AUA AT MARBELLA
Part 4: "Sunburst"
In her address on human rights, Ms Suzy David of Australia would draw on her rich personal experience. Born in Urmia, Iran, her family moved to Australia when she was still a youngster. In her adopted land, she excelled in her studies, earning a Bachelor of Economics, followed by a Bachelor of Laws, and then a Masters in Laws. A Solicitor and Barrister of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, she has practiced law for the past 17 years, and she is partner in a major law firm with several branch offices in Australia.
Despite the demands of her profession, Ms David has a long history of working for Assyrian causes in her community. More recently, she has also served as international legal advisor for the Assyrian Universal Alliance. In this latter capacity, she has traveled to Geneva on several occasions, to appear before United Nations bodies in order to speak on behalf of Assyrians. Clearly, the Australia Branch of AUA has assumed a leading role in international lobbying. I venture to guess that in large part this is due to the work of Ms David and an activist group of collaborators.
Ms David’s presentation in Marbella guided us on a tour – an overview of international law, its convergence with United Nations bodies, and the means for advocacy in such a milieu. Academic discourse was combined with an insider’s look, offering a view rarely seen by the rest of us. I was fortunate to supplement my own notes with those of fellow participants.
The speaker noted that international law is principally determined by Treaties or by generally accepted Custom, but it also takes into account the judicial decisions of various high courts, and other learned opinions. However, "[a]lthough the Security Council has particular powers, there is no real executive power for the enforcement of international legal rights."
There is an established principle that "[t]he powers of international organizations to make and enforce decisions depend on the approval and consent of member States." This of course considerably handcuffs the effectiveness of the UN. Nor can we ignore the overarching principle embedded in the UN Charter which specifies that it is the duty of States not to intervene in "matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State." This is predictably one of the most popular clauses and, at one point or another, it has been invoked by just about every member State.
UN membership alone may be enough to hold a nation-state accountable for its human rights record. Early after its formation, the UN established a Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which eventually led to the UN adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although this Declaration was not a "treaty," the practice of nations has bestowed it with such authority that it has arguably become a part of customary international law.
A good deal of the work of the CHR is accomplished by a Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. An interesting part of the story is the evolutionary process since the creation of this Sub-Commission. Its work goes beyond issues of Discrimination and Minorities. Both the CHR and its Sub-Commission were authorized to examine the "question of violation of human rights and fundamental freedom." This spawned annual debates and, eventually, it led to the creation of a number of Working Groups which have focused laser-like on various aspects of human rights abuses. Today’s Working Groups cover the spectrum of problem areas, such as Torture and Inhuman Treatment, Religious Intolerance, Right to Development, Freedom of Expression, Indigenous Populations, and Minorities, just to name a few.
In gathering evidence and hearing testimony, the Working Groups receive a great deal of input from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s). Of course, the number of NGO’s who wish to appear and air their complaints far exceeds the amount of time available to them. As a result, a pecking order has been instituted which permits the greatest right of participation to "NGO’s with consultative status." Even these are carefully rationed, and they receive all of ten minutes each to make their submission.
The requirements for acquiring "consultative status" is no easy feat. The likelihood that the AUA will ever achieve this higher NGO ranking is remote. Nevertheless, the AUA has appeared before Working Groups, under a procedure which enables it to act "under the umbrella" of an accredited NGO (e.g., Amnesty International). Ms David pointed out that "[t]o date, the AUA has concentrated on the Working Group on Minorities, and [more recently] the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, because they are relatively accessible." According to Mr. Hermiz Shahen (who heads the Australia Branch of AUA), "the participation of the Assyrian Universal Alliance at meetings of U.N. committees became more effective once AUA joined UNPO [Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization]." This is presumably so because UNPO has helped the AUA find the means to appear before the Working Groups.
The subject of Assyrians was first brought to the attention of the Working Group on Minorities at its May 1996 meeting in Geneva, when Ms David traced the plight of our people in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq. In a companion submission before this Group, she called on governments to respect the culture, language and history of minorities, including that of the Assyrians.
In May 1998, appearing before the same Working Group, Ms David urged for pressure on Iraq to respect international obligations regarding its minorities, convincing the Chairman of the Group to send a letter of reprimand to Iraq and other countries for violating the rights of those belonging to national ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. In a further submission regarding Assyrians, Ms David discussed Iraq’s "forcible displacement of minorities," a breach of its obligation under the UN Declaration. Professor Joseph Yacoub of Lyon, France (representing the Association des Assyro-Chaldéens de France) made a comparable presentation, highlighting the ill-treatment of Assyrians in Turkey, a charge immediately denied by the Turkish representative present at the meeting.
Because of scheduling difficulties and financial constraints, the Australia Branch of AUA and Ms David have not attended each and every annual meeting of the Working Groups. But Ms David has continued to participate in this effort, even when she has been obliged to do it in absentia. For example, although she was not in Geneva for the May 1999 meetings, she prepared submissions which were presented by John Nimrod (who currently heads the AUA as well as UNPO).
July 2000 was an important next step in this story, because it represented the first AUA participation in the Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Before representatives from various countries (there were over one thousand participants), Ms David delivered four "interventions," on behalf of the rights of Assyrians. This prompted a number of useful exchanges involving other NGO’s and academics in attendance. Not surprisingly, Iraq accused the Assyrians and Kurds of being militia groups fighting one another, while denying that they are the indigenous peoples of Iraq.
Ms David’s account of her appearances in Geneva gives rise to some interesting points and questions. I will touch on just a couple. In all of her submissions and interventions (whether they deal with claims of abuse or with ancestral claims), Ms David’s remarks have been aimed at the government in Baghdad, and for the most part they have ignored the current anomaly sometimes called "north Iraq" (also known as Iraqi Kurdistan). This choice of focus makes palpable sense, since well over 90% of Iraqi Assyrians live in the orbit of Baghdad and not that of Arbil. But this stands in sharp contrast to the perception fostered by a number of Assyrian Americans who obsess on "the north," giving rise to the false perception that our people are located mostly in that enclave.
On the other hand, the speaker’s remarks did not address an issue of great complexity, when she advanced the idea of pressing for land rights [in Iraq] under Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This provision gives "ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities … the right … to enjoy their own culture …" In interpreting this provision, the Human Rights Commission has indicated that in the case of "indigenous peoples," this right may extend beyond enjoyment of culture and may require protection of traditional lands. Understandably, the indigenous people who deal with the Working Group on Indigenous Populations often have an eye on self-determination; therefore, they have distinguished their rights from those of ethnic minorities.
Citing some case precedents, Ms David speculated that, "Article 27 can be invoked by indigenous peoples to secure autonomy in their traditional territories." But even if it can be assumed that Article 27 will support the territorial autonomy of an indigenous people, can it comfortably be assumed that the Assyrians would be the obvious indigenous group of first choice? I note that the exact location of the "traditional territories" has usually remained opaque, and it is always deferred to another time. But whatever lands may be dubbed the "traditional Assyrian territories," one can be certain that there would be competing claims for the designation of "the indigenous peoples" relative to those very same lands. If provisional border lines should ever be proposed, Assyrians would quickly hear from the competition. In other words, even if the principle should be accepted that "indigenous people" equates "right to autonomy," there would yet remain the daunting task of establishing an "indigenous" claim superior to that of others. In this latter equation, it is unclear what variables would be considered, or the consequence of inevitable contentiousness. But in any circumstances, this could by no means be smugly ignored.
Following Ms David’s presentation, I couldn’t help but admire her dedicated effort and that of the AUA delegates from the Australia Chapter. Their collaborative labors illustrate the untapped opportunities that exist for advancing the Assyrian cause. Here is a group of individuals who have applied their shoulder to the wheel and their efforts have hoisted the Assyrian name in important venues. Of course, the realization of this project also required a certain organizational legitimacy – a "hook," in journalistic parlance -- which could only be provided by someone of John Nimrod’s experience. A tireless traveler who keeps in touch with supporters in all corners, he is not only the head of the AUA, but also the chairman of UNPO. As such, he is strategically poised to help open doors, and in this case he did just that.
It is true that a lot of the activity before international bodies consists of much rhetoric and little follow-up. The skillful articulation of the tragedy of the Assyrians and their current plight does not get them one inch of territory. But advocacy of this type makes a powerful moral point, it disseminates the real story, and it conditions officials and experts to evaluate the claims of Assyrians along those of other oppressed groups. This is something that has rarely been done so well on our behalf. The long march begins with a first step, and this is a commendable one.
DAM THREATENS ANCIENT ASSYRIAN CITY OF ASHUR
Courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; written by David Nissman
(ZNDA: Prague) The city of Ashur, the ancient sacred capital of the Assyrian
Empire, may be flooded as a result of waters rising behind a new dam near
the city, according to the "Iraq Press" reported on 23 July.
The head of Iraq's
(ZNDA: Yerevan) According to the AZG Armenian Daily, several Assyrian
sports team from Germany, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Australia, Sweden, Belgium,
Holland, France and Armenia will gather in Tehran, Iran for the first
such Assyrian Games. The games will take place between July 28 and August
According to Tamrazov Vasilevich, about 7,000 Assyrians now live in Armenia. Their numbers are constantly declining due to the economic conditions in Armenia. He noted that Assyrian language is being taught in several Armenian schools.
ASSYRIAN PROTESTERS DENOUNCE LAUSANNE
Reprinted from the Kurdish Observer; July 26
(ZNDA: Bern) 150 Assyrian-Syriacs who had been marching for four days to protest the Lausanne Treaty ended their protest with a meeting at which they denounced the treaty.
The protesters who began their march from the Swiss capital of Bern to protest the Lausanne Treaty on its 78th anniversary arrived in Lausanne last Tuesday. They met in front of the chateau in which the treaty was signed at 1:30 in the afternoon and held a protest meeting drawing attention to the suffering the treaty had brought the Assyrians.
The public and media showed great interest in the meeting, which called attention to the various states which had signed the Lausanne Treaty. The meeting, which ended at 4:00 in the afternoon, was also attended by a number of Kurds living in Lausanne, who showed up to demonstrate their support.
"Historical injustice must be removed" Fikri Aygul, told the Kurdish Observer on behalf of the Planning Committee. He said that "the Lausanne Treaty had denied a number of people living in Mesopotamia and that the people must not accept a set of agreements reached in a chateau, as with this treaty."
Aygul also commented on the goals of the four-day march, saying the following: "While our action was protesting the historical injustice of the Lausanne treaty, it was also pointing out that the articles concerning minorities, 37 through 45 of the Lausanne Treaty, have not been implemented. While opposing the Lausanne Treaty, we also wanted to let it be known that we were opposed to every type of agreement from now on made in our name but without giving the people a voice and without paying attention to their rights. The fact that the Lausanne Treaty could be a reason for war and our people struggling even 78 years later shows the injustice of the Lausanne Treaty. That's why we are saying that this historical injustice must be removed."
Meanwhile, Fikri Aygul, who is also the chairman of the Assyrian-Syriac Diplomacy Group, said he had visited the embassies of the countries which signed the Lausanne Treaty and presented dossiers to them pointing out the tragedy which had been experienced by the Assyrian-Syriac people.
(ZNDA: New Jersey) On July 15, Zinda Magazine [http://www.zindamagazine.com] and Beth Mardutho [http://www.bethmardutho.org] launched a joint fundraising campaign for project eBethArké: The Syriac Digital Library. The project brings to the Internet around 3,000 out-of-copyright books, journal articles, pictures, maps and audio recordings in what will be the largest electronic library in this field. Beth Mardutho has partnered with leading university libraries to get access to the material, including Brigham Young University, Brown University, Princeton Theological Seminary, The Catholic University of America, Harvard's Dumbarton Oaks, and others.
It is estimated that each book will cost $250 to produce. This covers the cost of digitizing, converting and processing files, turning the images into an eBook, performing OCR that allows searching the text, adding links from contents and indices to pages, and producing a web downloadable version of the eBook.
To learn more about the project and how to contribute visit: [http://bethmardutho.org/eBethArke/Zinda/]
BET-EIL CHURCH YOUTH PRODUCE WEEKLY TELEVISION PROGRAM
The Bet-Eil Assyrian Church Youth Group announces the Weekly TV Program being broadcast to the South San Francisco Bay Area region on Mondays at 6:30 PM.
The program airs on local AT&T cable station, Channel 15A.
The Bet-Eil Assyrian Church Youth Group promotes Christian ethics to all Assyrians through weekly Bible study, youth activities, and now a weekly television program.
The Bet-Eil youths hope that the success of the television program will follow the success of our earlier project, a music CD titled "INVITATION", featured in Zinda Magazine's June 19th issue.
See you on Monday nights at 6:30 PM!
Thank you and God bless our Assyrian nation.
Assyrian Church Youth Group
HONOR THE MEMORY OF OUR MARTYRS WITH YOUR PRESENCE!
Please join us for an evening of remembrance and hope to honor the fallen heroes of the Assyrian nation. Our commemoration will include works by prominent Assyrian poets and musicians, and a brief historical overview of the causes and effects of the massacres committed against the Assyrian people in the 20th century.
Participating Assyrian organizations are:
Assyrian American Association of San Jose
Date: Sunday August 5th, 2001
OF CHICAGO PRESENTS FILM, CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION
From the PBS Legacy: Origins of Civilization series hosted by Michael Wood, this film seeks reminders of the ancient past in the present. Archaeology magazine called this series "entertaining and highly educational."
To get to the home of Petros, you had to go through long passageways; each passageway ended at a clay building, in which the way led out the rear door, then turned.
You don't take a house like this by surprise.
At the last door, there was a flock of ducks and geese. You find this
at the house of almost every Persian.
There was no garden in the courtyard of Petros.
It was night. High on the wall, huddled from the cold, sat a peacock. The heavy, magnificent tail even in the moonlight stood out sharply against the whitish clay.
Only Aissors had been invited.
The servants, in colored socks, went to and fro without a sound.
A breeze made sails of the calico at the windows.
Vadbolsky arrived. In general, he lived like a hermit and went nowhere.
Vadbolsky conducted the ceremony with casual deference and awarded the
decoration "with trembling hands."
The patriarch, with his ruddy face, was deeply moved; his eyes were shining; his hair was strangely gray, a completely silver gray and he was only twenty-six years old.
Later on, the Kurd Sinko lured him into a trap and killed him.
There were stacks of rifles in the hall.
They had been taken away from the Aissors as soon as they arrived at the house.
Everyone was preoccupied.
I'm writing so much about the Aissors because I considered it possible to make them into a significant force.
More accurately-I saw no other possibilities for creating such a force.
In addition, we were obligated to save these people, who had cast their lot with Russia.
It's interesting how legends are created.
Petros, or some orthodox priest-an Aissor-the one who was apparently always attending some reception at the governor's with the manner of a wandering monk, said that we shouldn't get mad at the Aissors, "the poor devils"; he told me: "You know, our women went to Vadbolsky and said to him- 'we'll give you our husbands, only order us to be killed: anything, but don't leave us at the mercy of the Persians.'"
Of course, no one went to Vadbolsky with these words, but everyone was
thinking them and hearing them said.
However, we could give them weapons and instructors.
We had extra weapons. And many of the officers and sergeants stayed on as instructors, expecting nothing good for themselves in Russia.
I was in favor of a rapid, frantically rapid, mobilization.
Russian troops handed over their weapons very reluctantly, but I knew a way.
All that had to be done was to give leaves to a whole detachment-for instance, the detachment assigned to the weapons depot. They would leave and you could take the weapons.
Incidentally, about weapons. The soldiers were firmly convinced that there was an order requiring them to take their rifles when they left Persia. It was said that the soldiers would not be let into Russia without their rifles.
The regional soviet itself, to my repeated inquiries for permis-sion to release the soldiers with weapons, replied with an order to disarm the demobilized men. But how to disarm them?
Considering that the rifles would be carried off anyway, I pro-posed that we allow this, but write into the documents of each soldier that he was carrying a rifle of such-and-such number and so many cartridges, which he would be obliged to register at his local soviet.
I wanted to do this in order to discourage the selling of rifles.
A rifle-especially a Russian one-is a treasure in the East. At the beginning of our retreat, the Persians gave two to three thou-sand rubles for a rifle; for a cartridge, they paid three rubles in the bazaar; for the same cartridge, they gave a bottle of cognac at the Kangarlu station.
For the sake of comparison, consider the price of the women abducted from Persia and from the Caucasus by our soldiers.
In Feodosia, for example, a woman cost fifteen rubles used and forty
rubles unused, and she was yours forever.
Even the cannons were sold. But, after all, this doesn't surprise anyone now.
I wasn't allowed to register the rifles carried off, but was or-dered to oppose it.
In any case,it was possible to get weapons for the national militia.
Comrade Stepanians organized the Armenian units; he had been chairman of the army committee and then an aide-de-camp to the commissar.
On first acquaintance, Stepanians gave the impression of not being a very cultured man.
He had been born in Russia and apparently had few connections with the local Armenians.
But I saw him grow in stature when the question of defending his people arose. I was amazed at his decisiveness and authority.
The Armenians have the same thing that you find only among the Jews-national discipline.
The Dashnaktsations made themselves as comfortable in the home of Manusurians as in their own.
The host himself held the reins of Stepanians' horse. When the Armenian deserters had to be found, the following announcement was posted: "You, Armenian deserters, are ordered to appear by such-and-such a date; those not appearing will be killed by such-and-such a date."
And, of course, those who didn't appear would be killed by their closest relatives.
Because of this mobilization, friction developed between Mar Shimun and Petros.
But in the end, they made it up by having Petros become Mar Shimun's chief of staff.
Petros was upset. "This is war-you can't defend Urmia and not Gerdyk!" But our troops had already pulled out of Gerdyk. He sent a dozen of his own men there.
Our men were pulling out, discarding supplies, discarding weapons and
sugar-an enormous amount of sugar.
I wanted to turn over our supply depots to the newly organized troops-the
things which we couldn't take along.
By the way, because of this mobilization, I finally had a falling out with Task when he returned.
He said that the mobilization, especially when done so hastily, would lead to adventures of the Prince Wied variety. I was very let down, since I saw no other alternatives.
Task was oriented on Russia, on getting our army out and home in one piece-if possible. My orientation was local.
If there had been only one person close to me, if I had not,in addition, wanted to get back to libraries, I would have gone nowhere: I would have stayed put in the East.
One other characteristic reconciled me to the East-the absence of anti-Semitism.
In the army they were already saying that Shklovsky was. . . a yid, as I was informed by a member of the profession, a Jewish officer just graduated from the military academy.
In Persia, and apparently in Turkey, Jews are not attacked.
Here they speak in a language that apparently comes from the Aramaic, while the Jews in the Russian Caucasus speak in some sort of Tatar dialect.
When the English took Jerusalem, a delegation of Aissors came to me bringing ten pounds of sugar and some Oramar currants and this is what they said.
But first just a few words. There was tea on the table because the arriving
guests had to be served something:
That's what they said-considering themselves descendants of the Assyrians and me a Jew.
Actually, they were mistaken-I'm not all Jew and they're not descendants of the Assyrians.
By blood, they're Semitic-Arameans.
But the sense of uninterrupted tradition in their conversation was characteristic-a distinctive feature of the peoples here.
Urmia was restless. Drunken soldiers were walking around, shooting into the air at night, carrying in their blood the germs of another pogrom.
One night, just at dawn, a Persian ran into my room; two soldiers were
chasing him with rifles-they were drunk.
There were strange stories. One morning while Task was still away at the negotiations in Mosul, some barefoot men in filthy clothes came to see us-two or three of them had rifles.
"Who are you?"
"We're prisoners from the stockade."
"Well, who let you out?"
"We just left."
And the guards said, "The prisoners decided to come and see you, so how could we stop them?"
Among the prisoners were some condemned to hard labor. They did have something to complain about. It was filthy in the stockades, so filthy that the prisoners would break the windows in the winter and then it was cold without the glass. There was no place to bathe and no clean underwear. They were held a long, long time without questioning-months.
The next day we went to check the list of prisoners. It turned out that anyone who felt like it did the arresting: the judge advocate, security, the unit commanders, the commanding officer and the army committee.
And you can say without exaggerating that the men arrested were forgotten. Not out of cruelty, but out of general confusion and a lack of concern for people.
The Kurds were kept apart. They were put in a cellar. It was called the Kurdish cellar. It was a dismal, gray room with a strong smell. The Kurds kept in it were charged, for the most part, with espionage.
Some of the Kurds had children; obviously, they had no place to go, so they sat with their fathers in the hole. What surprised me most of all was why the prisoners didn't leave.
I know for sure that it wouldn't have occurred to the guards to shoot.
But they didn't leave. Obviously some sense of propriety still remained.
The results of the elections for the Constituent Assembly held in our Persian army were about as follows: the SR slate received two-thirds of the votes: the Bolsheviks, one-third; the Mensheviks j and Kadets received a few dozen each.
The insignificant number of votes received by the Kadets stems from the fact that all the men in small units of two or three hundred know each other; and if an officer had voted for the Kadets, he would have been open to the charge of being a Kadet and this, in those times, was not without danger.
I keep describing misery and more misery. And I'm sick of it. In all the hundreds of thousands of soldiers in our army, couldn't there have just possibly have been something good, some-thing worthwhile?
There was. But the condition of our army-the total disillusion-ment,
the deep despondency, the willingness to resort even to sabotage if only
to end the war-all this brought out the worst, not the best, side of the
I think that any army put in that situation at that moment would have behaved the same way.
We had posted special commissars at the landing piers. Men to keep their eye on the troop embarkation. These men didn't run away, though it was very hard for them.
The medical unit worked pretty well.
In every unit, there were men who did some job that they considered to be for the common good.
But the army, lacking the instinct of self-preservation that a nation has, was sick, and sick people rarely put their best foot forward.
One thing that can be mentioned is the good attitude of the soldiers toward each other-they weren't like wolves with each other.
But the most important thing is that the men waited their turn, usually with patience, and put up with the situation when in fact there was no longer anything to hold them back.
Even on the road, this patience lasted, withstanding everything in the
name of the word "home."
I ordered all the wine in town to be destroyed. Technically I had the right-though this was of very little interest to me-because the year before we had forbidden the production of wine.
A special commission made up of Persians and members of our committee destroyed the wine.
When the wine in the main wine cellar, belonging to a certain Dzhaparidzeh, was destroyed, the water in the ditch ran pink and a huge crowd fixedly eyed the scarlet stream running out from under the wall of the big, ugly gray house.
The destruction of the wine didn't take place without misunder-standings.
This place smelled too much of wine and money.
The drunkenness tapered off, but didn't disappear. Wine was hauled in
from the other side of the lake.
It had already become commonplace to see people dying in the street.
People were fighting over the garbage thrown out of the head-quarters mess hall.
At dinnertime, hungry children gathered in our compound.
I think it was a complaint.
Delegations of women kept coming to ask the consul for help. But what could he do? He was the consul of a nonexistent govern-ment; he might as well have been consul in the land of blue antelopes.
Condemned to watch, I watched as the Persians gave alms to their beggars-two
raisins or one almond.
Caravans of camels loaded with silver were often received by Doctor Shedd, a gray-haired old man-head of the mission.
I don't know how much we Russians were to blame for the famine.
In all probability, we were responsible to the extent that the war created a class of refugees. We also hindered the cultivation of the fields by driving out the inhabitants and, what is more important, by upsetting the irrigation system.
All the fields here produce a harvest only when irrigated.
The fields are divided into sections and then inundated a section at a time.
The water is apportioned according to a strict order, established and strictly regulated by local customs.
Under the influence of individual landowners, acting in their own interests or sometimes thinking to serve justice, our troops tampered with this arrangement.
As a result, part of the fields went without water.
In addition, it was apparently a bad year in general.
To make matters worse, we requisitioned their barley-wheat we imported from Russia-and did nothing to provide for the populace.
The English would have acted differently: they would have found bread
and fed those who were starving.
"You pillage; the English suck."
By this time, some units in our army no longer recognized the authority of the army committee or, for that matter, my authority, the source of which wasn't clear even to me.
Tabriz had seceded and was attempting to organize its own army congress. Then Khoi seceded and proclaimed itself autono-mous, but quickly reconsidered.
At least, I received a telegram from there about the pogroms.
The withdrawal was supposed to be carried out in the following way: part
of the troops were to go on foot to Dzhulf a and part from Solozhbulak
along the right shore of the lake, more or less from Urmia to Tabriz.
The units that left first were supposed to wait at prearranged places
and guard the road while the last groups passed through.
Such a movement is called "to advance in waves."
Naturally, nothing worked out.
Already the first regiments dispatched were rushing to get as far as possible from Persia.
A great many wanted to get to Stavropol Province.
One division got through relatively well-I've forgotten its num-ber. It went in march formation, with the wagons in the middle, and got through without losing a single man.
Those individual men who had left on the orders demobilizing all men over thirty years of age naturally tried to get as far away as possible. And they took the railroad cars intended for us. Our cars had special brakes, but they took them in the vicinity of Rostov.
Only four cars were left standing at the siding from Sharafkha-neh to Sufian.
And the units of what was apparently the Fourth Corps of the Caucasian
Army were moving toward Dzhulf a.
Headquarters was still functioning, if half-heartedly. But then why should they take heart?
To our complete surprise, Stepanians' wife arrived in Urmia with their child. She brought newspapers with her. She was a typical Russian female student. She brought with her an atmos-phere of a rather philistine, optimistic Bolshevism. But somehow she didn't bring it off too convincingly.
The main thing was missing-revolutionary zeal. Perhaps I was mistaken; perhaps I'm mistaken now. All I saw was the slump, the abatement of energy.
The revolution was going downhill, not uphill.
And it made little difference what was causing this decline.
But if we had been asked then, "Who are you for-Kaledin, Kornilov or the Bolsheviks?," Task and I would have chosen the Bolsheviks.
However, in a certain comedy, the harlequin was asked, "Do you prefer
to be hanged or quartered?"
Task still hadn't come. Once we got a radiogram from Em which set out the Turks' terms for the armistice. Em asked for Vadbolsky's approval. He replied: Sign!
Then Task came-on horseback, as I recall. The dissolution of the army had taken its toll of automobiles: no car had been sent for him.
The Turks had conducted him as far as Sheikhin-Gerusin, from where he went by foot along a telegraph line whose poles had been chopped down for firewood; only the four rows of wire stretched out in the dust.
The Turks noticed that we had sent no one for our own men. We no longer
even pretended that we were an army.
To go through peace negotiations from the position of weakness is a rough business.
When our delegates were on their way to the Turks, the latter met them in a pass.
To the Turks, peace is happiness. They embraced our men and laughed with joy.
The Turkish soldiers, thin and ragged, looked at our delegates and smiled. .
They went by way of the famous Ranandus Gorge, the route we would have taken in attacking Mosul.
This is a deep and precipitous gorge. At one point, a waterfall drops from the very brink of the mountain wall. The water shatters against the rocks and shoots up in a geyser with clouds of foam.
On the way, they stopped briefly in Ardebil, a circular town with high walls. There's one street in town-the square in the center.
They came into Mesopotamia and began to encounter herds of horses, gaunt and sway-backed. The car had to maneuver between dead horses.
They drove into Mosul. The Germans, masters at that time of both us and the Turks, received the delegates coldly and, without further ado, proposed that they sign the armistice agreement, which stipulated, among other conditions, the immediate evacua-tion of Persia.
Naturally, we had to evacuate Persia and we knew that we would, but we didn't want to do it in response to a German order.
Unfortunately, I don't remember all the German conditions.
You could piece it together from the Tiflis newspapers. I think the archives of our headquarters were lost.
You could get all the details from the German newspapers or from Efrem Task.
The representative of the Turks-and a most amiable represen-tative at that-was Halim Pasha.
Halim Pasha's fame in the East is enormous. It was this very same Halim Pasha who, during the evacuation of Erzurum, buried four hundred Armenian babies alive.
I think in Turkish they call this "slamming the door."
And the negotiations had to be conducted with this man, quite nice to all appearances.
The Turks were overjoyed about the peace. Halim Pasha spoke bitterly
of how they had had to fight for ten years.
A Jewish doctor was sitting on the floor, playing on something like a zither and singing.
In the most pathetic spots, Halim Pasha would join in, snapping his fingers
and taking the singer a glass of vodka.
Halim Pasha spoke enthusiastically about the annulment of debts: "That's very fine, I like that, we don't want to pay either."
There were Russian prisoners in town, cowed and cringing at the sight of a German soldier.
Our men tried to talk to them. Some of them leaned toward a monarchy, the others timidly toward a republic.
'When the truce envoys were getting ready to return home, women who had been abducted from Armenia forced their way through to them, grabbed their horses by the legs and tails and shouted, "Take us with you; kill us." But the men silently left.
Our men had to endure Brest before Brest.
I told Task that I was leaving. He didn't object.
The Aissors were very sad; for me, too, leaving was hard, but I thought
I might be able to do something in St. Pete; and I would have had to stay
for good, since I didn't want to go with the army. The end was already
Tiflis was living through harrowing days. The frontiers were rapidly being exposed, leaving the city unprotected.
An invasion by the Turks was becoming yesterday's danger; our soldiers were today's danger. People were rushing around.
On one hand, special medical commissions were releasing to a man all the Russian soldiers in the garrison; on the other hand, the newspapers, which, of course, didn't reach the front, were asking the soldiers to stay at their positions until the arrival of their own national forces.
And the front was wide open, as bare of soldiers as the Tauride garden of leaves on a windy fall day.
Nationalism-Armenian, Georgian, Moslem, even Ukrainian- was blossoming on all the streets in the magnificent colors of bright caps and pants, as well as in the newspapers-in chauvinis-tic articles.
Things were complicated by the fact that there were a lot of unsettled questions between the Armenians and the Georgians.
It was almost impossible to define the border between their territories.
At the same time, units of Moslems-posing a threat to everyone-were being organized and these men were in superb fighting condition.
They were eyed disapprovingly, but nothing could be done.
The Caucasus was in the process of self-determination.
The show "Russia" was over; everyone was hurrying to get his coat and hat.
In Elisavetpol, and wherever else it was possible, Tatars were slaughtering Armenians. Armenians were slaughtering Tatars.
Sometimes the Moslems stopped trains and demanded that the Armenians be handed over. Sometimes battles took place because of this.
Then rumors from Persia-our men's shooting from the railroad cars and our obvious weakness whetted appetites. Train wrecks were already being staged to get at the Russian troops.
While our troops were pulling out of Urmia, the Persian Cos-sacks attacked us. Some of the inhabitants took part in the battle. The Aissors fought on our side. Aga Petros put cannons on Jewish Mountain and destroyed a section of the town. The Persian Cos-sacks were slaughtered, during which time their commander, Stolder, and his daughter were killed; Stolder's son-in-law shot himself.
Our troops in the mountains, now demobilized, with an elected commander
and the regiments reduced to shambles, were sur-rounded by the Kurds.
In the vicinity of Wolf Gate, some wagons were burning. From their light,
you could see how the attackers would pick up the rifle of one of our
dead soldiers and fight over it among themselves.
There was nothing to burn, so our troops soaked underwear and rugs with oil and burned them.
with Bishop Mar Bawai Soro, Church of the East
Publications on Near East Archaeology & Syriac Studies
ADAD WARDA WINS "BEST ANIMATION"
Congratulations to Mr. Adad Warda, the winner of Caligari's Animation Contest last month.
Every month Caligari Software holds a contest to see who can create the best images or animations with their software. A Winner and a Runner-up is chosen each month in two categories "Best Still Image" and "Best Animation". Mr. Adad Warda was the winner of the June 2001 "Best Animation" Contest.
The Winners in each category receive their choice of several prizes such
as a a Caligari package which includes a proTeam subscription, trueSpace5.1,
or iSpace1.5; a Graphics Card from 3D Lab; Seamless Textures 3, Ultimate
Interior Surfaces; and 6 Classic Architectural Ornament CDs from Marlin
To view Mr. Warda's animation visit: http://www.caligari.com/Gallery/anims/Jun01/index.html - note - has changed since last issue.
In June the 32-year-old Alexander the Great returns to Babylon, the capital of his empire. At a drinking party Alexander became ill. He developed a fever and a few days later he died.
Moslem Arabs win at the Battle of Qadisiyya (near Najaf in Iraq) and
gain the control of southern Mesopotamia. The Persian armies retreat.
In August of the same year the Moslem forces claim victory at the Battle
of Yarmuk and occupy Syria.
August 3, 1968
Mar Ishai Shimum, the late-Patriarch of the Church of the East meets with Iran's Prime Minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda (1965-1977) to discuss the preservation of Assyrian cultural and Christian heritage in Iran. His Holiness was accompanied by the current Patriarch, Mar Dinkha IV, then the Bishop of the Diocese of Iran.
Share your local events with Zinda readers. Email us or send fax to: 408-918-9201
MARTYRS DAY COMMEMORATION
Works by prominent Assyrian poets and musicians, and a brief historical overview by Mr. Wilfred Alkhas, publisher of Zinda Magazine, on the causes and effects of the massacres committed against the Assyrian people in the 20th century.
Participating Assyrian organizations are:
A day to commemorate the Assyrian martyrs throughout history.
MARTYRS DAY COMMEMORATION & GENOCIDE
Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) Australian Chapter in collaboration with the Assyrian Australian Academic Society, the Assyrian Australian National Federation and the Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East, commemorate the Assyrian Martyrs Day.
ASSYRIAN MARTYRS, THEIR SPIRITS LIVE ON
An Assyria Youth Initiative
Drama "Smeleh" and other youth activities.
Collect your free badge from the Assyria Youth Association members in your area and please wear it throughout the week 6th Aug to 12th Aug 2001
For more information e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org
FILM: "CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION"
University of Chicago's Oriental Institute
SARGON GABRIEL PARTY
Presented by the Assyrian Eagles
Basketball & Soccer Teams of Bay Area
For Tickets & Infor contact:
August 28 - Sept 3
ASSYRIAN AMERICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
A PERFORMANCE OF SUMERIAN STORIES
The Zi-Pang Trio
November 8 thru
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
MIDDLE EAST STUDIES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE
Middle East Studies Association of North America Panel
Hyatt Regency Hotel, San Francisco
Dr. Arian Ishaya - Urmia to Baquba: From the Cradle
of Water to Wilderness
THE NIMROD CONFERENCE
Sponsored by the British School of Archaeology in Iraq
Cost To Be Determined
Contact Dept of Ancient Near East 020 7323 8315
Coincides with Ancient Near East week at the British Museum:
FIRST UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO's CSSS SYMPOSIUM
Sponsored by Canadian Society for Syriac Studies (CSSS)
Zindamagazine would like to thank:
Dr. Manfred Alkhas
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