LORD, give us leave this day to celebrate thy true birthday, of which the present festival puts us in mind. This day is like thyself: it is the friend of man. Year by year it returns throughout the centuries, growing old with the aged, renewing itself with the new-born child. Year by year it comes to us, passes, and then returns, full of the old magic. It knows that human nature cannot do without it; like thyself, it comes to the rescue of our imperiled race. The whole round earth is thirsting for thy birthday, Lord. In that one happy day are contained all the ages to come; it is one, yet it multiplies itself to infinity. May it then resemble thee again this year, and make peace between heaven and earth.
All days bear the imprint of thy goodness, but today thy goodness brims over. The other days of the year borrow their loveliness from this one; the coming festivals owe to it all their dignity and luster. Thy birthday, Lord, is a treasure great enough to repay the common debt.
Blessed be that day which gave back the light of the sun to us who were astray in the dark, which brought us the sheaf of divine plenty and gave us that vine from which the wine of salvation would be pressed. In the depth of winter, when the trees were stripped of fruit, the vine clothed itself with heavenly foliage; in that icy season a branch sprang from the tree of Jesse. In that month of December which holds deep down in the earth the seed that was entrusted to it, the bud of salvation unfolded itself from the Virgin's womb, where it was planted in the spring days when the lambs were skipping in their pastures.
[The Assyrian saint, Mar Aprim (Mor Ephrem) lived in the Fourth Century A.D. ; he was called the "Harp of the Holy Spirit" because of the numerous beautiful prayers attributed to him.
All of us at Zinda Magazine wish you and your family Merry Christmas, and safe and cheery holiday season. We also hope that you will remember the needy Assyrian families in your community and in Bet-Nahrain. Please take the time to contact your local Assyrian church and civic organization this week and make a donation. This winter your support will be even more appreciated for our people in Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Georgia, Armenia and Lebanon. For more information contact the Assyrian Aid Society chapter in your country. In U.S. call 510-527-9997. Remember that your smallest donation will go a long way this winter in Bet-Nahrain and the Caucuses.]
'TIS THE SEASON TO FORGIVE AND FORGET
Don't let the sunny weather these days in Sydney deceive you! The streets of this beautiful city are drenched with unhappy Assyrians who earlier this year were dreaming of early retirement and unprecedented wealth within a few more years. Nowadays with sagging heads they're pleading for justice.
Over the past 3 months, the saga of "Suleman the Magnificent", the butcher-who-became-billionaire, has been on the lips of every Assyrian-Australian and some investors abroad. In the past 20 years, Australia's Assyrian community has been at the forefront of progress both in the political and religious fronts. Early next year, under the able leadership of Mar Meelis, Bishop of the Church of the East, St. Hormozd School of the Assyrian Church is expected to enlist hundreds of Assyrian students through the first complete elementary education of its kind in the West. The Assyrian Universal Alliance chapter in Australia is perhaps the most active branch of this political organization and has done more toward the recognition of the Assyrian issues than all other branches combined (see this week's BRAVO and LITERATUS). The publication of Nakosha Magazine, Rabbie Nimrod Simono Scholarship and language classes, the Genocide Conferences held at McGuire University, submission of a proposal to President Bill Clinton, the Nineveh Club and other civic organizations are just a few of the many recent accomplishments of this dynamic community.
But above all this there is a shadow of enmity and distrust enveloping this community. Zinda Magazine feels that this malevolent attitude must be sent back to the meat-shops of Mr. Suleman and be butchered with the chopper of forgiveness.
Despite a warning (see NEWS DIGEST), Ms. Linda George - the Assyrian recording artist- appeared last night on the AssyriaVision television in an interview program with Ms. Janet Shimmun and defended herself against the allegations made against her by certain individuals in Australia and the U.S. "I was mentally abused and became depressed I was always crying in Sydney," said Ms. George in an emotional appeal for integrity. She outlined the events of her seven-month stay in Sydney (returned to California 10 days ago) and related the neglect demonstrated by the directors of Froggy Music and Entertainment group in Australia. It appears that Ms. George was promised a blockbuster CD and music videos through the EMI Group of producers and distributors. "My dreams were demolished in Sydney", a teary-eyed Linda George tells her viewers last night. Because of the nature of her August 2nd contract with the Froggy Music/Entertainment (shown to the camera), Ms. George may not be able to sell any of the 5,000 copies of her latest CD which consists entirely of songs in English.
Mar Meelis may be another victim of such deception and clever propaganda. He was photographed with Mr. Suleman on various occasions and received (later returned) a free car and according to Australian papers as much as five percent share in the Froggy group of companies. Loved by his flock in Australia, Mar Meelis is unlikely to be investigated for any irregularities that may surface in future.
The other prominent person in the Australian community who has very close ties with the Suleman investments is Ms. Suzy David. Ms. David is Mr. Suleman's legal advisor; and her brother, Fred, is Mr. Suleman's business partner. Albeit her association is purely legal and on a professional level, Ms. David has been the target of malicious allegations and attacks since the collapse of the Karl Suleman Enterprises in October (see NEWS DIGEST).
To the inquiring minds out there: let's keep Linda George, Mar Meelis, and Suzy David out of this mess in Australia! Ms. George and Ms. David have been fierce defenders of Assyrian nationalism, and Mar Meelis has vigorously helped nurture his community- regardless of any one person's religious affiliation. Nonetheless, every investor must press hard to squeeze the last cent of his or her investment from Mr. Suleman even if it means selling the last piece of his Armani suits and Versace shoes. Yet, let'e remember that individuals - even Mr. Karl Suleman himself - must not be the target of any personal contention. All persons are innocent until proven guilty.
Zinda Magazine acknowledges that the transition to normalcy is not going to be easy for our community in Australia. There are many questions unanswered and some may remain for ever unrequited. There are claims that some of Mr. Suleman's former agents have fled overseas with millions of dollars, to places as far as Italy and Russia. What is certain, we think, is the astonishing speed of recovery expected of the resilient Assyrian community of Australia.
The collapse of the KSE empire exposed the weakness of our immigrant masses' savvy in the free markets of the free world. Unfortunately there were no Assyrian civic and religious soothsayers who could forewarn our beguiled people in time. One Australian newspaper - the Financial Times- even has ridiculed our community in Australia by rewarding it with the Gordon Gekko Award: "To the investors from Sydney's Assyrian community who believed that Karl Suleman Enterprises could generate returns of 16 per cent a month. No wonder the Assyrian empire isn't around any more. The administrators reckoned Karl's investment group had a black hole of about $67 million, with some of the money siphoned into his Froggy Group of companies. This award is named after Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, who observed that a fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place."
Presiding over a directions hearing last week for the liquidation application of the Froggy group of companies run by Karl Suleman, Justice Palmer sighed that "the industry of law would produce three more mountains of material" over the week ahead. Nearly 2,000 people placed $130 million in the hands of Karl Suleman in just 18 months and marveled at his generosity as he hosted parties on the Sydney harbor and donated Hyundai and BMW cars to the local Assyrian club. Let's hope that this Tora Bora of evidence will bring back some of the wealth back to the true proprietors of this wealth.
One last comment before we close his editorial- To the Financial Review newspaper: "Long after the last heap of sand along the shores of Australia's coral beaches have vanished, there will still be a people named Assyrians. Sadly, your esteemed publication may not be around to receive our "Simko Award" named after the Kurdish leader who thought by murdering our leader in 1918 he would destroy our spirit also."
POWER OF SEVEN - CHRONICLES OF CHRONOLOGY
Why were these clever chaps, who went for 60 because it is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20 and 30, fascinated by stubbornly indivisible seven? In ancient Egypt and ancient China, "weeks" of ten days were long in use - much more understandable, as people have ten fingers to count on, not seven. (And yet you have to wonder, if the Pharaohs' long week was intended to drive their workforce harder, whether it provoked the Exodus?)
Above all, why should the Sumerian system have not merely endured but become an almost universal conqueror? Ur's posterity now sways regions Sargon never knew. Its lead has been slavishly followed by Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Hindus ancient and modern, Muslims and most of the present inhabitants of Europe and the Americas. Even China surrendered a good thousand years ago.
The year, the day and (not quite so obviously) the month are natural divisions of time. The week is an oddity. The moon's four phases are a near miss, but still a misfit, for weeks. You will be in trouble (like H.G. Wells's "The Man Who Could Work Miracles") if you try to make the moon perform every 28 days, instead of its usual 29l and a bit. The Sumerians had a better reason for their septimalism. They worshipped seven gods whom they could see in the sky. Reverently, they named the days of their week for these seven heavenly bodies.
So do most of us today. Greeks, Slavs, and many Jews and Muslims, although loyal to Ur's seven-day week, have shaken off its planet-gods; but a great majority of Christians and of Hindus, and virtually all "unbelievers", still pay their respects daily to the Sumerian seven - under changed names, of course.
For the Sumerians themselves, seven was a very special number. They conceived of a seven-branched Tree of Life, and of seven heavens, that were passed to Babylon and symbolised there in seven-tiered ziggurats, or hanging gardens. Sumeria's Gilgamesh epic describes the rite of passage through which Enkidu the ape-man became human, thanks to the obliging Shamhat:
While the two of them together were making love,He forgot the wild where he was born.For seven days and seven nightsEnkidu was erect and coupled with Shamhat.
In spite of all that, Ur's seventh day was not holy. On the contrary, it represented danger and darkness. It was risky to do anything at such a time. So it became a day of rest.
Ever since the time when Abraham trekked westward from Ur, Mesopotamian influences had helped to form Hebrew traditions. The Jews got the story of the Flood from Sumeria. They got the seven-day-week idea early enough to use it in the account of the Creation given in Genesis. But there may have been some garbling in the transmission. The Sumerians would not have depicted the Creator as just sitting back, satisfied, on the seventh day; to them, he would seem to have stopped work, wisely, because anything attempted on that day must end in tears. The week reached India from Mesopotamia more than 2,000 years ago, in time to get into some of the Hindu scriptures. But the Hindus' creation stories were far more complex than Hebrew ones. They never accepted a Sabbath; their scriptural references to the week, as in the Brahmavaivarta Purana, were almost casual:
When Brahma had fashioned this universe, he placed his seed in Savitri, his best wife. When she was ready to give birth, she bore the year, the month, the days of the week, the seven Pleiades.
The Hindus were keen sky-watchers and sometimes keen septimalists. They had noted the Pleiades (Krttikas). Noting also the Great Bear's seven stars, they identified them with the Seven Sages who survived the Flood, combined these starry sevens, and made the Pleiades the wives of the Sages. Yet, in their absorbent way, they happily adopted the seven planet-gods who arrived with the original Sumerian week. And, in their retentive way, they held on to them. In modern Hindi, as in ancient Sanskrit, the planets we call Mars and Mercury are Mangal and Budh. The days called Tuesday and Wednesday in English, and mardi and mercredi in French, are Mangalvar and Budhvar.
Elsewhere, new names have been showered on the old gods and their planets. Yet, to an astonishing extent, they have retained their identities - and kept their places in the order of the days of the week.
Enter Ishtar and Venus
The first recorded change came when the Sumerian week-system was transposed into the Semitic language spoken in the Babylonian empire. The day-names used in Babylon around 700BC (running as if from our Sunday to our Saturday) were: Shamash (Sun), Sin (Moon), Nergal (god of war), Nabu (god of scribes), Marduk (supreme god), Ishtar (goddess of love) and Ninurta (god of farming). They had simply replaced their Sumerian predecessors; for example, Ishtar had succeeded Inanna both as a planet and as the presiding deity of love.
By the time the Romans had adopted the system, the planet-gods wore names more familiar to us: (in the same order) Sol, Luna, Mars, Mercurius, Jupiter, Venus, Saturnus. But their identities remained almost intact. The name-chain Inanna-Ishtar-Astarte-Aphrodite had led to Venus. Nergal lived on in Mars. Aptly, the god of scribes had mutated into the heavenly messenger, Mercurius.
In English and the other Germanic languages, Mars, Mercurius, Jupiter and Venus were, in time, renamed in honour of Teutonic gods. From Tiw, Woden, Thor and Freya came the names of our weekdays from Tuesday to Friday. Even so, the chain remained unbroken. Although English Wednesday and Scandinavian Onsdag salute the god Woden or Odin, this came about only because he was identified with Mercurius. Similarly, the love-goddess Freya took the place of Venus - and her place in the weekly sequence.
Among Europe's Romance and Celtic languages, the Ur-idea of naming days from planet-gods is obvious. Mercurius is as recognisable in the French mercredi as in Romanian Mercuri or Welsh Mercher. The Slav languages, however, taking a lead from Greek, prefer numbering systems. (Five, in Russian, is pyat; Friday is Pyatnitsa. In Greek, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are Deutera, Triti and Tetarti; i.e., second, third and fourth.)
Saturnus, alone among the planet-gods, resisted Germanisation. And Saturday was "different" from other weekdays long before the two-day weekend developed. In ancient Rome it became somewhat inauspicious. Then it was, for a time, the Sabbath, both for Jews and for many early Christians. It is still Sabato in Italian, Sabado in Spanish, Sobota or Subota in the Slav languages.
Over the naming of Sunday some confusion has crept in, for which Constantine the Great is much to blame. In 321AD, when he ordered the cities of his empire to rest on this day, his edict was related to the sun, rather than to Christianity. Three centuries earlier, Augustus had officially recognised the week, with its Sumerian-style planet-gods. Dies solis, the sun's day, was mildly auspicious, but only the Christians made it really special as their day for congregational prayer, linked with the Resurrection and called the Lord's Day. Constantine chose to boost that day while invoking not Christ but the Unconquered Sun (the emperor himself, at that point, saw the two deities as one). He thereby gratified Christians without offending sun-worshippers.
So it was a shrewd move, at the time. But it left the naming of the day in schism. In its Germanic versions it is now strictly the Sun's day (Sonntag, Zonday, etc). But it is given to the Lord (Latin dominus, Greek kyrios) in Romance languages (Domingo, Domenica, dimanche) and Greek (Kyriaki), and the Celts are split, Welsh Dydd Sul confronting Gaelic De Domhnaich.
Most striking of all Sunday's names is the Russian Voskresenye ("Resurrection"), which endured through long years of imposed atheism. Do not imagine that Sumeria's week and its day-names have never faced any challenges. The French Revolution brought in a ten-day "week" whose days were, literally, numbered (the experiment lasted, officially, for 12 years, but never really took). As soon as the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in 1917 they tried, but failed, to imitate the French revolutionaries (or the Pharaohs?). Later, for 11 years starting in 1929, Stalin imposed first five-day and then six-day weeks on the Soviet Union. The elimination of Sunday, with its strong religious associations, was one purpose of his experiments. They all failed, abjectly. Warned by this, the communist regimes established in other countries after 1945 did not even try to tamper with the Ur-old seven-day week.
Today, Sumeria's 4,400-year-old feat of cultural imperialism is triumphantly intact and more assured of universal acceptance than ever. How can this be explained? Seven is a thoroughly awkward number. It gives us a year of 52 weeks (another awkward number), plus the annoying extra one or two days which force us to keep buying new calendars.
The seven-day system's ability to challenge and, in time, overlay all others has always rested on its religious inspiration, not on its practical value. It has leapt blithely from one religious base to another, from Ur of the Chaldees to Israel, then on to Christendom, to Islam. It infiltrated the Roman empire before Christianity and reached India many centuries before the first Muslim invaders. European colonisers spread it through the Americas, but in the Old World, wherever Hindu or Muslim influences had penetrated, even the earliest European explorers found it was there before them.
Today, most of the human race takes it for granted that their activities are recorded in weeks. There are two groups: those who feel that the week has real religious significance and that there is something holy about one day in seven, and those who have no such feeling. In neither group will you find many people who know how the week came into existence, or came to matter.
"Men of old" knew. They could read it in the heavens. In a song of great antiquity like "Green grow the rushes O", it was natural, perhaps unavoidable, to include the line "Seven for the seven stars in the sky".
They are all still there: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn. We may send out spacecraft to ring them round, but we ourselves are still held in the hebdomadal grip of the Seven.
The seven-day system has leapt blithely from one religious base to another, from Ur of the Chaldees to Israel, to Islam.
URGES KURDS, ASSYRIANS TO UNITE
On 16 December 2001 the organizing committee of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Sweden had received a delegation from the Assyrian Democratic Movement.
CHALDEAN FATHER & SON SHOPKEEPERS KILLED DURING HOLDUP
Courtesy of the Detroit News; Based on article by David G. Grant
(ZNDA: Detroit) A Chaldean-Assyrian shopkeeper, Yousif Yono and his son
Jack were shot to death during a holdup in Detroit's east side on Friday,
November 20. The next day police arrested three men from the same neighborhood.
The Yonos where killed about 3 p.m. in 3-J's Party Store in the 3700 block of Maryland, near Mack and Alter Road, and the suspects were picked up between 3-4 a.m. Saturday (November 21), Rice said.
At a news conference on the arrests last Tuesday at police headquarters, Yousif Yono's first cousin, Sam Yono, commended the Police Department for quickly finding the suspects in the case.
Homicide detectives had obtained warrants charging Laron Harper, 24, and Cameron Williams, 24, Trandell Esters, 22, and Antonio Evans, 22, with two counts of felony murder and armed robbery. Harper, Williams and Esters are in custody. Police are still seeking Evans.
The four men drove to the party store about 3 p.m. Friday to rob it because they had heard the Yonos would have a large amount of money on hand to cash checks.
Esters, Harper and Williams went inside. Esters acted as lookout as Harper and Williams are charged with robbing Yousif and Jack Yono and then shooting them because the owners knew them.
All three men fled in a waiting car driven by Evans.
Rice also said that a friend of the men, Latoya Williams, 25, has been charged in a warrant with obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact in the case for allegedly hiding the guns suspected of being used in the shootings.
The three men and Latoya Williams were arraigned last Wednesday. According to one Zinda Magazine reader in Detroit over 300 Chaldean-Assyrians have been shot and killed in the past few years in Detroit.
CHICAGO ASSYRIANS COMBAT IGNORANCE, BIAS AFTER SEPT 11
of the Chicago Tribune (Dec 21); Story by Ed Fanselow, Tribune
Like every year, church members sipped tea and nibbled on dolma-- tiny
cabbage rolls stuffed with rice--as women helped decorate trees in preparation
for Christmas services.
Rev. Charles Klutz, the church's pastor, says the fire caused about $100,000 in damage, and water from firefighters' hoses ruined some carpeting, floor tiles and a few holy pictures.
But Klutz is more concerned about how the incident has affected his members.
Some parishioners think the fire was simply the work of "someone who had too much to drink" or some "rowdy neighborhood kids." But most are convinced that the fire is the work of someone who mistook the church's many Middle Eastern members for Muslims, or even for followers of Osama bin Laden.
"They must have missed the huge cross outside our church," said Sarah Benjamin, a lifelong parishioner whose parents were born in Iran. "It's bigger than our church is, though, so they must not have been looking very hard."
Regardless of who is responsible, for many St. John's members the incident has underscored their long and painful battles with discrimination and ignorance.
"People don't know who we are," said John Yadgir, an American- born Assyrian who has been a member of St. John's for almost his entire life and is now church vice president.
"We are Christians. We are loyal Americans. Many of us have fought in wars for our country, and others have come here because they were persecuted for being Christians in the Middle East."
John Hewiyou, a St. John's parishioner who immigrated to Chicago in 1978 from Iraq, experienced such persecution firsthand. He remembers the Iraqi government bombing Assyrian churches and people in his home country, referring to him as a "dirty Christian."
"Never in a thousand years would I have thought something like this would have happened in America," said Hewiyou, who still has family members living in Iraq and Jordan. "We came from a hell to a heaven. Never before have the Assyrian people felt as at home as they do in America."
Numbering just over 100,000 in the Chicago area and about 3.3 million worldwide, Assyrians are a Semitic race of people who were among the first converts to Christianity--even before the Romans. Their language is described as modern-day Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
"We speak how Jesus spoke," Klutz said. "Our people walked and talked with him."
Still, the parishioners say, because of the Assyrians' relatively small number, many people have never even heard of them.
"A man asked me what my background was, and I told him I was Assyrian-American," Yadgir said. "He said, `Isn't that a surgery?' He thought I was talking about a Caesarean delivery. I suppose this is what happens when people don't know about you."
That is all the more reason to reach out to the community more actively, Klutz says.
"This has only made our faith stronger and made us more determined to tell others who we are," he said. "The only way to fight ignorance is by educating people about us. We can't rest on our laurels any longer."
Yadgir and Hewiyou say it is important for people to know that Assyrian-Americans are loyal to their adopted country.
Yadgir, 70, is a Korean War veteran and a member of Amvets Post 5, which includes more than a dozen members of St. John's.
Hewiyou, wearing an American flag pin on his tweed sport coat, said he remembers the day when he returned to the United States in 1989 after living with his dying father in Iraq for more than a year.
"I stepped off the plane, and I just started crying and crying," he remembered. "A lady there asked me if something was the matter and I told her, `I'm just so happy to be home.'"
He cried again on the morning of Sept. 23, for a different reason, he said.
"I asked myself, `How could somebody do this to the house of God?'" he said. "I will never understand this."
(ZNDA: Sydney) Last week Zinda Magazine obtained an exclusive copy of a legal communication dealing with the Karl Suleman matter in Australia. The correspondence noted below is from the offices of Dominic David Stamfords, a law firm in Australia representing Ms. Suzy David, directed to Sargon Dadesho, chairman of the Assyrian National Congress and the Bet-Nahrain media services in California. Ms. Suzy David is the Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and a legal advisor to Mr. Karl Suleman who is currently subject of legal proceedings in Australia.
18 December 2001
Re: Karl Suleman Matter
Mr. Sargon Dadisho
As you are aware we act in a matter involving Mr. Karl Suleman currently the subject of court proceedings.
We have been informed that in your various radio and television programs you have taken the opportunity of reporting matters pertaining to individuals and organizations, including Suzy David which are unfounded and unsubstantiated. On the information received much of what has been reported has been malicious and false. No effort has ever been made by you or any person in your media organizations to verify any of the information presented.
We have reason to believe that you have specifically made at least the following allegations in your various programs:
Currently we are awaking verification of these reports by way of a collection of material including tape recordings and video recordings of your programs.
Our sources to date are reliable sources and in this immediate instance, and even in the absence of our inspection of such material, we are of the view that you have been seriously defamatory of Suzy David's character. As you are aware Suzy David is a respectable member of the Assyrian community having been a dedicated volunteer working towards a number of Assyrian causes and with a number of Assyrian organizations both in Australia and internationally. More notable she has been in practice as a lawyer in the last 17 years with high credentials and a reputation of great fame and character.
Similarly your reports have been seriously defamatory of Fred David who has been a server of the community particularly the Assyrian Church of the East for a number of years and similarly holds a profile of high fame and character as a lawyer practicing for the last 10 years.
We also have reason to believe that you have recently announced an interview with Ms. Linda George who will according to statements made by you to the effect that she will "present an unbelievable revelation of Mr. Suleman and his team."
Clearly you are not aware of Ms. Linda George's contractual relationship with Mr. Suleman. We hereby put you on notice that should any interview with Ms. George make any statements which even if by inference or by implication amount to defamatory comments we will take all appropriate legal actions for the recovery of damages against you and Ms. George without further notice.
Further and without in any way prejudicing our present legal rights against you or your media vehicles we put you on notice that should you continue to broadcast such false and defamatory reports against any of the persons named herein we will seek additional damages against you and your relevant vehicles.
We again repeat that at present we are obtaining verification of your broadcasts an we will reserve our position in regards to all other actions we are presently considering taking against you and all other relevant persons within your media groups.
Please note that this matter will be presented in support of any application we intend to make in the near future and will also be used in seeking damages and costs on an indemnity basis.
Dominic David Stamfords
(ZNDA: Chicago) Lodia N. Odisho of Roselle was the beloved wife of Alexander; devoted mother of Dalila (Jesse) Martinez, Luther (Omay), Fred (Mena), William and Homi (Kim) Odisho; and fond grandmother of Jesse, Diana, Angelina, Marissa, Gina and Alex.
Funeral services for Lodia N. Odisho were held last Thursday at Salerno's Rosedale Chapels, 450 W. Lake St. in Roselle and continued with Mass at 10:30 a.m., at St. Mary's Church, in Roselle.
OBITUARY: YOURAM DARMOUSSEH
(ZNDA: San Jose) Youram Darmousseh, 67, of San Jose, certified public accountant, died Dec. 16, 2001. Services were held last Friday at 10 a.m. at Mar Addai Assyrian Church of the East in Turlock. Burial was held in Turlock Memorial Park.
AN UPDATE ON LINA NISSAN
(ZNDA: Germany) The following personal letter submitted to Zinda Magazine is an update on the situation of Lina Nissan, a 16-year-old Assyrian girl from Syria. She has been diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia also known as CML. CML is a cancer of blood cells located in the bone marrow. See September 10th issue for more information.
However, even though she has her visa, it doesn't mean that the operation
is set. Or there is a hospital to get her, still there a lot to do. We
still have to try to find a way of getting the surgery done. But being
here in USA, Canada, or Australia is much better than to stay in Syria
waiting for nothing.
This is what they told me in an email previously sent to me: "As previously discussed we require $160,000 Canadian deposited prior to arranging appointment."
Some doctors from Ottawa said they will try to contact Lina's doctor in Damascus to obtain all the information directly from him. The Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto, which I had sent them all the documents they required, say they have a very long waiting list for patients from foreign countries. I also tried with our MP (Member of Parliament) and they too contacted the hospital. However, we don't have any improvements in the processes with the hospitals in Toronto. All they want is money. No less then $160,000 CDN.
Thankfully, the money is still coming thanks in large part to the hard work of our Assyrian men and woman, working around the world for Lina, organizing fundraisers and promoting the cause to the people in their respected communities.
Unfortunately we are still far from paying the costs of such an operation. We wish we could thank everyone personally but many donors remain anonymous. God bless all of you.
Thank you very much for your support,
A PROPOSAL TO PRESIDENT CLINTON
The following is the full text of the "submission" prepared by Ms. Suzy David and presented to the former U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton during his visit to Australia in September.
Dear President Clinton,
It has been an honour to be in your esteemed company during the fund-raiser event for the Westmead Children's Hospital. Your participation in this worthy Australian cause is the key to its success. It is truly a golden opportunity to have your presence in Australia and in particular in support of such a unique medical institute. As Australian Assyrians we thank you.
It is similarly a golden opportunity for some Assyrian leaders to meet with your honourable self and to express their gratitude, on behalf of Assyrians worldwide, for the policies you set as President of the United States of America in respect of the Iraqi situation. We humbly request that your active involvement in that worthy policy also continues despite the end of your term as President. To that end we seize our moment in providing you with a brief submission on behalf of our Assyrian people.
The Assyrian Universal Alliance ("AUA") was established in 1968 as an umbrella organisation for the Assyrians. Its headquarters is in the state of Illinois in the United States. AUA has four chapters, Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. The present Secretary General is the former Illinois Senator, John Nimrod. I have been delegated by Senator John Nimrod, in my capacity as the deputy Secretary General, to make these submissions on behalf of AUA.
Assyrians are an ancient people whose land of Mesopotamia expanded
into modern day Iraq, Lake Urmia in Iran, north to the Turkish Harran,
Edessa, Diarbakir, Lake Van and the mountains of Hakkari, and to Syria.
Ancient history, even with its limited discovery to date, is testament
to the fact that the Assyrian civilization was the fundamental basis
for the development of the modern civilization. Assyrians were sophisticated
pioneers in the fields of medicine and science, mathematics, literature
and libraries, laws, architecture, agriculture, irrigation, astronomy,
astrology, economics and government administration, art, music, globalization,
and the list is endless.
Their religious works eventually extended into philosophy, literature science and medicine. Without limiting the extent of the Assyrian contributions from their adoption of Christianity to the 14th century, allow me to name just a few as examples. The Assyrian philosopher Job of Edessa developed a physical theory of the universe that rivaled Aritotle's theory. They set up the first University of Nisibis in the fourth century AD which became the centre of intellectual development in the Middle East. The first Italian University used the Nisibis Statute as its model. In the sixth century AD the Assyrians established the great medical school of Gundeshapour. One family alone produced nine generation of physicians. Hunayn ibn-ishaq's textbook on opthamology written in 950 AD, remained the authoritative source on the subject until 1800 AD.
However by 1300 AD with the commencement of Islam, the Christian Assyrians were compelled to either convert to Islam or suffer persecution as well as the inexorably draining tax levied discriminately on Christians Assyrians. Subsequently and more violently the Assyrians were subjected to the Mongolian Timurlane destruction, causing many of the survivors to flee to the Hakkari mountains of the present day Turkey. This massive destruction leveled firstly by the Islamic fundamentalists, and then simultaneously by Timurlane caused an otherwise vibrant rich and developed Assyrian culture to dwindle in number and in spirit.
The twentieth century has, however, been the darkest chapter of Assyrian history. When Turkey entered first World War in November 1914, Assyrians were told that the libertation of the Ottoman Empire was near. It was a time of promises for an independent statehood. The Assyrians, by request sided with the Allies, first with the Russians then with the British forces. The hope for freedom and a national home promised to them on the sacred soil of their ancestors was instead met with the genocide of their people perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks, causing the loss of more than two-thirds of the Assyrian population and 750 of their villages.
In the aftermath, the Treaty of Sevres, signed by the Allies in August 1920, which granted some protection to the Assyrians in Turkey, was never ratified. Subsequently the Treaty of Lausanne signed in July 1923, which gave recognition to the new Turkish State and ultimately ratified, provided no specific reference to the Assyrians. The Assyrian mountains of Hakkari and all other villages the Assyrians had lived in for thousands of years were denuded of all Assyrian remnants.
Left with no other alternative, Assyrians followed the British troops to Mesopotamia only to realize that the League of Nations, despite promises made to the Assyrians by the British that their homeland would be restored to them, allocated the Assyrian homeland of the Mosul District, to the new Kingdom of Iraq. Power play gave precedence to the security of oil and protection of commercial interests over the right of resettlement of the Assyrian people in their own region.
When the British lifted the mandate in October 1932, whereby Iraq became independent, Assyrians were left with no effective protection. Consequently, in August 1933 the Iraqi authorities began to implement their plan of extermination of Assyrians. The first such episode was the massacre in the small village of Simile on 7 August 1933, where in one day more than 3000 Assyrians were brutally slaughtered. One account which described the Simile massacre in the book "The Assyrian Tragedy" stated:
" The inoffensive population was indiscriminately massacred, men women and children alike, with rifle ,revolver and machine gunfire. In one room alone eighty- one men from the Baz tribe, who had taken shelter were barbarously massacred. Priests were tortured and their bodies mutilated. Those who showed their Iraqi Nationality papers were the first to be shot. Girls were raped and women violated and made to march naked before the Arab army commander. Holy Books were used as fuel for burning girls. Children were run over by military cars. Pregnant women were bayoneted. Children were flung to the air and pierced on to the points of bayonets. Those that survived in the other villages were now exposed day and night to constant raids and acts of violence. Forced Conversion to Islam of men and women was the next process. Refusal was met with death . Sixty-five out of ninety five Assyrian villages and settlements were either sacked, destroyed or burnt to the ground. "
On the 28th November 1933, in the House of Lords, His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury said, interalia:
I have seen accounts of those who were present. I have heard that it
was more shocking than anything that was seen during the war. And I
have read a letter from an independent and trustworthy person in Iraq,
by no means friendly to the Assyrians, who said that such an exhibition
of savage fanaticism has probably seldom been seen. There is no question
that it was done by the Iraqi army
.and shortly afterwards the
commander of the army Sidqy Beg was promoted to Pasha."
Colonel J.J. McCarthy who headed the British Military Mission to Persia during the War and who came into contact with the Assyrians is quoted to have stated in a letter:
" I have sent a copy of the memorandum I have written on the Assyrian question from the time your people joined forces with us against the Turks in 1918 I have made a strong point of the fact that your people were definitely promised by me (acting under orders from headquarters ) that they would have their country restored to them I do hope that the Foreign office will do something and do it now before it is too late. No good can come out of delaying matters and the British Government should face the position and do the right thing It is clearly our duty to fulfil promises made to people who stood by us when we were in urgent need of all the help forthcoming .Few people realize what your unfortunate people suffered and are still suffering in return for their loyalty to England. I will do my best to make known the terrible hardships they suffered under my eyes Never shall I forget that retreat from Urmia when I met the panic stricken people on the Bidjar road and never do I want to see anything like it again .One thing is now certain and that is they cannot be left to the tender mercies of the Arabs whose one ambition in life appears to be to destroy them."
This was a political plan to dispose of any Assyrian remnants in the region, a political ambition to destroy the people of a nation, whose claims as the original people of that land are and should be the most legitimate. That destruction was and continues to be implemented by massacres, political executions, denial of citizenship rights and forceful displacements. By way of some evidentiary support, 102 Assyrian villages were destroyed between 1975 to 1988 by the current Iraqi Ba'th regime. Attached is a list of such destroyed villages. Also attached is a list of individuals still missing after the Al- Anfal military operations in September 1988.
Statistics in respect of Assyrians is not easily obtainable. Firstly the Iraqi regime's non- cooperative and suppressive policies prevent any form of accurate information gathering. Secondly, the identity of Assyrians has either been ignorantly referred to as "Kurds", "Christian Kurds" and "Christian Arabs" by both the media and the international bodies, or fragmented by referring to Assyrians by their religious denominational names. Regrettably Assyrians do not have the international support, financial or otherwise to correct these fatal errors. These are errors which would undoubtedly, adversely affect, any decision making processes regarding the future of Iraq and the Assyrian people.
Today out of approximately four million remaining Assyrians, more than one third are scattered throughout the world, approximately four hundred thousand of which reside in the United States. Most have taken refuge in the western countries and many in Asia. Whilst Assyrians are extremely appreciative of their fair and equal treatment in such democratic societies, which they have adopted as their new homes, they consequently face a different form of struggle for their survival. In the process of their absorption into Western societies the Assyrian language, the language of Christ, the Lingua Franca of the Middle East until about 900 AD, and the rich Assyrian culture and heritage are potentially facing extinction.
The genocide of Assyrians during World War 1, by the Ottoman Turks succeeded in destroying the existence of any Assyrians in their indigenous villages and mountains. The few unassimilated Assyrians that remain in Turkey today continue to be the subject of oppression and persecution and victims of ethnic cleansing. The Turkish government is still in denial of the genocide of Assyrians, Greeks and Armenians.
In Iraq, if the despotic and Arabising regime of Saddam Hussein is permitted to continue its barbaric rule, the Assyrians who have no constitutional recognition as the original people of that land, will continue to either resist, fight and die on their soil, or be eroded by Arabisation, or continue to live in anxiety and fear, or be dislodged from their homes and families and migrate to the West.
The U.S Department of State report on Human Rights Practices of Iraq in 2000, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, in February 2001, a copy of which is attached for your easy reference, is one confirmatory authority on the human rights abuses in Iraq. Assyrians concede that such abuses are not practiced on the Assyrians only. Assyrians condemn any human rights violations against any minority in Iraq. However, AUA does stand to clarify that Assyrians are not merely a Christian minority. Their rights are distinctive and extend to the legitimate constitutional recognition of their ethnic, historic and land rights. For Assyrians there has not been any other land they can call home, nor any other country that speaks their language.
The Assyrian genocide during World War 1, and the Assyrian tragedies that followed as a direct result of the international community's failure to honour promises of autonomy to the Assyrians has not disposed of the Assyrian Question. The Assyrian Question is an international question which cannot once again be neglected or dealt with passively. Contemporary Assyriology is as much a reality as the ancient Assyriology. The international States, Bodies and Communities must allow, encourage and cause the burst of this subject into the present scene as priority in the category of international thought and consideration and not simply bury the unresolved Assyrian problems.
At the time of the proclamation of the 1991 UN resolution for the establishment of the security zone in Northern Iraq, more than 200-000 Assyrians lived in the region. The Kurdish internal disputes combined with Iraq's intervention despite the declaration of a safe haven, caused the Assyrians to be unwillingly involved in conflicts between opposing factions and Iraqi aggressors. Assyrians were once again dominated by oppressive forces. Their numbers diminished in Northern Iraq due to persecutions, never publicised, never acknowledged. They were once again driven to emigration, not by choice but by force. When media spoke of the problems in Northern Iraq, it made no reference to the Assyrians, despite the fact that film footages clearly showed Assyrian speaking people, whose language, culture and religion are distinctly different to the Kurds pleading for assistance. The reference was to Kurds only.
If the Western world does not apply a more proactive and investigatory approach to the situation in Iraq, the human rights violations will continue to take the form of ethnic and religious cleansing.
As the former president of the most powerful country in the world, and one who is, among numerous other internal and international policies, also renowned for his Middle Eastern policies, we plead that you continue to exercise your power and influence in respect of such crucial issues.
To that end, and in order that proper execution of the international covenants and laws relating to human rights may be realised, we submit in summary that the following matters should be addressed:
Mr President, time and occasion do not permit a more elaborate and authoritative submission. We trust however that the above will provide a brief overview of the very extensive history and the very complicated political issues in respect of Assyrians. Whilst you have served your term as one of the best US Presidents, and that perhaps you are presently seeking a life outside of politics, we respectfully hope that the issues raised in this submission will, if and when deemed appropriate by your honourable self, serve some use for discussion and discourse. We would be glad to provide any additional information that may ever be required in relation to Assyrians and any other matters arising from herein.
We thank you for your time. We wish you a pleasant trip in our blessed and beautiful country of Australia.
David BE.c. LLM
Assyrian Voice Radio from New Zealand
AUA ANNUAL GALA VIP DINNER
Part 2: 2001 Assyrian Award Recipients
Philimon was born in 1938 of Assyrian parents in the village of Harir in Northern Iraq. Both of his parents were born in the village of Bet-Teemo in the district of Shamisdin, Hakkari Region in the South Eastern Turkey and left their village in 1915 as all Assyrians of Hakkari did in the aftermath of the Assyrians' decision to join the Allies in the First World War against Turkey. After spending the war years as refugees in Iran, they joined the Assyrian Exodus of 1918 from Urmi in Iran to the refugee camps of Bakuba, some 30 miles to the North East of Baghdad. They were married in Bakuba in 1920 and moved to the Mosul Region where they settled in the village of Semileh.
Philimon's parents moved to the Village of Harir in 1927 when it was decided by the Assyrian leadership in Iraq that all Assyrian families from the Shamisdin district of the Hakkari Region in Turkey, including the Mar Yousip Khnaneesho family, be settled in the Harir/Bataseh/Dianah district in the Arbil region.
Philimon completed his primary schooling in Harir and Bataseh. He moved to Kirkuk in 1951 where he enrolled in Mutawassita Al Gharbiyya (Al Gharbiyya Intermediate School). In 1953 he was accepted as an apprentice in Industrial Training Centre of Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC). He completed the five-year studies in the Industrial Training Centre in 1958. His first involvement in Assyrian community affairs was in 1957 when he worked in the Seeta Hayeranta which raised funds for the Assyrian School and Church in Kirkuk.
In 1959 Philimon and three of his friends decided to write a book in Assyrian. The book was called GHDA GASHAQTA L'KHAYEH. It was printed at The Nineveh Press in Kirkuk. This small book of 91 pages got his name (in those days Philimon Gulazar) into Dr Peera Sarmas' THE HISTORY OF ASSYRIAN LITERATURE (Tash'eeta D'Siprayoota Atoraita) Volume One, which was published in Tehran in 1962.
Philimon left Kirkuk in September 1960 for London where he studied accountancy on a scholarship from the IPC. He returned to Iraq in December 1962 and took up a position of Senior Clerk in the Budget Section of IPC. In October 1963 he resigned from the IPC and left Iraq for Germany where he intended to settle down. However, in late 1964 he was accepted as a migrant by the Australian Embassy in Germany. He left Germany for Australia in November 1964 and settled in Sydney.
Zinda Magazine is pleased to introduce Victoria Aivazova, a 23-year-old Assyrian from Tbilisi, Georgia. Victoria is a 23-yea-old. Her father, Michael, was also born in Tbilisi and works as an Engineer. Victoria's mother, Elena is a Pediatrist in Tbilisi, where she too was born. Maria, Victoria's older sister is a philologist of Russian language and literature. Victoria's 10-year-old sister is named Elena.
Victoria is now a 7th year medical student at Tbilisi State Medical School. She will be graduating with honors in June when she will be receiving her General Practitioner's Diploma. She will then proceed with furthering her education in order to obtain specialization as a gynecologist. While studying at Tbilisi SMS she is also engaged in conducting scientific research. Victoria is also a member of the Assyrian Medical Society.
As a student in Father Benjamin (Benny) Bet-Yadeqar's classes, Victoria successfully completed the Assyrian language program . She writes to Zinda Magazine: "I respect my national culture and traditions. I was raised in the spirit of love and patriotism for my motherland Assyria, which doesn't exist in the map, rather spread all over the world."
Victoria writes poetry in several languages and dedicates them to "Assyria". Some of these poems have already been printed in the Assyrian newspaper of "Awyoota" in Georgia and the Nineveh Magazine (San Francisco, California). Victoria is fluent in Russian, Georgian, Assyrian, and English, and is currently mastering German. Russian,Georgian,
In a message to Zinda Magazine Victoria writes: "My cherished dream is to become a good physician, establish an Assyrian clinic and do my best for my people. Our nation has suffered a lot; it has passed through sorrows and hardships. We leave over two thousand years after the downfall of Assyria behind us, but our nation is still alive with God's will and wherever it lives it preserves its language and culture. I hope that God will help me in my difficult choice and my noble intentions in a few years will come true. I would like to share my achievements with you."
Victoria participated at the 64th Scientific Conference of Tarkhnishvili Students' Scientific Society of Tbilisi State Medical University in association with the European Medical Students' Association. She entered in the "Surgery" section of the Conference and presented her work under the title "Clinical and Morphological Features of Intrauterine Growth Retardation" and was rewarded with a certificate. Her research was printed in a volume of the proceedings presented at this Conference in September.
Look for Victoria's article in an upcoming issue of Zinda Magazine
(9th Century B.C.)
According to Texas A&M University anthropologist Vaughn Bryant, in the ancient Babylonian-Assyrian empire single women would show praise to the goddess of beauty and love by standing beneath the mistletoe that adorned her temple. While standing there, it was customary for the woman to bond with the first man who approached her. Interestingly enough, Bryant says, she did not kiss him because this was before the art of kissing had reached that region of the world.
[Zinda: Professor Bryant should slow down on his consumption of the creamy holiday eggnog and read the love poems of Inanna and Tammuz or the meeting of Enkidu and his female lover instead. In one instance Gilgamesh informs his friend Enkidu: "You should not put on your clean garments: they would recognize immediately that you are alien. You should not anoint yourself with fine oil from a bowl: they would surround you at its scent and you should not kiss your beloved wife.]
(A.D. 1902 )
Oxford University Press publishes Dr. Payne Smith, D.D. "Syriac Dictionary". A new edition of this important compendious was published by Eisenbrauns Publication Company in 1998. A dictionary of English-Western Assyrian (Syriac) language, Smith's work remains a significant achievement in understanding modern Assyrian language.
December 26, 1924
Dr. Abraham George, an Assyrian nationalist who served in the U.S. Army, dies in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Share your local events with Zinda readers. Email us or send fax to: 408-918-9201
Assyrian American National Federation, Midwest Region Proudly presents
Christmas Party With Multi-lingual Performances by
Bandoleros (from Chicago)
7:00 PM - 2:00 AM
Hanging Gardens Banquet
Sponsored by the Assyrian Aid Society of San Diego,
NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY
Sponsored by the Assyrian American Association of San
NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY
Assyrian Athletic Club of Chicago (Winged-Bulls)
NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY
Assyrian American Association of San Jose proudly presents
The Marriott Hotel
Tickets can be purchased at AAA of San Jose starting
November 24, 2001:
There will be a special priority purchase for AAA of San Jose on Saturday, November 24, 2001 from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.
Please inquire about the special Marriott Hotel's room rate and our Baby-sitting services
CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR SYRIAC STUDIES LECTURE
La Societe Canadienne des Etudes Syriaques
"Women in Syriac Christian Tradition"
University of Toronto
[Zinda Magazine is a proud Corporate Sponsor of CSSS.]
CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR SYRIAC STUDIES LECTURE
La Societe Canadienne des Etudes Syriaques
A Roman Desert Castle to A Christian Metropolis"
University of Toronto
[Zinda Magazine is a proud Corporate Sponsor of CSSS.]
March 17, 2002
AGATHA CHRISTI & THE ORIENT
Revealing Agatha Christie the archaeologist and how her discoveries in the Near East influenced her detective writing.
The hitherto unknown interests and talents of the great crime writer are told through archaeological finds from the sites on which she worked with her husband Max Mallowan at Ur, Nineveh and Nimrud. Important objects from these sites in the Museum's collections are combined with archives, photographs, and films made by Agatha Christie herself.
Personal memorabilia and souvenirs of travel in a more leisurely age are only some of the exhibits which range from first editions of those novels inspired by her other life to a sleeping compartment from the Orient Express, from a lethal 1930s hypodermic syringe to a priceless first millennium ivory of a man being mauled to death
Admissions £7, Concessions £3.50
West Wing Exhibition Gallery Room 28
Third International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East
Purpose: To promote cooperation and information exchange between archaeologists working in the ancient Near East, from the eastern Medi-terranean to Iran and from Anatolia to Arabia, and from prehistoric times to Alexander the Great.
Contact: Victoria de Caste, Secretariat,
CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR SYRIAC STUDIES LECTURE
La Societe Canadienne des Etudes Syriaques
"Bar-Hebraeus & His Time:
The Syriac Renaissance & the Challenge of a New Reality"
University of Toronto
[Zinda Magazine is a proud Corporate Sponsor of CSSS.]
July 1-4, 2002
48TH RENCONTRE ASSYRIOLOGIQUE INTERNATIONALE
"Ethnicity in Ancient Mesopotamia"
Registration Form: http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/rencontre/mailform.html
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AssyriaVision Television - KBSV TV
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