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Volume IX

Issue 32

13 October 2003
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This Week In Zinda

cover photo

  Unearthing the Truth

A Report of ADO’s 10th General Conference
Religious Leaders & The Assyrian National Movements

  Turkey's Parliamentary Motion
Assyrians of Zakho Threatened by Kurdish Extremists
Iraq has new Currency Notes Bearing Hammurabi's Portrait
  AINA: Chaldean Bishops' Letter Undermines National Unity
Edgar and Deborah Jannotta Mesopotamian Gallery
St. Thomas Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church Building in Turlock
O'Toole and Sharif to Team up in Gilgamesh

The Brave Bunch
Ashur Television Program in Connecticut
Assyrian Christian Businesses Targeted And Burned
Radio Lebanon International


2nd Annual Narsai’s Taste of the Mediterranean Dinner


The Opposite Direction

  I was wrong!




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Zinda Says


In July during a short stay in Chicago, I had a rare opportunity to look into the nearly-completed Mesopotamian wing of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute Museum. The courteous staff and scholars spent an entire morning and afternoon describing in detail the work in progress, the architectural interiors and artifacts for public display, and gave me an unforgettable tour of the “Assyrian Dictionary” room where I was able to read the hand-written notes of some of my heroes of the early archaeological expeditions in the Near East.

This week the long-awaited opening of the OI Museum’s Mesopotamian wing will surely engender a renewed interest among the scholars and the public in the excavation of the 10,000 archaeological sites in Iraq. Mr. Donny George, the well-known Assyrian-Iraqi archaeologist was at hand last week during his high-profile trip to Chicago to share his experiences during the early days of “shock and awe” and the atrocious attacks on the national museums in Baghdad and Mosul. Never before have the Assyrian scholars and the Assyriologists around the world come so close to realizing the decades old dream of unearthing the past history of the heart of Bet-Nahrain. This is truly an exciting time in our history.

Yet, uncovering the past may also bring forth the truth that has for so long been kept in the dark by the Moslem rulers of Iraq. Would the excavations of any of the 10,000 sites in Iraq not reveal the “Assyrian” origins of the metropolises that today’s Kurdish and Arab leaders so dearly call their own. Underneath a century-old dust lie the signs of early Christian dwellings, thousands of Syriac and Aramaic manuscripts and of course the pre-Christian might that was Assyria and Babylon.

Is Iraq ready to accept its true past, layer after layer, from Dilmun to Zakho? Don’t hold your breath! Hopes for a pluralistic society that reveres its true past and the rights of its indigenous population in Iraq is quite premature. It took Australia and America over a hundred years after their independence to contemplate the same situation. But we must remain optimistic and continuously demand action from the world’s governments and the foremost centers of Assyriology and Near Eastern studies. The Assyrian people will find an unexpectedly receptive audience, in particular in the hard-working staff at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute.

On the surface, such optimism may seem justified, because deception and denial will eventually make matters worse. Such ludicrous claims as “Kirkuk is a Kurdish town” or “Tikrit was a Sunni-Moslem center” will soon be proven wrong. The political message emanating from the Kurdish parties and Moslem groups continuous to be worryingly mixed. Therefore, the key to an objective, scholarly investigation starts with the granting of unimpeded access to these archaeological sites. The resulting research findings within the next few years could for ever change our understanding of the Mesopotamian societies, the pre-Christian and pre-Old Testament monotheistic religions of Bet-Nahrain and so much more.

For now, let us begin by appreciating what is accessible to us in our cities’ public museums. Visit the Oriental Institute Museum in Chicago on your next trip to the windy city and remind yourself of the reason why you began the quest for your true identity in the first place.

Wilfred Bet-Alkhas

The Lighthouse


A landmark change in the Assyrian Organization’s Course

The Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) held its Tenth General Conference in the Syrian northeastern city of Qamishli, the New Nisibis, amid sensitive and critical political circumstances and regional and international military developments surrounding the people of the region, including the Assyrians, following the U.S.-British war on Iraq which resulted in eliminating the Iraqi Baath Party and the ousting of the dictator Saddam Hussein. The conference dedicated a special session to study the Iraqi situation in all its dimensions and the political, social, cultural and security impacts on the region.

“The conference also has come to conclude that after the liberation of Iraq from dictatorship, the situation requires all Iraqi ethnic and religious elements to join forces in order to cope with the state of chaos and stumble resulting from the power vacuum and to build a democratic, pluralist Iraq,” the final communiqué of the conference said.

Also, the conference focused on the “developing” Syrian political scene and discussed what the state of travail Syria has been passing through since President Dr. Bashar Assad took office.

In democratic and free atmosphere, the conference deliberations tackled proposed work papers which centered on putting mechanisms and work plans aiming to develop the organization’s work and improve its political performance in the upcoming stage.

Most of the attendees expressed the hope that this conference will be a turning point in the course of the Assyrian political movement in Syria. Also, they expressed hope that the newly elected ADO leadership would live up to its responsibilities to confront the challenges the Assyrian people and Syria. In these exceptional circumstances, the new leadership is expected to reactivate the nationalist Assyrian struggle and develope ADO’s national course in order to be a principal part of the democratic movement and an effective front in the Syrian national scene which has begun to witness important qualitative political developments and changes.

“We wish that the Assyrian Democratic Organization to engage in the Syrian political life alongside the rest of the national and political factions and parties in Syria following this conference,” one of the attendees, who refused to identify himself, said.

However, the newly-elected leader of the ADO’s politburo, Mr. Bashir Saadi, a former lawmaker in Syria’s People’s Assembly, made it clear that the ADO would be involved in the Syrian national life.

“The Organization (ADO) has declared its positive attitude toward the new course of President Bashar Assad declared in his inauguration speech,” Saadi said.

Assad promised Syrians in his inauguration speech in July 2000 that he would work to modernize and develop Syria and to combat corruption.

“The Organization regarded this course a positive step to achieve democratic reforms,” Saadi stressed. “We think that this trend of reform and democracy-building is a national joint task in which all national factions of all political and nationalist spectra should participate in accordance with a joint national vision based on reconciliation, respect, mutual recognition and futurist look that envisions a united workshop for the building of our homeland to be a strong, improved home for all its children.”

On the rights the ADO seeks to achieve for the Assyrian people, Saadi said, “The Assyrian people of all denominations, including Syriacs and Chaldeans, are indigenous and deeply rooted in Syria’s history. Even Syria’s name is taken from theirs, which is a well known fact.”

“Assyrians of all denominations – even migrants - view Syria as a mother homeland,” Saadi said, adding, “Every span of Syria’s land covers a trace of their (Assyrians’) forefathers. We are not a closed émigré minority, but rather, an indigenous people.”

“Therefore, the Assyrian Democratic Organization seeks (official) recognition in Assyrians as indigenous people,” Saadi said. “We seek also to get cultural and political rights within the framework of national sovereignty and unity, a right recognized by international law stipulated by international accords and declarations.”

Saadi expressed his belief that Assyrian rights would be achieved as a natural result for a comprehensive democratic national solution based on “recognizing the cultural and nationalist diversity within the framework of a national unity,” admitting the fact that Syria was a minority-tolerant country although it does not officially recognize its minorities.

Saadi expressed the hope that Syrian government would issue a law to organize political parties.

“This law will organize Syria’s entire political life,” Saadi said, hoping that this law would be “democratic secular and modern and would take into account the political and ethnic diversity in Syria.”

ADO’s conference has reflected the aspirations of a new generation in the organization, established 43 years ago. This generation has always called for further intellectual and political opening to society and to go back to the political realism and to override the stage of Utopist nationalist slogans and the stage of intellectual mistiness which prevailed the ADO’s discourse in the past.

“The conference’s stress on the need for ADO to be open to all political national factions and elites in Syria on purpose for gaining official recognition of our people as an indigenous one has been viewed as one of (Syria’s) national needs,” the final communiqué said.

Finally, the ADO through its 10th General Conference voiced its political stand and declared to all people what national rights the Assyrian people demand in Syria.

Yet, the upcoming days and weeks will answer the question, “How will the Syrian government respond to ADO’s demands and how the Syrian authority will deal with the Organization after this conference?”

Sulaiman Yousef Yousef

[Z-info: Mr. Yousef is an Assyrian activist whose articles are published regularly on elaph.com website. This article was translated from Arabic for publication in Zinda Magazine.]


All of the Assyrian Religious Leaders are guilty towards the Assyrian nation, simply because through their selfish interests they have split the nation into so many denominations such as the Syriany Church, Ancient Eastern Catholic Church (better known as Nestorian), and the Chaldean Catholic Church. Lately, the split between the adherents of the New Calendar and the Old Calendar. The Ancient Eastern Catholic Church nicknamed the “Nestorian Church” was a great church and there is no doubt about that with its expansions in the Middle East and Far East. Unfortunately, in the last six centuries or more, the Church’s leaders forgot about their ethnicity as Assyrians. Indirectly, they even forbade the Assyrians of using Assyrian names such as Ashour, Sargon or Sankhareb, etc. Preaching among their own congregation that the Assyrians were atheists. Of course, the Assyrians were Atheists because Christ had not arrived yet, but they forget to inform their congregation that the great Assyrian king with all his mighty power listened to a simple godly man walking in the streets of Nineveh calling them to repent “Repent you atheists, there is only one true God that you should believe in.” That was the God that the Jews believed in, later the Christians and finally the Muslims. The mighty Assyrian King believed in Prophet Yonan (Jonas) and ordered all of his subjects to fast for three days and three nights, not only the humans but all the animals as well; so that Yonan’s God would forgive the Assyrians for their sins and not destroy Nineveh. Would you not call this mighty King the greatest believer in Christianity? What is strange is that The Assyrian Apostolic Catholic Church of the East (Nestorians) keeps this three day fast and it is called “Ba outa d'Ninwaye” or the “Rogation of the Ninevites” for the last twenty centuries. However, it still did not encourage people to name their newborn sons with these famous Assyrian Kings. The Assyrians started naming their children with Assyrian names in the mid 19th century, when the western missionaries started arriving in the region and when Sir Henry Layard discovered the ancient Assyrian Relics. In the beginning of the 20th century, the father of the late Patriarch Eshai Shimon Rab Khailah David named one of his sons SARGON and his daughter SARGINA. Of course, this did not mean that they were looking for an Assyrian leadership or truly believed in the Assyrian Nation. Already they had crushed their own cousins. The Nimrod’s massacre because he simply believed in the Catholic Church, they disrespected Agha Petros the only Assyrian General, they burnt Qasha Yosip Kelaita’s printing press simply because he was educating the Assyrians from all tribes with Assyrian and English languages. All the educated members Politicians and the Professionals of the Assyrian community were pushed aside or eliminated. Lately, when they consecrated one of their last archbishops, his name happened to be Qasha Ashour but was consecrated Mar Bawai because they still could not accept the Assyrian name. This shows that there is still a grudge against the use of Assyrian names for the Bishops. The changing of the name from The Ancient Church of the East (Nestorians) to The Assyrian Apostolic Catholic Church of the East (Nestorians) was only politically motivated and to rally the support of the Assyrian Nationalists, such as myself, around this church.

The Assyrian church leaders and all the other leaders of the Church of the East denominations have no interest in accepting an Assyrian national leadership. Historically, it has been proven that they and they alone wanted to control the Assyrian community and keep their seat and respect, both as spiritual & political leaders. Any national leader or movement was crushed by our own church leaders and not by the British, Americans, Arabs or Muslims. The split amongst Assyrians only reinforces their power. Take the split in the mid—16th century between two Assyrian groups, the Mar Shimon family and the Mar Solaka followers. Most probably Mar Solaka’s followers might have even been better educated, because the Northern Assyrians in the Hakkari region were an isolated people from Turks, Kurds, Iranians or Arabs. While the Assyrian supporters of Mar Solaka were attending schools in the Nineveh district and were much more exposed to the international community, but because of the Assyrian Ashirates stubbornness and their blind support of their Mar Shimon, democracy was never given a chance. The result was that the majority of the Assyrians in Nineveh broke their ties with their northern Assyrian brothers and went to the Pope of Rome with their grievances. The Pope of Rome acted as a very understanding father and consecrated Mar Saloka as the Patriarch of the new Eastern Catholic Church and called it the “Chaldean Catholic Church” of the east under the direct supervision of the Pope of Rome. Mar Solaka and his Assyrian supporters were very happy with the outcome on serving this great Church but did not realize that in four centuries they would be referring to themselves as Chaldeans and not Assyrians. I for one do not blame them because as a majority, they felt that they were neglected by their northern Assyrian Church leaders. The Pope on the other hand, having had plenty of grudges towards the Nestorian Church in the past, preferred to call this church Chaldean Catholic Church. This was his golden opportunity to hit two birds with one stone and split the Nestorian Church and the Assyrian nation. Bravo Pope! Well done! But whose fault was it? We Assyrians, like Arabs, always blame someone else for our misfortunes so we blamed the Pope, the Western missionaries, the Communist revolution, etc. Of course, we still believe that the conspiracy theories are planned and prepared in 10 Downing Street and lately, in the White House, but we never once blame ourselves. Wake up Assyrian nation and for once do not listen to the unadvised political advisors that have been presented by the Church leaders. They love their chairs just like all other dictators. Church Leaders travel by first class, Business class or Club, but never by “economy class” because it is simply more comfortable and you can stretch your legs plus you do not get any Thrombosis. How do our nationalist political leaders travel? Obviously by the cheapest economy class, buses and under ground trains! Cheapest possible. A few years back, about 20 of us AUA delegates had a conference to attend in Sweden to patch the differences between AUA ‘A’ and AUA ‘B’. Where did we stay? In a neglected YMCA rotten place. No mattresses, no bed sheets, no pillows. Mind you, at this time the lake between Sweden and Finland was so thickly frozen that tankers carrying milk were driving on it. We covered ourselves with dirty blankets, we donated some money and went and bought from a nearby supermarket cheap paper bed sheets and the cheapest pillows available. Our treasurer, Mr. Victor, had to concentrate more on cooking for us with a big pot of mutton, tomatoes, onions and lots of pepper and salt and managed to cook us some sort of ‘TASHREEB’ instead of preparing his balance sheet. Anyway, there was no money as usual so there was no need for a balance sheet.

The Church leaders in Australia, America and Lebanon crucified the AUA ‘B’ members for intervening in Church matters, and what was the actual intervention? Simply by asking the Bishop in Australia whether the Church constitution, which was being re-written and introduced in Australia, was the same as in the other countries? The answer was “yes it was”. With a few telephone calls and faxes to different Western countries, the answer was the complete opposite. Some countries had only one page, some had six pages and some had twenty pages. Some had none, all were contradictory to one another, but the Church leaders were aware that AUA ‘B’ was getting very strong and dangerous and had quite a majority of the churchgoers supporting it. This obviously would not serve their interests. Therefore, they encouraged these splits to get bigger because the modern calendar supporters would do anything for their beloved Bishop and the supporters of the Old Calendar would do anything for their leaders. End of this story? The true Assyrian nationalists lost. The winners were both the modern calendar bishops & the ancient calendar bishops. They managed to build two brand new churches in challenging each other. Before the split, the Assyrian Community in Fairfield, Sydney had only Mart Mariam (St. Mary's) Church & they could hardly have afforded to renovate it or keep five star residences for their bishops. Did we need another two new churches and a divided Assyrian community? Would we not have been better off with our old church and a little renovation?

In the daily life of a church leader or Qasha: Sunday takes Six to 12 hours from preparation to finish. What do they do for the remaining half of the day? What about the remaining six days? The answer is nothing! Nothing but invitations, watching TV, playing Tawleh, Chess and relaxing.

I belong to the Kelaita family. I asked my father before he passed away (mind you, he had been for a certain period the secretary of Mar Shimon in Iraq) why did the Kurds call the Kelaita’s in Marbeesho in modern Turkey “Male Qasha” which means the ‘home of priests’? His answer was “because my father and all the ones before me were priests.” I said but how come all of them chose the priesthood? His answer was “Because that was the best job that you could get with the least of work.” Early morning prayers, which lasted a little over 30 minutes. Evening prayers another 45 minutes. Sunday’s main Sermon three hours max. Total hours 12 per week. While the other farmers had to put a good 12 hours a day from sunrise to sunset in order to keep feeding their family and supporting their priests. Priests were highly respected persons and everybody had to kiss their hands. All year round, these poor families had to provide gifts and food items: the best soup, the best tea, and the best tobacco for their priests.

Nowadays it has not changed much from centuries ago. A regular person has to work eight hours a day and for a lot of us the time we leave home until we get back is 12 hours. Sometimes, the wife has to work too in order to be able to make ends meet, while our church leaders are relaxing under their silk covers & have decreased their working hours from 12 to Six hours a week with no 30 and 45 minutes of daily prayers.

I have been keeping quiet for quite some years optimistically hopeful that things will change for the better but unfortunately things are getting worse with our bickering nowadays about the “Name”. That is why I decided enough is enough with our church leaders and our national leaders. As the old saying goes: If you make a lot of noise, you might not be able to save a single soul but to keep quiet, you can kill millions. “Six million Jews were massacred because the world kept quite”.

All our church leaders without exception have had a rosy relationship with the ousted government of Saddam Hussein while their Assyrian people and the people of Iraq were suffering under this brutal dictator.

After the liberation of Iraq, we started hearing that a temporary Iraqi government will be appointed. Finally, 25 persons were appointed according to the structure of the Iraqi nation from Shia, Sunni Arab, Kurdish, Turkish, and an Assyrian from “Zowaa” A.D.M. Mr. Yonadam Kanna, was appointed. As I understood it, he would represent all the Christians in Iraq. This was great news. For the first time since the fall of Nineveh, we are represented by a politician and not a religious fellow and we understood later, maybe by the suggestion of Mr. Paul Bremer, that even though the Assyrians are small in number all over Iraq, they have played a major role in the over through of Saddam’s regime over the last three decades. While on the contrary, our brothers from the Chaldean Church had a better relationship with the regime. Since we admit that we are the indigenous people of Iraq and with an understanding of the deep sorrow of the church being used loosely by different segments of our Assyrian nation, it is time to unite our name under Assyrian-Chaldo or Chaldo-Assyrian or Assyro-Chaldeo under the leadership of Mr. Yonadam Kanna from the Assyrian Democratic Movement, which is the only Assyrian political party that has been operating in Northern Iraq among our Kurdish neighbors while suffering the wrath of Saddam’s regime and offering quite a few martyrs. Mr. Kanna is no stranger to Iraqi Prisons. I was utterly delighted that for the first time The Assyrian Apostolic Catholic Church of the East followers with their brothers from the Eastern Chaldean Catholic church were together after four and a half centuries I was more delighted by the announcement before he passed away by the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Bidavid openly stating that we are all Assyrians but belong to different faiths. The Chaldean Matran and the Syriany Matran accepting to go along and join hands with their Assyrian brothers and the Syriany Patriarch in Syria telling the Syrianeen to go along & be represented by their Assyrian Brothers under the leadership of Mr. Yonadam Kanna, I thought this was the greatest accomplishment in the history of the Assyrian nation since its downfall in 612 B.C.

I was shocked & amazed by our church leaders and the leaders of our political parties and organizations in not properly attending the funeral of Patriarch Bidavid in Lebanon. Furthermore, our church leaders did not send their congratulations on the unity of the Assyrian members of different denominations getting together and accepting their representation with ADM. The stand of our church leaders has proved once again that they are not in favor of an Assyrian leadership and it is well understood in order to keep their chair and position.

The Assyrian political leader’s stand, shocked me the most. Let us first start with the AUA leaders as the leaking umbrella of the Assyrian parties. Where is the stand of Senator John Nimrod and his appointed & non-elected representatives in the world? He should have been one of the first voices in congratulating Mr. Kanna for his vision in cooperating with the Kurds; the coalition forces; the members of the Chaldean Church; the Syrianeen; the Christian Armenians, and the connection with the Yazidis to have a bigger say in the future of a secular government in Iraq. Why do Senator Nimrod and his advisors no5 tell us through Zinda Magazine why they are boycotting Mr. Kanna? Is it that Mr. Kanna is not recommended by our Assyrian Church Leaders or do they have something else against him?

I for one have great respect for all of our Assyrian patriotic nationals and their past work such as Dr. Sargon Dadesho with his writings, ideology and his TV programs. He has been serving the Assyrians for a good three decades but I am truly shocked lately by his attacks directed personally against Mr. Kanna. This last action by Mr. Dadesho will only serve the enemies of the Assyrian Nation. I am not suggesting that Mr. Kanna is faultless or has not made any mistakes, but at this very critical time in Assyrian history, we should iron out our differences and show to the world that we are a united nation standing behind our leader in Iraq Mr. Yonadam Kanna. I am sure Mr. Dadesho must be aware of the Kurds’ intentions of splitting the Assyrians so that they will be called in the future “Christian Kurds” in the north and “Christian Arabs” in the South. Is it not better to be called “Assyrian Chaldean”? Let us not bicker over the name for the time being. Let us support Mr. Kanna with all of his shortcomings. Let us for the time being forget partisanships. This is a matter of our National Security for the Assyrian Nation. We must stand firm & united. As Assyrians, we strongly believe in democracy & voting. We can easily confront Mr. Kanna in future conferences to be held in Iraq if we can convince the voters of his faults. Right now, he is the only recognized Assyrian leader in the world.

What also shocks me is to see Assyrians, which only yesterday were the mouthpieces of Saddam and did not give a damn about our Assyrian name and nationalism, are now taking advantage of this bickering between Mr. Dadesho, Mr. Younan, or Senator Nimrod and are now saying “Yes Mr. Dadesho is completely correct in saying we were born Assyrians and we will die as Assyrians and we will not accept any other alternative names! These Assyrian stooges for the past 30 years did not give a damn about Sargon, Nimrod, Kanna, Ashour Banipal, Nineveh or anybody else. They were mocking us; When are you going to liberate Bet Nahrain? Yes, I am able to tell them now I might not be able to liberate the “Big Bet Nahrain” but I am working to liberate the “Small Bet Nahrain”. My advice to our Assyrian political leaders at this crucial time is to announce loud and clear the full & unhindered support for Mr. Kanna and our Assyrian heroes in “Small Bet Nahrain”. We should use our TV stations and our media at the disposal of our Assyrian Leader Mr. Kanna and when the time comes, we will fight him democratically in conferences.

I will come now to the Kurdish problem. We have been fighting Saddam’s regime because it was worthless and forcibly wanted to arabize the Assyrians. The Kurds right now and openly after the liberation have misled the world and the Arab nations by declaring that Northern Iraq is Kurdistan and all the inhabitants are going to be Kurdish citizens. In other words, the Assyrians will become Kurdish Christians. So what is the difference between the Ba’athist ideology of arabizing everybody and Mr. Barazani’s and Talabany’s ideology of the “Kurdofication” of everybody? Here I want to ask Mr. Fawzi Al Hariri, Secretary of Mr. Hoshyar Zeebari, the Kurdish Foreign Minister, does he agree with his government’s ideology of “Kurdofication” of the Assyrians and denying them their thousands of years of history and identity?

If Mr. Fawzi does not openly deny that his government has the intention of wiping out the Assyrian name, then as far as I am concerned he is in the same bracket with Mr. Tariq Aziz who was working with Saddam while knowing that the Ba’ath Party wanted to eradicate the Assyrian name and did nothing. Except that he was so impressed by the ingenuity of his master Saddam, that he named his own son Saddam. He believed that he was an Arab and saw no reason to differ from Saddam. After the fall of Saddam, Mr. Aziz, from the prison in Baghdad, is asking his wife to send him some Marlboro’s ‘American’ cigarettes and a Dishdasha, which is a national Arabic dress not Assyrian. While in the interview, Aziz’s wife and family were introduced as Assyrians. Mr. Fawzi at some stage in his life was an ardent member of the Bet-Nahrain Party. Did he believe in the aims of the Bet- Nahrain Party, which I guess were clearly to promote the Assyrian name and to have a homeland for the Assyrians in Bet Nahrain and to reject the ‘arabization’ or ‘Kurdofication’ of the Assyrians.

Long live our beloved Assyrian nation.

Emanuel Esho de Kelaita

Good Morning Assyria


Courtesy of the Anadolu Agency (7 October)

(ZNDA: Ankara) The Turkish Parliament adopted on Tuesday, 7 October a motion to dispatch soldiers to
Iraq. The motion was adopted by 358 votes against 183 votes. A total of 543 deputies joined the voting. Two deputies cast abstaining vote in the closed session, which lasted for more than two and a half hours.

The Iraqi Interim Governing Council unanimously took a decision last month against deployment of Turkish soldiers in Iraq. Ankara stressed Turkey's resolution in taking all necessary measures to clear out the extremist Kurdish political parties PKK and KADEK in Iraq and “to prevent Iraq's becoming an asylum for terrorists in the future.”

The motion stated that the developments in Iraq closely concerned Turkey, adding ''protection of Iraqi territorial integrity and its national unity and establishment of a new democratic Iraq which will take under guarantee the basic rights and freedoms of all national groups and all Iraqi citizens carry vital importance for Turkey.''

The motion referred to the importance of a new political structure which would maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq, stressing that Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens and “Assyrians, the founding people of Iraq”, should play an effective role in the building process of the national state on equal status, and that no privileged status should be given to any national group.

The motion also states that the new political and constitutional structure of Iraq should be determined in a way that meets the legitimate concerns and expectations of all national groups, noted the motion adding that united and democratic Iraq had to be built on strong foundations.


Courtesy of the Ozgur Politika (3 October) – translated from Turkish; by Mehmet Yaman

(ZNDA: Zakho) The towns in the Bahdinan region of north Iraq are witnessing another wave of arrests and threats, particularly in Duhok and Zakho. It has also been reported that threats have been made to Assyrians and Chaldeans in north Iraq. Letters with such threats as “We are going to burn your church down on top of you” have been sent by unknown persons to the Chaldean church in the Nesare neighborhood of Zakho, which is populated primarily by Christians. The Assyrians, noting that they are worried over the threats, have asked local officials to take action.

Threats of this sort had earlier been made against Assyrians, especially Chaldean-Assyrians in Zakho and Bahdinan. It was following such threats last year that the Milad Bookstore, owned by Naim Mesifi, located at the crossroads near the Zakho municipality building, was bombed by unknown persons.


Courtesy of the Associated Press (4 October)

Iraq's Central Bank introduced the country's new currency on Saturday. The new Iraqi dinars will go into circulation Oct. 15.

The new notes will be converted at a rate of one to one and Iraqis will have three months to unload their old cash. The bills are printed in rich purple and green hues, and some feature a waterfall, a portrait of King Hammurabi of Babylon, and historic monuments.

The banknotes come in six denominations — 50, 250, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 25,000. They look similar to the Iraqi national currency used before 1990, popularly known as the "Swiss dinar," which is still used in northern Kurdish-controlled Iraq. That currency will also be replaced.

The dinar plummeted to about 4,000 for a dollar during the war but has rebounded in the past six months to about 2,000 per dollar, close to its prewar level.

The new bills were printed in England and designed with anti-counterfeiting features.

Laith Dinkha, 35, whose family owns several electronics stores in Baghdad, said he typically quotes prices for his appliances — air conditioners, refrigerators, microwaves — in dollars only.

"We are dealing with bigger items in dollars, not dinars," he said. "That will not change."

A severe shortage of Iraqi dinars led U.S. administrators in June to order the printing of millions of new dinar notes, even though they bore Saddam's likeness. The coalition continues to print millions of the old bills each day.

News Digest


Read the web version at http://www.aina.org

In a sign of renewed strain, a September 3 letter (English, Arabic) signed by a group of Chaldean bishops implores Mr. Paul Bremer, the Civil Administrator of Iraq, for greater Chaldean Church inclusion in the emerging new government in Iraq. The letter, ostensibly drafted through the Chaldean Patriarchate, asserts that Chaldeans comprise 75% of the Christian community in Iraq and constitute a distinct ethnicity from Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs). Apparently, at the heart of the matter for the Bishops is their perception of the lack of inclusion in the "Temporary Council of Iraq." According to the Bishops "that is an injustice committed against our people, for which we protest here explicitly and insistently."

The new Chaldean Bishops' attempt to forge an ethnicity distinct from Assyrians and Syriacs has been championed primarily by Bishop Sarhad Jammo of the St. Peter the Apostle Chaldean Catholic Diocese in California. Upon his appointment as Bishop, Bishop Sarhad Jammo quickly embarked upon a separatist agenda. In a May 10 memorandum from San Diego, Bishop Sarhad along with Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim, the Bishop of Michigan, formally asserted a separate Chaldean ethnicity, rejecting a common political or nationalist purpose with Assyrians.

In another separatist move, Bishop Sarhad held a political rally in early January where he announced the formation of a new Chaldean political organization -- the Chaldean National Congress (CNC) -- whose formation entailed a rejection of a unified Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syriac political movement.

Moreover, Bishop Sarhad went on to recognize the Chaldean Democratic Union (CDU) in Iraq as the legitimate representative of the Chaldean community in Iraq. The CDU was formed by Mr. Afram Abdelahad, a self described member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The CDU and the CNC have not fared well in gaining popular support due to the CDU's sponsorship by the KDP as well as their extremist positions vis-a-vis Assyrians and Syriacs. Mr. Abdelahad's separatist "political party" is widely believed in Iraqi circles to have been artificially created by the KDP for the sole purpose of splitting the Chaldean community from the Assyrian fold in order to diminish calls for redress against mounting KDP ethnic cleansing against Assyrians.

Three days after the controversial letter, Iraqi Assyrians witnessed another view. Chaldean Bishops, led by Archbishop Emeritus Jackues Ishaq and Bishop Shlemon Warduni, along with representatives of other Assyrian Churches, initiated the establishment of a ChaldeoAssyrian national council to further formalize the unified national front in Iraq.

The Chaldean Church is a Uniate Eastern Rite Roman Catholic Church. Although the Chaldean Church has ecclesiastic jurisdiction over its Middle Eastern prelates, the Vatican has final authority over Diaspora-based Bishops. Early notification of American Bishops regarding Bishop Sarhad's unprecedented separatist political activities has at the very least raised eyebrows. One American Bishop described his counterpart's activities as "at least mischievous, if not dangerous." Although the formation and/or sponsorship of a foreign political party by an American Bishop is itself highly unusual, of greatest concern to Rome remains the escalating tension and anger between members of the separatist wing of the Chaldean Church and the other Middle Eastern Churches -- most notably the Assyrian Church of the East. The Vatican appears mostly concerned about the threat posed by the separatists to the ongoing Pro Oriente process of rapprochement between the Syriac Churches and Rome. Pro Oriente was first initiated by the Second Vatican Council. Moreover, bringing the previously estranged Assyrian Church of the East into communion with Rome has remained an important policy for Pope John Paul II. The escalating tension has also threatened the spirit of the Common Christological Declaration of 1994 between the Assyrian Church of the East and Rome. Moreover, the inherently anti-Assyrian, anti-Syriac positions of the separatist Chaldean fringe are widely believed to sabotage the very spirit if not intent of the Pro Oriente process.

The Vatican's concerns are not merely limited to issues of ecclesiastic harmony. Following the fall of Baghdad, the Vatican very quickly convened a meeting drawing together not only all of the Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs but Armenians as well in order to forge a cohesive common Christian agenda for the newly emerging government. The separatist Chaldean movement and the resulting rancor between the Churches is likely to be viewed as complicating Vatican efforts to present a unified front. As one observer noted, "All tolled, the Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs together are already underrepresented and under virtual siege by rising Islamic fundamentalism. Further division only risks further irrelevance for all in the new Iraq." Echoing similar concerns, a State Department official bristled at the ongoing bickering referring to the Assyrians as the "laughing stock of Iraqi politics" for continued self-destructive efforts to divide and diminish their significance. Another observer noted "What appears obvious to those in authority, whether they be in the Vatican or the State Department, is that Assyrian rights in Iraq are the test case for the survival and future rights of all Christian minorities in the Middle East and North Africa. The undermining of our potential in Iraq, whether deliberate or unintentional, is likely to have repercussions for our people throughout the region."

The potentially subversive implications of the separatist movement have not escaped members of the Chaldean Church either. An internet based petition following the Detroit rally by Bishop Sarhad Jammo was signed by more than 640 parishioner. The petition condemned the policy of separation and noted "The Assyrian-Chaldean parishes in California are distraught at Bishop Jammo's views, which are not shared by the communities and go against the teachings of our Chaldean Patriarch, Mar Raphael Bidawid." Other public and private statements by members of the Chaldean Federation of America (CFA) similarly reaffirmed that irrespective of the preferred term of self-identification that Assyrians, Syriacs, and Chaldeans nevertheless constitute one people. In a March 20, 1998 letter to Sargon Lewie, president of the Assyrian American National Federation, the Chairman of the CFA, Saad Marouf, stated "We the Assyrians and Chaldeans have a common culture, a common heritage, a common ethnicity, as one nation, and originated from the same ancestral homeland." A joint declaration by the CFA and the Assyrian Universal Alliance on January 10, 2003 stated ". . .at a time when major decisions concerning our nation are being considered and decided we ask that you keep in mind the following statement concerning our homeland of Iraq: Assyrians and Chaldeans are one nation." Furthermore, in a letter to Yonadam Kanna, the Secretary General of the ADM, Saad Marouf stated "We are confident, based on our personal knowledge of your ability, commitment, and proud history in serving your fellow Christians, and in particular our great AssyrianChaldean nation, that you, along with our brothers and sisters, distinguished members of the council, will promote the implementation of freedom, democracy, equality, peace and justice to all people of Iraq."

All the while, US Civil Administrator Paul Bremer's response has remained muted. The lack of a response has been seen by many as a rejection by Bremer of the separatist movement's legitimacy. According to some analysts, Mr. Bremer has seen from the very beginning that the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) -- which refers to their constituents as ChaldeoAssyrians -- has from its inception relied heavily on leaders from the Chaldean community within its tight inner central committee. The bold leadership position espoused by the ADM in promoting the compound ChaldeoAssyrian name has brought the communities together while marginalizing an even greater potential threat from the separatists. More concretely and practically, the first Minister to be appointed by the ADM to serve in the new government (as the Minister of Transportation) is Mr. Behnan Zia Paulus, a member of the Chaldean community. Still more, perhaps the most important appointments made to date include those of the Constitution committee assigned the critical task of reworking Iraq's new constitution. The ADM appointed Professor Hikmat Hakim, who is not only a member of the Chaldean community, but is also originally from Bishop Sarhad Jammo's home village of Telkeppe. As one observer noted "Mr. Bremer must himself be 'mystified' -- to quote from the Bishops' letter -- as to why there remains a perception that all Assyrian groups are not properly represented."

The US government has a long track record of recognizing all Assyrians, irrespective of their preferred term of self-identification, as one people. In the 2000 US Census, most mainstream organizations of Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs endorsed tabulation as one people under one combined category (AINA, 6-13-1999). The determination by the US Census Bureau followed a lengthy investigative process and withstood an Assyrian separatist appeal in Federal Court. As if to underscore the US Administration's view that further division is inappropriate at this time, a recent letter from President Bush to the CFA referred to the Chaldeans as a Church rather than as a separate people as if to say "now is not the time for separation."

The root causes of the separatist movement are not easily evidenced or understood. Some have suggested that the main proponents of separatism previously enjoyed a privileged status with the old Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. As one Assyrian analyst explained "until too late, this same faction bet the farm on the survival of the Iraqi regime and even went so far as to claim at times that they were given a wink and a nod by the US administration to remain as a moderating force within the Iraqi regime. When it became all too clear that regime change was inevitable, this same privileged class scrambled to salvage at least some of their past power and status." This same segment of the community had not, however, invested any political capital in the Iraqi opposition and suddenly felt exposed and vulnerable. "These latest moves are the desperate spasms of those suddenly facing the threat of what they perceive will be loss of status in the new Iraq. It is regrettable that these same few did not embrace the Assyrian opposition political parties as their own and piggyback on their success. How Iraqi Assyrian political parties as the representatives of the Assyrian people can assuage these sensitive egos remains the crucial test of unity for our people."

Reaction to the separatist movement has been increasingly negative from members of the various communities. As one observer noted "we can't go back to 431 or 1552 and address all of our internal historical and religious grievances for that matter. But to think that splitting and dividing at this crucial time can further any one's survival or interest is troubling. History will harshly judge those of our people who put personal interests before the greater good." Others complained that the separatist challenges began while the late Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Bedawid lay terminally ill and accelerated after his passing. "The Patriarch was an avowed unionist and would not have condoned such divisiveness." Another view noted that the separatists represented "a temporal power grab by the religious elite" and likened the move to a "16th century mullah mentality that seems to persist within us." A member of the Chaldean community deliberated that "all sides have their fringe radicals, separatists, tribalists, and what have you. We are no exception, yet our center holds us together. Such challenges to our oneness are simply periodic nuisances that we must address together; they are merely the vestiges of the obsolete historical baggage we carry with us into the future."

Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved.


Courtesy of The University of Chicago Chronicle (9 October); by William Harms

One of the world’s great collections of antiquities from ancient Iraq will be on display at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, beginning Saturday, Oct. 18. The Edgar and Deborah Jannotta Mesopotamian Gallery, remodeled as part of an ongoing renovation project, will open with an exhibition devoted to the Oriental Institute Museum’s Mesopotamian collection.

These praying male and female statues, made of gypsum, date back to about 2750-2500 B.C. They were found in the Diyala Region and were excavated by the Oriental Institute.

This gallery joins two others that recently opened at the Oriental Institute Museum and which feature the cultures of ancient Egypt and Persia.

“The recent events in Iraq have increased the world’s appreciation of the incredible ancient heritage of Iraq,” said Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute. “We are proud to have played a key role in bringing the world’s attention to that heritage and are delighted to be able to share the many fine objects from our own Mesopotamian collection with the public through the opening of this new gallery. These statues, monumental sculptures and items from everyday life help us appreciate the skills and imagination of the people who made up the great ancient cultures of the region.”

Stein noted that ancient Mesopotamians’ contributions to modern life include writing, cities, government, mathematics, literature and the wheel. “Even now, 5,000 years later, they still structure almost every aspect of our everyday lives,” Stein added. “We hope that visitors to our Mesopotamian Gallery will come away with a deeper appreciation for both the tremendous accomplishments of that ancient civilization and for its fundamental role in defining who we are today.”

Computers programmed with information to help visitors learn about the Oriental Institute and its collection will be located in the gallery, as will displays that explain how Oriental Institute scholars have conducted their research since the end of the 19th century until today.

Oriental Institute archaeologists, many of them pioneers in this field and many who continue today to be leaders in the discipline, excavated most of the material on exhibition.

These praying male and female statues, made of gypsum, date back to about 2750-2500 B.C. They were found in the Diyala Region and were excavated by the Oriental Institute.

“The Mesopotamians were true innovators, and our heritage from them includes many of the things we now take for granted, such as writing and urban life,” said Karen Wilson, Director of the Oriental Institute Museum. Wilson, an expert on ancient Mesopotamia, has been in charge of the re-installation.

“The gallery documents the powerful sweep of the rise and growth of civilization in the region—from its foundations in prehistoric times, through the glories of the city-states at the time of Ur, to the great empires of Babylonia and Assyria, and on into the 7th century A.D.,” she said.

At the far end of the gallery, opposite the visitor’s center, is the most spectacular object in the Mesopotamian collection—a human-headed winged bull that stands 16 feet tall. The statue, known by many Chicagoans as the “Assyrian Bull,” is one of the museum’s most popular items and gains splendor in a new setting that calls attention to its original architectural purpose.

Six 10-foot stone reliefs from the throne-room facade in the palace of the Assyrian king Sargon II (who ruled from 721 to 705 B.C.), flank the bull statue. Oriental Institute archaeologists excavated the bull and the reliefs at Sargon II’s capital city Dur-Sharrukin, known today as Khorsabad. This stunning new installation, the Yelda Khorsabad Court, which is the result of more than 10 years of work, evokes the feeling of grandeur and power of the palaces and temples of the mighty Assyrian Empire.

The Mesopotamian gallery provides visitors a chance to explore the ancient Near East in chronological fashion. The first section of the exhibition is devoted to the prehistory of Iraq. The Robert and Linda Braidwood Prehistory Exhibition highlights the work of these two pioneering Oriental Institute archaeologists, who began their research in the years just following World War II. It takes visitors back 150,000 years and follows the development of human society from nomadic groups to settled farming villages.

Ancient Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was a land of cities. The gallery displays a wealth of objects from what may be the world’s first urban civilization, including pottery, clay tablets, stone sculptures, and vessels made of luxurious stones and metals.

The ancient Mesopotamians began writing as a way to record commercial transactions, but quickly developed a rich written tradition that included literature, mathematics and science. Displays trace the development of writing on clay tablets, the training of scribes in ancient schools, and the tradition of royal inscriptions on clay, stone and metal.

The region’s lively commercial life was enhanced by the use of small, intricately carved stone seals, made in the shape of cylinders that could be rolled across clay sealing doorways or containers to identify the individual or administrative unit that had impressed the seal. The decoration of these seals includes combats between fantastic heroes and wild animals, scenes of worship, and images of lions and other animals common to the region. A new series of display cases has been created to show the museum’s extensive collection of these precious seals.

Religion played an important part in the life of ancient Mesopotamians. Each city boasted at least one temple dedicated to its patron god or goddess. During the third millennium B.C., devotees dedicated statues and placed them in these temples to stand in perpetual prayer before the altar. The Oriental Institute has the best collection of these votive figures outside of Baghdad. The finest statues from the museum collection are on display, standing with large staring eyes and hands clasped in prayer.

The wealth and power of the rulers of ancient Mesopotamia is highlighted not only in the Khorsabad Court but also in a series of cases containing gold, jewelry and other finery from royal households. The artistic triumph of Babylon is exhibited in the placement of two glazed brick reliefs of lions that face each other to create a dramatic corridor leading into the Khorsabad Court.

“Beneath the beauty of these pieces is a heritage of technological expertise and invention,” said Wilson. “The ancient Mesopotamians mastered numerous complex techniques to produce magnificent objects, ranging in size from tiny cylinder seals to monumental sculptures. They created these amazing works of art that have endured for thousands of years and are what make the gallery so engaging.”

Admission to the Oriental Institute Museum at 1155 E. 58th St. is free, and donations are welcome. The museum is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Sundays noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call (773) 702-9514


Courtesy of the Modesto Bee (12 October)

(ZNDA: Modesto) The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors during the meeting of the Planning Commission last week considered St. Thomas Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church's request to build a church, social hall, school, administration building and priest's residence on 10 acres in a general agriculture zoning district on the south side of East Monte Vista Avenue, between North Quincy and North Waring roads, in the Turlock area.


Peter O’Toole

(ZNDA: Los Angeles) Veteran Irish actor Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif are teaming up again for another big budget action film, Gilgamesh, about the first king of Mesopotamia, set in 5,000 BC. The pair first worked together over 40 years ago, on 1962’s Lawrence Of Arabia.

Sharif told journalists at the Toronto Film Festival that he and O’Toole, who also appeared together in 1966’s The Night Of The Generals, have kept in touch with each other over the years. “We lived two years in the desert together, with no women around, so it was like being in the army,” he said.

“Gilgamesh” is the latest production of the Assyrian filmmaker Beni Atoori’s Stonelock Pictures.

Surfs Up!
Letters From Zinda Magazine Readers


I have been reading your magazine for quite some time and I am really impressed by its quality and straight forwardness.

Unfortunately, all our other magazines are either monthly, quarterly or annual and sometimes they disappear for a few years. Most of their news is of a social nature, which does not serve the political views of our nation. By the time you receive the news, it is old and uninteresting. Ancient history chapters or academics informing you of using the correct verb and so on are boring.

I commend you on your magazine and with your up-to-date and flow of information and I can judge from your weekly issues, that you are not under the influence of any church leader or affiliated to any Assyrian Political party.

You are a brave bunch. God bless you for your publishing of clashing opinions from all sectors.

Long live our beloved Assyrian nation.

Emanuel Esho de Kelaita

Wilson Baba
address: 23 Euston Street
phone: 860-224-0761
email: lewilbah@accessforfree.com


Please post the following information on your media listings. We are a program in New Britian, Connecticut. Ashur Television Program is a one-hour weekly Assyrian program on Nutmeg TV. Check your local listings for proper channel number.

Wilson Baba


Just recently watching the news, the US administration had called on the former Iraqi solders to come to the American headquarter in Baghdad, to be paid a one-off salary, and of course being unemployed for months, hundred of former solders showed up, and probably waited under the sun for hours being pushed and sheaved around by the Americans. Soon after clashes erupted between the two groups, and at the end of the clashes an Iraqi man was dead and a shop nearby that sells alcohol was burned. What made me wonder about this news segment was what did this shop had to do with these clashes to be targeted and burned?

Especially as we all know that only Assyrians are known to own liquor shops in Iraq. Or as the Islamist Clergymen call us (the non-Muslims) or a better one “the others” as if we are a creature from Mars. I believe that such titles given to the Assyrian Christians by the Muslim clergymen are also playing a role in inciting aggression toward Assyrians.

So why was this shop of an Assyrian Christian targeted and burned in these latest clashes? There are many reasons but firstly because the owner is a Christian or better known in the Arab-Islamic world a Crusader, and secondly it was a revenge attack aimed at the Christian infidels -- the friends of the American crusaders. The problem with these conclusions is that we don’t regard the Allies; as our crusader- friends, who came to save us from the dark forces, because they will not do so. They also have made it clear to us that they only came to make Iraq (Stable), stable for foreign investment. Be it under the banners of “Free Iraq and Democracy”. After all the World Bank is investing $50 US billions on Iraq and not the Vatican. But the Muslims don’t seem to understand these facts. If now and in the future, whatever problems the Iraqi Muslims are going to have with the Allies, they will take it out on us, we should be vigilant by documenting and reporting such violations of our human rights, no matter how small or insignificant these attacks seem to be. These small attacks if left unmonitored unreported could grow into more serious and violent attacks. Such as what we see today happening in Filipino and Indonesia, with all of the church bombings and so on.

These attacks should be read as a gage, of how the level of hatred is getting out of hands, and day after day this haughtiness is being shifted against the hopeless, defenseless Assyrians. It should send to us clear warning signals of things to come. What will happen tomorrow if either the situation doesn’t improve or if the Muslim Clergymen don’t get what they are openly calling for an Islamic State; be it under a different forum than Iran? We should have learned by now that, when it comes down to real facts and actions, only Assyrians look after Assyrians, we are alone with no powerful friends or allies, any friends that we had taught from long ago, but they are only interested in their own investments and safety and today’s allies are no different.

Moneer Cherie


A new broadcasting radio program "Radio Lebanon International" will be aired every Sunday starting October 12, 2003 at 8 AM till 9 Am on 93.3 FM - CMFU from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario-Canada.

The producer said that the "Radio Lebanon International" is different from all so called Lebanese radio programs. It is not an Arab program nor will have Arabic songs, but rather it is a program that serves the indigenous people of Lebanon living in Hamilton and Toronto area, whom those indigenous people are "Assyrian", but their identity melted down under various religious or regional names and became know under many names as Phoenician, Aramaic, Suryani, Yackobian, Maronite, Chaldean, Nestorian etc.

Lebanese identity is today painted as an Arab identity. Lebanese citizenship been given, by the pro Arab-Islamic government installed in Lebanon, to over two million Arab muslims such as people in Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, and even to Kurdish, whom many of them never been to Lebanon, but obtained Lebanese citizenship in order to help their so called "Brother", by manipulating government elections, and allowing an Islamic power to govern Lebanon.

We are saying clearly that we are against terrorist organizations in Lebanon such as HazabAllah, P.L.O, Syrian Bathiest party, Khominian Iranian forces, Libyan and other terrorists whom hijacked our homeland Lebanon, brought death in order to make it an Arab nation, and soon will be an Islamic nation if nothing is done to protect the indigenous people of Lebanon, the "Assyrian".

We are also will not work and will not trust the so called today "Lebanese Forces" (Christian political parties), nor maronite Lebanese leaders whom all sold us out, and agreed with Taif Accord, labeling Lebanon an Arab nation, and forgetting of all that we went through, whom our Martyrs died in order to protect us and keep lebanon safe, but those leaders, the so called "Lebanese Forces", and the Maronite found us to be as commodity and sold us out in exchange of monetary. Thus today, they paid heavy price. The Arab terminated many of them in Lebanon, and many living outside Lebanon, such as in France, like General Michael Aoun whom is Christian Maronite, and whom he ordered of butchering Lebanese Christian by bombing heavily Christian areas in 1990 in order to eliminate "Lebanese Forces".

"The Radio Lebanon International" will be the voice of justice for Lebanese martyrs, will be the defender for Lebanese people whom are in Syria jails or being put in Lebanese Jails because they stood firm from melting down into becoming Arabitized. The issue of public inquiry into why war and terrorism happened in Lebanon, since April 13, 1975 until present day, and why Lebanese government failed to protect Lebanon will be the issue that will not go away. Nor will let it go of why Lebanon became the base of terrorists, exporting act of terrorism into Israel, and United States of America.

Listen to "Radio Lebanon International", and let us know what other issues you want us to bring it up. You can call us at (905) 318-8283.

Andrew Zahlawah
Assistant Director

Surfer's Corner


The second annual Narsai's Taste of the Mediterranean Charity Dinner will be held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco on Friday November 7th, 2003. This year's gala dinner promises to be another truly memorable evening like the sold-out event last year. The proceeds from this dinner will provide emergency relief for the Assyrian people in Iraq. The over one million Assyrians in Iraq are in great need of assistance as the country still is in a period of instability and there is scarcity of jobs and other life essentials. The dinner will be prepared by distinguished chefs from New York and San Francisco. This year's grand event will feature the popular Assyrian singer Walter Aziz. Also performing will be Dan Eshoo and the Ancient Echoes Ensemble, in addition to dance performances by the Presidio Children's Dance Theatre. There will be a live auction for exciting items and packages as well. For more information and reservation form, please visit www.assyrianaid.org/November7 or call 510-527-9997.

Assyrian Aid Society of America



The al-Itijah al-Mu'akis (The Opposite Direction) is a weekly program on al-Jazeera Arabic Satellite TV stationed in Qatar. The program is moderated by Dr. Faysal al-Qasim.

The October 7th (11:35 a.m. West Coast Time) program was about the Kurds and their question in Iraq. Guests were the Iraqi author Dr. Salim Mattar and Mr. Sherzad Adel al-Yazidi, a Kurdish political writer.

Dr. Salim Mattar is a well-recognized personality. His book “al-dhat al-Jareeha” (The Wounded Self) gained much recognition among many Arabic-speaking people. He was a Communist at one stage in his life as he admitted during the program, however, he stated that he is an independent today. He is an Iraqi nationalist who believes that the pan-Arab, pan-Kurdish and other similar movements are destructive for Iraq. In his book, Dr. Mattar suggests that Iraq should consider a return to ancient roots. He suggests changing the name of Iraq to Mesopotamia; to build a new administrative capital named "New Babylon," while keeping present Baghdad as the commercial and cultural capital. He also suggests changing the Iraqi national anthem and flag. For the flag, he suggests a return to the ancient Sun Disk symbol that was adopted in 1958. In addressing the Assyrians (he uses the term Suryan) question in Iraq, he states that many pan-Arabs, who continue to look at the history of the region through a narrow and strictly pan-Arab view, are irritated by the fact that the Syriac-speaking people played an important role in the establishment of Arab and Islamic civilization. He addresses few points about how the Turks and Kurds massacred and exterminated the Suryan. Then he explains how the Turks and Kurds turned the historic Suryan regions of Diyar Bakir, Mardin, and Urfa into Kurdish regions. Dr. Mattar continued to explain how Catholic missionaries bribed the Turkish pashas and Kurdish sheikhs and turned them against the Assyrians (he uses now the word Ashuriyeen) and how they destroyed the Assyrian churches, schools, monasteries in order to wipe the latter's ancient traditions and start a new one that begins with their union with the Vatican. He then states that the Suryan were granted cultural rights in 1972; however, those rights were met with resistance and reservations by certain elements in Iraq and specially Kurds in the north.

Dr. Mattar, throughout the program stressed the Iraqi-ness of all the inhabitants of Iraq. One cannot help it feeling one of the principles of Communism still in his tone concerning this particular issue, however, he could argue that it reflects his strong Iraqi nationalism belief. With Communism of course, all people are in theory to enjoy equal social and economic status, however, ethnic groups are compelled to dissolve themselves into the one greater nation.

Now back to the program.

The moderator wondered whether the Kurds, as oppressed people of the past have turned today executioners themselves to perpetrate atrocities against the Arabs, Assyrians, Suryan, and Chaldeans, in the same manner that the Iraqi regimes have inflicted upon them yesterday.

Dr. Mattar accused the Kurdish leadership of Masoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani to cover up for the Kurds ethnic cleansing of Arabs in Kirkuk, Mosul and Diyala provinces. He accused the two Kurdish leaders of planning to establish a separate entity of Kurdistan and that they were buying the silence of many Iraqi groups whom they control. Mr. Yazidi answered that whatever has taken place in those provinces was isolated incidents and that there is no planned scheme to evict or murder certain non-Kurds in those regions. He accused Dr. Mattar of lying and challenged him to provide a single proof. Dr. Mattar stated that such atrocities were on the various newspapers and news programs and needed no proof. He then asked non-Kurds Iraqis viewers to call to give testimonies. None called unfortunately.

The program provided the viewers a chance to vote on a question whether the Kurds were working towards the benefit and better Iraq or not. The initial polling result of over 200 voters indicated a whopping 90% in agreement. The moderator questioned Dr. Mattar if what he was stating was true, how come then the polling was so much against that thought?

Dr. Mattar answered that the polling is not a fair representative because the Kurdish leadership, as it is well-known, he argued, have since 1992 invested huge sums of monies in media and Public Relations. They established Kurdish satellite stations and have organized the appropriate cadre to assure that positive image of Kurds is publicized while the negative is suppressed. The Kurds, said Dr. Mattar, are so organized that the minute they knew of the program, they mobilized their cadres to dominate the polling. Mr. Yazidi stated that the intentions of the Kurds are admirable in Iraq. They see an Iraq with two main ethnic groups, Arabs and Kurds, and where the rights of the other groups like the Turkomans and Assyrians are protected.

Dr. Mattar returned to ask, if the Kurds have admirable intentions in regards to their Iraqiness, why would they propagate that half of Iraq, one-third of Iran, one-third of Turkey, and one-tenth of Syria is their national dream of Greater Kurdistan. Additionally, he wondered why is it that many Arabs, Turkomans and Assyrians are fearful from the Kurdish plans. Mr. Yazidi replied that there is no conspiracy by Arabs, Turkomans or Assyrians against the Kurds. He added that such claims are intended to flare ethnic tension and unrest towards the Kurds. Here he uttered the biggest lie when he claimed that Iraq was only created in 1921 and that the League of Nations attached 'southern Kurdistan' to this new Iraq Kingdom in 1925. Of course, Mr. Yazidi was referring here to Mosul as southern Kurdistan. I tried to call several times but failed to get through. I needed to ask Mr. Yazidi when was it that a country by the name of Kurdistan ever existed, which justifies his claim that a southern Kurdistan was thus somehow partitioned and attached to Iraq. Mosul was never called Kurdistan or southern Kurdistan, when the League of Nations was addressing the Mosul question. The official title of the region was the Mosul Vileyet (Province of Mosul).

Mr. Yazidi stated that the Kurds are seeking federalism because it is the only way to preserve Iraq's integrity. Dr. Mattar answered that what counts at the end of the day is not what the Kurdish leadership present for consideration or what banners they lift in public rather what is their political program. He adds, the Ba'ath regime claimed to be one thing, promised impressive things but deported one million Iraqis, including Faylis. He asked Mr. Yazidi, what is your political program. Isn't your goal in fact to establish Greater Kurdistan? What happens to the Turkomans, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Suryan if a federal system based on two major ethnic groups (Arabs and Kurds) was established?
Mr. Yazidi answered that these people can live peacefully in the land of Kurdistan!

Dr. Mattar stressed that the constitution is something the Kurds are preoccupying the Iraqis with at the present moment while insisting on federalism that is based on ethnic lines. This kind of federalism is a recipe for secession. He asked why are the Kurds so hype about the constitution, Great Britain, Israel, and other democratic countries do not have constitutions. He stated that a federal system based on provinces, and not ethnic lines, is most appropriate for Iraq.

By the end of the program, the polls showed that 49% of the viewers disagreed while 51% agreed that the Kurds were working towards a united and better Iraq. It seems that Dr. Mattar was correct when he stated that the Kurds were organized and alert when such programs are aired and they dominate any poll that is taken or the number of people who call in. I missed perhaps 5 minutes of the program, however, I counted five individuals who called in, and they were all Kurds (Sabri Sulayman, Dilshad Mus'aad, Mehdi Khosh now, Dr. Kamal al-Majeed, and Dawood Daghistani), who attacked Dr. Mattar.

Dr. Mattar from the early stages pleaded to give other Iraqis a chance to speak live, but no callers other than Kurds were heard throughout the program.

Fred Aprim



How do you admit you were wrong? What do you do when you realize those you were defending in fact did not want your defense and wanted something completely different from you and from the world?

This is my story. It will probably upset everybody - those with whom I have fought for peace all my life and those for whom the decision for war comes a bit too fast.

I am an Assyrian. I was born and raised in Japan where I am the second generation in ministry after my Father came to Japan in answer to General Douglas Macarthur's call for 10,000 young people to help rebuild Japan following the war.

As a minister and due to my personal convictions I have always been against war for any and all reasons. It was precisely this moral conviction that led me to do all I could to stop the current war in Iraq.

From participating in demonstrations against the war in Japan to strongly opposing it on my radio program, on Television and in regular columns I did my best to stand against what I thought to be an unjust war against an innocent people - in fact my people.

As an Assyrian I was told the story of our people from a young age. How my grandparents had escaped the great Assyrian Holocaust in 1917 settling finally in Chicago.

Currently there are approximately six million Assyrians - approximately 2.5 million in Iraq and the rest scattered in the Assyrian Diaspora across the world.

Without a country and rights even in our native land it has been the prayer of generations that the Assyrian Nation will one day be restored and the people of the once great Assyrian Empire will once again be home.

It was with that feeling, together with supplies for our Church and family that I went to Iraq to do all I could to help make a difference.

The feeling as I crossed the border was exhilarating - `home at last` thought as I would for the first time visit the land of my forefathers.

The kindness of the border guards when they learned I was Assyrian, the taxi, the people on the street it was like being back `home` after a long absence.

Now I finally know myself! The laid back, relaxed atmosphere, the kindness to strangers, the food, the smells, the language all seemed to trigger a long lost memory somewhere in my deepest DNA.

The first order of business was to attend Church. It was here where my morals were raked over the coals and I was first forced to examine them in the harsh light of reality.

Following a beautiful `Peace` to welcome the Peace Activists in which even the children participated we moved to the next room to have a simple meal.

Sitting next to me was an older man who carefully began to sound me out. Apparently feeling the freedom to talk in the midst of the mingling crowd he suddenly turned to me and said `There is something you should know.` `What` I asked surprised at the sudden comment.

`We didn’t want to be here tonight`. he continued. `When the Priest asked us to gather for a Peace Service we said we didn’t want to come`. He said.

`What do you mean` I inquired, confused. `We didn’t want to come because we don’t want peace` he replied.

`What in the world do you mean?` I asked. `How could you not want peace?` `We don’t want peace. We want the war to come` he continued.

What in the world are you talking about? I blurted back.

That was the beginning of a strange odyssey that deeply shattered my convictions and moral base but at the same time gave me hope for my people and in fact hope for the world.

Beginning that night and continuing on in the private homes of relatives with whom I stayed little by little the scales began to come off my eyes.

I had not realized it but began to realize that all foreigners in Iraq are subject to 24 hour surveillance by government `minders` who arrange all interviews, visits and contact with ordinary Iraqis. Through some fluke either by my invitation as a Religious person and or my family connection I was not subject to any government `minders` at any time throughout my stay in Iraq.

As far as I can tell I was the only person including the Media, Human Shields and others in Iraq without a Government `minder` there to guard.

What emerged was something so awful that it is difficult even now to write about it. Discussing with the head of our tribe what I should do as I wanted to stay in Baghdad with our people during their time of trial I was told that I could most help the Assyrian cause by going out and telling the story to the outside world.

Simply put, those living in Iraq, the common, regular people are in a living nightmare. From the terror that would come across the faces of my family at a unknown visitor, telephone call, knock at the door I began to realize the horror they lived with every day.

Over and over I questioned them `Why could you want war? Why could any human being desire war?`They're answer was quiet and measured. `Look at our lives!`We are living like animals. No food, no car, no telephone, no job and most of all no hope.`

I would marvel as my family went around their daily routine as normal as could be. Baghdad was completely serene without even a hint of war. Father would get up, have his breakfast and go off to work. The children to school, the old people - ten in the household to their daily chores.

`You can not imagine what it is to live with war for 20, 30 years. We have to keep up our routine or we would lose our minds`

Then I began to see around me those seemingly in every household who had lost their minds. It seemed in every household there was one or more people who in any other society would be in a Mental Hospital and the ever present picture of a family member killed in one of the many wars.

Having been born and raised in Japan where in spite of 50 years of democracy still retains vestiges of the 400 year old police state I quickly began to catch the subtle nuances of a full blown, modern police state.

I wept with family members as I shared their pain and with great difficulty and deep soul searching began little by little to understand their desire for war to finally rid them of the nightmare they were living in.

The terrible price paid in simple, down to earth ways - the family member with a son who just screams all the time, the family member who lost his wife who left unable to cope anymore, the family member going to a daily job with nothing to do, the family member with a son lost to the war, a husband lost to alcoholism the daily, difficult to perceive slow death of people for whom all hope is lost.

The pictures of Sadaam Hussein whom people hailed in the beginning with great hope everywhere. Sadaam Hussein with his hand outstretched. Sadaam Hussein firing his rifle. Sadaam Hussein in his Arab Headdress. Sadaam Hussein in his classic 30 year old picture - one or more of these four pictures seemed to be everywhere on walls, in the middle of the road, in homes, as statues - he was everywhere!

All seeing, all knowing, all encompassing.

`Life is hell. We have no hope. But everything will be ok once the war is over.` The bizarre desire for a war that would rid them of the hopelessness was at best hard to understand.

`Look at it this way. No matter how bad it is we will not all die. We have hoped for some other way but nothing has worked. 12 years ago it went almost all the way but failed. We cannot wait anymore. We want the war and we want it now`

Coming back to family members and telling them of progress in the talks at the United Nations on working some sort of compromise with Iraq I was welcomed not with joy but anger. `No, there is no other way! We want the war! It is the only way he will get out of our lives`

Once again going back to my Japanese roots I began to understand. The stories I had heard from older Japanese of how in a strange way they had welcomed the sight of the bombers in the skies over Japan.

Of course nobody wanted to be bombed but the first sight of the American B29 Bombers signaled to them that the war was coming to an end. An end was in sight. There would be terrible destruction. They might very well die but finally in a tragic way there was finally hope.

Then I began to feel so terrible. Here I had been demonstrating against the war thinking I had been doing it for the very people I was here now with and yet I had not ever bothered to ask them what they wanted. What they wanted me to do.

It was clear now what I should do. I began to talk to the so called `human shields`. Have you asked the people here what they want? Have you talked to regular people, away from your `minder` and asked them what they want?

I was shocked at the response. `We don’t need to do that. We know what they want.` was the usual reply before a minder stepped up to check who I was.

With tears streaming down my face in my bed in a tiny house in Baghdad crowded in with 10 other of my own flesh and blood, all exhausted after another day of not living but existing without hope, exhausted in daily struggle simply to not die I had to say to myself `I was wrong`.

How dare I claim to speak for those for whom I had never asked what they wanted!

Then I began a strange journey to do all I could while I could still remain to as asked by our tribe let the world know of the true situation in Iraq. Carefully and with great risk, not just for me but most of all for those who told their story and opened up their homes for the camera I did my best to tape their plight as honestly and simply as I could. Whether I could get that precious tape out of the country was a different story.

Wanting to make sure I was not simply getting the feelings of a long oppressed minority - the Assyrians - I spoke to dozens of people. What I was not prepared for was the sheer terror they felt at speaking out. Over and over again I would be told `We would be killed for speaking like this` and finding out that they would only speak in a private home or where they were absolutely sure through the introduction of another Iraqi that I was not being attended by a minder.

From a former member of the Army to a person working with the police to taxi drivers to store owners to mothers to government officials without exception when allowed to speak freely the message was the same - `Please bring on the war. We are ready. We have suffered long enough. We may lose our lives but some of us will survive and for our children's sake please,, please end our misery.

On the final day for the first time I saw the signs of war. For the first time sandbags began appearing at various government buildings but the solders putting them up and then later standing within the small circle they created gave a clear message they could not dare speak.

They hated it. They despised it. It was their job and they made clear in the way they worked to the common people watching that they were on their side and would not fight.

Near the end of my time a family member brought the word that guns had just been provided to the members of the Baath Party and for the first time we saw the small but growing signs of war.

But what of their feelings towards the United States and Britain? Those feelings are clearly mixed. They have no love for the British or the Americans but they trust them.

`We are not afraid of the American bombing. They will bomb carefully and not purposely target the people. What we are afraid of is Saddam Hussein and what he and the Baath Party will do when the war begins. But even then we want the war. It is the only way to escape our hell. Please tell them to hurry. We have been through war so many times,but this time it will give us hope`.

The final call for help came at the most unexpected place - the border. Sadly, and sent off by the crying members of my family I left. Things were changing by the hour - the normally $100 ride from Baghdad to Amman was first $300 then $500 and by nightfall $1,000.

As we came to the border we began the routine paperwork and then the search of our vehicle. Everything was going well until suddenly the border guard asked if I had any money. We had been carefully instructed to make sure we only carried $300 when we returned so I began to open up the pouch that carried my passport and money stuffed in my shorts.

Suddenly the guard began to pat me down. `Oh, no`! I thought. It`s all over`. We had been told of what happened if you got caught with videotape, a cellular telephone or any kind of electronic equipment that had not been declared.

A trip back to Baghdad, a likely appearance before a judge, in some cases 24-48 hour holding and more.

He immediately found the first videotape stuffed in my pocket and took it out. I could see the expression of terror on the driver as he stifled a scream.

The guard shook his head as he reached into my pocket and took out another tape and then from pocket after pocket began to take out tape after tape, cellular telephone, computer camera - all the wrong things.

We all stood there in sheer terror - for a brief moment experiencing the feeling that beginning with my precious family members every Iraqi feels not for a moment but day and night, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That terrible feeling that your life is not yours that its fate rests in someone else's hands that simply by the whim of the moment they can determine.

For one born free a terrifying feeling if but for an instant.

As the guard slowly laid out the precious video tape on the desk we all waited in silent terror for the word to be taken back to Baghdad and the beginning of the nightmare.

Suddenly he laid the last videotape down and looked up. His face is frozen in my memory but it was to me the look of sadness, anger and then a final look of quiet satisfaction as he clinically shook his head and quietly without a word handed all the precious videotape - the cry of those without a voice - to me.

He didn’t have to say a word. I had learned the language of the imprisoned Iraqi. Forbidden to speak by sheer terror they used the one language they had left - human kindness.

As his hands slowly moved to give the tape over he said in his own way what my Uncle had said, what the taxi driver had said, what the broken old man had said, what the man in the restaurant had said, what the Army man had said, what the man working for the police had said, what the old woman had said, what the young girl had said - he said it for them in the one last message a I crossed the border from tyranny to freedom . . .

Please take these tapes and show them to the world. Please help us .. . . . and please hurry!

Rev Ken Joseph

[Z-inf: Rev. Joesph’s article appears in the townhall.com on 12 October.]

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