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Volume VIII
Issue 24
9 September 2002
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This Week In Zinda

cover photo
cover photo

  A Call For Resignation of John Nimrod
  Assyrian Church of the East: What Must Be Done Now?
  Frontier Medicine

Reflecting Upon the Church Report
Destructive Journalism - Zinda, the Voice of Traitors!
Silly Surfer of the Year
Cowards Are Us!
We Need a Political Lobby Group


A Night To Remember: SF Dinner to Fund Arbil Dormitory
First Annual Nisibin Scholarship Award Ceremony
Public Forum: Discrimination Against Minorities in Australia
MESA Conference November 2002 in Washington D.C.
Fundraiser for Congresswoman Jan Schakiowsky

  Dr. George Habash: Will it Creak or Will it Crack??




Zinda Says


After careful discernment and with deep concern about the future of Assyrian political accord and effectual representation in Washington, Zinda Magazine calls for the immediate resignation of Mr. John Nimrod and an end to his overall futile strategies and dangerous political maneuvers.

Mr. John Nimrod was born in Chicago on 1 May 1922. He completed a degree in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University. He served the United States with four years of military duty during World War II and two year in Korea. He has been awarded six battle stars, Combat Infantry badge, the Bronze Star, and the Wahrung Korean Medal. He was release from active duty as a Captain.

Mr. Nimrod was elected as the head of the Republican Party for sixteen years in his area before being elected as Illinois State Senator between 1970 and 1983. In the 1990's he became a delegate to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization and later headed that organization for at least a term.

In 1996 John Nimrod was elected the Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance. He has been re-elected to that position at every bi-annual Congress of the AUA. With insightful American-style political savvy Mr. Nimrod united the different factions comprising the AUA at the time of his first election to office. Soon after he helped in building a coalition of the political parties into what is now called the Assyrian National Coalition (Awyoota). He has traveled extensively in Europe, Iran, Australia, and the former republics of the Soviet Union to promote his organization's agenda and represent Assyrians in several human rights conferences.

During last week's Assyrian National Convention it became obvious that the points made in Mr. Nimrod's rebuttal letter to this publication were completely unfounded. The leadership of the other Assyrian political groups, during several tense meetings, demanded an explanation for the existence of the letter published in Zinda Magazine and questioned the motives behind Mr. Nimrod's personal intentions.

In a letter submitted to the State Department, Mr. Nimrod suggests his role as the representative of the Assyrian people. Only one week after the pressure from the other three members of the Coalition, last weekend he traveled to California and met with Mr. Sargon Dadesho and suggested a new coalition between the AUA, Dadesho's Bet-Nahrain Group, and the Assyrian Democratic Movement. The other members of the Coalition were removed from this new triangular alliance. Sources to Zinda Magazine explain that the leadership of the Assyrian Democratic Movement was not consulted prior to this past weekend's meeting in Ceres, California.

The situation of the Assyrian nation is critical and the credibility of the political leadership of the Assyrian nation is seriously put into question by the man often called the "sleepy politician", a reference to his resting with eyes closed at the international conferences.

Mr. Nimrod has a tendency to personalize the role of the Assyrian Universal Alliance through his own goals and vision. For the past five years the objectives of this important political organization have evolved around his core personality which over time emphasize and reinforce his sense of ownership of the organization. Indeed he has succeeded to muffle the voices of other members of the Executive Board to the extend that no other Board member is ever consulted on decisions requiring the advise of the elected officials of the AUA. Needless to say, Mr. Nimrod does not enjoy the full confidence of his own organization's Executive Board.

Mr. Nirmod has created a rigid and inflexible environment where no alternative or opposing view can be expressed and no new blood infused into a decaying political machinery. In recent years he has become a monstrously self-aggrandizing leader of a weakened organization. He is called "Senator" wherever he goes, is treated with great deference and is given the best of everything. Stressing unity, making clever compromises, ensuring the continued support of those indebted to him (i.e. Mr. Homer Ashurian in Chicago) or those he could trust (i.e. Mr. Carlo Ganjeh in San Jose) have been his stock-in-trade since he assumed the leadership of the AUA six years ago.

The Assyrian Universal Alliance needs a more effective leader to fulfill its role as the unifier of all Assyrian political groups. In these trying times, the Assyrian nation needs someone with the political and economic competence to fully represent their case at the U.S. State Department, the Non-Governmental Organizations, and before the government officials in the Middle East. Most importantly we need an energetic person as the CNN and BBC cameras roll from one corner of al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad to the Oval Office in the White House.

The current crisis in the Middle East will erupt soon. It is imperative that the members of the AUA Executive Board help expedite the process of Mr. John Nimrod's resignation, should he otherwise decide to hand over the reins of his power at the next congress of the AUA. This cannot be as a change must be effectuated now.

The jostling for position in the succession will soon go under way and those with an eye on the top seat would be rash to make their intentions known. Only one person from the current cadre of AUA board members can help brighten the tarnished image of this political organization and effectively represent the Assyrians in all future negotiations.

Zinda Magazine recommends the immediate appointment of Ms. Suzy David, the Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, to replace Mr. Nimrod prior to any military action against Iraq. After her confirmation, Ms. David should quickly call upon all major Assyrian political parties - without any exception - and convene a meeting to appoint a single voice to represent the Assyrian people at the upcoming Post-Saddam talks. Mr. John Nimrod's valuable past experience must then be utilized only in a consultative capacity.

In 1996 John Nimrod played a significant role in revitalizing the organization hailed as the most important Assyrian political conception in the 20th Century. His work at the UNPO and his visits with the heads of the states and President Khatami of Iran opened a new chapter in the nation's efforts for international recognition. Nevertheless, today's political song and dance routines require a different tune and ultimately a different drummer.

Copies of the Letter Submitted by Mr. Nimrod to the State Department on 30 July 2002.



The Lighthouse


Part 3 of 3


In the past two issues Zinda Magazine outlined a thorough and controversial analysis of the present situation of the Church of the East. What this investigation has failed to present is the Church's vision for the next 5, 10, or 100 years. After much examination we have concluded that there exists no common vision of future as would be expected of a such a a historically important church.

Public debate on the expediency of the Church of the East's participation in the ecumenical movement is slowly becoming intense, yet there are no serious discussions and dialogue taking place on this sensitive subject. Worst yet, the Church itself remains silent and unaffected by such growing anxiety.

If a dialogue between the Church leaders and the faithful were happening successfully, a better understanding of these issues could put many at ease. While the anxiety and frustration are growing, apathy of the adherents of this Church grows equally parallel.

In the next few paragraphs we will attempt to list a few of the most important issues facing the Church of the East today and hope to engender some pointers for an active discussion among the readers in an effort to help reach a common vision for this Church in the next century.

To initiate a much needed national dialogue we begin by listing a few recent accomplishments and setbacks of the Church of the East, followed by some short and long term remedies.

The Successes

1. Participation in The Ecumenical Movement of The Churches

Since 1994, as a result of the "Common Christological Understanding", the Church of the East has been actively engaged with the Roman Catholic, the Chaldean Catholic Church and other Syriac-speaking churches. This active participation has led to a greater recognition of the Church's value in promoting Christianity in the Middle East, the theology of the Church, and the Assyrian identity in general. For more information see http://www.cired.org

2. Educating the Clergy in the West

His Holiness Mar Dinkha has initiated a new systematic program of educating the clergy in the Church of the East. In the past 15 years there has been more than half a dozen clergy completing their education from the theological schools of the Catholic Church at the Vatican and the United States. Today, the number of graduate students studying in Rome is five. They are looked upon as the new leadership of the Church of the East.

3. Establishment of The First Assyrian School in The West

Last year under the leadership of Mar Melis Zia, the Assyrian community of Australia opened the doors to the first Assyrian elementary school outside of the Middle East. Hundreds of Assyrian and non-Assyrian children are expected to receive unparalleled general and more specialized education which includes Assyrian language and history. See http://www.assyrianchurch.com.au

4. Elimination of Bingo as a Source of Income

Although the portion of the general revenue of the church coming from membership dues may have declined, the Church of the East's decision to bring an end to the bingo games has demonstrated its commitment to a healthier social and spiritual environment for its members, particularly the youth. By doing so, the church declares her continued dependence on the committed faithful, and not the customers.

5. Assyrian Academy

Under the leadership of Mar Bawai Soro, some time in the near future, Assyrians and non-Assyrians alike from various countries will be able to embark upon a comprehensive educational program to learn Syriac language, Assyrian history, Mesopotamian culture and Church of the East theology. These subjects will be offered through online (distant learning) courses in conjunction with higher educational institutes in the United States and will be taught by qualified professors within the fields of their expertise.

The Setbacks

1. Tribalism

Tribalism in the Assyrian sense is the ethnocentrism based on affiliation with one of the tribes of North Iraq or Turkey (i.e. Jelu, Tiari, Dez, etc). But, by all means, tribalism among Assyrians cannot be confined to certain tribes when it is seen to be an epidemic inflicting Assyrians also from villages and small towns. Modern hostilities among the tribal extremists have in recent years led to such debacles as the 1987 division of the Church of the East in Sydney, Australia, the 1992 controversy in Modesto, California; and, on a much larger scale, even the splitting up of the Church of the East into the "ancient" and "new" calendar-churches during the 1960's. Tribalism prevents the Church from pursuing the common good of all its universal adherents and makes the acceptance of its pastors from varied backgrounds more difficult. That is why the Church of the East cannot and must not tolerate any form of tribalism from within or without its body, because when tolerating such social illnesses it actually helps in promoting it. As a consequence of any tribalism in the church, Assyrian national unity will ultimately be deprived.

2. Declining Spirituality

A one-time visit to most Church of the East services outside of the Middle East would clearly indicate a gradual decline in average church attendance and participation. The most important cause of this "western" phenomenon is the growing apathy of the faithful. The youth in particular is the group most commonly affected. It continues to express its yearning for spiritual meaning by attending protestant churches whose services can be better understood and where greater emphasis is placed on individual spiritual growth. Due to a lack of proper education, Church of the East clergy sometimes promote traditions without the benefit of explaining their significance to the people. This problem could be symptomatic of other "traditionalist" churches also. The lack of biblical justification of the norms taught in the traditional Assyrian churches drives the faithful out of the Church and produce a poorly spiritual community. As one clergy puts it: "the equation is simple: If the faithful understand they will stay."

3. The Silent Patriarch

His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV is perhaps the most visible source of strength and continuity in the Church of the East today. He is a leader who recognizes the cultural pluralism of the Church and recognizes the diversity of his people's backgrounds. In his speeches he often emphasizes the tradition of full participation of the people in his church. He encourages bold initiatives and calls for a more mature sense of responsibility. Mar Dinkha is also an ecumenist who engages in dialogue with Orthodox traditions in an effort to bring greater Christian unity. He is also a very gentle soul with a sense of humor.

His Holiness, on the other hand, is often too accommodating and leaves the impression that he is insecure with his position. In times of reflection and anxiety, when many souls reach for his spiritual guidance and support, His Holiness has remained silent on many important social and political issues. Unlike Mar Raphael Bidawid I, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church; and Mor Sfair of the Maronite Church in Lebanon, Mar Dinkha has shied away from many internal (the controversy surrounding Mar Aprim's investigations) and political issues (i.e. the Gulf War and the Year 2000 Census Issue) facing his flock.

4. The Future of the Priesthood

Where is the next generation of the priests, monks and nuns of the Church of the East coming from? Certainly not from North America and Europe. The Church which produced thousands of monks and missionaries for the sole purpose of evangelizing the Word of God between the First and Thirteenth Centuries is no longer promoting monastic life and the active training of the future priests. This is partially due to lack of people presenting themselves for these positions, lack of encouragement by their parents, the high cost of educating young men for the entire duration of the priesthood, typically seven years. Other than the five pupils studying at Vatican (paid fully by the Roman Catholic Church) the remaining group from Iraq receives its education at the Chaldean Catholic Church's Babylon College in Baghdad.

What Must the Church Do Now?

The Church of the East must take many necessary steps to promote common growth. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Historically as the soul of the Assyrian nation, the Church of the East must promote the formation of spiritual and moral principles in the lives of her faithful in the face increasing individualism and consumerism. This can only be achieved through the active education and catechization of Assyrians in the Church of the East.

  2. Reform the liturgy of the church to make it more available to the laity, the youth in particular. In the Western countries, the generation of Assyrians attending church services, regardless of its understanding and participation, is slowly disappearing. The new rising generation of Assyrians in the West demands an entirely new liturgical offering. Just like adherents of other churches of the West, young Assyrians often demand from their pastors a more active role in the liturgical life of their church. The membership of some Assyrian and non-Assyrian Protestant congregations are in certain parts of the world continue to thrive on the lack of reform in the liturgy of the Church of the East.

  3. As we have seen in the first segment of this three-part report, there are ethical and financial issues in the Church of the East that require accountability on part of the bishops. The Church of the East, like any Christian spiritual body, does not solely rely on earthly-material means to communicate the Christian message. The strongest "weapon" in its possession is its moral authority and spiritual influence in the lives and minds of the faithful. For this reason, unless the image of the church and her leaders is higher than that of the common Assyrian, the Church of the East will eventually impair its moral authority and weaken its role among the Assyrians. The soul of the Assyrian Nation must be strengthened by the strong spiritual life reinforced by the Church of the East.

  4. Re-institute monastic life as a source of spirituality and education of the future generation of priests and the lay people. For centuries nearly all Patriarchs of the Church were chosen from among the monks educated in Nisibin or Edessa (Urhai). Today there are no monks belonging to the Church of the East.

  5. Return the Patriarchal See back to Bet-Nahrain. No other church in the Middle East or in the West will ever take the Church of the East seriously if it continues to operate from North America or anywhere but Mesopotamia. It is time that the status of the Church in Exile be reversed to the pre-1933 standing and His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV consider returning to the homeland of the Assyrians and the birthplace of his Church. A post-Saddam Iraq would provide a perfect condition for such a historic event in the near future.

  6. As mentioned earlier in this article, one of the Church's major successes has been its openness to other churches, especially the Roman Catholic Church. Similarly, the ecumenical dialogue with other Syriac-speaking churches, but mainly with the Chaldean Catholics and the Ancient Church of the East must equally, if not more, progress and succeed. The end result of such a process must be the re-establishment of the Church of the East prior to the 16th century and the 20th century schisms. Ideological contradictions must be put aside and the greater good of the Assyrian (Chaldean) nation be considered as a priority. For, this church unity is not only for or of the churches, rather ultimately for the realization of the Assyrian people's national unity as well. Church and National unity is a matter that will tremendously affect the lives of every Assyrian and shape the future of Assyrian politics, spiritual growth, and indeed survival. Day after day the necessity of an open, calm and deliberate national debate on the church-unity issue seems to be unavoidable. The Patriarchs and the bishops of the Assyrian churches are expected to fulfill this historic role in realizing the unity of the Assyrian churches.

  7. The Graying of the Clergy: the Church must assure decency for those whose activities are limited by reason of frailty, assist priests to continue to grow spiritually, emotionally and intellectually throughout their priesthood; and helping both the priests and the deacons to interact positively with a graying clergy. Care for the aging priests of the Church must begin by setting aside a specific budget to provide health services and housing - separate or in a retirement facility.

  8. The future of priesthood in the Church of the East is in crisis. His Holiness Mar Dinkha's initiative in educating the Assyrian clergy at Catholic universities is therefore a first step in the right direction. It allows young Assyrian clergy to go out of their cocooned mindset and discover how the rest of the world perceives the new dimension of spirituality and care for the common man.. They also learn new theological, social and administrative skills needed in their pastoral service for the educated Assyrians. In today's Christian world many prominent church leaders have done exactly that. His All Holiness Mar Bartholomew I, the head of all the Orthodox people in the world, for example completed his education at the Vatican. According to a World Council of Churches sources, almost 50% of today's church leaders in Western Europe and North America have had ecumenical training during their theological education. Thus, despite systematic opposition to His Holiness Mar Dinkha and those studying with other Churches, this program must continue.

The Assyrians are people of dignity, great honor and ethics. They will do everything to preserve their dignity and support their beloved Churches in face of a hostile environment. But can they stand tall before such incredible challenges?

The most effective step in effectuating positive changes is the active participation in the life of the Church with all its complex problems. In the next few years the issue of the re-unification of the Church of the East and its sister Syriac-speaking Churches, the Chaldean Catholic Church in particularly, will be on the agenda. The Church of the East faithful must be spiritually prepared and intellectually equipped to encounter a new reality in the 21st century. Promoting Christian solidarity, a single national identity, financial stability, and most importantly respect for the unique theology of the East Syriac Churches deeply rooted in the Mesopotamian experience must be the ultimate objectives of any decisions made by the Church leadership and the laity.

Zinda Magazine
September 2002



Northern Watch


Have you ever imagined riding a mechanical bull set on an intensity level of 3?

Now imagine the bull being a 4WD and yourself accompanying an Assyrian Aid Society (AAS) medical team, gritting your teeth, clutching the 4WD's handles and hauling boxes of medicine that rattle on every bump.

Welcome to the life of an AAS Medical team! And welcome to the rugged road to Nahla!

The date was the 27th of June and the AAS's medical team consisted of Dr. Yousip Hormis from Dohuk, a pharmacist Ishmail Heydo David along with an Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) driver, Patros Rafael, and an ADM policeman, Gilgamesh Phillipos. I was also lucky enough to hitch a ride with the team.

Having met them in the North Iraqi city of Akra the only news I had of the trip was that we were traveling into the Nahla region a region consisting of seven Assyrian villages and one Kurdish village.

The AAS medical team had twice before been blocked access into Nahla. In order to precede political pressure along with a personal visit by the team to the KDP headquarters in Akra were required. After lengthy questioning and a search of our 4WD's contents we were finally given permission to take a medical trip into Nahla.

Politics aside we were now on the infamous unpaved dirt road to Nahla. Driving in searing 40 degree weather and being buffeted from left to right it felt as though the 4WD's chassis was about to tear open on every bump. It had been over three years since the AAS medical team had last visited Nahla and judging from the remoteness and ruggedness of the region it was understandable why it was so important for the people of Nahla to receive this medical access.

After one and a half hours of ascending mountain trails along cliff faces and wading through waist-high streams, with the 1982 model 4WD, we assumed that we had passed the worst of it as we approached the first Assyrian village.

"It's stuck!" exclaimed Patros Rafael as he changed gears from reverse to first in an effort to clear the mud. With the village of Kashkawa only a few kilometers away Dr. Hormis and I decided to walk to the first village and send for help while Patros and Gilgamesh attempted to use rocks and sticks to clear the mud.

After a 20 minute walk in the hot sun we arrived sweating at the local village chief's house and had him send help for our 4WD and call the villagers to his house where the clinic would be setup and the team begin seeing patients.

With the help of a local tractor the 4WD was helped out of the mud and the medical team finally arrived and began unpacking the medicines on the front porch of the village chief's house. Ishmail David painstakingly arranged the medicines into ordered boxes and bags.

"I'm all set up here!" he told Dr. Hormis.

Dr. Hormis sitting on a chair then began to administer to the steady stream of patients that had lined up to his left. With the automatic blood pressure reader strapped around an elderly person's upper arm, Dr. Hormis, speaking in Syriac, would fire of questions at the next patient. In quick fire succession Dr. Hormis got into a routine of questioning, diagnosing and testing a patient before coming up with a recommended treatment which he would shout out to Ishmail David.

"Give this lady Zantac and antacid," he'd shout out.

Ishmail David would then franticly look through the ordered boxes and bags of medicines to find the Dr. Hormis's prescribed medicine. After finding the medicine he'd carefully either measure out or count the quantity required and place it in a container or bag before writing down the quantity and frequency of use for the patient.

We next traveled to Dupereh, a purely Kurdish village in the Nahla district. After arriving and unpacking at the village chief's house the local Kurds slowly arrived and began to be administered by Dr. Hormis. The Kurds showed great respect for the team as seats and glasses of cold water were brought out to us. The men also assisted in hauling the medicines from the 4WD onto the village chief's front concrete porch. Meanwhile Dr. Hormis continued his work and switching to Kurdish he asked a Kurdish mother to roll up her son's shirt as he placed the end of the stethoscope on his chest.

"Cough medicine and antibiotics," he shouted out to Ishmail David. Ishmail, who was busy opening little plastic bags and filling them with the prescribed pills and doling them out to the patients.

Before leaving Sirwan Zari a local Kurdish man approached the team and speaking in Kurdish wished to express his thanks for the team's hard work, "The medical assistance that you [the AAS] have given us, has not even been given by our own people."

Next stop on the road to Nahla was the Assyrian village of Zhouleh. Having arrived at the village chief's house the team again unpacked boxes of equipment and medicines before the first patients began to arrive.

Barely pausing to give Ishmail David breath Dr. Hormis treated patient after patient. Patients with serious symptoms, especially the elderly, received lengthy and serious questioning as well as undergoing an extensive diagnosis before medicine was prescribed to them.

The Assyrian village of Khalilane was the next on the list as the medical team once again hauled equipment and medicine onto the front porch of another village chief. By the time Dr. Hormis and Ishmail were ready a queue of parents holding their children had grown.

It was here that the age old parenting method of scaring their children into good behavior backfired. All it took was one alert little girl to scream out, "The Doctor's going to give us a needle!" before all the children were set off. Children with mild symptoms such as rashes or coughs were crying and bawling as they waited in line refusing to see the "dreaded" doctor.

Needless to say the already stressed medical team's nerves were severely tested.

Hezaneh was the next Assyrian village visited by the medical team arriving at 7:30pm. By this time the day was just beginning to end and the medical team was hard pressed to finish their job before daylight ended.

As in the other villages the medical team went into their well practiced routine of unloading and setting up before the patients started arriving. With little access to medical facilities and with isolation of their villages many villages with minor ailments also presented themselves before the visiting medical team.

The main tools used by Dr. Hormis were a stethoscope that hung around his neck and an automated blood pressure tester that had been provided by the AAS-America. In some cases a Glucometer, supplied by the AAS-America was also used to test patients who displayed signs of diabetes.

Bilmand was the next Assyrian village to be visited and thanks to the installation of the new electricity generators that had recently been supplied by the Assyrian American National Federation's (AANF) the team arrived to a village fully lit up with fluorescent tubes and globes. With the team's energy waning Dr. Hormis pushed them to complete this final village before resting for the night. Once again patients were seen and given treatment as the clock ticked past 12:00am.

At 12:30 am the medical team completed had completed their work and were invited to a late dinner by the village chief's wife. After a quick bite to eat the local villagers dispersed us amongst themselves and gave us a place to sleep for the night.

Next morning we were up at 8:00am sharp as villagers who had missed out the previous night came in early to see the doctor whilst we were still having breakfast.

The medicines dispensed in the Nahla region had been part of a shipment sent at the start of 2002 by the AAS-America branch. The huge shipment had been dispersed throughout the AAS pharmacies throughout North Iraq and the AAS pharmacy in Dohuk had stored the remaining medicine for medical trips of just this type.

In addition to living in one of the most isolated villages in North Iraq most of Nahla's villagers were very poor. This meant that not only did they have no access to medical facilities but even if they could reach a doctor it was doubtful that they could afford to pay his bill.

With the first wave of patients treated the team collected its medicines and equipment and prepared to complete Nahla's remaining villages.

Dr. Hormis and the team then hopped into the 4WD and pressed onto the remote village of Meruke. After arriving and going into their usual routine, I questioned some of the villagers about the accidents or diseases that most scare villagers.

Their mixed responses reported that scorpion and snake bites are a common occurrence in the Nahla region and in the past year alone, one person had been treated for snake bite and four for scorpion bites.

With this history in mind and combined with the isolation of the villages Ishmail David had to prepare village First Aid Kits consisting of snake and scorpion syrum as well as other items such as band aids, cough syrup and pain killers. These First Aid kits were left at the home of each village chief with instructions on how to administer the syrum.

Our final destination was the remote Assyrian village of Cham-Rabatke. Half way to Cham-Rabatke and mechanical problems struck our 4WD yet again. This time it was a sharp stick puncturing the 4WD's tire. Patros and Gilgamesh yet again insisted on handling the situation as we waited in the searing midday sun. With the tire changed we hopped back into the 4WD and drove to the final village.

With the final village complete we packed and then boarded the 4WD yet again for the journey back to Akra. In the two day medical trip the team had managed to see 8 villages, 104 homes and close to 907 people!

On the bumpy journey back to Akra I asked Doctor Hormis what his thoughts regarding the two-day AAS sponsored medical trip. His remarks were, "I've been working with the AAS for the past 10 years. When we first began we had bigger problems. We had medicine shortages, lack of security as well as many other difficulties."

AAS Pharmascist, Ishmail David's thoughts on the trip were also very similar, "This work is routine as we've done this work for the past 10 years. Our aim is to take the medicines into the remote Assyrian villages and dispense them there. If we can fulfill our obligations to our people then we're even happier. It had been 3 years since we'd seen our people in Nahla…..they were in great need of these medicines."

Tiglath Chibo
Nahla District, North Iraq

Table : Nahla's eight villages and a Census conducted during the medical trip gives a breakdown of Nahla's homes and villagers.


Surfs Up!
Letters From Zinda Magazine Readers


This sure really is your 'boldest move yet' I must say. I truly must commend your efforts in the series of articles on the Assyrian Church of the East`s future. It is important that such studies are done on ALL of our nation`s churches, as they are all equally as important to our national survival, but they do not determine it.

I must additionally say that the author of th}s series of articles does well to literally 'put all the cards on the table,' leaving the reader to make up his/her mind about many of the related issues discussed. This rare objectivity must be commended.

But to make such sweeping statements, such as that the Assyrian Church of the East is 'the oldest Christian institution of its kind' is wrong. Although it truly is 'one of the greatest Christian Churches,' it is a well known fact that this church had its origins in the Church of Antioch. To say that the Patriarchate of this church is 2000 years old is completely erroneous.

The Church of the East was the branch of the Church of Antioch that lay within the boundaries of the Persian Empire, and hence it could not be directly guided by the Patriarch of that city as it lay within the Roman Empire - the Persians' archenemy. Due to this fact, a Catholicos or Maperiana (a rank higher than Metropolitan but lower than Patriarch) was designated to spiritually guide the Church of the East (Here the author completely ignores this clerical rank).

Up until the ordainment of Mar Shakhlupa in the 4th century, the Catholicoi of the Church of the East would go to Antioch to be ordained by the Patriarch of that city. Mar Shakhlupa was ordained locally, as his fellow candidates were butchered by the Romans upon entering Antioch. This fact is mentioned by Rev. Joel Werda and countless other authors.

Despite this, the Church of the East continued to be more or less united with the Church of Antioch until the christological controversies of the 5th century, which saw the split of the Antiochian Church into East and West - 'Nestorian' and 'Jacobite'. The Synod of Markabta d-Tayyaye in 425 AD completed the schism with the proclamation of the Church of the East as independent of Antioch and the Catholicos Dadishu as 'Catholicos-Patriarch' - the first time in history that this title was ever used for a head of the Church of the East.

The above fact is one denied by Mar Bawai Soro in his PhD thesis, in a weak attempt at asserting and justifying the Church of the East's independence and in trying to escape the truth, that the Church of the East is not the 'mother church' of the Assyrian nation, rather it is the modern representative of the Church of Antioch - the Assyrian/Syriac Orthodox Church.

To be quite honest, the Church of the East has only had its new name for about 25 years - after the consecration of Mar Dinkha IV. The terms 'Holy Apostolic and Catholic' are not peculiar to the Church of the East as they are taken from the 325 AD Nicene creed - accepted by most Christian Churches.

Additionally, the use of 'Athoraya' in the Syriac language is also new. A book published in Urmia in 1905 is called 'maktwanuth-zawne d-edta d-madinkha d-suryaye', showing that back then the Church was known as 'Suryaya'.

Another mistake made by the author of the articles is to state that 'in the Thirteenth century... the Mongolians... decimated hundreds of thousands of Assyrians from Bactria to Egypt.' In fact the author should have stated 'Church of the East members' - being a member of the Church of the East does not automatically make one Assyrian. I am sure many ethnic Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Turks, Mongolians, Arabs, Persians, among others, were members of this church also.

Although Zinda does admit that the Church of the East is not the only Assyrian church, the terms 'the Assyrian Holy Synod', 'the Assyrian Church' and 'the Assyrian church and nation' are used throughout the article. Please be more precise with your terminology - there is no one official 'Assyrian Church'. Using phrases like those above implies that the Assyrian Church of the East is the only Assyrian Church, something openly stated by Mar Meelis Zaia, Mar Narsai De Baz and Mar Dinkha IV themselves.

'Do not believe these associations and political groups that say there are 3 or 4 million Assyrians around the world,' said Mar Meelis to me once in a private conversation. 'There are only half a million, the members of the Assyrian Church of the East, that call themselves by this name. Only these do not deny their true identity.' We should also not forget what Mar Narsai said once in a sermon in Chicago a few years back - 'Yaqoubaya lit aturaya' (i.e. there are no Jacobite Assyrians). It is people like these that perpetuate the millet system Zinda mentions to have been imposed on Assyrians by the Ottoman invaders.

To say that the Church of the East is 'the largest and most significant Assyrian organization' is wrong again as even the author states that the Chaldean Catholic Church is the largest Assyrian church. Again the question arises, 'why should the Church of the East be more significant than its mother church, the Assyrian/Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch?'

But I must say, the most daring statement made by far is: 'Being the oldest, most powerful and significant Assyrian organization... the survival of the whole Assyria (sic) nation is dependent on the survival of the Church of the East. For the past 2000 years the Church of the East has been and continues even today to be the soul of this nation.'

This notion is a very subjective one if I may say so myself. The Assyrian Church of the East is really not powerful at all (or any more soulful for that matter) when compared with her sister Assyrian churches. I must also add that if the survival of any nation is dependent on any church, then one would really have to question the integrity of that 'nation'.

The real reasons why the Church of the East is so behind can be summarised thus:

1. A church that has no monastic communities is a souless one - without people who are ready to dedicate their entire lives to ensure the success of the church and its members. The greatness of the Church of the East was built on self-sufficient monastic communities. The last Church of the East monk died nearly 150 years ago.

2. A tree cannot survive without its roots. The Patriarchate of the Church of the East made a fatal mistake in moving to Chicago as most of the church's members live in the Middle East (133,000) and nearby regions such as Europe (70,005) and India (35,000). This move has only encouraged and aided }In the disastrous migration of Church of the East members from the Middle East.

3. The Church of the East has not much left to show of its ancient Christian heritage. Its collections of manuscripts are modest and not often well-known. Its church buildings in Turkey have been completely abandoned to the mercy of the Turks and Kurds with no compensation or rights. Its old churches and monasteries in Iraq are either in the possession of the Catholics or were destroyed by the Iraqi regime during the Anfal campaign. The churches and graveyards of Urmia are frequent targets of treasure-hunters and any restoration work on them only makes them look newer rather than preserve their age. Not only this, the Church of the East has even gone so far as to change its image to appear more western (and thus 'streamlined' and 'modern') and to abandon ancient church customs, including the use of cymbals which has been traced back to ancient Mesopotamian temple rituals.

Apart from the obvious financial and other aspects, the Church of the East has the above things to consider if it wishes to survive another century.

I also hope Zinda will take my comments into consideration when writing such articles in the future.

Nicholas Al-Jeloo


I think destructive aliases such as "Ishtar Warda" should be prevented from any expression of views in what purports to be a channel of information and communication such as Zinda Magazine. I mean who needs the Turks to sabotage the
recognition movement when you have coward Assyrians such as "Ishtar" (who doesn't have the guts to identify her/his real self) doing a much more effective job. Who needs the Turks to deter the General Assembly from passing a motion to recognise the Genocide when Assyrians are doing a much better job? History repeats itself. The elimination of the genuine, sincere, capable and devoted Assyrians succeeds yet again. The tragedy is that Assyrians do not know the difference between the good and the evil.

Zinda Magazine should know better (if it considers itself as a newspaper on the net) that a writer to a newspaper must be properly identified (name, address, date of birth, telephone number etc). However, if the writer observes all of the journalistic ethics, then he/she may seek (subject to the editor's discretion) to be referred to by a title other than the actual name. A journalist must be able to identify its source if it exposes itself to a possible defamation/intellectual claim by another. But of course even those Assyrians who assume a role of supposed professionalism such as Zinda Magazine have no idea, no training, no knowledge of laws ethics regulations etc. With them it is always the laws of the jungle and they thrive on baseless accusations and destructive propaganda.

John Odicho



Ms Ishtar Warda is another typical Assyrian whinger who has too much time on her hands. When will our people start making constructive criticisms rather than baseless and destructive accusations? When will our people begin to appreciate the efforts of our leaders?

I would appreciate Zinda Surfers' feedback on the following:

1. Why should we criticise Assyrians who want to work for the betterment of our community?

Simple answer: We shouldn't, so long as the work is not destructive! If someone is to criticise, then the person should be able to offer a better solution. Furthermore, he/she should be willing to undertake the responsibility of delivering the better solution.

2. Do Senator John Nimrod and Ms Suzy David make any personal gains by committing so much of their personal time and effort towards the Assyrian Nationalistic cause?

Simple answer: No - besides attracting bad publicity, pathetic rumours & criticisms, headaches, additional work, additional expenses etc, the personal gains are minimal (if any). If there are so much gains to be made from community work, why do we lack Assyrian leaders or community workers? Bottom line is that there is a lot of hard work and commitment that is involved in undertaking community work and the personal gains are usually minimal and insignificant in nature. In our community, people work for the Assyrian cause due to their love for our people.

Otherwise, why would a retired US senator and a successful Sydney attorney be willing to compromise their comforts for community work? Are we seriously to believe that they have nothing better to do?

3. Should we continue to damage and disillusion our children's outlook on our people by continuously mocking all of our community leaders and workers?

Instead of building a culture where we encourage our youth to participate in community work, our bickering further undermines their aspirations for participation. We should promote to our children the excellent example that some of our leaders set for them.

What is wrong with a senator who is willing to leave his estate for his beloved Church? How many of us are willing to do that? When is the last time Ishtar Warda donated money to the Assyrian cause? Why are we so narrow minded that we think a person's love of their faith compromises their aspirations for their people. The Church should not be confused with the Assyrian struggle for identity and recognition!

What is wrong with Ms Suzy David striving to get recognition for the genocides committed against our forefathers? Every step that we take counts. Is Ishtar Warda willing to take our case to the United Nations (UN)? Why condemn Ms David for the positive steps she has taken for our community before the UN? How many of us would be willing to put our safety in danger to promote the Assyrian cause against the Turkish and Kurdish governments/people? Who is willing to write future submissions to the UN if it isn't an attorney (such as Ms David) or a former US Senator like Sen. John Nimrod?

For those readers that may not know the role of attorneys, it is their duty to represent members of our community that need assistance on legal matters. What is the issue with an Assyrian attorney representing one of our people? There was a failed investment scheme in Australia, is it not the role of the attorney to ensure the relevant parties obtain a fair trial? Should we condemn the rule of law and listen to the Assyrian mob mentality of "guilty before proven innocent"? Do we know all of the facts of the case or should we wait and see the court results?

My concluding remarks are to Senator Nimrod and Ms David, whilst our people may take for granted your efforts, some of us do appreciate all your work, donations and never faltering commitment to our cause. I will understand if
you become disillusioned with Assyrians and quit your public profiles to pursue other interests where you are more appreciated or where you do actually achieve personal gains!!!

Assyrians Wake Up and Appreciate Your Sons & Daughters!

Marlene Issa



Ishtar Warda is another coward in our community. If "Ishtar" had any substantiated and justifiable accusations to make, then he or she would not hide behind a name such as "Ishtar"?

Why is Ishtar so afraid to put his/her real name to the garbage that he or she posted in last weeks' edition of Zinda Magazine, unless Ishtar is aware of his/her own rubbish views?

What has Ishtar ever done for our community?

Our grandparents who shed their blood to protect our culture and Christian religion would prefer to have one Senator John Nimrod/Suzy David/Hermiz Shahen trying their best to get recognition for the Assyrian plight in the world today, then 1 million Ishtar Wardas who just sit around complaining and criticising others.

The Assyrian mothers and children who were slaughtered in WWI would ask their children today to look up to such leaders and work with them to bring a better future for our people than to resort to Ishtar's cowardly way of inaction, cunning and underhanded criticism of our leaders who dare to work for our people.

There are too many gutless and coward Assyrians hiding behind the veil of anonymity. At least the AUA and other community leaders are willing to put their real names behind their views.

May God rid us of such cowards as Ishtar Warda so that we can have a brighter future with leaders who are willing to stand by their opinions and work for the progress of our people.

On that note, I would like to thank Hermiz Shahen for his informative letter last week. I would like to quote from his piece the following, which should be a lesson to us all: "It is unfortunate to see some individuals of our own
community stand on the side and spend all their efforts and time in criticising the efforts of those who dare to take on these challenges. Your approaches and few unpleasant replies will not stop our efforts."

I say to AUA and other community organisations, on behalf of the rest of us cowards, please keep pursuing these matters and move onto the next stage, because your success will ultimately benefit Assyrians worldwide!

May God bless you all!

Sarah Shmouel



Assyrians all over the world must unite and have one direct voice. We have had numerous internal disputes
over certain issues that have made some countries like United States think of us as a non-issue nation/group
of people.

We need to swallow our pride and support other political Assyrian groups that have a better chance of succeeding. This will directly opened new doors and push forward a new wave of young educated Assyrians to continue building on the work of other Assyrian groups.

Firstly, we need to establish a 'plan' with some important issues on the agenda such as:- what do we want? How can we achieve it? How long will it take?

Why a 'plan'? If we don't have a plan how can we proceed to the next level, at the moment (many readers may disagree, that's ok) we're just digging some dirt without knowing what to do next. Lets just do it, I simply want the ball rolling!

We have power of internet at our disposal. One easy way to start is to prepare a petition directed to the US Government, with names & signatures of all Assyrians over the world. Requesting Assyrian representation in US Government and United Nations.

Therefore, we must create a new Assyrian political lobby group (or relocate an existing one in USA)- that will channel all Assyrian parties into one, I believe this should be located in Washington, USA. This will give us a direct voice and will allow us to interact and make new important networks within the US congress and perhaps to the White House. We should act now, particularly when US is considering to topple Saddam within near future. Finally, to have some say in order to protect the interests of all Assyrians and the culture in the Middle East.

Anyone can email me regarding this subject at john_archie_chamaki@yahoo.com.

Johnny Chamaki

Surfers Corner


To raise $100,000 for a new dormitory and youth center for Assyrian university students in Arbil, the Assyrian Aid Society of America (AAS-A) is planning a truly splendid fund raiser in San Francisco on the evening of Friday, November 15, 2002. Our plan is to serve an elegant five-course dinner with each course pre-pared by a different chef of Middle Eastern background. Michael Mina, who has achieved great success and fame with his Aqua restaurant in San Francisco, and whose family is from Egypt, has agreed to participate. In May the James Beard Foundation recognized Mina as the Best Chef in California 2002, a most prestigious honor.

Michael Ginor, author and owner of the internationally renowned Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York, will provide his spectacular foie gras. He was born in Israel and his company has become the largest foie gras producer in the world. The dinner will be at the San Francisco Ritz Carlton Hotel. This will be a truly elegant affair, starting with champagne and hors d'oeuvres, followed later by a silent auction and a small live auction. We are also pleased to be able to say that several wines made by Assyrians will be served.

Rommel Moshi, the President of the Assyrian Aid Society in Iraq (AAS-I), and Esam Nesan, the AAS-I Educa-tion Department Manager, will be our guests of honor. You can count on looking forward to Assyrian musical entertainment as well.

So often we hear about elegant affairs to support the arts or political causes or other local humanitarian organiza-tions. Now it's time to support one of our own, for our own---the Assyrians.

This gala event has long been on our "to do" list as AAS-A has sought to explore new fundraising sources both within and beyond the Assyrian com-munity. How exciting it is to see this idea becoming a reality, and how satisfying it is to know the facilities it builds will be serving our young people in North Iraq for years to come.

The dinner committee is chaired by AAS-A Director Mona Malik, and she promises to produce a spectacular and successful evening.

For more information, please call (510) 527 9997, or send email to assyrianaid@mindspring.com

Narsai M. David
Assyrian Aid Society of America



The Assyrian American Association of San Jose Proudly Presents

First Annual Nisibin Scholarship Award Ceremony
The top two winning students will be presenting their research paper on the subject of "The 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War: Reshaping the Future of Assyrians"

Followed by

Assyrian Collectibles Auction
A rare opportunity to view and purchase some of the most unique and rare Assyrian books, Arts and collectibles gathered from around the world

Sunday, September 29, 2002
6:30 p.m.
All Auction items can be previewed from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

Starlight Banquet Hall
680 Minnesota Avenue
San Jose

Admission is free
Wine, cheese and refreshments will be served



The Assyrian Universal Alliance Australian Chapter has great pleasure in inviting all Assyrians to a forum on "Religious Discrimination Against South and Central Asian Minorities" organised by Amnesty International New South Wales branch- Religious Network, details of which are set out hereunder:

Date: Friday 13 September 2002
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Fairfield Community Centre
Corner of Barbara and Harris Street. Fairfield

Topics will include:

¨ Distinctive beliefs and rituals of each faith
¨ Religious persecution of these religions in the countries of origin
¨ Discrimination in Australian detention centers

Speakers will represent Assyrian Christians, Sabian Mandaean, Zoroastrian and Sri Lankan Hindu communities.

We are pleased to advise that Mr Shmoel Shalalo will make the presentation on behalf of the Assyrians.

For more information about the seminar please call 0407 235 349 or visit Amnesty International website on

Hermiz Shahen
Assyrian Universal Alliance-Australia Chapter



The Middle East Studies Association's annual conference will begin on November 23rd and it goes through the 26th. The conference takes place at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC.

As you know, the Assyrian Academic Society has been an affiliate member of MESA since 1997. There will be two panels on Assyrian issues at this year's conference: one panel is being sponsored by the Assyrian Academic Society (organized by Dr. Eden Naby) and the second panel is sponsored by the Society for Armenian Studies.

Information about the Assyrian and Armenian panels appear below. A partial listing of other panels of interest is included. For a more complete listing of all MESA panels go to, http://www.mesa.arizona.edu. Hotel information: www.marriotthotels.com/WASDT/

We hope that some of you can make it to DC in November.

Nadia E. Joseph

"Conversion and Identity: The Assyrians, Armenians, and Georgians."
Sunday, November 24th, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Sponsored by the Assyrian Academic Society

Chair: Wolfhart Heinrichs, Harvard University

Eden Naby, Harvard University
"Recognition: The Key to Group Identity Maintenance."

Werner Arnold, University of Heidelberg
"The Relations between Christians and Moslems in the Western Neo-Aramaic Speaking Minority in Syria."

Mathijis Pelkmans, Amsterdam School of Social Science Research
"The Shifting Frontier between Islam and Christianity: Contents and Dynamics of Religious Change in Post-Soviet Ajara."

Hovann H. Simonian, University of Southern California
The Hemshin of Northeast Turkey: Muslim Aremnians or Aremnian-Speaking Turks?

Almost Homeless: The Assyrians of the Middle East
Sponsored by the Assyrian Acadmic Society
Sunday, November 24th, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Chair: Eden Naby, Harvard University

Sergey Osipov, Foundation for the XXI Century
"Russian-Assyrian Military Communications, (1915-1918)."

Florence Hellot-Bellier, CNRS
"The Consequences of World War I on the Population of Urmia."

Adrin Takhsh, Technical University of Berlin
"Assyrian Women and Their Role in the National Homeland Movement."

Robert W. DeKelaita, Law Office of Robert W. DeKelaita
"The Road to Nineveh Revisited."

Other panels of interest. For date, time, and speaker information, please visit MESA's website.

1. Confronting Past and Future: The Armenian Case.
2. Sacred and Secular in Dialogue Under the Armenian Kingdom of Cilica (13th-14th Centuries)
3. Making Copts: The Construction and Context of Coptic Identity in the Historical and Contemporary Egypt.
4. Iraqi Documents at the IRDP: Span, Potential and Implications
5. September 11: A New Era in American-Middle East Relations
6.Minorities and Religious Identity in the Middle East and Beyond.
7. Struggling with the Nation: Intellectual, Cultural and Ideological Currents in Iraq during the Interwar Period.


Assyrian Committee for Civic Responsibility will be hosting a fundraiser for:

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, 9th District (D-IL)

Sunday, October 27, 2002 at 5:00 p.m. in Eden's Banquet Hall, 6313 N. Pulaski Rd., Chicago, IL 60646. Donation is, $50.00; hors d' oeuvres will be served. For additional information please contact, Nadia E. Joseph at (773) 865-4997; nadiaejoseph@hotmail.com or Raymond Oshana, (773) 447-0358.

Biography of Congresswoman Jan Shakowsky

Jan Schakowsky was elected to represent Illinois' 9th Congressional District on November 3, 1998, after serving for eight years in the Illinois State Assembly. The 9th Congressional District encompasses city and suburbs, including the North Lakeshore of Chicago, Evanston, Skokie, Niles, Morton Grove and several Northwest Side neighborhoods.

A consumer and senior citizen advocate, grassroots organizer, and elected public official, U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky has fought throughout her career for economic and social justice and improved quality of life for all. She is committed to universal health care coverage for all Americans, to ending violence against women, to national investment in public education and housing needs, and to issues affecting working families.

In Washington, Schakowsky serves on the House Financial Services and Government Reform Committees. Schakowsky was appointed Chief Deputy Whip by Democratic leader Dick Gephardt to serve under Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi. She is ranking member on the Government Reform subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations. Schakowsky is a member of the Health Care and Medicare Task Forces. She is also a Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Special Committee on Election Reform and is the author of the Provisional Voting Rights Act of 2001, legislation to guarantee that no registered voter is turned away at the poll. And following the September 11 terrorist attacks, she serves on the Homeland Security Task Force.

Schakowsky is the author of First Things First, a bill to put on hold the tax breaks that benefit the wealthy until national security and critical domestic priorities are met. She has won major legislative victories to increase federal assistance for abused women and children and to protect the rights of battered immigrant women. She was also successful in including provisions in major legislation to expand housing opportunities for low-income people and to assist small business owners and farmers. She is the author of comprehensive legislation to provide protection to consumers from predatory lenders and to safeguard the rights of victims of identity theft.

Schakowsky is an active member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and is a champion of expanding our nation's hate crime laws. Following the vicious hate crimes committed against her constituents and others over the 4th of July weekend in 1999, her bill condemning acts of hate was passed by the full House. She is a powerful voice for protecting children and putting an end to the epidemic of gun violence. In 1999, she organized the first national women's forum on gun safety in Chicago and is working against the gun lobby to pass sensible gun safety measures that would save lives.

A champion for the nation's seniors, Schakowsky is actively engaged in the national campaign to give 39 million senior citizens and persons with disabilities access to affordable prescription drugs. Schakowsky is also working to ensure that seniors receive quality home, hospice, and nursing home care.

A longtime consumer advocate, who in 1969 led the fight that put freshness dates on products sold in the supermarket, Schakowsky carries on that tradition in Congress. She is recognized as a leader in Congress working to protect consumers from predatory lending practices.

With three district offices in Chicago, Evanston, and Niles, and a dedicated team of constituent advocates, Schakowsky is working to deliver to the people of the 9th Congressional District superior constituent services and a powerful voice when dealing with federal agencies. Representing one of the most diverse districts in the nation, Schakowsky immediately took on the Immigration and Naturalization Service on behalf of her constituents in order to bring to an end the agency's culture of the "customer is always wrong."

Prior to her election to Congress, Schakowsky represented the 18th District in the Illinois General Assembly for eight years. She chaired the Labor and Commerce Committee, and served on the Human Service Appropriations, Health Care, and the Electric Deregulation Committees. She also served as a Democratic Floor Leader and as Secretary of the Conference of Women Legislators.

As a State Representative, Jan Schakowsky sponsored and passed many important measures, including bills to strengthen the Hate Crimes Act and nursing home protections; to increase support for public libraries, day care centers and home delivered meals for seniors; to allow parents leave from work for school conferences; and the first bill in the nation guaranteeing homeless people the right to vote.

For twenty years prior to her election to the State House, Schakowsky fought for the public interest and rights of Illinois citizens. In 1969, as a consumer advocate, she began the fight that put freshness dates on products sold in the supermarket. As Program Director of Illinois Public Action, the state's largest public interest organization, she fought for energy reform and stronger protection from toxic chemicals. As Director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens from 1985-1990, she organized across the state for lower cost prescription drugs and tax relief for seniors, financial protection for the spouses of nursing home residents and other benefits for the elderly. She has been deeply involved in the fight to protect women's reproductive freedom.

U.S. Representative Schakowsky is on the Midwest Governing Council of the Jewish Congress, and is a member of the Labor Union UNITE! and a number of grassroots and civic organizations. She also serves on the Advisory Council of the Board of Directors of Palliative CareCenter of the North Shore. Schakowsky resides in Evanston, Illinois with her husband Robert Creamer. She has three children, Ian, Mary, and stepdaughter Lauren Creamer, and four grandchildren, Isabel, Eve, Lucy, and William. She graduated from the University of Illinois in 1965 with a B.S. in Elementary Education.

Fundraiser Organizing Committee





The title is not my own invention, because it has been the title of a scientific seminar given by an academic many years ago. I have kept memorizing those words for years and have chosen to be the title of this modest article as the structure of Baghdad may either creak or crack in the coming developments.

The rhetoric against Baghdad has intensified in recent weeks (the time of writing), with the United states boldly taking the bashing line while Britain is standing by Baghdad, which is natural to me from my personal experience, with the rest of macro-nations remaining either opportunistic, indifferent or waiting for further developments.

In February 1978 I arrived in Britain and the message I conveyed was that Baghdad is a dictatorial regime, thing Britain did not like to hear from anyone, if it did but not from an Assyrian Christian. At that time the leading opposition of today were not invented yet and Britain as elsewhere was swamped with Baghdad-financed loyalist students.

I had to wait until 2 August 1990 when the Baghdadi army seized the Sheikhdom of Kuwait, then the opinion started to shift to what I was preaching twelve years before. The regime was battered near total collapse in the 1991 war but was intentionally saved due to cordial love affairs between Baghdad and foreign interests and at that time there was no alternative for who would replace the sultan in Baghdad. Baghdad accepted military surrender on the condition that the outside powers should not work to unseat Baghdad.

That was fine until 2001 September 11, the tragic event that altered the perspective, with Baghdad increasingly turning as Islamic as Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan or Saudi Arabia, waiting for an opportunity to occupy the world's headlines.

Things are different now especially when we are approaching the first anniversary of September 11 and news media almost everyday report a wide coverage on the unending saga that has dominated the international stage for nearly 12 years.

The Creation of the State of Baghdad was a Mistake

The nonviability and unworkability of such cheese and chalk state is due to its ethnic problem, because its creation did not cater for ethnicly based state. The Assyrians, Kurds and others were ruled by Arab minority faction without even granting them minimal rights; their nationalities remained suppressed as were the other religious minorities like Yezedis and Mandeans.

The state failed and will fail until its constitution is totally altered to safeguard the freedom of the Assyrian Christians and other minorities.

During the royal regime and early republican era the government and the army were dominated by Arab Muslims of Mosul, but with the Baathists in power the weight shifted to a few towns north and west of Baghdad with Tikrit and Haditha taking the highest share in the establishment, the rest of the nation ignored.

The current leading opposition figures have no solutions to the problems of the current state should the Baghdadi regime cracks; they will remain inert and incapable of solving the state's problems especially ethnic and religion.
Neither the opposition has a mandate as they are mere individuals with no known past, acknowledged present or grassroots support and running a state without solving its problems will not last but anarchy and chaos will prevail and the military will take its role in seizing power as it did in the 1950s and 1960s.

You can not impose an Islamic regime and you can not impose an Arabised regime but the solution will lie in solving the ethnic problem along the federation line or sort of that.

Although there are four possibilities for the aftermath of Baghdad's collapse; disintegration, federation, minimal change or no change, but the first and the last are not likely to happen, because the problems will exacerbate more and the land will become ungovernable. Minimal change if not federation are most likely to come out in the first stage but that could develop for greater separation in the following years or decades.

The Assyrians under the state of Baghdad

Ever since the imposition of the Hijazi run 1920/1921 state our Assyrian experience is a sham, its a history of occupier and occupied, persecutor and persecuted, abuser and abused, without any sort of identity, citizenship or belonging; having no dignity on our soil, squeezed between Kurds and Arabs, unified against us as their common enemy, striking us whenever it is relevant to them.Our chance for national salvation or nationhood came to no fruition mainly because our people were not ready yet for such responsibility, also we lacked effective and proper leadership despite having a few national figures like Agha Putros, add to this the sell out and betrayal of the colonial powers, Britain in particular. Later our token leader, late Agha Putros was found murdered and our national cause was put to rest.

History is repeating itself and the political enigma that culminated after First World War is within us again, and this is to prove that the creation of such state is neither tenable nor viable. The problems of the state will not remain only but will explode without control unless the nationalities problem is solved in a new system that match the national aspirations of the ethnic groups rather than what fits the colonial master and the Hijazi tribe.

The time of our march to freedom and liberation is now, and there is no other time to come; we have the best generation of all times, all determined and if we fail this time, our Assyrian pride will be crushed forever and our people who still live in our homeland will begin to scatter more and more and our land will no longer be called Assyria.

Winds of Change Blowing Over Baghdad

As the Baghdadi brutal regime begins to teeter and the current political morass moves to exacerbate by the impending blows from either within, or without or even both; we the Assyrian masses have to take a comprehensive and solid stand and enter the process of change that soon will take place in our dearest land, the land bestowed to us, generation after generation, by our glorious forefathers.

We have to enter the process of change boldly and stand firm, breaking our yokes and smashing our shackles and never shy that we are part and parcel of the coming process of change and we as the native indigenous people want our share in the slicing of the cake. We have to leave our tragedies and sacrifices and tears behind us and take the one way road that leads to our freedom and liberation.

As a nation we have to reject the state of Baghdad in its present form and shut for good the years of serfdom and misery and need never shy in seeking anything that leads us to our salvation for we have nothing to lose but our 'chains'.

In opting valiantly and in unison the radical approach to our Assyrian national salvation and Assyrian national recognition, we Assyrians have to pay final farewell to the Young Turks, Kurdish mercenaries, Faisal I, Ghazi , Bakir Sidqi, Abdalsalam Aref and Saddam Altikriti.

We Assyrians with republican nationalist Kurds and Arabs have to shape the future of the country, leaving the gates open to other minorities to present their cases. If the country remains unified we have to go for it on the condition of federation between regions populated by Assyrians, Kurds and Arabs, asserting that the north west of the country is assigned as the regional governance for the Assyrians, with the rest for the Kurds and Arabs.

Should the country teeter, we have to go for it too and we have to shed no tears for our executioners the likes of Bakir Sidqi and Saddam Altikriti.

Integration or Isolation

We will no longer live as slaves on our own soil under Arab rule nor as pygmies under the Kurdish rule but we go for an Assyrian self-rule either within the current state if manages to stand on its feet or for full entity if it crumbles and this maybe be taken in step by step approach.

From the Seventh century up to our present time, our experience is full of disgrace and tragedies surfacing again and again according to the will of the ruler. Shall we remain scapegoats always at the mercy of the ruler? Will the future be free from typical dummies like Kamal Ataturk, Bakir Sidqi or Saddam al-Tikriti? Shall we shed more Assyrian blood by appeasing the Kurds and Arabs, our killers, for the sake of a nice word like 'integration'?

Thh butchering of the Christians has always been routine. We cannot define our people as either 'integrationists' or 'isolationists'; there is nothing as either black or white because the picture is very clear, either we remain oppressed under the Kurds or Arabs or be free to run our own afairs. Why should things start to change for better when everything is going for worse with the dominance of anti-Christian Islamic tendencies? Things did not change in the past fourteen centuries.

Within an Islamic state, the state cannot tolerate equality between Muslims and non-Muslims, namely Christians; this is the doctrine, ever was and ever will be. Take the experience of Syria and Lebanon since the two states were baptized by France and see the decline in the Christian power by the coercive compatriot Muslims or the experience of Christians of Indonesia who had the best Christian-Muslim tolerence prior to the advance of the Islamists.

In the past years, our Indonesian brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering most. Christians villages are being erased by invading Muslim militants, some of them volunteers from other Muslim countries, with the army and police either standingby or joining the Muslim militants. This practice is happening all over the land from Indonesia to Pakistan and from Sudan to northern Nigeria and from Kosovo to Bosnia ; the matter is not if this could happen in Alqosh or Ankawa but when.

Ethnic and religious chasm present in such a state ordained by colonial power to fit its dominance and impose its permanent straitjacket on our Assyrian people, to abort the creation of a rival and advanced state in a backward region.
Those who raise the isolation and integration principles project cohabitation under the present status in a simple reform programme that does not suffice our freedom as a nation. For example having representation or teaching our language only is meaningless.

History proved that representation does not deter slaughtering our people, even if an Assyrian was made president of the republic, he had to work harder and show himself more Islamic than any Muslim. This view is shortsighted and
shallow one. Our people in our region always will be persecuted and their necks under the sword, unless we opt out for our total freedom in full or part according to what is on the table.

Our ideal integrationists are the likes of Tariq Aziz and Franso Hariri. The former serves Arab Nationalism and the latter adopted Kurdish tribalism; but despite being loyals to their causes both are locally derided, simply for being Christians. One was assassinated to be a lesson for other Christians, while the other his future is bleak and will be mocked more for being Christian than being Baathist. Both always hated despite serving the Muslims to their best and doing nothing for Christianity and Christians. This proves that holding offices does not alter our status unless we go for

The nearest Christian states to us are Cyprus, Greece, Georgia and Armenia where Christians are free and protected by the state with the exception of Cyprus which is more vulnerable but this is due to Britain's 'subversion' rather than Turkey's aggression. It is a collusion between the two to divide and rule.

In the same way Assyrians will always be persecuted and their necks under the sword unless they run their own affairs as full nation or as a partner in a loose federation.

At The Mercy of Such Miserable Rulers

History is full of such tyrannical rulers who used the Islamic 'scythe' to decimate their Christian subjects by all means that suited the day but let us stick to our present time, because if we keep memorizing history some will accuse us of not living in the real world but disillusioned with the past.

In the academic year 1965/1966 when I was an undergraduate student at the University of Baghdad, Abdalsalam Aref, President of the Republic at the time visited our college. I was one in a large audience in the college's main theatre where the president met a roaring and clapping enthusiasts- except me. The president, an avant garde soldier, ahead of his time and a militant Muslim, derided the past crusaders and the present crusading west. He singled out with disdain Habash and Aflaq, the Arab thinkers of the time, simply because they were Christians. He elaborated that these figures are the invention of western colonialism to mislead the Islamic nations. Any Christian present in that theatre must have felt alienated. After a few months his helicopter was blown up in the air, possibly by the Tikritis, and from that event Saddam al-Tikriti started marching to power.

In another episode and during the early 1970s Saddam al-Tikriti ridiculed the Libyan Leader, Muammar Algaddafi, for stating that Christians of the Middle East have either to convert to Muslims or leave. But now Saddam al-Tikriti is the one who is implementing the same ideas, a double-edged sword, Islamisation and emigration of Assyrians. For how long shall we remain stateless and allow such miserable idiots to decide for us? Muammar Algaddafi did not mean
Christians of Cyprus, Greece, Georgia or Armenia but he meant the Assyrians, Copts, Assyrian Maronites, local Greeks and local Armenians.

Freedom and Liberation are the Only Solutions

We Assyrians did not enter the modern political arena in time like the Kurds for example who started two decades before us, because this was due to many reasons but now the time has come and our voice is being made louder
and louder and we must continue with determination.

We seek the full change of the regime and the federal system if the country is kept unified, based in republicanism and secularism of the state with Assyrians given the north west section of the country.

The current regime is teetering and the change is real and we most of the Assyrian people, apart from a few, go full length and seek the freedom of our people. Here we have to be sure that the changes are genuine and benefit our people and reject any ploys of arranged palace coup and transfer of power from Saddam al-Tikriti to another, a policy favoured by Britain to keep its dominance as it did since the creation of that shabby state at the expense of the Assyrian national existence.

Events made the creation of the state of Baghdad and the state of Yugoslavia possible and in the same way the events of cracking of Yugoslavia will be matched by the cracking of Baghdad, but we have to show our effective stand
and leadership and when Baghdad is cracked, then you know that the liberation of the land has come and our banners of liberty will fly on every plain, hill and mound of our dearest land and the land will bloom and our glory restored and the people who departed our soil shall gather again, our suffering ends.

We the Assyrian people and in the same way we exalt our past leaders like Agha Putros, our current activists or members of ADM, AUA, BNDP or any, will be judged according to their nationalistic cards and their services and
achievements for our Assyrian nation and our Assyrian people.

Dr. George Habash
United Kingdom


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Thank You!

Zindamagazine would like to thank:

Jacklin Bejan

Ramin Daniels

Tomas Isik
(Assyrian Youth Federation in Sweden)

Deacon Genard Lazar

Nadia Joseph

Marcel Josephson

Harout Semerdjian


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