ZINDA MAGAZINE'S INTERVIEW WITH PRINCE ANWAR MODAWIA AL-AMAWI
Recently, with the help of the staff at Furkono Magazine in Europe, Zinda Magazine was able to conduct an interview with His Highness, Prince Anwar Modawia al-Amawi, the leader of the world's Yezidi nation. His Eminence was previously featured in another Zinda article:
With sincere thanks to our friends at the Furkono Magazine, herein we present the complete text of this historical interview:
Zinda: What are the roots of the Yezidi religion and is there any relationship between this and the ancient religions in Mesopotamia?
His Highness: The roots of the Yezidi religion are derived from the ancient religions of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. At that time it was known or called as the "Nabu Religion" or the worship of the Sun. This relationship is evident in the following:
Zinda: What is your response when you are accused of "worshipping
Zinda: How have the Yezidis been treated by the Iraqi
government? What rights do you have in Iraq?
I want to remind two simple examples here. When a Yazidi group requested that it open a cultural association in Baghdad, their request was rejected. The same thing happend with my book when I wanted to publish it.
Zinda: What is the relation between the Kurds and Yezidis
in North Iraq?
Yezidi areas are today behind the 36 parallel and under the domination of the Kurds. We do not have any choice. We are given a ministerial post and a seat in the parliament. There are as many as one million. The Kurds have also allowed the opening of a few schools for us.
While the Kurds try to appease the Yezidis by helping them forget their terrible acts in the past, the religious discriminations continues still. We realize that the Kurds may never affirm their promises, but we respect the Kurdish nationality. However, not upon our own pain.
Zinda: Do you feel any kind of pressure from the Kurdish
side in the north? Can you give us some examples?
Zinda: Have you ever enjoyed any type of representation
in the government in Iraq?
Zinda: In your opinion what steps must be taken to unite
further the Yezidis and Assyrians?
The first step is to meet the people. Secondly, to meet the politicians,
religion leaders and the communities in every place in Sweden,
and through these meetings can we reach a general consent. And
to hold a congress of the Assyrians, Syriacs, Chaldians, Aramaians,
Yezidis and John the Baptist people (al-Sabiáa). I personally
propose to unite to became one lump and one voice. In such a congress,
we can choose a committee comprised of all the mentioned denominations
and they must be our represantatives in all international assemblies
and official meetings and to represent by one name to satisfy
all groups. Nothing can benefit us more than unity. Otherwise
we will be a very simple morsel to our enemies, and we will lose
our children in the diaspora, and they will be assimilated in
the other nations, and we will be only a name in the pages of
the history books and nothing more. We received many
From the United States we recieved an invitaion from the Assyrian
Universal Alliance and our brother Senator Mr
Zinda: Would the Yezidis one day, as a minority in the Middle East, unite with the Assyrians under the flag of the Assyrian nation?
His Highness: The number of Yezidis in the entire world is about three million souls, and you cannot so easily forget the one million still living in Iraq. This is not the time to talk of unity under one flag. You know that any action taken independently by the Yezidis and the Assyrians will not suffise for the unity of our nation. But the union or unity will make us strong and not simple morsels. To unite is such a way will be difficult as it true with other nations and minorities in the world. In the begining we must unite among ourselves and with the help of God we shall answer you more when we shall visit more Assyrian people.
My best wishes to the Assyrian people, and to your magazine staff for making this interview possible. Thank you, and I hope to meet you again soon.
THE ACCEPTED SOLUTION IS THE ONE THAT GUARANTEES THE ASSYRIAN NATIONAL ASPIRATION
After World War I the Assyrian political centre of gravity shifted from Asia Minor to the southern regions due to the decimation pogroms conducted by the Ottoman Turks against the Assyrians (among other Christians).
The Assyrians and the leading core of Assyrian nationalists found themselves under the rule of the newly established Baghdadi regime.
Two processes surfaced, the sell out by Imperial Britain in one process and its settlement with the Turks in another process; all at the expense of the Assyrian national existence. The rest of our people remained sparse in current day Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Iran.
In the following years and the pain still piercing, Bakr Sidqi, the Baghdadi army's chief responding to the zealous cry of the new pan-Arab fascists organised the cold blooded massacre of innocent Assyrians with the watchful eye of Imperial Britain, because they dared to ask for the recognition of the Assyrian nationality and the Assyrian cultural rights within the newly formed regime.
Betrayed and denied by Imperial Britain, the Assyrian national uprising was suppressed and the Assyrian rights' movement was pigeonholed. For the next decades and under various successive regimes the Assyrians were known by their religion as 'Christians' until the ascent of the new Baathists to power in the hot summer of 1968. Then things started to change.
The understood politics of the new Baathists was based in establishing a secular, colonialism-free and borderless Arab nations. This was advocated by some Christian pan-Arabists like the Palestinian George Habash and the Syrian Michel Aflaq (both Greek orthodox Christians by birth). By asserting the Arabic identity Habash and Aflaq were to champion a backward Arabic society where Christians have pronounced weight, and therefore could join in the march against foreign colonialism and at the same time subduing the religious tendency that existed in the Arabic society by making it secular.
In other words the Muslims, Christians, along with others could share the land where they lived without the minorities' fear of being marginalised and built unified, utopian and prosperous nations. But that political dream proved to be a mirage.
Once in power the new Baathists felt that the reality of life is different than the underground razzmatazz and nicely printed literature tracts. Colonialism was already in the process of vanishing and borderless Arab society would not work. Even a union with Syria, the next door 'sister', was impossible despite having a common border, a closer society and above all the same politics. Aflaq and Habash knew it fairly well that their political philosophies were tinkering ones but conceeded that they go on until they die. Aflaq died in exile in Baghdad in 1989 but the ailing Habash still lives exiled in Damascus. Both of them ended disillusioned and failed politicians and thinkers.
Now what is left from the defunct and unworkable sloganeering of the new Baathists is to continue the rule of the Arab-minority faction by all means. In the same way that it had been inherited from the Ottomans, the royal regime and the republican era. The diversity of many religions and nationalities within the society were not only marginalized, but totally ignored.
The north and south of the country were ignored in the national development programmes due to religious and national prejudices. The Christian Assyrian areas of the north were underdeveloped, housing not sufficient and residential growth intentionally thwarted. Some towns were still without running water and most without electricity until 1971. School buildings were either private properties given to the state or built and donated by our people. Teaching and lingual instructions were compulsory in Arabic. Most administrators if not all are outsiders and not Assyrians.
The new Baathists in a plan to make their life easier especially in the formation years in power signed a tactical peace treaty with the Kurds in 1970. During the next two years they approached the Christian Assyrians for some fettered cultural rights. The Turk-men never came to the forefront as another formidable minority although we must acknowledge the rights of every minority whether religious or national.
As the new Baathists gained confidence in their power and wealth especially after the 'oil crisis' of 1973 the Baathists became adamant and harshly abrogated all agreements with the Kurds and Assyrians. But the Assyrian national awakening was already circulating in the blood of every Assyrian.
In the census of 1977 only two nationalities were recognised the Arabic and Kurdic - the last one was just to send messages to the outside world of the 'democratic' nature of the Baathist rule. Christian Assyrians never forget that abuse of their very first right when they were denied to register as Assyrians in their land of Ashur and were forced to register either as Arabs or Kurds. If they dared to register as Assyrians they were later ignored.
As the outcry came the Assyrians began to think about their existence as a nation in the land occupied by the rulers. In April 1979 the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) was proclaimed as a territorial movement i.e. not exiled and in the following years joined the northern insurgency in the armed struggle against the regime along with other territorial movements.
Worldwide - all dictatorial and diabolical regimes crumbled and the likewise autocratic nature of the Baathist leader started to show in a series of failed strategies and aborted policies.
Eight-year war devastated the nation and this was followed by the fiasco in Kuwait and the debacle and defeat in the 1991 war against the U.S.-led allied forces up to the present economic embargo and the starvation in the land.
Now for more than a decade the world has been talking about the post Saddam's era but Saddam is reluctant to go because he is still favoured, protected and guarded by all outsiders except the United States. The brutal man has survived many attempts and knows well how to insulate himself.
My personal judgment tells that he will not die a single death but when he dies he will plunge the nation with him. This lesson is a natural corollary from our modern history with examples of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin, still in the memory of even the younger generations.
The creation of the northern zone was exploited by the Kurds to establish a Kurdish zone at the expense of the mainly Assyrians and other minorities. In this zone the Kurds seized Assyrian territories, while the rest of the Assyrian territories were left under the Arabic Baathist Baghdadi ruler. Here our lands are partitioned and our territorial heartland broken.
Although the Baathist regime still exists in its skeletal form, it has the teeth that can muster and grind on Assyrians to undermine the Assyrian national ambitions in their land of ancestry. In the latest bids he Arabised us, Islamised us, confiscated even our Church buildings and forced us to learn the Islamic tenets and adopt Islamic names. In other words he is trying to occupy what was left unoccupied. Where is the logic of Arab nationalism that once was hampioned by Christians like Habash and Aflaq, where thousands of Assyrians die doing their national duties in a nation that denies them the very simple rights?
Ever since his defeat the Baghdadi Baathist autocrat has outlived very maneuver or plan to oust him. All seems to be fairy tale and the nation's masses continue to suffer and empty the land that no longer flows with 'milk and honey'. The regime is, out of failed politics especially after the breaking of the destructive war between its eastern neighbour and up to the present humiliation by the west, its former mentor, steadily turning the republic into a theocratic Islamic institution and is marshalling a new version of the Arabic jingoistic fascism. The Islamic card, the only card left for Saddam after years of unyielding and destructive policies and individualistic rule, aims to galvanise the country's streets and to idolise him among his Arab-minority faction as a written figure in Arabic-Islamic history. Re-writing history is his goal as Saddam-hussain-ism that once ruled the land with might and power built upon the skulls of innocent people.
Post Saddam plans even at drawing-room stages are viewed by the unletterd Saudis as conveyors of Ottomanism in Asia Minor. These plans continue to float and sink as though this once formidable and giant nation is going to be rescued by the Saudis and the modern Ottomans, the ones we derided as our backward neighbours.
In any solution that may be undertaken by the powers of the day and the international community, the solution must reflect the aspiration of the indigenous Assyrian people, the only old people left without a nation of their own.
It is true that we are third in the demographic national table after the Arabs and the Kurds, but we are the indigenous people, with very large expatriate communities worldwide, not the occupying or the invading aliens. Any solution by catapulting other minority before us must be outrightly rejected by our noble people. We will not accept the Cyprusisation of our land and the Turkic expansion at our expense. In any proposed solution that may include partition, federation, or administrational restructuring the Assyrians must have a demarcated boundaries administered by themselves.
The Assyrian land is ours because we are the descendants of our Assyrian forefathers centuries before us and we have the right to dwell in it, live free with others in it and to reign in it.
In any solution the Assyrians must have the share they deserve otherwise the time will come for the Assyrians to revolt by all means until their natural rights are fully fulfilled and fully guaranteed.
KURDISH ISLAMIC INTOLERANCE IN NORTH IRAQ
(ZNDA: Chicago) According to an Assyrian International News Agency report, dated 29 June, a request by the Assyrian Church to build a bishopric in North Iraq has been denied by the Kurdistan Democratic Party officials. The report notes that such refusal has been in effect since 1994 and the Ancient Church of the East is still not able to "properly minister to its adherents."
The KDP officials are instead favoring other projects including "
a scientific college, an orphanage, a martyr's center, or a health center."
They allege that the building of an Assyrian religious site would anger
neighboring Muslims and flare religious tensions.
[For AINA's full report Visit: http://www.aina.org/releases/2002/bishopric.htm]
ASHURBAN PRIMARY SCHOOL
Among the flat fields and towering mountains between Diana and Hawdian in North Iraq there is a rather mysterious looking mound. The fields are flat for hundreds of metres and from the middle of nowhere rises a truncated pyramid-shaped mound of earth covered in grass. The residents of Hawdian village call it "Roomta d'Hawdian" [The Hawdian Mound] . They have passed on its story by word of mouth. While there is no conclusive archaeological evidence to suggest otherwise, locals say it was left behind by Malkoona Ashurban, an Assyrian ruler of the area in the 8th century A.D.
A fifteen minute drive away in the neighbouring town of Diana is an all-Assyrian school named after this ancient ruler - the Ashurban Primary School. The school's founder was the late Qasha [Father] Benyamin Hormiz Tazhdin, priest of Diana's Church of the East.
Father Benyamin had been trying for years to establish a school in the area. Under Saddam Hussein, for a school to have the right to simply go ahead and teach Syriac as a subject, a 51% majority of Assyrian students was needed. Assyro-Chaldeans never made up more than 26% of any school's numbers. Needless to say, prior to 1991 it was impossible to get a school to teach Syriac. Forget about an all-Syriac school.
Events would change dramatically after 1991. Under the new Regional Parliament (RP) and the guidance of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), Assyrian students would enjoy the birthright of freedom of language and culture denied to them under Saddam's regime.
Ashurban School was officially founded in 1995, but teaching had actually begun there unofficially in 1993. The entire curriculum was taught in Syriac those first two years. After the 8th of April 1993, formal approval was given by the RP for Syriac to be taught wherever there are Assyrians. Qasha Benyamin, backed with a paper signed by 26 Assyrian families, applied to the local mayor for the go-ahead. Two months later, he, along with Rabi Fraydon B avid set up Syriac classes alongside the Diana Secondary School. The teachers then were totally funded by the Assyrian Aid Society.
By 1995 the number of Assyrian students had increased to a level where the classes became a school in their own right and the Ashurban Primary School was born. The principal for the last 7 years of its existence is Rabeeta (female teacher) Jacklin Kuda David, a mathematics teacher with 20 years experience. She told me that the school presently has 44 students from Grades 1 through 6. The Shamiram Secondary School, housed within the same building, currently has 15 students. There are also non-official mashmiyane (literally, listeners ) or preparatory classes of 8 students.
In all, there are 38 Syriac schools in North Iraq. Eleven of the schools teach the entire curriculum in Syriac. The Assyrian language is the means of teaching not just the end. Just like the other ten schools, Ashurban School translates all its books from Kurdish. Obviously, only religious studies are unique. This method ensures standardized course content across the whole region. The books are provided free of charge to students by the General Directorate of Syriac Education.
The school runs from Saturday to Thursday, Friday being the only rest day. Because the school is shared with Kurdish colleagues, who use the school in the morning, the hours for Ashurban are limited to the afternoon from 1-5pm. There are 11 teachers, all female! Shamiram Secondary School has 5 to 6 teachers, but more are needed. There is a current shortage of teachers in subjects like chemistry, English, physics and Syriac. Fortunately though the students never miss out on anything. The teachers at Ashurban just work that extra bit harder to make up for the insufficiency. Other times, the AAS pays for lecturers to fill in gaps. Lecturers are paid 5 dinars/hour (18 dinars equal one U.S. dollar).
The teachers are officially paid by the RP. Initially, when the school was just getting off the ground in 93-94, the AAS funded the teachers. The AAS now supports the schools with monthly payments for top students or by assisting needy families.
It turned out to be my first class, Grade 1 Kurdish. The loud noises were drills in the Kurdish language. The students automatically stopped as I entered the class, politely stood up and without cues from the teacher greeted me at the top of their voices with Khayit Atran, Khoobah oo Shlama!! ( Long live our Nation, Love and Peace!! )
Assyrian Rabeeta Warina Michael took the class through the lesson "Qalarash" (the Black Bird) and the students recited the story in turn or all together.
When Assyrians in the West hear that there are all-Assyrian schools in North Iraq, the response is often one of pleasant surprise. But, some ask, after the initial elation settles, isn't this putting Assyrian students, who are living among a majority of Arabs and Kurds, at a linguistic disadvantage? Won't they be weak in Arabic and Kurdish? Won't this be a problem when they enter university?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
All subjects are taught in Syriac, that is, subjects like mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry and so on. Apart from these subjects the students also learn Arabic, Kurdish, English and Syriac (as a subject)! These students are true polyglots.
In Shamiram School's Grade 5 class I had the chance to speak to some of the students while their teacher Jinan Giwargis had left the room for a few minutes. I asked eleven-year old Giwargis Fraydon: "What s your favourite topic at school?"
"Syriac," he said, in the most eloquent Syriac I've heard from an 11-year old. Because it's the language of my parents and my forefathers. Another class member, Rita Romi, wearing a red ribbon designating her as top student, said her favourite subject is geography: "I like to learn about places around the world. I want to be a teacher one day " What struck me, visiting the various schools, is the students' amazing maturity for their age, their eloquence and intelligence. A result of the combination, no doubt, of good teachers and parents.
Even if these people are one in a thousand, added Fraydon, it's still hurtful. I've seen the schools first hand, witnessed the students skills and seen the hard work and dedication of all those Assyrians who have stayed in our homeland and worked against all odds for negative financial reward, so it's easy for me to pooh-pooh any damaging criticism from those sitting comfortably in the Diaspora. But it's harder to undo the harm it does to the moral of the people here.
1- Malkoona (Ruler; literally diminutive of king) Ashurban, a little-known Assyrian ruler in the area probably in the 8th century, he left behind mounds to mark his presence and traveled all the way up to Iran.
Hear the tale of Barwar,
The region was ruined,
They became foreigners,
They burned its trees,
Where are you, oh great Maggie?
Forced out of their villages,
But Doori will never be lost,
Barwar's weddings shall return,
Barwar, minnakh warde paqkhi.
Eh pnita pishla tlikhta,
Pishlun nasho nukhraye,
Umra d-Giwargis brikha,
Ilanu qam maqdeelun,
Kelakh Maggie gabbarta?
Eena Doori leh talqa,
B-deri khloolane d-Barwar,
The story of Tashish is not a unique one. Nor is it a new one. Not everyone may know this village by name, but its story will be familiar to most. It has been repeated hundreds of times in other villages around North Iraq. It is a story of flight and destruction, of homecoming and rebuilding. A story repeated countless times throughout the Assyrians' long history, made famous through song and poetry.
Tashish lies in the far north of Iraq. It is part of Barwar1, a region near the Iraqi-Turkish border, renowned for its beauty, its apple-orchards, its hot-blooded people.
My driver was Esam Youkhana, a 39-year old father of two young children, originally from Tashish, but now living in Nohadra (Dohuk), one of the three governates of North Iraq. A three-hour drive from Nohadra, Tashish lies north on the top-most part of a C-shaped route that traverses some fairly well-known, historical Assyrian towns. Simele, home to the notorious massacre of 1933 lies west towards the Tigris; traveling further north we passed the old town of Zakho, with its wonderous Dalal bridge. Along the top of the C we drove past Dere Hosan, Gerek and the mountains of Zerezah.
We then crossed the Khabur (Khawura) River (not to be confused with the Syrian Khabour), which slices down the middle of the villages almost vertically.
We were now in Barwar.
A field full of apple tree saplings were growing healthily in freshly cultivated land. We were in Chaqala, and the thousands of trees were supplied by Dr. Ashur Moradkhan and the Atra Project. Tashish, our destination, was the next village down.
Tashish is a village of 2 families sitting on large land of the Youkhana Sargon and Nissan families. Both families have been here at least six generations. Where they exactly came from isn't clear. Some say from the Sarspeedo area in Tiari (Ashita), but others aren't too sure. Around the 1960s, there were about 450 people, or 90 families, in Tashish. Esam led me up a hill that has a dominating view over Tashish to explain further.
On the hill are the remains of what look like a grand house. This was a historic, grand house, built from around 1959 to 1962. "It was the centre of the village," Esam said. Unfortunately, Saddam's regime made sure it didn't last long. In 1987, this village, like so many others, was razed to the ground. Its land was pillaged, and its people taken away brutally.
The views around Tashish were stunning. "How does each village know where it starts and ends?" I asked. "Just prior to the 1970s," he explained, "the Iraqi government's Agricultural Department put down borders. The once impressive double story house on this hill was the village's midpoint and distances were measured against it." Standing on the ruins, I commanded a view of the entire circumference of the village as we traced the outline of Tashish. In front of us were the houses of the two Assyrian families now living here. To their left were the ruins of the regime's agriculture department building. Behind us were a handful of houses and a school within Tashish's borders.
"These are Kurdish homes and a school within Tashish," Esam told me, "They came here in 1993. These settlements are clearly illegal, if you go by the age-old borders between villages and those delineated by the government in the late 1960s. The late Oraham Talia and I went to the Iraqi Kurdistan Front and brought some of their members here. After examining maps, they agreed that the Kurdish settlement is against the law. The villagers agreed to move once there is an official request for them to leave." Needless to say, there has been no such official declaration yet. "In Western countries," he continued, "laws are abided by. Here, the law is not followed so striclty. I wish it were, but it's not, I'm sorry " Just the same, the neighbouring villages live in peace.
We made it down to Esam's home. His brother Sargon, mother and sister all live in the house, for about 10 months of the year. They were all born and raised in Tashish. For two months, usually winter, they move to Esam's house in Nohadra.
The village is so beautiful, I said to Sargon as we sipped some strong black coffee. And to think that not so long ago this was the scene of devastation and destruction. "One day in the Assyrian New Year month of Nissan (April) in 1987, jets were flying overhead, there were jeeps and tanks parked over there," he said pointing to a peaceful looking road in the middle of striking grassland, trees and mountains. "In those days, we had a fine house, a qasrah [literally, castle] with six rooms. Then the commandos came and said: 'leave now, take what you can, we are going to burn the village'. Behind them, I could see a soldier burning dry grass and houses. It was that easy. If you dared resist, they would say 'OK, jets are going to come and bomb this place'. Speaking into a walkie-talkie I could hear him issuing orders to the jet-fighters. There were tanks on the road in front with the cannons pointed right at our home. On the mountains behind Saddam's army were Kurdish peshmergas (fighters). On the mountains behind us were more Kurdish soldiers. Kalashnikov bullets whirred just over our heads from both sides. We were literally stuck in the middle." Sounds like a nightmare, I thought. This nightmare has happened again and again over the last 40 years to so many other Assyrian villages I visited.
"I gathered what I could and my mother, late father and about 20 others were gathered by Saddam's commandos and transferred to the Kurdish village of Gerke in Barwar. It was a plain field. We were left there, in the rain. We slept overnight in the open field. Some Gerke villagers brought us food and water. We weren't allowed to go to Nohadra. The following day, we left for Nohadra to stay with relatives."
Forced out of their villages, they went and lived in the cities.
Mariam Nissan, a Tashish villager in here 1960s, said, "We wanted to come back to Tashish in 1987 but the government didn't allow us. In the meantime all our men went to the army. We finally came back in 1991-92, and the village was abandoned for five years. If we tried to come back, the government assumed you were with the enemy."
"When we came back," Sargon continued, "it was a depressing scene of total destruction.. houses were burnt out; our church, dating back to the 1800s was bulldozed. There was just rubble and some walls standing." The church lies today in ruins at the hands of the vicious enemy.
The village looks so serene and beautiful now, I couldn't visualise the mayhem that took place. "Some NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) helped us build shelters back in 1992," said Esam. "Slowly, we've rebuilt our farms with what they're so famous for: apples, grapes, figs and apricots." The church still remains in ruins. A small, simple chapel set among grape vines fulfils the villagers' spiritual needs for the time being. The rusted hub of a wheel struck with a hammer serves as the village's nakosha (bell). Organisations such as the Urhai Club in California are potentially working on rebuilding the church.
The fields are worked by the two families and some local Kurds who use the fields and pay the owners with money or with part of their harvest, a sort of antiquated form of rent. One of the Assyrians who works on his land is Sargon Nissan, an 18-year old former student at Nissibin. Sargon completed year 8 and studied no further, wishing instead to work on his father's land. He spends about 90 per cent of the time on the farm, the other time in Dohuk. Must be hard for a young teenager with no friends his age around, I proposed. He agreed and said, "There are no young people around here. Most of my relatives are either in Sydney, Canada or America. They've all gone to foreign lands. But things are so much better here now. We can call ourselves Assyrian, learn our language. Before we were too scared. We have our rights now."
"What do you feel about this situation?" I asked. "They'll come back. We want them to come back. We want them to raise Atour here, not overseas! This is our country, not there!"
What does the future hold for Tashish and Barwar? I then asked his barshi (name's sake) Sargon Youkhana. "These are our lands, we'll never leave. But to get more people coming back, we need equipment. We don't have a tractor for example. Work that needs 30 people digging for half an hour will be done by one tractor in less than that time. If we had more machines here, I believe people would come back."
After countless generations in their homeland, and after so much hardship, it would be a tragedy to see Assyrians leave this blessed land. It's up to us, living in the west and having all the opportunities in the world, to support these guardians of our lands. Their needs are few and simple, their cause and responsibility immeasurable. Organisations like the Assyrian Aid Society and Atra Project have helped maintain our heritage and forever reverse the words of that great song: "Its land was pillaged, And its people taken away brutally- They became foreigners, Beggars in their own land."
The Barwar region consists of around 30 villages, with an Assyrian population of around 200; there are more people in summer. Helwa, Sardasht, Aqri, Khwara, Be-Baluk, Malikhtha, among others, are occupied only in summer. There were many, many more people in the past, especially prior to the 1970's. Qumrieh, Tirwanish (Der-Wanish), Der-Shirish and Aden are villages once with an Assyrian population, but now completely Kurdish for over 100 years. Helwa, Sardasht, Aqri, Khwara, Be-Baluk and Malikhtha have been abandoned as they are in PKK territory. Villages more or less continually inhabited by Assyrians today are Tashish, Chaqala, Challek, Jedideh, Be-Qulkeh, Musaka, Bas, Duri, Ain-Noone, Bishmayaye, Derishki and Kani-Balav.
[Assyrian Translation of Ms. George's Song: Nicholas Al-Jeelo & Sennacherib Daniel]
AMERICAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
In accordance with the fundamentals of Iraqi patriotism and mutual
desire to cooperate and struggle toward democracy and a better future
for all Iraqis under the banner of' "Iraq first... Iraq for all
Iraqis" meetings and discussions were held between the leadership
of the Iraqi Free Officers Movement (a political, civil, and military
organization) and the Assyrian National Congress (a worldwide body consisting
of Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party, Assyrian American Leadership Council
and various political, social and civil organizations).
Najib Al Salhi
SARGON DADESHO DOES NOT EQUAL BET-NAHRAIN DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Please note that the "Sargon Dadesho group" has changed the name of their political entity to the Association of Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party of America as of December 2001, according to the official registration document of State of California. These documents are signed by Sargon Dadesho as director.
We the leadership of Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party feel that you should be aware that our party, is an Assyrian Political entity and it was established in 1976 and has no connection whatsoever with the above-mentioned group. Therefore, we ask all Assyrian Groups, Associations, Social organizations, Churches and Political Entities to set the records straight and DO NOT mix and confuse between the two.
As we state in our Press Release (see below),. Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party is a Political Entity arid is a member of the Assyrian Coalition, which consists of five major Assyrian Political Entities. BNDP will continue the support of our Nationalistic struggle in the Homeland.
The Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party, unanimously elected Mr. Shimon Khamo as the Secretary General of the party at the BNDP's world congress which took place in California on August 2001.
Finally matters regarding to Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party must be referred to this E-Mail:. firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box BNDP 57859, Modesto, California, 95357. USA
JUNE 2002 BNDP PRESS RELEASE
Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party came to existence in 1976 after careful review of the status of the Assyrian National Movement which dictated then the need for a political movement accepted by the new generation, and at the same time reflecting the aspirations and dreams of our beloved nation. Thus, the Assyrian Notional quest in Unity and communion with other patriotic bodies in other U.S states, England, Australia, and the Middle East declared the Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party to the Assyrian people worldwide. A party which still conforms to the provisions of the International
BNDP adopted several projects to propagate and support our people's cause.
Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party is still an active organization within the Assyrian National Alliance, which includes four other Assyrian political oraganizations namely:
The Alliance supports the struggle of our people in their homeland Bet-Nahrain, Iraq and also supports the newly created Assyrian American League, which acts as a political lobbying body for our cause within the diplomatic core of the United Nations and the U.S. Congress and Government.
Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party remains unified and is chartered and classified
as a political organization aiming at enlightening and assisting our people
to achieve their legitimate goal of the Assyrian Autonomous State within
the Northern Region of Iraq, an aim set by our esteemed party since its
inception in 1976.
THE GENOCIDE AND THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMES IN SOUTH OF IRAQ
[Zinda Magazine thanks Dr. Munther al-Fadhal for allowing us to publish a summary of the following paper to be delivered at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on 26 July 2002.]
Genocide is aiming to kill people by different devices and it is considered as a dangerous acts that threaten security and safety of society because it result in extermination and persecution of human totally or partially because of the nature of their nationality, their race or their religion. Genocide is not a political crimes but it is a usually deliberate crime even if it's committing by a political motivation. Genocide is an International Crime.
Historical development this crime goes back to time of Babylon and it was committed in the First World War by Germans who used the poisonous gasses in France and during the Second World War too in 1939-1945. Kurds inside Kurdistan and other places of Iraq has also suffered from this crime and what the Faily Kurds has been exposed to emigration, disappearing and execution out of judiciary girdle. The same crimes have been committed against Shiaa in central and south Iraq before and after uprising 1991. Genocide committed by the Iraqi regime was always comprehensive and against all Iraqi people regardless of ethnical, religious or cultural considerations. For instant, the Assyrians who are the indigenous people of Iraq and a tiny & peaceful national and Christian minority have been subjected to ethnical and religious cleansing even they were not forming any threatening or dangerous to the existing regime.
Because of Genocide is an awful crime and affecting human rights, therefore has FN issued tow international agreements and that was resulted in holding assembly in Rom to establish an International court in 1988 and that came to light in 11/4 -2002, where the agreement was deposited to FN and the judges would research in different International crimes among these is genocide crime.
Denominational repression policy is another kind of genocide that the Iraqi regime has committed in central and south Iraq against citizens. Discrimination and humiliation of Shiaa through series of articles that was published in regime newspaper following the uprising in April 1991 was a part of this crime and especially when the regime has doubted about the identity of Marshlands residents as Arabs and as Iraqis and by that the regime got excuses to bombing their cities by different weapons and establishing (Saddam rivers). No doubt these people living in area where the oldest civilization historically began and where the old law as Sumerian, Babylon law born.
Violation of human rights that is committing by dictators is no longer an interior matter, where the International community interfering is not possible to cease repression of the civil or remains as a sightseer for all kinds of genocides crimes in the world.
But respecting human right has shown to be matter for International community and must not be limited as long as that situation become a source for insecurity and instability and that would affecting international peace situation especially when the repressions is within the state terror.
In Iraq has violation against human rights been since 1968 very seriously especially concerning the Kurds, Shiaa, Turkmen and Assyrians. The situation became worse when the war between Iraq and Iran broke out, chemical weapons was used in 1988 against the Kurds and during invading Kuwait in 1990. Drying the Marshlands, destructing environment, poisoning the waters and bumping the cities in South has been a clear infracting to legislations, international commitments and not least all religions. In this connection the research is divide op as follows:
I. Restricting concept of genocide crime
Convention of forbidding committing genocide in 1946 was about that extermination means whipping out human being for their race, religion on purpose and expression of genocide became associated with Nazism because of massacring people for their race and religion and that was considered as crime against humanity even thought that was not an infractions to law of those regimes.
All these International crimes do not fall by time and a punishable by the law whether it has been carried out or work for at carry it out. Every one who committed this kind of crime is responsible for that apart from his position such as constitutional responsible or ordinary public staff.
Killing the groups happens in different ways and by different facilities as following:
1. Bodily genocide and the ethnical cleansing: it is about killing the people by poison gas, execution and buries the people alive, and that what happened in Iraq in 1991 and later on against the Shai inhabitants in South Iraq. The Iraqi regime killed in one day 2000 of the Shai through a process called "cleaning of prisons". The crime against South of Iraq have been very huge and through the Satellites these crimes was filmed and show the destruction of Marshlands by construction of dams and draining the Marshlands, which caused forcible migration of local populations. The human rights, Europeans Parliament in year 2002, and the human rights condemned the crimes and it was definite as International crime following a declaration from Ambassador David Shiver in USA.
2. Biological genocide: it is about sterilising the men and aborting the women in order to wiping out the race of that group.
3. Cultural genocide: it is about forbidding a nation to converse with own native language and that has happened to the Kurd in Iraqi Kurdistan and In Turkey against the Kurds. Though this crime has result in assimilation and ruining of that groups existence, still the "The international family" has not given enough attentions to this crime. The reasons for this crime could be pointed out as follows:
1. Religious reason: One of the worse crimes in our time has been crimes of Iraqi regime against the South Iraq such as poising the water, drying the Marshlands, bumping their city and terrorising their people especially the religious, who disappeared and killed.
2. Political and social reasons: it is bout assimilation and arabisation of non-Arab people in Iraq as it has been carried out by a series of resolutions against the Kurd generally and Faily Kurd, who has been offer for this crime because of their nationality and as follower of Shiia belief. It is needless to mention in details about the Ba'ath Arabization tyrannical policy against the smallest minority i.e. the Assyrians who were not allowed to mention their ethnicity during the official Iraqi census of 1977 and 1987 and they were forced to refer to themselves as Arab, since there are a lot of human rights organizations reports dealt with this matter.
Before reporting the International crimes in South Iraq, it is necessary to clarify the three parts of it as following:
1. War Crimes
The International crime: It is a high crime and committed on purpose which means criminal intent exists. Therefore the International crimes is considered to be Infamous Crime that tremble the International security and peace not just that country but the whole International community and the punishment has to be carried out by the International community.
The International crime against humanity
1. Legitimacy background: It is about the law clause that condemn the event through International conventions as conventions of forbidding genocide that exterminate human like what the Iraqi regime done against Shiaa in South Iraq, where thousands of people buried a live during the uprising 1991 and in Kurdistan concerning Anfal and Halabjha..
3. Mentally background: because of the International crime commits on purpose and threaten the peace in the world therefore the crime is considered to be
Although war is not the result of any thing but huge violations of human rights, therefore the international conventions which concerning the rules of war must be taken into consideration as following:
1. Den- Haug convention in 1899 - 1907
4. Example of the international war crime in Iraq
According to rules of International law the people who commit an International crime can not be granted political or humanist asylum and must be punished by law for their crime that can not be fallen because of time. Fallen a crime because of time is not considered in situation of Benoshe, former president of Chile and Slobedan Melosafech of Serbia.
Amnesty International in this connection has taken initiative to tallying rules of International Law according to agreement of Geneva in 1949-8-12, agreement of Den-Haug in 1899 and protocol Geneva in 1925. To protect the human. Amnesty International has also provided many rules to protect human in the war situation such as forbidding killing the civil people and the injured captive, to treat the injured people and the sick, to insure the people a fair court, and no part in the war has to choose the weapon or the manner of the war. But unfortunately the Iraqi regime did not take any of these rules in consideration in the war with Iran and in suppressing the uprising in Kurdistan and South Iraq or in Kuwait.
6. Crimes against Humanity: The crimes that against humanity has been considered by Vatican as crimes against God and human. These crimes were specified by Nuremberg court and considered as International crimes and must be punishable. A big part of theses crimes has been committed by Saddam regime such as killing and whipping out the civil in Kurdistan- Kirkuk such as destroying 4500 villages. In 1976-77 over 200 Assyrian ancestral villages in northern Iraq were razed by the Iraqi regime. Scores of churches were also destroyed. Nearly every village had a church and/or monastery and some of the ancient churches were as much as 1400 years old and totally were levelled with the ground without any consideration to its historical account.
7. Crimes against South Iraqi Shia such as forcing hundreds thousands of them to leave Iraq to Iran because of their believe, torturing and killing their religious leadership in all holy city of Iraq such as Nejaf, Kerbal.
Recommendation and Conclusion
Because of the brutality of repression of human rights in Iraq, it has been necessary to carry out follows:
[Dr. Al Fadhal is a Former Associate Professor of Civil Law at the College of law, University of Baghdad; Vice Dean of College of Law at the University of Amman-Jordan; Head of public and private law Departments at the University of Al-Zahytoona in Jordan; and the visiting associate professor of law at the International College of Law in London, England. For more information visit: http://home.bip.net/alfadhal].
FROGGY WENT A-COURTIN'
The following article appears on 5 June 2002 in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
His company name was splashed across the sky as he hobnobbed with former US presidents and the social set. But by the time the liquidators moved in on Karl Suleman, $65 million had disappeared and a community was devastated. Nikki Barrowclough looks at the bizarre rise and fall of an unlikely entrepreneur.
His company name was splashed across the sky as he hobnobbed with former US presidents and the social set. But by the time the liquidators moved in on Karl Suleman, $65 million had disappeared and a community was devastated. Nikki Barrowclough looks at the bizarre rise and fall of an unlikely entrepreneur.
Karl Suleman slips into the car and we drive off into Sydney's traffic. There's a lot to ask him in a very short space of time. Looking sleek in the same grey suit he has worn for his court appearances, Suleman is strangely relaxed, unguarded, even apparently guileless. He wants to say one thing immediately: he would like to be able to question one or two people in court. He wants to tell "those thugs" and "thieves" to pay back the money lost by the people who invested in the failed scheme over which he presided.
"One day I will write a book, which will simply be about telling people to be more cautious when you go to see experts," he adds. "I will tell people, 'Don't believe everything you are told.' And always ask the question: 'Why do you want to make me rich?'"
It's good advice, though it comes a little late for the many investors who thought Karl Suleman was going to make them rich. The 41-year-old boss of the ill-fated Froggy group of companies and of Karl Suleman Enterprises (KSE) led his followers to believe they could earn an astonishing 190 per cent annual interest on money invested with KSE.
But the bubble burst last November when the corporate cops from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) swooped on the flamboyant, bleached-blond, chainsmoking Assyrian, raiding his home in Sydney's western suburbs, as well as the offices of KSE. Once ASIC had established that Suleman didn't have an investment adviser's licence, and that the scheme wasn't registered, it froze his assets and those of his wife, Vivian, and launched a major inquiry into the operation.
Liquidators Paul Weston and Neil Cussen, of Horwath Chartered Accountants, were appointed administrators of KSE and another company, Suleman Investments. After a preliminary review of the paperwork or, rather, of the profound lack of it, Weston and Cussen recommended that ASIC widen its investigation.
In all, 2062 investors poured $130.7 million into KSE between late 1999 and November 2001, many of them mortgaging their homes and going into heavy debt to do so. The scheme, which mainly targeted Sydney's Assyrian community, saw family members and friends grouping together in a mad race to raise the cash.
Many investors did, indeed, get handsome returns, which were paid like clockwork into their bank accounts. In the early stages, it was estimated that KSE paid at least $45 million back to investors - but the generous dividends were funded largely by the contributions of those who joined the scheme later. When ASIC pounced, money was still pouring into the scheme from eager investors.
Now $65 million of investors' money is missing, and ASIC wants to know where it has gone. So do Weston and Cussen, who have taken away all Suleman's toys, including a Lamborghini, four Ferraris, a $3.3 million luxury boat, a number of Sydney properties, several racehorses and two planes. (A third plane is currently sitting in a cow paddock in outback Victoria. In an undocumented deal, the plane was allegedly sold to a person who was later flying it when the engine failed. He crash-landed in the paddock, and there the plane will remain until the liquidators decide its fate.)
Why did Suleman need so many status symbols? He tells Good Weekend that they weren't for his own use - that he had planned to set up a luxury fly, drive and sail operation for wealthy people. But he adds that he always had nice cars, and was driving a Mercedes as far back as 1988. He says his family was never poor: his mother had brought money with her from Iraq when she and Suleman, then aged 15, came to Australia to live. His father, a pilot with the Iraqi Air Force, had died when his plane crashed during an air show in his homeland in 1963.
The Karl Suleman affair isn't just labyrinthine, it's crowded. There are cash transactions, unexplained cheques, visits to casinos, and a variety of intriguing rumours, including one that Suleman was somehow involved in sales of Iraqi oil. (Suleman tells Good Weekend that he was approached by someone who asked if he'd be interested in selling oil, but that the deal never eventuated.) There's also a wildly diverse cast of characters drawn willingly or accidentally into the businessman's orbit: two former American presidents, a wealthy Sydney property dealer, a former television game-show hostess, rabbis and Assyrian religious leaders.
Then there's Suleman's inner circle, a group of cronies known as the "Men in Black" because of the way they dressed. Some of the Men in Black were also Suleman's so-called "agents", Assyrians who collected the funds from investors. Two of those agents in particular, who vanished overseas after ASIC closed in, are among those Suleman says he would like to question in court.
And at the bottom of the pile are the 2062 people who threw caution to the wind and all their money at a man who had no previous experience as an investor. Suleman had some business experience - he ran a shopping trolley collection business, and had previously owned a couple of 7-Eleven stores - but was chiefly known in the Assyrian community as a drummer who played in folk music bands.
The Fairfield area of Sydney's south-west is home to about 20,000 members of the city's close-knit Assyrian community. (Assyrians are a Christian minority scattered across Iran, Iraq and Syria.) In the wake of ASIC's closure of the investment scheme, lives and marriages have been shattered and anger is rife. Copies of an anonymous document making a raft of detailed, eye-opening claims about where some of the missing $65 million went, have been circulating in the community for months.
Who is the author? No-one knows. But he or she certainly has a memorable turn of phrase. Suleman is referred to several times as "the Devil-Pig" in the document, which ends with the statement, "Our belief in God will bring a justice."
The document may be no more than a scandalous piece of gossip, but it reflects the kind of emotions boiling over in Fairfield. "People in our community always trusted each other. That's the kind of people we are. So everyone trusted Karl. Now, no-one trusts anyone," says one resident.
In the suburb's shopping plazas, no-one will speak on the record about Suleman, though they make no attempt to conceal the extent of their animosity towards the man they were once so quick to embrace as a business demigod.
"Karl was no-one," says an Assyrian man in his early twenties. "There was nothing out of the ordinary about him. He was a drummer. One of the best. But that's it. If he'd been Jamie Packer, maybe we'd have said, 'His father must be behind him, so everything should be okay.' But he wasn't like Jamie Packer. He wasn't anyone. And now we all want to kill him."
"Karl only dyed his hair blond after he became a superstar," someone else butts in. "You've seen us - we all look the same. But Karl had to go and dye his hair blond."
"How could anyone believe in Karl?" mocks a shrewd Assyrian businessman in his forties, who didn't invest, and warned others not to. "If you said to him, 'What's the capital of Australia?' he'd say, 'Brother, it's Fairfield.'"
Isn't this a bit harsh?
The speaker makes an expressive gesture with his hand. Suleman, he says, could barely spell. "He once asked someone how to spell 'nil'. Everyone knew Karl was uneducated. Some of the people around him were uneducated. For heaven's sake, why give your money to people like that?"
Karl Suleman maintains he was perfectly happy being a small businessman. But at some stage he obviously came to have other ideas. While flying a group of associates to Hamilton Island last year, he told one guest that he wanted to help run the country. At the very least it seemed he harboured visions of becoming a leader of the Assyrian community.
In an interview he gave to an American journal, The Progressive Assyrian, in early 2001, he spoke of his pride in being Assyrian, and of the responsibility of Assyrian entrepreneurs such as himself to advance his nation's case for greater recognition in world affairs. How should they do this? "Self-denial, sacrifice, simplicity and forgiveness are the qualities that our businessmen or politicians, when dealing with our community, should have," he replied.
Suleman's name first began appearing in social columns and newspaper reports a year ago. He soon became the most enigmatic member of Sydney's eastern suburbs social set, where in some circles the all-that-glitters-is-all-that-matters law of acceptance works like a charm.
The only thing people knew about him at that stage was that he was head of the new Froggy Group, a set of companies based in suburban Liverpool, and the man behind the numerous skywriting advertisements for Froggy (the skywriting is currently back - Froggy.com's new owners appreciate the value of continuity).
Skywriting isn't what gets blood racing in the eastern suburbs, though. Money does. And the mysterious newcomer had lots of it. He was fond of giving his cash away, too - to the Assyrian church and community charities. When he reportedly spent more than some of Australia's richest men, including Westfield boss Frank Lowy, at a Jewish House crisis centre fundraiser at the Westin Hotel in February 2001, it made news in the social pages of a Sunday paper.
Suleman's early days as a businessman had been undistinguished. After leaving school at 19, he had worked as a storeman and packer, among other jobs, until he was injured in a work-related incident and received a $90,000 compensation payout, which he used to buy a house. In 1989 he bought a 7-Eleven store, and a second one in the early 1990s. It was also about that time that he saw there was money to be made in the retrieval of shopping trolleys from the vast malls of suburbia.
By the time ASIC intervened in his affairs, Suleman was operating shopping trolley contracts in South Australia, NSW and Queensland. Horwath's Paul Weston says it was KSE's only real business - and it was this business that people thought they were putting their money into with the investment scheme. But it's still not explained why they believed they'd get such good returns on their money. As Weston says, while the contracts Suleman operated might have been profitable in the past, there was no evidence to suggest they could result in the kind of astronomical returns he promised.
But to outsiders, Suleman seemed to have a head for business. He was moving up in the world. One source claims the businessman tossed him the keys to a Ferrari one day and invited him to take it for a spin. As he was driving, he opened the compartment beside the driver's seat and was amazed by the amount of cash he says was there - about $50,000.
In 1999, Suleman bought an unpretentious two-storey townhouse in Hinchinbrook, a new housing estate close to Fairfield (up until then, he and his wife and two children had been living in a little house in nearby Greenfield Park). In late 1999 KSE attracted its first investors, reportedly Suleman's relatives and friends. None of the investors Good Weekend spoke to can pinpoint when they first heard about the scheme, but word spread fast through the community. Early the next year, Suleman bought an Internet service provider called A1 Superlink, as well as another, smaller, Melbourne ISP. With these two, the Froggy empire - including a music company and a mobile phone reseller business - was born. About this time the Men in Black also appeared, along with the stable of cars, the skywriting and Suleman's newly blonded hair.
Many observers took it for granted that the Froggy group of companies was behind the businessman's sudden wealth. Ramena Kako, an Assyrian law graduate who's on the KSE creditors' committee of inspection, says a lot of people questioned where Suleman was getting his money from, but that by then the momentum around him had built to a high, aided by effusive word of mouth: "My Dad told me he had one of the priests from the Assyrian church telling him how he had invested and how good it was, and he said, 'You'll make more money than you've ever dreamed of making.' A lot of key figures in the community promoted Karl, including from the church and other organisations. That alone encouraged a lot of people to invest."
Philip Pham, Suleman's former lawyer, told a court hearing recently that it was Bishop Joseph Mar Meelis Zaia, head of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, who suggested "Froggy" as a catchy name to Suleman. Many people say the bishop strongly supported the businessman, reportedly even saying in church what a good person he was.
Kako also recalls that "Froggy.com was constantly in our faces, floating in the sky, and we just assumed he'd been very successful. Things that he told people - 'We're going to float Froggy, we're going to make so much money out of it' - were pretty convincing as well."
Behind the scenes, though, Froggy was struggling. About $13 million of the money invested with KSE was siphoned off to the Froggy group of companies to pay its debts.
Suleman maintains to Good Weekend that he, too, was taken for a ride - by bad advisers. "From the beginning I didn't know what I was getting into," he says, adding that early on, "I had no idea what an ISP even was." He insists that "other people" told him he would make millions out of Froggy.
Comments Paul Weston: "Mr Suleman has been saying to us a couple of things: that he trusted in others and they let him down, and that [advisers] were telling him that his ISPs and his Froggy businesses were going to be worth two or three hundred million dollars. How those figures were ever arrived at, I do not know. They were fanciful in the extreme."
One thing Karl Suleman knew about was the value of being seen with the right people. The fact that the Froggy boss seemed to be making important friends among Sydney's Jewish business community impressed his fellow Assyrians back in Fairfield. "The only reason we as a community went blindly into the investment scheme is that we heard Karl was in with the Jewish community," one investor says bluntly.
At an official Assyrian dinner function in 2000, one of two rabbis who turned up with Suleman reportedly made a speech praising the businessman. Nati Stoliar, a wealthy Sydney property developer, was another of Suleman's new acquaintances. In court, Suleman explained that he was trying to work with Stoliar, that they wanted to become "a good property dealer ... to make good profits".
The two men were first linked in the media late last year as potential partners in a (now-abandoned) $80 million plan to make the fourth film of the Godfather series, although Stoliar was also reportedly in a party of people Suleman flew to Hamilton Island last April.
"I know the guy," Stoliar tells Good Weekend. "He is a very humble guy. He was always talking about his community. He wanted to put his community on the map."
If having rabbis, priests and businessmen speak well of him did wonders for Suleman's image, partying with former US presidents had his community open-mouthed with admiration. When Bill Clinton visited Australia last year, Suleman forked out more than $150,000 for the honour of having the ex-president sit next to him at a fundraising dinner for the Children's Hospital at Westmead. He also flew Clinton around the country, and entertained him on board his luxury cruiser. A few weeks later, he outlaid more money to fete another former president, George Bush Snr, at a Froggy-sponsored Melbourne Cup lunch. ("Do you know," Suleman tells me wonderingly, "George Bush did not even know Assyrians were Christians, not Muslims?")
Back in Fairfield, members of the Assyrian community were agog, and eager to be part of it all. "There was a period of time for about three months out here when everyone was trying to get loans, doing anything to get loans, faking names - anything to invest with Karl," says one investor.
But one of Suleman's former flying instructors remains mystified by his reputation as a business genius. Describing his affable former pupil - "the kind of character who always greeted you by putting his arms around you and kissing you on the cheek" - the instructor says Suleman was simply incapable of dealing with paperwork. A simple, written rules-of-the-air exam, which Suleman needed to pass before he could fly solo (though only in air space close to the aerodrome), was obviously an ordeal for the businessman. "The first thing I noticed was his inability to concentrate ... I went through the exam with him, and it took hours. He could only [concentrate] for 15 minutes at a time," the instructor says.
Suleman never did get his pilot's licence.
As the court hearings continue, KSE seems like nothing so much as a giant jigsaw puzzle whose pieces don't always fit. Suleman, prefacing all his answers with the word "privilege" to protect the evidence from being used in any criminal proceedings (as do many of his associates), hasn't been able to clearly explain how his own investment scheme actually worked. KSE operated without cash books, and with scarcely any records of investors' names. It wasn't unusual for six-figure cash sums to arrive at his Liverpool office in plastic shopping bags.
Contracts bearing Suleman's signature and promising investors fortnightly payments of $8000 were produced in court. Suleman said he had not drawn up the contracts, only signed them. He claimed that some of the agents who collected the funds weren't working for him at all, though liquidator Paul Weston says, "We believe there is evidence to suggest that some of them at least were acting in accordance with his instructions, and certainly with his knowledge. We believe others just took it upon themselves because of the fact that commissions [of 10 per cent] were being paid to people to introduce investors."
Two of the agents, Sargon Oshana and Jessie George, once close friends of Suleman, fled overseas after ASIC closed in and have had their assets frozen by Horwath's. Oshana, who was one of the Men in Black, is rumoured to be in Dubai. George was tracked down recently in the US. Despite the fact that Horwath's understood he was returning to Australia to give evidence, at the time of writing he seemed to have gone to ground once again. (Cash and properties in the US in the names of some of George's relatives have been frozen.)
Among Suleman's associates grilled by Horwath's counsel Jim Thomson, a Liverpool accountant, Roger Hyde, looked particularly uncomfortable in the spotlight. In a memorable court session, Hyde pleaded documented short-term memory loss - which has afflicted others as well.
Another agent, former truck driver Sam Babanour, also "couldn't recall" what he'd done with $100,000 that had arrived at the office one day, although he had no trouble remembering that he had asked Suleman if he would give him his Mercedes 280SL. "As a friend, he give it to me. Gave the keys the same day I asked for it," he told the court.
Suleman has had memory problems, too. Thomson asked him about one cheque for $261,000 which was made out to the businessman. Did he receive it? "I believe so." Thomson: "For what purpose?" Suleman: "I don't know."
Appearing occasionally among the spectators in court has been Henrick Isaac, a partner with Sydney legal firm Barclay Benson. Isaac has filed a statement of claim in the NSW District Court on behalf of more than 100 investors who are now suing KSE's advisers.
Adriana Xenides, the glamorous former hostess on Channel 7's game show Wheel of Fortune, who became the public face of Froggy, still has kind words to say about Suleman. "I've seen him give thousands of dollars to people who came up to him in the street, who were unemployed, or people he knew who were actively looking for work," she says. "He'd say to me, 'You know, Adri, that man has been looking for work for eight months.' He was very kind-hearted. I think he wanted to help his community - to give back to his community. He's a very humble person. He said to me he learned a lot about spelling from the Wheel of Fortune program, as so many migrant people did. I think people glorified him because of the charitable deeds he did."
She believes Suleman's sense of loyalty worked against him. "I remember once we were outside a coffee shop in Liverpool, and several people gave him cheques to sign, and I couldn't help seeing that they were completely blank cheques," she says.
"I said, 'Karl, do you know what you're doing, signing cheques when you don't know what they're for?' He looked at me in a very bemused way and said, 'These people [the agents] are my brothers', which is how he always referred to people who were close to him."
Where will it all end? Who else will be caught in ASIC's net? And what does Suleman's future hold?
"I know I was a fool," he says, "but let's wait and see who comes out clean at the end. If I had wanted to rip people off, I could have taken off with the money. Unlike some others, I have not run away or tried to leave the country. I have stayed to try to help the liquidators and to face whatever might happen to me as a result of the court proceedings. I think the liquidators are doing a hell of a good job. I'm very pleased with them. They are tracking things down. And Jim Thomson is doing a damn good job."
We part on the footpath outside Horwath's, where Suleman is due at a meeting. As he turns to go, a passer-by, who looks as if he might be Assyrian, appears startled when he recognises the businessman. "Hey, brother!" he says, in a tone of unmistakable admiration. Suleman looks delighted, claps him on the arm, then disappears inside the building.
RODNEY & TONY SARGIS
They choose to spend their creative life among their people, where they find their inspiration.
We would like to congratulate Rodney and Tony Sargis for their achievements and success.
Rodney & Tony were born in Urmia, Iran. Since a very young age both have had a great love and passion for music. While living in Urmia despite many obstacles, they both began to play different instruments and focused on learning musical notes. However due to lack of resources in Urmia they didn't start their professional career until 1987 when they both moved to the Iranian capital city of Tehran.
In Tehran, Rodney and Tony's pursuit to do what they loved most and started with a series of intensive training in harmony and arranging pop music. After developing a good understanding of music, together they started composing and arranging music for Assyrian and Iranian pop singers.
One of their career highlights was when they were invited by the Assyrian Democratic Society (Zowaa) to go to Northern Iraq for the 6749 Assyrians' New Year. They were so proud and overwhelmed by the Assyrians in Iraq that they will cherish this experience forever.
Not long after, they were well known not only by the Assyrian community but also amongst Persian/Iranians. Their talent was so apparent that in year 2000 they were requested by Iranian Government to compose, arrange and play music for a special program of the 100th anniversary of cinema and film making in Iran. This special program had more than thousands guests and was broadcasted on the Iranian National television.
In April 2001, the Assyrian Charity and Educational Community (ACEC) invited Rodney and Tony to accompany the famous singer Sargon Brando to Australia for Easter celebrations. The talent of all three performers and their humble personalities captured the people attending the event.
Their last challenge before migrating to Australia was to help in producing a spiritual album. The talented brothers were invited by the Mar Thomas Archbishop of Urmia to compose and arrange for the album, in which their extraordinary talent is so apparent. The singers of the album are Deacon Cyrous Hormozie, Ms. Violet Sargizi, and the late Rabi Paulus Khofri's choir.
Since their immigration to Sydney, Australia in 2001, they have been approached to arrange music for a local Australian artist, which shows their ability to work with English artists as well as Assyrian. In addition to his success in music, the younger brother Tony has a great passion for painting which he had been doing for many years back in Iran. Since moving to Australia he's taken up painting again and we hope to see a showcase of his work in the near future.
We are all looking forward to seeing them both further their success wherever they may choose to work.
The winners of the Rabi Nemrod Simono Scholarship for 2001-2002 are the following:
Consolation Prize Winner
The new Graduates of the Rabi Nemrod Simono Scholarship for 2002 are the following:
The Rabi Nemrod Simono Scholarship Presentation Awards Day was held at the following:
Date: 10th Monday, June 2002 (Public Holiday)
The evidence from the Sumerian cemeteries indicate that both men and women seem to have used cosmetic paints - red, black, green and blue pigments - usually carried in a bivalve shell.
Sumer & the Sumerians, Crawford
A Jewish physician, Sa'id al-Davlah, is appointed vizir of Mongol emperor Arghun (184-1291) to humiliate the Muslims. Sa'id al-Davlah was later murdered and thereafter a series of massacres of the Christians and Jews in Iran and Iraq begin.
Jews in the Economic and Political Life of Medieval Islam, J. Fischal
Zindamagazine would like to thank:
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.
Zinda Magazine Copyright © Zinda Inc., 2001-2002 - All Rights Reserved - http://www.zindamagazine.com