|Z I N D A M A G A Z I N E|
|Tishrin II 20, 6750 Volume VI Issue 30 November 20, 2000|
|The Lighthouse||Sarah's Wedding|
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain||Turkey Arrests Priest for Confirming Assyrian Genocide|
|News Digest||AUA Calls for Recognition of 1915 Genocide|
|Surfs Up||"angry about our community in Europe"|
|Surfers Corner||Aprim Shapera Lectures in Athenes
Annual AUA Gala Dinner
|Reflections on Assyria||Breaking Faith|
|Literatus||Rice, Assyrian Style|
|Bravo!||Canadian Society for Syriac Studies|
|Assyrian Surfing Posts||Assyrian Audio Bible Tapes|
|Pump Up the Volume||Spelling & Pronouncing|
|Back to the Future||Esharra-Hamat & Rev. Goriel of Habbaniya|
|This Week in History||The American Mission Press|
|Calendar of Events||November 2000|
All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.
Like turning pages of an album, I leaf through the days of my childhood. An event seems to me to have taken place only yesterday.
In 1949, Granny set about finding a husband for my cousin Sarah, a lovely brunette with gazelle eyes and gentle ways.
Granny went to see her friend Amina who had a twenty-year-old son Hana, a large, serious, and hardworking boy. The affair was concluded on the spot as Sarah and Hana had known each other since childhood. The betrothal was celebrated according to an ancient and well-established custom. On Thursday, the groom ‘s parents summoned the village dignitaries. When they were ready, they all made their way, at about eight in the evening, towards the young woman’s house which had been swept, washed, and decorated with flowers. The guests had come to ask for Sarah’s hand. Her family, forewarned, answered in front of all the guests: -You are welcome. We are happy, joyful, and our child is here.
The small gathering applauded. Then the mayor rose and proclaimed the engagement to be official. -Once all the arrangements have been completed, we can celebrate your wedding, he said to Hana, full of emotion.
At that instant, the festivities began. The evening feast, or Khadaya of Kalo, which means "the fiancée’s dinner", had been prepared that same morning by the young man’s mother and sisters. Sarah was not permitted to do a thing. We where all invited, except for my young brother. The women served us a tasty dish of rice and lamb, which we ate with relish, comfortably seated on our kilims. The men drank sweetened red wine, and then began telling stories, singing and dancing to Kurdish melodies. Hana and Sarah appeared, as was proper, serious and discreet. It was late at night when we took our leave. I went to sleep brimming with hope, curiosity, and joy at the thought that in two days, I would participate at a wedding for the first time. The following Saturday, at around four in the afternoon, all the mountain folk stopped working so that they could actively take part in the young couple’s wedding.
How beautiful and warm it was outside. The sky seemed indigo blue. Poppies sparkled joyously on the mountainside.
My father came home early. Shy and modest, he rarely participated at the village celebrations. He drew on his Shal, which was made of puffy maroon woolen trousers, a sweater, a coat sleeveless, and a large belt draped about his waist.
He put the Chechina on his head, which consists of a small skullcap surrounded by a Keffieh, white material with red squares. He looked so proud and dignified !
Granny and Mummy took out new cotton dresses in pink and blue, from the heavy chest, and they covered their braids with white headscarves.
As for me, I slipped on a little shawl and the Sharshoy festivities continues. Hana prepared himself to go out of the village. He was still wearing his everyday clothes. Men, women, and children led him singing and dancing until they reached a place called Behoaré, where Hana immersed himself in the river for the nuptial bath.
A woman awaited there to wash him, perfume him, and dress him in his festive garb, a white Shal decorated with red geometric shapes; then everyone accompanied him back to Sanate. As he drew closer, the villagers came out to meet him with cries of joy and gunshots.
I followed the crowd that led the groom to his parents’house.
In the late afternoon, the people who had accompanied him to the public baths dined with him on the terrace, and then the dancing began.
I ran along with the other children to the wedding hall to take part in the general felicity and to whirl with the others.
At around seven in the evening, Mummy went with some other women to Sarah’s home to arrange her hair, perfume her, make up her face, and dress her in a long cotton print dress. Earrings, bracelets, and necklaces all in gold were the final touches. Meanwhile, the men finished up preparing the groom.
And then the "Borakha" wedding was performed in the village church. Young men and women, with full heart, joined together before the altar.As soon as they came in, Matty the priest, dressed in a gold embroidered chasuble, welcomed them in the choir, and began the ceremony according to the oriental Chaldean rite, which is very exuberant. The Sanatians kept bursting out with cries of joy, interrupting the priest’prayers.
I watched Sarah, she wore an enigmatic smile. I noticed that, behind Hana, one of my aunts held a large needle and that she discretely poked him. Another guest poked the bride with a thinner needle. Surprised and perplexed, I wondered : "Why are these women poking the bride and groom with needles ? " I pulled at my mother’s dress, questioning her. She answered : "My son, it brings luck, it chases away the demon, and it is good." She refused to supply me with more details.
At the end of the celebration, uncle Mansour went out of the church and fired a gunshot that resounded throughout the village. At its sound, children and grown-ups shouted : "May God bless them forever." Then the congregation led the newlyweds down winding streets all the way to the home of Sarah’s parents, who had prepared a "marriage dinner"; only close family like us stayed on.
Just as the dinner was about to begin, Hana declared in front of everyone that he didn’t want to eat. And so Yalda, his father-in-law, declared that he was going to offer him a beautiful gift. At that moment, the young man began to eat with the guests. After dinner, the festivities continues. We danced until midnight. At midnight, the newlyweds went to sleep at Sarah’s parents house, but separately.
The next morning, Sunday, we went to the parish for mass and communion.
Hana and his wife had confessed before the wedding. After the service, they went to Sarah ‘s house for breakfast, and then the official departure of the bride towards her husband’s home took place amidst much liveliness. Hana was the first to leave, upon the back of a mule. His companion followed, mounted on another mule that was colorfully decorated. The villagers accompanied them in multitudes, following the couple along the path that led to their new home.
My cousin Selim had arrived beforehand, and he came out of the house and stood in front of the door. He had prepared for Hana a small earthenware jar filled with candies, dates and raisins. As soon as Sarah crossed the threshold, her husband threw the countenair up in the air and gave it a hard blow in order to break it. The jar didn’t crack. Selim said to Hana : "You must throw it again, and smash it, otherwise there will be trouble in the marriage. It will mean bad luck."
The boy ‘s face fell, he was saddened and confused. He tried a second time, and succeeded. I ran with the other children to pick up the contents of the broken clay. It was a common belief that splitting a jar was a mark of virility, force and power. A man thus appeared capable of taking charge of family and maintaining authority over his wife. He revealed himself as deserving to found a new household. At last, Sarah entered her new abode and began to make it a home.
The festivities continued under a different guise. The whole village gathered around the house of the new people, to sing and fire more gunshots. Dancing rings were formed on the terraces and the man who had assumed the role of wine server did not stop handing out glasses, even throughout all the crackling.
At noon, our family was supposed to send a representative to dine with the newlyweds. Mummy beckoned me and said : "My son, you are six years old, you are now a big boy. Your father had to leave and so you will be the one to replace him in this task; you are the eldest, you will go with your uncles to offer our blessings and our gifts."
I took the envelope that Mummy held out to me and I left. As I entered the house, one of my uncles gently instructed me : "You will do exactly as us, you must kiss the groom on his head and give him the gift." Standing as high as I could on my small legs, I had a hard time reaching to kiss Hana’s head. And so Hana lift me up and carried me in his arms. I gave him the envelope. He burst into laughter and then spoke to me :
I answered :
-My father is no longer in Sanate, he went to Zakho to make the purchases for the village.
-I am glad that you came, he told me.
Meanwhile, I was wondering what we were about to eat. In ten minutes, a plentiful dish of rice and vegetables was placed before me and, like a grown-up, I began to eat with my uncles. I was afraid, as I was the youngest and I felt overwhelmed by these adults all around me who were discussing and joking about things I didn’t understand. Their language was beyond me. I couldn’t keep up with their conversation, and I wanted to finish the meal as soon as possible so I could run and play with my friends.
But I had to assume my father’s role. I stayed there right up to the end, and then I left with my uncles. I shouted : "good-bye, " to the newlyweds. Night had fallen, my uncles congratulated me : " Very good, you managed to fulfill this task." And in fact, from that day onwards, whenever my father was away, I replaced him.
At nine o’clock that night, Matty the priest came to bless the nuptial bed. He arrived, followed by a sacristan and a cantor; the holy men entered the bedroom along with the newlyweds ‘ close family, of which we were part. The young couple sat timidly upon the bed and the priest began reciting the appropriate players.
After the blessing, old Amina offered Matty a rooster, and then together we ate conserve of goat, all of us laughing and joking. Sarah and Hana’s marriage celebration thus drew to a close. Once we were back home, Mummy made some comments about the food and the dress.
-My daughter, I believe these kids will be happy together, concluded Granny, and she began to take snuff, she had an air of satisfaction about her.
"Sarah's Wedding" is an excerpt from Mr. Yousif's
book "Parfums d'enfance à Sanate [Fragrances of childhood].
For more information on Mr. Yousif's other work, click here.
TURKEY ARREST PRIEST FOR CONFIRMING ASSYRIAN HOLOCAUST
The following is a press release of the Assyrian Democratic Organization (Takasta)
For Immediate Release
November 18, 2000
(ZNDA) During the debate within the U.S. Congress regarding HR596, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, an infuriated Turkish government mounted an unprecedented all out assault on the historic fact of the Assyrian-Armenian-Greek Genocide of 1915. Well-documented Turkish threats against the U.S. government were accompanied by even greater persecution of Turkey’s own citizenry.
Quite regrettably, in early October, journalists from a major Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, interviewed an Assyrian (Syriac) priest from St. Mary’s Syriac Orthodox Church in Diyarbakir with the hope of eliciting a Christian denial of the 1915 Holocaust. Rather than succumbing to the escalating hysteria of threats and intimidation within Turkey, Fr. Yusuf Akbulut instead confirmed that the Armenian genocide and insisted that Assyrians (Syriacs) had also been similarly victimized. Fr. Yusuf added that Kurds had also been willing accomplice in the killing and that the holocaust was an undeniable historic fact. Fr. Yusuf defiantly asserted that Bet Nahrain (Mesopotamia) is the land of the Assyrians (Syriacs) and that irrespective of U.S. Congressional action, "we will have our voices heard throughout the world."
The Turkish response was predictably swift and brutal. On October 4, the Hurriyet newspaper carried an article with a photograph of Fr. Yusuf entitled "icimizdeki hain" meaning "A Traitor Amongst Us" with a subheading quoting Fr. Yusuf as saying "Not only Armenians were killed, Assyrians (Syriacs) were also killed." The outrage from within Turkey led Turkish military security agents to arrest Fr. Yusuf on October 6 from his church in Diyarbakir. Although earlier reports had stated that Fr. Yusuf had been freed, in reality he remains imprisoned and charged with treason. Fr. Yusuf’s court date is scheduled in military court on December 21, 2000. Under Turkish law, the charge of treason, if sustained, is punishable by death.
There is grave concern for Fr. Yusuf’s physical well being while he remains in Turkish custody. The vitriolic Hurriyet newspaper headline labeling Fr. Yusuf as a traitor to the Turkish nation is believed intended to stir passions and lead to vigilante or extra judicial attacks against Fr. Yusuf by fundamentalists or security forces. Moreover, there is reason to believe that Fr. Yusuf is being physically and psychological mistreated as he awaits word on his possible execution if he is found guilty of treason. Thus far, Fr. Yusuf has not been allowed visitor or adequate legal defense.
The Turkish government has likewise increasingly threatened other members of the Assyrian (Syriac) community into condemning Fr. Yusuf’s statements. Some clergy, terrified at the prospects of a renewed campaign of persecution against the remaining few thousand Assyrian (Syriac) Christians in southeastern Turkey, had acquiesced in the face of these mounting threats.
The arrest of Fr. Yusuf and the subsequent threats against the Assyrian (Syriac) community in southeastern Turkey underscore Turkey’s insecurity in dealing with its bloody past and with its present day Assyrian (Syriac) Christian minority. Now clamoring to join the European Union, Turkey continues to demonstrate a primitive, draconian approach to historical and political debate with a penchant for brutality and intolerance. Despite universal and continuous international criticism of its behavior, Turkey continues to show a perverse disdain for any semblance of civility. Still more, despite the international community’s insistence on greater openness and tolerance, Turkey still refuses to show any proclivity towards respect for even the most basic of human rights.
We of the Assyrian Democratic Organization demand that Turkey immediately and unconditionally release Fr. Yusuf Akbulut and end the menacing intimidation of the Assyrian (Syriac) community. We also demand Turkey’s acknowledgment of its role in the Assyrian-Armenian-Greek Holocaust.
Assyrian Democratic Organization
U.S.A., Canada, Europe, and Sweden
AUA CALLS FOR RECOGNITION OF 1915 GENOCIDE
The following letter was posted by the AUA-Australian chapter, in support of the The European Delegation of the Armenian National Committee (ANC-Europe) to contact members of the Europarliament and urge them to support the incorporation of amendments regarding the Armenian Genocide in the "Report on Turkey’s Application for Accession to the European Union." The letter was received successfully by all Europarliament members.
Dear Europarliament Member:
On behalf of The Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) - Australian Chapter, I am writing to encourage you to support amendments regarding the Armenian Genocide during discussions of the "Report on Turkey’s Application for Accession to the European Union," (Report A5-02-97/2000, by Philippe Morillon).
As you are aware, Article I, Subparagraph 4 of Resolution A2-33/87 stipulates that the European Parliament considers Turkey's refusal to recognize the genocide committed against the Armenian people by the 'young Turk' government; refusal to apply standards of International law in their disagreements with Greece; continued military occupation of Cyprus; refusal to recognize Assyrian and Kurdish Human rights; absence of true parliamentary democracy; and failure to respect individual and collective freedoms, particularly those dealing with religious rights to constitute insurmountable obstacles to even the examination of possible accession by Turkey into the European Community. As such, I urge you, as an official charged with defending commonly held democratic values, to support amendments to Mr. Morillon's prepared report dealing with the Armenian Genocide.
It is an undeniable fact that in the same period that the Armenian Genocide were taking place , the Assyrians were subject to the same atrocities, over 750,000 Christian Assyrians lost their lives in this genocide, and that hundred of Churches were plundered, destroyed and burnt down. The depopulation of Greek Orthodox, Assyrians and the Armenians was part of parcel of Turkey's policy of eliminating the Christian minorities
The facts of the Armenian Genocide are thoroughly documented in the archives of Europe (Austria, German, French, British, and others), as well as those of the United States and Russia. All these documents record the systematic and deliberate extermination of one and a half million Armenians, at least 300,000 Greeks from the Pontos region and 750,000 Assyrians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. Efforts to encourage Turkey to face this historical reality will help move forward the process of democratization in that nation. It will, as well, provide moral support for those courageous voices in Turkey who have taken a stand against the official government's campaign to deny this crime against humanity. By ensuring that recognition of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocide remains a condition of Turkey's accession we will also be helping to guarantee that Turkey understands its contemporary obligations to protect both the human and collective community rights of its minority populations and to prevent any future genocide. Finally, taking this step will help encourage Turkey to abandon its failed eight-year policy of blockading Armenia as a means of pressuring the Armenian people to retreat from their efforts to secure international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. This blockade is a violation of international law and represents a serious obstacle to a durable peace in the Caucuses.
We are urgently seeking your assistance in this matter.
Thank you for your attention to our concerns.
Assyrian Universal Alliance- Australian Chapter
Author's Note: The AUA is an international
alliance made up of various sectors of the Assyrian people as represented by
the Assyrian national organizations and federations through out the world. The
AUA is committing itself to spreading, upholding, enhancing the Assyrian name
around the world, and working to secure the sacred human and national rights
of the Assyrian people in our home land and else where.
“We always follow and read your articles, and for this week we enjoyed reading about Assyrian Scholarship. We are wondering if there are any more Scholarships besides the Assyrian Foundation in Berkeley, California that we can apply for? ... Good work Zinda.”
The Assyrian American National Federation's
Education Committee has an annual budget allocated to the education of the Assyrian
students in the U.S. Colleges and Universities. Click
“The way I see it, this is not the time to continue sweeping issues under the rug or being polite because we need to be cautious about the feeling of this and that. Never before the Assyrians’ political and national existence has been threatened as it is today. Successive Iraqi Governments, especially throughout Iraq’s young existence as an independent country, have used various means to undermine the Assyrian national dream. They have used the religious factor and those few Assyrians, loyal to them, simultaneously. Here are few facts that reflect the general climate of the Assyrian affairs.
In 1920, the Assyrian Patriarch Mar Poulus Shimun, bless His soul, died in Baquba Refugee Camp because His weak body could not resist the long suffering He and the Assyrians had endured during World War I, and He needed an appropriate burial place. The Chaldean Catholic Church refused to let the Assyrians perform the burial ceremony in any of their Churches. The Assyrians were forced to go the Armenians who responded most gracefully and the Assyrian Patriarch was buried inside the Armenian Church in Baghdad. This stand by the Chaldean Catholic Church left a bitter taste among the Assyrian members of the Church of the East. This added to the already unfriendly feelings these two churches had for each other since the separation of the Chaldean Catholic Church from the Church of the East, a process that started in 1552. The members of the Church of the East and Chaldean Catholic Churches seldom communicated with each other since then. There is ton of incidents about what clergymen of one church did against the other, keeping in mind that the Chaldean Catholic Church has always been favored by the Ottoman Turk and Iraqi Governments during the last three hundred years or so. What has the Chaldean Catholic Church clergymen done to assure the survival of their church’s Syriac liturgy? Haven’t they rather deepened the gap between their congregation and other churches members while making Arabic the official language of its own church? We have seen some dialogue lately, but looking at the bigger picture, a person must at least wonder if this is a genuine step to save Our Mother Church! Despite the many conversions to Catholicism in the plains of Mosul and after nearly 400 years of vigorous attempts by the Catholic Church to swallow the Church of the East, it has basically failed to do so. Today, in a more peaceful approach it is trying to drag the Church of the East in to the arms of Catholicism and Arabization?
The other issue used well by the Iraqi Government was that of Malek Khoshaba and his family. We need here to touch base on this issue briefly. In 1932 just before the League of Nations was going to meet in Geneva and discuss again the Assyrian case, Assyrian tribe heads, leaders, clergymen and notables met in Amadiya/Mosul. In this meeting the Assyrians unanimously decided to send Mar Eshai Shimun, bless His soul, to Geneva as the Assyrian representative. Malek Khoshaba immediately after leaving the meeting contacted the Iraqi Government. He among few others, including couple clergymen, signed a letter put together by the Iraqi Government declaring that the Mar Shimun was not the representative of the Assyrian people! When the Mar Shimun began presenting the Assyrians’ grievance and demands in front of the League of Nations in Geneva, the Iraqi Government representative stood up pulled out that letter and showed it to the League. The League read the letter signed by Malek Khoshaba stating that the Assyrians were happy with the Iraqi Government treatment, hence contradicting and challenging the claims of the Mar Shimun! This act basically ended any hopes the Assyrians have especially in regards to some sort of a self-rule.
As far as the Iraqi Government is concern, Malek Khoshaba was a hero ever since. He and his family began to receive the best treatment possible and many privileges. In 1954, Malek Khoshaba died and his son Yousip took his place as the new appointed Malek (tribe leader), and became known as Malek Yousip. While other Assyrians, with the exception of handful limited cases, were deprived from entering the Iraqi Armed Forces Academies, Yousip Khoshaba was being promoted. It is true that few were transferred to the Iraqi Army and Police after the dismantling of the Levies in mid 1950s, but most of those were released soon. In the coming years the government even planned carefully the killing of Assyrian officers like the assassination of one of the bravest pilots in the Iraqi Air Force Pnoel Aghassi while on a mission in southern Iraq. At any rate, Malek Yousip Malek Khoshaba finally received the ranking of Colonel in the Iraqi Army before he retired in 1960. In 1964 Malek Yousip was announced as Head of the Central Council looking after the affairs of the group which has stood against the Patriarch in 1932 and against the Church of the East with the blessing of Baghdad. He played a major role in dividing the Church of the East and the establishment of the Ancient Church of the East (Old Calendar) in 1968. In 1969 he was behind the arrest of a group of Assyrians in Kirkuk who were imprisoned, tried for treason, and sentenced to death. It was only the preparations for the 1970 visit of His Holiness, Mar Eshai Shimun, bless His soul, to Iraq that secured the release of the Assyrians in Kirkuk and saved their lives.
About a year ago or so we heard about the plan for establishing the Assyrian National Supreme Committee in Baghdad, a committee that was to speak on behalf of all the Assyrians in Iraq and those originally from Iraq living throughout the world! The Iraqi Government used its loyal members William Sh. to spread this proposal, hence applications were sent to Assyrians all over the world to elect 200 members for this Committee. The proposal called for the appointment of this same Malek Yousip as the Assyrian Head with another Assyrian name, as his Deputy, claiming that these two were the most qualified to negotiate the Assyrian issues with the Iraqi Government! Even though Malek Yousip died this past July 2000 in Baghdad after a long battle with an illness at the age of 86, the plan is in full gear, divide and rule still going in full speed!
When the Ba’ath Party came to power in Iraq in 1968, it needed some stability, even if temporarily, specially in the north in order to concentrate on steps to cleanse the country from any questionable individuals and secure its grip on power. It signed a phony peace treaty with the Kurds and invited the exiled Assyrian Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun, bless His soul, and Malik Yaqu to visit Iraq. I am not going to analyze the demands of the two Assyrian leaders, but the cultural rights of the Assyrians were addressed and were granted through Presidential Decree # 251. The question is how was the decree stated and how long did these cultural rights last? We know that basically it was a phony declaration, which looked good on paper. The Decree stated that the Revolutionary Command Council in Baghdad has decided in its session of April 16, 1972 the following: To grant cultural rights to the Syriac speaking citizens in the country from the al-Athouriyoon wa al-Kildan wa al-Sir-yan. In a statement which preceded the grant order itself, the decree stated that the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party believes that all ethnic minorities in Iraq have the right to exercise their cultural rights. Right then the Ba’ath Party distinguished between the Assyrians and the chaldeans. It is as clear as the sun that coming from a power position the Ba’ath Party could have mentioned Assyrians as the ethnic minority and listed the religious denominations as a clarification point, but they did not! Wonder why? This same formula was used by those few members in the Chaldean Catholic Church in the Census 2000 in the USA! Today when few members of the Chaldean Catholic Church promote chaldeanism instead of Assyrianism, one must wonder, again, why? The argument that chaldeanism will end the process of Arabization is the most ridiculous to listen to, knowing that they have been calling themselves loosely chaldeans for about (200-300) years in north of Iraq. We know from history that members of the Chaldean Catholic Church are nothing but a religious sect of the Assyrian nation, who should have been called simply Catholic Assyrians. What is more logical to adapt the Assyrian national name, since members of the Chaldean Catholic Church have historically lived in and around Nineveh, the Assyrian heartland. Why would few so-called intellectuals promote this division by working with the Census Bureau, behind closed doors and for years and years. Logic tells us that people with good intentions do not need to hide their actions, only those who are planning evil always plan in the dark. Remember that in the name of unity we have experienced the followings:
1. The establishment of a separate ethnic group called ‘chaldean’,
different than the Assyrian.
2. The creation of the so-called chaldean language.
3. The creation of a new flag, different than the Assyrians.
4. The establishment of the so-called chaldean genocide!
5. The establishment of the chaldean Aid Society! Is that to compete with the Assyrian Aid Society in north of Iraq?
6. Interesting is the fact that lately few members in the Chaldean Catholic Church have begun hinting that the Assyrian Church of the East is not the original Church of the East, rather the Chaldean Catholic Church is! The rewriting of history continues!
It is a very well known fact to the political world in general and to the Iraqi Government in particular that the chaldean title is nothing but a religious term. The term chaldean does not constitute any political or national sense to it. What will be more convenient for the Iraqi Government than attaching this religious term to the Assyrian national title and then promote chaldeanism or should we say Arabized Christianity!
The political scene in Iraq seem to be going through some definite changes, in preparation for an open Iraqi society in the post Gulf War, and in the aftermath of the embargo and its inhumane consequences. The establishment of the so-called Assyrian National Supreme Committee in Baghdad by Assyrian loyalists to the Ba’ath rulers, is a logical answer, as far as Baghdad is concern of course, to the question of who will represent Assyrians in this new era and how will Assyrians be represented. Meanwhile, undermining the Assyrian national dream by promoting the religious title ‘chaldean’ is yet another logical approach for the Iraqi Government. One must, yet again, wonder if this whole issue, being undertaken by the few members in the Chaldean Catholic Church, has been pursued and implemented based on sheer political immaturity while trying to do something to save the Arabization of its congregation in Iraq! Come to think of it I find that hard to believe.”
It's such a wonderful idea that we have our own TV, really ours. But who think and work with others and say we are having also TV programmes for our community, they have to shame too. We have to do everything by our own, to eat from and with our hands!!!
I am really sad and angry about our community here in Europe. It seems they are becoming so individualist like the Europeans. I am saying this because I feel it and I experience it. About 6 months ago, for the first time in the entire Assyrian history, an Assyrian satellite TV-station became a reality. We Assyrians have to know how important television nowadays is and especially for us. In my view it is one of the best things we can have at the moment. But it seems now that the Assyrian community here in Europe, which is about 200,000 people, isn't interested in it. It's a shame. Assyria TV is really struggling to survive, and no one likes to help. Why?? If of the 200,000 only 20,000 of them give $10 a month, that would be enough. It's a shame. Isn't it?
In writing this I am really asking for help from any Assyrian and also others who can help keep Assyria TV on the air.
May God bless you and I hope the Assyrian nation will never die and that humanity will never speak about the death of our nation.
ASSYRIA TV BROADCAST & TRANSMISSION TIMES
Every Saturday and Sunday
13:00 TO 15:00 CET
12:00 TO 14:00 GMT TECHNICAL DATA
Satellite: Eutelsat W2, 36 to the East
Frequency: 11.163 OR 1.410 Mhz
TEL: +49 6162 914 782
FAX: +49 6162 914 794
We are seeking Assyrian reporters from around the world and others that can assist us in anyway possible. We welcome criticism and advice that help better our programs.”
APRIM SHAPERA LECTURES IN ATHENES
On Sunday evening, November 5, 2000, Aprim Shapera delivered a lecture before the Assyrian Federation of Greece (AFG) on the subject of "Nationalistic Activity in the Assyrian Diaspora". This topic mirrors the title of Mr. Shapera’s latest publication, a book which some may have acquired while attending the September convention in Chicago.
In his opening remarks, Hanna Khoshaba, an Assyrian officer in the AFG, expressed the warm appreciation of his group to Aprim Shapera, and commended the speaker’s initiative in visiting with the Assyrians in Athens. This was followed by Rev. William Yako's introduction of the speaker. Rev. Yako gave the attendees a résumé of Mr. Shapera's activities and his numerous writings in the service of his people.
The principal theme of Mr. Shapera's address related to the issue of Assyrian émigrés, and their important role within the larger question of the Assyrian people. Drawing on his personal observations and experience, Mr. Shapera encouraged his audience to be realistic in their personal and civic performance in Western countries, but at the same time, he added, they should retain Assur or Bet Nahrain as the spiritual and moral guiding light for their performance. Mr. Shapera's message is consistent with his belief that Assyrians living in such "wait stations" deserve at least as much, if not more, encouragement and sustenance from Assyrian writers and intellectuals.
Modern Assyrian history in Greece began in the early 1920's, when some ten thousand of them migrated from Russia. This first wave of Assyrians in Greece had experienced a miserable period as refugees, following the Great Exodus from the Hakkari Homeland, 1915-1918. In the mid 1930's, following the Assyrian massacre in Simel, a few nationalistic Assyrians created the Assyrian Federation of Greece. The first wave of immigrants has passed on, and to a great extent their children have integrated into Greek society. Among the third generation in this group, it is rare to find one who speaks Assyrian. It might be noted in passing that the President of the AFG, a Mr. Marcus, typifies this legacy. He is a Greek national with deeply-held feelings for his Assyrian heritage; and while he understands the language of his people, it is most difficult for him to speak it.
There has been something of a renewed consciousness among Assyrians in Greece concerning their identity, and this has been sparked largely by the arrival of Iraqi Assyrian refugees in more recent times. For the most part, these new immigrants came to Greece via Lebanon in the mid-1970's (where typically they were duly registered as refugees by the Beirut office of the UNHCR and by the World Council of Churches). This Assyrian infusion in Greece has prompted the AFG to become more active, particularly in dispensing aid to those with special needs. In addition, with Mr. Marcus at the helm, the organization has just purchased a piece of land for U.S.$25,000, where it plans on building its facilities.
Typical of Assyrians everywhere, our community in Greece is
divided along two confessional lines. Those of the Chaldean faith number between
3,000 and 4,000, and they are ministered by Kasha Fawzi. Adherents of the Church
of the East number between 2,000 and 3,000, and they are ministered by Kasha
William Yako. Very unfortunately, only a few of our brothers and sisters in
Greece have secured a regular job, and virtually none has received Greek nationality.
In fact, very few of the new arrivals are interested in establishing their residence
in Greece. The majority of them are patiently biding their time, hoping that
some opening will permit them to enter some other Western country, preferably
the U.S., Canada or Australia. While they are waiting, they are for the most
part living very difficult lives, even as they remain uncertain of their final
(ZNDA: Sydney) The Assyrian Universal
Alliance (AUA) Australian Chapter held its annual VIP dinner on 14 October 2000
at the new Assyrian Church of the East Banquet Hall "Edessa Reception" in Sydney.
Guests of honour were His Grace Mar Meelis Zaia, Bishop of the Assyrian Church
of the East, Diocese of Australia and New Zealand; Senator John Nimrod, General
Secretary of the AUA; and Mr. Homer Ashurian, AUA Executive Board member and
former Assyrian representative in the Iranian Parliament.
Senator John Nimrod is presently the president of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) in the Hague and the Assistant General Secretary of the UNPO for Americas.
The AUA - Australian chapter believes it is very appropriate that our leaders get closer to our Assyrian community in every country they live. It is now the custom of this chapter to invite the General Secretary of AUA every year to its annual gala VIP diners and to organise public rallies and get together to bring the leaders closer to the Assyrian Australian community , to brief the Assyrian organisations about the recent activities of AUA, its progress and the general situation of the Assyrian people, particularly in the Middle East. The General Secretary informes the Assyrians about the outcome of AUA’s international conferences and meetings.
In the meantime he meets with some of the Australian government officials, to discuss and understand the situation of Assyrians, internationally. It is also hoped that we can, through this communication build a better relations with Government Officials.
At this annual function there were over 500 attendances. Including representative of different sectors of the Assyrian community in Australia, combining together to meet with Assyrian international representatives and honouring those members of our community who were presented with awards for their hard work and dedication to Assyrian works and their contributions to the Australian community and welfare. Senator John J. Nimrod presented those Awards.
Master of ceremonies was Mr David M. David, a prominent Assyrian and a well known personality among our Assyrian community in Australia. A board member of the Assyrian Australian National Federation for seven years, and a very active AUA-Australian administrative committee member. Music director and conductor of the Choir of the Assyrian Church of the East by Maestro Rabi Alexander (Shoora) Michailian one of the most respected Assyrian Musicians of our time, who organised a special presentations for the first part of the night.
The program started with precession of the Australian and the Assyrian National Flags, followed by the Australian and Assyrian National Anthems.
A welcome speech by Mr Hermiz Shahen, the Secretary of the AUA - Australian Chapter, followed by Miss Suzy David, Advisor and member to the AUA United Nations International Committee, Dr. Said Stephan, AUA - Adviser and president of the Assyrian Australian National Federation (AANF), Senator John Nimrod, the Secretary General of the AUA, H.G. Mar Meelis Zaia, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East, Former Mayor of the City of Fairfield Councillor Anwar Khoshaba, and finally the quest speaker Mr Homer Ashurian.
During the speeches the audiences were captured by the magnificent performance of the Choir of the Assyrian Church of the East who performed a number of Assyrian National songs and Assyrian Folklore dancing. Finally the audience were inspired by the excellent performance of the choir of St. Hurmitzd Children (Orchestra) and violin recital by some 60 beautiful children.
Plaques were awarded by AUA Secretary General
to several prominent Assyrian community members for their hard work contribution
to the Assyrian community of Australia and abroad. These include his Grace Mar
Melis Zaia, the immediate past president of the AANF Mr Younatan Afarim, Miss
Suzy David, Ms Lounarda David, Mr Shoora Michailian, Mr Wilson Younan, Mr Karl
Salamon, Mr Homer Ashurian and Dr Peter Talia.
On Sunday afternoon and about 5:00 pm, our guests were at the auditorium of Ninveh Club for a political rally organised by the AUA -Australian Branch attended by over 300 people. Secretary General Senator John Nimrod and Mr Homer Ashurian were the only speakers. They were assisted by MC Mr David David and Chapter Secretary Mr Hermiz Shahen. A complete report on AUA activities, political events and AUA history and goals were made such that at the questions and answer period none was asked. Two persons publicly complimented the guests on the presentations. After the end of the program many people, more than ever before, come up and thank us for the information including from other political parties. All the events were Video taped and can be viewed or ordered through our chapter's postal address or e-mail. Interviews were made with the media; TV channel 31 and the three Radio Stations as well as with reporters from magazines and organisations.
A large delegation made up of our guests together with Dr. Said Stephan, President of the Assyrian Australian National Federation and AUA advisory committee, H.G. Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia, Miss Suzy David and Mr Hermiz Shahen, met with the Hon. Philip Raddock MP, Minister for immigration and Multicultural Affairs. The meeting was to clarify some problems and concerns effecting our Assyrian community. A submission was presented by the AUA in this regard which was prepared by Miss Suzy David .
A special program was organised on Tuesday evening to celebrate the official opening of the Assyrian Universal Alliance office. This ribbon cutting event was attended by representatives of parties, organisations and the Federation, there were a large crowd of people who came by to congratulate the AUA . A special speech was delivered by Mr Hermiz Shahen, who thanked all the attendees and specially the Businessman and prominent Assyrian friend Mr Karl Salamon who equipped and furnished the AUA office and Councillor Anwar Khoshaba, Former Mayor of the City of Fairfield, who with his great help AUA was able to obtain this office in a new building of one of Fairfield Council community Centres at Stockland Mall in Wetherill Park.
The event was televised the same night on the Assyrian Program Channel -31. On Wednesday more meetings with Government Officials and a wonderful dinner hosted by the Assyrian Australian National Federation. All officers of the Federation organisations attended as well as the Federation Officers led by President Dr. Said Stephan, who welcomed our guests and all the delegates and representatives of Assyrian organisations, he valued the important roll of becoming an affiliate of the AUA and to tie our community in Australia with all other affiliates around the globe.
On Thursday evening our guests and along with all Presidents of the organisation and AUA members were hosted to a dinner at a restaurant on the banks of Sydney Harbour, one of the best tourist attractions in Australia. Several dignitaries were included by our host.
On Friday night a special diner was organised in honour of our guests by the Assyrian Charity and Educational Community that was opened freely for all members and non-members as a show of respect for our guests, over 300 people attended. A number of speeches were given including a special welcome by the President of the organisation, Mr Hormiz Karimi. During these events a number of meetings took place with representative's of our Assyrian political parties.
On Saturday 21st October 2000, our guests together with Mr Hermiz Shahen and Mr David M. David left by plane to Melbourne some 700 miles to the south. We were greeted by few prominent members of our community who established a welcome committee and organised the whole visit program in conjunction with Hermiz Shahen, Chapter's Secretary. They were very excited about our visit and had made excellent preparations with a dinner attended by several hundred on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning we attended two Churches in the daytime and one in the evening. At 4:00 pm. we attended a political rally which was organised by members of the welcome committee at Prince Philip theatre in the University of Melbourne. The M.C. of the this program was Mr Yaco Havil, the head of the Assyrian program in Radio 3-ZZZ.. who opened the meeting with one minute of silence to the souls of the Assyrian Martyr's, then he welcomed the over 300 audience and introduced the next speaker Dr Yaghoub Sayad-Yaghoubi also known as Dr. Nardin put much effort in bringing the welcome committee members together and in communicating with the AUA -branch of Sydney, Also Dr. Nardin is working recently in the Monash University, as principle Material Engineer with the BHP - Monash Maintenance Technology Institute.
A well known personality for his involvement with the Assyrian community of Victoria. Then there was the introductions by Hermiz Shahen and David David to Senator John Nimrod and Mr Homer Ashurian who were the only speakers. There were several questions and several young people come and ask to have pictures and show their interest in the aims and work of the AUA. In this regards we would like to thank all Assyrian Organisations of Victoria for their support and respect particularly the Assyrian Youth group of Victoria ( Youth Publication of Nakosha).
Secretary of AUA- Australia
The subject of martyrdom and genocide preoccupies our people. My mother told us that as a children she and her brothers were read stories from a sort of book of Assyrian martyrs by their grandmother, a devout woman. The one I remember most vividly dealt with a mother who allowed her seven sons to be slain before her eyes rather than betray her Christian faith. That it isn't simply my own irreligion which makes me dislike that mother and any moral to her story, is proven by my admiration for the way Jews are "commanded" by their God to save themselves and especially their children when faced with a similar situation. God understands that it's a temporary expedient brought on by threats and the real point is to live another day, to raise children in the faith and keep it alive.
If the idea of that story is to emphasize devotion to one's religion, how about to one's family...to saving seven sons who could presumably produce another seven each for a total of 49 more Christians in one generation alone. It seems a tragic waste of material and one could presumably run out of Christians. I realize that this is sacred ground, however, I would like to point out that while, on the one hand, Assyrian children are taught how admirable are the extremes people go to in defense of their faith how, on the other hand, do we reconcile this with the fact that we abandoned our own, natural, religion without a fight. I say natural because it began with our beginnings, we were deeply rooted within it. If we mean to say that Christianity is worthy of this kind of intense loyalty and devotion but our ancient religion, which brought us greatness, is not...then didn't we betray our essential core and worth as Assyrians long ago in favor of the value we received as Christians. If it's good to allow our children to be slaughtered like pigs rather than utter one word of slander against Christianity, why wasn't it likewise good to hold fast to our own religion, to Ashur , Marduk, Shamash and Ishtar.
The Assyrian who laughs at this notion is laughing at his or her own roots. Do Jews, do Moslems laugh at or reject any part of their ancient faiths or is it all dear and precious to them. After all the ancient Jewish God, contemporary of our own, had several competitor, elements of paganism, human and animal sacrifice were all practiced at one time or another before Yahweh worship won out. If the belief system of Ashur strikes us as bizarre today, so would the religious underpinnings of the faith which eventually gave us Christianity. Who knows how Ashur might have evolved had we kept faith with him, had we helped him grow as we matured.
Only much later did Jehovah become the God of love, of "Gentle Jesus meek and mild". Assyrians weren't meek or mild by nature or training, We became that way, kept from demanding or expecting anything but scorn by a religion which admonishes us, as its highest virtue, to turn the other cheek. Nations certainly can't afford, and no one expects them, to act in a Christian manner. Only the citizens within a country are schooled to such docility and obedience. While Christian nations and armies never turn the other cheek we, without either to protect us, are made to stand at the crossroads of history, swiveling this way and that as passersby deliver slap after slap. Not only do we take it, but we've learned to like the feeling, to bask in the misery to brag about how much it costs us in humiliation, in dead children. We glory in our importance, not seeing the the self-hatred this engenders the only we dare slap belongs to a fellow Assyrian because he's just one of us, someone we hold in equal contempt and..,Who can be expected to take it.
The story of the Assyrian king who converted us all to Christianity because he'd been cured of a disease by a letter from Jesus contrasts sharply with the example held up to us of a people defending their religion in the face of horrendous challenges. Indeed our forefathers and mothers didn't abandon their faith because of threats and hardship but because they were offered a "better deal" That story simply attempts to prove that our own Gods had lost the power to confer benefits on our people and we had better shop around for one who could "cure" our failing national and ethnic health.
If there was ever a good reason to deny a religion, the Jews had an excellent excuse. They didn't, at least not as a group, because among other things their suffering was explained, perversely, as a sign of God's favor and proof of his devotion. This was a clever way of mitigating the doubt arising in peoples' hearts when they saw those who do evil prosper while the good suffered. God chastised his beloved people for their own good... tough love on a cosmic scale.
The religion of Ashur served our people well for thousands of years. Rather than excusing or accepting his displeasure, our people looked for positive signs that our God wanted nothing but the best for his chosen people and for a good long while, he delivered. Perhaps the shock of losing our empire, of falling from such exalted heights was more than our souls could bear. Unused to it as we were, it rendered us willing to abandon a God who'd apparently abandoned us.
The new religion of Christianity, with its emphasis on meekness and humility better suited our diminished status and wounded ego than the proud overbearing Gods of old. While it's okay, even commendable, to have betrayed our original religion, it's definitely not allright to deny our new Christian faith, which was after all for the first 100 years of its existence nothing -more than a Jewish sect. Were we really in exalted state when we converted or so demoralized that we eager to turn our backs on our own history.
The religion of Ashur was meant for a proud, daring, inventive, adventurous, forward-looking people...for people who developed and refined many of the Arts and institutions enjoyed by Western Civilization today. Yet we are most remembered and most often feel apologetic for the one thing we did better than most and that was to defend what we developed, what we wound up sharing with the world. We've allowed the Christian west to glean from its Bible stories a violent antipathy to our ancestors which has crossed the line from religious/political propaganda to art, culture and science. By contrast, Christianity, as we apply it, is for a frightened and small people who can only hope to survive by begging and pleading, arousing pity for themselves and their children, by worshipping the strength and resolve of others. I can't help but wonder if there isn't an uncomfortable psychology at work here...that we're fundamentally and irrevocably divided against ourselves, against our own best interests and that this turning our backs on our core beliefs, not because of any overwhelming threat but because of a better deal, is at the root of much of what ails us today.
To a good Jew, a complete Jew, there can be no division between religion, ethnic identity, custom and law...much as we once believed. Turning our backs once meant that we could do it again and again and yet again, always on the look-out for that better deal. And so from being Church of the East, we turned our backs and became Catholic, from that we turned to Protestantism, then to the various sects within it until today we're Evangelical, Pentecostal, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, 7th Day Adventist and every shade and flavor in between, always looking for that ever better deal. It stopped being Religion with us long ago and has come instead to be fashion. And since we have no country whose laws and customs bind us together, we become citizens loyal to other political entities who can at any time order us to fire on our own people. And, sadly, we seem only too willing to go along in order to get along. There can't be much strength of purpose or character in this. I'm reminded of a line in Robert Bolt's play A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, in which Sir Thomas Moore warns a perjurer that a man holds his own soul like water in his hands. If he opens his fingers, if he breaks faith once, he needn't hope to find it again.
Our first real martyrdom, as Assyrians, came at the hands of our ancient enemies who killed our children and destroyed our empire long ago. The difference being that this wasn't a glorious thing to us then, or a mark of the divine favor of our God. It was nothing to brag about, certainly nothing to inculcate in the minds of new generations. But Christianity, our rendition of of it, seems to boast and revel in these kinds of things. The rather who watched her children die isn't condemned for being unwilling or unable to save them. She, or her husband, isn't sickened by their helplessness. Her failure to do the one thing above all others which a loving patient is supposed to do...protect their offspring...doesn't meet with our censure. Instead she's held up as an ideal and shining example of devotion, at least to a religion. Proving the point for her Christian faith, she costs countless Assyrian children their chance at life.
If that incident really happened, it's bad enough. If the story is intended to be a lesson and the actual facts were embellished...it's even worse. For what does the story really hope to teach, besides self-loathing on a grand scale. I don't know but I wouldn't take my eyes off of such a mother for fear she might develop an itch to prove her devotion to her faith at my expense. Perhaps it's just this breaking of faith with God long ago which makes us so zealous now to prove, at any cost, how loyal we can be. Perhaps we secretly know and fear the ridiculous figure we strike becoming so many different kinds of Christians when we couldn't even be one kind of Assyrian. Perhaps this why Assyrians in the Modern Era are famous for one thing...for betraying each other, for only fighting against each other while currying favor with their tormentors, for sticking a knife in a brother's back, because sacrificing and martyring each other is all we're taught. Like the mother who sacrificed the dearest thing she had, her children, and we who sacrifice our children too, in another way, and our heritage...just to prove loyalty to something or someone else, something more worthy, more important, "better". And just so do we sacrifice our sense of self, our heritage, our unity, to prove to ourselves and others how true we can be, how loyal, despite our dismal record.
Assyrian Audio Bible Tapes
RICE, ASSYRIAN STYLE
The following recipe was sent to us by Helen Sliva, an 80-year-old Assyrian grandmother from Chicago:
One pound long grain rice (do not use pre-cooked
or minute rice)
1/2 pound butter
Wash rice several times. Soak in about 2 qts of salted water overnight.
When ready to cook strain salted water.
Boil about 2 to 3 qts of water pour in rice stirring.
When about 3/4 of the grain is cooked, remove from flame and drain in colander.
Pour cold water over rice and shake in remaining butter.
Cover and place in oven 350 degrees about 20 minutes.
Shake in roasting pan several times while steaming. Serve hot.
THE CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR SYRIAC STUDIES
Under the direction of Professor Amir Harrak at the University of Toronto, the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies was recently established to promote the literary and artistic traditions of the Post-Christian Aramaic-speaking populations in the Middle East. CSSS has scheduled four monthly public lectures beginning with this week's presentation by Professor Harrak.
During the 1990's Iraqi archaeologists conducted archaeological excavations in various sections of the modern city of Tikrit (150 kilometers south of Baghdad), uncovering spectacular Christian remains. At the site of Chenisat al-Abid, an impressive monastery was uncovered, including a major church with a West Syriac architectural plan, reception halls, and cells. At the site of the "Green Church" inside Tikrit, another church containing graves of ecclesiastical leaders was excavated, and near the medieval city-wall several graves with Syriac funerary inscriptions were uncovered. The archeological remains not only shed light on Syriac art and architecture but also offer insight in the history of that city, which was the see of the maferiono, the highest West Syriac ecclesiastical leader in Mesopotamia.
On November 23rd at 8:00 PM, Professor Harrak
will discuss the recent archaeological excavations in Takrit and the discovery
of the Syriac inscriptions. See Calendar of Events for other monthly lectures.
Esharra-hamat, Assyrian queen, wife of Esarhaddon is buried in Babylonia. She was a Babylonian an dthe mother of crown-prince Shamash-shuma-ukin, who became king of Babylon. She build a mausoleum where she was buried.
Assyrian Royal Inscriptions, Grayson
Rev. Goriel Koda, Ph.D., through his fundraising and his parishioners volunteer work, succeeds in building the St. Mary Queen of Peace Church in Habbaniya, Iraq. The church had a membership of 300 families. Rev. Goriel served the church for 17 years.
November 21, 1840:
The American Mission Press in Urmie, Iran begins printing in Syriac language.
The first item published was the Lord's Prayer in Classical Assyrian.
DRAMA: "BABYLONIAN SPACESHIP IN NINEVEH"
Written by: Amira Bet-Shmoel
North Shore Center for The Performing Arts
2 shows at 4:00 and 8:00 PM
CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR SYRIAC STUDIES LECTURE
"Recent Arch. Excavations in Takrit & the Discovery
of Syriac Inscriptions"
WALTER AZIZ NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY
Presented by Worldance Entertainment:
TREASURES FROM THE ROYAL TOMBS OF UR
The Oriental Institute
Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat, & Sun 10AM-5:30PM
General Info: 773-702-9514
Admission is free, but the Institute suggests a donation of $5 for adults and $2 for children under 12 to view the Ur exhibition.
CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR SYRIAC STUDIES LECTURE
"Icons & Syriac Inscriptions in the Monastery of
the Syrians in Egypt"
CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR SYRIAC STUDIES LECTURE
"Frescoes & Syriac Inscriptions in Medieval Churches
CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR SYRIAC STUDIES LECTURE
"Syriac Heritage at the Northern Silk Road: The
Archaological & Epigraphic Evidence of Christianity in Kirghizia"
XLVIIe RENCONTRE ASSYRIOLOGIQUE INTERNATIONALE
International Congress of Assyriology and Near Eastern
Registration Form: click here
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