6751 PERSON OF THE YEAR
Father Yusuf Akbulut (Turkey)
We first learned about Father Akbulut in the winter of 6750. In just a few short days this little-known Assyrian priest from a remote location in southeastern Turkey became the symbol of Assyrian struggle for human rights and recognition of the Assyrian Genocide (Seyfo) of 1915. Then there was the sensational court hearings attended by the German, Swedish, and Dutch parliamentarians, journalists, and human rights groups.
On 21 December 2000 Father Akbulut was charged with treason and "incitement of the masses under Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code". In reality he was arrested for his private conversation with a Turkish journalist working for the Hurriyat Newspaper on speaking openly about the systematic massacre of over one and a half million Christian Assyrians, Armenians, and Greeks during the years of the First World War. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. The next hearing was scheduled for 22 February 2001.
While in prison in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Father Akbulut attracted the attention of many Assyrians in Diaspora who flooded the offices of their local government representatives, human rights groups, and Turkish consulates around the world with thousands of letters, facsimiles, and emails. In fact the Internet campaign was so effective that in a letter to the Editor of this magazine a Turkish government representative in January 2001 asked: "stop filling our email account with your petitions." The campaign was a huge success and Father Akbulut's case was followed through its course by several European news media.
Referred to as a "traitor" in some Turkish journals and newspaper, Father Akbulut - prior to his arrest - was ministering to a very small Assyrian community in Turkey - approximately 70 people. At the time of his arrest he was only 36 years of age and father to five children. By the end of March 2001, based on Turkey's previous record of such cases, Father Akbulut's situation seemed hopeless and his acquittal highly unlikely. The campaign was immedaiately strengthened through the collaborative efforts of a tight network of Assyrian websites.
The trial of Akbulut vs. People of Turkey, as these same Turkish newspapers had portrayed it in December of 2000, soon became the classic case of "David and Goliath" with Father Akbulut fighting 80 years of deception and misinformation through government-controlled media in Turkey. Our hero's sling shot was Turkey's vulnerability toward European Union's acceptance of its application for membership. All needed was the presence of a few European political and media representatives to ensure a CNN or Agnece-France coverage. This task was also accomplished in a very timely manner as many European political observers, scholars, and journalists attended his second and third trials. Only a few days before the last court appearance of Father Akbulut, the western media briefly began covering his story and referred to the Assyrian people as the "persecuted and oppressed" inhabitants of Turkey. Even the more liberal Turkish media sources were freely using the name "Assyrian" in contrast to simply "Chrisian" or "Syrian Orthodox" priest.
On 5 April 2001 Father Akbulut was acquitted of all charges and was released from prison.
The arrest of of Father Yusuf Akbulut was not a unique case. In fact the media attention on Akbulut's trial overshadowed another Christian person's arrest who was charged with insulting Islam during the same period. As of February of this year, the court case of Kemal Timur has been postponed six times as his prosecutors continue to search for evidence against him. He was alleged to have slandered Prophet Mohammad - a claim that was later refuted by one of the earlier witnesses.
Another on-going case is that of Soner Onder, who has been imprisoned since 1991 for having ties to the Kurdish separatist groups. To this day the government of Turkey has no conclusive evidence against Mr. Onder, yet he remains in an overcrowed jail cell and is refused visits by family members. Ankara continues to prosecute Mr. Onder and other Christian inhabitants of Turkey in an effort to intimidate the small Assyrian population of southeastern Turkey and Istanbul.
Zinda Magazine has chosen Father Yusuf Akbulut as the year 6751 Person of the Year for his undaunted courage to single-handedly face the perpetrators of the greatest evil committed against the Assyrian nation in the last century. A Syrian-Orthodox Christian priest, he represented the spirit of the entire Assyrian nation in that crowded Turkish court room on 5 April 2001 - a place no less ghastly than the Roman coliseums where Christians were fed to lions for public amusement.
In truth neither Father Akbulut nor any of us are a free people. Father Akbulut taught us that in silence we are always condemned to accept our adversity's wrongful accusations and historical injustice. He openly spoke on the Seyfo Genocide of 1915, was arrested, and faced death penalty. To unchain the shackles of deception and ignorance, following his daring example is an obligatory step toward our absolute emancipation.
6751 EVENT OF THE YEAR
The Collapse of the Karl Suleman Enterprises
Last year no other news event received more coverage, public attention, and letters to the editor than the stories surrounding the fall of the Assyrian-Australian entrepreuer, Karl Suleman. Mr. Suleman, a former drummer, butcher, and convenient storeowner, in a span of two years became one of the world's wealthiest Assyrians. His investment strategy? Enormous early repayment on unsecured investments made by none other than his own Assyrian community through a slick pyramid investment scheme and the backing of community leaders. The strategy paid off and by Summer of 6751 he had become the king of an empire stretching from music stores and shopping cart manufacturing to providing Internet acess and music concert promotions. However upon closer examination of the Australian authorities Mr. Suleman's empire was proved to be an overstated dwelling with no running water and electricity. The man who wined and dined with the former U.S. presidents and promised Assyrian entertainers open door to international fame was by mid-November ridiculed for deceiving his own people. His commercial enterprises and his expensive cars and homes were bit by bit auctioned off and his Assyrian investors were told to expect very little to no return on their investments.
Zinda Magazine has chosen the quick rise and fall of Mr. Suleman's business ventures as the year 6751 Event of the Year for its massive financial effect on the Assyrian community in Australia and abroad. It also had an indirectly wayward influence on the reputation of the local Assyrian Church of the East in Sydney and its bishop. While the entire budget of monies collected annually for the support of the activities in the homeland by different Assyrian aid and political groups may be less than half a million U.S. dollars, in less than two years Mr. Suleman succeeded in amassing nearly one hundred and thirty million dollars of the Assyrian community's wealth into a business venture hardly qualified for a Junior Achievement school project. Karl Suleman's funny-money touched the lives of many: the bishop in Sydney, the entertainer Linda George, the Assyrian Universal Alliance Officer Ms. Suzy David, two thousand unhappy investors, and even our Internet Magazine. Twice last year Zinda Magazine was threatened with a lawsuit for its unbiased coverage of the Karl Suleman fiasco. We also had to postpone our Tammuz Project, initiated in December, until the second quarter of the current year.
In retrospect, Karl Suleman's demise also proved an interesting argument which has often come to blows for many Assyrian activists, that with a concrete plan of action millions of dollars can be collected from Assyrians in Diaspora - as long as there is a huge personal reward set as its milestone. A handshake and a photo opportunity with likes of Mr. Froggy would complete the transaction and no guarantees need to be established at the onset either. Karl Suleman Enterprises proved to be a bad medicine for a nation in coma and for many the memories and financial loss of such tragedy will surely linger for a long time to come.
Results of Zinda Magazine Readers' Votes:
For Person of the Year
THE 1915 GENOCIDE (SEYFO) OF THE ASSYRIANS IN TURKEY
The 24th of April this year is the 87th commemoration for the decisive resolution drawn to annihilate the Assyrian people in Turkey. This perpetration commenced in 1915 and prolonged into 1919, thus becoming the continuation of centuries of massacres, persisting into the next decades by the massacres of Semeil (1933) and Suriya (1968) in Zakhu's vicinity. Such atrocities are still being manipulated, yet in progressive methods and with contemporary tactics.
The policy of the Ottomans was distinguished for it nationalist superiority within a multicultural society. The Sultans of the Ottoman Empire pursued chauvinism sourced historically from the Turkish nature that stood for violence, vehemence and well-planed genocides. This nature was consistent until the establishment of the Turkish republic which became to be known for its extreme nationalism forcing a nationally, culturally and religiously homogenous state on all the minorities and especially the Assyrians. Our people that remained in their ancestral land bore the most horrible consequences of the oppression, persecution, atrocities. Nearly the entire Assyrian nation was exterminated in the beginning of the First World War due to:
Our peace-loving people never opposed the brutal Turkish authorities which should had provided our people with security and protection, instead of acts of genocide, as in during the period of Sultan Abidel Hamid II, a fanatic Muslim. He organised the Hamidiya regiments in order to guard the boarders and crush any rebellion or any idea of national salvation contemplated by the Christian Armenians and Greeks. He announced this resolution on the 24th of April 1914 and the orders were executed in 1915 (Shato d'Sayfo- the year of the sword) which persisted up to 1919. The Hamidiya regiments perpetrated the vilest acts against our people: the regiment was largely composed of Kurds that were affected by religious fanaticism which allowed them to implement the Islamist Ottoman policy that was seen as a holy religious duty. The Kurdish chieftains rushed to the calls from the Mosque to take arms and join the Holy War (Jihad) to massacre the Christians (the infidels) so that they could:
The Turkish Republic as the lawful inheritor of the Ottoman Empire seems to advocate the denial policy and refute the genocide that was committed against the Assyrians whoo lost more than half a million victims and the rest genuflected to the harsh conditions of life where fear, hunger, flight and scattering of the families resulted in a catastrophic destruction of our society.
By denying and not recognising the Assyrian genocide Turkey signifies that it fears to face the sinister pages of its own past. How sufficient are the statements of some Turkish politicians in the recent years regarding how the land that the Kurds fight for is actually that of the Assyrians and they are welcomed to return, build and live on it? Thus we have the right to question the sincerity of these statements:
The Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem in his final visit presented the United States with a dossier about the Turkmen minority in Iraq and how Turkey considers itself the guardian and protector of the Turkmen minority: the question is how much does Turkey respect the rights of its own minorities? And the Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit in a meeting with party officials accused Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinian people and here we can not help but to ask: do the international measures of genocide apply to a specific nation and not the other?
We the Assyrian people as an ancient and civilised nation request the international organisations, the United Nations, the European parliaments and above all the European Parliament:
To Our Immortal Martyrs
GOVERNMENT SELLS HOUSES TO ARABS ONLY
REBUILDING OUR HOMELAND
I had first read about Dr. Ashur Moradkhan and his Atra Project late last year as I was skimming through an issue of Zinda.
Dr. Moradkhan stood out as he had been the first to try to reverse the trend of Assyrian emigration from our homeland. He was an Assyrian who had decided on emigrating from America back to our homeland in Northern Iraq.
I couldn't believe it.
The thought that we had a professional in the West who considered it important enough to donate his time and assist in rebuilding the infrastructure needed to help keep our people in our homeland was such a welcome surprise for me.
Being an Australian-born Assyrian and having no idea of what life was really like in Northern Iraq, my mind unconsciously drifted to the biased media induced thoughts of war and famine.
I also strangely recalled a story a good friend Ninos Toma had told me. In Northern Iraq, he explained, the legs of a bed sit in containers filled with water. These he claimed were used to deter scorpions that came out at night from getting into your bed by climbing the bedposts. Not exactly a point they should highlight on tourist brochures I had thought to myself at the time.
But reality is far stranger than fiction.
Sennacherib Daniel and I had finally made the decision to see it for ourselves and after days of travel we finally arrived in Northern Iraq.
Northern Iraq, which is currently under U.N. administration, is very peaceful. Although the main Assyrian and Kurdish political parties do have major differences, the Assyrian and Kurdish population who live in Northern Iraq do so in peace and with respect for each other's religions, language and culture.
Our peoples' morale had been greatly lifted by our presence. They were used to relying on themselves and welcomed any help their people from the West could offer them.
We were shown around Dohuk and introduced to various Assyrian organisations and schools. We toured the Assyrian villages and enquired about the villagers' status. Everywhere we went we heard praise for our very own Assyrian "Johnny Apple-seed" Dr. Ashur Moradkhan. Dr. Moradkhan had helped distribute close to 100,000 apple saplings throughout our villages in Northern Iraq to Assyrian farmers. This long-term project had helped to keep many Assyrians on their farms and would in the years to come also provide them with a future supply of food as well as generate income.
Although Dr. Moradkhan's assistance had, on the surface, appeared only financial, the major assistance provided was, and still is, morale.
I remember a programme that was advertised in Australia. Young skilled Australians would donate their time to a third world country and help rebuild its infrastructure using the skills they had acquired in Australia. Doctors, engineers, scientists, lawyers would all dedicate months to stay and help rebuild a third world country's infrastructure.
After seeing our people and our homeland for the first time and hearing of Dr. Moradkhan's work, Sennacherib and I both decided that we would should stop being tourists, roll up our sleeves and get to work assisting our people with their various humanitarian projects. We both had skills to offer and we knew the months to come would be busy ones indeed.
Having a computer background I decided to assist our people in modernising their media organisations by providing computer equipment, training and assistance. Having a background in the medical field meant that Sennacherib's skills would also be highly needed assisting our local doctors by touring remote Assyrian villages and administering medicine to our villagers.
But the work that needs to be done is great and our Assyrian professionals are few. Therefore on behalf of the Assyrian Aid Society based in Northern Iraq and its branches throughout the world, we call upon our skilled professionals, whether male or female, especially those born in the galoota (Diaspora) to make a difference in the lives of our people.
All it takes is a plane ticket and a minimum of one month of your time to assist our people. The Assyrian Aid Society - Iraq, will provide the rest.
It's also important to point out that giving is not necessarily a one-way street.
In the short time that Sennacherib and I have spent meeting and working with our people in Northern Iraq we have also re-acquired our cultural and linguistic skills that had long remained dormant in Australia.
Truth be known, the opportunity to immerse ourselves in our culture and language in the presence of our people in our homeland is a gift so priceless that it is really we who are profiting from the experience.
Please feel free to contact me via e-mail if you require further information or if you are interested in rolling up your sleeves and coming to Northern Iraq to assist the Assyrian Aid Society in making a difference in the lives of our people.
I look forward to seeing you in our homeland!
[Zinda Magazine urges its readers to support the Atra Project by contacting their local Assyrian Aid Society chapter or write to Youel A Baaba at 720 Evelyn Court, Alamo, California 94507 U.S.A.]
ASSYRIAN REP IN SWEDISH PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES HIS REJECTED MOTION
(ZNDA: Stockholm) On 18 April Mr. Murad Artin, 42, an Assyrian member of the Left Party in the Swedish Parliament issued the "Resume of the Treatment of the Genocide " document in response to the Standing Committee's response to his earlier proposal for including the Assyrians (Assyrian/Syrians & Chaldeans) in a 2000 report on the Armenian Genocide as victims of that horrific atrocity. Mr. Artin represents the Orebro County in Sweden and is a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Deputy member of the Swedish Inter-Parliamentary Group.
One week prior to the release of Mr. Artin's statement, Sveriges Radio
Ekot in Sweden reported that according to Sweden's Minister of Immigration,
Jan Karlsson, thousands of Iraqi asylum seekers who have not succeeded
in obtaining asylum in Sweden will soon be deported to Iraq.
RESUMÉ OF THE TREATMENT OF THE GENOCIDE, DURING 1915-1922, OF THE ARMENIANS, ASSYRIANS/SYRIANS AND THE CHALDÉANS, IN THE SWEDISH STANDING COMMITTEE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND IN THE SWEDISH PARLEMENT, SINCE YEAR 2000
The Swedish Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs in 2000 produced a report on the Armenian Genocide, which constituted the basis of discussion and decision in the Swedish Parliament. The report was a result of a motion in the Parliament put forward by Mr Murad Artin, who represented the Left Party. The Swedish Parliamnet (Riksdagen) took the report as its position with acclamation. In this report one could read the following.
"The Standing Committee considers an official statement and recognition of the Armenian Genocide important and necessary. In 1985 the UN and the European Parliament established the fact that the Ottoman Empire had committed Genocide against the Armenian People in the beginning of the 20th century. The Standing Committee is of the opinion that the greater openness Turkey presents, the stronger the democratic identity of Turkey will be. It is therefore important that unbiased, independent and international research on the genocide that struck the Armenian people is accomplished.
It is of great importance that an increased openness and understanding of the historical events of 1915 and the following years can be developed. An improvement in this respect would also be of importance for the stability and the development in the whole Caucasus region."
But the bloody events in 1915-1922 in the Ottoman Empire did not only include the Armenian but also the Assyrians/Syrians and Chaldean - another Christian but smaller minority than the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. They were not mentioned in the report of the Standing Committee of year 2000. In order to complete the standpoint of the Swedish parliament Mr Murad Artin took a new initiative the following year.
But this time his proposal was objected in the Standing Committee and in the Chamber the debate. It was mainly members of the two biggest parties in the Swedish parliament, the Social Democrats and the Moderates who objected Mr Artin´s proposal. It was obvious that the parliamentarians from these parties were poorly informed about the Genocide 1915-1922. The motion by Mr Murad Artin was rejected.
In 2002 the Left Party wrote a new motion, even this time initiated by Mr Murad Artin, on the Genocide of the Assyrians/Syrians and Chaldeans.. This motion was more detailed and contained a description of the historical background and relevant references to literature, research reports and resolutions concerning the Genocide of Christian minorities 1915-1922.
Even this time the parliamentarians who debated the issue were poorly informed.
After debate the parliament had to take a stand between a statement formulated by the majority in the Standing Committee and a reservation formulated by Mr Murad Artin. The majority of the chamber voted for the statement formulated by the majority of the Standing Committee.
The majority of the Standing Committee again rejected Mr Artin's motion on the basis of the following reasons:
It is clear that the first statement is put by someone who must have done great efforts not searching for the literature existing, scholarly works and documents about the genocide of 1915-1922, Mr Murad Artin says. The fact of Armenian genocide is not disputed largely because of the abundant scholarly work. In this context the Armenian Genocide came also to represent the genocide of all Christians in the area, simply because the Armenians are the largest Christian ethnic population that was exterminated.
The second statement is irrelevant to the intention of the motion, because the motion of Mr.Artin does not advocate for a juridical treatment of the Genocide 1915-1922. "My purpose was historical and moral recognition and not juridical," Mr Murad Artin says.
In his reservation to the report of the Standing Committee Mr. Artin
states that the aim was not to proclaim a retroactive juridical judgment
of the Genocide with legal status since the Swedish parliament is not
an international court. The main aim of Mr. Artin's motion was to receive
a historical recognition of the Genocide in 1915-1922 from the Swedish
Parliament in the same way as the Parliament did on the Armenian's two
The final decision of the Parliament was that the report of the Committee majority was confirmed by the Chamber. The Social Democratic Party, the Peoples Party-Liberals, the Center Party, and the Moderates voted for the Committee Report and the Left Party, the Green Party and the Christian Democrats voted for Mr. Artin´s reservation.
In the report of the majority one can read the statement that the massacres of 1915-1922 should - if the UN-Convention of 1948 had been in force in the times of the Ottoman Empire - probably should be regarded as a genocide. The word "probably" gives rise to an important question: Under which circumstances can a systematic, by a state apparatus organized murder of ethnic and religious minorities of between 2 and 2,5 million people not be regarded as a genocide?
Furthermore, the majority report of 2002 has also misunderstood its own statement from year 2000. It says that the majority in the Standing Committee in year 2000 was wrong when it referred to a UN-resolution in 1985 on the Armenian genocide. But the Standing Committee report of 2000 never referred to any UN resolution. It had only written that in 1985 the UN and the European Parliament established the fact that the Ottoman Empire had committed Genocide. (On 2 July 1985 there was a clear statement in a report to the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, which said that the Nazi aberration has unfortunately not been the only case of genocide in the twentieth century. Among other examples qualifying to genocide the following were cited: the German massacre of Hereros in 1904, the Ottoman massacre of Armenians in 1915-1916, the Ukrainian pogrom of Jews in 1919, the Tutsi massacre of Hutu in Burundi in 1965 and 1972.) In its report in 2002, the majority committee apologizes for a mistake that it had not done in 2000 and suggests that the standpoint on the Armenian genocide should not on this background have been formulated in the way that it has been done. Here it is important to notice that they write about a formulation of a standpoint. There is no change when it come to the substance of the standpoint in itself.
About this last statement there has been some misunderstandings and/or misrepresentations. In Turkish media it has been said that the Swedish Parliament has withdrawn its earlier statement in 2000, on the Genocide of Armenians. This is wrong. The majority report to the Parliament year 2002, is only an attempt to make a correction of a believed mistake, which the report of 2000 in fact does not suffer from.
A correction in the majority report from the Standing Committee of year 2000 on the Armenian Genocide, which the majority has forgotten to carry out is that statement of the EU Parliament was not taken 1985, which one can believe when you read the text from year 2000. In fact this statement was made 1987 and was later repeated in a report to the EU-parliament as late as 2002. The standpoint of the EU-parliament made at two occasions are not mentioned anywhere in the majority report of 2002.
To end with: In the majority report it is said that there is no official standpoint when it comes to the Armenian Genocide. What was the report of year 2000 accepted by the Swedish parliament? Is the parliament not an official insitution in Sweden? If not - what is it then?
For more information contact:
Murad Artin, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
BIO President Carl B. Feldbaum said, "Representative Eshoo is
an ardent supporter of biotechnology and has demonstrated her dedication
through her leadership on important sections of the Food and Drug Modernization
Act, championing the Pediatric/ Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act,
and supporting the reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee
He fought for decades to make his point. But all the archaeological, cultural, linguistic, blood grouping and genetic evidence showed that the Pacific islanders had embarked on their long, gradual colonization of the Pacific from the old world.
After the second world war he argued that people from Egypt could have colonized the Americas, and then transported a culture across the Pacific. So he built a papyrus dhow and sailed it from Egypt to the Americas. In 1977 he went to southern Bet-Nahrain, to the land of ancient Sumer, and built a reed catamaran. It was a copy of boats carved on Ancient Sumerian seals 5,000 years earlier. His aim was to shed light on whether the three great civilizations of the ancient world, in Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, could have had contact with each other, not by long-distance camel routes but across the open ocean. He sailed his ship, Tigris, from the river Tigris to the Horn of Africa. In doing so, he opened up the world of anthropology to a new generation, and to new ideas. At the end of his famous "Sumerian" trip he set fire to his ship, Tigris, in Djibouti harbor as a protest against the belligerent state of the modern world as exemplified by the civil war in the Horn of Africa.
While at his family retreat in Italy, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was taken to hospital on the Italian Riviera nearly three weeks ago. He asked to be released from hospital and brought back to his family retreat at Colla Michari to spend his final days there. "He wanted to go there - to use his words - because it was time to hang up his oars and ride into the sunset," his eldest son said earlier.
Heyerdahl stopped taking food, water and medication this month, and prepared for death, before slipping into unconsciousness last Tuesday. He is survived by his third wife, Jacqueline, four of his five children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
OBITUARY: EWA BITZAYA
(ZNDA: New Britain) Ewa M. Bitzaya of New Britain, Connecticut died Monday at the Connecticut Hospice in Branford. She was 54.
She was born in Torun, Poland, and was employed as a shipping clerk for Corbin Russwin Co.
She is survived by her husband, Dennis Bitzaya; two sons, Marduke and Philip Bitzaya; a brother, Viktor Szupryczynski of Plainville; a sister, Daniela Ludwiszewski of Florida; two brothers and two sisters in Poland; and several nieces and nephews.
The funeral will be Thursday at 8 a.m. at the Paul A. Shaker- Farmingdale Funeral Home, 764 Farmington Ave., New Britain, followed by a liturgy at 9 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church, New Britain. Burial will be in St. Thomas Assyrian Cemetery, New Britain.
OBITUARY: SAMUEL HORMIS
(ZNDA: New Britain) Samuel J. Hormis of Black Rock Avenue in New Britain, Connecticut died Tuesday at New Britain General Hospital. He was 75.
He was a lifelong city resident and was employed at Peter Paul Electronics in New Britain, retiring in 1987. He was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II and received a Purple Heart. He was a member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, New Britain, the VFW Post No. 9836 in Newington and Eddy Glover Post, American Legion in New Britain.
He is survived by his wife, Helen Sargis Hormis; two daughters, Karen Pyne of Newington and Dori Hormis of New Britain; two sisters, Mary Hormis and Ann Sheldon, both of Berlin; a grandson; and several nieces and nephews.
The funeral will be Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Mark's Episcopal Church. Burial will follow in St. Thomas Cemetery, New Britain. Calling hours are Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Carlson Funeral Home, 45 Franklin Square, New Britain.
Memorial donations may be made to St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 147 W. Main St., New Britain, CT 06051.
SEYFO CONFERENCE IN BRUSSELS
Assyrian Seyfo (Genocide) International Committee (ASIC) is a global body striving to achieve international recognition and shed some light on the atrocities of the first inhuman acts of the past century, that were perpetrated against our people by the Ottoman empire which was succeeded by the Turkish republic.
We believe to achieve all this through acts of peace that manifest our appeal to the international opinion, which we trust to solidarity with our cry.
One such activity is a conference that ASIC has organised in the Passage Room of the Residence Palace-International Press Centre in Brussels; in this conference we have invited representatives from the various party factions of the European Parliament and experts on the Assyrian Seyfo (Genocide) to present a detailed paper on the subject, a documentary video will also be presented for the attendees.
The conference will commence from 3pm until 6pm on Friday 26th of April 2002 and the invitations are extended to the European intelligentsia and politicians.
All media is welcomed however must book their seats prior to the event.
Subsequently to the conference there will be further talks and discussions in Hammurabi Youth and Cultural Centre in Mechelen, this gathering will be open to the general public and will commence from 8pm. The address of the Centre is as follows
For further information please do not hesitate to contact us on email@example.com or on +32 (0) 495 333 398.
Seyfo International Committee
ASSYRIANS ARE DENIED RETURN TO THEIR CONFISCATED PROPERTIES
In 1984 the Kurds began their armed struggle against the Turkish government. This civil war in south-eastern Turkey progressed to a ruthless war, which badly affected civilians in every part of the region. However, there is a particularly sad part to this war that is unexposed to the media in Europe. Despite many provocations inflicted, the Assyrians/Syrians escaped from participation in this war on either part. Christian by denomination, more ancient in the teritory than either of the figthing sides, and as a tiny minority counting for less then 1% of the population, the Assyrians/Syrians have nothing to win no regardless of who wins this war fought by two nations of Islamic denomination - Turks and Kurds.
Nevertheless, the government of Turkey, deported Assyrians/Syrians from their villages without any consideration to their particular vulnerability. Instead, a common act of the government has been to order an "evacuation within 24 hours", issued routinely to the villagers by armed forces of the government. As a complementary destruction action, the properties have sometimes been leveled to earth or burned. Those which were not, were kept in order to be populated by the Turks. Consequently, most of the original villagers are today living in immense poverty and destitution with little prospect. Uprooted from their homelands, the peaceful villagers are today spread all over Turkey, as silent victims and witnesses of barbarian acts.
In 1996 the village, Sare (Sari in Turkish), was emptied of its Assyrian/Syrian population. Since then, this population has tried in all possible instances, including asking the Turkish president, to obtain their properties without any result. Even the village Gaznag (Cevizagaci in Turkish) was totally evacuated by force of its Assyrian/Syrian population in 1996. Not even Gaznag population is allowed to go back to their homes and properties.
The following is a list of the 32 Assyrian/Syrian villages confiscated or destroyed by the Turkish government:
It is the responsibility of every legitimate government to protect the life and the property of each and every citizen, regardless ethnic belongingness. Turkey, a country that deliberatly violates its most basic obligation in this respect, carries the full responsibility and accountability of these human right abuses. We think that European Union politicians should demand from Turkey to furnish respectable actions, NOW, instead of furnishing well polished facades stained with blood, or retorics.
Twelve years of bombings and sanctions have brought immense suffering,
hardship and death to the Iraqi people. Well over a million Iraqis have
died from the lethal combination of wartime bombings and sanctions. The
real "weapon of mass destruction" that must be removed from
Iraq is the sanctions! And now the United States Government is openly
Join fellow activists from over 70 organizations for two full days of networking, sharing, organizing and strategizing. Let us join our efforts to stop the drive to another racist war, and to end the needless and ongoing suffering of Iraqi people.
On-Line Registration Please register early, and indicate if you would like the host group to find accommodations for you. Details of the conference site will be announced later, check the conference page for updates, and helpful information for travelers. Go to www.endthewar.org/conference.htm to register.
Please keep in mind that little has changed for Iraqi citizens suffering and dying under the embargo our government is so intent on maintaining, not to mention the continuous bombing.
And please consider attending the May Conference at Stanford University (Palo Alto, California). Register Soon!
You can register on line, just go to the conference page:
Travel Arrangements: You are advised to book your travel tickets early. While you will be responsible for your own transport while in the area, the local host organizations will try to assist with transportation, to and from the airport and locally, as much as possible. To help you with your planning, details of public transportation and local hotels will be posted to the conference web site. There are three airports within 35 miles of Palo Alto: San Jose Int'l (SJC) (14 miles); San Francisco Int'l (SFO): (20 miles); Oakland Int'l (OAK): (35 miles). For ride-sharing notices check or post a message to our bulletin board at http://www.endthewar.org/guestbook.htm
Arrival/Departure Times: The conference will begin early Saturday morning,
and the decision-making portion of the agenda will conclude by 6 p.m.
on Sunday, May 26th. On Monday, May 27th (Memorial Day), the Agenda Working
To contact the Network, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or Call: (650) 326-9057
Sponsoring organizations include:
The National Network to End the War Against Iraq
Organizing Conference on Iraq
BOOK REVIEW: HOW GREEK SCIENCE PASSED TO THE ARABS
Author: Lacy O'Leary, D.D. Reviewed by Peter BetBasooDe Lacy O'Leary, D.D.
O'Leary writes a fascinating history of a critically important phase in mesopotamian history. After all, it was the Arabs who pough with them into Spain the Arabic versions of the Greek works, from which translations were made into Latin and spread throughout Europe, which was then in its dark age. It is this Greek body of knowledge that pought Europe out of its dark age and into the renaisance - the rebirth or revival.
The question remains: by whom, where, and when was the Greek body of knowledge transmitted to the Arabs themselves. O'Leary tells us:
Greek scientific thought had been in the world for a long time before it reached the Arabs, and during that period it had already spread apoad in various directions. So it is not surprising that it reached the Arabs by more than one route. It came first and in the plainest line through Christian Syriac writers, scholars, and scientists. Then the Arabs applied themselves directly to the original Greek sources and learned over again all they had already learned, correcting and verifying earlier knowledge. Then there came a second channel of transmission indirectly through India, mathematical and astronomical work, all a good deal developed by Indian scholars, but certainly developed from material obtained from Alexandria in the first place. This material had passed to India by the sea route which connected Alexandria with north-west India. Then there was also another line of passage through India which seems to have had its beginnings in the Greek kingdom of Bactria, one of the Asiatic states founded by Alexander the Great, and a land route long kept open between the Greek world and Central Asia, especially with the city of Marw, and this perhaps connects with a Buddhist medium which at one time promoted intercourse between east and west, though Buddhism as a religion was withdrawing to the Far East when the Arabs reached Central Asia. [pages 2-3].
Chapter II gives a history of how Western Asia came under Greek influence.
Chapter III discusses the Christian Church. A notable passage occurs in the very last paragraph of the Chapter:
It has been disputed whether Muhammad owed most to Jewish or Christian predecessors, apparently he owed a great deal to both. But when we come to the 'Abbasid period when Greek literature and science began to tell upon Arabic thought, there can be no further question. The heritage of Greece was passed on by the Christian Church. [page 46].
This passage leads naturally to Chapter IV, titled the Nestorians. In this chapter O'Leary discusses the Nestorian contribution in the transmission of Greek knowledge to the Arabs. I can only cite piefly, as it is a lengthy chapter. In pief, through the many schools the "Nestorians" (Assyrian Church of the East) founded, including the Schools at Edessa, Nisibis, and Jundi-Shapur, the Greek works were translated into Syriac for use in the curriculums. These works included Theophania, Martyrs of Palestine, and Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius; the Isagoge of Porphyry (an introduction to logic); Aristotle's Hermeneutica and Analytica Priora; and many, many others. O'Leary states:
In the first place Hibha [a Nestorian] had introduced the Aristotelian logic to illustrate and explain the theological teaching of Theodore, of Mopseustia, and that logic remained permanently the necessary introduction to the theological study in all Nestorian education. Ultimately it was the Aristotelian logic which, with the Greek medical, astronomical, and mathematical writers, was passed on to the Arabs. [page 61]
Later, O'Leary states:
Nestorian missions pushed on towards the south and reached the Wadi l-Qura', a little to the north-east of Medina, an outpost of the Romans garrisoned, not by Roman troops, but by auxiliaries of the Qoda' tribes. In the time of Muhammad most of these tribes were Christian, and over the whole wadi were scattered monasteries, cells, and hermitages. From this as their headquarters Nestorian monks wandered through Arabia, visiting the great fairs and preaching to such as were willing to listen to them. Tradition relates that the Prophet as a young man went to Syria and near Bostra was recognized as one predestined to be a prophet by a monk named Nestor (Ibn Sa'd, Itqan, ii, p. 367). Perhaps this may refer to some contact with a Nestorian monk. The chief Christian stronghold in Arabia was the city of Najran, but that was mainly Monophysite. What was called its Ka'ba seems to have been a Christian cathedral. [page 68].
But the most definite link between Nestorians and the Arabs was through Jundi-Shapur. O'Leary states:
From the time of Maraba onwards there is fairly continuous evidence of translation from the Greek and of work in Aristotelian logic. [page 70]
Some examples are:
Maraba II, skilled in Philosophy, medicine, and astronomy, and to have been learned in the wisdom of the Persians, Greeks, and Hepews, wrote a commentary (in Syriac) on the Dialectics of Aristotle.
Shem'on of Beth Garmai translated Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History.
Henan-isho' II, Catholicos (Patriach) from 686 to 701, composed a commentary (again, in Syriac) on Aristotle's Analytica.
Founded originally as a prisoner camp, Jundi-Shapur had citizens who spoke Greek, Syriac, and Persian. But in the course of time all academic instruction was administered in Syriac [page 71]. It is interesting that even though the people of Jundi-Shapur used the speech of Khuzistan, which was not Syriac, Hepew nor Persian, the language used in the classroom was Syriac, "as is obvious from the fact that Syriac translations were made for the use of lecturers". [page 72].
Finally, O'Leary states in closing Chapter III:
When Baghdad was founded in 762 the khalif and his court became near neighbors of Jundi-Shapur, and before long court appointments with generous emoluments began to draw Nestorian physicians and teachers from the academy, and in this Harun ar-Rashid's minister Ja'far Ibn Barmak was a leading agent, doing all in his power to introduce Greek science amongst the subjects of the Khalif, Arabs, and Persians. His strongly pro-Greek attitude seems to have been derived from Marw, where his family had settled after removing from Balkh, and in his efforts he was ably assisted by Jipa'il of the Bukhtyishu' family [a famous Assyrian family which produced nine generations of physicians] and his successors from Jundi-Shapur. Thus the Nestorian heritage of Greek scholarship passed from Edessa and Nisibis, through Jundi-Shapur, to Baghdad. [page 72].
Chapter IV discusses the Monophysites (the "Jacobites", or the Syrian Orthodox Church). A detailed history of Monophysitism is given. One of the most well known Monophysite translators was Sergius of Rashayn, "a celepated physician and philosopher, skilled in Greek and translator into Syriac of various works on medicine, philosophy, astronomy, and theology". [page 83]. Other Monopysite translators were Ya'qub of Surug, Aksenaya (Philoxenos), an alumnus of the school of Edessa, Mara, bishop of Amid.
Chapters VII and VIII discuss the Indian influence via sea and land routes, although this is small in comparison to the Nestorian and Monophysite contributions. As is the case with the Buddhist connection discussed in Chapter IX.
Chapters X and XI are historical and contain little in the way of how Greek knowledge was transmitted to the Arabs.
Chapter XII discusses the various early translators. These included:
Abu Mahammad Ibn al-Muqaffa', a Persian who converted to Islam, although many believed his conversion to be insincere. He translated from Old Persian to Arabic Kalilag wa-Dimnag, which was itself a translation of a Buddhist work pought back from India (along with the game of chess) by the Assyrian Budh.
Al-Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf Ibn Matar Al-Hasib, An Arab, judging from his name, who translated the Almagest and Euclid's Elements.
Yuhanna Ibn Batriq, an Assyrian, who produced the Sirr al-asrar.
'Abd al-Masih Ibn 'Aballah Wa'ima al-Himse, also an Assyrian, who translated the Theology of Aristotle (but this was an apidged paraphrase of the Enneads by Plotinus).
Abu Yahya al-Batriq, another Assyrian, who translated Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos.
Jipa'il II, son of Bukhtyishu' II, of the prominent Assyrian medical family mentioned above, Abu Zakariah Yahya Ibn Masawaih, an Assyrian Nestorian. He authored a textbook on Ophthalmology, Daghal al-'ayn (The Disease of the eye).
Hunayn Ibn Ishaq, an Assyrian, son of a Nestorian druggist, was the foremost translator of his time; O'Leary states:
Most of the translators of the next generation received their training from Hunayn or his pupils, so that he stands out as the leading translator of the better type, though some of his versions were afterwards revised by later writers. The complete curriculum of the medical school of Alexandria was thus made available for Arab students. This included a select series of the treatises of Galen which was :
Yet for all his contributions, Hunayn was not always treated well by the Khalifate. In one incident, the Khalif Mutawakkil ordered Hunayn to prepare a poison for the Khalif's enemies. When Hunayn refused the Khalif cast him into prison. [page 168]
Hunayn son Ishaq also contributed, as did his nephew Hubaysh Ibn Al-Hasan. Hubaysh translated the texts of Hippocrates and the botanicalwork of Dioscorides, "which became the basis of the Arab pharmacopoeia". [page 169]. Another one of Hunayn's pupils was 'Isa Ibn Yahya Ibn Ipahim. Indeed, "almost all leading scientists of the succeeding generation were pupils of Hunayn". [page 170].
Other translators included
Qusta Ibn Luqa al-Ba'lbakki, a Syriac Christian, who translated Hypsicles, Theodosius' Sphaerica, Heron's Mechanics, Autolycus Theophrastus' Meteora, Galen's catalog of his books, John Philoponus on the Phsyics of Aristotle and several other works. He also revised the existing translation of Euclid.
Abu Bishr Matta Ibn Yunus al-Qanna'i, who translated Aristotle's Poetica
Abu Zakariya Yahya Ibn 'Adi al-Mantiqi, a monophysite, who translated medical and logical works, including the Prolegomena of Ammonius, an introduction to Porphyry's Isagoge.
To these may be added Al-Hunayn Ibn Ipahim Ibn al-Hasan Ibn Khurshid at-Tabari an-Natili, and the monophysite Abu 'Ali 'Isa Ibn Ishaq Ibn Zer'a.
The salient conclusion which can be drawn from O'Leary's book is that Assyrians played a significant role in the shaping of the Islamic world via the Greek corpus of knowledge.
If this is so, one must then ask the question, what happenned to the Christian communities which made them lose this great intellectual enterprise which they had established. One can ask this same question of the Arabs. Sadly, O'Leary's book does not answer this question, and we must look elsewhere for the answer.
JOHN DASHTO... BACK HOME AFTER 24 YEARS
In between a hectic schedule of over a week of touring North Iraq for the Akitu Fest, renowned Assyrian singer John Dashto was able to squeeze in a brief interview.
Sipping a beer after dinner at Noohadra's Jiyan Hotel, John Dashto was all smiles. "It's been my dream for years to come back to my motherland," said John, peering off at the beautiful night city lights of Noohadra, perfectly visible from the high vantage point of the Jiyan. "But I never expected it to be like this... it was so organised. There have been a lot of changes since I came here last!"
John was born in Mosul and completed high school in Kirkuk in 1970. (Memories must have flooded back when he went to Arbaelo school in Arbil..... seeing a school of over eighty Assyrian students taught entirely in Syriac brought tears to his eyes). In Baghdad he studied at the Art Institution, specializing in music - he studied classical music for five years and ended up with a Diploma in Music, graduating in 1975.
His first self-titled album was released way back in 1977. A year later, like so many Assyrians in those years, he moved to Chicago, America. It wasn't until 1982 that he released his first album in America - Ishtar. The follow up albums came in '85 (Awara); after a long break, Kheeroota was released in '96, and The Great Music in '98.
In between releasing albums, John produced music for the likes of Sargon Gabriel, Janan Sawa, Giuliana Jendo, Ammanouel Simon and Ninos Toma.
"Unfortunately," said John, "Assyrian music today has gone backwards.... Compared to the '70s and '80s, music today is more of a business. Music was looked at more as an art back then. The musicians are looking at the market and following it." He is also dead against singing in languages other than Syriac. "Music has an important role in awakening patriotic feelings," he said, a point made clear during his concerts.
Apart from his love of music, John is also keen on swimming (which might explain his trim physique for a man in his forties), cooking and travelling. "I've travelled all over the world, but nothing beats being back in your hometown [Noohadra]... your homeland," he said with a huge smile.
"Chebu, chebu, chebu!!" (which roughly translates as "Very well done!!") effused John when asked what he thought about the Assyrian Democratic Movement's work in North Iraq. "I'll go back home and tell the people what I've seen here... that's one of the reasons I came here, to see the truth with my own eyes. And it's not just me saying it, many other singers have come here and seen things for themselves too!!"
Daniel & David Chibo
The term for an "old woman" in ancient Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia) was "purshumtu" meaning "gray-haired". This was also used as epithet of some goddesses; therefore denoting the stately dignity of elderly women who had obtained charge of domestic affairs.
Gender and Aging in Mesopotamia, Harris
Receiving 5517 out of 8995 votes cast, Mr. Atour Khnanesho is elected the representative of the Assyrians in Iran's Majlis for a 4-year term. Born in Urmia he received a bachelor's degree in French and Religious Studies. He served in the Majlis as a member of the Inquiry Commottee.
Religious Minorities in Iran, Sanasarian
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CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR SYRIAC STUDIES LECTURE
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"Bar-Hebraeus & His Time:
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ASSYRIAN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
The Editorial Board of “Melta” Bulletin and a committed group of Assyrians
in Russia plan to hold a two-day International Scholarly Conference “The
Assyrians Today: Issues and Perspectives.” The Conference program
will highlight the following aspects:
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Roundtrip fares – New York/Newark to Moscow - are available on all major airlines. Mid-week fare structures for the period of the conference begin at $625 (Alitalia) and range to $660 (Swissair). Weekend fares are about $20 more. These fares do not include taxes and are based on availability. They are available now through Rafih Hayek (Service Plus Travel) at 800-256-2865. Mr. Hayek’s travel service will be able to make similar special fares available to Moscow from all major US gateways.
Roundtrip fares - Chicago to Moscow - are available on Delta at $793 and on Luftanza at $814. The Chicago information comes from Shlimon Khamo of Bablyon Travel (773-478-9000). Cheaper group fares may be available also if a club or group of friends wish to make joint arrangements.
[Travel & Conference information courtesy of Melta Magazine and the Assyrian Star Magazine.]
AAA OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GENERAL MEETING
THE SOCIETY FOR IRANIAN STUDIES LECTURE
"Identity and Institutions Among
Assyrian-Iranians in the United States"
An examination of the patterns of departure and arrival from Iran, the discovery of an expanded Assyrian identity in a milieu that began to include refugee Assyrians from other parts of the Middle East, tied by religion but not language, to Iranian Assyrians.
Due to special efforts exerted over the past twenty years at Harvard University and at the Ashurbanipal Library in Chicago, a record of printed materials and photographs affords an opportunity to study the issues facing the Assyrians from Iran as they settled in New York, New England, Chicago, and California.
The conference will be held at the Bethesda Hyatt Regency. Arrangements have been made for reduced rates. To make hotel reservations, contact Hyatt Regency Hotel directly at 1-800-233-1234 or the conference site at the following address:
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July 1-4, 2002
48TH RENCONTRE ASSYRIOLOGIQUE INTERNATIONALE
"Ethnicity in Ancient Mesopotamia"
Registration Form: http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/rencontre/mailform.html
MIDDLE EAST STUDIES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE
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