Z I N D A  M A G A Z I N E
Kanoon I  11, 6750                     Volume VI                      Issues 32             December 11, 2000
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T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z I N D A
The Lighthouse Ankara Must Be Held Accountable!
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain St. George School Pleads for Financial Assistance
News Digest AUA Responds to Fr. Akbulut's Arrest
Surfs Up Twenty Five Years and Counting
Surfers Corner Sources for the Ancient Assyrian Business Pioneers
Holiday Shopping at AssyrianMarket.com
Reflections on Assyria The Strange Case of the Assyrian/Chaldean Siamese Twins
Literatus The Destruction of the Assyrian Nation
Bravo! Zinda Readers Protest Fr. Akbulut's Arrest
Assyrian Surfing Posts SBS Assyrian Radio Interviews
Assyrian Foundation of America
Milestones Germaine Merza
Pump Up the Volume Contemporary & Ancient
Back to the Future King Naramsin & the Ottoman Archives
This Week in History Maddinkha of Tbilisi, Georgia
Calendar of Events December 2000

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



For 85 years Assyrians and Armenians have known a historical fact that no modern Turk wishes to be reminded of, that the government of Turkey perpetrated the first genocide of the Twentieth Century by killing over one and half million Assyrians, Armenians, and Greek citizens of that country.  Since then the Armenians have worked tirelessly to bring world’s attention to the tragedies commencing in 1915 and continuing until 1923.  Only in the past few years have the Assyrians in Diaspora been able to effectively organize themselves and demonstrate their solidarity with other victimized Christian groups from Turkey.  Modern Turkey remains a multifaceted country and currently 53% of its exports go to current Member States of the European Union and it is the sixth largest importer of EU products.  In the past few months the recognition of its minorities' basic cultural, linguistic and religious rights has become an important determinant of this country's future- particularly its admission to the European Union.

On the eve of 1915 the present-day Turkey was known as the Ottoman Empire.  The reign of its Sultan stretched through much of what we call the Middle East, except for Persia (Iran) and Egypt.  As in today, the decision-makers were the European and American politicians.  In those days, there were no Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Isreal, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Lebanon.  These artificial state-systems were the British and French inventions in the early 1920’s and late 1940’s.  The European “designers” used religion and tribalism as the basis of their political schemes and drew the frontiers of these puppet-nations accordingly.   When the Ottoman swords systematically decimated the Assyrians and Armenians between 1915 and 1923 two factors were of no importance to the map-makers in Paris and London.  These were oil and the Christians.  Today, Europe begs to differ.

In 1913 France, Britain, and Germany signed agreements to construct the Berlin-to-Baghdad Railway, while secretly dividing the Ottoman Empire into three spheres of influence.  The Russians disliked this plan and opposed any economic assistance to the “sick man of the East.”  Not long after, the First World War erupted in Europe and the tables turned.  In 1914, the Germans declared war on France, the British declared war on Germany; and in turn Russia and Britain declared war on the Ottoman Empire.  By then the Germans had already allied themselves with the Sultan in Turkey and the Prime Minister in Persia.  On 12 November 1914, the Turkish Sultan hands over a decree of holy war to his army and navy, signed by his ministers, demanding their participation in the Jihad against the Christians.  The Russian troops began crossing the Turkish border, but were stopped by Sultan's troops.

Between January and August 1915 Turkish troops were sent to Azerbaijan in northwestern Iran, being reinforced along the way by Kurdish tribesmen.  They moved through the Urmie region and reached as far as Tabriz.  Russian army retreated and many Assyrian villages were pillaged and destroyed.   For five months the Turks and Kurds controlled the city of Urmie.   In May 1915 the Russians re-occupied this ancient Assyrian city.  Fearing that the Christian populations in Turkey would ally themselves with the Russians, during the winter of 1915 the Ottomans ordered the evacuation of the entire Christian population from eastern Turkey.  The Russians were unable to help the Ottoman Christians and moreover in 1917, after the Bolshevik Revolution, they retreated their forced from Azerbaijan.  By 1918, nearly two million Christians in the Ottoman Empire and Azerbaijan were killed and hundreds of thousands uprooted from their ancestral lands in eastern Turkey's Hakkari and Persia's Azerbaijan.

In August 1920, two years after the end of WWI, a treaty was signed at Sevres, near Paris.  The whole of Ottoman Empire was carved into small, indigestible portions and handed to the war victors.  According to this treaty Armenia was organized as a Christian republic; much of Ottoman Empire in Europe was given to Greece; Palestine and Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia) became British Mandates; and Syria became a French Mandate.   In essence, of the three victimized Christian populations in the Ottoman Empire, the Assyrians were the only one that received no war reparations.   The Sevres Treaty was accepted by the Sultan.  Shortly after, a group of Turkish nationalists from Ankara, led by Mustapha Kemal (later Attaturk), attacked the republic of Armenia and conquered most of the territory in Europe that was given to Greece.  In November 1922, they deposed the Sultan and proclaimed Turkey a republic.  The Ottomans who had dominated the Middle East for 500 years were now trying to become European.  The Allied Powers (French, British, and Russians) welcomed the Kemalist National Assembly's entry as a European partner and consented to a revision of the Sevres Treaty and met in Lausanne in Switzerland to concede to the new Turkish aggression.

The Lausanne Conference opened on November 20, 1923.  Among the attendees was General Agha Petros, Commander-in-Chief of the Assyrian forces, who presented the claims of the Assyrians to autonomy in Bet-Nahrain.  The Assyrian General asserted that his nation had “lost proportionally more people, money, properties than any other of the belligerent nations.”

In a letter to the Allied Powers Agha Petros writes:  “We greatly fear the consequences of a British withdrawal from Mesopotamia.  Being scattered among our war enemies, A British withdrawal would probably be followed by a massacre of all Christians.  Therefore, we ask that the territory or our ancestors be granted to us officially, and our boundaries be recongised as “a Christian autonomous state under a British Mandate.”  The land that Assyrians were claiming at Lausanne lied “between the Rivers Tigris and Zab, and Mount Zinjar on the North side of Mosul.”

The British were careful not to undermine the significance of the oil reserves in northern Bet-Nahrain, particularly in the Mosul area.  The Americans argued that the British were asking for too much of world’s oil supplies at Lausanne.  The delegation from London denied this and emphasized the future defense of Iraq.  The Turks on the other hand were willing to give up the oil reserves to Americans in exchange for Mosul.  Such sentiments are feared by the government in Baghdad today as Turkey continues its aggression across the Iraqi-Turkish border.

The Treaty was finally signed on July 24, 1923; the Turks agreed to giving up the Arab lands, but retained all of the territory they had conquered in Anatolia and Europe.  A million Greeks were expelled from Turkey and 350,000 Turks left Greece for their homeland.  Agha Petros returned home empty-handed.

Finally in 1924, the Mosul Commission decided against the wishes of Attaturk and Mosul stayed with Iraq.  Turkey assembled its armies on the Iraqi-Turkish border and began advancing toward Mosul.  Two thousand Assyrian Levies were dispatched to protect Mosul.  Thanks to the chivalry of the Assyrian troops the Mosul Wilayat was saved from the Turkish aggression and safely kept within the Iraqi territories.  Yet this act of courage was neither rewarded nor recognized by the European powers.

In November 1925 the League of Nations handed the Hakkari region to Turkey.  The Mosul area was kept within the Iraqi territory and was to be used as an “Assyrian enclave” with autonomous status for Assyrians.  Suddenly, eight months later, Britain signed another agreement with Turkey and introduced new “settlement plans” for Assyrians.  The “Brussels Line” was drawn in 1928 which prevented the Assyrians living in northern Iraq to return to their ancestral homes in Hakkari.  Therefore, the Assyrian homeland was divided into two regions and the cultural and political rights of the Assyrian people guaranteed by the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 were never recognized.


On 13 December 1999 the European Council met in Helsinki and granted Turkey the status of candidate country for accession to the European Union.  In order to be admitted Turkey has to abide by the Copenhagen Criteria set forth by the European Council, in which the protection of its minorities rights are outlined and demanded.

In October 2000 the U.S. House of Representatives canceled a vote on non-binding Resolution 596, which would have recognized the massacres of 1915-1923 when House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) canceled the resolution vote.  The vote was prematurely pulled because of intense lobbying of the Turkish Government.  President Clinton argued that the passage of this resolution would severely jeopardize United States-Turkey relations.  Turkey had warned that adoption of the resolution would damage the US ability to use Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey for patrolling the "no-fly zone" over northern Iraq.   Turkey had also threatened to cancel a $4.5 billion deal to buy U.S. attack helicopters.

On November 3 Congresswoman Anna Eshoo spoke to the U.S. Congress on the cancellation of the historic resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide and the 1915-23 massacres.  She said that "in 1915, 1.5 million women, children, and men were killed and the Ottoman Empire forcibly deported 500,000 Armenians during an 8-year reign of brutal repression. Armenians were deprived of their homes, their dignity, and ultimately their lives. Yet America, the greatest democracy and land of freedom, has not made an official statement regarding the Armenian Genocide. I am dismayed and angered by this hypocrisy and I will not rest until this resolution passes the Congress...As the only Member of Congress of Armenian and Assyrian descent, I am very proud of my heritage. I sat at the knees of my grandparents and elders as they told their stories of hardship and suffering endured by so many at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. That is how I came to this understanding and this knowledge and why I bring this story to the House of Representatives."

Across the Atlantic, ironically Turkey had less influence on its neighbors in Europe.  On November 8, the French Senate voted 164 to 40 for France's public recognition of the "Armenian Genocide of 1915".

On November 10, Pope John Paul II issued a joint statement with the Armenian Catholicos Karekin II, which mentioned the following: "The Armenian Genocide has been a prelude to the horrors which followed: the two world wars, innumerable regional conflicts and deliberately organized campaigns of extermination that have ended the lives of millions of believers."  Turkey immediately responded by initiating a set of policies to improve relations with Vatican.  A street in Istanbul was named after Pope John Paul II and ecumenical dialogue began with Patriarch Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople.  The Pope responded favorably by giving the Orthodox Patriarch a Roman church in Istanbul.  Turkey had briefly won the battle.

On November 15, the European Parliament passed a Resolution calling on Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide.  Two days later the European Parliament concluded a new resolution in which it urged the Turkish government to "genuinely redirect its policy with a view to improving the human rights situation of all its citizens, including those belonging to groups whose roots go back deep into the country's past, by putting an end to the political, social and cultural discrimination which they suffer."

At Zinda press time the 1915 Genocide has been recognized by Argentina, Belgium, Canada, the Council of Europe, Cyprus, the European Parliament, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Russia, the United Nations and Uruguay.  The United States remains indifferent to the largest act of atrocity committed against Christians in the 20th Century.


The suffering of the Assyrians, Armenians, and the Pontic Greek populations in the Ottoman Empire and in today's Turkey must not be forgotten.  Assyrians in particular are the indigenous inhabitants of Anatolia.  Whereas a little over a hundred years ago hundreds of thousands of Assyrians lived in eastern Turkey, today only a few thousand families inhabit the areas of Tur-Abdin in southeast Turkey.  Unless the cultural, political and religious rights of the Assyrian (Syriac-speaking) communities of southeastern Turkey are recognized, beginning with the recognition of the 1915-23 massacres in which two-third of the Assyrian population was annihilated by the Turkish armies,  then the remaining families will be forced to leave their ancestral homeland.  Tur-Abdin or "Mountains of the Gods" is the birthplace of Eastern Christianity, encompassing the Urhai (Edessa), Mardin, and Nsibin territories.

The debate on the 1915 Genocide issue must continue on all fronts, from Yerevan to Washington.  The government in Turkey is once again in the limelight as the trials against the Assyrian priest, Yusuf Abkulut, are scheduled to commence later this month.  If convicted he may face death penalty and become the latest martyr of the battle which began 85 years ago.  Ankara must be held accountable to its obligations under universal human rights norms by first releasing Fr. Abkulut and then openly recognizing the rights of its Assyrian and Armenian citizens.  The recognition of the 1915 Genocide will be the beginning of a healing process resulting in full political and economic cooperation between the governments of Turkey and Armenia and an encouragement toward the return of the Assyrian people to their ancestral lands in Turkey.

Zinda Magazine



(ZNDA:  Lebanon)  The St. George School in Lebanon was established 70 years ago in the Zahle district.  Many of its pupils, taught in Arabic, Assyrian(Syriac), and French, have become Lebanon's notable professionals and scholars.  Today, after surviving the Civil War and the current financial roller coaster ride of the 1990's, St. George is in financial ruin.  Recently, Severios Saliba Touma, Patriarchal Vicar of Zahle and Bekaa, presented the dire monetary conditions of the school and the grim future of its pupils' eduction:

St. George School was established in Zahle, Lebanon seventy years ago.  Here many educated Suryoye community members were raised, learning the Arabic, Syriac and French languages. The school collected their tuition from the parents, every one according to his financial ability (the rich supporting the poor).  This is a custom among the Suryoye schools in the region.

As the primary years were completed, the students of our school were transformed to other higher schools where they showed excellence and overestimation. Later, many of them graduated as doctors, engineers, and lawyers.

In the year 1983 the school began to teach the intermediate grades.   The teaching level was so good; where the number of students ranged between two hundred and three hundred.  After the increase in the population in Zahle, the public and the private schools increased in number, especially those for the Catholic Missions.  Our school is still considered academically as one of the progressive schools in the region.

Moreover due to the prominence of the English language, some of the Lebanese schools began to deviate from teaching French language.  Our school was no exception. This was in 1990.  But lately, the pressing economic situation of the country has left its remarkable effects on the financial situation of the Lebanese people. Thus, those whom we used to count on to pay the tuition were no longer able to do so.

As a direct result, many of our students started to head to the public schools- regardless of the low educational level there. This situation has led to financial problem in the school. The number of our students is no more able to cover all the expenditure of the school, salaries, equipment, accommodations, teacher’s medical insurance, retirement office, etc.  It is really regretful to say that the situation is still deteriorating; we are still losing some of our students.

As a matter of fact, the responsible committees of the school tend to take funds from the church’s accounts and its committees. But, for how long?  Out of this, we can say: “the financial situation of our Suryoye committees that used to support the school including the church itself has reached a critical level”.

Our school's budget defecit reaches an amount of two hundred million Lebanese pounds which is equivalent to one hundred fifty thousands American dollars, and this total must be paid by the final fiscal year 2000.  We are so perplexed in front of this hard economic position.   The following are our some of our options:

 1- To begin a donation campaign from the members of the Suryoye community in Zahle, but their financial position is so feeble.

 2-  To close the school and to dismiss all the teachers.  But this option steps on the school an amount of 300,000,000 Lebanese pounds equivalent to 230,000 American dollars, and this sum is for teachers' immediate retirement, and as fees for the Ministry of Education. Nevertheless, closing the school means that our people will lose a Suryoye education considering that each class in this school has 3 hours of Syriac language per week.

 3- To declare bankrupt, but there will be a magistrate sentence that will be issued on the owner of the school, who is the Bishop of the parish.  This is the law and all the people are below the law.
A church that has its own considerations and its massive position in the region. Is it possible for us to save our school as we are all Suryoye in history, culture, science, language, literature, and economy?

 4- But we still deeply believe that there is a savior for this critical situation who is God, and the benevolent Suryoye people all over the world.  They are educated, good patriots, religious and believe in "living in harmony with one another".

Number of administrative committees and those who are involved in school work:
       Position                       Monthly Salary
1- Director (1)                        $US 850
2- Secretary (1)                      $US 350
3- Supervisor (1)                     $US 310
4- Bus driver (2)                      $US  457
5- Cleaning worker (1)             $US 200

TOTAL:                                 $US 2,167  (Annualy:  $US 26,004)

Educational Staff and their Salaries:

Fifteen teacher (15) for all stages primary/Intermediate.

Monthly Salaries:    $US 6,235 (Annually:  $US 74,820)

Deficits more than Salaries:
1- School contribution in the national insurance office:  $US 6,744
2- School contribution in the retirement office:             $US 4,880

                                                    $US 25,952
                                                    $US 74,820

                                                    $US 168,593.156 Leb Lires

Total Tuition income from 130 students:  $US 85,542
There are 12 students free of charges from tuition for their poverty and they are from the community children, their general discounts are $US 12,533.

Total of all income:                        $US 85,542

12 students free of charges:            $US 12,533

NET TOTAL:                               $US 73,009

The net total of the incomes is not totally collected, the thing that was not faced previously according to the severe economic crisis.  There are other general expenditures as:

-Fuel oil, electricity, telephone, water, photocopy maintenance, gasoline and oil for the two buses, repairing the two buses and other expenses.

-The total amount of these expenses is about $US 23,335

-By this, the Annual deficits of the school tends to be 13,5784 pounds where the collected tuition from the students are sixty millions Lebanese pound out of one hundred and ten million Lebanese pounds.

Therefore, we are writing this report to send it to our beloved Suryoye people wherever they are and to whoever would like to help this Suryoye school, praying to our Savior Jesus Christ for their success.

The Owner of St. George School
Severios Saliba Touma
Patriarchal Vicar in Zahle and Bekaa

School Director
Elie Georges Zeino


(ZNDA:  Sydney)  In response to the arrest of the Assyrian priest, Yusuf Akbulut in Diyarbakir, Turkey, the Assyrian Universal Alliance office in Australia has submitted the following two letters attention two letters.  The first letter was presented to the Turkish Conciliate in Sydeny, Australia and the second correspondence was submitted to several government offices, human rights groups, UN offices, federal members of the Australian parliament, Armenian National Committee of Australia and other organizations.   Mr. Hermiz Shahen, Secretary of the AUA in Australia, explains that the information presented in both letters was "based on many news releases, appeals and protests posted by our Assyrian brothers who put a lot of efforts and concern to this important mater."


6 December, 2000

Consulate General Of The Republic Of Turkey
Sydney 66 Ocean Street
Woollahra NSW 2025

I am writing to express our organisation and community's concern regarding the arrest of Fr. Yusuf Akbulut an Assyrian priest from St. Mary's Syrian Orthodox Church in Diyarbakir, last month by Turkish police. According to numerous sources, Fr. Yusuf was arrested simply for answering questions posed by Turkish journalists regarding the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Genocide. He has been arrested under a vague Turkish law for affirming the Assyrian Holocaust of 1915., Fr. Yusuf was interviewed by reporters from the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet during deliberations in the U.S. Congress regarding HR 596, the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Following the interview, the Hurriyet reporters printed an inflammatory article with a photograph of Fr. Yusuf holding a cross under the headline "A Traitor Amongst Us." Fr. Yusuf is now being held by the Turkish military and faces trial in an upcoming December 21, 2000 charging him with inciting ethnic conflict.

The very idea that someone can still be arrested in Turkey during the dawn of the twenty-first century for expressing his belief in an eighty-five year old historical fact is indeed disturbing. The subsequent intimidation and threats targeting the remaining Assyrian community in Turkey are itself just as alarming.

Assyrians throughout the world have an unshakable and collective recollection of the horrors of 1915 retold to us by our parents and grandparents as direct eyewitnesses. The proper way to confront the horrors of the past is through a genuine and honest dialogue free of threats, imprisonment, and executions. The memories of all of our peoples involved in that tragic period deserve nothing less. History shows that it is not open and fair discourse that leads to the incitement of ethnic conflict, rather it is threats and repression of a fair investigation that do.

The world is watching and Turkey's reputation and international standing rest on the just treatment of Fr. Yusuf and the remaining minorities in Turkey. If in the end Turkey insists on Fr. Yusuf's guilt, then it is guilt we all as Assyrians collectively share worldwide. Rather than further damage Turkey's international position, we urge you to release Fr. Yusuf unconditionally and immediately and end the intimidation of the remaining Assyrian community in Turkey.

We are awaiting your response in this regard for the growing concern of the Assyrian community in Australia .

Hermiz Shahen
Secretary of the Assyrian Universal Alliance
Australian Chapter

6 December, 2000
Honourable Alexander Downer Minister For Foreign Affairs
Parliament House
Camberra ACT 2600

Sub/Assyrian Priest arrest inTurkey

Dear Sir

The Assyrian Universal Alliance – Australian Chapter has received a very disturbing report from the Assyrians in Turkey concerning the Turkish Government's act of open human rights violation against the Assyrians [Syrian] Christian in Turkey.

In a November 18, 2000 press release, the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) reported that Fr. Yusuf Akbulut, an Assyrian priest from St. Mary's Syrian Orthodox Church in Diyarbakir, Turkey was arrested for affirming the Assyrian Holocaust of 1915. According to the ADO release and an earlier report by Reuters, Fr. Yusuf was interviewed by reporters from the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet during deliberations in the U.S. Congress regarding HR 596, the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

The reporters apparently had hoped to quote a Christian priest denying the validity of the Assyrian-Armenian-Greek Holocaust of 1915, but instead were angrily surprised by Fr. Yusuf's defiant affirmation. Fr. Yusuf's defiance has itself surprised those who have described him as an otherwise gentle and amicable man of faith. Following the interview, the Hurriyet reporters printed an inflammatory article with a photograph of Fr. Yusuf holding a cross under the headline "A Traitor Amongst Us."

Fr. Yusuf Akbulut was eventually detained by policemen in the evening of 6 October 2000 within the compound of his church (Meryem Ana Kilisesi) in Diyarbakir. He was interrogated until 3 o'clock at night and then released. The following day he had to appear in court. He has been charged with "incitement to racial hatred" according to Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code and could thus be sentenced to one to three years imprisonment. His first hearing is scheduled for 21 December 2000 at the State Security Court in Diyarbakir.

Turkey's arrest of Fr. Yusuf and the subsequent threats against the Assyrian community as a whole as underscoring Turkey's "insecurity in dealing with its bloody past." Moreover, Turkey's attempt to join the European Union, stating "Now clamouring 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.

According to information received, the Assyrian minority are suffering serious violations, in particular in the area of religious tolerance. In religious matters, their freedoms are being curtailed and Muslim religious education is compulsory for this Christian minority. In the monasteries, activities have been cut back and made subject to prior supervision of the authorities. In practice, the right to build new churches cannot be exercised. The Assyrians have no schools, even at primary level, or social institutions; they are forbidden to open their own establishments. They are banned from public service.

They are also reported to be victims of regular attacks by armed individuals and groups who not only rob them of their property and abduct their daughters, but also perpetrate murder, thereby creating an atmosphere of fear, apparently with the aim of forcing them to leave their villages. Thus, since 1975, more than 100,000 Assyrians have left the country and only about 5,000 remain."

To all of the above persecution and abuses, Turkey has now added that Assyrians are forbidden under threat of execution to affirm the horrors of the past or to bear witness to those now ongoing. Although the Turkish government successfully blackmailed the U.S. government into withdrawing the Armenian Genocide Resolution, the ensuing controversy and now the threat against Fr. Yusuf have served to galvanize and strengthen the Assyrian, Armenian, and Greek communities into previously unprecedented coordination. This new combined front against the denial of the twentieth century's first Holocaust has preoccupied the Turkish government's foreign policy and domestic debate. Furthermore, Assyrians around the world are submitting their protests to Turkish and local authorities demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Fr. Yusuf.

The Assyrian "Universal Alliance pleads to the Australian Government and international organisations and governments to consider seriously these reports and act accordingly to the government of Turkey for the release of Fr. Yusuf unconditionally and immediately and end the intimidation of the remaining Assyrian community in Turkey.

Hermiz Shahen
Secretary of the Assyrian Universal Alliance
Australian Chapter

Dr. Joel J. Elias' article 'The genetics of the modern Assyrians and their relationship to other people of the Middle East' was very insightful and scientific. I am not a geneticist but I work on a related research, the determination of the protein structure by X-ray diffraction and neutron diffraction.  Thank you for such beautiful article.

Dr. George Habash
University of Manchester
United Kingdom

Dr. Elias' article first appeared this year in the Nineveh Magazine (Volume 23, No. 1&2).  Dr. Joel is the assistant editor of Nineveh Magazine, published in Berkeley, California.


In its November 14 edition, Zinda published an extract of the trial proceedings in the case of The People of the State of California vs. David Ismail. Zenda also enclosed by attachment a fuller summary of the trial in question.  Zinda is to be commended for bringing this copious documentation to the reading segment of the Assyrian population.

Notwithstanding his claim of disorientation and “blackout” during the critical hours of November 6, 1975 (the date of the crime), the jury unanimously convicted Mr. Ismail of the malicious killing of Mar Eshai Shimun at his San Jose home. Mr. Ismail went on to serve several years in prison in California, but his conviction was eventually reversed on a technicality, which set the stage for a new trial. However, the prosecution decided not to re-try Mr. Ismail, but to extradite him to Canada, his country of legal residence. It is often the case that an accused is not retried when he has already served a prison term under his prior conviction. One concern for the prosecution is that, in the intervening years, certain witnesses die, while the memory of other witnesses begins to fade.

Some 57 ½ years earlier, on March 3, 1918, in Kohna Shahar, near Salamas, Mar Benyamin Shimun (uncle of Mar Eshai Shimun) was likewise assassinated. The record identifies Simko and his Kurdish cohorts as the murderers (in fact, he was quite boastful of his deed). The record also includes good evidence of complicity by the Persian authorities in Tabriz. In other words, history has recorded the identity of that killer, as well as that of his accomplices, and their motivations for the dastardly act.
This is in curious contrast to the San Jose killing. While the killer’s identity for the 1975 murder is clear, he has never openly discussed his deed. In addition, it is commonly assumed that he was abetted by  accomplices, but there has always been rampant speculation about their identity. Furthermore, the motivation for this drama-filled crime, involving as it does the killing of an Assyrian icon by the member of a prominent family traditionally close to the Patriarch, remains as much a mystery today as it did 25 years ago. Was the murder motivated by individual malice? By temporary insanity?  Was it an impulsive reaction to a personal affront, as vaguely implied by Ismail’s trial testimony? Was the Patriarch’s marriage the precipitating event? If we take at face value the testimony of the Patriarch’s widow, it points a finger at key members of the A.U.A. as it was constituted in 1975 (clearly a different group than the present organization). Each of these theories has its adherents, yet none is supported by firm evidence.

For reasons none of us understands, Mr. Ismail continues to maintain his silence and he has never offered a rationale for his act. If, as some say, the killing was motivated by principle, one would have expected some first-hand explanation after all these years, particularly since the prospect of any further prosecution is now well gone.

As one keenly interested in our modern history, I view this unanswered question an important item which begs attention. Regardless of the controversies surrounding his sunset years, Mar Eshai Shimun was one of the most important Assyrian figures of the 20th century. He was a man of considerable education, and an astute spokesman for Assyrians on the international scene. These personal qualities are evident in letters addressed to public officials over several decades, in support of the Assyrian cause. As an aside, very few copies of the Patriarch’s correspondence have been available to view, because no one has sought to collect them in one place. We assume that copies of these remain currently in the safekeeping of his widow. One hopes that someday soon she will provide scholars reasonable access to this important documentation, enabling us to appreciate a fuller measure of the man.

But the main point of this commentary is to lament, indeed to reproach, the silence we have sheepishly condoned. It is unimaginable that any of us would accept anything short of a full explanation in the murder of a son, a brother or a father. Figuratively, the Patriarch was a key member of the Assyrian family. Why have we let the circumstances of his killing remain shrouded in speculation? It is absurd to rationalize this inaction on the altar of “unity” (a common Assyrian code word to squash initiative), or to fail tackling the issue head on because it may open old wounds.

Assyrians vigorously demand that the record be set straight when it comes to the wanton killing of our people by nefarious elements in the Middle East. Yet in terms of our history, the violent death of Mar Eshai Shimun ranks as the most significant single event in the past half century. Therefore, is it not vital for the integrity of our national story that this question not be swept under the rug? Several organizations claim a mantle of leadership for the Assyrian people (the Assyrian Universal Alliance is the first, but not the only one, that comes to mind). Is it not incumbent on one of these bodies to conduct a responsible, in-depth inquiry, in order to set the record straight?

Barring such bold action, we are only left with the faint prospect that a scholar or journalist may one day tackle the life and death of this unique figure. If we do not write our own history, it will be written by others. Worse yet, it may not be written at all.

Francis Sarguis

I read with great interest the item in the October 12, 2000 edition of Zinda regarding Dr Ephrem-Isa Youssef's works, especially Parfums d'Enfance a Sanate. However, I was unable to find them on the Web, as suggested by the footnote. Thus, I was very pleased to see the English excerpt from Parfums d'Enfance a Sanate entitled "Sarah's Wedding" in the November 20 edition of Zinda. This has made me even more interested in purchasing the complete book.

Such books are very important in bringing to life times and places with which some of us of partial Assyrian descent have no direct experience. I hope to see many more similar books reviewed.

I would appreciate detailed ordering information. May these books be purchased directly from the author? If not, which web site are they available on? Have any of them been translated into English?

In the few months since I subscribed to Zinda, I have learned more than I thought possible about both the history and current issues of the Assyrian community. I continue to rely on Zinda as my window into the Assyrian world. Keep up the great work.

Leyla Zuaiter

To order or learn more about Dr. Youssef's books click here.



I am writing this letter as an author and student of Assyrian history to request your assistance. Last year myself and Dr. Karl Moore of Oxford University's Templeton College, now at McGill's Faculty of Management, co-authored a book entitled Birth of the Multinational: 2000 Years of Ancient Business History from Ashur to Augustus, which was published by Copenhhagen Business School Press.
We are now working on a second edition. I devote much space in the book to the merchants of the Old Assyrian Kingdom. We argue that the story of Assyrians as pioneers in cross border enterprise is one that needs to be told and we have published several articles to that effect. I am enclosing some of our work as I am sure you will be interested.

The Assyrian merchant princes of Karum Kanesh created a model of early multinational enterprise that set the tone in trade and commerce for at least a thousand years if not more. Babylonian, Phoenician, Anatolian, Aramean, and even Punic firms followed the Assyrian model.

Where I would like to request your help is that I want to use more original sources in telling the story of the Old Assyrian tamkaru. There must be many examples in the Kanesh and Kultepe texts that show how family heads such as Pusu-Ken and Imdiilum managed their firms, related to their clients, and with the kings of Ashur. I am wondering if you or any scholars within the Assyrian community have had access to the Kanesh texts and have translated some of them that might help flush out our story of Assyrian business success and really bring it alive.

I am honored to be able to contact living descendants of one of history's most important people and will deeply appreciate any help you can give me.

Very Truly Yours,

David Charles Lewis, Ph D
Oxford University

Dr. Lewis may be contacted at <dchaslewis1@earthlink.net>.  Vijay Govindarajan of the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth writes that Dr. Lewis' book is "A must read for anyone interested in the evolution and future of multinationals." This book takes in an impressive expanse of history so far overlooked in the history of the multinational and the world economy--from 2000 B.C. to 1 B.C.

The book starts with the story of the first known multinational enterprise in the times of the Assyrian Empire and traces the history of the rise and fall of the multinational enterprise through the four great empires of the ancient world.

The authors, professors at Oxford University, use the lens of the eclectic paradigm, the leading theory of international business researchers, which renders varied and highly interesting analyses and insights.

To purchase or find out more about Dr. Lewis' book, "The Birth of the Multinational..." click here.
To learn more about ancient Assyrian merchants and the Karums see our feature article "The Karum of Ancient Assyria" published in Zinda on October 27, 1997.  Click Here.


AssyrianMarket.com invites you to visit its web site for you holiday shopping

Until 12/31/2000, whenever you place an order you get a coupon code (which will be e-mailed to you) to get discounts and/or free shipping on your next order.

* Check out our Assyrian Singers section and check out our great singers such as Ashor Bet Sargis, Sargon Gabriel, Julie Yousif, Evan Aghassi and more...

** Visit our Food section to see a great selection of Assyrian holidays sweets and bakeries from Zander Imports and Babylon Bakery.

*** Buy Christmas gifts from our Accessories section such as Taola, Decorative items, travel coffee mugs, and more....

**** Visit our Assyrian Business Directory and support our Assyrian, not-for-profit organizations such as AASA

*** Check out our selection of Books written in Assyrian, Arabic and English about Assyrians and Assyrian history

** Other sections include: Art Galleries and Electronics

We hope that you'll enjoy shopping with us and we wish a great holiday season!!


Fred Parhad's


While engaged in research on another matter, I stumbled upon a story in an old New York Sun newspaper dated 1895, about a set of Siamese twins.  The parents had just immigrated to the United States and the babes were born practically at dockside.  Wonderful to relate that the father was of Assyrian, and the mother of Chaldean, descent.  The twin boys grew up fairly healthy though remaining joined at the buttocks, back to back, as the medical science of that day had been unable to separate them.

Being pretty much normal in other respects the boys, named Sargon and Sam, passed through all the usual trials of childhood with the significant difference that they'd been forced to compromise far more than normally would have expected of two brothers.  They quickly realized that in their case there was little choice. For, if one stomped off in anger or crept into a corner to sulk, he dragged his tormentor behind and, as there was no effective escape, a forced truce was declared to be in the best interest of each.  But there were serious drawbacks and aggravation.

Since they shared significant portions of their metabolic systems, each had to be careful not to ingest what the other couldn't tolerate.  It took a while for Sargon to realize that, although he loved legumes and experienced no discomfort, Sam, for his part, enjoyed his liquor and could consume large amounts safely, whereas Sargon became unruly before the first drink was done and falling-down drunk by the time Sam began another.  For the most part, till their second year in college, they'd managed to be considerate of each other's failings, though resentment must have been growing.

It was then that they awoke to the spirit of nationalism and ethnic pride.  No one could explain why Sargon followed in his father's footsteps becoming a passionate Assyrian nationalist, while Sam developed as deep a feeling for his mother's Chaldean origins.  Sargon took to accusing his brother of betraying the Assyrian Fatherland, while Sam fiercely resented the contempt his brother heaped upon the beloved Chaldean Motherland.  Each studied the history of himself and learned to denounce the other's.  Their arguments became so intense the twins had to be moved to an isolated wing of the dormitory and then off-campus altogether

Their schoolwork, continuing to suffer, cost them the loss of scholarships each had so richly deserved and they were forced back home where a watchful eye could be kept on their constant bickering.  There they continued to battle over history, culture, religion; to argue facts and origins, making light of each other's mistaken, wrongheaded beliefs.  They generally abused each other and their parents, who found themselves drawn unwillingly into increasingly hostile and emotionally draining episodes, to such good effect that the family's fitness and sanity were questioned by the authorities and the twins were threatened with being sent to an institution.

They were allowed to remain home with a proviso that a visiting nurse would have regular access to the home once a week.  Fortunately it only came out much later that the brothers had tried to attack each other, but that facing as they did, back to back, there hadn't been much damage to report.  It was also then the awful fact was revealed that each had made at least two diary entries plotting the murder of the other, But, as this would have meant instant death for both, religious scruples...against suicide...had stayed their hand.

After three years like this the twins, who'd been failing in health for some time, died.  The newspapers, being far more circumspect in those days, applied only the driest medical terms when listing cause of death.  Curious to know more exactly what was meant I asked a Maronite doctor friend of mine to explain.  Intrigued, he read the entire story and to my surprise burst out laughing at the end.  Sensing my amazement at what I could only think was a very callow, unfeeling and smug reaction brought on by his disdain for the pretensions of both brothers, he informed me in layman's terms that a simple infection in normal people, ones not so intimately linked, had turned fatal.  For, connected as they were, they'd been filling each other and therefore themselves of course (and quite literally too ), with increasing amounts of what he called...crap.  He just barely finished this last bit of crudity before collapsing into unseemly hysterics.

At least I was in a better position now to understand the strange epitaph informally chalked unto the reverse of their tombstone.  It went like this:

Here lie Sargon and Sam’d
In death as in life...
Though both turned out the loser

For what they gave to each other
Coming from a brother...
Filled each other with more strife
Than a stranger could’ve cram’d


SBS Radio Interviews

Y. Nissan of Assyrian Democratic Organization & Father Yusuf Akbulut who was recently detained for speaking on the Genocide of 1915

Assyrian Foundation of America
Publisher of Nineveh Magazine




Germaine Merza was born on 26 December, 1939 in Abadan, Iran. After completing high school in Iran, she moved to England where she studied nursing and received a CRN, with specialties in midwifery and surgical nursing. She returned to Abadan in 1963 and began working for the Abadan Oil Refinery Hospital as a nurse-midwife. In 1970, she immigrated to Dallas, Texas, where she worked for Baylor University Medical Center until 1979, when she moved to San Jose, California. In San Jose, she worked at Valley Medical Center until 1996, when she retired. Germaine traveled extensively around the world. She was a voracious reader and produced beautiful handwork as in needlepointing, quilting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, painting, and arranging flowers.  She loved music and took accordion lessons from Rabbie Polous Khofri in Abadan. In the last couple of years, she had improved her Assyrian and wrote a number of poems, a couple of which were published in the Nineveh Magazine. As an active member of the Bet-Eil Assyrian Church in San Jose, she had joined a member of the choir and the welfare committee, and participated in the bible study classes. She was also an active member of the Assyrian American Association of San Jose.  Ms. Merza passed away on November 12.


One of the proudest minor national strains dwelling in the Turkish Empire were the Assyrians, the remnants of a great and ancient nation which once dominated the known world.

Following the debacles that reduced the power of their state, many Assyrians retired from their ancestral homeland in the vicinity of the Tigris and Euphrates, in Mesopotamia, to the fastnesses of Armenia or the alluvial lands around Lake Urmia, in present day Iran.

The Assyrian villagers learned to live in peace and harmony with their Armenian neighbors, and suffered with them commonly the vicissitudes of Turkish rule. In Armenian proper, many Assyrians were assimilated into Armenian body proper, accepted the Armenian church, and intermarried with Armenians. There were however important transplanted Assyrian communities which retained their ethnic identity, maintained their Assyrian customs, and professed their own distinctive forms of Christianity. According to Joseph Naayem, an Assyrian scholar born and raised in Urfa (Edessa), from 1915-1920 fully one half of the Assyrians living in the Turkish Empire extirpated ruthlessly by the Turks.

Of the 500,000 Assyrians known to have been residing Turkey, 250,000 perished among them 100,000 Assyrians who had espoused the Nestorian Christian faith.

100,000 of the 150,000 Assyrian Catholics were massacred along with their Bishops and priests, while the remaining 50,000 fled into exile, many returning to Mesopotamia where, as we shall see, they scarcely found refuge.

The sword of massacres decimated also the Eudoxian Jacobite sect among Assyrians. Of 250,000 of these people 80,000 were destroyed at Mardin by the Turkish assassin team. Twelve Jacobite Bishops, and virtually every common priest, were murdered, Assyrian churches were seized, villages were pulled down to the ground, with incalculable property damage. In the district of Midhiat and that area lying athwart the Tigris river 50 Assyrian hamlets were erased.

24,000 other Assyrians fell to the sword of Turkish violence in the district of Sghert. At Shuki and Tigranakert ( Diarbekir ) "clean-up" massacres, perpetrated under the orders of the notorious Turkish arch-assassin Dr. Reshid, wiped out other Assyrians; but at Julamerg, a large number of Assyrians rallied around their warrior-priest Bishop Mar Shimon and bravely defended themselves against 60,000 Turkish regular and irregular troops.

In the World War I period the massacre of Assyrians opened in August, 1914, when Djevdet Khalil Bey fell on the folk dwelling in the Urmia and Salmast districts and slew 12,000 of them.

From 1915-18, the Assyrian losses were 140,000, of which 20,000 succumbed to diseases consequent to the massacres. The Urmia massacres took place with the withdrawal of the Russian armies from the area and the arrival of the Turks. The British authority Lord Bryce reports that although many of the atrocities were executed by the Kurds, they were operating under the direct orders of the Turkish military command.

Perishing with their Assyrian coreligionists were many Armenians. According to a report tendered the League of Nations by the European observer General Leydener, in 1924, during the political adjustments which gave Britain control of the rich oil fields at Mosul, 15,000 Assyrians were slain north of that city in an operation rendered especially fierce by the proclamation of a "jihad" holy war.

It should also be noted here that the Assyrian were not exempted from the horrors of the Turkish massacres of 1895, 55,000 of these people were martyred, along with 300,000 of their Armenian brethren, to appease the Sultan's rage at reforms demanded by Europe.

The known score of Assyrians of all faiths massacred by Turks since 1895? 424,000.

James H. Tashjian
The Commemorative Committee on the 50th Anniversary of the Turkish Massacre of the Armenians
Boston, Massachusetts



Rev. Yusuf Abkulut

Zinda Magazine wishes to thank its readers for the outstanding demonstration of solidarity with the Assyrians of Tur-Abdin, the Diyarbakir region in southeast Turkey.  The result of the letter-writing campaign which begun three weeks ago here and through several other Assyrian websites was the immediate release of Father Akbulut and the attention received in the European and U.S. human rights and political circles.  Although free from prison, Father Akbulut awaits a trial on December 21.  The Z-Crew asks Zinda readers to continue the campaign to free Fr. Akbulut and return him to his parishioners in Diyarbakir.  Please contact your local and national government representatives.

Sample Letter Submitted by a Zinda Reader

The Hon. Harold Hongju Koh
Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I am writing to express by extreme concern with the reported action of the Turkish government in reference to the treatment of Reverend Yusuf Akbulut, who is an Assyrian priest carrying out his Christian calling in Turkey.

I have received most disturbing information in the form of several e-mails, all of them from a reliable source. The basic facts I have received are as follows. The Reverend Akbulut was interviewed by a Turkish journalist at the time the U.S. Congress was considering the adoption of a Resolution on the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. In the course of that interview, he was asked questions regarding the role of the Turkish government early in the 20th Century vis-à-vis its Christian minorities. Reverend Akbulut spelled out his belief that during the period in question Turkey had been culpable of the genocide of Armenians, Assyrians and Pontic Greeks. I am told that as merely as a result of this expression, Turkey has accused the Reverend of treason, and he is scheduled to be tried on that charge on December 21.

As an attorney in the U.S., and assuming the facts to be as I have learned them, Turkey’s reaction in this matter is most appalling. As editor of a research publication for the past 15 years, I am personally aware of a long line of reputable scholars, both Armenians and Assyrians, who have published compelling literature (books, scholarly articles) to support Reverend Akbulut’s opinion. You are probably also aware that quite recently the French legislature adopted a Resolution affirming the Turkish genocide of Armenians. In light of the evidence, one would have to be a member of the flat-earth society to believe otherwise. Merely for referring to a historical fact, the Reverend stands to receive a death sentence?

Reverend Akbulut does not appear guilty of anything other than expression his view. To my knowledge, he does not and has never incited violence or retribution in any form. But apparently, the mere exercise of speech, taken for granted in the U.S., is an unknown commodity in Turkey. But what about the fundamental rights of fairness which are considered to be essential in any civilized society. Turkey seeks admission to the European Community, yet in this kind of action it is behaving more according to 15th century practices. In addition, the U.S. has been a critical source of armaments to Turkey for a number of years. It is urgent that the U.S. Administration express its vigorous opposition to such unacceptable behavior, which is inconsistent with international norms.

My legal background also causes me to question whether Reverend Akbulut has been treated properly during his detention, whether he has received prompt and continuing assistance of legal counsel, and whether he is being provided a sufficient and reasonable time to prepare his legal defense.


Francis Sarguis

 ha/sha/ya (fem. hasheta)
 a/tti/qa  (fem. attiqta)
(in some dialects beginning "as" is silent)

BC (2260)

Naramsin, grandson of King Sargon of Akkad, becomes the ruler of Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia).  He expands his kingdom by campaigning against his enemies in the north, Elam, and along the Mediterranean Sea.  He rules for 37 years and is the first monarch to arrogate the title of "king of the four quarters" to himself, suggesting his dominion over the known world.  His reign enjoyed a degree of stability and he became the subject of the later Mesopotamian writers as one of the greatest military commander in the Assyrian history.

A History of Ancient Near East, Hallo & Simpson

AD (1989)

The Turkish government announces that it is prepared to grant scholars and researchers access to its Ottoman Archives.  These archives are believed to include the largest collection of documents on the history and welfare of the Christian population of the Ottoman Empire.


December 15, 1913The first Assyrian newspaper in Tbilisi, Georgia is published under the name "Maddinkha (East)".  Rev. Grigoryous published this newspaper on a bi-weekly basis.

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 .

Dec 31

Assyrian American Association of San Jose Presents:
The Legendary Assyrian Singer:  George Charbakhshi

Join us for a memorable evening of Dining and Entertainment!

Westin Hotel
5101 Great America Parkway

Ticket Information:
December   2 - December 14 -  $90  (Member price - $81)
December 16 - December 28 - $100  (Member price - $90)

(*Please Note: On December 2, ticket sales from 8 to 10AM will be limited to members only.)

Tickets may be purchased on Saturdays from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and Thursdays from 7 to 10PM at:
AAA of San Jose
20000 Almaden Road
San Jose

For more information, please call 408-927-8100 or 408-927-9100

Jan 17

Retold in live oral performance by storytellers:
   Fran Hazelton, Fiona Collins and June Peters
7:00 PM
The Kufa Gallery
26 Westbourne Grove
Admission free
For more information phone (020) 7278 3624
e-mail fran@hazelton.greatxscape.net

Jan 21

The Oriental Institute 
University of Chicago
1155 East 58th Street

Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat, & Sun  10AM-5:30PM
Wed 10AM-8:30PM
Closed Mondays

General Info:  773-702-9514
Tours:  773-702-9507

Admission is free, but the Institute suggests a donation of $5 for adults and $2 for children under 12 to view the Ur exhibition.

Jan 25

"Icons & Syriac Inscriptions in the Monastery of the Syrians in Egypt"
by Professor Lucas van Rompay, Duke University
8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre, Room 1050
5 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Feb 15

"Frescoes & Syriac Inscriptions in Medieval Churches in Lebanon"
by Dr. Erica Dodd, Victoria University
8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre, Room 1050
5 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Mar 29

"Syriac Heritage at the Northern Silk Road:  The Archaological & Epigraphic Evidence of Christianity in Kirghizia"
by Dr. Vassilios Klein, Bonn University
8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre, Room 1050
5 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

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!

Rachelle Badal (California).......Andreas Schmidt (Germany) ...Wilson Yonan (Australia)


ZINDA Magazine is published every Tuesday.  Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarily represent those of the ZINDA editors, or any of our associated staff.  This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals. ZINDA reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium. All letters and messages  require the name(s) of sender and/or author. All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 words or less and bear the name of the author(s). Distribution of material featured in ZINDA is not restricted, but permission from ZINDA is required.  This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news. To subscribe, send e-mail to: z_info@zindamagazine.com.

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