ASSYRIANS & AMERICA'S NEW WAR
This past week, many Assyrians in the United States waved the American flag and sang "God Bless America". As Assyrian-Americans it is their duty to serve the land and the government of their adopted country. Yet, Assyrians are also bound by blood, history, and memories to a region of the world soon to become the arena of a war as never witnessed before.
Much of the information contained in this week's issue is about the letters of support and prayers for those who suffered the devastating losses of their loved ones and the most tragic event in American history. Our Assyrian leaders condemned the terrorist acts and we agreed with them.
On 23 February 1998, al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper published the full text of a "Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and the Crusaders". The Paper said that it was a facsimile from Osama Bin Laden. The author(s) demandED the following: "To kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is an individual duty of every Muslim who is able in any country where this is possible, until the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem and the Haram Mosque in Mecca are freed from their grip and until their armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam, incapable of threatening any Muslim."
Assyrians in the Middle East will be among the biggest losers of the war against terrorism if we in the West do not prepare ourselves for what is to come in the next few months or years. It would be foolish to think that the majority of Moslems in the Middle East will respect their governments and remain tolerant of the "Crusaders" revenge.
With the first casualties of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and North Africa, Bin-Laden's al-Qaida militia might as well declare victory. An attack on a hospital, a school, or dormitory will cause ructions. The Moslems in Kabul, Baghdad, Tehran, Beirut, and Cairo will declare a Jihad against the Infidals, the non-Believers, and the "worshippers of the cross".
Will the unstable government of Khatami in Tehran or the disillusioned supporters of Pervez Sharif of Pakistan come to our aide? Don't hold your breath!
No right-minded person would deny that it was the Moslems who decimated two-third of our population in the last century. They did not attack us because of our Assyrian nationalism or western views. They plundered us, raped our women, and took away our dignity because of our religion. Our Christianity reminded them of the Westerners who put an end to their Ottoman Empire, Moslem brotherhood, and helped create a Jewish state around al-Qods, the holy city of Jerusalem.
Will the U.S. government and the NATO forces rescue the Assyrian populations if such a Jihad (holy war) is declared in the next few months?
During the Gulf War Saddam mobilized his military and the communication devices to areas closest to Assyrian populations (i.e. Mosul) and the excavation sites, hoping that the U.S. planes would not attack his men and radars for the fear of destroying churches and ancient artworks. The U.S. planes attacked anyway.
The terrorists use the same tactics. They hide in the most populated areas of the Middle East and yearn for the day when the "Christian armies" attack their nests so that America's New War can be christened as the "New Crusade".
Did we not help the Crusaders a thousand years ago? And what was the outcome? They left us to our own miserable fate in the ruins of Urhai (Edessa), Mosul, and Ctesiphon. Was it not the British that did the same thing in Sain-Qala and Salamas in 1916 and 1917?
First our religious leaders will be the target of their attacks. Then our political and civic leaders, then the ordinary people, their businesses, until we are forced to commence another mass exodus.
Will the U.S. Marines rescue us in north Iraq, Baghdad, and the Arab states along the Persian Gulf? A more important question is whether we want to be rescued and leave our homelands for the third time in the last eighty years.
History shows that our Christian allies have consistently failed us and have abandoned our people in times of confusion and desperation.
We are left in an awkward position again. The outlook may appear bleak, but we do have a tangible way out. Our survival in the Middle East requires a new definition of Assyrianism, not based on religion. In the face of the most atrocious acts against our people, we must seek help from the governments in the Middle East for the same protection we demand of the U.S. government.
Today's Assyrians are as much a part of the Middle East as are the Arabs, Persians, Turks, Kurds, and the Israelis. America's war policies may be good for its economy and the morale of its people, but it may have a devastating effect on our social and political struggles in the Middle East.
It is necessary that we strengthen our ties with the Arab, Turkish, Kurdish, Israeli and Iranian governments in the region - not as Mideast Christians, rather Assyrians - the indigenous people of that region. While we condemn the acts of terrorism in America, we must reassure Khatami, Hussein, Ecevit, and Assad that an attack on Middle East is an attack on our Assyrian homelands.
NATO and U.S. bombings are unlikely to destroy the unorthodox Islamic movements in the region, not even put an end to terrorism. But they can surely finish the journey we began from Urmia and Hakkari in 1915. This time the Bakuba Camps of Diaspora may become our permanent abode.
We must act now before CNN declares the first casualties of America's New War in the Middle East.
WHAT IS ASSYRIAN?
This is a common response one may expect when stating "I'm Assyrian". The next step, then, is to come up with some kind of a 'definition' of what Assyrian is. This definition may include reference to the empire, the land, language, and cultural traits including music, dance, food, folklore, etc. Let us consider some of these points to see if we can arrive at what makes one an Assyrian.
A logical starting point would be the very beginning when the first Assyrian 'appeared', or to borrow Diakonoffs terminology, the Assyrian ethnogenesis. There are two sources of data: the native Mesopotamian creation epic and genealogical lists or their Israelite parallels, or the archaeological evidence. Let us review the latter.
In the prehistoric period, that is prior to written records, it is difficult to speak of ethnic groups since we can not be certain of the names; and because our concept of ethnicity or even nationality as a means of classifying or grouping people may not apply, at least not as we understand it, to that period. What can be said is that the 'Assyrian triangle', formed by the three cities of Ashur, Nineveh, and Arbil, has been populated for as far back as 10,000 years. Initially by small nomadic or migratory groups which, by 9,000 B.C., when the first evidence of agricultural activity and domestication of animals appears, form permanent or semi-permanent settlements. With the advent of irrigation, more land could be cultivated which could in turn support more individuals, leading to the development of larger groups into villages and towns. This necessitated the formation of social organization; a superstructure regulating rules of conduct to minimize conflict and to defend the community against attacks by and to facilitate trade with other groups.
By this time, it's probably reasonable to assume the presence of a sense of belonging to or being part of a community with a common language, common economy, common moral and ethical codes, common religious beliefs as well as genetic links. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that Ashur, whose temple in the city by the same name dates back well into pre-history, was not only the name of the god, but also that of the city, the country, the language, and the people.
By about 2370 BC, Sargon of Akkad writes of Shubartu, the 'northern region' as apolitical! economic unit; and, by 2000 BC, extensive archives of Assyrian merchants in Cappadocia, about 600 miles from Ashur, clearly confirm the presence of a well-established Assyria.
Through the next 1400 years, or until the fall of Nineveh, Assyria, and indeed all of Mesopotamia and the Near East in general, went through many changes. One of the strongest forces behind these changes was probably migration; especially immigration. These immigrants included Semites, Indo-Europeans, and others of uncertain origin or stock; some of their names include Amorites, Kassites, Gutians, Hittites, Hiurrians, Urartians, Medes, Persians, Aramaeans, Chaldaeans, and many more. There is no doubt that there was intermixing between Assyrians and these other groups. Indeed, Assyrians were not a tribal people and, unlike the Israelites, their unity and distinction was not based on a belief in origin from one individual or being the sons of one exclusive god. So, where Yahweh forbid marriage with outsiders, Ashur accepted all people as his people and no Assyrian law ever legislated against non-Assyrians. It is not uncommon to see individuals with non-Assyrian names occupying high-ranking offices in the Assyrian empire, and even in the royal family.
Interaction with these newcomers affected Assyria and Assyrians in various ways and to different degrees; one of the most significant of these effects was the gradual replacement of Akkadian by Aramaic during the first millennium BC. These changes, however, did not affect the Assyrian identity; indeed, the new arrivals were absorbed into the Assyrian society so that later on, for example, we find Aramaic being called 'the Assyrian language'.
After the fall of Nineveh, Assyria continued as a city state in northern Mesopotamia; at times independent or autonomous and at times under direct control of another power. Direct evidence from this period is scarce; However, reference to Assyria and Assyrians can be found in non-Assyrian sources of the period and from both Assyrian and non-Assyrian sources of later times concerning this period.
The next major phase in Assyrian history starts with the coming of Christ. Very early on they accepted Christ and his teachings and established a church which by the seventh century AD extended from Palestine to Mongolia; the, so-called 'second Assyrian empire'. Here, again, as with the ancient empire, we see non--Assyrians taken into the church and many holding important positions, including that of the patriarch.
Now, let's try to answer the question we asked at the beginning; that is, what makes one an Assyrian. The qualities or attributes that make one Assyrian, or anything else, can be thought of as being of two varieties: the tangible ones and the intangible ones.
Tangible qualities include those mentioned at the beginning of this writing: land, language, genetics, religion, music, food, political affiliation, etc. The problem with these parameters as a basis for ethnic identification is their being tangible and subject to change. For example, there are now at least two major divisions of the Assyrian language and tens of subgroups, many of which are mutually unintelligible. Land, too, is a poor choice; this has become even more evident in the past two decades which have resulted in the mass out migration of Assyrians from their traditional homeland. As previously noted, racial or ethnic purity is a nonsense concept, not only for Assyrians but for any group of people, unless, of course, they have lived on an isolated island for millennia. The presence of a multitude of religious denominations or, in some cases, the lack ofa religious affiliation, makes this, too, an inadequate choice. To simplify things, let's consider an example; say an Assyrian born in the United States who does not speak the language, has never even seen the homeland, is a Baptist, does not know the folk dances or songs, and is republican. Can this person still be an Assyrian? Obviously, if being Assyrian is based on these tangible factors, this individual can not be an Assyrian. But, as stated above, there are certain intangible qualities which are not alterable and much more uniform.
That is, Assyrianism is more than land, language, religious denomination, food, or music. It is the essence of one's self; a physical, mental, and emotional state that transcends the physical world and is independent of it and, therefore, can not be changed or lost because of a change in the tangible world. Perhaps, religion would be a reasonable analogy; however, as David Perley puts it, Assyrianism surpasses even religion, since one can easily change one's religion, but it is not possible to change the very fabric of one's being. Of course, one must maintain those qualities described above as tangible; they are important, if for no other reason, because they are easily visible and definable, and they maintain a continuum from generation to generation. But, if they remain the only defining attributes of an Assyrian, and if the higher state of conscious and intellectual awareness is not reached, it is only a matter of time before the last Assyrian disappears.
Dr. Karokian is the Editor-in-Chief of Nineveh Magazine. "What is Assyrian" first appeared in the Voice Magazine of the Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock in July 1994 under the editorial direction of Dr. Jonathan S. Davidson.
& KURDISH PARTIES IN N. IRAQ CONDEMN ATTACKS IN U.S.
The meeting also reaffirmed that despite the use of extensive oppression and campaigns of annihilations against the Assyrian and Kurdish people of Kurdistan, never will either populations resort to terrorism and unlawful activities.
On the Third anniversary of the signing of the Washington agreement, the meeting reiterated the need to advance the process of peace and forging a joint stance by all political sides with respect to any forthcoming events in order to safeguard our people's national interest.
The participating parties were:
Assyrian Democratic Movement
of Turkish Daily News (Sept 21)
Among the dignitaries were the Assyrian Metropolitan Yusuf Cetin, Armenian patriarch II Mesrob, Jewish deputy rabbi Izak Haleva, Vatican representative Mon Senior George, Istanbul's Deputy Mufti Bayram Erdogan, U.S. Catholic Church General Secretary Alan McCain, U.S. Ambassador Robert Pearson, U.S. Istanbul Consul General Frenk Urbancic and the Marmara Group Strategic and Social Research Foundation general chairman Dr. Akkan Suver.
After reciting the hymns for the victims, the religious heads read portions of the Bible.
Ambassador Pearson said that Turkey was among the countries which shared their sorrow after the attack. After thanking Turkey, Pearson said: "Turkey lost many people because of terrorism. Therefore it is one of the countries which understands our sorrow. Terrorism cannot be linked to any belief and nation. People should live in peace wherever they are."
YOUKHANA KHAIE FREED
September 17, 2001
(ZNDA: Chicago) For Immediate Release
In reference to the case of Youkhana Yalda Khaie who is an Assyrian from Northern Iraq and was incarcerated for investigation by the authorities for a number of months. We have received the good news that he has been freed. This information on his release has been confirmed to us by members of Youkhana Khaie's family.
Mr. Youkhana Khaie's trial was scheduled for September 2, 2001, however it was postponed and no new date had been set. We can only assume that his case has been dismissed; however we will attempt to acquire confirmation relative to the status of this case.
We are grateful and appreciate the action taken by the local judicial authorities in releasing Mr. Youkhana Khaie. We thank all those who have been concerned and involved in this case for their interest, patience and diligence to see it to a lawful conclusion.
Assyrian Universal Alliance
AINA REPORT ON THE KILLING OF RAAD MARCUS IN NORTH IRAQ
The following is an Assyrian International News Agency report.
AINA - On August 24th, 2001 Mr. Raad Marcus, of Noohadra (Dohuk), a 36 year old Armenian married to an Assyrian woman, was murdered by a Behdanani Kurd. Mr. Marcus was observing a quarrel between his father-in-law and a Behdanani Kurdish neighbor and his two sons; when he attempted to separate the two men he was stabbed through his heart by one of the Behdanani Kurds, and was killed immediately. The murder occurred at nine O'Clock in the evening. Two other members of Mr. Marcus's family were injured, their condition is unknown. Mr. Marcus is the son of Gharib, and was a member of the Chaldean Church. He is survived by his wife and three children.
The Behdanani Kurdish father and one of his sons have been arrested, the other son is in hiding. The Behdanani controlled Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) government of Masoud Barzani has not yet charged the men, despite the eyewitness testimony of Mr. Marcus's wife and father-in-law.
This latest incident continues the pattern of crime against Assyrians and other Christian minorities in the area, where no perpetrators are brought to justice. Since the "safe haven" was established in North Iraq, over twenty Assyrians have been killed by Kurds, and not a single Kurd has been prosecuted. (see the following AINA reports: 8-19-2001, 7-30-2001, 2-19-2001, 12-25-1999, 11-30-1999, 6-19-1999, 12-10-1998, 12-28-1997, 6-24-1996, 2-1-1996). Assyrians find themselves living in a dangerous atmosphere, where they are victimized with impunity.
It is widely believed that this is a calculated policy by the KDP to intimidate the Assyrians and facilitate the expropriation of their lands. The ongoing case of Youkhana Khaie, an Assyrian who has been arrested and tortured by the KDP, is such an example (see AINA, 8-19-2001, 7-30-2001). Mr. Khaie, alleged to be a member of the Turkish based PKK, has been tortured, was denied visitation by family members and the Red Cross until onw week ago, and denied due process. The accusation that Mr. Khaie is a member of the PKK, which is outlawed in Iraq and has no presence there, has been used in previous instances by the KDP against Assyrians (see AINA, 11-30-1999, 10-16-1999), and has become a convenient pretext for harassing and arresting Assyrians. When such a charge is made there is little recourse for Assyrians, as the atmosphere is akin to a witch trial, and the standard of evidence is nil. There is no proof that Mr. Khaie is a member of PKK, and his family has vehemently denied these charges.
AINA contacted several Kurdish experts in Washington D.C., seeking an opinion on the violence directed against Assyrians by the KDP. When informed of the Khaie case, the experts, who wished to remain anonymous, asserted that his arrest and torture was an attempt to expropriate his land, and that this is a deliberate policy sanctioned by the highest levels of the KDP.
Mr. Khaie was arrested on April 5th. His trial date, September 2nd, was announced on August 27th in a statement by the KDP. This occurred only after Assyrians mobilized on his behalf; had they not done so, he would have languished in prison indefinitely, without being charged and without any indication of when he would be charged or released. The trial itself was postponed because the presiding judge was in Syria. It is not clear why this was not known in advance and another judge assigned the case. No new trial date has been announced, and Mr. Khaie will continue to languish in jail, in a state of limbo.
As for the latest murder, it remains to be seen whether the KDP will bring the murderers of Raad Marcus to justice. If past history is any indication, this is unlikely to happen.
ARSON SUSPECTED AT ST. JOHN ASSYRIAN CHURCH IN CHICAGO
Courtesy of Chicago Tribune (Sept 24)
(ZNDA: Chicago) The St. John Parish of the Assyrian Church of the East in the North Side of Chicago was set afire in a suspected arson incident early Sunday, causing an estimated $200,000 in damage.
Police were called to St. John's Church in the 1400 block of West Lawrence Avenue by a passerby who saw smoke at 3:55 a.m. The church's pastor, Rev. Charles Kluetz, said he believed the fire was started by someone who pushed a wad of paper through a mail slot and dropped a match onto it.
Firefighters contained the blaze to the west side of the building, bringing it under control by 4:20 a.m., Kluetz said.
The fire is being investigated as an arson, said police spokesman Matthew Jackson.
Church items ruined by smoke and fire included a copier, fax machine, wall hangings and carpeting, and water damage occurred throughout.
In an email to Zinda Magazine, Rev. Klutz explains that he was "called to the Church building to witness the fire which had been set to destroy our Christian witness in Chicago." Rev. Klutz notes that "we had been warned that a possibility of a superpatriot or some unbalanced feeble suffering soul would try to destroy our Church buildings."
At about 4 in the morning someone in the neighborhood of the Parish calls Father Klutz and informs him that the church building was on fire and flames were shooting off the roof. Rev. Klutz arrives at 4:26 A.M. and finds the fire-trucks, emergency vehicles, and the police assembled around the church building.
"I am in tears, and my heart is broken this morning" writes Rev. Klutz.
A video documenting the damage to the church building can be viewed at: http://assyria.nineveh.com/video/StJohn.html
RABBIE YONADAM KANNA SPEAKS ON ATTACKS AGAINST AMERICA
Courtesy of Modesto Bee (Sept 12); article by Lisa Millegan
(ZNDA: Modesto) A Christian pro-democracy activist from Iraq said he was saddened but not entirely surprised by Tuesday's terrorist attacks against the United States.
Yonadam Y. Kanna, general secretary of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, said his group has long been worried about the potential for violence here.
"We were expecting (terrorism) at any time, but we were shocked that they reached the World Trade Center and the Pentagon," Kanna said.
Kanna, also known as Rabi Yako Yousif, has been in the United States since late August to meet with Assyrian groups. He said he intends to stay for at least another month.
He spoke at the Assyrian national convention in San Jose earlier this month; he has been meeting with Stanislaus County organizations this week.
No one knows who committed the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., but Kanna said he fears that it was a group from the Middle East. He said
anti-American sentiment has been rising in Iraq, spurred by Saddam Hussein.
The Iraqi president blames U.S. sanctions for the country's financial problems. He said America is responsible for the thousands of hungry Iraqi children.
Kanna said a growing number of extremists are willing to do anything to fight the United States, including die.
"The war has started," he said.
Kanna was accompanied by police escorts when he arrived for his interview at The Bee. He said he is worried about attacks from pro-Saddam immigrants who may be living in the area.
"Thousands of terrorists are in America from Islamic countries," Kanna said.
He and his group are calling for the world to denounce the attacks as a crime against humanity, not just America. He said Tuesday's actions should alarm everyone who stands for peace and human rights.
of The San Diego Union-Tribune (Sept 21); article by Matthew T. Hall
On September 20, dozens of East County's 15,000 Iraqi Chaldeans met with East County politicians to discuss how best to help. Sam Cholagh, a Chaldean who became a U.S. citizen 10 years ago, said he has already collected money from friends and relatives for this cause.
"Our people are survivors," he said. "We don't want to lose the second chance we got in America."
The money will be given to the Rescue Task Force, a humanitarian group co-founded by Wendell Cutting, chief of staff to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon.
Cutting and co-founder Gary Becks were scheduled to leave for a relief trip to Honduras on Sunday. The two men said staying home and redirecting the aid was an easy decision.
"Years ago, firemen had bucket brigades to respond to the fires," Becks said. "Now we have buckets to respond to the firemen. (We're) rescuing the rescuers."
Cutting said five relief packages have been sent to New York City and the nation's capital. The packages include batteries, flashlights, blankets, food and water.
"As a community we wanted to step up our support," said Arkan Somo, the head of a state grocers association made up primarily of Chaldeans.
Somo said fund-raising canisters will be placed in some 350 stores around the county by the association's nearly 400 members.
Cutting thanked the Chaldeans for their support, coming as it does amid reports that some of them and other people of Middle Eastern descent were being harassed after last week's attacks.
"It sends a message to what I call the rednecks in this country, the people who need to be educated," Cutting said. "It sends a message that you are with the American people."
SARGON DADESHO: "SOMEONE HAS ATTACKED OUR COUNTRY"
Courtesy of Modesto Bee (Sept 12); based on artible by July SLy
(ZNDA: Modesto) "Someone has attacked our country," said Modesto resident Sargon Dadesho, president of the Assyrian National Congress. "This is a vicious attack that should be answered."
But Dadesho worries that many people are not distinguishing between the many Assyrian Christians in the valley and the Muslim fundamentalists in Iraq.
Some angry residents seem to be ignoring geography as well as ethnic and religious differences.
An Assyrian student at Modesto Junior College heard a suggestion that all Middle Easterners should be shot. When he reminded the speaker that he was from the Middle East, the man responded, "Oh, not you."
"Basically, we are telling our people to be careful," said Dadesho, although he also urged Assyrians to donate blood and "do your share of the efforts as citizens."
One Arab mother cried as she described her fears for her children. "You don't blame the whole nationality for what one stupid group does," she said. "In our family, we believe the people who did this are completely disgusting."
By midafternoon Tuesday, Assyrian Rodney Babayoo had already waited three hours at the Delta Blood Bank to donate blood after finishing a class at Modesto Junior College. The 27-year-old moved from Iran in April 2000.
His wait at the blood bank was expected to be as long as five hours.
Courtesy of Dow Jones International News & WorldSources Online (Sept 21)
(ZNDA: MEXICO CITY) Mexican officials deny the arrest of 96 Chaldean refugees in Tijuana is related to recent terrorist attacks in the U.S., and U.S. officials say they didn't ask for the detentions.
But the Chaldean-Assyrians who allegedly face persecution in their home
country - say their normally routine requests for U.S. asylum have fallen
victim to the widespread mistrust and anxiety that have followed the attacks.
"Why are they treating us like this? We're college-educated people, not criminals," Iraqi Hadeel Abed Haquel told a group of Mexican congressmen who toured the detention center last Tuesday.
Legislators expressed concern that Mexico is starting a witch-hunt of Middle Easterners, something authorities here deny.
"There is not any persecution or witch-hunt against people from the Middle East," said Mexican immigration official Raul Zarate in Tijuana. "It's just that they are noticed more and are more likely to be reported, given the sensitivity of the times."
Apart from the detentions in Tijuana, Mexican authorities have begun searches for groups of Middle Easterners reportedly staying in the southern state of Chiapas and the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco.
All the Iraqis detained so far had entered Mexico illegally, aided by immigrant smugglers.
Scott Hattfield, the representative of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Tijuana, said his agency didn't ask Mexico for such detentions.
"Whenever they (Mexican police) come across any illegal aliens, that's their procedure," Hattfield said. "They send them back to Mexico City."
In the past, however, similar groups of Iraqi Chaldeans have been allowed to remain in Tijuana while their claims for asylum were processed at U.S. border offices in San Diego.
This year's situation is different in part because of a disruption of normal hours at those U.S. offices following the attacks, and a more scrupulous enforcement of immigration rules under President Vicente Fox, who took office Dec. 1 promising to combat migrant smuggling.
But a U.N. refugee official speaking on customary condition of anonymity also said increased security measures on U.S. borders "are filling up Mexican detention centers beyond their capacity."
Desperate to relieve the overcrowding, Interior Undersecretary Javier Moctezuma said last Thursday immigration authorities moved the 96 Iraqi men, women and children to an Army base in the southern state of Campeche to ease overcrowding in a Mexico City immigrant detention facility.
Moctezuma gave no indication of how long authorities would hold the Iraqis or whether their requests for political asylum would be granted.
Jimenez said the Iraqis only agreed to cooperate with the move after
immigration officials "swore on the Bible"
This is the first time immigration authorities have sent immigrants to a military base, according to Liliam Jimenez, the director of the Tijuana-based human rights group Corporacion Corazon.
Because Campeche borders Guatemala, the Iraqis believed they would be deported to Central America, and refused to go. Campeche City is the capital of the State of Campeche. It is located 196 km southeast of Merida in the State of Yucatan by the federal highway 180, and 471 km northeast of Villahermosa in the State of Tabasco by the federal highways 186, 261 and 180 in Mexico.
They are now in a sort of limbo - not wanting to stay in Mexico, unwilling to go back to Iraq or any third country, and unable to reach the U.S. offices where they must apply for asylum.
Chaldean activists are asking U.S. officials to help resolve the impasse. "They know they have nothing to do with it (the attacks). They ran away from Iraq," said Coda, the San Diego activist. "Please don't send them back to the border of Iraq. They would be dead in a minute."
Jimenez, who has been working as a mediator between the Iraqis and Mexican immigration officials, said she would meet with members of President Vicente Fox's staff on Friday to try and negotiate an agreement that would declare the Iraqis political refugees.
The United States regularly grants political asylum to Chaldean Christian Iraqis, but Jimenez said last week's attacks and the group's switch to the military base have cast a pall of doubt on that likelihood.
READERS & SYRIAN ORTHODOX RESIDENTS IN NY ARE SAFE
Assyrian violinist, David Yonan who was using a subway train in Manhattan, during the attack on the World Trade Center, writes the following: "the train suddenly stopped and all passengers were asked to leave. By that time, the second plane had already hit the World Trade Center... Then everyone was told that no more trains were running back to Brooklyn! All payphones were dead...Then, everyone including me, rushed upstairs, trying to find a bus, about 5 blocks away from the WTC. It was impossible and everybody told me to run and walk away, because a major catastrophe had happened. I started running and walking with hundreds and later thousands of people, walking over the very long Brooklyn Bridge, in heavy rain of ASHES! The ashes came down so hard, that everyone, bent his/her shirt in front of the mouth, in order to breathe normally."
ASSYRIAN SINGER LINDA GEORGE NOT AMONG VICTIMS
(ZNDA: Los Angeles) Zinda Magazine has confirmed that a passenger aboard the American Airline flight number 11, from Boston to Los Angeles was not the Assyrian singer, Linda George. The victim, 27 years of age, bears the same name and is a resident of Westboro, Massachusetts and an employee at TJX Company.
Another victim who has an "Assyrian-sounding" first and last name is Alona Avraham. Ms Avraham, 30, is not Assyrian. She was an Israeli citizen and lived in Ashdot, Israel.
ZINDA MAGAZINE: ASSYRIANS STAND BEHIND U.S. RESOLVE
Assyrian-Americans stand united behind the people and the government of the United States in their resolve to find and punish the perpetrators of the attacks in New York and Washington.
While many Assyrian-American communities have already or are in the process of releasing condemnation notices to the press and local government agencies, Zinda Magazine suggests the following precautionary measures to minimize unjust and illegal activities:
The best policy during these times of confusion is not to invite any unwarranted searches or suspicion. However, if your rights as Assyrian-Americans, according to the Constitution of the United States, are denied then we urge you to contact your local authorities.
ZOWAA CONDEMNS ATTACKS IN NEW YORK AND WASHINGTON D.C.
A Declaration of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa)
September 11, 2001
On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, the New York World Trade Center and other U.S. government centers in Washington D.C. came under attack by an unknown terrorist group, that may have caused the loss of thousands of innocent civilians and the destruction of civil properties.
On behalf of the Assyrian Democratic Movement we express our deepest sorrow.
The Assyrian Democratic Movement offers its condolences to the families of the victims and the American nation.
At the same time we condemn this act of terrorism against innocent civilians.
This was not an attack against Americans alone, but against humanity targeting peace and stability in the world.
We appeal to the international community and related organizations to stand firm against terrorism and whomever stands behind these acts of violence, afraid of humanitarian principals, peace, democracy and human rights.
BAY AREA ASSYRIAN-AMERICANS CONDEMN TERRORIST ATTACK
San Jose, California- On September 11, 2001
The civic and religious leaders of the Assyrian-American community of the Bay area gathered at the offices of the Assyrian American Association of San Jose to condemn the acts of terrorism against our Americans in New York and Washington D.C. The Assyrian leaders called the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon "horrific crimes against the sanctity of human life and the democratic principals of our nation."
"As a Christian community we pray for all the victims and their families and ask that God will bring peace and hope to them all," said His Excellency Mar Bawai Soro, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East. "Our prayers for strength and safety are also with the rescue workers and their families," said Mar Bawai Soro. "We share the grief and shock experienced by all Americans today as a result of these unimaginable terrorist acts," said Jacklin Bejan, President of the Assyrian American Association of San Jose.
At this meeting, representatives of the Assyrian community adopted the following resolutions:
The Assyrian-American community of the Bay area is comprised of nearly 5,000 Christians. For more information about Assyrians, please visit:
The following individuals or organizations are hereby endorsing the San Jose Assyrian Anti-Terrorism Resolution of September 11, 2001:
His Excellency Mar Bawai Soro
Rev. Youshia Sana
Rev. Albert Aslan
Rev. Fereidoun Es-Haq
Mrs. Jacklin Bejan
Ms. Nora Joseph
Mr. Philip Hermiz
AUA TO BUSH, "ASSYRIANS LOOK TO YOU FOR LEADERSHIP"
President George W. Bush
Dear President Bush;
Thank you for reassuring us of your faith in God and the principles that have built America. The Assyrian Americans as well as all Americans look to you for leadership and direction during these dark and sad hours.
On behalf of the half million Assyrians of America and millions of Assyrians throughout the world we pledge to you our support and to the course of action that you take in finding and bringing to justice the terrorists who have committed this act of inhumanity. What kind of people are they that used our fellow Americans as a human bomb?
The Christian Assyrians have experienced first hand the terrible acts of injustice in the form of genocide where two thirds of the Nation was massacred in W.W.I and thousands more at Semele, Iraq in 1933. In the last 150 years our forefathers came to America and have helped build this great country and sought religious freedom and liberty.
We thank the leaders of America and the Government for making this the greatest nation on earth. We ask you to stand strong, punish those who are guilty, help heal the wounds of our people and assure the countries of the world that we will remain the symbol of freedom.
Our prayers go out to you, all government officials, to all suffering Americans and to the families and friends who are mourning the loss of their loved ones.
John J. Nimrod
ASSYRIAN-AUSTRALIANS EXPRESS SORROW FOR AMERICAN VICTIMS
H.E Mr. J. Thomas Schieffer
The Ambassador to United State Of America. U.S.A. Embassy,
13 September, 2001
On behalf of the Assyrian Universal Alliance - Australia Chapter and the Assyrian community in Australia , We express our heartfelt condolences and sorrow for the loss of the many thousands of terrified people who died in the shattered buildings , hijacked planes and those who lost their loved ones in Tuesday's terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon Building in Washington D.C.
Assyrians in Australian stand united in support of the Australian and US governments' pledge to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks and to punish the perpetrators of the attacks in New York and Washington.
Last Saturday our representatives had the honour of attending the fundraising dinner for Westmead Children's Hospital and met personally with President Bill Clinton. During this function we also had the opportunity to present to the President a submission on behalf of our Assyrian nation.
We, the Christian Assyrians, lost over three quarters of a million people during WW1. Our people were slaughtered in one of the worst genocides against the Assyrian nation by the Turks and Kurdish Islamic fanatics under the call of JEHAD and in 1933 over three thousands of our Assyrian people were massacred by the Iraqi Army. Today our people, whose ancient homeland is Iraq, are scattered throughout the world as a result of continuous oppressions and Human Rights abuses by those Islamic Regimes in the Middle East. For these reasons the internationally unnoticed and peaceful Christian Assyrians feel with great depth the sorrow and fear felt by the American people in this horrific act of terrorism and violence by the same fanaticism demonstrated in this event.
What happened on Tuesday September 11 2001, against one of the most democratic societies in the world , is a threat to all humanity, freedom and democracy in the world and is an alarming signal that if the world does not form a united stand against this kind of terrorism, the whole human civilization will be at risk.
ASSYRIAN-CHALDEAN-SYRIAC UNION LETTER TO U.S. PRESIDENT
P.O. Box 884
The White House
I would like to express our deepest sympathy to the American people and to the victims of this inhumane terrorist attack on the 11th of September. I would also like to offer my condolences for all the innocent victims and their families and wishing a quick recovery to the injured.
We, the Assyrian people, share the view that these attacks on America are aimed at the World democracy and we strongly condemn these evil acts.
The Assyrian people have been the target of terrorist attacks and horrific genocides in the Middle East for centuries, where we profoundly understand and share the pain of the American people as a result of Tuesday's tragedy.
We hope that America will recover soon and will take the necessary steps against terrorism and nations alike.
COUNCIL OF MIDDLE EASTERN CHURCHES CONDEMNS ATTACKS
"We, the representatives of the Middle Eastern Churches in the Greater
Detroit area, gathered at Mother of God Church in Southfield, unanimously
condemn the heinous terrorists' acts that targeted some landmarks and
government sites in our nation. We pray for the innocent victims who lost
their lives in such horrible crimes. We offer our prayers to the injured
and missing citizens, and pray for their families and friends. We also
pray that federal and state officials will do their best to assure the
safety of all citizens. We commend the heroic and noble efforts of those
police officers, fire fighters and emergency workers for helping and bringing
comfort to the victims.
The Members of the Council of Middle Eastern Churches
List of Members of the Council of Middle Eastern Churches
Abundant Life Arabic Lutheran Church
SAVING AN ANCIENT LANGUAGE
following is a reprint of an article in Los Angeles Times, Saturday,
May 30, 1998.
One of the few remaining groups of Aramaic speakers is using its music to preserve what in biblical times was the most widely spoken language in the Middle East.
In a small basement recording studio in Tel Aviv's central bus terminal, the Nash Didan band lays down instrumental tracks for New Age-style songs written in Aramaic by their leader, Arik Mordechai.
Mordechai, a professional musician, said he began his mission to save Aramaic two years ago when his mother asked him to keep the language going. "The music is where the culture starts," he said. "People can learn a little bit of a language that way."
In biblical times, Aramaic was the lingua franca of the Middle East, while Hebrew was mostly used in sacred texts.
But today, the language is fading away.
Moshe Bar-Asher, president of the Academy of Hebrew Language in Jerusalem, said scholars expect the 3,000-year-old language to die out within two or three decades. About 500,000 to 800,000 people, mainly in the Middle East, still speak Aramaic, he said.
Mordechai and his parents belong to a 14,000-member group of Israeli Jews who call themselves Nash DidanAramaic for "our people." They trace their roots back to northern Iran, around the town of Urmia.
* * *
The isolation of the mountainous area helped the Jews of Urmia preserve their religious heritage and the Aramaic language they had brought into exile from the Holy Land.
After Israel was founded in 1948, the Nash Didan began moving to the Jewish state. The tribe's leader, Avraham Hachami, knew only Aramaic and Persian when he arrived as an 18-year-old.
Hachami sees the language of his forefathers waning. "The young people may know a few words, but they don't speak it all the time. They speak Hebrew or English. Only the old people, me and my wife, we speak Aramaic all the time," he said.
In Israel, the Nash Didan have preserved their Persian-style cooking and some of the old rituals, including a wedding ceremony in which the bride throws apples at her husband from the roof of their home.
Although Aramaic was primarily a secular language in ancient times, parts of the Bible's books of Ezra and Daniel were written in the ancient tongue. In Jewish ritual, Aramaic is still the language of the Passover haggadathe story read at family Sedersand is also used in ceremonial readings for weddings and funerals.
Jesus' last words on the cross are probably the most recognized Aramaic phrase. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus cried, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?""My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Aramaic has been transformed over the centuries, borrowing from Arabic, and a modern speaker might have difficulty understanding the biblical language, said Joseph Naveh, professor of ancient languages at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
But the common roots are still apparent. Water is moyeh in Aramaic, mayim in Hebrew and miye in Arabic. Head is resha in Aramaic, rosh in Hebrew and ras in Arabic.
As spoken by Mordechai's mother, Esther, who is in her 80s, Aramaic sounds quick and clipped, with a hard twang. She is listed as a "spiritual advisor" on the CDs' liner notes and helps her son when he struggles for the right word in writing lyrics.
In the cramped studio, Esther Mordechai was surrounded by band members during a recent recording session, including lead singer Tali Amar, who comes from a different background but learned enough Aramaic to sing Mordechai's songs.
Mordechai said the first two Aramaic CDs have sold several thousand copies each, not bad for a country with a population of only 6 million. A third album is in the works.
s August Issue
A MOMENT WITH DAVID
This month I had the chance to experience something that would forever change a place inside me. I, along with others at the 68th National Assyrian Convention, had the honor of David Yonan's performance. This young man, in his twenties, taught me that with a violin, in the hands of a master, one could communicate with the audience.
From the time that David Yonan had picked up his violin and had started
to play until the time he had stopped was only a matter of minutes. But
in these minutes I had taken a journey, one that would not leave me in
the same place
After he had stopped playing I wrote, "With this violin he spoke not with words, but with the sounds of emotion that seemed to be with a voice that could only be human."
From now on, when I see or think of a violin, I will remember this moment with David.
Until 1500 B.C. Mesopotamian kings continued to lay claim to divinity. The kings of Ur and Isin in southern Bet-Nahrain for example, were regarded as divine bridegrooms.
Kingship and the Gods, Frankfort
(A.D. June 1915)
Turkish troops arrive in the city of Harput in Turkey and gather up and imprison Christian men. A group of 800 men were made to sit down in a valley nearby while the Turkish officers in charge shot them until their ammunition was gone. Then they began using their bayonets. Three weeks later all Christian residents of Harput were forced to leave their homes.
September 25, 1974
Dr. Petros de Baz, General Agha Petros de Baz's first cousin, dies in a hospital in Amman, Jordan. Dr. de Baz was appointed by the United Nations to assist the Assyrian communities in the Khabour region of Syria. Later he served the Palestinian refugees through the International Red Cross.
Share your local events with Zinda readers. Email us or send fax to: 408-918-9201
A PERFORMANCE OF SUMERIAN STORIES
The Zi-Pang Trio
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
Thru Oct 14
GALA HISPANIC THEATRE
"El Arquitecto y el Emperador de Asiria (The Architect
and the Emperor of Assyria),"
MELAMMU: THE ASSYRIAN AND BABYLONIAN INTELLECTUAL HERITAGE
Sponsored by the University of Bologne
LECTURE: DR. GABRIEL YONAN at SWEDISH PARLIAMENT
Dr. Yonan will be addressing the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm on the important events in the last 100 years of Assyrian history.
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
FIRST UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO's CSSS SYMPOSIUM
Sponsored by Canadian Society for Syriac Studies (CSSS)
AFA ANNUAL DINNER & DANCE PARTY
His Lordship Restaurant
Entertainment: Edmond and His Band. (Ninef)
For reservations contact Flora Kingsbury at 925-672-4534.
AMERICAN ANTHROPOLIGICAL ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING
Daniel Wolk, Univeristy of Chicago
For more info re AAA Meeting in Washington visit: http://www.aaanet.org/mtgs/mtgs.htm
BRITISH MUSEUM LECTURE SERIES
"Medicine vs. Magic in Babylonia"
Contact: Joan Porter MacIver, c/o British Academy
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
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