POWER TRANSITION IS NOT THE SOLUTION
At the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire no longer existed. What remained were bits and pieces of the largest successful Islamic empire since the collapse of the Khalifates in Mesopotamia. These included three provinces in Bet-Nahrain which the British decided to fuse together and call Iraq. The Arabs, much like some Kurdish observers today, were calling this the "veiled colonialism".
In 1920 a very strong revolt began to frustrate the British forces in Mesopotamia. It is said that the British commander, General Sir Aylmer Haldane, even called for the use of poisonous gas. These Arab rebels were similar to what we call and despise as terrorists.
To unite the hundreds of tribes and ethnicities in Mesopotamia, the British brought a young Arab leader from what is now known as Saudi Arabia and proclaimed him King Faisal. Much like today, the Kurds and the Sunni and Shi'ai Arabs resented the central power in Baghdad under foreign control, but they kept smiling until better days. The British military exonerated itself of all colonial subjugation by describing itself as the liberators of an oppressed people. Sounds familiar?
Even after granting Iraq full independence in 1930, the British remained in Mesopotamia and through the King ruled over the affairs of Iraq. King Faisal died not long after the Semel Massacre in 1933 and soon Iraq was left in the hands of a group of British and British-trained Iraqi colonels.
The British directly intervened in Iraq's internal affairs until the fall of the monarchy in 1958. Again the British forces were brought back to the region when Iraq claimed Kuwait as its 19th province in 1961 and 1990. In short, the occupation of Iraq began over 80 years ago and will not end with the promises of transitional governments and full independence in a future date - the last of which is said to be July 1, 2004.
For the Christian communities the presence of the British or other Christian forces was both a blessing and a curse. While they have always and even today remain to be the target of Moslem extremism, more significant in the long term were economic changes brought into most Assyrian families between the late 1930s and early 1960's. In the early 1920's, the Assyrian dwellings were still overwhelmingly rural. In less than 20 years a great number of the Assyrian families, Chaldean in particular, established themselves around industrial-base centers and vigorously formed an active merchant class. This dramatic economic expansion has lasted until today in much of central Iraq, in Mosul, and Basra.
The promise of independence, central control, and constitutional recognition has had less of an impact on the preservation of the Assyrian identity in Iraq as has the economic growth experienced by the Christian families. As the history of Iraq in the past 80 years can attest, the presence of the British or the U.S. troops for that matter, is the only guarantor of a repeat of the phenomenal economic prosperity for the Christian communities. Until full independence is granted to the Assyrian people, the seat of power in Baghdad - be it occupied by an Arab or a Kurd - will never permit true power-sharing in Iraq. The real democracy in Iraq will not come as a result of a quickly implemented political power transition, rather by expanding a free market economy. Mr. Bremer should spend less time in Washington justifying his authority in Bet-Nahrain, and instead visit the Christian quarters in Baghdad and consult with the business leaders of whom a majority are Christian. As much as it may dismay the Shi'ai and Kurdish leaders, the key to Iraq's future lies in a stronger dinnar and not the partitioning of Mesopotamia.
THE CAUSE IS RIGHT; THE TIME IS NOW!
[Z-info: The following is the complete text of Dr. Lincoln Malik’s speech at last week’s dinner gala, Narai’s Taste of Mediterranean, held in San Francisco. Dr. Malik is a co-founder of the Assyrian Aid Society of America.]
I wish to thank the executive committee of the Assyrian Aid Society of America, and its leader, my very good friend, Mr. Narsai David for giving me the honor of addressing you tonight.
It seems it was only yesterday that the society was formed during exceptional and unique circumstances. I, like most if not all of you, was raised in my mothers lap listening to horrific tales of the Assyrian holocaust during our parent's generation in 1914 to 1918, and then again in 1933 in Simale. There was no one to aid our people then. Hundreds of thousands perished at our neighbors' swords, hunger, thirst and disease. Those who survived lost everything. We all carry those dark memories in our hearts, but never did we imagined that our generation would witness similar conditions in our lifetime, until 1991, when we were horrified to see on international TV stations tens of thousands of our Assyrian people, along with over a million Kurds fleeing the criminal Iraqi Army into the mountains of Turkey in driving rain and storms, with nothing but the shirts on their backs and their children in their arms. It was but two or three days later when Mr. Yonadam Kanna called me on a reporter's satellite phone from the Turkish mountains. He yelled at me:
"Where are you? When will you help us? We are daily burying old folks and children. The last $700 you sent us was used to buy plastic sheets to keep the rain off of our people's heads, and now we have nothing. Go to our people. Go to your government. For God's sake help us."
We were disturbed, and contacted our established organizations in the US and described the hardships of our people in the mountains of Turkey, and that they are asking for urgent help. Truthfully, all our people and organizations sincerely wished to help. However, we quickly learned that unfortunately, our established organizations were not prepared, nor organized, to move with dispatch, nor were they prepared or organized to sustain a major, long term, aid effort. That is when four of us, the late Edward BetDinkha, the late Saliba Alyo, David Lazar and I met in Berkeley, and decided to establish the Assyrian Aid Society, which was registered soon thereafter. The first aim of the Aid Society was to help our people in our beloved homeland of Bet Nahrain. The second aim was that this society ensures that never again in our lifetime would we be caught unprepared and unable to help our people, if God forbid, they should again fall into crisis of sorrow and persecution. Upon establishing the AAS, many loyal Assyrians joined us to carry forward the aims of this organization. I would not be able to name them all, for they are too many. However it is not necessary because you know them well. For they are in you find in homes, in your churches and in your organizations working hard to solicit and send aid to our people in the homeland.
AAS started helping our people in North Iraq, which was liberated from the wicked regime of Sadam Hussein by the efforts of the U.N. and the US Government. This money was to meet basic daily needs of medicine, clothing and food. Later, as the situation stabilized, the AAS moved to help rebuild destroyed villages, establish cultural centers, build schools to teach students in our mother tongue and build social institutions such as Union of Assyrian Youth and the Organization of Women. However, there was always a heavy burden on our hearts, as we could not reach our people in the rest of Iraq, those who lived under the criminal regime of Saddam Hussein.
Today we face a very different, but critical situation. The wicked regime of Sadam Hussein is gone forever. Borders separating our people in Iraq are gone, and they are one family again. I know that there are many heated arguments amongst our people today, as is normal with all peoples. Arguments about our future … arguments between social and political organizations … arguments amongst religious denominations … disagreements about the latest war in Iraq and about the proper national name for our people –Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs etc. Sometimes we forget that above all we are one people and our love of our people must take precedence. Those who have persecuted us have never differentiated amongst us. We too must always remember that those that speak this beautiful tongue, share our Christian faith and share this glorious heritage are our brothers and sisters. We must love and help them all. This is why the Assyrian Aid Society has always helped all of our people without distinction due to political, social or denominational affiliation. The foundation of this organization has always been the love of all our people.
Let me remind you that all is not well in our homeland. There are problems with security, electricity, water, medicine and jobs. Hundreds of thousands of our people in our homeland live in fear and uncertainty. We hope that there will be peace and progress in Iraq. However, if God forbid and conditions deteriorate, we may face a situation much worse than in 1991 when our people fled to the mountains of Turkey. Remember that in our homeland, we always get much less than our share of the good times and manifold our share of the bad times. We are easy targets for those who are full of hate, ignorance and fanaticism, and those who look upon our people with greed. That is why we have to be prepared to safeguard our rights and to safeguard our achievements in North Iraq. We have to be prepared to aid our people. Our stores must be full. Remember, never again should we be unprepared and unable to help if, God forbid, our people fall into crises, sorrow and persecution.
That is why I call upon you tonight to come forward and support the noble work of the Assyrian Aid Society. Rollup your sleeves and put your shoulders to this heavy yoke that this society has chosen to carry. I invite you to show your love of our people and to aid them, so that we be worthy when our Lord Jesus Christ comes a second time and turns to his right and says "I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was naked and you clothed me." I invite you to show your love of our people and to aid them. The cause is right, the time is now and the AAS is worthy of our trust. For, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? I invite you to donate all you can. Then come back and donate some more. It will honor our forefathers, it will fill our hearts with joy and our people will thank us.
God bless and protect you.
ADM MEMBER KILLED IN BASRA
(ZNDA: London) Mr. Sargon Nano, the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) representative in Basra, was killed in Basra on Tuesday 18 November. Mr. Nano had just arrived in Basra Airport and was being driven to the ADM headquarters when three Iraqi men dressed in police uniform stopped his vehicle. Mr. Nano and his driver were asked to step out of their vehicle, at which point the driver was badly beaten, resulting in broken arm and leg. Mr. Nano was kidnapped and then shot and killed. His body was found in a local Basra neighbourhood, known as Hayania.
Lewya Sargon Nano was 48 years old, married with 2 children. An ADM investigation unitl was dispatched to Basra to collect more information on the causes of this act of terror.
YONADAM KANNA VISITS IRAN, TO MEET WITH ASSYRIANS IN TEHRAN
Mr. Yonadam Kanna, the representative of the Assyrian Chaldean Christians of Iraq and the Secretary General of ADM (Zowaa), and a few other members of the Iraqi Governing Council including Mr. Jalal Talabani are in Iran this week to meet with President Khatami and other high-officials of that country. The heads of the two neighboring countries will discuss political and economic cooperation between Iran and Iraq.
Iran's Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharrazi, received the Iraqi Governing Council members at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport on Monday, and commented that the two-day visit was a good opportunity to boost bilateral ties.
President Mohammad Khatami, for the first time, expressly recognized the US-backed interim Governing Council after meeting with them.
Mr. Yonadam Kanna will address the Assyrian people in Tehran on 18 November 7.30pm, at the "Hall of Motwa d’Atorayeh" in Tehran.
Later this week, the Iraqi delegation is due to visit Turkey for similar high-level talks.
Posted on Fri, Nov. 14, 2003
(ZNDA: Mosul) Louis Sako was ordained last Friday as the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of the northern city of Kirkuk in a ceremony that featured hymns, Bible verses and prayers for peace.
Sako was selected last year by a Chaldean synod in Baghdad. Previously based in Mosul, another northern city, he has a Ph.D in history and a master's degree in Islamic jurisprudence.
He said he hopes to use his position to help bring about reconciliation and a "culture of peace."
"It's an occasion to serve more my people - I mean all the Iraqi people," Sako told the Associated Press.
The spiritual leader of Iraq's Chaldean Catholics, Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid, died in July in Lebanon after a long illness. Per the request of Pope John Paul II in October, the Chaldean Synod is expected to select a new patriarch in Vatican in early December.
(ZNDA: Mosul) Christian communities in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul are facing serious acts of intimidation, says Fides, the news agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
"Last week a bomb was found in front of a Catholic school in Mosul; luckily it was defused before it could explode," Chaldean Catholic priest Father Nizar Semaan told Fides.
"The bomb was a cluster of low [powered] hand grenades, but it could have killed or injured the children," he said. "For security reasons the school was closed for a good week."
"Also last week a round from a Kalashnikov was fired against the residence of the Syro-Antiochian bishop in my city," the priest added. "This is probably the work of Wahabi extremists in Mosul." Wahabi Muslims are a puritanical sect from Saudi Arabia.
"With these actions of intimidation extremists want to demonstrate their power, and what is more serious, to prevent the civil society from returning to normality," Father Semaan said. "In Mosul, in fact, work is being done to repair roads and public buildings such as schools and hospitals. The extremists want to impose their law of intolerance and violence in cities like Mosul, which have a long tradition of respect among religions and ethnic groups."
Acts of violence against American troops have intensified in northern Iraq in recent weeks.
"I do not know if there is any relation between those who attack the Americans and those who intimidate Christians," Father Semaan said. "All I can say is that Wahabi extremists were present under the regime of Saddam Hussein, although they kept a low profile.
"Now they are coming into the open, expanding their activity and recruiting more members. The Wahabi receive solid financial backing from abroad and it is easy for them to find new members among the many unemployed youths."
He added: "In this regard I would give an example of how money is used to spread an Islamic vision of society. When I was at Mosul University in the 1980s, girls wearing veils were about one in 40. Today we see the exact opposite: 40 veiled girls and one with a bare head! This is because fundamentalists pay girls to wear a veil."
"Those who have in hand the destiny of Iraq must not allow anyone to put an end to the tradition of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among followers of different religions," Father Semaan said. "We do not want Iraq to become another Lebanon."
(ZNDA: Baghdad) A Catholic representative expressed his gratitude for Iraq's liberation from Saddam Hussein, and appealed to the United States to speed up the turning over of power to Iraqis.
"No state, a nation left at the mercy of terrorist groups, and its people dying of hunger!" was how Iraqi's situation was described by Father Denka Toma, superior general of the Antonian Order of St. Ormizda of the Chaldeans, a religious order in the country founded in the seventh century.
Father Toma, 42, is head of a community which in Iraq counts 45 monks devoted to religious contemplative and active life and as well as pastoral duties.
The priest commented on the situation in Iraq the day after last Wednesday's car bomb attack in Nasiriyah.
"Today I cannot be optimistic," he told the Fides agency. "Everything depends on the United States, which has absolute power for the good or worse of our nation. We are uncertain, we stand at the center of a ford. The dictatorship is ended; we have yet to enter a new political season. We must find the way out of this tragic situation in which terrorism and insecurity move freely. We pray that nothing worse will happen."
After all these attacks, what should change in the U.S. policy in Iraq?
The superior replied: "The United States, after demobilizing the Iraqi police force, should put security into the hands of Iraqis or at least involve them. They are close to the local mentality, they know the people and the places."
"Most people are not satisfied with the situation," he continued. "They are grateful to the Americans for liberating Iraq from the dictatorship, but today, six months after the war ended, the people lament lack of social, civil and economic reconstruction. They are beginning to think that the real aim of the Americans was to take control of Iraq's oil. The people are exhausted by three wars in 20 years and 12 years of sanctions."
Some observers say the American administration should hand power over to Iraq's interim Governing Council.
But Father Toma said: "The council cannot do much because it is under the control of the U.S. Its members obey the Americans and they are Iraqi businessmen who have lived abroad. For the people they are 'foreigners.' In this situation it will be difficult for the council to assume full power and succeed in governing the country."
The priest said that the Chaldean Catholic Church is offering hope amid Iraq's crisis.
"In all these years of war, violence, hunger, we have remained at the side of the people and we remain today," Father Toma said. "The Chaldean Catholic Church is support and comfort for all, also for many non-Christians. Today the Chaldean monks are a real consolation for the people; without them many more would have emigrated."
He added: "The monks visit families, they pray with the young
people, they teach children, giving great testimony of faith. Every
Chaldean Christian family prays every day that God will grant our
country a future of peace."
ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST ECCLESIASTICAL VISITS
(ZNDA: Sydney) On the occasion of the visit to Australia by His Holiness Mar Addai II, Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East, His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia, Parish Priests, Deacons and committee members, met with His Holiness and discussed matters of closer Church relations. The Patriarch, Parish Priest and Deacons received his Grace Bishop Mar Meelis on 29 October 2003 at Mar Zaia Cathedral in Sydney, Australia. His Grace participated in prayers at the Cathedral and the invitation was reciprocated.
His Holiness Mar Addai II was received at St Hurmizd Cathedral on 4 November 2003 and after the blessing ceremony His Holiness met with church officials at the Edessa Hall. His Holiness was also invited to officially open the completed second stage of the St. Hurmizd's Assyrian Primary School, on 16th November but was unable to attend due to prior engagement.
As a symbol of the close ecclesiastical relationship between the
two Assyrian Churches, His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis recommended for
members of the Property Trust Committee to add to the list of Trustees
the honorary name of His Holiness Mar Addai II.
GALA EVENT RAISES $120,000 FOR ASSYRIAN AID SOCIETY
For Immediate Release
(ZNDA: San Francisco) The Bay Area’s Assyrian community joined local dignitaries and socialites last Friday evening at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco for the 2nd Annual “Narsai’s Taste of the Mediterranean” charity dinner. Hosted by Bay Area culinary expert and KCBS food and wine editor Narsai David, the event raised over $120,000 on behalf of the Assyrian Aid Society, which supports needy Assyrians in their ancestral homeland in Bet Nahrain.
Celebrity chefs and winemakers of Mediterranean descent in the spotlight. The event featured a sumptuous five-course dinner inspired by the cuisine of the Mediterranean region and prepared by an all-star lineup of top chefs. Guests were treated to such dishes as Crab Lady Bug in Chinese Spoons and Saffron Chicken with Yogurt, courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton’s own award-winning Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray. Justine Miner of RNM created a special Roast Sablefish in Saffron Broth with Harissa. Frank Proto of Layla ventured from New York City to serve up a sumptuous Grilled Coriander Quail with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Pomegranate. San Francisco’s own Hoss Zare of Zare Restaurant created a Roast Rack of Lamb Tabriz with Basmati Rice Pilaf and Barberries. Narsai’s own wine, the 2000 Narsai, Napa Valley Cabernet, made its debut at the dinner, and the label is in honor of his mother, Shulamith. The dessert course provided homemade pastries from Assyrian women in the Bay Area and Central Valley as well as truffles from Joseph Schmidt.
San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown gives accolades. Flanked by a group of City officials, Mayor Willie Brown attended the festivities and gave the welcome address. He added, “ I love the Assyrian community and hope I will be invited back next year sans the mayoral title.” A standing ovation followed.
Entertainment. Assyrian American Sherene Melania, who studied with San Francisco Ballet, was the evening’s soloist, performing a dance created in part for the event. There was also a special performance by the Presidio Children’s Dance Theater along with a performance by Assyrian soloist Walter Aziz and music by Daniel Eshoo & The Ancient Echoes.
Live Auction. With items ranging from a European flyaway on Delta Airlines Business Class to a San Francisco Giants Luxury Box for twelve, the live auction alone took in over $66,000. The most popular item had guests vying for a chance to have lunch with Mayor Willie Brown and Narsai David at Moose’s which went for $3,200. Also a popular item was dinner for ten at the home of Venus and Narsai David. While one dinner was originally up for auction, the unique opportunity created a flurry of excitement, with each top bidder pledging $5,000. Explains David “One additional bidder offered to match the $5,000 price, and we will be happy to host two dinners!”
Event Recap. “Narsai’s Taste of the Mediterranean” was held on Friday, November 7th at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, the City’s only five-star and three-diamond hotel. The event was hosted by Narsai David and chaired by Mona Malik and Lisa Mirza Grotts. Major event sponsors included The Ritz-Carlton, KCBS, The Nob Hill Gazette, Hanna Winery, California Home & Design Magazine, Joseph Schmidt Confections, Taylor Family Foundation, Miner Family Vineyards and Delta Airlines (partial list).
About the Assyrian Aid Society: The Assyrian Aid Society of America
(AAS-A) is a 501 (c) (3) dedicated to helping Assyrians in need, preserving
Assyrian culture and heritage, building a structure capable of responding
to unexpected crises that require immediate mobilization and focusing
American and international attention on the needs and humanitarian
concerns of the Assyrian people. For further information about the
AAS-A and volunteer opportunities, please call 510.527.9997 or visit
FEAR GROWS AMONG IRAQIS IN U.S. EMPLOY
(ZNDA: Mosul) At city hall, the Iraqis who interpret for the Americans were silent, and other employees who cooperate with the United States refused to identify themselves to a reporter.
Even the media relations official who usually speaks to the Iraqi press gave his name only reluctantly. "I guess a media representative who doesn't represent himself isn't doing his job," Yaarub Ghanem said. "But you have to understand. We are all scared. We are under threat. Our families are in danger. It's easy to kill us."
Two days ago, gunmen killed Khalid Victor Paul, an interpreter, and his teenage son, Leith, as they were driving to a school. It was the third time since Oct. 29 that Iraqis supporting the occupation had been killed in Mosul, about 215 miles north of Baghdad. A journalist and a judge investigating human rights abuses under deposed president Saddam Hussein were previously gunned down.
A week ago, assassins tried to kill a manager in charge of distributing fuel products throughout northern Iraq while he was driving his college-age son to school. The manager escaped death but his son was killed.
Iraqis under the pay of U.S.-led occupation authorities are deeply worried. Some interpreters have quit, Ghanem said, and others are thinking about it. "I consider it myself all the time. I feel I am being watched," he said. "Of course, I would try to find a replacement first, to keep things running smoothly."
Mosul, the largest city in the north, is heavily populated by former high-ranking army officers and members of Hussein's Baath Party. The U.S. military suspects they are trying to create the kind of insecurity that has infected Baghdad and towns in central Iraq.
The killing of Paul, the interpreter, was intended to hinder the work of U.S. troops, Iraqis say. "Translators are the ears and mouth of the Americans," Ghanem said. "Without translators, they are working in a vacuum. The people who killed Khalid understand this. The occupation can't work without them, foreign contractors can't operate here without them."
Paul, 41, had been under threat for weeks. Letters had been slipped under the door of his Mosul home telling him to quit. A week ago, someone broke into his house and stole only one item: a rifle. "Khalid believed the message was clear," his widow, Shada Konstantin Abdullah, said during an interview. "You have no protection."
Cars filled with glowering men followed his son and daughter home from school. Paul had only days ago transferred his son to a school close to home.
It made no difference. At 7:30 a.m. Saturday, as Paul's Toyota pulled onto the main road, a blue Volkswagen Passat reportedly pulled alongside him. Someone inside opened fire.
"The fear is such that no one on the scene has said anything to police," Ghanem said. "We only know about the car by someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone." Iraqi police have not visited the Paul family to gather testimony.
Family members and friends gathered for a Catholic memorial Mass on Monday. The priest at Annunciation Church, Najeeb Michael, gave an emotional homily. "The evil hand is at work. Terrorism is killing the innocent, killing for nothing," he said. "They carry out their murders, it's true. We must fight with the sword of justice."
After Mass, he told a reporter: "There is a clear effort to separate the Americans from the Iraqis. Khalid used to say that all the translators were targets. He said he did not want to be the one to quit." Michael said he did not believe Paul's religion determined his fate in this overwhelmingly Muslim city.
For three years before the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Paul made a living driving a taxi. He had been laid off from his job as interpreter for a foreign company. He saw the interpreter job for the Americans as a way to get ahead in the work he had prepared himself for in school, his wife said. "He was happy at work," she said.
Ghanem said Paul worked long hours and was constantly on the streets with U.S. troops.
The need for work keeps many Iraqis on the job with occupation authorities, said a young computer programmer in city hall. "I stay, because with Saddam Hussein, there was no place for my skills. There were no computers for the public. Now I have a chance. I have a pistol to defend myself. But I don't believe in it. Only Allah can defend me." He echoed Ghanem's words about their predicament, saying, "We are easy to kill."
The widowed Shada Konstantin Abdullah offered a warning for those
who remain with the Americans. "You are staying to help your
family and your country, but others don't see it that way. Be afraid.
Be afraid," she said as she wept.
NEW DOCUMENTARY: ASSYRIANS OF ARMENIA
The First Documentary film of its kind, “Assyrians of Armenia”, tells the story of the formation of the Assyrian colony in Armenia from ancient times until today. Ms. Lina Yakubova, the film-maker and producer, says: "I would like to tell the story about the history of the Assyrian people in Armenia.”
Ms. Yakuova has graduated from the Yerevan Institute of Theatre and Cinematography. After the completion of her studies she worked as a journalist and produced 3 documentary films. She is now conducting research on the first Assyrian immigrants from Urmia, Iran to Russia after 1828.
“Assyrians in Armenia” is filmed in Armenian and in English. The film shows valuable archival documents and photographs from the past. It shows the Assyrian faces from yesterday and today. The photographs in this film were shot in Armenia, Iraq and Iran.
Two weeks ago the film was shown on the State Armenian TV with great success.
Ms. Yakubova has already begun working on her next documentary which will narrate the lives and history of the Assyrians of Iran.
In the near future “Assyrians of Armenia” is scheduled to appear in Chicago, New York and California. Read Zinda Magazine for further detail in the coming weeks. The film can also be purchased in video or DVD format.
To order and or general information please contact:
In St. Petersburg, Russia:
In Chicago, USA:
(ZNDA: Baghdad) The Bassetki Statue sits in Baghdad's Iraqi National Museum after a tip from a man held in a separate case led to its recovery.
But American military police hunting stolen antiquities here didn't expect to be shoveling feces as part of their investigation.
It paid off, however, when the MPs uncovered one of the Iraqi National Museum's most valuable pieces at the bottom of a Baghdad cesspool.
The 812th Military Police Company, a reserve Army unit from Orangeburg, N.Y., is tracking antiquities that were stolen from the Iraq Museum during looting that followed the U.S. invasion. About 14,000 pieces were stolen, and about a third have been recovered. Many still missing are irreplaceable items from when Iraq was the cradle of civilization.
One of the most important missing relics, until now, was a partial statue of a sitting boy dating back about 4,300 years. The Bassetki Statue, made of cast copper, has an inscription on the base that indicate it decorated the door of the palace of the Akkadian king Naram-Sin, in southern Iraq.
Although it weighs more than 300 pounds, the statue was hauled away by looters. Museum officials worried that they'd never see it again. But like many of the museum's big items, it hadn't gone far.
On Nov. 3, the 812th MPs, working with local Iraqi police, got a tip. Three men in southern Baghdad had another museum piece: a portable fireplace in the shape of a miniature chariot. It had kept an Assyrian king warm more than 2,800 years ago.
The Americans and Iraqi police busted the three. One of the men gave up a bigger secret: the location of the Akkadian statue.
"It just happened to be buried in human feces. So we dug it up, loaded it up on a Humvee and drove it back," Cpl. Cory Hassler, 21 of Guthrie, Okla, recalled on Tuesday, when their find was made public.
Sgt. Emmanuel Gonzales, 35, who in civilian life is a sergeant in the New York City Police Department, said the statue had been coated with grease before it was buried in a cesspool, apparently to protect it from the elements. "I guess some thought process went into it," he said.
The museum director, Donny George Youkhana, praised the work of the police as he showed off the treasures.
Also newly brought to the museum were more than 800 small artifacts that the Italian government retrieved through its anti-smuggling efforts. The pieces were smuggled out of Iraq but were bought and returned.
Youkhana said it was a "bright day" for the museum. But reopening its exhibits to the public is still at least two years away, mostly because the museum's air-conditioning, security and other systems all need replacement.
By then, officials say, much more of its missing collection should be back where it belongs.
"If people are selling artifacts in Baghdad, sooner or later
we're going to find out about it, and we're going to be knocking on
their door," said Capt. Vance Kuhner, commander of the 812th.
WATCH THE CSSS MEETING ONLINE
The Canadian Society for Syriac Studies is holding its third
Symposium entitled: "Cultural Highlights in Syriac Christianity"
on Saturday November 22, 2003 at the University of Toronto, the
Koffler Institute of Pharmacy Management room 108, 569 Spadina
Avenue (entrance from Bancroft Avenue).
For more information write to email@example.com or consult
THE ASSYRIAN MANIFESTO VI: FORWARD WITH ASSYRIA - NO MORE, NO LESS.
I. Tiny Print; Horrendous Impact
A gathering of Iraqis, both Shi'a and Sunni faiths, Kurds, Chaldeans, Orthodox Arabs (known as Syriacs) and some other denominations, took place during the weekend of October 23, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq. As reported by Zinda Magazine on its web site, a contingent of Assyrians from Iran, Syria, Lebanon, United States, Australia, Holland and Sweden, among others were also present. This group consisted of some of them representing their associations, but most of the other Assyrian participants were there purely on behalf of their own beings.
Most of the participants from abroad were duly selected to represent their comrades, however, a large group of individuals were there merely on their own.
The declaration issued at the conclusion of this meeting portrayed mixed results. However, our point is that of the "Assyrian Question". Hence, the discussion shall be cordoned only to our national interest.
A small print indicates that the participants had decided and had agreed upon discarding both the name 'Assyria', and 'Assyrian Language', in favor of Chaldeoassyrian (notice the lower case for Assyrian), and Syriac, respectively. It is interesting to note that 'Assyria' and 'Assyrians' a nation of some seven millennia of history, language and culture, is totally obliterated, and as though it is not enough, its language is falsified and called Syriac.
II. Legality vs Nationality
It is one thing-and rather important to accept the rendition
of the citizens and residents of Iraq, whatever their nationality,
political or religious affiliation, or whatever rationale they
may entertain among themselves to decide the paths of their future.
But, it is another-and rather just as important not to accept-No,
ignore, or better yet, vehemently reject the rendition of the
residents of the foreign countries to decide the path of the future
of 'Assyria' and 'Assyrians'.
It is beyond common sense and imagination that most of the signatories that happen to be rather well educated and professional individuals, would choose to undertake such an important act without consent and advice of their friends and their brethren. Most-if not all-probably are zealous to portray themselves as strict adherents of the U.S. foreign policy, and are presumably assessing that they are merely following the dictates of the Foggy Bottom (U.S. State Department). However, they are naïve. Because it is not so, and the United States has absolutely no interest in our national affairs, nor shall it show any in the future. It is up to us to foment movements. It is our sole duty, and no one else's.
The past must be constantly remind us not to accept promises, no matter who or whatever country issues them. The decisions of our past leadership of the 20s and early 30s cost us our country and a great number of fervent defendants of our nation, topped by the many losses among the civilian population. But, we are still around, and growing strong. We will not allow another wrong decision to seal our faith forever.
The U.S. and Great Britain forces shall not remain in Iraq forever. They will pull out at their convenience, and Iraq shall rule itself on whatever format it chooses. Thus, regenerating a new name and a new language is essentially destructive, since it shall only make us even more insignificant than we are today.
But, it is mainly the indigenous Assyrians whose lives and culture will be sacrificed on account of some selfish saber-rattlers. Capitulation is acceptable only when we are vanquished. We are still victors. 'Assyria' is a state of mind. Thus, it shall survive. It Must. Hence, by committing such a heinous act, as to sign in the name of the people that they do not represent, they stand accused of high treason. With no remorse, they should be disgraced to such an extent that no 'Assyrian' should hear them anymore.
In conclusion, it is important to note that the writer knows most of these participants from abroad, some of them happen to be friends, comrade-in-arms, and even relatives.
III. Preliminary Plan of Action
This is an open invitation to all the Assyrians of the world to take a cohesive action, immediately, and without delay.
In the meantime, the author stands ready to maintain a P.O.B., in order to maintain a line of communication-albeit pro tempore-- whether it is on individual or organization level. All individual contributions shall be dealt with and posted by a Certified Public Accountant. However, no organizational contributions are recommended at this moment. This step will materialize only when all bases of operations are progressing as anticipated.
Please post your opinions whether oral or written with this temporary coordinating center, as well as with the community media of your areas of residence.
Be vociferous, if you so desire. It is your right. It is your duty.
To communicate, to wage your opinions and to contact, please write to:
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: (714) 236-4851
GORGIAS PRESS HOLIDAY SALE & BOOK EXHIBIT
[Z-info: The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) supports and encourages the study of the peoples and cultures of the Near East, from the earliest times to the present. This year’s annual mmeting is scheduled between November 19-22 at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead in Atlanta.]
THE KURDISH VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY
An Analysis of the Constitution of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the (Kurdish) Constitution of Iraq
The Constitution of Iraq and the Constitution of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region which were authored by the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and adopted by the Kurdish Parliament (1) in October 2002, in the face of imminent US attacks on Iraq and prospects for a regime change, contain a number of provisions on national minorities, on freedom of religion and on the nature of the Iraqi state that reveal the Kurds' intentions regarding the future of the Christian community in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and in Iraq.
National minorities in the Constitution of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region
Article 4 provides that "The people of the Kurdistan Region consists of the Kurds and the national minorities of Turkmen, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Arabs and this Constitution recognizes the rights of these minorities."
It is noteworthy that this article does not put the various ethnic communities living on the territory of the Kurdistan Region on the same footing but grants a privileged status to the Kurdish majority and reduces the other communities to minorities, including the Christian community, whose religion and language are the basic components of its identity. Moreover, the content of "the rights of these ethnic minorities" is not defined anywhere in the Constitution and their practice is not supported by any provision regarding mechanisms of safeguard and implementation. The mere fact that Article 49 states, "Within the makeup of the Kurdistan Region’s Council of Ministers, representation of the national minorities, Turkmen, Assyrians and Chaldeans shall be taken into consideration", does not guarantee them any concrete right. The Chaldo-Assyrians (2) have been granted five seats in the Assembly and a minister in the Government. However, the dictatorship of the majority will be the rule.
As far as the languages of the national minorities are concerned, Article 7 states: "Kurdish shall be the official language of the Kurdistan Region. Official correspondence with the federal and regional authorities shall be both in Arabic and Kurdish. The teaching of Arabic in the Kurdistan Region shall be compulsory. The Turkmen language shall be considered the language of education and culture for the Turkmen in addition to the Kurdish language. Syriac shall be considered the language of education and culture for those who speak it in addition to the Kurdish language." The multi-tiered system of languages in the Kurdistan region speaks for itself. The Kurdish language is dominant. Only the teaching of the Arabic language is compulsory. The Turkmen language is to be used by the Turkmen in the field of education and culture, but only after the Kurdish and the Arabic languages. The Assyrians and Chaldeans are not even mentioned by their names for the use of Syriac, which has the same third rank status as the Turkmen language. The teaching language in all publicly funded schools will be Kurdish; moreover, there are no provisions for using Syriac as the teaching language in publicly funded schools. The only right of the Chaldo-Assyrian community is to set up, run and finance private schools in which the Syriac language is the teaching language (3).
In conclusion, the reduction of the Christian community and of their language to a minor status is the most visible sign of their "Kurdification".
National minorities in the (Kurdish) Constitution of Iraq
In this Constitution there are no specific provisions regarding the Chaldo-Assyrian community and the Syriac language.
Article 2 says that the Federal Republic of Iraq consists of two regions: the Arabic Region and the Kurdish Region while Article 4 says that the people of Iraq consists of the Arabic and Kurdish nationalities. The Chaldo-Assyrians and the Turkmen are totally ignored.
Freedom of religion and belief
Article 16 of the Constitution of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and Article 15 of the (Kurdish) Constitution of Iraq stipulate that "Freedom of religion and belief, and the practice of religious duties is guaranteed provided they do not conflict with provisions of this Constitution or the Federal Constitution or with federal laws and provided they do not go against general moral and ethical standards."
These standards must undoubtedly be understood as the Islamic standards.
Article 19 of the Constitution of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region states that the members of the Assembly must swear by Allah, the Almighty. It is therefore to be expected that the Chaldo-Assyrian members of the Parliament will have to swear by Allah.
Finally, Article 7 of the (Kurdish) Constitution of Iraq says that there is a state religion and it is Islam.
(2) At the close of the conference that the Assyrians and Chaldeans held in Baghdad on 22-24 October, they signed a resolution by which they proclaimed the unity of their nation and agreed to adopt the name Chaldo-Assyrians.
(3) Human Rights Without Frontiers Int. visited such a secondary school in Dohuk attended by more than 600 boys and girls. The classes took place in the premises of a Kurdish school used by the Kurds in the morning and rented to the Chaldo-Assyrian community in the afternoon. In the office of the principal and in the schoolbooks sat enthroned the picture of the Kurdish president Barzani, who had replaced Saddam Hussein.
JUNE IS TOO SOON!Shivers went up my spine as I read the sudden announcement
of a tentative agreement to disband the Coalition Provisional Authority
and American control in Iraq by June.
The Assyrian Christians along with the Iraqi Arabs were jubilant!
He was finally gone! Before the war when I was in Iraq Saddam’s
picture was everywhere! Having gone there initially against the
war and having to change my mind when I saw how hated he was it
was a bizarre scene.
Finally after many years, the lovers of the Assyrian music have discovered the magical sound of the Assyrian-Israeli dialects. The Assyrian Jews from Israel, like most other Syriac-speakers living in the western countries, place great emphasis on the preservation of their heritage, language, and traditions. They speak a unique Assyrian dialect called “Lishan Noshan” (“our own language”).
Historically, music has been one of the most resourceful ways to introduce history and language to the younger generation. That is exactly what Hadassa Yeshurun, an Assyrian artist from Israel, has done to ensure the survival of her people’s vanishing identity.
Hadassa, whose roots are from Urmia, Iran, was born in Binyamina, Israel. She moved to Holon with her family at a very early age where she began singing in the kindergarten. As a talented young girl, she continued singing at school and later became an active member of a chorus group. Soon she entertained at private parties, and at age 19 she had her first appearance in a formal event in Israel.
“Like a young Aramaic woman, I would like to preserve my
language its folklore and costumes”, says Hadassa. Hadassa
has recently released a new CD titled “Hal Iman” (Until
When), containing 12 songs. Her previous productions are listed
below, including Aramaic songs in Urmi, Bokan, Sablach, and Jewish
Hadessa’s CDs can be purchased by contacting her directly:
You may also email Hadassa at email@example.com.
$20, or a cassette for $10 (note the shipping cost is included)
[Z-info: Zinda Magazine urges its readers to support the Assyrian and Syriac-singing entertainers in Israel by purchasing their CD’s. The list of such prominent singers and their CD titles includes Mr. Shimshon Kalimi (Hanem La), Mr. Danial Azri, and Etzik Kala (Shali). Be sure to ask Hadassa for the special Zinda Magazine discount on your purchase of her latest CD. ]
Visit the Zinda Magazine Calendar at http://www.zindamagazine.com/calendar
Zindamagazine would like to thank:
Dr. Matay Arsan (Holland)
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