THE ASSYRIAN UNIVERSAL ALLIANCE - A FORGOTTEN HISTORY
In the month of April, while Assyrians feted their ancient New Year, AUA's 34th anniversary passed without notice. There was no celebration, and not even a word from its leadership to remind Assyrians, in particular the new generation, about this significant event in contemporary Assyrian political history.
It would be interesting to learn how many Assyrians know AUA's birth date. Does any current member of the AUA or, in fact, does any member of its executive committee, know the date? It is sad to ignore the history of this organization, and the failure to commemorate its founding is most regrettable, even if its achievements have fallen short of expectations.
I am a student of Assyrian political parties and national organizations, including their ideologies, by laws, activities, and history. As such, I recently published some pieces to coincide with the anniversaries of the Assyrian Democratic Organization (Mtakasta) and the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa). In the course of this work, I came across a dated AUA document which, to my great surprise, told of its founding on April 10, 1968. Given our political limitations, the AUA should be seen as an important international organization, and surely, we deserve to have a better understanding of its history. Frankly, the question arises why the AUA itself does not take its history more seriously?
Before addressing that question, it is worth remembering that the creation of AUA was a very significant moment in Assyrian modern political life. Whether or not one is a member of the AUA, and whether one agrees or not with its policies, its founding was based on a noble and unimpeachable idea. Anyone with the slightest understanding of politics will surely recognize that the AUA organization (including its aims and its structure) is the most suitable of vehicles for the representation of the Assyrian people scattered round the world. The principles, which led to the establishing of the 34 years ago, continue to be valid today. Alas, we cannot forget that principles and their implementation are not one and the same. Yet, it is of value to briefly examine the circumstances and history, which led up to the creation of AUA.
In the early 1960's, Assyrians of the Middle East were living under dire conditions, and they faced a serious challenge to their national existence and identity in the homeland. These threats emerged from two directions:
These two developments coincided with the rise of Assyrian national consciousness, and they had a strong impact on Assyrians intellectuals, particularly in Iran, where the Assyrian Youth Cultural Society (AYCS) took the lead in appealing to national duty. Contacts were established with the Diaspora, with a view to creating a leadership entity for Assyrians worldwide. On February 5, 1966, a letter was written to H.H. Mar Shimon, Patriarch of the Church of the East, asking him to take the initiative in creating such an Assyrian leadership. This was followed by letters and contacts with Assyrian organizations in Europe and America, including among others the Assyrian American National Federation, and with certain prominent individuals. Nearly a year after receiving his letter, the Patriarch responded with a letter of his own whose wording was vague and ambiguous, which implicitly amounted to his rejection of the proposal.
Attention then turned to the late Vladimir Petrus Agha, a prominent Assyrian who was the elder son of the Assyrian General, Agha Petrus. He immediately approved of the proposal. Supporters prepared invitations for the convening of a worldwide congress, and these were sent from Toulouse, France, under his signature, to a wide array of Assyrians. It thus came to pass that the First Assyrian World Cultural Congress was held in Pau, France, April 10 through April 13, 1968. The individuals in attendance voted unanimously to formally establish an organization under the name of Assyrian Universal Alliance. A report issued on the last day of the Congress, and summarized below, is very helpful in explaining the AUA's raison d'être.
There is no question that the creation of the AUA was spurred by the need to confront a highly dangerous challenge then confronting Assyrians. Our population was widely scattered throughout the globe. By its rationale, AUA would link all these far-flung Assyrians by providing an internationally federated structure, in effect an umbrella for all national Assyrian organizations. This was seen as the reasonable approach to the development of one leadership representing a united nation. The reality is that today, our population is more scattered around the world than it has ever been, and therefore the principles which motivated the creation of AUA 34 years ago are even more relevant at this time.
It is indeed regrettable that Assyrians have forgotten these noble principles, which in fact do not appear to be fully appreciated even by the AUA members and its leaders. The question remains why this is so. On studying AUA's history and observing its current situation, I have come to the following conclusions:
But notwithstanding the current misunderstandings, the original AUA ideology remains valid and vitally needed. It is the duty of the AUA leadership to realign its performance in keeping with the main task of AUA. The organization urgently needs to reactivate its original mission, and to provide a legitimate national umbrella for all Assyrian organizations. There is ample time between now and the next anniversary of the organization. AUA's leaders should take the opportunity to set the organization back on its right course, thus setting the stage for a celebration of this important national day. We are waiting!
Many Assyrian organizations and prominent members of our community were represented. After four days of discussion, the following decision and recommendations were reached.
It was thus that the AUA was formally established in April 10, 1968,
in Pau, France.
[Mr. Shapira is a political scientist and regular contributor to the pages of Zinda Magazine. For other articles by Mr. Shapira visit the ARCHIVES.
To learn more about the early days of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, read Zinda Magazine's 1998 feature article "Pau" at: http://www.zindamagazine.com/html/archives/1998/apr20_1998.htm#The Lighthouse].
ZOWAA CONFIRMS ASHUR RADIO BROADCAST TO NORTH IRAQ
ASSOCIATION OF ASSYRIANS CONDEMNS ISRAELI CRIMES
According to the same report, Motva d'Atourayeh "voiced sympathy with the Palestinian nation and announced support for Intifadah or the Uprising."
The statement called on the international community, governments, nations and human rights organizations to make collective efforts to "halt the tyranny of Zionists against the defenseless people of Palestine and restore peace and calm to the occupied lands."
MY FEELINGS SO FAR ..
-Mr. Younadim Youkhana, Venice Banquets, Chicago, 1992
Who would have guessed that almost six decades later, the North of Iraq would be annexed from the reaches of the totalitarian regime of Baghdad and, under the guidance of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), Assyrian culture would begin to flourish again?
If Nisan were correct in his assessment of 1933, then I think it'd be safe to say that Assyrian history starts again in 1991.
David Chibo and I decided some months ago that it wasn't good enough just writing about our motherland, collecting second hand information and just hoping that it's true. We decided we had to come here to North Iraq ourselves and see with our own eyes the work of the Assyrian Aid Society, the Assyrian Democratic Movement and the Atra project, at the same time immersing ourselves in our own culture, a culture unhampered by western influences.
We arrived in North Iraq on the 29th March, and it's exactly now a month down the track that I'm writing. The month has flown. From the spectacular crossing of the Diglat River between Syria and North Iraq in shonky boats that could tip over if you sneeze too hard (relations between Iraq and Syria haven't matured to the extent that would allow a more 'civilised' crossing still, once relations do improve, I hope they keep the boats!) to the awe-inspiring Akitu Fest mezalta (parade) through the streets of Nohadra, the trip so far has been like a dream.
But to be honest, I wasn't too sure what to expect before coming to North Iraq.
Everything I'd heard was through others, and the messages were mixed - some positive, many negative. Negative stories I'd begrudgingly learned to accept as path of the course of those escaping life in the East. "The continual wars or prospect of war make for an unstable life", "the lack of a future because of economic difficulties" or "life with fundamentalists in the Middle East is impossible" were the bread and butter of grievances of those escaping the East.
It was with these negative perceptions that I first landed in the Middle East. While there is truth in many of these gripes, there is a lot more to it than the one-dimensional stories would convey.
Life is, in many ways, better here than I had pictured. But why wouldn't it be? As we were driving through the beautiful country-side of Bet-Nahrain, the stunning mountains all around us, Mr. Yonadam Kanna, the ADM's General Secretary, said "we have everything here: perfect weather, fertile soil, unlimited natural resources and of course oil " Looking out of the four-wheel drive at the mountains, he called them "virgin Switzerland." An apt description - this is, after all, the Garden of Eden. "It's as if God, like a perfect engineer, designed the Two Rivers to come through the land bringing fertility with them.." Regrettably, there is only one deficiency - that of a mentality suited to such perfect surroundings. Years of war, racism, fanaticism, colonialism and tribalism have left their scars on this perfect land. And that's where the complaints stem from.
But there are many here working tirelessly to undo the damage, from political parties - like the ADM - to charity organisations such as the AAS and Atra Project, all the way down to the villagers themselves who are staying in their ancestral lands, refusing to sell them, instead thinking like the Bishop of the Church of the East in Nohadra, Isaac Yosip, when he said "The land is not the individual Assyrian's to sell. It belongs to our forefathers.. We don't have the right to sell it off.. " These feelings are now widespread and the trend of leaving the lands has thankfully stopped, after more than a decade of hard work by the ADM.
The off-putting, depressing tales are also good for those who don't want to see Assyrians in their homeland. This false propaganda serves to keep Assyrians in the Diaspora away from their ancestral lands, making them lose hope. A stronger media will create links between the Assyrians in the Diaspora and those in the homeland. It was with this aim that the first National Media Conference was born. It's the first of what's hoped to be an annual meeting in the homeland. For those Assyrian journalists around the world who weren't fortunate enough to be present but would like to be part of this growing network of media branching from the homeland, please email me, Sankho Daniel: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the next five months, we'll bring reports to you from as many of the thirty-eight schools teaching over seven thousand Assyrian students in Syriac as time permits, from villages being rebuilt by the Assyrian Aid Society, from organisations working here to support our people, and reports from the everyday Assyro-Chaldean living here and making ends meet. As a medical doctor, part of my itinerary here includes visiting isolated Assyrian villages, assessing their needs, and reporting on them, both for mass media, the Assyrian Aid Society and other doctors around the world with an interest in coming here - but may be unsure about the details.
For those interested in being a part of it all and seeing the rebirth of Assyrian culture, don't hesitate to contact me.
"So much with so little" is a phrase I've come to use a lot since settling in the homeland and seeing what the Assyrians here have accomplished over the last decade. Assyrian media here in particular run on funds that make a shoe-string budget look rich. Being an amateur in the field myself, as part of Nakosha magazine, I feel for the teams working here with grossly outdated equipment.
At 'home' I'm used to the latest computer equipment with speedy cable Internet access. The staff of the Media Bureau in Arbil, North Iraq, on the other hand, are used to working with old IBM PCs running with a Pentium 1 or 2 processing system. The Media Bureau is made up of four rooms, two of which house computers. The rooms are used by Bahra magazine and the Assyrian Cultural Directorate's magazine Banipal.
The designers of Bahra use Microsoft Word software for the layout and design of their magazine, a task that, as anyone who has designed a magazine would know, is labourious and difficult. It has become even more difficult since part of the magazine went colour not so long ago.
As part of the AAS's ongoing commitment to assisting Assyrians in their homeland, it was decided that, as Assyrian media is of the utmost importance, money would go to a desperately needed overhaul of the media centre.
Three of the latest computers were purchased at the BRZ computer centre in Hawler (Arbil) by David Tiglath Chibo using AAS-Australia funds. The computers are blazingly fast - with 1.6 MHz processors, 128 mb RAM and 40 GB hard drives, they will be able to handle the latest design software. And the latest software they have - with Adobe InDesign 1.5, Adobe Illustrator 10, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1 on a Windows XP system, we expect the teams here to produce some first-rate stuff.
The cost? Very reasonable, considering the hard and software - the three computers and monitors cost $U.S.725 each, coming to a total of $2175. Tiglath, not yet able to speak a word of Kurdish past the usual pleasantries of 'hello' and 'thank you', was kindly assisted in the task of bargaining and negotiating by Murad Shimshoom Sarguis, the Assyrian Democratic Movement's Treasurer.
(And the old computers in the Media Bureau won't go to waste. On the contrary - they will be used in local Assyrian Schools, some of which still teach computers using a blackboard but more about that later).
Using a LAN server, Tiglath spent one working day hooking the three computers together. The computers, linked in this way, act more efficiently - software, hardware and data can all be shared, effectively trebling the systems' efficiency.
Yacoub Gewargis, editor of the Arabic section of Bahra, was lost for words. "This was a way overdue upgrade," he said with a huge smile. "Now we can better work to create a newspaper that will reach our people more effectively."
The Windows XP system has Syriac support "built into" its system, another plus. Christine Sarguis, Syriac writer for Bahra, was very happy, saying the computers were a lot faster than previous ones, "but it'll take a while to get the most out of them until we learn to use them properly!"
With the bright young Assyrians here making so much with so little, I'm sure that'll be a cinch.
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT MEMBERS, ASIC CONDEMN 1915 GENOCIDE
Courtesy of Ozgur Politica (27 Apr); translated from Turkish
(ZNDA: Brussels) On Saturday, the Genocide of 1915 was condemned by several representatives of the European Parliament, political observers, and the members of the Assyrian Seyfo International Committee (ASIC) in Belgian city of Mechelen (See this week's Literatus). At a press conference Mr. Athro Athoraya, an ASIC member and famed Assyrian writer - flanked by EP representatives and members of the various human rights organizations commented: "Efforts were made to annihilate the Assyrians, who have a four thousand years old culture. A third of the population passed under the sword. For this reason, the Assyrians call this genocide the `Seyfo', the sword."
Mr. Athoraya characterized the events of April 1915 as `a genocide that the Ittihat ve Terakki [Committee of the Union and Progress] carried out against the Christian Assyrian, Armenian, and Greek peoples.'
Mr. Athoraya explained to the members of the press that "the Chrisstian peoples, who formed 33 percent of the population, have today dropped to 0.1 percent. What happened to these peoples? What happened to the Assyrians, Armenians, and Greeks? Where are they? Where have they gotten lost?"
Athoraya also said: "If there had not been silence in response to the massacres of the Assyrians and the Armenians, Hitler could not have found the courage to subject millions of Jews to genocide during the Second World War."
Athoraya, in conclusion, stated that "The democratic world public opinion must understand us, and has to make Turkey understand. Turkey has to account for the murder of over two million people. Turkey should be going not to the European Union, but rather to the International Court of Justice in The Hague."
ATOM EGOYAN'S "ARARAT" TO DEBUT AT CANNES NEXT MONTH
of the Canadian Press (24 April)
As those events have been so much disputed, not only by the parties but even impartial third-party historians, it wouldn't be very easy to comment in a nutshell. But there are mistakes, first of all, points I would like to underline.
First of all, even deportation is perhaps not the correct word. It may be a misnomer. Certain segments of the Armenian population in the war front had been moved from that region, but not deported.
Relocation would be a better word. . .it was a historical fact that some of the Armenian militia were fighting with the Russian forces against the Ottoman Empire, the state of which they were subjects.
You did things to the Japanese-Canadians and so on, although there was not an actual battle going on in Canada.
The Turks in the region suffered more losses than the Armenians, I assure you.
The Ottomans were just a crumbling state, already completed its time in history. How could they do such executions or whatever happened in the region? Could it be in any way equated with the Nazi Holocaust? It is so unfair.
This is an indisputable piece of history. You look at the wealth of material, most incriminatingly from the American ambassador to Turkey at that time who wrote extensively about what was going on.
News reports speak about the trials held by the Turkish government against the perpetrators after World War I in which they were all found guilty of crimes against humanity.
They can't say anything about the German and Austrian eyewitnesses which are now on the Net, detailed eyewitness accounts of people, German consular heads and commanders who were stationed in these various towns who were witnessing this and who were appalled, but who clearly later on began to realize that you can get away with this, and certainly under the cover of war.
The idea of it being a crumbling empire is a bit difficult to understand given the incredible military strength that they had because of their connection to Germany at that time.
It's a very live issue and the film is trying to treat it as a live issue.
GROUP OF CHALDEAN VETERANS TO BE HONORED ON FLAG DAY
Peter Essa, 76, is one of about 200 Chaldean-American veterans nationwide who served in peace or war. They've never been collectively recognized for their bravery.
But on June 14, the Flag Day in Southfield, Michigan they'll be saluted
by the Chaldean American Ladies of Charity.
"All around us, I could see all the bodies," Essa told the Detroit Free Press for a Tuesday story.
That day, he made history as the only Chaldean American to fight in the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, during World War II. Today, Essa's Size 36 Army uniform hangs in the closet of his Bingham Farms home. His Purple Heart is a reminder of the six operations it took to save his lower leg.
"At this age, I didn't expect any excitement over this," Essa said. "I don't think anybody even heard about the Chaldean people serving. It's time to get some exposure, to let them know they honored their country."
Organizers, who conceived the tribute long before the terrorist attacks, now hope the event not only honors Chaldean-American veterans but also helps break post-Sept. 11 stereotypes that people of Middle Eastern descent aren't loyal to America.
Like immigrant groups before them - Chaldeans, who began coming to the Detroit area from Iraq in the early 1900s and number about 150,000 nationwide - have enlisted and been drafted into military service since World War II.
But many Americans, including Chaldeans, aren't aware that Chaldean Americans have served. Veterans have not been outspoken about it, said Rosemary Antone of Farmington Hills, cochair of the tribute.
"We wanted to let the Chaldeans know we've had these people serve ... and we also wanted the outside community to know: `Hey the Chaldeans have paid their dues,"' Antone said. "They're proud to be Americans."
Lt. Col. James Whaley, public affairs director for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, agrees that events like the Chaldean tribute will help educate the country about the military service performed by people of Middle Eastern descent.
"We have Middle Eastern descendants in the Army and always have," Whaley said. "They serve proudly. They serve with honor. They love this country."
Essa's cousin Joe Essa died for the country - killed by a sniper in the South Pacific during World War II.
Historically, immigrants have long played a role in the U.S. military, said David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland.
Unlike Americans who've lived here for generations, immigrants tend to want to earn their citizenship versus just take it for granted, Segal said.
He points to the Irish brigade in the Union Army of the Civil War and the Japanese-American men and women who served during World War II as examples.
Frank Kory had barely lived in this country for five years when he tried to enlist for the Korean War. He was turned down because of an ingrown toenail. But, in 1952, he was drafted into the Army and served in Iceland during the Korean War.
"Our grandest dream was to live in the United States, the great country," said Kory, 72, a Bloomfield Township resident. "If I had to do it over again, I'd do it in a heartbeat."
The issue includes advertisements from Gorgias Press (www.gorgiaspress.com),
Brill Academic Publishers (www.brill.nl), and Via Dolorosa (www.via-dolorosa.com).
SAN FERNANDO VALLEY ASSYRIAN FESTIVAL A SUCCESS
Courtesy of Los Angeles Daily News (27 Apr); based on an article by Susan Abram
(ZNDA: Los Angeles) On Sunday 29 April Assyrians from several Southern California cities gathered in Tarzana to participate at the first San Fernando Valley Assyrian Festival. Two Assyrian queens, Ms Christine Rasho and Swiny Aziz waved to the crowd as they were pulled in a chariot. The festival was held at St. Mary's Assyrian Church of the East and guests were treated to a variety of Assyrian food, music, and traditions.
"Our goal is to introduce ourselves to the community," said the Rev. George Bet Rasho, who hopes to make the festival an annual event. "We want to introduce our culture and our history and the timing couldn't be better", Bet Rasho said.
"People ask me 'What are you?' all the time," said 31-year-old Kristiyan Assouri who migrated with her parents to the United States from Iran in 1979. "When I tell them, they say, oh you are Syrian, and I say no, I'm Assyrian, you know, like from the Babylonians and then people will say, 'But the Babylonians don't exist anymore.'"
Still, the Woodland Hills woman doesn't mind explaining to others about her culture. She said her community needs to have an open dialogue with others so that future generations of Assyrians will be known.
"I think people are more open-minded now," Assouri said. "The more Assyrians are out, the more people will see who we are. We're just another group of people adding some spice to life."
Excerpted from a New York Times article titled "Plans for Museum Buoy Armenians and Dismay Turks", by Stephen Kinzer (24 Apr)
(ZNDA: Washington) It has become a political tradition in Washington that every April 24 the president issues a statement to recall and deplore the massacre of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915. These annual statements have the dual purpose of recognizing a 20th-century tragedy and catering to an influential ethnic constituency.
Within a few years Armenian-Americans will have a new asset in their campaign to persuade politicians and others that what happened in 1915 was not just a spasm of mass killing but genocide. They are working to raise about $75 million to build an Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial here to tell the story of this episode from the Armenian perspective.
Plans for this museum not only touch nerves still raw from one of the last century's bloodiest episodes. They also reflect a growing recognition by advocacy groups that museums can be powerful tools to advance political causes.
Washington already has one major institution, the United States Holocaust Museum, that documents an effort to destroy an entire people. The story it presents is beyond dispute. But the events of 1915 are still a matter of intense debate.
Turks and Turkish-Americans claim that Armenians exaggerate the scale of the 1915 killings with the aim of humiliating Turkey and ultimately forcing it to compensate the victims' descendants. Some say the Armenian museum is being built for motives that, in the words of Ozdem Sanberk, a former Turkish ambassador to Britain, are "more political than humanitarian."
By most historical accounts, the Ottoman Empire killed more than one million Armenians during World War I in a campaign of death and mass deportations aimed at eliminating the Armenian population from what is now Turkey. Some Ottoman leaders said they feared that Armenians in the region, many of whose families had lived there for centuries, were working with Russia to carve out an independent republic.
The planned museum is to be the first of its kind outside Armenia. Planners have bought a stately classic revival building at the corner of 14th and G Streets, two blocks from the White House, that once housed the National Bank of Washington, along with three adjacent structures. The museum, scheduled to open in 2007, is to have 112,000 square feet for exhibition space and offices, making it about one-fourth the size of the Holocaust Museum.
Ross Vartian, the museum's director of planning, said Armenian-Americans were excited about the project, and in a recent memo to supporters of the museum he described its construction as a "sacred mission." Planners expect it to draw some 250,000 visitors a year.
Both President Robert Kocharian of Armenia and Catholicos Karekin II, the Armenian Apostolic Church's supreme patriarch, have given their symbolic blessing to the museum by visiting the site.
Many Armenian-Americans are descended from survivors of the 1915 attacks. Because some of them have become wealthy, fund-raising for the museum has been easy. Two donors have combined to provide $12.25 million to buy the various properties, and Mr. Vartian said he did not anticipate any difficulty in raising whatever else was needed.
No final decisions have been made about the museum's content, but Mr. Vartian said it would feature interactive displays and would be "on the cutting edge of what modern museums can be and do."
"For many people of Armenian descent, this museum will be a way to find closure," he said. "But there is also a larger purpose, which is the message that we should never forget and that this should never happen again."
Armenian-Americans outnumber Turkish-Americans about three to one, and their lobby is considered one of the most effective in Washington. One of its goals, however, remains unfulfilled because no president has ever used the word "genocide" to describe the events of 1915. To do so would offend Turkey, a NATO ally considered an essential partner in the worldwide antiterror campaign.
The desire to placate Armenian-Americans without unduly offending Turkey has challenged successive American presidents. Two years ago, after an appeal from President Bill Clinton, the House speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, canceled a vote in which the House seemed ready to label the 1915 killings as genocide.
In his commemorative statement last year, President Bush described "the forced exile and annihilation of approximately 1.5 million Armenians in the closing years of the Ottoman Empire" as "one of the great tragedies of history."
Mr. Vartian said the museum would refer to "righteous Turks" who saved Armenian lives, and that it would not necessarily worsen tensions between Armenians and Turks. "We are not out to do Turkey in," he said. "It is in Turkey's self-interest to come to terms with itself, past and present."
"If those people who plan the museum are simply mourning human suffering, no one can quarrel with them," Mr. Sanberk said. "But I fear their aims are more political than humanitarian. We should not forget that at all stages of the tragic conflicts in the Caucasus, there have been victims of the Armenians as well as Armenian victims. For instance, the Azerbaijanis suffered at their hands in 1905, and even today there are one million people in the Caucasus who were driven from their homes by Armenian armies between 1988 and 1994. I think we should remember the sufferings of the living, too."
The refugees to whom Mr. Sanberk referred were among those displaced in the early 1990's during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region in the Caucuses that is claimed by Azerbaijan. Armenia supported ethnic Armenians there who voted in a disputed referendum to separate from Azerbaijan.
Mr. Phillips said the planned museum in Washington could contribute to the reconciliation process. "Depending on the content of the exhibits and where the reconciliation process is when the museum opens, it could have a salutary effect," he said. "If it includes material about righteous persons, and if it includes as a final exhibit the progress that has been made toward mutual understanding, then the museum can constructively advance the cause of reconciliation."
REMEMBER YOUR PAST FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR FUTURE
The Armenian and Assyrian people have for centuries lived together in the territories of Mesopotamia and Armenia. They had their own state systems and struggled against a common enemy. Assyrians, along with Armenians, are known as one of the first Christian nations, and the Armenian and Assyrian churches are always considered to be sister churches.
The fraternal relations between the Armenian and Assyrian people begins from centuries ago and will last forever. Those Assyrians, who live on the territory of Republic of Armenia, have the opportunity to live in peace, uphold their liberties, and preserve their language and culture. These two nations have had the same destiny, and Assyrians as well as Armenians underwent the same massacres by the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
Dr. Nazim, a Turkish ideologist declared: "The massacres are indispensable. All the non-Turks, whatever Christian nation they represent, must be annihilated." As a result of such policy, the Armenians now commemorate the memory of their 1.5 million victims. The Assyrians also endured the same fate under Ottoman Turkey in 1915 and lost 750,000 innocent victims. The Assyrians and Armenians of the world remain unanimous in their demands from the Ottoman Turkey.
From the beginning of its establishment in 1989, every year on 24-th of April, the Assyrian Association of Armenia (Atour), together with Armenian people participate in a 'mourning procession'. This year about 600 Assyrians from the cities of Armenia and four villages Arzni, Dimitrovo, Upper Dvin, New-Artagers, as well as Assyrians from different foreign countries, who had come to participate in this procession, put flowers at the monument of the victims of Genocide. After the procession television reporters interviewed the president of Atour, Mr. A.Mikhaylov. He recalled the facts behind the Genocide and spoke about the importance of accepting the authenticity of the Genocide against the Armenian and Assyrian people.
That same morning, in village of Arzni's Mart Mariam Church (St. Mary's), a cross-stone was dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Genocide. Henceforth, Arzni residents will have an opportunity to pay their respect to the victims of the Great Genocide.
SEYFO CONFERENCE IN BRUSSELS
Assyrian Seyfo (Genocide) International Committee 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 was a conference that ASIC had organised in the Passage Room of the Residence Palace-International Press Centre in Brussels. The guest speakers included:
The conference was held on Friday the 26th of April from 3 to 6 pm. The invitations were extended to the European intelligentsia and politicians. All media were welcome.
For further information please contact us at email@example.com or +32 (0) 495 333 398.
Assyrian Seyfo International Committee (ASIC)
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ASSYRIANS COMMEMORATE 1915 GENOCIDE
The Assyrians of Southern California from all political persuasions and faiths united under the Assyrian flag and its Assyrian Association of Southern California to commemorate the Assyrian, Armenian, and Greek Genocide by the Ottoman Turks.
The Assyrians with their loud speakers energized and mesmerized the crowds and received major support from more than 30000 Armenians gathered in Hollywood.
We had success by meeting with the Armenian Bishop of Los Angeles, members of Assembly, and members of Los Angeles City Council including Councilman Garcetti and Councilman La Bonge. We were also interviewed by numerous radio stations and T.V. stations.
On top of that the Assyrians were given more than 7 minutes on the podium to speak and display their flag (beautiful flag) and the Honorable Pastor William Nissan gave a wonderful speech.
The Assyrian American Association's President, the Honorable Shamiram
Tabar was amongst the many Assyrians who supported and planned this for
the Assyrian cause.
JOIN AAS AT HUMAN RACE WALKATHON IN SAN JOSE
The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the Assyrian Aid Society of America is once again participating in the Human Race Walkathon. The Walkathon is a festive occasion where thousands of people gather every year to support honorable causes. Each participant collects pledges to sponsor the humanitarian organization of their choice. This year's Walkathon will be held on Saturday May 11th at the Almaden Lake Park on the corner of Coleman Road and Almaden Expressway in San Jose. We will gather in the park at 8:30 am to participate in the 9:00 am 5K Walk. We hope that you can join us in this fun event to support the Assyrian Aid Society.
Through your generous support, the Assyrian Aid Society has been building and operating Assyrian schools, dormitories and cultural centers, providing meals and transportation for Assyrian students, helping Assyrian villagers with their irrigation and farm-equipment needs, and making medicines and medical services available to the Assyrian people in North Iraq.
After the Walkathon, we will gather at the Assyrian American Association of San Jose for lunch, which will be provided free of charge. We hope to see you at the Walkathon.
If you are unable to participate but would like to make a donation to sponsor this event, please make your check payable to the "Assyrian Aid Society of America" and put "Walkathon" on the check. Mail your check to the address below. We will publish the list of our sponsors in the May issue of our newsletter.
Please use the Pledge Form (click here) to collect your donations.
The Assyrian Aid Society is a charitable 501 (c) (3) organization. All contributions are tax deductible.
Clara Valley Chapter
NEW PHOTO ALBUMS AT ASSYRIANVOICE.NET
The Assyrian Voice Network has finally opened 8 new photo albums of Assyrians from over 10 countries, covering all five major continents with the exception of Africa. With a total of more than 125 pictures, the new albums are yet another way for Assyrians to get closer to each other.
The albums include general topics, photos of kids and babies, and the Assyrian New Year celebrations in co-operation with Zowaa.com.
To view the albums simply click on the links below or go directly to our website at www.AssyrianVoice.net and click on photo albums below:
You may also submit your picture for our future album releases.
Thank you and God bless you all and zinda magazine!
TO WHOSE BENEFIT IS THE SUBMERSION OF THE HOLY HISTORIC CITY OF ASHUR'S MONUMENTS?
-AN OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNMENT OF IRAQ-
The international news agencies, newspapers and worldwide internet sites as well as concerned personalities in the field of archaeology passed the news of the tragic fate awaiting the monuments of the historic city of Ashur in Iraq which is considered the centre and historical symbol to the existence of the Assyrian people and along with it another 100 archaeological sites which have been submerged in the waters of the Makhoul Dam project in the North of Iraq.
Using the Makhoul Dam as a pretext, the Iraqi government is determined on submerging the most important capital as well as trade centre of the ancient world and a historical and abundant source of information that have not been explored till today and which is considered by archaeologists as priceless buried treasures.
There isn't an immediate necessity to build the alleged Makhoul Dam on the spot that has been chosen, for it was possible to avoid including these important sites as being listed as a part of side effects of the damages resulting from such a project.
We don't blame the consulting engineers who decided to sever the historical roots of Iraq's Ashur for a dam!!! Rather, we find odd the irresponsible actions of the Iraqi government towards these monuments, when it is very much aware of their particular worth and importance to the Assyrians, the indigenous people of that land and the builders of Iraq's Civilization, to Iraqis and the world in general. Suddenly, the Iraqi president forgot his (associated) roots to (his) ancient (Iraqi) civilizations and their monuments have been forgotten !! It was possible for the head of the state whose opinions in such projects always depended on his decisions, to give the orders changing the site of the dam, thus un harming these archaeological sites which are entrusted in the hands of the governing authorities not only because they are archaeological symbols but also because they belong to the homeland. For the governments become extinct but homelands are everlasting.
The construction of the Makhoul Dam in a restricted area is considered a trespassing on the instructions issued by the same Iraqi authorities, which consider the archaeological sites as restricted lands.
Within the process of development the need arises sometimes to build dams; however, a lengthy consultation period with different ministries precedes in order to avoid obstacles resulting from such a project interfering in the activities and immovable properties of other ministries, also to determine any damages and the economic benefits of such a project. However, it seems that the official authorities in Iraq chose to ignore completely these obvious technical points.
It seems that because of the state of chaos in the Iraqi governmental system and due to bad conditions in the homeland caused by the unjust blockade on the Iraqi people, this has led to the decline in the level of awareness in connection to antiquities, if it hasn't really disappeared altogether!!
Thus, it seems that the misjudgment of damages both material and emotional which will befall the Assyrian people are not something to be concerned about since most of our people have left the homeland because of both political and economical instability added to the killings, dispersing and continuous psychological intimidation.
Our Assyrian people are un able to protect themselves so could they save their monuments!!
Therefore, our monuments have become an instrument of looting, plundering and smuggling at the hands of Iraqi officials.
We ask the (Iraqi leadership) which is stabbing the Assyrian people in its very own historical
existence, contributing to its eradication along with its monuments : To whose benefit is the conspiracy of submerging the monuments of the holy city of Ashur? And why the city of Ashur in particular? Is it possible for Egypt to submerge the Pyramids under the pretence of building a dam?
The great conspiracy against the Assyrian people has taken its toll and is becoming clearer through the un folding of events within the general plan which has been drawn. To our people the present negative events on the national scene are clear and its dispersing from the land of the forefathers has served the purpose of obliterating our people from their historical roots, followed lately by the project of submerging the monuments of the holy, historical city of Ashur completing thus the conspiracy chain.
It is an ugly crime committed against the glorious history of the great nation of Ashur which gave to the world more than what it took. Submerging the monuments of the city of Ashur in Iraq isn't a mere passing incident which bears to be silent about and un questioned ... The entire Assyrian people are worried about the fate of their monuments which have become smuggled goods sold in international auctions because of the present situation in Iraq. No one has the right to dispose of the Assyrian artifacts as if personal belongings taking advantage of a high office influence or money in order to sell them. These monuments have their rightful owners and the day will come when claiming them will be requested by the power of the law.
The right of return is guaranteed to all those who fled Iraq because of its present regime, what has the Iraqi government kept for the Assyrian people of the historical symbols to their national existence upon their return ?
Therefore the Assyrian people call all governments, non-governmental organizations, Universities and all archaeologists worldwide to avoid such crime against our culture. It's my people's cry, set out so it might reach the world's conscience!
Translated from Arabic by: Mary C. - Canada
Y.T.KANNA: A MAN ON A MISSION
The series C3939/2 item N64/75159 Assyrian Migration from Iraq recently obtained from the National Archives of Australia shows Youaw Toma Kanna's exchange of correspondence with senior officials of the Australian Department of Immigration covering a five year period- June 1964 to July 1969. The documents convey the impression of man on a mission determined to assist his fellow Assyrians in Iraq.
Kanna, an Iraqi Assyrian , acted as an "intermediary" for Assyrians who wanted to migrate to Australia from Iraq. There are 2 documents (Nos 1 and 4) showing Kanna's support for Assyrian migration and his attempts to convince Australian officials that his people would have something positive to offer Australia.
In a letter of June 29, 1964 he states that " there are about 2,600 families willing to come to Australia" and continues that " Of the above: 60% can read and write English language; 30% have served the British R.A.F (as Assyrian Levies) in Habbaniah;..." He was convinced that " they will not be a burden on Australian Government." (see Doc.1)
According to Kanna the Assyrians good English language skills were attributed to them attending private schools rather than public ones. He believed that the Assyrians generally had a "higher standard education than the average population."
He further contends that " the better type positions , such as in banks, have been held by Assyrians. This again lead to a degree of unsettlement because of current programme of nationalization of banks will mean the progressive sacking of Assyrians and their replacement by the native population."
It is evident that Y.T.Kanna did his best to sell the benefits of Assyrian immigration to Australian officials. He made it clear that Assyrians spoke good English and held better type positions in Iraq. Those who had served as Assyrian Levies were to be considered loyal to the British Empire and would make excellent Australian citizens.
Another document written by H.G.Brooks , the Chief Migration Officer -Foreign, provides the Assistant Secretary of Operations Branch with background information on Iraq. The document lists the total population of Iraq including the religious breakdown of the Assyrians into Nestorian, Chaldean, Jacobite and Protestant churches. It further mentions the military coups of 1958 and 1963, the importance of the oil industry for Iraq's economy, an outline of the different levels of the Iraqi education system and the prospects for Assyrian immigration to Australia. On the last point it was envisaged that the Assyrian immigrants would pay their own fares.
The remaining documents outline some of the difficulties encountered by Assyrian Iraqis who wished to migrate to Australia. Firstly, they needed a guarantee of accommodation before being eligible for entry into Australia. Secondly, Assyrians could not travel directly by air to Australia from Iraq. They had to travel to Beirut in Lebanon at great expense, before becoming making the long journey to Australia by ship. In October 1964, the Australian government set up a migration office in Beirut to process Assyrian immigration applications. Finally British Consular officials issued visas on behalf of the Australian Government for Assyrians wishing to leave Iraq. It wasn't until 1976 that Australia established its embassy in Baghdad.
To View a select number of the National Archives of Australia documents pertaining to Mr. Kanna Click Here.
An Assyrian text from the eighth century BC contains this reference: "Insurrection in the city of Ashur. In the month of Sivan, the sun was eclipsed." The reference is now believed to describe the solar eclipse of June 15, 763 BC. A passage in the Bible, Amos 8:9, is thought to relate the same event: " 'And on that day', says the Lord God, 'I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the Earth in broad daylight.' "
The first issue of the Assyrian Star arrived in the homes of the Assyrians in the United States. This year marks the 50th anniversary of this publication - the official organ of the Assyrian American National Federation.
WEDNESDAY MAY 1
CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR SYRIAC STUDIES LECTURE
"Bar-Hebraeus & His Time: The Syriac
Renaissance & the Challenge of a New Reality"
University of Toronto
[Zinda Magazine is a proud Corporate Sponsor of CSSS.]
DR. PHARES SPEAKS AT HARVARD LAW SCHOOL
"Middle East Ethno-Religious Minorities: What Future?"
Speaker: Dr. Walid Phares
Pound Hall, Room 100
Lebanese Food will be served.
DR. PHARES SPEAKS AT BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY
"Middle East Minorities in the Post September 11th Era"
Speaker: Dr. Walid Phares
Rappaporte Treasure Hall
Walid Phares is Professor of Middle East Studies and Ethnic Conflict at
Florida Atlantic University. He is author of many books and scholarly
articles on the Middle East's conflicts, Lebanon, Iran, and Minorities
in the Middle East.
Lebanese Food will be served.
FRI – SAT
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:
- Issues facing Assyrians in the Middle East.
- Assyrian communities in Diaspora.
- Perspectives on future development of the Assyrian community.
- Ways of rapprochement among the different tribal and confessional groups.
Twelve prominent international Assyrian scholars and political commentators have been invited. The official Conference languages are English, Russian and, first of all, Assyrian. Simultaneous translation will be provided. Anyone who wishes to join in this Conference should complete and send in the form below as soon as possible so that the hosts may know how much space to reserve.
Hotel Rossiya (about 2 blocks from the Kremlin).
Per day costs are given in US dollars at the conference rate, include breakfast, and are as follows: Single room: $50, Double room: $70. Registration for the Two-day Conference (per person): $20, Tickets to the Bolshoi Theatre: $50, Banquet: $50 .
Send this information to:
Melta Bulletin: P.O. Box 18, Moscow, 129642, Russia
Telephone: (7-095)-935-0155, -233-5387 (S.Osipov)
BRITISH MUSEUM LECTURE SERIES
“Feast and flower in ancient Assyria”
A Public Lecture by Dr. Lorna Oakes
Great Russell St
WC1. Gallery talk
Meeting Room 7
Tel: 020 7323 8511
SUPERFEEST WITH BABYLONIA
A Cultural Dinner Party Presented by
Beth-Nahrin TV & Babylon Association in Hoofddorp/Amsterdam
Entertainment by the Sensational Singer: Babylonia
Restaurant Le Festival
Polaris Avenue 1
Hoofddorp (Gebouw Transpolis)
Tickets: 15 Euros
LOS ANGELES - NORTH HOLYWOOD
AAA OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GENERAL MEETING
5901 Cahuenga Blvd.
-Report of the activities since installation
-Programs of the Executive Board for the remainder of the year
ASSYRIAN STATE CONVENTION OF CALIFORNIA
Look For Complete Information on the Schedule of Activities and Accommodations in the Coming Issue
FRI – SUN
THE SOCIETY FOR IRANIAN STUDIES LECTURE
"Identity and Institutions Among Assyrian-Iranians in the United States"
An illustrated lecture by Dr. Eden Naby-Frye
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:
Bethesda Hyatt Regency
One Bethesda Metro Center
Bethesda, MD 20814, USA
Phone (301) 657-1234
Fax (301) 657-6478
BRITISH MUSEUM LECTURE SERIES
“Spatial organisation in early Mesopotamian cities: new contributions from microstratigraphic analyses”
A Lecture by Dr. Wendy Matthews
10, Carlton House Terrace
London SW1. BSAI
Bonham Carter Memorial lecture.
Lecture follows forum at 5:00 PM
Non-members are welcome to attend.
Please confirm your attendance to:
BSAI Sec., Mrs. JP MacIver at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 01440 785 244, fax: 020 7969 5401
MON – THUR
48TH RENCONTRE ASSYRIOLOGIQUE INTERNATIONALE
"Ethnicity in Ancient Mesopotamia"
Dept of Assyriology & Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten
Registration Form: http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/rencontre/mailform.html
Registration Fee: Euro 70 by April 1, 2002
FRI - MON
AUG 30–SEP 2
ASSYRIAN AMERICAN NATIONONAL CONVENTION
MIDDLE EAST STUDIES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel
2660 Woodley Road, NW
800/228-9290 toll free
Zindamagazine would like to thank:
Dr. Matay Arsan
Dr. George Kiraz
Dr. Samir Johna
Dr. Gabriele Yonan
ZINDA Magazine is published weekly. Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarily represent those of the ZINDA editors, or any of our associated staff. This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals. ZINDA reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium. All letters and messages require the name(s) of sender and/or author. All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 words or less and bear the name of the author(s). Distribution of material featured in ZINDA is not restricted, but permission from ZINDA is required. This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news. To subscribe, send e-mail to: email@example.com.
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