Z I N D A  M A G A Z I N E
Tishrin II  2, 6750                     Volume VI                      Issue 28             November 2, 2000
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T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z I N D A
The Lighthouse The Syriacs' Migration Home
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain Largest Sumerian Cemetery Unearthed in Iraq
News Digest ANC Press Release on Census 2000 Decison
Assyrian Employees Suing Nissan Dealership in Arizona
Lebanon Christians Feel Left Out in New Government
Surfs Up "she may do a lot for our people in the future"
Surfers Corner List Your Business on AssyrianBiz.com
Walter Aziz Live @ New Year 2001
Reflections on Assyria ADOPT-A-MARTYR
Literatus Assyrians & the Virtual New World
Bravo! Assyrian Boy's Score Highest in Iraq
Milestones Victims of the Khabour Athletic Club Automobile Accident
Assyrian Surfing Posts Assyrian Clocks
Assyrian American Association of Southern California
Pump Up the Volume Liquid & Solid
Back to the Future Assyrian Ships & the Drunken Monks
This Week in History Mar Eshai Shimmun
Calendar of Events November 2000

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



The following article was written by Mert Gozde for the Turkish Daily News on October 25, 2000.  Note that the linguistic term "Syriac" refers to the Turoyo-speaking (western dialect) Assyrians or Assyrian-Suryoyo of southeast Turkey.

Syriacs who had fled to Europe to escape the terrorism in the East and Southeast are preparing to return to Turkey now that the fighting is over.   Samuel Aktas, the Metropolitan for the Deyrulumur Monastery, and Malfono Isa Gulten say that many elderly Syriacs have returned while the younger ones are waiting for a sign from the government before they make the move back.

Now that the terrorism has ended, the Deyrulumur monastery in the Midyat district of Mardin is experiencing an explosion in visitors this year. The officials at the monastery said that the majority of visitors are Syriacs with Turkish nationality who had fled the region many years ago because of the terrorism and economic worries and are now returning from the various European countries they had fled to.

We witnessed a lot of activity in the Midyat village of Yemisli (Enhil). As we got closer to the crowd, we discovered that a group of Syriacs, who had earlier fled to Germany and Switzerland, had returned to the village where they had been born and raised.

We got talking with these European Syriacs while they were waiting for the minibus which was to take them into the district center. A Turkish Syriac in the group by the name of Aziz Ercin had returned to the village permanently with his wife and children from Switzerland, where they had been living for the past 10 years. When we asked him why he had gone abroad, he replied: "Not a day went past without some sort of incident. They evacuated our village. We went out of fear for our lives." Before I got the chance to ask him why they had returned, he continued: "I never got over the feeling that I was a foreigner in Switzerland. I could not stand life as an expatriate. The longing for the village where I was born and grew up became too great. They can kill me for all I care, but I will never leave my village again. I would rather die than spend my time longing for my homeland."

Syriacs longing to come home

We also spoke with Aziz's son Ibrahim. He did his national service in 1974 and took part in the Turkish intervention on Cyprus. After being discharged, he went to Switzerland. He stated that from the outset he had planned to save his money and return to his village in Turkey. "One, two or three years, I thought. I have been in Switzerland for 22 years. I work in a solder factory. It's good money but I'm not happy because the people in Switzerland are no different from robots. Human relations are very weak. You can travel the world but you will never find people as warm and friendly as the Turks. The people here are a world apart," he said. According to Ercin, there are some 950 Syriac families living in Switzerland. Whenever they get together they only talk about Turkey and when they are going to return. Like Ibrahim, Besim Yildiz lives in Switzerland and is a Turkish citizen of Syriac origin. Yildiz explained that although he has been in Switzerland for the past 17 years, he has never broken contact with Turkey and reads the Turkish papers all the time.

Yildiz is pleased to see that the terrorism in the Southeast has ended and that there is a return to normality. He adds that the Syriacs more than anyone else want to see Turkey join the European Union: "Because that is when all the ethnic and political problems will cease. Turkey will find peace and take its place among civilized countries," he says.

Syriac villages in ruins

On the subject of returning to his village, Yildiz says: "We are all for a complete return of all our community. First, let the old and retired come back. Then, those of us who are middle aged and finally the younger generation. If we pool our resources, we can develop this village and district of ours. When we moved out, foreigners [by that he meant the village guardians] moved in. Yemisli is no longer as clean and well kept as it used to be when we were here. The houses and gardens have been neglected and ruined."

The Syriac youth, although Turkish citizens, could only talk to us with the help of an interpreter. They were born and raised in Switzerland and have become embroiled in Swiss culture. One of them, Tomas Yildiz, says although he was born and raised in Switzerland, he has never considered himself Swiss. He explained why: "They can give us Swiss passports, but they never consider us Swiss. My hair, my dark complexion, everything about me makes me foreign to them. The Swiss look at me like I am a foreigner. They do not count me as one of them. For example, there are some night clubs where foreigners are not allowed in. They class us as foreigners and do not let us in."

We leave the visiting Syriacs and go for a walk around the village. We come across an old man chopping wood in the courtyard of his house. His name is Melke Aydin. He says he is 100 years old and that he has been to Germany twice to see his children. When we asked why he came back instead of settling in Germany, he replied: "I didn't like Germany. I did not like their understanding of purity and innocence."

We come across another old man and his aged wife chatting in another house. The man says his name is Demho Ay, that he is 69. He says he left Yemisli some 25 years previously and lived in Istanbul for 14 years before going with his children to settle in Switzerland. I asked him what he felt abroad. "My body was there, but my sprit was always here. I have been a guest in my village for the past 10 days now. I have still not decided whether or not I will return for good. In fact, I want to return but I cannot persuade my wife to leave our grandchildren."

Why did the Syriacs emigrate?

While wandering around Yemisli, we meet Syriacs who resisted all the pressure and stayed put while others emigrated. One Syriac villager, who wishes to remain anonymous in case he should incur the anger of the village guardians, explained what had happened before the migration: "Our village came under attack many times between 1990-93. We don't know by whom. Most of the villagers fled to Europe fearing for their lives. Some of us stayed put and resisted all their attempts to get us out."

Infrastructure not ready to support return

We leave the village of Yemisli and set off down the Midyat-Cizre road in the direction of the Deyrulumur monastery. The young guide accompanying us fills us in on some information regarding the monastery and the Holy Mary Church inside it: "The foundations were laid in 397 A.D. and construction completed in 512 A.D. It took 115 years to build and has been an active church for 1,600 years now. Services are held every morning, noon and evening. There is a mass held every Sunday." Having toured the monastery and the church, we pass through to an area where guests are entertained. Here we are received by Malfono Isa Gulten. While we are talking, Metropolitan Timotheus Samuel Aktas comes in. We learn from Gulten how terrorism led to a rapid decline in the number of Syriacs living in Turkey from 150,000 or so to the current figure of 25,000. Of these, only 6,000 live in the East and Southeast. The remainder live in Istanbul and Antakya near the Syrian border. Our talk continues along question and answer lines:

TDN:  Is it true that Syriacs who had emigrated to Europe are coming back now in greater numbers and are considering a permanent return?

GULTEN:  They started coming back in greater concentrations this year. To date some 2,000 have come back. They are continuing to return. They want to return permanently but they are waiting for an official invitation, a call from the government saying, "You can come back now." If the prime minister or the president were to issue such a call, that would be very effective.

TDN:   Apart from an official invitation, what other demands do the Syriacs have? For example regarding educational, broadcasting and language rights?

GULTEN:   These are all minority rights recognized by the Lausanne Treaty. These are common practices in the EU, which Turkey is trying to get into. Every ethnic group should be able to express itself freely. All races should approach one another with respect and affection and live as brothers. It was like this in the past and can be so again. The Copenhagen criteria guarantee equality among all races, religions and languages because there is no single race, religion or language on Earth. That would be against nature and God's will. Everybody should be able to express themselves freely, but with respect and tolerance for other groups. Of course, the state should have an official language. This is unavoidable. But people have different languages. This is part of the country's richness and beauty. The Syriac language is a rich and ancient language. Wherever archaeological digs are made in Mesopotamia, they find something of Syriac history. This is a treasure for our country. Why should Chicago University have a Syriac Studies Department and Dicle University not? This is a failing, I think. Dicle is in Mesopotamia. It should be the center. Rather than send my son to Chicago or Oxford to learn Syriac, I should be able to send him to Dicle University. That would be a feather in Turkey's cap.

TDN:   They say that the Syriacs who emigrated to Europe are not happy with the countries they settled in. Would you agree with this?

GULTEN:   I totally agree. Everybody wants to live in their own country, in the land of their fathers and forefathers. When they do not live in their own country, they feel grief. I don't just mean Syriacs either, because this is valid for all people. Whenever I leave Turkey, I feel like a foreigner. When I cross the border back into Turkey, I feel at home again and happy.

TDN:   If the environment you spoke of comes about, will we see a migration of Syriacs back from Europe into Turkey?

GULTEN:   I reckon so. Over there, they only experience the worst of everything. Their families have broken down and they have been unable to live within the social structures of the countries they have settled in. That is why they want to return. They are waiting for a democratic environment to be created. They benefited greatly from the gift of democracy in Europe. The moment they believe they can see the same benefits in Turkey, they will come flooding back. When they return, they will add strength to Turkey. Not only through the fortunes they have amassed, but through the wealth of knowledge and skills they have accumulated while abroad, too.

TDN:   Once that environment is established, will you call your fellow Syriacs back to Turkey?

GULTEN:   We already have. We believe that Turkey cannot go back, only onwards and upwards. It is in this belief that we have called them back saying: "Please come home. Take charge of your wealth and your property here."

TDN:  What expectations do the Syriacs have of the state?

GULTEN:   We constantly pray for the salvation of the state. If the state can be saved, so can we. When the state has problems, we too experience these problems. This history and culture belong to the entire world. We want the freedom to teach our children our own language, to advance our own culture. Let us take charge of our churches and our monasteries.

TDN:   What is the situation vis-a-vis your churches and monasteries and other historical sites?

GULTEN:   Some are still standing, but if we don't do something soon, they will soon fall down. Some have been turned into mosques; some have been destroyed. We had six or seven churches in one village nearby. They smashed the altars inside them. Yet, the state put the guardians there to protect them. They just ruin whatever they come into possession of.

TDN:   Those Syriacs who emigrated to Europe allege that the village guardians have moved into the villages they abandoned and have taken over their property. If the Syriacs return, will the guardians move out?

GULTEN:   Unless the state intervenes, the guardians will not give back anything by themselves. Even before we went to Europe, the guardians were constantly complaining to the state about us, saying, "They are infidels, they are this, they are that..." Their aim was to get the state to purge the villages of the Syriacs so that they could move in and seize the property that was there. In the end, they got what they wanted. The Sari village in Idil belongs to the Syriacs. When the villagers moved to Europe, the guardians moved in. Now, the Syriacs have applied to the courts to get their land back. They have the title deeds and everything. The state is not moving out the guardians it had placed there on a temporary basis. We escaped these invaders. Unless the state comes to our aid, how can we get back our property the guardians have taken from us?

Mert Gozde
Turkish Daily News

Mor Timotheos Samuel Aktas is the Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church for the Archdiocese of Tur`Abdin and works from the Dayro d'Mor Gabriel (St. Gabriel's Monastary).

Further Reading:
Ancient Tradition at Turkish Monastery Comes Under Siege
Visit to the ancient monastery of Mar Gabriel


Excerpts from the UN report on Turkey published last month; Courtesy of Agence France Presse & Assyrian News Watch; October 19, 2000

Turkey should tighten the wording of its laws so as to better protect its small religious minorities, and should do more to combat intolerance, according to a UN report released Thursday.

It said that although the 1982 Turkish constitution guaranteed religious freedom and belief, there were obstacles to non-Muslim groups owning property and establishing their own schools.

State policy on religion was "exceedingly complex" and contrasted sharply with "the categorical assertion by certain authorities that such policy is a model of tolerance and non-discrimination," the report said. It said the nationalism of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish state, had been elevated "into an official ideology, or even a new religion, with the status of absolute truth."

It recommended that the authorities "establish a clear principle whereby nationalism is not to be used against minority religious communities." About 99 percent of Turkey's 66 million people are Muslim, but estimates of the numbers of non-Muslims vary. The report pointed out that the last census of religious affiliation and ethnic identity was taken in 1965. The 30-page report was written by Abdelfattah Amor, special rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, who visited Turkey from November 30 to December 9, 1999.

During his visit, he met government and court officials including the ministers of justice, interior, and human rights and the president of the constitutional court, as well as leaders of religious minorities and NGOs.

Amor said that leaders of Turkey's 25,000 Jews were "unanimous in insisting that the situation of their community was wholly satisfactory."

But he said that, unlike Greek and Armenian Christians, Jews had made no claim to land within Turkey, while Israel and Turkey had close relations.

He quoted the Armenian Orthodox patriarch as saying that his followers, estimated at between 60,000 and 93,000, enjoyed full freedom of worship, but the patriarchate had no legal status.

Similarly, the patriarchate of Turkey's 2,500-4,000 Greek Orthodox Christians could not own property or receive revenue, he said. The Greek Orthodox and the smaller Syriac communities were slowly disappearing, Amor said.

He recommended that the government guarantee minorities the rights to establish their own places of worship, and to teach their religion and train clergy.

He also said the government "should ensure that Islam does not become a political tool, a situation that could escalate in ways that would promote religious extremism."



Courtesy of Associated Press- October 22.

(ZNAP:  Baghdad)  Iraqi archaeologists have discovered what they describe as Mesopotamia's largest "city of graves," where the Sumerians buried their dead nearly 5,000 years ago.

The scientists are stunned by the size of cemetery and say much more work needs to be done to determine what role it played in ancient times.

"We have never excavated anything like it before. It is unprecedented," said Fadhil Abdulwahid, a Baghdad University archaeologist.

Remote and desolate, the site was long the target of grave robbers who the scientists say pilfered gold ornaments, cylinder seals made of precious stones and statuettes. Ancient Iraqis usually buried their dead with their most valued possessions.

Chief archaeologist Donny Youkhanna could not say how many artifacts were stolen nor estimate their significance, "but the damage is certainly big."  When he started excavations with 40 diggers last year he brought along armed guards.

Previously, he said, few dared to approach the ancient mound due to the large number of scorpions that lived among the graves, which prompted the locals to name it Umm al-Ajarib or "Mother of Scorpions." Shells, bowls, beads and handsome earthenware and statues dot small lanes in the cemetery situated 250 miles south of Baghdad.

"It is the largest graveyard of Sumer. Nowhere in ancient Iraq have we come across so many graves," Youkhanna said.

Until now, experts had designated a cemetery at Eridu in southern Iraq as the largest Sumerian burial ground. There, scientists uncovered 1,000 graves in an area of about half a square mile.

Umm al-Ajarib is many times larger. The whole site is about two square miles with the cemetery occupying the largest portion, and Youkhanna said it may hold hundreds of thousands of graves. A better estimate will be available once the diggers remove debris and count the graves in a square they have targeted.

The Sumerian civilization appeared in southern Mesopotamia as early as the 5th millennium B.C. By 3000 B.C., Sumer had developed considerable power based on irrigated agriculture, fine arts and a special writing system known as cuneiform, probably the earliest ever in man's history.

The burials at Umm al-Ajarib are chiefly in coffins of brick laid in bitumen as mortar. The graves are regularly arranged, like cemetery lots, with streets and lanes.

William Hayes Ward was the first Western traveler to visit the site in 1886. Little work had been done at the site since Ward noted that Umm al-Ajarib must have been a sacred burial ground for the Sumerians in the same manner the present day holy city of Najaf is to Muslim Shiites.

"The Sumerians looked after the dead. Funerary rituals were of great significance because they believed if the dead were not buried properly their souls will return and haunt the living relatives," said archaeologist Marwan al-Adhami.

When a Sumerian monarch conquered a city, the first thing he would do was to "open the graves and release the souls" to chase away any enemy soldiers who escaped the sword, al-Adhami said.

Umm al-Ajarib is now arid land covered with sand dunes, a featureless expanse of sand with no vegetation and shrubs. But in antiquity it was part of a territory comprising gardens, palm groves and fields of barley and wheat, Youkhanna said.

Youkhanna's main task is to prove the city's sanctity. He has already dug up a small part of a tripartite temple with huge walls rising up to 3 yards. Like similar Sumerian sanctuaries, the temple is built of sun-dried bricks. A clay tablet provides a list of quantities of food rations -- wheat, barley, dates and oil -- given to temple servants, but supplies no names or figures.

Artifacts gathered from the temple so far, though significant, do not shed enough light. Among them is a stone vessel with an inscription in cuneiform, magnificent ivory cylinder seals, goblets, conical bowls and spouted jars.


Press Release
October 17, 2000

The Assyrian People Slashed Into Three Separate Nations

On July 24th the U.S. federal court in Fresno, California heard a motion by the Assyrian National Congress for Judicial Review and Injunctive relief against the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the United States.   The ANC filed the motion in an effort to stop the Bureau from using its newly adopted 'Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac" category.  The U.S Department of Justice, defending the Census Bureau in title case, filed all sorts of motions to stop the ANC, including assertions by the Bureau that "its decision is not final" and that the ANC's complaint is premature, because the Bureau will start utilizing this new category during the Fall 2002.  0n October 5th the court denied ANC's motion stating that the court was prohibited by statuary law from looking at the new evidence provided by the ANC because the Bureau did not have the new evidence at hand when it made its decision In May 1999! However, the court showed the ANC a recourse, suggested in the U.S. Supreme Court. 'The court ruled that this case is triable and that the new evidence (written documents and - of speeches by His Holiness Mar Raphael Bid-Daweed stating that he is Assyrian and Chaldean" is a religious denomination) can be submitted to the Bureau of the Census for its review and reconsideration.  On October 16 the ANC filed a new "Motion For Reconsideration" with the U.S. federal court In Fresno asking the same judge to send the ease for trial and to direct the Bureau of the Census to take a second look at this case.

In 1980, one of the "467" categories on ancestry for which a code was developed by the Bureau was ASSYRIAN. Assyrians constituted a comprehensive designation for a wide range or persons identified as belonging to any of a number or Assyrian related subgroups. Therefore, any person who listed one of the numerous ancestry terms - such as Assyrians or Chaldeans, as well as Jacobites and Nestorians- was counted under the Assyrian Code.  Prior to 1990 census taking in the United States, certain "representatives" of the Chaldean Church in Detroit approached the U.S. Bureau of the Census and requested a separate "Chaldean Category." The Bureau took no action on the request and merely continued to include "Chaldean" under the Assyrian classification.  In 1998, the "Chaldean representatives", under the command of Mar Ibrahim Ibrahim, Bishop of the Chaldean Church in Detroit, and led by Rev, Sarhad Jammo, made another attempt to change the Assyrian category by requesting the Census Bureau that "Chaldeans" be considered a "unique ethnic group" and be accorded an "ancestry Code" separate from the Assyrian! The Bureau, despite massive historical evidence on the contrary, went along and gave the "Chaldeans" a new ancestry category, and subsequently decided to go with the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac category. The conspiracy of "divide and rule" against our brave nation was complete. For the first time in our history, the Assyrian people have been divided, not into religious denominations, but into deadly "ethnic nationalities."

At a time when the spirit of Assyrian nationalism was spreading like fire among the members of our religion denominations (Nestorians, Chaldeans, Syrians and Maronites) and a revival movement was gathering momentum toward our historical Assyrian identity, the enemy of our nation, supported by few pseudo-nationalists in John Nimrod's AUA, Sargon Lewi's AANF, and Yonadam Kana's Zowaa, conspired together to stop this movement and reverse the advances made over the past years. The enemy of our nation is using the new slashing category to divide our Assyrian people permanently. The evidence is at hand. Already there is a new "Chaldean flag" and claims on every thing that is Assyrian, including our glorious history, Rev. Sarhad Jammo, in his new "calendar" states: "compared to the 'Assyrian' name, the 'Chaldean' reflects a more comprehensive and generic identity" and "Chaldean...is the last national name reflecting Mesopotamian identity."

The new classification (slashing category) will have the affect of demeaning and diminishing a brave and resilient and oft-persecuted minority oft-biblical times to now, the Assyrians. The actions of the Census Bureau are contrary to the desires or an overwhelming majority of the Assyrian people in the United States and the world The Census Bureau interposed its own interpretation of facts in place of the Chaldean patriarch himself.

Historically, there is no support for the position that the U.S. Census Bureau has taken in elevating "Chaldean" and "Syriac" to that of "Assyrian" and/or grouping them all together. The name "Assyrian" has always been a reference to a specific ethnic group since pre-biblical days to the present. Likewise, the name "Chaldean" refers to a particular religious group of Assyrians whereas the name "Syriac" refers to the language spoken by the Assyrians. The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Immigration Service, the United Nations, the Roman Catholic Church, Assyrians all over the world, and countless others do not recognize "Chaldeans" as an ethnic group but as a religious sect only; that "Chaldeans" are Assyrians ethnically.

Assyrian National Congress
Information Bureau
P.O. Box 3539
Modesto, CA 95352
Fax." (209) 538-2795


Courtesy of  The Arizona Republic on October 6, 2000; article written by Christina Leonard

(ZNDA:  Scotsdale)  Three former employees of Pinnacle Nissan say they faced horrific abuse every day from managers and dealers, where customers and employees were not referred to by name, but by slur. "It was worse than Archie Bunker has ever been," plaintiff Sam Einhorn said Thursday. "It was a hostile environment every day." And although managers at the Scottsdale auto dealership vehemently deny the allegations, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission officials described the environment as a "very egregious case of harassment."

The EEOC recently filed a complaint on behalf of the former employees on the basis of religious and national-origin discrimination and retaliation. They accuse the dealership of everything from ridiculing Assyrian cultural practices to writing "Heavy Hitler" on one man's paycheck stub, according to court documents.

Pinnacle Nissan General Manager John Cleaves said he was shocked by the complaint, which he called "outrageous."

"There is not a shard of truth to that," he said, adding that the dealership will fight the allegations in court.

Cleaves said he didn't understand why the employees never spoke up. But the former employees, Einhorn and brothers Sam and Amer Darmo, said the abuse stretched back to October 1996, and said they stepped forward with complaints in the past, to no avail.

Einhorn said they often didn't stand up to the slams, saying, "You would seem weak."

And when the former employees did approach management about the problems, their complaints were dismissed and they were threatened, they said. But Cleaves said that his dealership has conducted its own inquiry and that "the results we came up with are awfully different than what they came up with."

The dealership employs a diverse group of people, has a no-tolerance policy against discrimination and offers employees a toll-free telephone number to report complaints, he said.

The EEOC spent about a year investigating the claims, then filed the complaint Sept. 29.

Amer Darmo said managers made fun of his Middle Eastern culture after attending his wedding, saying one manager even jumped up on a conference table and mocked Assyrian dancing.

Einhorn said that after a heated argument about the Holocaust, a manager gave him a bonus check for the "Heavy Hitter's" club with the words "Heavy Hitler's" club typed on it.

Cleaves said that was a typo, nothing more. "I'm a proud American," Sam Darmo said. "I don't know what other people call me ... but I will not tolerate anything like that. This is a matter of principle."

Richard Trujillo, who has spent the past 16 years in the Arizona EEOC office, said the case is particularly bad because of the frequency of the discrimination.

"There's substantial evidence that shows this kind of blatant religious and ethnic harassment is going on right here in Arizona," Trujillo said. "We're taking the gloves off and telling people like it is."

The suit seeks financial penalties, compensation and back pay. It also seeks to force Pinnacle Nissan to institute policies, practices and programs that provide equal employment opportunities.

The largest workplace settlement in Arizona was AlliedSignal's $4 million payment last year in an age discrimination case brought by the EEOC on behalf of furloughed employees.


Courtesy of Zenit News Organization

(ZNDA:  Beirut)   Christian politicians and analysts in Lebanon say there is little hope that the Lebanese Cabinet will constitute true national unity because it is unlikely to include influential Christian groups, The Daily Star reported on October 26.

The new Cabinet will be Lebanon's eighth since the 1989 signing of the Taif Accord, which divided power among sects and ended the civil war, the Star said.

By leaving out potential Cabinet members who are strongly tied to the Maronite Church or other traditional Christian parties, Christians sense that consecutive governments and presidents intentionally worked to "marginalize if not kill any attempt for a real Christian leadership to rise," political scientist Farid Khazen told the newspaper.

In addition to having half of the ministerial posts, Christian candidates are chosen from all regions, the newspaper said. But because they are picked on the basis of their political allegiances, many argue the Christians in Cabinet do not represent their communities, the Star noted.

I have recently read the article which Zinda has posted about Robert Miner an "Assyrian" who had built an empire and we are always asking ourselves how come we don't have people in our community who have the influence and the might to change a little of the misery that our people are living in.

I don't know about Mr. Miner except what you have mentioned, but to me as an Assyrian who looks around and sees that many a dream of our youth are crushed because they can't afford to go to the schooling of their choice and built a bright future and they end up working in factories or leading a lost life, I always wonder how many people like Mr. Miner are able to see that suffering. It's great that he was a philanthropist, but i wonder does any one know if he contributed to any special funds that could aid specifically Assyrian youth who are unable to continue their education because of financial difficulties???

I also wonder if a need rises would the fund that was created be beneficial for any Assyrian students to study???  Thanks for your attention.

Mary C.

I congratulate you for this week's very informative issue.  Chaebo to you all!!  I particularly commend Youel Baaba for his excellent, to the point, letter regarding the late Robert Miner's background, however outstanding that may have been, but totally dampened by his apparent denial of his heritage & ancestry, and non-support of a single one ASSYRIAN institution. It's not too late, though, for his sister Florence Miner to be kind, considerate and sympathetic to make a contribution on her brother's behalf to any Assyrian institution or construction of a MODERN Assyrian Cultural/Educational Center to be named "ROBERT MINER EDUCATIONAL CENTER" or whatever she may want to call it, to live forever in his memory.

Thanks again, Zinda Crew, for your excellent and tireless efforts. Best regards to you and to all your readers.

Shlimoon Youkhana
Rosemont, Illinois

I read with dismay the critique a writer sent to Zinda. I've forgotten if you had published the press release I'm forwarding to you. It pretty well describes exactly what Florence Miner has done for Roosevelt University and I think she should be highly respected and honored by all Assyrians for her generous philanthropy and pride of heritage. If we applaud people like her she may do a lot for our people in the future. LETS GIVE BOTH SHE AND HER LATE BROTHER CREDIT FOR THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS and try to look at the water glass as being half full instead of half empty. We gain friends and supporters by addition not subtraction.

Best wishes for your wonderful contribution to our heritage and youth.

Paul D. Newey, Esq

Roosevelt University Press Release:  Click Here

I enjoy reading Zinda, because of it unbiased reporting of Assyrian affairs.  However,  I  would like to see Zinda report on Assyrian events or activities globally (event calendar).  I realized that this is impossible considering the limited resources that you have, but what if you had a representative from each city or region that Assyrians reside.    The only prerequisite is that the representative is reliable and fairly  involved in the community.

The publishing of the event or activity can be made at your discretion.  This would create some sort of connection between our communities world wide.  Thank you for the great service for our nation.  God bless you and our nation.

Albert Warda

As is noted on the bottom of every issue, Zinda Magazine invites every Assyrian organization, church, or business to submit its news and events pertaining to the Assyrian communities.  To expedite this process in the near future Zinda Magazine will provide an online form which can automatically update our Calendar of Events, accessible by registered subscribers.



I would like to bring your attention to our new web site (www.assyrianbiz.com).  This is the first Assyrian Business and Events Directory of its kind.  We urge all Assyrian businesses, organizations, churches, etc. world wide to check their listing, make any changes or corrections to them, or submit one if they are not listed.

Thank you & God Bless

Ninos Lazar
Mesa, Arizona


In this new age of technology, it is refreshing to know that we've come this far utilizing the Information age even for entertainment.

I wanted to bring to your attention information regarding the New Year's Eve party of the New Millennium taking place in San Francisco, with our beloved singer Walter Aziz. Just visit WWW.WORLDANCE.com  for more information.

There will be live interaction through the Internet during this event.

Sargon Yalda

For more information see this week's CALENDAR of EVENTS below.


The First World War is long gone.  We are running the risk of a serious decline in the kinds of tragedies which so invigorate our people.  Assyrians in the United States are therefore to be commended for the efforts made through their legislators to bring destruction and spread misery throughout our ancient homeland, our beloved Bet-Nahrain.  To be sure there have been wholesale killings here and there, but these incidents are too quick and final...lacking that lingering drawn out suffering of the innocents, which is where the really good stuff is.

Through our tax dollars and a raging desire to be liked we've stood by, largely silent, while bombs fell on Iraq, on our fellow Assyrians.  And with our silent blessings, or curses (what's the difference in terms of net results) Sanctions are taking care of the rest.  It's all part of the secret clause we sign in order to get into or prove or loyalty to the United States.  The one which reads, informally of course: "...and be prepared to kill your brothers and sisters, bomb their homes and starve them whenever told to."

Killing our own people outright, however, denies us their usefulness for seminars and conferences.  After all, "One Thousand Dead", may be shocking and is okay as afar as it goes, but "...Young Children Forced into Prostitution", or photos of malnourished and diseased children clutching feebly at grief-stricken parents (unless of course they're just Moslem) are far more moving and useful.  So, while tax dollars and the policies of our adopted homeland provide the necessary backdrop, we must do our part to make certain that none of it is wasted.

Therefore, the ADOPT-A-MARTYR program doesn't expect, or want, anyone to do anything which might make a real difference in anyone's life.  We feel it's far more effective to keep people hanging on, allowing them the opportunity of suffering a multiplicity of tragic events such as really "gets" to us back here.  To hold out a little food, a little medicine, a pair of shoes, a hovel, keeps people alive and available for long-range torment, instead of snuffing them out all at once.

We at ADOPT-A-MARTYR can provide a one on one, direct link... your own personal martyr, or group if you feel generous.  For a little bit each month, a very little bit, we will prolong some chosen person's misery in the hope that they'll live long enough to suffer a string of truly awful things.  Plans are underway for a conference to be held in the year 2010.  An invitation will be sent to whomever will be president of the United States, to whom we are indebted for all this, to attend.  We have it on good authority that an apology to the people of Iraq is being prepared, even now, at the Hoover Institute which might be read at the conference.

Should the martyr you adopt survive until then, you will be a guest of honor at the gala event.  If not, you will receive an award and honorable mention.  We hope the response to this really, truly, unprecedented offer will reflect the seriousness of the potential shortage of martyrs we face.  For if we don't suffer anonymously, help to wound each other and stand idly by... how will future generations of Assyrians know who they were.

Note to Gentle readers: The preceeding is satire. Please do not call.

Fred Parhad


Noel Nonah's Assyrian Clocks
Custom-made through AssyrianMarket.com

Assyrian American Association of Southern California
New Home Page



The following as an article by Joseph Wakim entitled "My Say - Virtual New World".  Mr. Wakim is the founder of the Australian Arabic Council.

The virtual world created by the Internet is becoming a reality. Communities dispossessed of their homeland by natural disaster or war are reconstructing their land in cyberspace.

Some once dominant civilisations find themselves find themselves a persecuted minority under a new regime.

The Assyrians for example stem from Mesopotamia and Babylon, a region now covered by Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria.

This Christian population speaks Aramaic and Syriac, a derivation of the language spoken by Jesus Christ.

The Internet has been a powerful tool for the Assyrians. More than 40 Web sites provide a new Assyrian landscape complete with libraries, schools, entertainment, language, social clubs, art, sport and history. For the first time in more than 2000 years Assyrians have a homeland, albeit virtual.

Many other diasporas share this experience: Kurds have more than 60 sites and Palestinians more than 100.

The profound meaning derived from daily visits to these virtual homelands does not imply that the Australian identity is eroded or undermined. One can fulfill all the obligations of national citizenship while belonging to an international community.


(ZNDA:  Chicago)  His Beatitude, Mar Gewargis Slewa, Metropolitan of Iraq & Russia, speaking by telephone from Baghdad on October 28 to the Assyrian Church of the East Radio Program in Chicago, stated that William David, a 12-year-old Assyrian boy from Ramadi, has received Iraq's highest Baccalaureate examination score ...100 of 100 points possible on every subject taken.  Mr. David was invited by Mar Gewargis to Baghdad and introduced to His Holiness, Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Church of the East.  The town of Ramadi is about 80 miles west of Baghdad and 25 miles west of the old Royal Airforce Station in Habbaniya.


The following is an article published in Arabid entitled "The Town of Tel Tamer Hopes to Raise the Khabour Athletic Club to a Higher Level" by Khalil Aqteeny for the Damascus Newspaper, Teshreen.  The article appeared on October 23.  The English translation was made possible by Beth Suryoyo Assyrian.

Perhaps it is the fate of the province of Al-Hassakè to offer, every once in a while, a troupe of Martyrs in the field of sports, as sacrifices for athleticism. As if it is a fee for the people of the region's love for sports and their love for generosity and the willingness in serving the country in different fields. A few years ago, the region had many martyrs from 'Al-Jihad Athletic Club' of Qamishly in a painful accident. And a few days ago 'The Jazirè' was on a new rendezvous with pain through another accident, which resulted in the grievance of everyone and their subjection to a terrible misfortune. This was exemplified in the death of a group of youths and teenagers during their travel to play a football [soccer] game. Fate was faster and the will of the Lord was mightier and chose them to become martyrs in His Kingdom of Heaven.

The Accident - The Calamity

The town of Tel Tamer has suffered. This calm and gentle town that lies on the bank of Khabour. It is 45 KM away from the city of Al-Hassakè. The town has grieved a few days ago in a painful accident that has done away with the lives of a group of its athletes of 'The Khabour Athletic Club.' The matter that has shook the emotions of the entire population of the region and especially the athletes.

At 1:00 PM on Tuesday 10/10/2000 the Under 15 (U15) team of 'The Khabour Athletic Club' was traveling to the town of Ras Al-Ain, riding in a small microbus (van), to play its first matches for the league of the U15 teams of the province of Al-Hassakè. Heading the team was the member of the club's leadership and the club's president of the football [soccer] committee Talal Pithyo and the assistant of the coach George Khezaqia in addition to 15 players.

On the main road of Tel Tamer - Ras Al-Ain and 1 KM away from the village of Safeh, the driver of the microbus was surprised with holes on the road off which the pavement was removed in order to pave it again. This caused the driver to slow down abruptly, which in turn caused the trailer truck, which was driving behind them in an enormous speed, hit the microbus from behind. Unfortunately, another trailer truck happened to be driving on the opposite side at the time, which hit the microbus from the front. In other words, the small van that was carrying the players was exposed to two powerful simultaneous hits and from two large trailer trucks. This caused the players to fly left and right. The following all died immediately: Talal Pithyo, George Khezaqia, Afram Ishaq and the driver Muhammad Katchi from Ras Al-Ain, while the player Danny Yousif died after succored to Ras Al-Ain with the rest of the group.

The president of 'The Khabour Athletic Club,' Yousif Quryaqos who has described the accident for us, says that he reached Ras Al-Ain 45 minutes after the accident. By then the critically injured players were taken to the national hospital in Al-Hassakè and they were five. Two of the five died and they are Kamil Gevargis and Ashur Pithyo.

Two Telegraph from Dr. Miro and the Lieutenant General Tlas

Immediately after the accident, the people of Tel Tamer and Ras Al-Ain and all of the areas of the region hurried to offer assistance. The calamity is everyone's misfortune and the loss is the loss of all of the residents of the province of Al-Hassakè. At the time being only one player remains in the national hospital of Al-Hassakè, while the others have been taken out and they are in a reasonable health and they have been placed under the supervision of the physicians of Tel Tamer.

On the following day of the painful accident, the burial rites were held with the attendance of the president and the members of Al-Hassakè Baath Party branch, the governor, the head of the police, the members of the executive committee of sports, political and governmental personalities and national, athletic and religious delegations.

After the burial, a joint consolation center was held to receive the consolations, where the Prime Minister, Dr. Muhammad Mustafa Miro, sent a telegraph of condolences and mourning to the families of the deceased. A similar telegraph was also sent to the families from the Lieutenant General Mustafa Tlas, the Vice Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense.

The president and the members of Al-Hassakè Baath Party branch, the governor and the head of the police have also offered their condolences. Delegations from the National Athletic Association, the president of the Syrian Football Association, a group of leaders in the Baath Party, a group of leaders in the governmental and the in the national organizations, and the Christian and the Islamic religious figures all offered their condolences to the families of the deceased and expressed to them their deepest sorrows for this painful calamity.

These are the Martyrs of Sports:

- Talal Ishaia Pithyo:   A school teacher of an excellent nature and a wonderful reputation, born in 1970; a calm and composed individual and works as a coach of the Khabour Club since 1996 and a member in the club's leadership since last year.

- George Oshana Khezaqia:   A young gentleman of 15 years of age with the height of 180 CM. He loved sports and was a player in the U15 team of the club's football team in the past years. He has been assigned as an assistant to the coach of the U15 football team of the club this year. He is an orphan and has four sisters.

- Afram William Lazar:   Born in 1985; he is among the members of the U17 football team of the club. He accompanied the players of the U15 team to Ras Al-Ain to cheer them and he is a distinguished player with excellent skills.

- Danny Yousif Mikhael:   Born in 1985, and he is a player in the U17 football team of the club and loves football.

- Ashur Khoushaba Pithyo:   Born in 1986 and a player on the U15 team.

- Kamil Yousif Gevargis:   Born in 1986 and a player on the U15 team.

By the Decree of the Political and Athletic Leadership

As we are offering our deepest and warmest condolences to the families of these athletes, we ask the Great Lord to place them in His spacious Heavens and to inspire their families and relatives with patience and consolations. We are hoping from our political and athletic leaderships to take the needed measures to offer a helping hand and assistance to the sons and daughters of Tel Tamer and to the families of these martyrs and to 'The Khabour Athletic Club,' in order to get past this true and tough challenge. Thus we ask to raise 'The Khabour Athletic Club' to a higher level in the field of football, as was done with 'Al-Jihad Club' of Qamishly a few years ago. We believe that this is the least that could be done in order to honor 'The Khabour Athletic Club' that has offered a number of its sons and its members for the sake of athleticism on one hand, and in order not to create a feeling of estrangement from the club especially and the athletic association in general as a result of this accident on the other hand.


BC (1000-1500)

The Assyrian-Phoenician ship pictured here was a narrow, strong ship with the flush plating, high-power stern-posts - a more or less upright beam, rising from the after end of the keel of a boat and supporting the rudder. The deck is lifted on racks as a platform. It is closed with bulwark, on which the boards of

warriors were weighed. Massive scull and prow oar essentially distinguished a vessel from similar boats of that time. Their availability allowed the ship to change a rate on 180 degrees without being turned. It considerably increased maneuverability. The mast was removable.  The length of the ship was from 25 to 35 meters and its width 4 - 5 meters.


AD (502)

The region of Diyarbakir falls to the Persians when their troops found a group of Monks drunk at their posts on the walls.  After their subsequent massacre, no less than 8,000 dead bodies were carried out of the gates by Persians.

From the Holy Mountain, Dalrymple


25th Anniversary of Mar Ishai Shimmun's Assassination

November 6, 1975: Mar Ishai Shimmun XXIII, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, is assassinated in his residence in San Jose, California.

Nov 19

Assyrian Church of the East
Mar Narsai Parish
3939 Lawton Street

Come and bring your family to share the joy of Thanksgiving holiday
Lunch will be served after Qurbana Qadisha

More Info:  Samira Hermes (510) 724-5902
                   Marlene Antar (650) 697-7488

Nov 19

The Canadian Society for Syriac Studies
by Professor Amir Harrak
University of Toronto

8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre
Room 1050, 5 Bancroft Avenue
St. George Campus

Nov 23

Written by: Amira Bet-Shmoel
Edited by: Ewan Gewargis
Directed by: Nazar Amadin

The North Shore Center for The Performing Arts
9501 Skokie Blvd.
(773) 262-0500

2 shows at 4:00 and 8:00 PM
Tickets:  $15

Dec 31

Presented by Worldance Entertainment:
Walter Aziz & his Middle Eastern / Latin dancers
Assyrian, Arabic, & Salsa
Raffle Prize:  Hawaiian Vacation for 2 courtesy of PoinTravel.com
Marriott Hotel in Santa Clara
2700 Mission College Blvd
Tickets:  $ 95.00
in San Jose:  Etminan (408) 226-5992
in San Mateo:  Worldance (650) 571-8538
in San Francisco:  Oasis Travel (415) 664-8400
in Modesto:  Soro Enterprises (209) 551-1800
For more information contact worldance2000@aol.com .

Jul 2-6

International Congress of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archaeology 
"Sex and Gender in the Ancient Near East"
University of Helsinki

Registration Form:  click here

 Thank You!

Christine A. Yalda (Arizona)...Petr Kubalek (Tzec Republic)...Shlimoon Youkhana (Illinois)

Z-Crew congratulates the Mar Narsai Parish staff of THE LIGHT on the one-year anniversary of their newsletter.


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