EDEN NABY’S CRITIQUE "GEORGE KIRAZ AND THE SYRIAC DIGITAL LIBRARY"
In a lengthy critique of the Syriac Digital Library Project and the "background of the person who is proposing the Syriac Digital Library [i.e., George Kiraz]" (Zinda 7, no. 21), Dr. Eden Naby of Harvard University has not only misrepresented the project and its objectives, but also painted an utterly erroneous picture of Beth Mardutho, the Institute behind the project. Dr. Naby’s critique is largely based on false speculative assumptions about the Institute and the Syriac Digital Library Project. Considering Naby’s academic affiliation, one would expect a balanced, well-cited review free of prejudicial views – which I am sure her academic training facilitates; rather, we have a critique that is prejudicial in essence and polemic in style. Its central theme derives from ethnocentricities, not academic endeavor. Naby’s unfamiliarity with the Institute is surprising indeed, as she is a subscribing member of Beth Mardutho. We expect that our subscribing members, especially the academics, demonstrate a better understanding of the Institute and its projects.
To remind the reader with the issue at hand, Beth Mardutho has recently launched a project in partnership with major university libraries to create an electronic library on the Internet of books, journal articles, pictures and maps. The project will contain about 3,000 items in Syriac, Sourith, English, Arabic and other languages.
Surprisingly enough, Naby begins her critique by linking the library project to the US Census 2000 and ethnic identity. As Beth Mardutho does not get involved in ethnic disputes, I have nothing to comment on with regards to ethnicity. I will, however, clarify one point that thus far has been obvious since the establishment of our Institute in 1992. The term ‘Syriac’ in the name of our Institute and its projects refers to the language, not ethnicity, nor does it derive from the name of the ‘Syriac’ Orthodox Church as Naby has erroneously suggested. Our mission to serve all the communities that employ the Syriac language in one form or another, including the Assyrians, is very clearly stated in our mission statement.
In what follows, I shall refute Naby’s critique, and then answer her more reasonable concerns.
Naby’s Misleading Biography of George Kiraz
Naby gives my short biography, the sole purpose of which seems to place me in an "anti-Assyrian" milieu using guilt-by-association fallacies. After a few polite and kind remarks, Naby tells us "[Kiraz] is a deacon of the church in Teaneck, New Jersey, the site of the seat of Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, the very same cleric who succeeded (1999) in changing the name of the St. Mary’s Assyrian Orthodox Church in Worcester to ‘Syrian’… [Kiraz] studied with Sebastian Brock, the well known anti-Assyrian Syriac scholar quoted on various web sites, where he was a fellow graduate student with Susan Ashbrook Harvey." Naby then undermines my scholarship in Syriac studies "Instead of continuing in Syriac studies, George got his PhD in computer science, hence his title of Dr… Nothing in all [of Kiraz’s] array of activity mentions Assyrians… When pressed on his ethnicity, he calls himself Palestinian." Later, Naby adds "This [Kiraz] is a person who will not call himself Assyrian nor should we expect him to have our interest at heart."
a. Archbishop Mor Cyril does not tell me how to run Beth Mardutho, nor do I tell him how to run his archdiocese. This is all irrelevant. Where I serve as a deacon bears no relevance to Beth Mardutho and the library project, though Naby might be pleased to learn that in my capacity as a deacon I also serve and have lectured at St. Mary’s church in Paramus that bears the name ‘Assyrian’.
b. Naby’s accusations against Brock, the most celebrated Syriac scholar of our time, as an "anti-Assyrian" scholar are most disturbing. Her previous accusations of well-respected scholars have been well criticized by Francis Sarguis (Zinda 7, no. 21). Since when do Harvard scholars cite web site forums, all of which are non-academic, polemical, and often ill mannered, as basis to call well-respected scholars by such names? Dr. Brock is one of the most outspoken defenders of the faith of the Assyrian Church of the East in international ecumenical meetings. His respect to the identity of modern Assyrians, which can be seen in all of his writings, is a testimony to his respect to and friendship with the Assyrian community. As for Prof. Harvey being a fellow graduate student of mine, I have never seen her in Oxford, nor has she ever been a student at Oxford. Prof. Harvey was a graduate student at Birmingham and received her doctorate before my days in Oxford. Hopefully, this saves her from being an anti-Assyrian!
c. Naby may or may not have intended to undermine my scholarship in Syriac studies (it is difficult to judge, but I shall give her the benefit of the doubt). At any rate she states "Instead of continuing in Syriac studies, George got his PhD in computer science, hence his title of Dr." To clarify, my Ph.D. was actually in computational linguistics, with a thesis on computing Arabic and Syriac morphology. My thesis will appear in the next few weeks in book form, published by Cambridge University Press. I have never discontinued my work in Syriac studies. Since leaving Oxford, I have produced seven books (some in multiple volumes if I may brag) and numerous papers and studies. I have served as the General Editor of Hugoye since 1988 and serve on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Aramaic Bible.
d. In praising my "computer science" works (fonts, Beth Gazo, Hugoye), Naby claims "nothing in this array of activity mentions Assyrians." She is utterly mistaken. She needs to read what I produce or edit.
e. What is most offensive is Naby’s criticism of my personal identity. "When pressed," she claims, "he calls himself Palestinian." Naby is basing this statement on a dinner conversation I have had with her during the American Oriental Society meeting a few months back. Citing private conversations in public forums lacks academic etiquette, let alone taking them out of context as Naby has so perfectly done. What I call myself or do not call myself is a matter of privacy unless I chose to make it public. Naby shows her utter lack of respect to what I consider or do not consider myself to be.
Naby’s Misrepresentation of the Library Project
Naby has the following to say about the library project: "We cannot afford to support a project that is uncertain in its goals and confused in its breadth… [This] is not a university project. It is an academic project in a very loose sense… The Syriac/Assyrian [sic] Orthodox Church is the sole church whose endorsement has been sought for this project… The project scope is far too broad and unclearly defined. The initiators of this project, and its church and academic endorsers, if they do not have a hidden agenda, need to think through their project goals and scope carefully."
a. Naby fails to explain to us why she thinks the project is "uncertain in its goals and confused in its breadth", or why its "scope is far too broad and unclearly defined." Unsubstantiated mere rhetorical comments are uncommon in scholarship (and while Zinda is not an academic forum, we do expect minimum standards of scholarship from contributors who sign their names with academic affiliations). Naby not only has access to the publicly available literature about this project, she has available at her disposal (as she once informed me) the more detailed literature that we sent to Harvard University seeking their partnership. Our detailed literature, sent to libraries and available to Naby at Harvard, describes very clearly the objectives and scope of the project. We presented our project to Brown University, Princeton Theological Seminary, The Catholic University of America, Brigham Young University, and Harvard’s Dumbarton Oaks, all of which were impressed and decided to partner with us. Princeton Theological Seminary even started thinking of how to apply our methodology for other fields of study. Three internationally-known scholars (not counting the "anti-Assyrian") gave enthusiastic support to the project, to be found on our web site. But to Naby, the project is "uncertain, confused," and "unclearly defined", and we are not told why!
b. Naby accuses our Institute of bias and claims that we only sought the endorsement of the Syriac Orthodox Church (see also below where she speculates that we operate under the wings of this church). This is an entirely false assumption on Naby’s part. Beth Mardutho has been communicating with church and secular organizations of all the traditions regarding the project. During the past six months, we have communicated with clergy from the Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean Church, the Maronite Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, as well as many of the Indian Syriac based churches. We have written to many secular organizations such as the Assyrian Universal Alliance / Ashurbanipal Library, the Syriac Universal Alliance, and numerous Maronite and Chaldean organizations. We have successfully begun fund-raising programs with a number of web sites including Chaldeans Online, Peshitta.org, Syriac Orthodox Resources, and Zinda Magazine. We were invited to present the project at the Annual Convention of the Syriac Orthodox Church in North America, the Syriac Universal Alliance High Council Meeting, and the forthcoming Assyrian American National Federation meeting. We have received letters of blessings from two patriarchs (obviously both cannot be Syriac Orthodox). This is hardly only a Syriac Orthodox endorsement.
c. Naby’s criticism of the project is not without irresponsible accusations: "The initiators of this project, and its church and academic endorsers, if they do not have a hidden agenda, …" Would Naby be kind enough to enlighten us about the nature of such a "hidden agenda"? Who are the conspirators? Who is the target of this conspiracy? What is this hidden agenda trying to achieve? Can Naby give us any clue before accusing well-respected scholars and the entire Syriac Orthodox Church? Such unsubstantiated accusations are not what one might expect from a Harvard affiliate!
Naby’s Misrepresentation of Beth Mardutho
The next target in Naby’s critique is Beth Mardutho itself, the Institute behind the library project: "[Beth Mardutho’s] Board of Directors are not mentioned in the literature that is provided… To what extent does this Syriac Institute fall within the folds of the [Syriac Orthodox] patriarchal robes? … If, God forbid, something happened to George, the project would either fall apart or more likely, revert to shelter wholly under the umbrella of the Archbishop of Teaneck, New Jersey, a possible next Patriarch of a church that, for the past eighty years, has tried to erase the name Assyrian."
a. Naby does not tell us what literature she is reading. All of our literature points to our web site on which Naby will find not only our Board of Directors, but also our Academic Board, and the Hugoye Editorial Board. We pride ourselves that our boards consist of the most outstanding and most prominent scholars in the field, academics from the best universities: Oxford (that "anti-Assyrian"), Leiden, Rome, Brown, Princeton, Duke, The Catholic University, Toronto, Notre Dame, and last but not least Harvard. Our boards include western scholars as well as scholars from within the tradition. Naby only needs to click on "About Us" on our web site to find the specific names.
b. Somehow, Naby figured if something were to happen to me, the project would fall under the Syriac Orthodox Church. She gives us no clue as to why she thinks so. Beth Mardutho has enough boards to determine who will succeed me should something happen to me. If anything, there are more Catholics serving in Beth Mardutho than any other denomination.
c. With regards to Naby’s question "to what extent does this Syriac Institute fall within the folds of the [Syriac Orthodox] patriarchal robes [sic]?" the answer is none, though we would have hoped that Naby used a more respectful term to refer to His Holiness the Patriarch of Antioch, rather than his "robe." We do, however, enjoy the appreciated blessings of patriarchs, bishops, and priests, and not only Syriac Orthodox ones. In a blessing letter to Beth Mardutho, H.H. Patriarch Iwaz wished to establish contacts with the church’s Seminary. This alarmed Naby and made her jump to conclusions. Beth Mardutho will work with any educational Institute within or outside of the tradition. For instance, we are in the process of establishing ties with the University of St. Mary of the Lake, where the seminarians of the Assyrian Church of the East study, for purposes of making the Syriac Digital Library available to them locally.
d. Naby’s polemics against the Syriac Orthodox Church and her ‘election’ of the next patriarch merit no reply.
Naby’s Reasonable Concerns
Despite the "anti-Assyrian" milieu surrounding the project initiator, the possible "hidden agendas" of the academics behind it, and the supposed bias of the Institute towards the Syriac Orthodox Church, we are very pleased to see that Naby seems to have some hope for the project, as she presents some suggestions for improvement. These I shall now address along with her concerns:
1. Naby suggests that instead of digitizing printed books, we first digitize manuscripts as they are falling apart in monasteries and western libraries.
Our project does not exclude manuscripts, although manuscripts are not our first priority. For instance, there is a good collection of East Syriac manuscripts at The Catholic University of America that will be digitized as part of this project. Our decision to digitize primarily printed books was not without reasons. Printed books are under much more demand and will serve a wider readership, both general readers and the scholars. Access to manuscripts in monasteries is restricted, and for some monasteries where the material is available, Brigham Young University has been doing a terrific job digitizing them. Some collections, both from the Middle and the West have already been microfilmed. Additionally, scholars can easily order microfilms of any manuscript that is present in a western library.
2. "If this project is with clear goals," Naby prejudicially suggests, "why not seek funds from the multitude of sources beginning with the National Endowment for the Humanities." She assures us that our project will get the proper attention "IF [Naby’s capitalization] the project is well defined."
We have already applied, and are in the process of applying, for funds from multiple sources including the NEH. However, Naby must know from her academic experience that the NEH and other funding agencies do not approve all applications, and that is not an indication that the project is not "with clear goals" or not "well defined" as she suggests. Naby must also know from her academic experience that even if we assume that agencies such as the NEH will approve our applications, their grants are often conditional on the Institute raising matching funds from private sources. We must not rely on such external funding, for our domain – as much as it is important for our own purposes – is the least important for many funding agencies. Our applications are competing with digitization projects whose domains benefit a much wider audience in American society. We are competing against libraries in poor areas that need much renovation. When applying to more general funds, we are competing with medical research, the sick and the hungry. Getting funds from outside sources is easier said than done. Nevertheless, we are trying hard. Maybe Naby can help through the educational funds available at her disposal.
3. Naby questions "to how many people will the digitization of books already in major libraries be of any use? May be a hundred."
Naby has the privilege of being near one of the largest libraries in America, Harvard. How many people have that privilege? How many university libraries have anywhere near a complete collection in Syriac studies? If Naby sincerely thinks that amongst all the Assyrian, Syriac, Maronite, Chaldean, and Indian Christians, as well as western scholars and the general public at large, she can only find 100 readers, we might as well pack and go home. I should think that a library containing grammars, dictionaries, histories, liturgies, literature in the native language and translations, studies, stories, pictures and maps would be invaluable to many people most of whom have no access to major libraries, especially if they can access all this material on a click of a button. The departing point of the project is that general readers, even scholars in most North American universities, have no access to these books. Two years ago, a professor asked me to photocopy for him Patriarch Jacob III’s History of Deir Mar Matta. No American library seems to have the book; hence, he cannot get it through inter-library loan. That professor is still waiting for his photocopy as I have not had the chance to oblige him, and I will not let it out of my private library. Duke University does not have a copy of the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian. How many readers have a copy of, or access to, the English translation of Ishodad’s commentary on the New Testament (from 1911-1916)? Rahmani’s 1905 edition of the Qurbono Liturgy? Joseph Knanishu’s About Persia and Its People (1899) which contains much information about the Assyrians of Urmia? Emhardt and Lamsa’s The Oldest Christian People (1926)? Imagine if you can access all these books on a click of a button.
4. Naby asks, "exactly what defines the books … that they wish to digitalize [sic]? Where do they draw the line between what is Syriac in the narrow academic sense and what is Syriac in the way that term is defined by the Syriac/Assyrian [sic] Orthodox Church?"
I admit that I do not understand the question. Our literature indicates that we are digitizing books "on" Syriac studies as well as "in" Syriac. Hence, our library will have books in Arabic, English, Sourith, etc. With 10 years of work in the field, I am not aware of a "narrow academic" definition of Syriac, nor have I heard of a special definition of the term by the Syriac Orthodox Church. It would be helpful if Naby could oblige us by explaining what these definitions are. She seems to be concerned that if an Assyrian periodical like Zahrira d-Bahra is included in our library, it will loose its Assyrian character! Would this periodical become American if it was placed in the American Library of Congress? Or has it already lost its Assyrian character because it is sitting in a ‘Middle Eastern’ library at Harvard? Would a Syriac book become Lebanese because it is sitting on a shelf at a Lebanese Library?
5. Naby asks, "Is the goal to make Church Syriac [sic] materials more easily available to scholars in digital form?" If affirmative, she has no problems with the project, but questions how much of a priority is this to the Assyrian community where there is more pressing educational needs.
It has been stated in our literature, and in the press release with Zinda Magazine, that the readership is not only academic. Even someone who does not read Syriac will benefit from this library as there will be hundreds of book in English, Arabic, German, French, etc. Imagine a high school student wishing to write a term paper on St. Ephrem, or Mar Narsai, or even a writer like Ishodad of Merv who has no chance of being in Encyclopaedia Britannica. This student (and her parents) will find English texts on these topics in the library. At the Annual Convention of the Syriac Orthodox Church in America, college kids were jubilant about the project. A father came up to me and sponsored one book for every child that he had. "How much of a priority is this?" The reader can judge.
f. Naby questions, "who makes the decision on what will be digitalized [sic]. The donor of the $250? Not to our knowledge."
There is no intention to exclude material, if this is what Naby implies. As long as we can get our hands on a book in our domain, we will digitize it. Our domain has already been stated in our public announcements, with examples of titles that demonstrate the diversity of the project. The $250 is a calculated average for the cost of digitizing a book. Obviously Touma Oudo’s large dictionary will cost more than a 10-page leaflet. The donation goes into a ‘pot’ from which the Institute spends on this project. Donors can state if they wish their money to go to a special field (e.g., Eastern Fathers, Maronite tradition, Mar Narsai, etc.) and we will ensure that their donations are spent according to their wishes. For instance, Peshitta.org wishes that its contributions be used for the Peshitta Bible and the writings of the Fathers of the Church of the East. We also have a program where donors can establish special collections in the library under a name of their choice (this could solve Naby’s identity concerns). Everyone who worked with us in the past knows that we are very open, and people will find us very much easy to work with.
Naby’s critique created a stream of confusion and misconceptions about the project and our Institute on the Beth Suryoyo Assyrian Forum (and possibly elsewhere). To illustrate this, one Assyrian wrote to me back in June when he learned about the project, "Your contribution to our people's cause is really amazing… I will for sure support at least one of your books in near future." Now, after reading Naby’s speculative critique, that same person is calling for "[AANF] participating activists to prepare to scrutinize this project in all [its] aspects" without investigating if Naby’s claims have any basis whatsoever. The words of Francis Sarguis come to mind. "By virtue of her academic persona," Sarguis tells us "Dr. Naby carries a certain cachet which obligates a greater degree of care in her pronouncements. ‘When the Doctor speaks, the audience listens.’ "(Zinda 7, no. 21). Indeed, some are listening, but alas to mere speculations.
Beth Mardutho is an unbiased academic Institute, its academics have no "hidden agendas", and the objectives of the library project are clear. We sincerely hope that Naby, and those who took her critique at face value, will see the broad picture.
It is the most sincere hope of Beth Mardutho that it can work closely with all the communities, transcending not only denominational differences but also ethnic ones. We hope this would become the model and the norm.
George Kiraz, Ph.D.
AUA AT MARBELLA
Part 7: "Sun Rays"
The "business" of the 23rd A.U.A. Congress in part included the presentation of several Reports from various federations and chapters. Two of these may be of particular interest.
I. The North-East Syria Outreach Project
Mr. John Yonan is an A.U.A Board member from the Chicago chapter, and he presented a most interesting report about the North-East Syria Outreach Project (NESOP) and its continued progress under his stewardship. NESOP consists of two programs. Below are some of Mr. Yonan’s comments.
"Our outreach is intended to help provide economic & medical assistance to the region. We have just recently returned from there (Early October 2000). We are offering a $472 Million dollar steel mill project to the Syrian government that was presented to Prime Minister Miro and is still being considered. This of course will help employ several hundred people, but more importantly it will open the door for many large steel processing manufacturers who would otherwise not be interested in going into Syria. The new technology ‘Thin Slab Continuous Cast Steel Mill’ provides the latest technology in steel making in the world, so as to produce high quality steel at the lowest prices in the world market."
Regarding this program, Mr. Yonan explained that it would be an attractive business investment for Assyrians abroad, since at least some of the venture capital would be guaranteed by international public agencies.
"We have already begun the Doctor's Outreach portion of the project. We brought into the U. S. six doctors from North-East Syria to be trained in the latest medical practices."
"Some of the Assyrian doctors from Syria were limited in English fluency, so we contracted an English teacher to provide an intensified English Training course to the doctors as their training was undertaken largely in English."
This medical program started with an initial fact-finding mission to Syria, in September of 1998. Mr. Yonan enlisted the assistance of Dr. John Michael (Ophthalmology) and Dr. Christine Michael (Optometry) of the Assyrian Academic Society to explore the feasibility of medical and humanitarian projects designed to improve medical care for the communities in the region (the Jezira in particular). While Drs. John and Christine Michael arranged lectures and screening clinics for the benefit of doctors in Syria, Assyrian physicians there pointed out the need for directly observing new medical techniques in University Hospitals in the United States of America.
In a subsequent visit to Syria in late September 2000, Mr. Yonan and Ninos Gewargis finalized approval for such a program with the Syrian Minister of Health.
In fact, six physicians from Hassake, Syria arrived at O'Hare International Airport on May 2, 2001, as part of the first phase of an overseas Assyrian Physician Training Program sponsored by the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) and the Assyrian Academic Society (AAS). The six physicians included Dr. Elais Neesan (Obstetrics/ Gynecology), Hassake Doctors’ Committee Chairman; Dr. Georges Georges (Obstetrics/ Gynecology); Dr. Yacoub Boghos (Ophthalmology); Dr. Massoun Hanna (Ear, Nose & Throat), Dr. George Daniel (Cardiology); and Dr. Eliass Kowmy (Cardiology).
These docs temporarily closed their busy successful practices in Syria in order to participate in medical internships at various University hospitals in Chicago and to be trained in the latest medical technology in their respective areas of expertise so as to provide a better quality of life for Assyrians of Northeast Syria. Dr. Neesan, Dr, Georges and Dr. Hanna were placed at the University of Chicago Hospital; Dr. Eliass Kowmy and Dr. George Daniel were placed at Rush Presbyterian St. Lukes Medical Center; and Dr. Yacoub Boghos was placed at the University of Illinois Medical Center.
The Overseas Medical Training Program is a product of "Operation Helping Hand" spearheaded by A.U.A. Ambassador John Yonan. The goal of "Operation Helping Hand" is to improve the basic medical and economic conditions of Assyrians residing in the Middle East by promoting investment from the diaspora for joint ventures and other profit businesses in Syria and the Middle East. The common theme is to help empower our Assyrian people there by placing them in profitable businesses.
The Northeast Syria Outreach Project, and particularly its medical outreach program, has to be seen as a success story. Credit for this goes to Drs. John and Christine Michael, and to the Assyrian Academic Society of which they are members. They made a key contribution in making this happen. But surely the greatest recognition must be accorded to Mr. Yonan.
We have read much about the weakness of some for exaggerated academic resumes, and of others for the appropriation of pretentious titles. In the case of Mr. Yonan, he is identified as "Ambassador of the Assyrian Universal Alliance." This strikes us as a wry title for an organization which lacks any and all attributes of sovereignty. No doubt the A.U.A. takes such honorifics seriously, and unfortunately it is not alone in this practice. Such legerdemain aside, Mr. Yonan presented an informative report revealing considerable work on his part. By whatever title he is addressed, his effort has to be appreciated.
II. At Work Down Under
Among the various chapter and country reports submitted at the Congress, the "down under" Assyrians deserve special mention. The Australia chapter of the A.U.A. has been the moving force in carrying the Assyrian case to the United Nations. As we noted in an earlier essay ("Sunburst"), unprecedented submissions have been made in recent years by Solicitor Suzy David of Australia, particularly focusing on Assyrians as an "indigenous population."
1st Conference on Comparative Genocide Studies
The Australia chapter is waging a campaign to gain recognition for the genocide of Assyrians. This began when the chapter received an invitation from the Centre for Comparative Genocide Studies, for participation in its inaugural conference, "Portraits of Christian Asia Minor", at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia on September 18-19, 1999. Papers were presented on various aspects of the indigenous Christian civilizations of Asia Minor (Hellenic, Armenian and Assyrian). These focused on the early decades of the twentieth century. Representatives of A.U.A.-Australia had a long meeting with the organizer of this conference, Mr. Panayiotis Diamadis, who showed a lot of interest about Assyrians and welcomed their inclusion in this conference.
The A.U.A. invited Dr. Abdul Massih Saadi, of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, North Park University, Chicago, to present the Assyrian side of the genocide. Dr. Saadi holds a Ph.D. in Syriac Studies from the Lutheran School of Theology, which is affiliated with the University of Chicago. The title of his presentation was "The Scythe of the Ottoman, and the Decimation of the Assyrians." In addition to Dr. Saadi, the Assyrian presentation also included Dr. Racho Donef. Dr. Donef holds a Ph.D. from Macquarie University, his doctoral work having focused on the ethnic minorities of the Republic of Turkey. Dr. Donef has been a frequent lecturer on the official policies of the Republic of Turkey towards its Christian populations in the 20th Century. At this conference, he spoke on "Assyrians and Assyrian Identity in the Ottoman Empire."
In addition to these speakers, the Assyrian Australian Academic Society presented a documentary about the Assyrian genocide in Asia Minor. Senator John Nimrod, the Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and Mr. Yonathan Bet-Kolia, who then headed the Assyrian society in Iran, were in attendance.
There were the predictable representatives from the Turkish Government. Among them was the Turkish Consul, as well as Dr. Salahi Ramsdam Sonyel (holder of a Ph.D. in Political-Diplomatic History at the University of London). Dr Sonyel came all the way from London to deny the accusations against Turkey. A.U.A. had a long meeting with the Turkish side focusing especially on the genocide issue and the role played by Turkey during that harrowing period.
2nd Conference on Comparative Genocide Studies
The Centre for Comparative Genocide Studies envisaged holding these conferences biennially, hence the next one was scheduled for 2001. However, the Assyrian Australian Academic Society (TAAAS) wished to take advantage of the array of academics which would be attending the 8th Syriac Symposium (end of June 2000). Accordingly, it prevailed on Mr. Diamadis of the Centre to agree to hold a Genocide Conference, with the understanding that TAAAS would assume responsibility for its organization, administration, and funding. In effect, while the Centre at Macquarie University provided the setting for this Conference, TAAAS was the moving force, and the Centre was a co-sponsor. TAAAS also brought in the Department of Semitic Studies at Sydney University as another co-sponsor of the Conference.
This conference, "Assyrians after Assyria," was held in early July 2000, following the conclusion of the 8th Syriac Symposium. The meeting addressed the fate of the Assyrian people following the collapse of the Assyrian Empire. Overseas speakers included Dr. Gabriele Yonan (Berlin, Germany), Dr. Fuat Deniz (Sweden), Dr. Abdul Massih Saadi (Chicago), and Professor Edward Odisho (Chicago). Presenters from Australia included Dr. Racho Donef (Macquarie University), Mr. Panayiotis Diamadis (Macquarie University), Stavros Stavrides (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) and Nicholas Al-jeloo (a 17-year old Assyrian student member of TAAAS). Over 250 people attended the sessions.
c. The commemoration of Assyrian Martyrs’ Day (August 7) is taken quite seriously in Australia. Activities are coordinated between the Australian Chapter of A.U.A., the Assyrian Australian Academic Society, the Assyrian Australian National Federation, and the Church of the East. Typically, this event is attended by a number of Federal and State Parliamentarians, local Councilors, and representatives of the Greek and Armenian communities, and assorted academics. The event last year drew over 600 attendees.
The most recent August 7 memorial celebration was as impressive as any previous one, featuring the Honorable Robert Carr (MP), the Premier of New South Wales, as the guest of honor. A more complete account of the event is featured elsewhere in this Zinda issue.
Next on the agenda for A.U.A.-Australia is participation in the International Conference on Racism, to convene in South Africa. This Conference, preceded by several working groups, promises to draw significant media attention, particularly because of U.S. threats to boycott the meeting unless the proposal to "equate Zionism with racism" is taken off the table.
[Special thanks to Mr. Hermiz Shahen of A.U.A.-Australia, who generously assisted with many details concerning the second part of this essay]
BET-NAHRAIN EXPERIENCING WORST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER
of Turkish Daily News (Aug 14)
The report claims the region is facing an environmental disaster due
to the construction of more dams than the capacity of the Tigris and Euphrates
rivers allows. The 30 dams mentioned in the report will be brought to
the attention of the World Summit for UN Substantial Development in 2002.
Due to the disappearance of water resources in and around the Khabour
River in northeastern Syria, much of the Assyrian settlements in that
region and the economy of such thriving urban centers such as Qamishli
are slowly vanishing.
INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE TO TORTURE OF AN ASSYRIAN BY KDP
Reprinted report courtesy of the Assyrian International News Agency (August 9)
(ZNDA: Chicago) The abduction and torture of an Assyrian from the Chaldean community of northern Iraq, Mr. Youkhana Yalda Khaie, (AINA 7-30-2001) has prompted the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) to officially inquire into the matter. In a personal communication to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) strongman Mr. Masoud Barzani dated July 19, 2001, Secretary General of the AUA, Mr. John Nimrod wrote that Youkhana Khaie has "been at Fermanday Prison in Duhok and has been apparently tortured, mistreated and was hidden from the Red Cross when they visited the prison." Mr. Nimrod added that Mr. Khaie "has been in isolation, blindfolded with hands tied and bruises on his face". Still more, Mr. Khaie "has not been formally charged or given due process in the courts."
The Youkhana Khaie torture case has generated a great emotional outrage in the Assyrian community in Iraq as well as in the Diaspora. The abduction and torture of Youkhana remains without official cause as Youkhana remains till now not charged with any wrongdoing. The entire gruesome savagery inflicted on Youkhana is believed by the Khaie family to be motivated by KDP desire to expropriate still more Assyrian land. Even now, Youkhana is not allowed legal representation, a formal hearing or regular visitations.
In his letter to the Behdanani chieftain, former Illinois State Senator John Nimrod added that "this kind of situation, predicament and accusations without immediate justice and access to the courts can become very dangerous situation." [sic] Alluding to the potential for still further deterioration of relations between Assyrians and the KDP, Mr. Nimrod further stated "when these matters come to our attention we must make sure they do not destroy our longstanding record of mutual respect."
The KDP is currently nervous about an ongoing reassessment of US policy that may very well downgrade US commitment to the failed Kurdish self-governing experiment. Having demonstrated continued brutalization and victimization of the indigenous Assyrian population, the various Behdanani and Sorani paramilitary bands have steadily lost international sympathy they previously enjoyed as the self-described victims of Saddam Hussein. As far as the international community is concerned, the Behdanani-Sorani hierarchies have failed to show an ability to govern in accordance with even the most basic international standards.
In a clear attempt to add pressure from an Assyrian-American perspective, Mr. Nimrod added that "I have a few friends in the Cabinet and in Congress some of the international committees under the Chairmanship of some former colleagues." [sic] Although he diplomatically asked "If in any way these contacts can be of assistance please let me know," Mr. Nimrod's underlying implication seems to have been a not so subtle reminder to the KDP of the potential for still greater Assyrian American lobbying in Washington against the KDP if the need arises.
Other Assyrian organizations in Europe are less diplomatically inclined and have dispensed with conventional diplomatic pleasantries. A growing grassroots public awareness campaign spearheaded by Ozcan Kaldoyo and Olle Wiberg of the Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriac Association (ACSA), an Assyrian-Chaldean organization in Sweden, has prompted two Swedish Members of Parliament from the Left Party, Mr. Murad Artin and Lars Ohly, to declare that "The Assyrian minority in Iraqi Kurdistan has been declining for years because of persecution." Moreover, "We, the Left Party, strongly protest against the persecution of Assyrian and Chaldean minority..."
The Declaration by the Swedish Parliamentarians specifically demanded that the " KDP immediately release Youkhana Yalda Khaie" as well as "pay respect to the human rights of the Assyrian and Chaldean minority." The declaration further added that "National struggle and feelings must not be perverted in such a way that you think that your own nation, your own culture or your own religion has a greater human value than others."
The Swedish party's condemnation of the KDP is especially poignant since as the Swedes themselves noted "For many years, our own party, the Left Party of Sweden, has supported the Kurdish people in their struggle for cultural identity and national rights in different countries in the Middle East." This latest diplomatic reprimand of the KDP underscores the erosion of international support for the continued paramilitary occupation of northern Iraq. Still more, alluding to the possibility of losing international aid in addition to sympathy, the Left Party reminded the KDP that in the past "We have worked for foreign aid and economic support to the Kurdish people."
As far as the KDP is concerned, the continued occupation and consolidation of portions of northern Iraq rest fundamentally on two mutually exclusive currents. First, the KDP believes that it must continue to show the world that they are the democratic alternative to Saddam Hussein and the victims of his regime in order to continue to garner sympathy, support, and protection. Secondly, they have long ago decided that to consolidate their version of a homogeneous "Kurdistan," they must ethnically cleanse the indigenous and rightful heirs of northern Iraq, the Assyrians. With growing international awareness of KDP brutality coupled with a galvanized international Assyrian resistance, it will become considerably more problematic for the KDP to succeed.
PASSING AWAY OF MAR TIMOTHEUS IN INDIA
(ZNDA: Chicago) On August 10, the Assyrian Church of the East office in the U.S. announced the passing away of His Excellency Mar Timotheus, the Metropolitan and the official representative of the Church in Kerala, India on Monday, August 6, 2001.
Mar Timotheus was born in 2 December 1920 in Trichur, India and baptized as Eyob (Job). In 1971, His Excellency was ordained Archdeacon in Baghdad by His Excellency Metropolitan Mar Yosip Khnanishu. Later that same year on 10 October Mar Timotheus was ordained Metropolitan by His Holiness the late-Patriarch Mar Ishai Shimun at Mar Zia Church in Karradat Maryam.
His Excellency Mar Narsai, Metropolitan of Lebanon, will perform the funeral ceremony in India. There are 28 churches and one mission house in service of the faithfuls of the Church of the East in Kerala, Mumbai, and New Dehli. Presently, Metorpolitan Dr. Mar Aprem is the official representative of the Church in India.
RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE LEFT PARTY OF SWEDEN
Courtesy of Assyrian International News Agency- August 14
For many years our party, the Left Party of Sweden, has supported the Kurdish people in its struggle for cultural identity and national rights in different countries in the Middle East. We have, as strongly as possible, supported the decisions and resolutions of the Kurdish Parliament in the important issue of the future status of the Iraqi Kurdistan. We have worked for foreign aid and economic support for the Kurdish people in Iraqi Kurdistan. Briefly, this was our policy on Iraqi Kurdistan.
Therefore, we have with great perplexity and affliction received reports on crimes against Human rights in Iraqi Kurdistan. The latest example of this is a report on crimes against the Chaldean/Assyrian minority in the country and against the Chaldean Youkhana Yalda Khaie from the village Chilke Nisar, where he has been working for restoration of a Christian church.
Youkhana has been imprisoned by the authorities of the Kurdish Democratic Party and mistreated and severely tortured. He has only been permitted to receive visits twice by his sister Khawa Warda. She was personally threatened by the authorities and told not to tell anyone anything about the conditions of Youkhana.
Regrettably, this is not the first time we have received reports of crimes against the Human Rights and against the Assyrian/Chaldean minority in Iraqi Kurdistan. We have earlier received reports of several Assyrians/Chaldeans who have been persecuted and murdered because of their religious or political ideas. The Assyrian minority in Iraqi Kurdistan has, due to the persecutions, been decreasing for years.
We, the Left Party strongly protests against these persecutions of the Assyrian/Chaldean minority in Iraqi Kurdistan. We protest that the authorities have permitted different local radio stations to broadcast programs that openly encourage people to commit crimes against the Assyrian/Chaldean minority. This has nothing to do with the Right of Free Speech. This right cannot be used to justify propaganda of crimes against Human Rights.
National struggle and feelings must not be perverted in such a way that you believe that your own nation, your own culture or your own religion has a greater human value than others.
The Left Party of Sweden protests against these crimes against Human Rights in Iraqi Kurdistan. We do it in general terms but also because we truly wish to support the Kurdish people in its national and cultural struggle and because these crimes make it more difficult for us to gain greater support for the struggle of the Kurdish people in the country where we live and work - in Sweden.
We regard it is as a matter of course that the KDP immediately release Youkhana Yalda Khaie.
We also regard it as a matter of course that the KPD authorities will treat the Human Rights of Assyrian/Chaldean minority with respect.
On behalf of the parliamentary group of the Left Party of Sweden
MESOPOTAMIAN ART EXHIBITION IN KOREA
Courtesy of Korea Times (Aug 17)
(ZNDA: Seoul) At 63 City in Yoido, South Korea, an exhibition of the Mesopotamian Civilization is being showcased until August 28. Some of the artifacts from Iraq and Iran were on display last December at the Seoul Arts Center. However, the Yoido exhibition has about twice as many objects. The exhibition focuses on the highly innovative aspect of technology used in ancient Bet-Nahrain. The 63 City exhibition displays 720 artifacts that are unfamiliar to many Koreans.
The Korean newspapers describe the Mesopotamian civilization as that which "traded extensively, was a powerful regional center, located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It developed a 12-month calendar and was said to be the originator of the Zodiac. It also created a writing system, cuneiform (from the Latin words ``wedge shape''), examples of which are in the 63 City show. This was used in setting down such texts as the ``Code of Hammurabi,'' a body of law developed under the reign of King Hammurabi, and the ``Epic of Gilgamesh,'' which is one of the oldest writings in the world."
The show includes a clay tablet that is inscribed with the achievements of Ur-Nammu, king of the city of Ur, established around 2100 B.C. as the capitol of Sumer in southern Bet-Nahrain. Ur-Nammu is credited with promulgating the oldest known code of laws, predating Hammurabi's by some three centuries.
Some of the other artifacts at the 63 City show include a cuneiform tablet from the Sumerian period that documents an economic transaction, a bull statuette used in rituals, a seal depicting warriors fighting animals and a stone ax head from 4000 B.C.
Admission to "Exhibition of the Mesopotamian Civilization" at 63 City in Youido is 6,000 won for adults, 4,000 won for teenagers and 3,000 won for children. For more information, contact the exhibitors at (02) 789- 5663.
Courtesy of Associated Press (August 17)
(ZNDA: Dallas) Officials of Kimbell Art Muesuem which returned what was advertised as a rare Sumerian statue are reportedly trying to recover $2.7 million from a New York antiquities dealer.
The 15-inch statue was estimated to date from 2600 B.C., sources familiar with the transaction told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, but the work was never displayed at the Kimbell Art Museum after its unannounced acquisition last year.
Although the institution has not disclosed why the prophetlike male figure of white alabaster stone was returned to dealer Phoenix Soho, one archaeologist said museums commonly return ancient artifacts to their countries of origin if the pieces have been determined to be stolen.
Sources told the newspaper that a valuable torso was sent to the Kimbell as collateral as the museum and the seller work out details of a refund. "You never hear about people returning things to a dealer. That's the sort of thing that would normally stay quiet," said American archaeologist John Russell, an archaeologist at the Massachusetts College of Art and a leading expert on Near Eastern antiquities. "I haven't heard about anything like this before."
He said the Aboutaam family of Lebanon, which runs Phoenix Soho, described the Aboutaam family as "major dealers." One of the art world's most secretive and aggressive buyers and sellers of antiquities, the family has had one reported confrontation with European law officers, involving a recent raid of their Geneva offices by Swiss and Italian authorities.
The Aboutaams are also the subject of a federal tax inquiry in the United States, according to the newspaper. A source familiar with the transaction told the Star-Telegram the seller insisted that the transaction be concluded by the end of 2000 in order for the Kimbell to take advantage of an estimated $300,000 discount Phoenix Soho was offering. Because of the time limit, sources say, the Kimbell was still authenticating the piece after the purchase.
Kay Fortson, the Kimbell Art Foundation's president, said in a written statement: "The Board is confident that all recent art acquisitions have been appropriately considered and approved and that the Foundation's interests have been fully protected."
Looting of Iraqi archaeological sites in Bet-Nahrain has been rampant since the Gulf War in 1991.
OFF TO COLLEGE
I'm a female high school senior and want to go away to college. My parents are against the whole idea, thinking that I'll get corrupted or something. Any advice ?
Many Assyrian parents don't encourage their kids to go away, so the kids don't even think about it, and that is a disservice. I'm happy that you want to go, and happy that you wrote to me. I totally understand what you are saying even though I didn't have this obstacle I see my friends that were faced with the same problem. My advice to you: fight hard to go away to school.
I don't mean that you should throw a tantrum and not talk to your parents because you're pissed off. Instead, make a rational argument, and lay out a plan of how you are going to do it and the reasons that are important to you. Like: establishing independence, being responsible, growing in an academic environment, exposing yourself to a variety of opportunities and experiences. This is YOUR time to grow as a person. Yes, you will also be exposed to "bad" influences in the eyes of your parents (sex, drugs, alcohol). But you need to stress to them that they should have enough faith in the way that they raised you that you aren't going to go off the deep end.
Most times, in addition to the fact that they're afraid that you'll be corrupted, is the fact that they will miss you and that their lives have revolved around you for the last 18 years and even if it's a little selfish it's because they love you. But don't let this stop you. You need to make this happen for yourself and take a stand. If you're afraid that you won't be able to do it without their financial support, don't be. There are TONS of scholarships and student loans, etc. that you can apply to. Don't let money stand in your way. You can do it
It'll be hard and a lot of leg work but it'll be worth it and in the end your parents will be proud of you. Remember, be calm, and logical write it all down and be clear about why you want to go and how important it is for you developmentally. I'm not saying that people that don't go away do not grow etc , but it's definitely a different kind of growth. Only if you've lived it can you attest to it.
Going away to college is 50 % about the academics and 50% about your social development. These 4 years are the ones where you really begin to learn about, and focus on YOU. I hope that you'll take this advice and begin planning your college career today! Be proactive and prudent; yet don't isolate yourself from your parents. Keep communication open. Don't forget, your parents love you, and they want what's best, and they'll be proud when the dust settles.
25TH ANNIVERSARY OF MAR DINKHA IV CONSECRATION
We are pleased to announce the publication of a Commemoration Book in celebration of the Twenty-Fifth year anniversary of the consecration of His Holiness Mar Dikkha IV, Patriarch of the Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East.
We hope that each organization, business, and individual will take advantage of this opportunity to offer a congratulatory note on this historic occasion of His Holiness’ ascension to the Apostolic throne of Seleucia-Ctesiphon.
The Commemoration Book will include announcements and congratulatory notices from several heads of the various Christian Churches, Assyrian national and civic leaders, and prominent figures.
This book is also available for the inclusion of business and personal notices.
For more information or to place your order please contact one of the following individuals:
Shamasha Daniel: (312) 916-0123
Shamasha Isaac: (847) 677-5988
Freidoun Yonan: (773) 463-7920
Benyamin Zkharia: (847) 614-0730
Janet Katiney: (773) 467-8647
25th Anniversary Organization Committee
Church of the East
The above notice was produced by Zinda Magazine using an announcement in Assyrian submitted by the "Organizing Committee" last week. The Zinda announcement is not an exact translation of the original document.
ASSYRIAN NATIONAL CONVENTION SPORTS SCHEDULE
Please accept the attached schedule with the lists of participants to 68th Assyrian American National Convention, San Jose, California as a gesture of welcome to you and the Assyrians around the world from the AANF Athletic Committee.
AANF ATHELTIC COMMITTEE
Tournament Coordinator-Lincoln Bejan
West Region Rep.-Isho Hermis
Midwest Region Rep.-Bill Haido
East region Rep.-Isaac Hermis
PARTICIPANTS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
Assyrian American Association of Arizona
Assyrian American Association of Modesto
Assyrian American Association of San Jose
Assyrian American Association of Southern California
Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock
Assyrian Athletic Club of Chicago
Assyrian Community Center of San Francisco
Assyrian National Foundation of Chicago
Assyrian Social Club of Detroit
Caldean Assyrian American Association of San Diego.
Orhai-Assyrian Foundation of Modesto
** Worst Record Doesn’t Make The Playoffs
*Each group winner and one 2nd place team (wildcard) with best overall record advances to the Semi-Finals
First Round: 15x2
Semi Finals: 15x2
Overtime: To Be Determined
First Round: 30x2
Semi- Finals: 40x2
Semi Final and Championship only
Over-30: 30x2 (No Overtime)
A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
- Finale -
We launched a general offensive against the Turks in order to cut a road through to the Russian border; but, as it turned out, Aga Petros had only four hundred men, and those poorly armed. There-fore he was unable to carry out his assignment.
He was assigned to hold the left flank and maintain contact with the Armenians, who were advancing along the road to Khoi.
Colonel Kondratiev was holding the Aissors' right flank along the Bash Kaleh Road. The offensive was spearheaded by the Aissor Cavalry Brigade. At the head of this brigade were the following men: Lazar Zervandov, Ziga Levkoev, Nikodim Levkoev, Ivan Dzhibaev, Slivo Isaev, Ivan Zaev and Prince Lazarev.
We occupied the Kotul Gorge and continued to advance toward the Russian border.
Eight days later, Aga Petros and his detachment fell back to Urmia. The
Turks had broken through at our rear.
At five o'clock that night, we received a message from the commander of the detachment that the Turks had broken through the sector held by Aga Petros and penetrated deep into the Salinas region.
We could not retreat because it was already night and rain was falling on us. At dawn, we began to retreat from the Kotul Gorge, but the heights on both sides of the road had been occupied by the Turks. Some said it was impossible to retreat, that we must surrender to captivity; others of my comrades said, "We have enough cartridges and our horses are all good-of Arabian stock. We can make a raid."
So, we fell upon one Turkish position and, indeed, they had no cartridges. They opened fire with a machine gun, but soon stopped. We rushed to the attack and sabered thirty-four Turks.
We captured one machine gun with no cartridges and then with-drew in haste.
We reached the city of Dilinan, but saw no Aissors or Armeni-ans. All the Kurds and Persians were looting the Aissor villages and driving away their sheep. We saw the bodies of those killed along the road and thought all the Aissors had perished.
We continued to withdraw without giving battle. For in the distance ahead of us, we saw a huge cloud of dust in the sky. We thought that a large Turkish detachment was advancing.
We reached Haitakhty, but did not find the Russian commander there-no one. We did see children crying along the road. It was impossible to take them, because there were many of them. It was sad to see them.
We ascended to the Kuchin Pass. The road had been cut off by Kurdish bandits. We went into battle against the Kurds and Sergeant Major Isaak Ivanov was killed. We had no time to take him; we left him there.
When we descended from the Kuchin Pass, we found the re-treating Aissors heading toward Urmia and we asked, "Where is Aga Petros?"
"He has been in Urmia for three days."
We reached Urmia and spent fifteen days there. Then advance parties of Turks appeared around Urmia and skirmishes began with them.
On May 15, the city of Urmia was surrounded on all sides by the Turks.
It was evident that the Russians and Aissors were losing. A general meeting was held, with the Russian officers in attendance.
Aga Petros said that we had to surrender to the Turks because he had a letter from the commander of the Fourth Turkish Army, Hahn Pasha.
But some of the Russians did not want to surrender. They said, "It's better to die," and they assembled a flotilla of rafts and tried to cross Lake Urmia to Sharafkhaneh.
All of them were killed by the Persians. Eight colonels and thirty-two
officers and men perished. The Turks and Kurds began to attack. All the
Aissors were fighting their last. There were no more weapons, no more
The Aissors held a second meeting and decided the following: it was impossible to reach Russian territory because all Transcauca sia was occupied by the Turks; it was better to head east and attempt to reach the English.
The troops were instantly assembled-four thousand cavalry under the command of Colonel Kondratiev and six thousand in-fantry under the command of Colonel Kuzmin and an artillery brigade under the command of Colonel Sokolov.
Three miles from Urmia-in the vicinity of the village of Diza-twenty-four cannons were lined up.
Then the Turks thought that the Aissors would surrender that very day.
Colonel Sokolov ordered these twenty-four cannons to open fire.
They directed a devastating barrage at the Turkish positions.
The Turks were on the mountain.
Four Turkish cannons were destroyed.
We began our general offensive.
All the priests and bishops held a church service in the open. It went well. The Turks were attacked and we broke through their lines.
But on the other side of Urmia, the Turks were already march-ing into the city.
All that remained in the city were the American and French missions and several thousand Aissors.
According to some Turkish deserters, all who remained were massacred by the Kurds and Turks.
We retreated along the road to Haidarabad.
In the lead were the cavalry and four cannons, in the rear the Aissors who were naturalized Russians, along the sides the Arme-nians and mountain Aissors.
The Turkish cavalry came in pursuit.
There were battles up ahead and battles in the rear. Everything was destroyed. . . houses. . . villages. .
It is thirty-six miles from Haidarabad to Solozhbulak.
The whole road was filled with bundles, sheep and people.
The road was narrow.
People dropped their bundles. They abandoned their children and hurried on. Day and night, we rode and rode without rest. nothing except shouts and noise, and the poor children cried.
There were no mothers and fathers. Some children were sleep-ing in the middle of the road; others were playing on the edge of the road, unafraid of the snakes, and there were many snakes.
We kept to the road as far as Ruwandiz.
About twelve miles from Ruwandiz, we learned that headquar-ters of a Turkish army was located there.
We turned left to Sam Kaleh.
On the fifteenth day after our flight from Urmia, we met the English. Some of us were overjoyed to be saved; others were crying-no children, no family.
The English ordered us to stay three days and rest.
After the third day, the Aissors began to move forward.
At four o'clock in the afternoon in Sam Kaleh, the Persians rose up and began to shoot from the roofs at the women and children.
he English discarded their machine guns and cartridges and jumped on their horses bareback. Things did not look good.
On the order of Colonel Kuzmin to turn the English back (to stop them), we aimed the machine guns at the English and turned them back.
Then we and the English attacked the town of Sam Kaleh. The Persians and Kurds were driven from the town, herded into a deep gorge and surrounded on all sides, then killed to the last man; the town was burned to the ground.
And we continued our retreat down that bottomless road-with-out bread or water-and finally came to Bijar in Kurdistan-270 miles.
One eighth of the nation had been lost along that road: some perished for lack of water, others fell in battle. We entered the Valley of Kerinanshah. There is no dwelling in it, nothing.
Only dense fertile forests.
There wild beasts roam at will.
We saw large numbers of boa constrictors and vipers and monkeys.
We saw no bread there.
There was much water. We lived on sweet fruits and nuts.
We reached the town of Kerinanshah.
There the people are different from those in Urmia. It was here that disagreements took place between the Aissors and the instruc-The mountain and Urmian Aissors insisted on traveling from Kerinanshah to Hamadan-a total of 130 miles-through the mountains.
But the Russian instructors followed the road and kept due east day and night.
The Russian Aissors from Karsk and some Russian officers headed toward the city of Baghdad and the brother of the patriarch went with them. There too it is a different world and different people.
We changed horses in the villages.
Here the people wash not in water but in sand, like chickens.
We stayed a total of eight days in the city of Baghdad, then turned again toward Hamadan and, after going 350 miles, reached Hamadan.
There the following men were arrested for being Russian Bol-sheviks: Lieutenant Vasiliev, Second Lieutenant Stepanians and Instructor Lazar Zervandov.
By order of the English commander in chief, we were released. Our weapons were very good-they were all confiscated.
That's what Lazar wrote for me. I've already printed it in the booklet Epilogue. Mikhail Zoshchenko very successfully parodied that piece.
Zoshchenko is a "Serapion."
The Serapion Brothers came into being in February 1921, on the ground floor of the House of Arts. They originated this way: Evgeny Zamyatin had been giving lectures to some students in the House of Arts. He spoke simply, but about craftsmanship; he was teaching them how to write prose.
He had quite a few students-among them, Nikolai Nikitin and Mikhail Zoshchenko. Nikitin is short and blond; we called him the "frustrated lawyer"-this with reference to his domestic affairs. He was under the influence of Zamyatin-perched on his right shoulder. But he doesn't imitate Zamyatin: his writing's more complex.
I lived in St. Pete another two weeks. I just changed my coat. I wasn't terribly afraid of being arrested. Why should anyone want to arrest me? My arrest was an accident. It was thought up by a man with no trade-Semyonov.
And because of him, I had to leave my wife and friends.
The thaw kept me from going across the ice.
Then it froze again. It was foggy on the ice. I came to a fishing shanty. Then I was conducted to a quarantine center.
I don't want to write about all that.
It's time to finish this book. That's a pity the ending of a two-part book should combine the motifs of both parts. That's why I'm going to write here about Doctor Shedd. Doctor Shedd was the American consul in Urmia.
Doctor Shedd drove around Urmia in a surrey. All four wheels of the surrey were just alike. A canopy with scalloped edges had been fastened over the surrey on four poles. The surrey was as simple and square as a matchbox.
The surrey was completely functional. Somewhere in America twenty years ago, such surreys were probably not unusual.
Doctor Shedd drove this surrey himself. He sat on the right side of the straight-backed front seat.
Behind, with her back to him, sat his gray-haired wife or his red-haired daughter.
His wife and daughter were not unusual.
Doctor Shedd had gray hair and wore a black frock coat.
Not an unusual one.
There was no machine gun or flag on Doctor Shedd's surrey.
Doctor Shedd lived near Urmia. The clay wall of the American mission extended for several miles.
No one was massacred behind that wall. That was America. The square surrey drove all over northern Persia and Kurdistan.
I saw Doctor Shedd for the first time at a meeting when we were demanding wheat from the Persians. That was December 1917.
The mullahs, wearing green turbans and stroking their red beards, studied their beautiful hands with painted fingernails and kindly said that they wouldn't give us any wheat.
General Karpov, the fat quartermaster for our army, studied his soft belly, with its numerous folds under the soft folds of his well-worn tunic, and kindly said that we would take their wheat. His nails weren't painted, but bitten.
The Russian consul, Nikitin (he was later killed during the withdrawal), fretted nervously.
Then Doctor Shedd suddenly appeared among us in his black frock coat.
He stood among us like a black pillar. His hair was washed and fluffy.
I was sitting in the corner. My field jacket was worn out and I had no coat-just a poncho with frayed edges.
I was ashamed and tried to hide the patches.
I had discarded my coat during the pogrom.
In that situation, I was like a jury mast. If a storm at sea fells the real mast, the sailors tie the jury mast to the remains of the old one.
I was a commissar in the army.
And my whole life consists of pieces linked only by my habits.
Doctor Shedd said, "Gentlemen! Yesterday in the bazaar, I found a dead six-year-old boy lying by the wall."
If Robinson Crusoe, wearing his shaggy pelts, had been trans-planted from his uninhabited island to a London street, he would have seemed out of place there.
Doctor Shedd was just as out of place-counting corpses in the East, where
corpses are not counted.
The camels were walking with their swaying gait.
Their backs, under those high packsaddles, looked like the backs of Russian wolfhounds.
I asked, "What are you hauling?"
They told me, "Silver for Doctor Shedd."
There were hardly any guards.
Silver continually arrived for Doctor Shedd and no one laid a hand on it because everything was changing; the people seeking refuge behind the clay wall of the American mission were chang-ing, too, but Doctor Shedd fed them all.
Oh, bitter is alien bread and steep are alien stairs! Bitter were the lines at the House of Scholars!
And to fans of syncretic epithets, I'll say, "Bitter were the marble stairs at the House of Scholars."
And bitter were the nine pounds of Czech sugar. And bitter was the smoke from the cracked chimney of my stove. The smoke of disillusionment.
But steepest and most bitter of all are the wooden stairs of Berlin. Here I write on a card table.
I remember the way food allotments were distributed at the Degalin Gate in Urmia.
An immense mob of Kurds, almost naked in their rags, with striped rugs thrown over their shoulders (the familiar mode of dress in the East) -this mob was straining to get at that bread.
To one side of the distributor stood a man-or maybe two-with a thick whip. He was adroitly restraining the ardor of that mob with unhurried, uninterrupted, heavy blows of his whip.
When the Russians pulled out of Persia, they left the Armenians and the Aissors to the whims of fate.
Actually, there's nothing whimsical about fate. If you don't feed a man, he has just one fate-to die.
The Russians pulled out of Persia.
The Aissors defended themselves with the heroism of a wolf that bites the headlights of an automobile.
When the Turks surrounded them, they broke through the encirclement and fled-the entire nation-to the English, to Bagh-dad.
They marched through the mountains and their horses fell; their packs fell and they had to abandon their children.
As everyone knows, abandoned children are no rarity in the East.
How does everyone know?
I don't know who collects news in the East.
But there's nothing whimsical about fate-abandoned children die.
It was then that Doctor Shedd got in his four-wheeled surrey and went after the fleeing Aissors.
Although what could one man do?
The Aissors were marching through the mountains. There are no roads in these mountains and the ground is com-pletely covered with rocks, as if rock rain has just fallen.
After sixty miles on such rocks, a horse wears out his shoes.
In the winter of 1918, a year marked by famine, people died in the midst of wallpaper covered with ice crystals and they were taken away and buried only with great difficulty.
We waited till spring to weep for our dead.
Spring did come, as always-with its lilacs and white nights.
We waited till spring to weep for our dead because in the winter it was too cold. The Aissors began weeping for their children only in Nineveh, only when the ground beneath their feet became soft and smooth. Bitter was the weeping that spring in Petersburg. Bitter will be the weeping when Russia thaws.
In Nineveh a quarrel broke out between the mountain Aissors and the Urmian Aissors.
There had been no animosity until then.
The same thing happened in 1918, a year marked by famine, in the midst of wallpaper glued to the walls by ice.
People slept together because it was warmer that way. It was so cold
that they didn't even hate each other.
The Urmian Aissors wanted to go back to take revenge for their devastated villages and to kill Sinko the assassin.
They had known, as they abandoned their children, that Sinko was following close behind. The mountain Aissors, however, had already spent their rage. They were too exhausted to cross the mountains for the third time.
At Nineveh they were almost home.
The Turks were no longer following.
The Aissors had only the Kurds to fight.
They passed through the Persians like a knife through butter.
The Urmian Aissors marched fast.
Sinko fled to Tabriz.
The Aissors besieged Tabriz.
Tabriz is a big city. There are many, many doors in the clay walls of its streets. Persian cities are judged not by the number of inhabitants, but by the number of doors. The doors are low, with wooden bolts, and what is behind them no one can tell. The Aissors wanted to find out, though they wouldn't have broken down the doors just out of curiosity.
It was then that Doctor Shedd got in the right side of the front seat of his surrey, his black surrey with the yellow wheels. Doctor Shedd, in his black frock coat, with his gray hair, drove through the Aissor troops to the city of Tabriz.
Doctor Shedd met these troops, with their worn-out legs and hearts-for the rocks in these mountains wear out not just iron horseshoes-and he had 3,500 children that he had picked up when he followed behind the fleeing Aissor people.
Doctor Shedd gave these children back to their fathers and he took Sinko
by the hand, sat him down on the front seat of the square surrey and drove
him to the English in Baghdad to be fried. No one blocked Doctor Shedd's
I pity Russia. Who will teach the Russians to load camels with their striped packs and to bind with woolen ropes the long snake.. like caravans that will cross the deserted fields of the Volga basin?
Doctor Shedd, I am a man of the East because the East begins at Pskov, but before that at Verzhbolovo; the East begins, as before, at the Russian border and goes as far as the three oceans.
Doctor Shedd! Bitter are the stairs of exile. Doctor Shedd! Like a spotted rat, I made the journey from Ushnuiyeh to Petersburg with fleeing soldiers; I made the journey from Zhmerinka to Pe-tersburg in a naked throng of prisoners of war coming from Germany.
Our train carried coffins and on the coffins was scrawled in tar: RETURN COFFINS.
Now I live among emigrants and am myself becoming a shadow among shadows.
Bitter is the wienerschnitzel in Berlin.
I lived in Petersburg from 1918 to 1922.
In your name, Doctor Shedd, and in the name of Doctor Gor-benko, who did not permit the killing of the wounded Greeks in Kherson, and in the name of the nameless driver who asked me to save his lathes, I finish this book.
ASSYRIAN MARTYRS DAY
of the Assyrian Martyrs Day
On the evening of 7August 2001, the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA), in conjunction with the Assyrian Australian National Federation (AANF), the Assyrian Australian Academic Society (TAAAS) and the Assyrian Church of the East, organised a commemorative dinner for the Assyrian Genocide and Martyrs day. This dinner was held at the Assyrian Church of the East Edessa Reception Hall.
Among the guests of honour were the Honourable Bob Carr MP- Premier of New South Wales, Minister for Arts, Minister for Citizenship the Honourable Carl Scully MP- Minister for Transport and Minister for Roads, members of the State Parliament including; the Honourable Senator John Hatzistergos, the Honourable Joe Tripodi and the Honourable Reba Meagher, Rev. David Gill - General Secretary of the Australian Council of Churches, Mr. Quang Luu - head of SBS Radio, Mr. Panayiotis Diamadis and Mr. Meher Grigorian from the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Dr. Racho Donef, Mrs. Helen Macris and Mr. George Tseneklidis - President of the Pontian Brotherhoods in NSW, Mrs. Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis - President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Sydney, Cnl. Anwar Khoshaba (twice former mayor of the city of Fairfield), leading Assyrian businessman Karl Suleman, as well as representatives from Assyrian organisations in Sydney and Melbourne.
Before the program began a slideshow was exhibited, namely, "Australians
in Mesopotamia and the Assyrian Genocide: From the Photographic Collection
of the Australian War Memorial Archives." Among the images used in
this slideshow, there were photos of the masterminds behind the Assyrian
Genocide - the Young Turk Triumvirate, as well as photos of Aussie "diggers"
(soldiers) in such places in Mesopotamia as Babylon, Nineveh, Asshur,
Zakho and Mar Behnam. The most interesting photos were those, that have
never been seen before, of the 90,000 Assyrian refugees from Urmia trekking
through Bijar to Hamadan on their way to the Baquba refugee camps in August
Suzy then continued with the opening address, entailing the Assyrian Genocide as well as a description of the events of August 1933 and 1918 and the unkept promises made by the British to our nation, quoting different books, accounts and official British sources.
Following Suzy's speech, His Grace Mar Meelis Zaia, Bishop of the Assyrian
Apostolic Catholic Church of the East, presented a detailed intertwined
history of Assyrian martyrdom and the Church of the East, emphasising
the fact that after the fall of the Mesopotamian civilisation, our people
depended on our churches for leadership.
The Premier then made a special presentation to survivors of the Assyrian
Genocide and the next-of-kin of political Martyrs who lost their lives
under the regime of President Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
After a performance of the song "Ya Umta, Ya Yimma" (Oh Nation, Oh Mother) by the Assyrian Church of the East Choir, Dr. Said Stephan - President of the AANF, presented a speech about the aftermath of the Genocide and the Arabisation and ethnic-cleansing activities practised by modern Middle Eastern governments, and in particular Iraq. Following this, Assyrian youth Nina Nissan - a representative from the Public Relations Committee of TAAAS, read out a poem by the famous Maronite Assyrian poet Gibran Khalil Gibran, "Dead are my People."
Nicholas Al-Jeloo - a representative from the Youth Committee of TAAAS,
then delivered the youth address, detailing the official definition of
Genocide and possible motives behind such acts. He stressed how vital
it is for young Assyrians to learn about the Genocide in order to learn
more about themselves and, moreover, to appreciate the freedoms and opportunities
offered in countries such as Australia and to learn from mistakes made
in the past to ensure that such heinous crimes do not reoccur in our times.
He mentioned how the Genocide of Asia Minor's Christians is called "the
20th century's first Holocaust" as it inspired Hitler's extermination
of the Jews. "Who, after all, speaks today of the extermination of
the Armenians?" He had asked. "Indeed," Nicholas answered
in hindsight, "and who would have thought that the Assyrians and
Greeks suffered the same fate?"
The President of TAAAS, Ms. Assyat David, presented the closing speech for the evening. Assyat explained the important role of education in learning about the persecutions and Genocide that our people suffered and how we can look to and work for the future as a community and as a nation, to preserve the memory of those who gave their lives in order that we may live.
The program closed with a rendition of "Ya Nishra D-Tkhume"
(Oh Eagle of Tkhuma), written by the famous Martyr Dr. Freidoun Bet-Oraham,
performed by the Assyrian Church of the East Choir.
Report produced for Zinda Magazine by Nicholas Bet-Gulawi
Assyrian Genocide and Massacre Survivors
· Mr. Gewargis (Gagoo) David (born c. 1895)
· Mr. Shlimon Binyamin - Father of Youbert Binyamin (executed
2 March 1985)
It is a very great honor for me as premier of the State to be with you at the commemoration of Assyrian Martyrs Day, I say this as an old friend of the Assyrian community.
I was here on this site in the late 1980's when this Cathedral was under construction and I knew what a priority it was for the Assyrian community in Sydney to have this great Cathedral, and as I told His Grace on my arrival tonight, I will never forget the dedication of the Cathedral in December 1990. I was with this community then and it was a great honor to be here not only with His Grace but also with the Patriarch.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
We must never forget the genocides that have occurred in the last two centuries, we must never forget the suffering of Assyrians as they saw attempts to blot out their life to eliminate there culture, to bury the Christian civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Bishop has reminded us that Christianity has a long tradition in Arabic cultures, Christianity is one of the strands of life and religion in the Arabic worlds. It is one of those cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean. There are great centres of Christian scholarship throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, tragically many of the building that trace the history of Christian communities in this part of the world had been deliberately destroyed, more tragic of course are the acts of genocide. In the 19th century for example the assault on large numbers of Assyrians, the Bedr Khan massacres from 1840-1860. There were the Balkan massacres that aroused the horror of the world in the 1870s and were condemned by the great British Leader William Gladstone. There were the Ottoman massacres of the 1890s. There was the massacre of Assyrians in Iraq on this day in 1933. It is estimated that 3000 Assyrians were massacred during that fateful month in August 1933. And we are here today to say we will never forget and it's an honor for all of us to be here with people who are the survivors of this massacre, or next-of-kin of people who died in that massacre. Your presence sends a powerful message that the culture of the Assyrian Community, that the language of Aramaic, the language of Christ, that the long history of Christian worship in the Eastern Mediterranean will not be forgotten, that those who aimed to blot out this civilization and kill this proud people have not succeeded. That is the powerful message out of today's commemoration of the Assyrian Martyrs, and the answer to the attempts to destroy this culture and this people is your dedication to see that the culture, the language, the identity of Assyrians is passed on to your young people, and that is why your efforts to establish the first Assyrian School in Australia, the Assyrian Church of the East private school should be supported and I'm aware that the Fairfield Council has approved this site to be modified to allow the establishment of a school and that the board of studies is considering the application for registration; this will be opportunity for very young people to learn the Syriac (Aramaic) language, the language of Christ. We support as a government the teaching of community languages including Syriac in our school system.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It's an honor for me to be here, I applaud the leadership of members of this congregation in promoting not only in Australia but throughout the world a consciousness of Assyrian Martyrdom .
I acknowledge again the greatness of the Assyrian civilization, both before Christianity and after Christianity. I acknowledge finally the success of the Assyrian story in Australia, escaping political and religious persecution in the Middle East in the early 1960s coming to this happy and welcoming land of Australia which has been a good home to you and to other people who've escaped persecution and genocides throughout the world.
Keep up the work of promoting an awareness of the plight of the Assyrian community on the world stage. I applaud what Hermiz Shahen and Suzy David have done on this score. Continue to provide leadership and provide an education for your young people that makes them aware of the greatness of this civilization, of this culture and of your language. See Australia as a happy, and tolerant, and democratic place and continue your contribution to this community, which I as a Premier of the State continue to applaud.
Thank you for having me with you tonight.
Statement by The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP
ASSYRIAN UNIVERSAL ALLIANCE
For a significant period of time Australia has been at the forefront
of international efforts to prevent, alleviate and respond to many humanitarian
and refugee situations that continue to arise. Australia's response to
such crises is a significant aspect of our role in the international arena,
and one to which the Government is deeply committed. Australia not only
responds through resettlement of displaced persons, but also provides
aid, peacekeeping and diplomatic activities.
Community organisations, such as those involved in today's commemoration, have an Important role to play in Australia's multicultural society. They are vital in the provision of social and cultural linkages with their countries of origin.
The Australian Government acknowledges the work of community organisations
in providing an important social network for community members.
The earliest alphabet is invented by the Phoenicians around this time. The number of letters was reduced from 27 or 28 to 22 in the 13th century B.C. This alphabet was then converted into local Semitic form and called Ugaritic alphabet. The Assyrian royal inscriptions during the latter years of the Empire were written both in the cuneiform (Akkadian) and Ugaritic (proto-Aramaic).
Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia, Roaf
Rev. Elias Mellus quarrels with the Uniates and the Syrian Orthodox Church an decides to resuscitate the Church of the East in India. In 1907 Church of the East ordains Archdeacon Abimelech as Bishop Mar Timotheus of South India and commissions him to shephard the Church in India. Rev. Mellus was the author of the book "History of the Oriental Chaldean Church".
History of Eastern Christianity, Atiya
AUGUST 19, 1876
British archeologist, George Smith, dies in Syria at age 36. With the help of the Assyrian archaeologist, Hurmizd Rassam, Smith discovers thousands of tablets and the famous story of the Flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Share your local events with Zinda readers. Email us or send fax to: 408-918-9201
WALTER AZIZ "AWAY" TOUR PARTY
Presented by the Assyrian American
Association of Southern California
August 28 - Sept 3
ASSYRIAN AMERICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
Sponsored by the Assyrian American Association of Houston
The Assyrian American Association of Houston is currently embarking on a project to build the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East by the name of St. Mary's (Aramaic translation: Omra D'Matmaryam). At this time, we are in process of purchasing 1.6-acre piece of land in west Houston in order to build the church.
Entertainment: Tamras Tamraz
General Addmission: Adults: $50.00/Children: $30.00
Sargon Youhannazad at (713) 972-1637
WALTER AZIZ "AWAY" TOUR PARTY
Presented by the Assyrian Social
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
4TH ANNUAL FOOD FESTIVAL
Assyrian Cultural Center is inviting all Assyrians and non-Assyrian to attend the Food Festival 2001 to enjoy good food, Assyrian music, dance, Art Gallery and more.
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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:
Shamasha Ninous Isaac
ZINDA Magazine is published weekly. Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarily represent those of the ZINDA editors, or any of our associated staff. This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals. ZINDA reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium. All letters and messages require the name(s) of sender and/or author. All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 words or less and bear the name of the author(s). Distribution of material featured in ZINDA is not restricted, but permission from ZINDA is required. This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news. To subscribe, send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zinda Magazine Copyright © Zinda Inc., 2001 - All Rights Reserved - http://www.zindamagazine.com