demonstrated outside the American consulate on Tuesday and Turkish political leaders warned that the legislation could damage Turkish-United States relations. The demonstration was peaceful and small, with riot police outnumbering protesters. On Sunday about 100 people protested the legislation by burning an Armenian flag and American-made products outside the consulate in the southern city of Adana. Though the border between Armenia and Turkey is officially closed, small-scale trade is conducted and there have been attempts to improve relations in recent months.
The 1915 Genocide is the subject of Astoria's best-selling book
"Not Even My Name" written by Thea Halo, an Assyrian-Greek Pontic author- who
spoke at the recent Assyrian National Convention in Chicago.
“...Your magazine is so great, informative and direct.”
“After briefly catching a glimpse of Mr. Rabel Shamuel's "Assyrian Politics," painting in Zinda Magazine, I realized how accurately the current state of our politics was depicted in this piece of artwork. It is a shame, though, that this painting was removed from display simply because some people were offended by the accurate message it tried to portray. As a young Assyrian-American, I believe that in order for our people to move forward, we must permit as well as encourage progressive thought, entertain dissenting points of view, accept our past mistakes, and create an environment that fosters growth and freedom. If we continue to suppress alternative ideas, we only stall and hinder the opportunity to grow and successfully move forward. We must open our eyes and most importantly our minds, or we will forever remain as status quo.”
Ms. Farhadian is a Legislative Assistant for Congresswoman
THE ASSYRIAN & BABYLONIAN
INTELLECTUAL HERITAGE PROJECT
The Assyrian and Babylonian Intellectual Heritage project (MELAMMU) investigates the continuity, transformation and diffusion of Mesopotamian imperial culture in the Mediterranean world from the thirteenth century BC until the advent of Islam. The project is expected to open many new perspectives and significantly contribute to the understanding of cultural evolution in the East and West. A specific goal of MELAMMU is to document the shaping and survival of Assyrian ethnic and cultural identity up to the present day and to trace the continuity of Assyrian cultural elements in post-Empire times, particularly in Graeco-Roman Syria and Mesopotamia and in Syriac Christianity. The project was initiated in 1998 by the State Archives of Assyria Centre of Excellence of the University of Helsinki (SAA). While MELAMMU continues to be supported by SAA and some of its central functions are currently located in Helsinki, it is a completely independent project with no formal ties to SAA. In the opening symposium of MELAMMU held in Tvärminne, Finland, in October 1998, it was decided that the project will be directed by a nine-member international steering committee with chairmanship rotating yearly and that it will have a large interdisciplinary board of consultants and a staff of research assistants located in different countries. For details of the organization of MELAMMU see Appendix 3. Financial support for MELAMMU is currently being provided by SAA only. It was agreed in Tvärminne that a non-profit fund to support the project would have to be established as soon as possible by the institutions represented at the meeting. The support given to the project will be visibly acknowledged on the home page of the MELAMMU database and in all MELAMMU publications. The supporting institutions have a representative on the steering committee, receive complimentary copies of project publications and are informed about the progress of the project, but are not involved in its research nor in its practical realization.
The central objective of MELAMMU is to create an electronic database bringing together the textual, art-historical, archaeological and ethnographic evidence relevant to the study of Mesopotamian imperial culture and its diffusion and continuity in later times. The database will be compiled with international collaboration and will be made available on the Internet. In addition, the project organizes annual symposia focusing on different aspects of cultural continuity and evolution in the Mediterranean world. The theme of the opening symposium in Tvärminne was "The Heirs of Assyria." The second symposium, to be held in Paris on October 4-7, 1999, will deal with "Mythology and Mythologies: Methodological Approaches to Intercultural Influences." The proceedings of the meetings are published annually in a series bearing the name of the project and issued by SAA. The compilation of the database will take several years, and annual symposia will continue to be arranged for at least this period.
For more information on this year's Melammu gathering
in Chicago see CALENDAR OF EVENTS.
A philosophical history of the Ashurai People
A TRAGIC TALE IS TOLD AT LAST
Courtesy of Newsday Electronic Publishing, September 26,2000
A 90-year-old grandmother finally got her wish to sing in public recently when more than 200 mostly young members of the Pontic Greek community in Astoria turned out at the Federation of Hellenic Societies to greet her and hear her tale of tragedy.
The subject of a moving memoir, "Not Even My Name" (Picador USA, $25) written by her daughter, Thea Halo, the diminutive but feisty Sano Halo mounted the stage to warm applause and moved her listeners to tears as she poured forth Greek and Turkish songs, read the Lord's Prayer in Greek and recounted her own personal suffering during and after World War I.
The event was hosted by the Women's Division of the Pontian Society Komninoi, an Astoria-based nonprofit group dedicated to preserving Greek culture.
A best-seller in Astoria, the book is a firsthand account of Sano's ancient, pastoral way of life in her native Pontic Mountains of Turkey, the march to exile of the 3,000 inhabitants of three Greek villages during Turkey's forced migration of Christians in 1920 and her rescue and flight 75 years ago to America, where she raised 10 children in New York City.
The Pontians are descendants of Greek merchants and tradesmen who migrated to Asia Minor, now Turkey, around 1000 B.C. and settled in the Pontic Mountains near the Black Sea border with Russia. An estimated 40,000 live in Astoria and thousands of others live in the United States, Canada and Australia.
"Until the publication of this book, the Pontic Greeks have been without a voice to express their grief over what happened to them and to tell of their rich heritage and tragic fate," said Thea Halo, who lives in Manhattan. "They have taken what I have written to their hearts, and because of that I believe they think of my mother as their heroine and their history alive." Thea Halo was unaware of the size of the Pontic Greek community in Astoria until she and her mother were invited to discuss the book.
"The serious fact is that 353,000 Pontians were killed between 1916 and 1923 by the Turks, and nothing was done about it," said Roula Melidis, president of the Women's Division of the Pontian Society Komninoi. "We are so grateful that a book was finally written. Sano's strength sets an example for us to appreciate life more and to work even harder for a better world that would be free of such horrible deeds, where man destroys man for no legitimate or worthy cause." The reported genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor, including the Pontians, virtually ended their history in Turkey. Though Turkey not does not admit to the slaughter of almost 3 million of its Christian minorities-Greek, Armenian and Assyrian-and the exile of millions of others, the book is a personal narrative from the Greek perspective of the horrors. (As part of the negotiated end to hostilities between Turkey and Greece in 1923, both agreed to accept compulsory exchanges of populations.) Sano Halo was 10 years old when her family and their village were driven from their homes at gunpoint by the Turkish army. That day, soldiers pounded the doors with the butts of their rifles and ordered the Pontians to leave. On their march through the mountains, her mother, close to death, saved her life by giving her away to an Armenian family. She worked like a slave for that family until she was 15, when she was sold in an arranged marriage to a 45-year-old Assyrian stranger, who brought her to the United States.
The 330-page hardcover book explains the Pontic, Assyrian and Armenian annihilation of the World War I-era in simple, human terms. It details the lives, joys, tragedies and incredible bravery of a relatively unknown people.
And it tells about Sano and her triumphs over adversity, conveying the lesson that even senseless acts of mass violence can be overcome with kindness and love for the "family of people." "My mother's greatest act of bravery was her ability to put her tragic losses behind her and to lovingly raise her family without poisoning us with hatred for the Turkish people. She never blamed the Turkish people, only the Turkish government," said the author.
"This is the unknown holocaust, one of the first major genocides of the 20th Century. Even though it's well-known in Greece and in adjacent countries, it is largely unknown in the U.S.," said Constantine Hatzidimitriou, an historian and adjunct professor of social studies at St. John's University.
"A genocide wipes out an entire people, and this wiped out all the Greeks who lived in this area for thousands of years. It is a tremendous task that the Greek-American community, the Assyrians and other groups have to bring this forth and educate the public that this horrific event took place." The recent evening in Astoria marked the first time in 80 years-since she lost her family, home and country -that Sano saw and heard Pontian dancers and singers perform their traditional music in attire reminiscent of home. Folk dancers drew Sano and others into a a hugh, whirling circle.
It was also the first time in 80 years, Sano said, that she savored some of the foods of her homeland.
Ms. Shapiro is a freelance writer.
ST. PETER CHALDEAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
In July, 1974 the Community purchased a 5-acre property for $48,355.00 at the present site of the church. In 1975, the first Chaldean Directory in San Diego was published, registering 150 families. In October, 1978, Rev. Ibrahim Ibrahim arrived from Baghdad to assist Fr. Kattoula at St. Peter's Parish. Fr. Ibrahim left by June, 1979.
On June 29, 1979, St. Peter's Parish celebrated the ground breaking for the new church. The ceremony was presided by Bishop Leo Maher, the Bishop of San Diego. On the same day, the parish released the second Chaldean Directory, registering 300 families.
St. Peter's Church was built between November 1982 and March 1984, . On September 10, 1983 the church was dedicated by the Chaldean Patriarch Paul II Cheikho and Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim. Around this time, the Chaldean Sisters opened a convent in order to help Fr. Kattoula in serving the Community. In 1984, Rev. Jacob Yasso assisted Fr. Kattoula for a short period of time.
On September 1, 1985, Fr. Michael Bazzi was assigned as an associate at St. Peter's Parish. On March 20, 1987, Rev. Peter Kattoula passed on and Fr. Bazzi was subsequently appointed pastor.
January 10, 1988 marked the first day of the erection of the Parish Hall. After its completion, the grand opening was celebrated on November 29, 1989. By then the Community had increased to 1,000 families. After the Gulf War in 1990, San Diego experienced a dramatic increase of Chaldean immigrants, where today the Parish membership counts for more than 2,500 families.
Zinda Magazine congratulates Fr. Michael Bazzi and the
Assyrian-Chaldean community of San Diego-El Cajon, California for their crucial
work in bringing freedom for the tens of Iraqi immigrants from Mexico.
Suria Suria Yonan, 96, of Laurel
Rd., New Britain died on September 5, 2000 at Msgr. Bojnowski Manor in
New Britain. She was the widow of Peter Yonan, who died in 1976. Born in
Iran, she moved to New Britain in 1920. Mrs. Yonan was a longtime member
of St. Thomas Assyrian Church of the East in New Britain and of the Ladies
Guild of the church. Surviving are three daughters, Nancy Yonan of New
Britain, Florence "Bunny" Ciarcia and Ann Yonan, both of Farmington; six
grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews. Funeral
services were held at St. Thomas Church of the East at 120 Cabot St., New
Britain. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Thomas
Church of the East.
The Assyrian army is defeated in the north (Urartu), Syria,
and the Lake Urmi region. The kingdom of Urartu (today's Turkey & Armenia)
controls the traffic in metal, resulting in the revolts of Assyrians in
Ashur, Arbakha, and Gusana. King Ashur-Dan III was unable to subdue these
revolts. His successor Ashur-Nirari V was even less capable. With the revolt
in the city of Calah (Kalakh) Ashur-Nirari perished with every member of
his family. The revolt in Calah resulted in the accession of Tiglath-Pileser
III to the
throne. Under the new king, Assyria quickly recovered, defeated the Urarti kings, neutralized the revolts, and expanded its dominions further than before.
The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume III
The Armenians living in the Assyrian city of Edessa urge
the Frankish ruler, Joscelin, to retake the city. But the Moslem
ruler, Nur al-Din, brings up his army to Edessa and defeats the European
Joscelin. He then massacres thousands of the native Edessan Christians.
The Age of the Crusades, Holt
October 2, 1972:
dies, Dr. Peera Sarmas, author of "The History of Assyrian Literature"
Assyrian. Dr. Sarmas' book was published in Iran in 1962.
A CONCERT OF SPIRITUAL SONGS
Presented by the Bet-Eil Assyrian Church
All proceeds will be used to provide for the needy Assyrians
around the world.
ASSYRIANS 2600 YEARS AFTER THE EMPIRE
3RD Annual Meeting of the Assyrian
& Babylonian Intellectual Heritage
XLVIIe RENCONTRE ASSYRIOLOGIQUE INTERNATIONALE
International Congress of Assyriology and Near Eastern
Registration Form: click here
Carlo Ganjeh (California)..........Rita Pirayou (California)...........Dr.
Gabriele Yonan (Germany)
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