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Volume IX

Issue 41

29 December 2003
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This Week In Zinda

cover photo

  A Toast to a New Nation

The Assyrian and Kurdish Organizations in the Diaspora
AUA Spearheads the Assyrian Legislative Council from San Jose
ChaldoAssyrian Student Union Boycotts This Year ' s Elections
Assyrian Leaders from Iran Participate in the Baghdad Conference


Iraq will Return Christian Buildings Confiscated by the Baath
Mar Emmanuel III Calls Iraqis to Unity
Christmas Celebrated in Turkey
Christmas Celebrations Muted for Christians in Iraq
Killings Sow Fear Among Christians in Southern Iraq
U.S. Soldiers Adopt Assyrian Village with Educational Results


Yonadam Kanna's European Tour, Visit to Syria & UAE
Yonadam Kanna's Interview in France
Swiss Parliament Recongizes the Seyfo Massacre of 1915
Swedish Agents Spying on Assyrians for Saddam Arrested
Iran earthquake shocks Turlock 's Assyrian populace
Iran ' s Christians Hail Equal Diyeh
Assyrian Christmas A Time for Pastries
Assyrian Lawyer Returns Home to Make a Difference


Holiday Greetings
Correction to "Let Us Not Turn Yonadam into a King"
New Assyrian Radio Talk Show in Arizona
Santa ' s Doin ' His Thing
The First Assyrian Youth Exchange Hosted in London
New Executive Board of the Assyrian Foundation of America


Assyrian Aid Society Calendar Project


US Military Policies, IGC Must be Tried in Same Court as Saddam
Aldo Maroni's Latest Project: Rebuilding Babylon
A History of Hanukkah

   Ninos Aho & Yosip Bet-Yosip's Trips to China & Australia




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Zinda Says

A Toast to A New Nation

A deadly menace was facing us in the early days of January. Only a week into the new year, a call for the renaissance of the “Chaldean Nation” was made by a newly-appointed bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Detroit , Michigan . The call for Chaldean Renaissance was nothing but another fruitless attempt to win greater recognition prior to patriarchal elections.

Less than a month earlier, a jubilant “Band of Brothers” as Zinda Magazine called the group of Assyrian leaders meeting in London in December 2002, had announced the formation of a new leadership group whose members had appointed Mr. Yonadam Kanna as their representative in the Iraq of pre and post-Saddam regime. Saddam was in power and a somber feeling was slowly taking hold everywhere. Most of us felt that something was coming our way, but we did not know when, how, and what. None of us could even imagine that in less than four months Iraq would be fully liberated and an Assyrian leader would represent his people and the people of Iraq in a new Iraqi government.

Saddam Hussein and the divisive bishops are history. We now find ourselves facing a new ideological enemy. One that may be much harder to defeat than a cloaked bishop.

A little more than a year ago, we watched our leaders coming together in London and embracing one another as brothers whose only aim in life was the vision of unity for the Assyrian people – regardless of their religious and ethnic backgrounds. Watching them shaking hands and kissing gave us a renewed feeling of hope and courage to move ahead.

This feeling of oneness has once again subsided and our solidarity is slowly being replaced with anguish and despair. There is a growing sense that we are sacrificing our identity with a new characteristic perpetuated by a post-Saddam Assyrian Iraqis in power. The support for a “compound name” inside Iraq and the antipathy demonstrated outside of Middle East poses no small danger to the stability of the solidarity reached a year ago.

This widespread antipathy and incessant bickerings toward a political party in Iraq , a compound name, and an Assyrian church with ties to the Vatican are senseless exploitations of our wounded souls. They can only fog our sight and render us mute and inert in a time when we must aggressively seek every fabric of our national construction to reach unity and single-mindedness.

Some of us around the world see the Assyrian Democratic Movement a threat to our Assyrianism and its leader; and Yonadam Kanna, as an arrogant, hypocritical, self-absorbed, and self-indulgent person serving Kurdish and Shiite leaders. Yet, the same description has already been applied to every other political group and its leader in power since 1960's. The enemies of the Assyrian solidarity claimed that AUA was an instrument of the Shah of Iran , the ADO a Zionist movement; Sargon Dadesho, an agent of Saddam Hussein, and now Zowaa, a construction of Massoud Barazani in north Iraq . Frankly, the anti-Zowaa and anti-Compound Name sentiments are just media hypes directed at the uninformed public to gain popularity for the vanishing political parties outside of Iraq .

As expected the anti-unity spin doctors will continue to refuse a common leadership for Assyrians other than theirs in Chicago and Modesto . Their servile spokespersons on TV and radio and on the Internet forums will hear only what they want to hear. My advise: turn off your television and open your hearts and minds to the new reality of the Assyrian nation in the 21 st century: Saddam Hussein has been captured. Iraq is liberated and an Assyrian leader stands tall among the world leaders in Europe and the Middle East , representing his people and the entire people of Iraq .

We cannot dismiss public opinion in Baghdad and elsewhere. Yet we must move ahead toward a concrete goal, that is the vision of unity and self-determination perpetuated by likes of Dr. Freidoun Atouraya, Molfono Naom Faiq, and Raabie William Daniel. Above all political speculations, personal beliefs, and conflicting interests remains the highest vision of an Assyrian nationalist: a homeland for the Assyrian people in their native land of Bet-Nahrain. So let us welcome 2004 with a steadfast determination to create a new Iraq and renew our determination to stand united despite all superficial incongruencies.

Happy New Year!

Wilfred Bet-Alkhas

The Lighthouse

[Zinda Magazine thanks Mr. Fred Aprim for his regular contribution to the pages of this magazine in 2003. Mr. Aprim will continue to offer our readers his frank and perceptive observations in 2004 as a member of the Zinda Crew family of writers and reporters.]

The Assyrian and Kurdish Organizations in the Diaspora: A Comparative Analysis

The Kurds are doing everything right and Assyrians are doing almost everything wrong. The Kurds are preparing the foundation and infrastructure for their autonomous region while the Assyrian groups in the Diaspora are attacking their own brothers in Iraq . The Kurds are purchasing planes and opening airports; they are opening banks in northern Iraq and are calling foreign investors to start and, or, complete important Kurdish projects; they are purchasing lands in Assyria; and they are sending their students to U.S. universities.

  1. On November 26, 2003 , the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq called an urgent summit "The Kurdistan Gateway International Exhibition and Conference" on December 8-10 in northern Iraqi organized by a London based Kurdistan Development Corporation: http://www.kurdistancorporation.com/html/gateway.html
  2. On December 2, 2003 , the 101st Airborne Division's completed the renovations of the Hawler International Airport in Arbil and the first flight landed in the airport.
  3. On Dec 7, 2003 , Kurdish officials in the northern city of Sulaimaniya signed a 4.2-million-dollar contract with a Turkish firm to build another airport in Sulaimaniya.
  4. On December 8, 2003 , three students from the English department of the University of Sulaimaniya were nominated to get scholarships in the U.S.
  5. In November, The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) launched a nationwide postcard campaign, urging Congressional leaders to take action on Genocide legislation marking the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the Genocide Convention. The postcards featured moving photos from the Armenian Genocide, Jewish Holocaust, Rwandan and Cambodian genocides, as well as genocidal crimes committed against Ukrainians and Kurds: http://www.anca.org/anca/ancadesk.asp?adid=182

One wonders, how did the perpetrator and oppressor Kurd, who committed the Armenian and Assyrian genocide of WWI, and continues to do the same today in north of Iraq , become the victim while the victimized Assyrians failed to make the Armenian list? Isn ' t this because of the Assyrians ' failure and Kurdish successful diplomacy?

The above is just a sample. The Kurds may have not thought of all this on their own, however, the appropriate cooperation and unity when it is needed most helps. Most of this possibly is coming from the Diaspora Kurds with the help of perhaps Jewish groups and others including the Americans.

On the other hand, the majority of the Assyrian organizations in the Diaspora, especially those political in nature, have been and as usual, doing very little, almost none significant. What do they have to show for, ask many readers? Oops, they sense that they are on the hot spot. Oh, they say, let us shift the signs of our failure and incompetency over to those in Iraq ; let us attack them and blame them for changing our name, yeh. After all, such are the acts of failed groups; they tend to divert the attention regarding their own failures over to someone else, hoping that they become popular in the process. In most cases, the leaders of these failed organizations do not do the bulk of this dirty work; they push their foot soldiers, who in essence become their mouth pieces. These foot soldiers take their chances of being burnt or become heroes depending on the quality of the audience they have. In most cases, these poor foot soldiers have no idea what these leaders are planning behind the scene. They were almost nobody in society and today they feel important as they have their own cheap and useless programs on satellite TV.

I presented a hypothetical question on the Assyrian forum (see http://www.aina.org/bbs/index.cgi?read=15363 ) and asked for the readers' opinion.

I was surprised with the general tone of the responses: whether that in public but specially those in private. There is something very wrong when apologists (in most cases and not all) ignore the bulk or the essence of a topic and take the discussion into pity argument unrelated completely.

I needed a direct answer to a direct question, why cannot we have it. Lets have it in the open and see if this time around people (whether responding privately or publicly) will be more direct.

The ADM is building a home in Iraq . The ADM analyzed the situation in Iraq and realized that it is most beneficial for the Assyrians in Iraq to follow strategy (A). Now, if BNDP, AUA, ANO, etc. see that strategy (A) is not the most appropriate, what should they do as political organizations? As a political organization, BNDP, AUA, ANO, etc. must have their own agenda and strategy; a clear plan to achieve a clear goal; every political organization must have one. It must be there; written the day an organization is established. If they do not subscribe to strategy (A), where are their strategies and what are they doing as an alternative? How are they proceeding with their plans? How much have they accomplished out of these plans? In addition, do they have a timeframe regarding when they are going to accomplish these plans?

Fellow Assyrians,

The issue must not be since that guest and his wife (in my post on the Assyrian form) did not have a beautiful house like the one they visited; then they should destroy their friend ' s house just because they cannot have one like it. The issue is that if a big and beautiful house is what we need in life and we do not need the crummy old house we are in today, we must work harder to have that dream house. If we are satisfied with the crummy old house, we must then sit quietly and go about our business. If we cannot add a brick to this new house the ADM is building, lets not burn it.

If the moderate ADM is not doing enough to fulfill the dreams of the BNDP, AUA, ANO, etc. because of their limited power and conditions in Iraq or for any other reason, what holds the organizations that are present in a free society? What holds Bet Nahrain Inc. and its AssyriaSat from educating the world about what the Kurds have done to Assyrians for at least the last 200 years and until this very day? Is AssyriaSat capable of attacking fellow Assyrians but incapable from attacking Barzani and Talabani for their oppression; their inaction against Kurdish crimes against Assyrians in north of Iraq ; their marginalization of Assyrian presence in north of Iraq ; their plans to divide the Assyrian people into Assyrians and Chaldeans. Where are our priorities? What makes the AUA travel to Tehran to prevent the Assyrians there from attending the October 22-24 Baghdad Conference? If the AUA has been the only real Assyrian organization in Iran for some 35 years, how come that its leadership allowed the compounded name Chaldean and Assyrian (Chaldaya o'Atouraya) to be used as the official title of the Assyrian representative (who is from the AUA) in the Iranian Maglis (Parliament) until this moment. What makes ANO sign agreements with the separatist Chaldean groups of the Ghassan Hanna Shathaya and his representative Abd al-Ahad Afram in northern Iraq ?

Visit http://www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=457

With the help of certain international groups, we see a Kurd laying the foundation for his future country; meanwhile, all we see from the Assyrian groups in the Diaspora are attacks through their personal media and satellite TVs and collaboration with certain separatist and questionable groups. Is this the Assyrian nationalism in the eyes of BNDP, AUA, ANO, etc? Why don ' t they learn from the Kurdish experience and help the Assyrians of Iraq instead of continuously placing roadblocks in their path? How long this madness will be tolerated?

Fred Aprim


AUA Spearheads the Assyrian Legislative Council from San Jose

On 22 December 22 at 7:30 p.m. the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) organized a political rally at the new building of the Assyrian American Association of San Jose, in Willow Glen, California. The purpose was to update the Assyrians on the situation in Iraq and spearheading the establishment of the Assyrian Legislative Council. The speakers at the gathering, which was attended by less than thirty individuals, were Senator John Nimrod, Secretary General of the AUA, Rev. Kenneth Joseph Jr., and Mr. Carlo Ganjeh, the AUA Secretary for the Americas . According to Mr. Ganjeh, the poor turn out was attributed to the fact that the invitations were sent late and due to the Holiday Season.

Rev. Joseph stated that there were some positive news to report when it comes to security, which has improved to large extent. There are many police on the streets and the capture of Saddam should help yet further. He was optimistic of the new ambassador of Japan to Iraq who is a Christian and since Japan is contributing $5,000,000 to help Iraq , it was vital that part of this contribution go to the minorities and Christians since most of the other help is used by the Moslem majority.

The most disturbing new according to Rev. Ken Joseph is that Iraq is destined to be ruled by the Islamic Shari ' a rule and that Islam is going to be Iraq ' s official religion. He described his several meetings with the various American leadership in Washington D.C. in the last few months and his presence at Ambassador Paul Bremer's special hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on 22 September. Paul Bremer had tried to avoid issues relating to the new constitution of Iraq in that special hearing. When asked whether the new Iraq was going to be secular or ruled under the Shari ' a (as in the case in Iran ), he downplayed the issue and referred to the British Christian Constitution. Bremer was reminded then and there that Great Britain does not have a constitution! When confronted with the question again as to whether the Iraqi constitution was going to state that Islam is the official religion of the state, Bremer stated finally that he did not know and that Iraqis themselves will decide that! Rev. Joseph was concerned about the non-experts who are deciding the fate of Iraq . He added that the Americans are pulling out from the Iraqi government on 1 July 2004 without any guarantees for a secular government and without any special rights for the indigenous Assyrians.

Mr. Ganjeh stated that there were some 800,000 - 1,000,000 Assyrian Christians in Iraq , who needed our support. He added that the AUA has hired Mr. Victor Kamber, a Democratic Party Consultant in Washington , to work for the Assyrian cause in a limited capacity and a budget of $25,000 has been allocated for this with the help of the AUA Foundation. Furthermore, he stated that the AUA is seeking the assistance of an American Christian Conservative lobbying group in Washington . A large budget is needed for this project. He added that the AUA is spearheading the formation of the "Assyrian Legislative Council" in San Jose and it will be expanded to cover other cities and the entire United States . This council will be based on membership and the fees collected will cover the costs of the lobbying efforts.

I was not sure whether to pay attention to the repeated comments of Senator Nimrod when his turn came to speak or to the Assyrian Tree of Life engraved on the wall in the newly renovated hall of the new Association building directly behind him. The Senator was woody as usual and repeated an old saying he always brings up which in short explains how he is always given the chance to speak as the last speaker (behind Carlo Ganjeh, Rev. Ken Joseph, Alphone Odisho, representing the Association in this case) and that he then gets limited time and thus he has to rush. Senator Nimrod stated that we must pray and ask for God ' s assistance so we succeed in our national struggle. He stated that on 15 November, the Iraqi Governing Council issued the Fundamental Law in Iraq . This Law should expire in February 2004 by issuing first Iraq temporary constitution and an interim Iraqi government by next June. He then explained in details how a complicated process should follow until the permanent constitution, elections, and president are put in place in Iraq by 2005. He added that this is the time that we have to make sure that Assyrians are represented before the February deadline is upon us. For this, he stated that in January 2004, the AUA and all the other political parties that had participated in Amsterdam and November 2003 Germany meetings will travel to Iraq to meet with the Assyrian leaders and the Assyrian Democratic Movement. He spoke further and in details about the "Assyrian Legislative Council" and hoped that it would in the end the place where the united leadership would merge.

During the Q and A session, Mr. Edward Bet-Ashour, an ex-executive board member of the AUA and an adviser, stood and gave a lecture instead of a question and went on for quite some time until he reached where he was heading. He stated basically that the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) has changed the Assyrian national name ... here, I was forced to stand up and interrupt him. I admit that for the first time in my life and in public meeting, I raised my voice in the manner that I did, which was inappropriate. I just could not imagine how in these crucial times that Assyrians are going through; our so-called leaders are still busy with attacking each other. I just could not see any other way to respond to such irresponsible action. I reminded Mr. Bet-Ashour that the AUA has been established since 1968 and historically Iran was its stronghold for years. The Assyrian representative in the Iranian Majlis (parliament), Mr. Yonadam Bet Kolia, is a high officer of the AUA and its representative in Iran and Asia . I asked Mr. Bet-Ashour to remind the audience about the title of Mr. Bet Kolia in the Iranian Majlis. He played ignorant and I repeated my question and reminded him that Mr. Bet Kolia ' s title is to this very day the "Assyrian and Chaldean Representative." This has been the title of all representatives in the Iranian Majlis since 1962 and the AUA has failed to correct this. Therefore, before attacking the ADM for adopting the ChaldoAssyrian title to unite our people in Iraq , he needed to clean the 40-years-old-mess in Iran first. I reminded Senator Nimrod and the audience that the Kurds were cruel and ruthless people who did not pray to the true and righteous God; who massacres us, however, they have succeeded to achieve so much in the last 12 years in particular. This they did, not by praying, but being united when needed. I said, we must unite and that is the bottom line.

I was told later in private that the Iranian government and a powerful Catholic group were against the Assyrians and thus they could not do much to rectify the situation. I returned and reminded this high official in the AUA that just like it is in Iran , the powerful Kurds in Iraq are using some ill and weak at heart Catholic Assyrians to create divisions and using others to impose this title Chaldean in north of Iraq and in Baghdad today as a separate ethnic group. I reminded another official of the AUA that it was easy to call for Assyrian only name in the Diaspora, it is quiet different when you are in Iraq facing a situation as we see in these crucial times.

I need to remind the reader about Rev. Joseph ' s statements about the Islamic al-Shari ' a rule in Iraq . This was confirmed lately by Dr. Noah Feldman, a close advisor to Paul Bremer. In an interview with a British newspaper, Dr. Feldman stated that the United States is failing to create a secular, pro-Western Iraq . According to Feldman , Iraq is bound to embrace the Shari ' a form of Islamic law, as the basis for the Iraqi constitution. Check here:


Fred Aprim


ChaldoAssyrian Student Union Boycotts This Year's Elections

The Student Association of the previous northern Iraqi No-Fly Zone region was made of an umbrella Federation that included 19 Student Unions: 18 Kurdish Student Unions and the previously Assyrian Student Union (renamed ChaldoAssyrian Student Union.) The Turkoman were not represented under this, however, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) under Mas'oud Barzani had created a puppet group as the representative of the Turkoman students. The Turkoman United Front, the most popular group among the Turkomans, has refused to be part of this umbrella organization because it did not recognize the entire system put in by the two Kurdish parties of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) under Jalal Talabani. In fact, the Turkomans were not part of the Kurdish regional parliament. The Turkomans always believed that Turkey was going to protect their rights and be there when it was needed. The Assyrians decided to be part of such student federations because Assyrians needed to be inside these groups despite the fact that they could not sway the vote to their side. Being part of such groups gives the Assyrians the chance to be present in student meetings and thus a chance to be aware of what is going on.

Student elections in the past were confined in the three regions of Dohuk, Arbil, and Sulaymania. The Assyrians were not part of the Sulaymania ballots since they do not have a reasonable number of students in this governorate to justify participation. However, they have participated in the Dohuk and Arbil elections. The Assyrians had some 3000 high schools and college students eligible in this years' elections.

This year's elections of the Student Unions were special due to the fact that Iraq was liberated and the Kurds expanded the election process to include Mosul and Kirkuk as well. The organizing committee of the elections visited all the five governorates of Sulaymania, Arbil, Dohuk, Kirkuk, and Mosul . However, the committee, which is controlled by Kurds, when visiting Kirkuk and Mosul did not visit with the Assyrian, Arab, or Turkoman city council representatives in the two governorates to coordinate with them the details of the elections or how they should be conducted. Their communications were solely with the Kurdish city councils in the two said governorates. To make things worse, they selected the December 24, 2003 , as the date for the Student Unions elections. As it is well-known throughout Iraq that the ChaldoAssyrian Christian students stay home on both the 24th and 25th of December because of Christmas. The Kurdish committee insisted to hold the elections on the 24th, when students were out of school, and the ChaldoAssyrian Student Union was forced to boycott this year ' s elections.

There is another important issue. Due to previous central and local government policies against the Assyrians in Iraq in general and north of Iraq in particular, there are Assyrian localities that Assyrian students make a small minority compared to Kurds. The ChaldoAssyrian Student Union fights in order to have the Assyrian students (wherever they existed) to hold their own separate elections and select their own representatives to the regional Student Union Federation. The Kurds have blocked such move, in order to force whenever a small Assyrian minority students existed to vote for Kurdish representatives. It is obvious that 20 or 30 Assyrian students in any school cannot win against 300 or 500 Kurdish students. As indigenous people, the Assyrians must be given special considerations in any kind of elections, including those of the Student Unions. The low Assyrian population is due to decades of central and local government policies against the Assyrians, who were forced to flee their ancestral lands in northern Iraq .

It is very unfortunate that the Kurds act in such manner, while they claim to be champions for democracy. The victims of yesterday are becoming the oppressors of today. They want to paint the entire northern Iraqi region with the Kurdish color and ignore the rights of the other groups in that region. It is vital that an International body of observers oversees northern Iraq to insure justice, equality, and true democracy due to the delicate demographic mixture of the region.

Fred Aprim


Assyrian Leaders from Iran Participate in the Baghdad Conference, Appear on Ashur TV

Four Assyrian leaders and notables from Iran participated in the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Conference of October 22-24, 2003 . Two of these leaders were interviewed by Ashur TV satellite station. Mr. Atour Khnanesho on November 29, 2003 , and Prof. Ronald Thomas-Zadeh on December 6, 2003 .

The following is a brief description of what the two leaders stated in their interviews.

1. Mr. Atour Khnanesho

Introducing himself, Mr. Khnanesho stated that he has been involved in Assyrian affairs for some 45 years. His activities have taken him through many parts of the world. In 1968, he was one of the founders of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) and he was for 8 years (1984 – 1992) the Chaldean and Assyrian representative in the Iranian Maglis (Parliament) for eight years.

About the representation of our people in Iran and its circumstances, he stated that when the 1931 Iranian Constitution was written, only Armenians were recognized. In the 1962 constitution, however, our people were represented as Chaldean and Assyrians. He explained that the Catholic Church was powerful, and the Europeans missionaries, mainly French, had great impact in the country ' s affairs and using that title. It was for this reason that the name Chaldean and Assyrian was used despite the fact that there are no Chaldeans in Iran . After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the country wrote its new constitution. Here, few individuals and certain institution were the reason for this designation to remain; we were helpless.

Regarding the October 22-24, 2003 Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Baghdad Conference, Mr. Khnanesho stated that while in Iran we heard many rumors. Mostly focused on a claim that Assyrian groups, especially from the USA and Europe , were not participating and that the conference was going to be a ZOWAA only conference. When we asked around, many organizations and institutions told us that they would not participate. Mr. Khnanesho continued to state that the four of us (Prof. Ronald Thomas-Zadeh, Dr. Ninous Oraha, Victor Berin, and Atour Khnanesho) decided to participate because we have heard about the activities of ZOWAA. In Baghdad , to our surprise, we met many of those organizations who has stated that they were not going to attend. We learned later that 80 percent out of those received the invitations attended the conference. This was a great moment for us.

Mr. Khnanesho stated that he has attended many conferences in his lifetime, but nothing comes close to the Baghdad Conference. He stated that these are not the days of World War I; we agreed with this unified name because we needed to unite our people; we needed to express sympathy and respect for each other. We understand history, Mr. Khnanesho added, but we must embrace those who were lost with open arms; we cannot shut them off. We have to address our people with openness and understanding. Today there is a reality on the ground; we cannot say we will not accept Chaldeans or Suryan, especially when they are willing to come together. You can say I am Assyrian and the other will say I am Chaldean and in the final analysis, we will remain divided. We must not repeat the mistakes of 70 years ago. We are facing great challenges and it is significant that we do whatever it takes to unite, even if that meant using ten names.

Answering a question, which claims that the four attendees from Iran were not recognizable and not reputable in Iran , Mr. Khnanesho stated that who we are speaks loud about us. Prof. Ronald Thoams-Zadeh is a Professor in Political Science; Mr. Victor Barin, holds a Masters degree and is the President of the Assyrian Council of the Church of the East in Tehran; Dr. Ninos Oraham is a well-known physician with over 40 years of service, and I have been involved in Assyrians affairs for 45 years. The four people are well-known and respected members of the Assyrian community and it is very unfortunate that we hear such things from certain individuals on their TV stations.

Finally, Mr. Khnanesho expressed his great pleasure for being part of the Baghdad Conference. It was as if all the participant had the same vision about the dangers facing our people and they all needed to act in response to that urgent call. They chose the Chaldo Assyrian unified name at the conference because they had to unite in order to survive; without unity, we will all lose, said Mr. Khnanesho. ChaldoAssyrians will not make any changes in our lives outside Iraq ; it just brought 600,000 brothers home. We will not survive by screaming Atour … Atour; it is not enough. Survival will not be accomplished through poetry. By this unified ChaldoAssyrian name we brought unity and with unity we bring empowerment. This is how we will survive, Mr. Khnanesho concluded.

2. Prof. Ronald Thomas-Zadeh

Prof. Thomas-Zadeh ' s message evolved around unity, which was the theme and focus of the October 22-24, 2003 , Baghdad Conference. All participants agreed on this vision that we are one people and that it was important to have one name representing us in the future constitution of Iraq . Starting from this focal point, the participants agreed easily on two points, which state that our name is ChaldoAssyrian, and out language and culture is Syriac.

Prof. Thomas-Zadeh stated that there are certain groups in Iraq who do not want our unity; they want our demise. These groups tried hard; they used certain Assyrians and Chaldean individuals to create unrest and division between the Assyrians and the Chaldeans. It is important to understand that people are brought up differently, we were brought up to be Assyrians, others were brought up to be Chaldeans and so on. These old problems need long time to resolve. We know history and it is clear, however, today we need this.

Unity, stated Prof. Thomas-Zadeh, is not a word we utter; it is something we must practice if we really mean saying it. We have been known by many names; however, today we see many of us working together as one people. The Assyrians of Iraq, stated Prof. Thomas-Zadeh, need the support of the Diaspora Assyrians; we need a global strategy to support our people in Iraq . In time, the empowerment of Assyrians in Iraq will turn around where they will be able to help Assyrians around the world.

Raabi Yonadam Kanna , as a member of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) was invited officially by the Iranian government to visit Tehran . It was important that our people in Iran meet with him and listen to the latest news about our situation in Iraq . Permission was presented to the Iranian government to have such meeting and it was granted. We quickly made some phone calls and succeeded to gather some 250 people, despite the efforts of few individuals to block our efforts. In that gathering questions were asked and Raabi Kanna answered them all; it was a fruitful gathering. It has been a long time since such quality meeting had taken place in Iran . We understand what is going on in Iraq and we envision positive things for Assyrians, explained Prof. Thomas-Zadeh.

Prof. Thomas-Zadeh addressed the gathering in Tehran , he thanked Raabi Kanna and ZOWAA for their diligent work in Iraq . He stressed that division will not help us in these crucial moments of our history and after thousands of years of efforts to protect our presence in our ancestral lands. Prof. Thomas-Zadeh stated that we do not want to be recognized as Christians as we have been by previous governments. Division due to names have been the reason for our backwardness. Unity and intelligence will help us go forward and we will be able to protect our rights in our ancestral lands. He added, the power of a nation is in its unity and mental acuteness. If we unite and drop these empty signs and acts of divisions, we will concentrate of building schools and strong institutions and our people will progress. Prof. Thomas-Zadeh emphasized that the Assyrians of Iraq needed three things: Education, wisdom, and power. Unity, he stressed, was the most important of all, since it empowers Assyrians.

Prof. Thomas-Zadeh concluded the interview by stating that he knew that he was an Assyrian because he and his parents knew their history. However, if someone did not have the chance to know this fact, it does not mean that we attack or insult him or her. Wisdom tells us, added Prof. Thomas-Zadeh, that with unity we will have a chance to teach our history, language, and culture to our people. Our people are involved in many aspects of the process of rebuilding Iraq ; we have a good thing here. In every nation, there is that diversity of opinion, however, that does not mean leading our people to disaster. A person cannot be an Assyrian when he uses empty arguments to damage this nation; he cannot be the son of this nation. Prof. Thomas-Zadeh concluded by stating that the conference is not going to change our name and history; we have to show respect for each other and unite to catch up with the rest of world ' s civilizations.

Fred Aprim

Good Morning Assyria

Iraq will Return Christian Buildings Confiscated by the Baath; Syriac Teaching Allowed in Iraq

(ZNDA: Baghdad ) According to the Decision 87 of Iraq ' s Governing Council approved on 5 November and made public last week, all religious schools and houses of worship confiscated by Saddam Hussein will be returned to their owners. This will include all Christian schools and churches.

Saddam ' s government abolished free schools in May 1974. The confiscation of properties occurred in March 1975. At that time there were 80 schools and colleges in existence, including 34 Christian institutions. According to Vatican , 15 schools and colleges will be returned to the Chaldean Catholic Church.

The Christians and Moslems will be given freedom to manage their own educational resources, according to this decision in which it is stated that "all decisions, laws and rules leading to the confiscation, closure, incorporation and annulling of the power to run colleges, mosques, institutes and schools" will be passed to the legitimate owners of these institutions.

The decision will be incorporated into the new Iraqi Constitution and will guarantee the freedom to teach and run schools autonomously. This will also include a full curriculum in Syriac language, modeled after the successful program in existence in north Iraq since 1994.


Mar Emmanuel III Calls Iraqis to Unity

Courtesy of Zenit News Agency (22 December)

(ZNDA: Baghdad ) Emmanuel III Delly took possession of his office as Chaldean patriarch by calling all Iraqis to unity, at a time when Christians are wary of rising signs of Muslim fundamentalism.

The patriarch made his appeal Sunday in St. Joseph Cathedral, which was crowded with hundreds of faithful. Sunni and Shiite representatives and dignitaries also attended the ceremony.

Iraqi police was deployed to guarantee security.

"We all make up only one family, the family of Iraqis," the new patriarch said, addressing citizens of all confessions.

At the start of the ceremony, Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Wardouni addressed the new patriarch, saying: "We pray to God so that he will help you to guide his boat, in these difficult times, to the shores of peace."

The synod of the 22 bishops of the Chaldean Church chose the new patriarch on Dec. 3 at the Vatican . The Chaldean Church is in communion with Rome .

Christmas Celebrated in Turkey

Courtesy of the Zaman (26 December)

(ZNDA: Istanbul ) Christmas was observed throughout Istanbul and in other Turkish cities where Christians reside. Christians attended church services amid tight security, as a result of the terror attacks in Istanbul last month. Services were held at Istanbul ' s St. Espirt Cathedral in the Harbiye district. Police took intense security measures before and after midnight mass at the church and on Elmadag Street , where about 500 people came to worship. The churches had reportedly requested these security measures. During the midnight Mass, verses from the Holy Bible were read, candles were lit and hymns were sung.

The Assyrians of Mardin celebrated the Christmas holiday with a midnight Mass at the Kirklar Church , Christians in Hatay held a service at the St. Pierre Church , which was the first catacomb to be used by Christians for religious observances. It later became known as the most important church, after St. Peter ' s Basilica in Rome . This year hundreds of Christians from all over the world traveled to Selcuk, in Izmir , to celebrate Christmas in the house of the Virgin Mary.


Christmas Celebrations Muted for Christians in Iraq

Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune (26 December); by Evan Osnos

(ZNDA: Baghdad ) Even delayed until daylight, Christmas in Iraq came without peace.

Fearing the lawlessness of Baghdad at night, thousands of Iraqi Christians postponed their traditional midnight services until dawn Thursday. But just before daybreak, the celebration was marred by a wave of rocket, mortar and grenade attacks on embassies, military bases, government ministries and a major hotel.

A Chaldean priest joins a procession to the inaugural Mass at St. Joseph ' s Chaldean church in Baghdad on 21 December as an Iraqi policeman stands guard in the background. Photo by Alexander Demianchuk for Reuters.

The rebel attacks struck a spiritual blow to Iraq ' s small Christian community, where the first Christmas since the fall of Saddam Hussein was already muted by fears of rising religious extremism and the mounting toll taken by crime and shortages of gas and electricity.

Representing just 3 percent of Iraq ' s 24 million people, Iraqi Christians see themselves in a growing struggle to carve out their place in a nation dramatically redrawing the bounds of religious and ethnic power.

"I can ' t deny we ' re afraid. We just pray that God will help us get to the end of this dark period," said Rev. John Ayub Suleiman, a Syriac Orthodox priest at Baghdad ' s Church of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Coming one day after deadly bombings in Baghdad and the northern city of Irbil killed 11 people, including 4 Americans, the renewed violence confirmed U.S. warnings that insurgents could unleash an offensive timed to the Christian holiday.

In Christian neighborhoods, shop windows were stuffed with Santa Claus figures and sprightly lights, while bakeries served sweet pastries to finely dressed customers. But celebrations were curtailed.

Fearing suicide attacks against targets perceived to be tied to the West, some church leaders in Baghdad canceled Sunday ' s services for the first time anyone could remember. Breaking a tradition of late-night Christmas parties, priests advised against gathering conspicuously, even in private homes.

Most dispiriting, Suleiman said, was taking the unprecedented step of arranging for some parishioners to discreetly carry guns on Christmas morning.

Seeking to pre-empt insurgent attacks, the U.S.-led coalition on Wednesday launched a second wave of raids and aerial strikes on suspected resistance strongholds that echoed overnight across the capital.

Then insurgent violence erupted about 6 a.m. Thursday when rocket-propelled grenades hit the Sheraton Hotel, home to many foreign contractors and journalists.

Rockets were also launched at the Iranian and Turkish embassies and a residential building beside the German Embassy, as well as the Interior Ministry and a Baghdad municipal office building. There were no casualties in any of the incidents.

A woman was wounded in a separate attack on a residential building near the Sheraton when a rocket tore into an apartment and through the walls of two bedrooms. Strikes were also reported in the Green Zone, which is occupied by coalition administrators.

After dark Thursday, a U.S. military camp in the town of Baquba , 40 miles north of Baghdad , was targeted in a mortar attack that wounded eight soldiers, U.S. officials said.

At churches across the capital, the attacks eclipsed hope that the day would bring solace after a bittersweet year.

Under Hussein ' s regime, Christians--mostly Assyrian Catholics, known as Chaldeans--enjoyed relative religious freedom and did not suffer the persecution that sent thousands of Iraq ' s majority Shiite Muslims to prisons and mass graves. But those who asserted their ethnic Assyrian identity faced often-brutal repression. Beginning in the late 19th Century, Chicago has been a major destination for Assyrians.

Iraqi Christians found reasons to rejoice in Hussein ' s downfall.

"Saddam suffocated us," said Yunan Goreal, 35, a Christian who spent six years in the Kurdish north working secretly for an Assyrian political party before returning to Baghdad in April. "We never dreamed of this. We never dreamed that we could come to Baghdad and live freely."

But they also speak of a growing anxiety. After the fall of Baghdad , a string of anti-Western attacks struck liquor stores owned by Christians. Threatening letters have arrived at churches and Assyrian political groups warning them to cover their heads as Muslims do, renounce alcohol and abandon their Western leanings.

Looking to the future, many Christians also say they are concerned that Islamic law will be enshrined, at their expense, in the new Iraqi constitution.

"We are not against Islam. All we demand is our legal rights as an original ethnic dimension of this land," said Romel Shamouel, editor of the newspaper of the Assyrian Patriotic Party. "We are afraid of being tyrannized by the majority in the eyes of the law."

"We are at a critical juncture," said Rev. Emanuel Youkhana, a priest returning to Iraq after 12 years in exile. "It is not enough for a constitution to say, `We respect the Christian liturgy. ' We must fight--and I mean every responsible Iraqi--for the right to a secular state."

But political concerns faded amid talk of security at the Church of the Holy Heart in Baghdad ' s Karada neighborhood, where parents and children streamed from a bright blue-sky morning into a simple tan-brick sanctuary, stopping to cross themselves in holy water as they passed and filing into plain wooden pews.

"You can look at the faces of the people and see they are not like normal. They are scared," said Wiem Kienem, clutching the hands of her 10-year-old daughter, Marianna, and 6-year-old son, Ramez. "But it ' s other things . . . like we have no electricity. I couldn ' t even dry my hair this morning."

Children darted in and out of the door while their parents stood and recited the Lord ' s prayer in Arabic. Rev. Basil Marroki, in pearly white vestments, recited the names of members of the congregation who had died recently. Then he pointedly reminded the congregation that there would be no evening celebration, in contrast with past years.

Earlier, away from the congregation, Marroki said: "Of course we are celebrating, but they are frightened. Half of the families will not come this year, I think."

Not far away, at Golden Toys, a mother finished last-minute shopping; many Iraqis wait up to a week after Christmas to exchange gifts.

Anoosh Yegitian and her two children gazed through a glass case full of wristwatches in search of a gift. She and her family were planning to swap presents this year, but other traditions had been scuttled.

"We are just celebrating to convince the children that it ' s OK," Yegitian said, when her 9-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son were out of earshot.

"There are no parties or celebrations. We will not go to the church because it is not safe. We will buy gifts for the children and celebrate at home."


Killings Sow Fear Among Christians in Southern Iraq

Courtesy of the Reuters (31 December); by Suleiman al-Khalidi

(ZNDA: Basra ) Toma Elias was killed by a single shot to the head in the middle of Basra ' s bazaar on Christmas Eve as he prepared to head home to celebrate with his wife and five children.

The killing of the Iraqi Christian alcohol merchant sowed fresh fear in a community afraid of increasing religious intolerance in mainly Shi ' ite Muslim southern Iraq .

His widow Jihan cried hysterically outside the Chaldean Church in the affluent Manawi Pasha neighborhood after Christmas Mass, held in the morning because the lack of security prevented holding a midnight service.

"We buried Bashir and our priests are celebrating while we are being slaughtered," said 40-year-old Jihan. "Where is the peace they preach?"

Bashir, 48, was the latest liquor store trader fatally shot in the country ' s second-largest city since the fall of Saddam Hussein ' s government in April. Residents say the killer escaped as passers-by looked on, in a city still plagued by crime and mob rule despite the British military presence.

Since the war that toppled Saddam, armed groups have looted and set ablaze several liquor stores in the once freewheeling city, where Shi ' ite religious parties now wield power and seek to impose strict moral regulations, similar to Iran ' s.

More than 400 liquor stores run by Christians, the only community allowed to sell alcohol under the former Baathist government, were forced to close in the immediate aftermath of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq .

Basra was once a cosmopolitan trading center and playground for rich Kuwaitis and Saudis who flocked to its casinos and nightclubs in the midst of an austere region where alcohol was banned.

Christians Afraid

"Alcohol selling has changed from Christians to Muslims. Now it ' s Muslims who sell after taking the trade from us," said an embittered Joseph Hanna, a Christian property developer and hotel owner who blames militant Shi ' ite groups for the killings.

"We fear for our lives and our interests from the extremist Shi ' ites who are targeting us as Christians," said Misak Victor, another liquor merchant.

Iraqi Christians are terrified of armed Shi ' ite groups, which have names like God ' s Vengeance, God ' s Party and the Islamic Bases Organization.

Their members roam the streets to chase mobsters, drug addicts and prostitutes, exacting their brand of what they call God ' s law.

The number of parties carrying Islam ' s banner is a force to reckon with in the post-Saddam political order, holding sway on local councils and competing with a beleaguered police force in imposing order in the unruly streets.

Abdullah Faisal, head of the Islamic Bases Organization, says Islam venerates his young "martyrdom seekers," who have a mandate from God to stamp out vice.

But Faisal says the killings of liquor traders were carried out by undisciplined militant Islamic groups and that Islam opposed the summary executions witnessed in Basra .

"Some Islamic movements have challenged liquor merchants. There was burning and killings," he said. "Religion doesn ' t allow this even though we confront vice and crime."

Christians Leave the South

Unlike the majority Shi ' ites long persecuted by Saddam Hussein, many Christians found that Saddam ' s Baath party and its secular pan-Arabist nationalist ideology tolerated them.

"We never saw harm under Saddam Hussein," said Tareq Boutros, a former liquor store owner who now runs a garment business.

Christian Iraqis fear that militant Shi ' ite militias want to impose an intolerant brand of Islam on minorities and rival Muslim sects.

They say Shi ' ite power in postwar Iraq has allowed them to dominate a new police force which they say is corrupted by a mix of local mobsters and militant Islamic parties.

"You now find police in the streets but I am certain if a murder takes place in front of them they would not deal with it. If you talk to a policeman he will tell you, ' I cannot do anything," ' said Sami Shamas, a mathematics teacher.

Iraqi Christians are terrified of armed Shi ' ite groups, which have names like God ' s Vengeance, God ' s Party and the Islamic Bases Organization.

Their members roam the streets to chase mobsters, drug addicts and prostitutes, exacting their brand of what they call God ' s law.

The number of parties carrying Islam ' s banner is a force to reckon with in the post-Saddam political order, holding sway on local councils and competing with a beleaguered police force in imposing order in the unruly streets.

Abdullah Faisal, head of the Islamic Bases Organization, says Islam venerates his young "martyrdom seekers," who have a mandate from God to stamp out vice.

But Faisal says the killings of liquor traders were carried out by undisciplined militant Islamic groups and that Islam opposed the summary executions witnessed in Basra .

"Some Islamic movements have challenged liquor merchants. There was burning and killings," he said. "Religion doesn ' t allow this even though we confront vice and crime."


U.S. Soldiers Adopt Assyrian Village with Educational Results

Courtesy of Gulf1.com (28 December); Spc. Joshua Hutcheson

(ZNDA: Mosul ) The children and schools of one northern Iraqi village have benefited by being adopted by soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

The soldiers of Crusader Battery, 1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment, attached to the 101st, adopted the small Assyrian-Christian village of Karmless and began Operation Provide Classroom Comfort when they saw the deplorable conditions in the village ' s schools.

"Classrooms were in a state of disaster and by any American building code standard would have been condemned," said Capt. Mark Sherkey, company commander.

The condition of the pre-school, secondary school and two primary schools made for an environment where the students were more focused on staying warm then learning. Many classrooms had no doors, leaving the children to the mercy of the weather.

"During our visit in December, students sat shoulder-to-shoulder, wrapped in whatever winter gear they could, to stay warm," Sherkey said. "If a student is cold and tired and there ' s no chalkboard, then he can ' t learn."

Using more than $50,000 acquired from the 101st Division Artillery Commander ' s Emergency Relief Fund, the soldiers of Crusader Battery began the task of making the schools a more conducive environment for learning, Sherkey said.

"Our number one focus regarding this project is the winterization of classrooms," he said. "Once we repair the basic necessities we believe teachers and students alike will be in a comfortable environment where learning will flourish and suffering will diminish."

The local contractors and laborers used for the operation were hired from the village population. Many of them also worked at the Crusader base in the city of Mosul .

The workers quickly set themselves to the job of building bathrooms and repairing existing ones. A few of the schools had no running water at all, in others a complete renovation of the building plumbing system was needed. The contractors also built doors and chalkboards for the classrooms, Sherkey said.

Crusader Battery did more then just rebuild and refurbish the schools, they also used their connections in America to have school supplies sent to Karmless. Soldiers appealed to schools and people to send as much as they could. The result included schools from all over America who sent boxes of supplies, Sherkey said.

1st Lt. Iven Sugai, 2nd platoon leader, Crusader Battery, is a Hawaii Pacific University alumnus. He used his alumni connections to have the school donate boxes of pens, pencils, paper, notebooks and other items, said.

Besides colleges and high schools, private citizens in Maryland , Virginia , Texas , Kentucky , California and almost 10 other states sent in items.

So far, Operation Provide Classroom Comfort has received boxes full of items, things like chalk, a two-year supply of National Geographic, textbooks, world maps and computers, Sherkey said.

The soldiers have coordinated with the Coalition Provisional Agency for them to continue the operation even after Crusader Battery has left the country.

"The best thing about this project is that even when we leave it will still keep going," Sherkey said.

In addition to providing school supplies, the troops also funded the construction of a playground for the village pre-school, with swings, a seesaw and a merry-go-round.

The citizens of the village are pleased with the work that has been done to the schools.

"We are very glad," said Farag Pouleef Yousef, a resident of Karmless village. "We appreciate the work they ' ve done."

"We ' re glad because school is the base of things and we want classroom comfort," seconded Ismael Mathews, also a resident of the village.

The soldiers of Crusader Battery feel that ensuring the educational future of the children of Karmless village is time well spent. They know that they ' re not just helping the students learn, they are also cementing positive ties between Americans and Iraqis.

"Our presence changes the course of anti-American sentiment and begins the building process of an American-Iraqi coalition for bettering Iraq ," Sherkey said.


News Digest

Yonadam Kanna's European Tour, Visit to Syria & UAE

(ZNDA: London ) The Honorable Yonadam Kanna , the Chaldean Assyrian Christians representative in the Iraqi Governing Counsil and other members of the IGC visited Europe , Syria , & the United Arab Emirates on a 10-day tour starting 14 December for talks on bilateral political and economic cooperation. Other members included the current President of the Iraqi Governing Council, Mr. Abdelaziz al-Hakim, president of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and Mr. Jalal Talabani president of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Yonadam Kanna standing next to the Spanish Foreign Minister, Ana Palacio

On Sunday 14th December, the delegation met with Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain and the Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio.

On Monday 15th December, the delegation met with President Jacques Chirac of France and the French Foreign Minister Dominic de Villepin. Meetings were also scheduled with the speakers of the Senate and National Assembly, and the chairman of the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee. A meeting with French business leaders was also organized by MEDEF. France does not recognize the IGC as it recognizes only states, not governments.

The Honorable Yonadam Kanna and the current president of the IGC, Mr. Abdelaziz al-Hakim

The delegation arrived in London on 16 December for further high-level talks with the British Government. Mr. Kanna met with Foreign Minister Jack Straw and Prome Minister Tony Blair on 17 December.

During an interview with the Jerusalem Post's Paris Bureau, Mr. Kanna told Michel Zlotowski – a JP reporter - that Saddam Hussein had a team of scientists working on a nuclear weapons program. Mr. Kanna also noted that: “One nuclear engineer out of the team of 14 on this project is now on our side…We know they were working on an nuclear weapon." Mr. Kanna met with President Jacques Chirac in an effort to secure French support for the rebuilding of Iraq .

Mr. Kanna met the Chaldean-Assyrian communities of France on 18 December, where he was welcomed by François Pupponi, Mayor of the city of Sarcelles, the representatives of the Assyro-Chaldean associations in France; the Assyro-Chaldean youth associations in France, and the Chaldean Churches.

Yonadam Kanna stands next to the Spanish Prime Minister, Mr. Jose Maria Aznar

On 19 December the delegation travelled to Germany and met with Chancellor Gerhard Schroder.  

On 21 December the delegation met with President Bashar Assad of Syria . IGC President Al-Hakim, accompanied by Mr. Kanna and Mr. Samir al-Soumaidai, another IGC member, arrived in the Syrian capital of Damascus from Tehran . Mr. Hamid Bayati, a spokesman for al-Hakims Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, told reporters that the delegation's visit to Syria was aimed at strengthening bilateral ties between the neighbouring countries.

Mr. Kanna meeting German business leaders at a conference sponsored by MEDEF

Earlier in the day, Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam met with an Iraqi delegation of intellectuals that included artists, actors, musicians and politicians.

On 22 December the delegation met with President Vladimir Putin in Russia .

On 23 December, the delegation ended their official visit to Europe and the Middle Eat with a meeting with Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan, ruler of the United Arab Emirates.  


Yonadam Kanna's Interview in France

[Z-info: The following is the text of the interview conducted by the French paper La Croix with the Honorable Mr. Yonadam Kanna on 16 December. The interview was conduced by Mr. Alain Guillemoles. Special thanks to our colleagues at the Assyro-Chaldean Voice in Paris , France . The text is translated from French by Zinda Magazine]:

Mr. Yonadam Kanna , the leader of the main Christian political movement in Iraq , believes that " France 's role will be important in the political process ". Yonadam Kanna is a member of the Iraqi Governing Council and the head of the Assyrian Democratic Movement.

Croix: Along with the delegation of the interim Iraqi authority, yesterday you met Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin. Do you think that the attitude of France is changing about Iraq ?

•  Kanna: Yes, we made big progress. The IGC members are henceforth accepted as the representatives the Iraqi people by the French authorities. The Americans had already accepted us as such. They did not appoint us; it is necessary to underline this. All of us do appreciate the efforts made by the United States to remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq . It is not good for us if France stays away.

What results did you reach on the renegotiation of the debt of Iraq ?

•  Iraq 's debt is 120 billion dollars. We tried to negotiate to lower this. Here, the role of France is important and there is a certain understanding. If France helps us to find all the funds which were stolen by the dignitaries of the Baathist regime, we shall have more opportunities to paid it off … The role of France will be important in the political process also. For the next six months, we will be in full process of transition before receiving the full sovereign power. During this period, we need the expertise of France for the editorial staff of the new Constitution (bylaws), as well as observers during the elections.

Do you wish for France to send troops to Iraq ?

•  It may not be so necessary. To participate in the training of our police is more important than to bring new foreign forces to Irarq. Until now, our police was directed to protect the leaders and oppress people. Now, we it is re-formed to protect the population. France promised us soon to open such a training school in Iraq .

At the time of Saddam Hussein ' s fall, the Christians of Iraq were afraid of becoming victims of settings of scores. Is it still the case?

•  The regime had spread a poison: it was this belief that, without it, the Shiite Moslems would come to power and kill the Sunni Moslems and the Christians. It was not true and will never be the case. Naturally, the end of a regime of oppression which lived for thirty five years brings a certain instability. For the first time in our history, we have respect for our religion, our ethnic groups or our culture. We are represented in all the new institutions. Until now, we were treated only as unwanted guests. Now, this country is our house.

Are you afraid of the institution of an Islamic republic?

•  No. The Moslem leaders agree to separate the religion and the State. And we respect the principles of the religion of the majority of the Iraqis which is Islam.

Do you prefer that Saddam Hussein be condemned to capital punishment (death)?

•  It could contribute to the protection of the Iraqis. We experienced thirty five years of terror and it is necessary to carry out a strong signal to put a stop. It would not be about a revenge. I was condemned to death by the former regime myself. My judgment was personally signed by Saddam Hussein. I managed to escape. But I have no desire of vengeance today. I think simply that it is necessary to keep the capital punishment for a period of transition of two years, until we eradicate terrorism.


Swiss Parliament Recongizes the Seyfo Massacre of 1915

(ZNDA: Zurich ) The House of Representatives in Switzerland has voted to officially recognize the Seyfo Genocide of 1915 which resulted in the death of millions of Assyrians, Armenians, and Pontic Greeks in the hands of Turkey .

The move comes almost three months after Ankara snubbed the Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, over a similar decision taken by a cantonal parliament.

Last Tuesday, the House decided with 107 votes in favor, 67 against and 11 abstentions to recognize the massacre of the Christians in the Ottoman Empire . Armenians say around 1.5 million people were killed; Turkey disputes this, putting the figure closer to 200,000.

The parliamentary chamber asked the Swiss government to inform Ankara of the vote through diplomatic channels.

The cabinet has in the past opposed adopting such a measure, arguing that it would “add to already charged relations between Turkey and Armenia ”.

Reacting to the parliamentary decision, the foreign ministry said it hoped it would not have an adverse effect on relations with Turkey .

In a statement, Turkey ' s foreign ministry said it "strongly condemned and rejected the decision."

"It is unacceptable to unilaterally present as a genocide... these events that came out of the special conditions of the First World War and which caused great pain both for Turks and Armenians," the statement said.

"Parliament took this decision by considering domestic politics and by ignoring relations between Turkey and Switzerland and the feelings and thoughts of Turks in the country."

Ankara , which strenuously denies that the deaths constituted a genocide, has warned Bern in the past about giving official recognition to the massacre.

In 2001, the Swiss parliament narrowly voted against calling it a genocide, preferring to refer to the killings as “tragic events”.

The parliaments of a number of European countries, including France , Italy , Sweden , Russia , Greece and Belgium , have all recognized the killings as genocide.


Swedish Agents Spying on Assyrians for Saddam Arrested

Courtesy of the Furkono Magazine

(ZNDA: Sudertalja) According to information received at Zinda Magazine's offices in Sweden , on 16 December at least six Swedes of Iraqi origin who were spying for Saddam Hussein for years helping the former Iraqi leader to keep tabs on members of Sweden ' s Assyrian minority were arrested.

According to Sweden 's P1 radio the Iraqi intelligence agency documents which identified the Iraqi agents, also contained detail reports on many of the 60,000 people of Assyrian origin in Sweden , including doctors, teachers, politicians and journalists.

The documents were found in the Baghdad headquarters of Saddam Hussein ' s son Qusay, who died in a firefight with US forces in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on 22 July 22.

One of the agents named in the documents worked for the Swedish Migration Board and was in charge of finding housing for asylum seekers. The man told the radio station he had been approached by Iraqi intelligence but insisted that he had never spied for them.

Last week the Swedish Broadcasting company aired a series of stories on the six Swedes who were recruited to spy on Swedish citizens with Iraqi and Assyrian ancestry. The alleged spies hold high official positions within the Swedish authorities and organizations. From Sweden , they operated through a well-organized network linked to several European and overseas locations.

The Swedish Broadcasting company's investigation included interviews with the accused agents; the people reported they spied on; a member of the Iraqi transitional government; a former US Senator who was registered in the Mahabharat (Iraqi Secret Service) archive files; members of the Swedish parliament and government; and one man who operated inside the Iraqi Intelligence Services.

The first segment aired last Thursday at 06.00 on MHrz 92.4 Transcripts, in Swedish and will be available on www.sr.se/ekot.


Iran earthquake shocks Turlock 's Assyrian populace

Courtesy of the Turlock Journal (29 December); by Scott Jorgensen

(ZNDA: Turlock ) Last Friday's 6.6-magnitude earthquake in the south-eastern Iranian city of Bam sent shockwaves through Turlock 's Assyrian population, including Emanuel Oushana, who helped construct some of the buildings in the ancient city more than 30 years ago.

The earthquake killed more than 20,000 people and hospitalized more than 10,000. Iranian officials fear the death toll could rise as high as 40,000.

“It's a sad story,” Oushana said. “I feel very sorry for the people that lost their families.”

Oushana, a 56-year-old volunteer at Turlock 's Assyrian-American Civic Club, hails from Northern Iran . His father owned a construction company that did work in Bam, nearly four decades ago. As a young man, Oushana spent time in Bam, both to buy dates and to help his father's company with some projects there.

“Bam, 35 years ago, was a small town,” he said. “The people treated me right there. They're very nice people, very kind people.”

Oushana said he spent much time in Bam's tea shops getting to know the town's locals. Having been acquainted with some of Bam's citizens gives Oushana a sense of what has been lost amid the rubble.

Of particular note, Oushana said, was the fact that Friday was a holiday in Iran .

“People usually, on Friday, don't go to work,” Oushana said. “They rest.”

Oushana said Bam is known for some of its agricultural products, including pistachios and dates.

“That town is famous for its red tomatoes,” Oushana said. “Some of the best tomatoes come from that part.”


Iran ' s Christians Hail Equal Diyeh

Courtesy of the Iran 's Islamic Republic Broadcasting (29 December)

(ZNDA: Tehran ) Iran ' s announcement or Majlis on Saturday approved equal blood-money for Muslims and non-Muslims, a move that was cheerfully acclaimed by the country ' s religious minorities – including the Assyrian Christians.

MP Morris Motamed, who represents the Jewish community in the Majlis, said the Expediency Council verification will have "a very positive effect" on the image of the Islamic Republic in the international community.

Motamed said that he was happy that the efforts of Majlis deputies had materialized a "long-sought wish" of Iran ' s religious minorities.

He thanked the Majlis deputies, particularly members of Majlis judicial commission, for following up the issue of equal blood-money for Muslim and non-Muslim Iranians.

The Expediency Council (EC) on Saturday approved a Majlis bill on equal "blood-money", or diyeh, for Muslim and non-Muslim Iranian nationals.

EC Secretary Mohsen Rezaei said that under a state verdict by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iran ' s religious minorities can enjoy a "blood-money" equal to that of Muslims.

MP Yonathan Bet-Kolia, who represents the Assyrians and Chaldeans in the Majlis, said the approval of the bill was the greatest Christmas gift that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had given to the Iranian Christians.

Bet-Kolia said the law on equal blood-money had materialized one of the `long-sought ' wish of Christians in Iran .

Bet-Kolia further stressed that Ayatollah Khamenei has proved that he is following the path of Prophet Mohammad and the Seventh Century Shiite Imam, Ali, by approving the bill.

He recalled the charges of violation of human rights against the Islamic Republic stressing: "Today, we can strongly say that the religious minorities are free and equal in our country, and need no custodian".


Assyrian Christmas A Time for Pastries

Courtesy of the Turlock Journal (24 December); by Jesika Farhadi

(ZNDA: Turlock ) Christmas or Eida Sura - “small holiday” - as Assyrians call it, has finally arrived, and the Assyrian community in Turlock has been working hard to have everything ready.

The holiday season is very important for the Assyrian people - it's a time of family gatherings and feasting.

Christmas means a lot of cooking, baking pastries, decorating the house, and attending church, though traditions do vary within the Assyrian community.

One of the most important traditions the Assyrian people have kept for many years is preparing the Christmas meals. Every Christmas Eve the women make two types of meals - one is called Reesheh w ' Akleh and the other is called Harissa.

Turlock resident Janya Younan has been making both meals for 17 years.

“I started making these meals for Christmas when I was 23 years old,” she said.

Younan got both recipes from her mother when she got married, so that she could pass the tradition along to her own family.

“We eat both Reesheh w'Akleh and Harisa as a family on Christmas Eve,” she said. “That is the tradition that my family and I have held to for many years.”

These meals are not simple to make, however.

“Each one takes about four to six hours to prepare.” Younan said.

Another important tradition are the pastries that are made for Christmas.

Yonya Dawad of Turlock has made it a tradition in her family to cook different kinds of pastries every year.

“About a week before Christmas I start baking my pastries,” she said.

It takes Dawad a total of three days to make the dough then bake the pastries.

“I usually make two types of pastries every year, but within those main types are different flavors,” she explained.

One of Dawad's most favored pastry is called Klecheh, which can be made three different ways, with coconut, walnuts or dates.

Dawad has been baking these pastries since she was 18 years old.

“These recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, but there is always room for improvement,” she said with a laugh.

The new generation of Assyrian mothers are coming up with new ways to cook these pastries, she added.

But for Assyrians living in Turlock , there are more modern traditions that have been adopted by both young and old alike.

Every year at Christmas, the Assyrian American Civic Club, on Golden State Boulevard , hosts a party for children and adults. Santa Claus pays a special visit and brings with him a bag filled with lots of candy for the children.

“We have been hosting this event for over 10 years,” said Dr. Fred Adams, president of the Assyrian American Civic Club.

It's been a tradition for Assyrians to attend this party in the evening once everyone has gone to church and visited all their family members.

“About 1,000 people gather every year for this celebration,” said Adams .

All the children form a long line and wait anxiously for their turn to receive their stocking filled with candy, which is donated by the Civic Club. The celebration then continues with singing and dancing.

[Z-info: Ms. Jesika Farhadi, an Assyrian-American, is a reporter for the Turlock Journal.]


Assyrian Lawyer Returns Home to Make a Difference

Courtesy of the Modesto Bee (25 December); by Melanie

(ZNDA: Modesto ) In the mid-1990s, Morin Jacob spearheaded an effort that led to the elimination of all human imagery associated with the Warriors, the name of athletic teams at California State University , Stanislaus.

The campus ' American Indian club, with fewer than a dozen members, brought the matter to her attention when she served as student body president at Stanislaus State in 1996, she said.

Today, as a family law attorney in Modesto , she is still advocating for people who have a tough time being heard.

Before moving back to Modesto in May, Jacob worked for a big firm in San Francisco doing business law. The 29-year-old said she would not have gotten the same depth of legal experience if she had stayed in Modesto .

"I ' ve always been very open to opportunity, and I don ' t fear change," she said.

Her goal was to start her own law firm, so she jumped at the chance to join longtime attorney Betty Ann Reed to form Reed & Jacob Associates at Law.

Jacob said she is happy to be home and working with people -- as opposed to the more detached laws of trademarks and patents.

"You feel like you ' re making a difference," she said.

Jacob is truly homegrown. Born in Modesto , she graduated from Beyer High School in 1992 and from Stanislaus State in 1996, with a major in political science and a minor in philosophy.

While in college, she lived at home and commuted to the Turlock campus. As a student leader in 1995, she collected more than 400 signatures on a petition calling for the reopening of the on-campus pub.

Though the pub remained closed, Jacob went on to have a string of successes.

As Associated Students president in 1996, she led a charge to rid the school of its athletic team name, the Warriors, which American Indian students said was demeaning to them. The name still is used, but all human imagery associated with the name, including a logo featuring an American Indian headdress, was eliminated.

"I got death threats about that," Jacob recalled. "I was really surprised by all the attention it got. In my mind, it was a matter of fairness."

Jacob graduated summa cum laude and was named outstanding student leader for 1996.

Her experience advocating for people helped solidify her decision to go to law school, she said.

The daughter of Assyrian immigrants, Jacob was the first person in her family to go to college.

Jacob started law school in the fall of 1996 at the University of San Francisco and graduated in 1999.

"It was a great experience," she said. "It was the first time I ' d left Modesto . It was culture shock, to say the least. I was exposed to things (exotic food, arts, culture) I ' d heard about but hadn ' t seen."

It was her experience with moot court that made her realize she wanted to litigate. She also was a teacher ' s assistant for a first-year torts class and for civil procedure, and worked as a law clerk and a research assistant.

"Most people don ' t work in law school, but I had to," she said.

Her first job out of law school was with Curtis & Arata in Modesto , but what with owing tens of thousands of dollars in student loans and jobs booming in the Bay Area, she took a job there doing intellectual property work, an emerging area of law with all the new Internet start-up companies and patents being produced.

Now, besides working in family law, she deals with sexual harassment and discrimination cases and bankruptcy.

Jacob has taught Women in American Law at her alma mater since 2000, after one of her former professors recruited her.

"That ' s the unique thing about Stanislaus," she said. "You can get a lot of attention from the faculty. It ' s rare these days."

Jacob said she is an "avid exerciser," waking up at 6 a.m. to work out or do yoga, and she recently joined a book club in Modesto .

One of the first things she noticed after returning to Modesto was the "insane" traffic. But she said she thinks all the other changes she has seen are for the better. She said she has heard at least one native Modestan say, " ' Everybody leaves at least once, but they all come back. '

"I really do feel like I ' ve come home," she said. "I ' ve been welcomed back with open arms. I feel like everyone says, ' Welcome home. ' "


Surfs Up!
Letters From Zinda Magazine Readers

Holiday Greetings

Merry Christmas and happy new year to the staff of Zinda Magazine . Keep up the good work.

Dan Georgis

I would like to wish you and the crew a happy and prosperous New Year. Thank you for Zinda Magazine . always very interesting.

Ephrem -Isa Yousif

Thank You Guys for your hard work, we love you, Merry Christmas to you and your families.

Ed Rehana

I wish you and the entire Assyrian nation a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Next year in Nineveh . Qawo hlim.

Isa Nahroyo

Merry Christmas from Baghdad . I read Zinda internet journal, like very much. A good new year for all our people in the world. Peace and happiness.

Ashur Shlemon

Thank you very much for your kind wishes. We also wish you and all the family of Zinda all the success in the years to come. Have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. May God bless you all.

Paul Gewargis & Family

Thank you for your unique and faithful service to the Assyrian Nation. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a busy New Year.

Youaw T. Kanna


Correction to "Let Us Not Turn Yonadam into a King"

I just want to clarify something here that the writer is incorrect in saying that the Americans do not refer to politicians with such honorary titles such His Honorable.

This afternonn, 12/21/03 , in the state where the article writer resides, the Mayor of New York city, during the lighting of the Christmas tree in New City was introduced as "His Honorable Mayor Bloomberg".

Regardless if I agree or not that Yonadam Kanna deserves the title, that is beside the point. Let us have some real criticisim based on valuable subject not as silly as this remark. We are talking here about once in a lifetime in the modern Assyrian history we have a great opportunity and let us not blow it.

Tony Kilaita


New Assyrian Radio Talk Show in Arizona

Starting early next year, a new weekly talk show will be broadcasting live from one of the largest AM radio stations in the Phoenix , Arizona area. The talk show will be in English and it will be aimed at the American public. The purpose of the program will be to press for Assyrian national rights in Iraq and educate the listeners about the Assyrians, their long history and contributions to humanity. The program will also be live on the Internet. We will be issuing a special invitation to anyone who is knowledgeable in our history and has a good command of the English language to contribute and/or participate in this program.

Over the last sixteen months, a number of Assyrians in Arizona have been very active in educating the American public about the Assyrian issues. We have been successful in obtaining coverage in major news media outlets in this State. A listing of reports and meetings is posted below. At the same time we continue to build strong ties with our local elected officials. Much of the credit for these accomplishments goes to our brother, Sam Darmo. He has been very effective in establishing strong contacts with local politicians, TV outlets and newspapers.

Assyrian media and Political Activities in Arizona

News Papers

Front Page of Scottsdale Tribune: 20 October 2002
Front Page of Arizona Republic : 3 December 2002 , 5 March 2003 , 15 December 2003
Article in Arizona Republic : (2002) 27 September, 13 October, 21 December, (2003) 12 February, 2 March, 19 April
Article in the Guardian of London: 22 May 2003 …and more than 20 other small articles.

Radio Interviews

ABC Radio KTAR 620 AM
Yonadam Kanna, Sam Darmo, 60 minutes: 21 October 2003

News Radio 1010 AM

Ewan Gewargis, 60 minutes: 12 April 2003


Sam Darmo, 30 minutes: 2 November 2003
Fred Rustam, 15 minutes: 5 November 2003
Sam Darmo, 60 minutes: 15 December 2003
Yonadam Kanna, 45 minutes: 16 December 2003


Sam Darmo, Edward Rehana 60 minutes: 12 April 2003
Sam Darmo, 30 minutes: 14 May 2003
Sam Darmo, 60 minutes: 3 December 2003

…and more than 70 short clips

TV Interviews and Specials

AZTV 13 60 min. Special, Yonadam Kanna , Sam Darmo: 20 February 2003
AZTV 13 Pat McMahon Show, Sam Darmo 30 minutes: 14 April 2003
AZTV 13 Special, Sam Darmo 30 minutes: 12 May 2003
ABC 15 Town Hall Meeting with Peter Jennings, Sam Darmo, Ewan Gewrgis 60 minutes: 17 February 2003
ABC NEWS TONIGHT with Peter Jennings, Sam Darmo: 18 February 2003
FOX 10 Sunday Morning Show, Sam Darmo 30 minutes: 12 March 2003
FOX NETWORK NEWS, Sam Darmo: 21 May 2003

…and 6 times as a guest in studio with ABC, NBC, FOX Local Channels; more than 120 Clips on all local networks

Political Meetings

Senator Jon Kyl, Sam Darmo, Fred Rustam
Senator Trend Lotts, Sam Darmo
Senator Joe Liberman, Sam Darmo
Congressman John Shaddag, Sam Darmo, Dr. Edward Odisho
Congressman J.D Hayward, Sam Darmo, Fred Rustam, Youkee Khnania
Speaker Newt Gengrich, Sam Darmo
Governor Janet Napolitano, Sam Darmo

And many other Officials at the President's Dinner in Washington, Sam Darmo

As Assyrians, we believe that at the present time we have a golden opportunity to press for our national rights and support our people in the homeland as the new Iraq is born. We all know how much influence the only superpower can have at this juncture of our history. As this project progresses, we will be issuing more details.

Fred Rustam, P.E., CPM


Santa ' s Doin ' His Thing

While most people avoid, stare, or laugh at the disheveled drunk ambling down the street, God tenderly loves the poor. He condemns not only their oppressors (Psalm 72:4) but also those who ignore their plight: "He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses." (Proverbs 28:27).

But doesn ' t the Bible say, "If a man will not work, he shall not eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10 )? This principle decries laziness but not necessarily poverty. While some people become poor by laziness or drunkenness, others fall into circumstances beyond their control.

And even when we are tempted to discredit the lazy poor, we must remember that the Bible does not differentiate between the "deserving poor" and the "undeserving poor." While we may not give them the money they ask for, we should not overlook their needs.

Yet concern for the poor is often a low priority. Matthew 25, clearly highlights the love of Christ for poor, " ' For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. … whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. ' " My heart aches when individuals mention the passage only to say that Christians must not think that good deeds save them. While I did not disagree with their observations, I wondered how they could overlook Jesus ' obvious statement that helping the needy was like helping Him.

The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, St. Mary's Parish, of Los Angeles under the leadership of Rev. George Bet-Rasho conducted their monthly pilgrimage to the Los Angeles Homeless community. Father George indicated this is one of his most satisfying and important parts of his church mission. He also indicated that on a yearly basis St. Mary's church contributes more than $12,000.00 to the needy Assyrians.

The streets of downtown Los Angeles echoed on this day, December 22, 2003 with the sounds of feet and the joyful voices of hundreds of Los Angeles homeless people. The purpose of the church's monthly visit is to provide food, basic human necessities, and try to uplift the spirits and dignity of these homeless men, women and children. This event was prepared and served for the dedication and memory of my beloved son Jonathan Daniel. His saint full nature will be longed for forever. Jonathan loved the poor, and when he finds one in need he will run to his rescue without any hesitation; as though he was driven by a natural instinct. To Jonathan rich, poor, blacks, whites, were treated honorably and loved equally.

Many Church's volunteers distributed nearly 100 blankets, and 400 meal packages on this day. It was immensely jubilant when a homeless person provided the volunteers with a single rose showing his appreciation and love.

If the Holiday Spirit strikes, and you consider sending on a little good cheer, please know that we would not be offended by your offering, and will accept your gift in the manner and grace befitting any normal kid on Christmas morning - (I sometimes get this way during the Holidays). Your generosity is critical to the work we do. We derive our total revenues from families and individual Assyrians. Thanks to you, we can effectively address many of the needs. And when we receive funds from bequests, it is invariably when we need them the most. They again remind us that our loving God is in control and meets our every daily need. Your support will help us to remain strong and viable.

Shamasha Dan Daniel


The First Assyrian Youth Exchange Hosted in London

The Assyian Youth Exchange 2003 took place last week in London , United Kingdom . To view my full report and pictures from this historic event please visit:


Ninos Warda
United Kingdom


New Executive Board of the Assyrian Foundation of America

Please note that during the month of November 2003 members of the Assyrian Foundation of America in Berkeley , California elected the following members to the new Board of Directors:

Edward Mikhail President
Charles Yonan Vice President
Joseph Sarkis Secretary
Romena Jonas Treasurer
Shalim Tatar Chair - Education Committee
Belles Yelda Chair - Welfare Committee
Daniel De Keelaita Membership
Flora Kingsbury Social
Dr. Robert Karoukian Editor - Nineveh Magazine

Edward Michail

[Z-info: According to a recent AFA report Zinda Magazine has determined that this active organization remains the most generous independent Assyrian organization in North America . In 2003, the Assyrian Foundation of America sent $50,000 to Iraq and another $20,000 toward the support of the Assyrian refugees in Greece , Jordan , and Austria . $3,000 was also used to purchase blankets for the Assyrians in the Republic of Georgia . Over $10,000 was spent on educating the Assyrian students by providing them with scholarships, books and supplies. In all, over $85,000 were spent this year on the education of Assyrian students and the welfare of the Assyrian needy in Asia and Europe . Zinda Magazine urges its readers to support the Assyrian Foundation of America's educational and humanitarian causes by making tax-deductible donation to: the Assyrian Foundation of America, P.O. Box 2660 Berkeley, California 94702 U.S. The AFA is also the publisher of the Nineveh Magazine, edited by Dr. Robert Karoukian. Start a 2004 subscription to Nineveh Magazine with your generous donation today.]

Surfer's Corner

Assyrian Aid Society Calendar Project

The Assyrian Aid Society is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious organisation that raises funds for the benefit of Chaldassyrians living in Beth-Nahrain. The organisation operates on 4 continents, the UK , Europe , the US and Australia . Please visit our Australian website ( http://www.assyrianaidsociety.org ) or the US website ( http://www.assyrianaid.org ) for more information.

AAS-Australia puts out a very high quality glossy full colour calendar every year. You can see a sample of the pictures that go into the calendar at our websites. Dr Sennacherib Daniel, AAS-Australia ' s vice president, visited Beth-Nahrain last year, where he took many amazing photos. (Besides including some of these in our calendar he will also be producing a book on Chaldassyrians in Beth-Nahrain shortly!).

We ask Chaldassyrian businesses to sponsor the cost of producing the calendar, which is distributed among 50,000 Chaldassyrians around Australia (mainly centred in Sydney and Melbourne) as well as New Zealand . We believe it would be fantastic to have your business on the calendar as it would be a great way to promote/expose your business to our Chaldassyrian Australian community.

We ask for a minimum sponsorship fee of US$100. The more you donate the more often your business appears. The Assyrian Aid Society is planning to print the calendar at the end of Jan so it is really important to get our sponsors to commit, and therefore you wouldn ' t have to pay right away.

We hope that you will consider this offer and to know that every cent donated is sent to help our Chladassyrian communities in Beth-Nahrain to enable them to become more self-sufficient.

Please do not hestitate to contact me directly if you wish to discuss further.

Ninweh Daniel
The Assyrian Aid Society- Australia
38 Alfred Street , Milsons Point
Sydney , New South Wales
Australia 2061

[Z-info: Zinda Magazine is a proud annual sponsor of the Calendar Project in Australia . Dr. Sennacherib Daniel's photos from his trip to North Iraq in 2002 are perhaps the most attractive images taken from that region in recent history. Dr. Daniel's regular reports to Zinda Magazine on the conditions of the Assyrians in North Iraq were published under the “Northern Watch” section of Zinda Magazine in 2002. Zinda Magazine invites other Assyrian individuals and businesses to contribute toward the publication of next year's AAS calendar and will donate an additional $U.S 10 for every new business contacting the AAS between now and January 30, 2004 and making a minimum of $100 donation. Please include zcrew@zindamagazine.com in your correspondence with the Assyrian Aid Society. Our best wishes to the men and women of the AAS in Australia .]



US Military Policies, IGC Must be Tried in Same Court as Saddam

An incredible travesty of justice is about to be unleashed on the Iraqi people. After 35 years of living under the repressive and brutal rule of Ba'athism, enduring three wars and 13 years of sanctions, the Iraqi people are about to be shortchanged yet again.

The war crimes tribunal, which was created with much hoopla and fanfare by the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) and was designed by a team of US lawyers and legal experts (not Iraqi, not Arab), is a farce because it does not universally address the crimes that the Iraqis committed against one another in the past 35 years. If Iraq is to become a pluralistic society, if it is to move forward and leave behind its bloodied, ruthless past, it must address all crimes, all crimes committed in Iraq. These crimes go far and beyond just Saddam, his henchmen, and the Ba'ath regime.

While the court must hear charges of detention, torture, execution and exile of political opponents committed by Saddam's forces, it must also hear charges against various Iraq opposition groups (The Dawa Party, The Communist Party of Iraq, and the Islamic Revolutionary Council based in Iran) for their attacks in Iraq which may have targeted the Ba'athist regime but maimed, wounded, and killed scores of Iraqi and Arab citizens. Collateral damage is not acceptable. Neither is the fancy exchange that the killing of innocent Iraqi civilians is a small price to pay for removing Saddam. If every innocent life (taken swiftly by terrorism or violence) is not addressed at the war crimes tribunal, then it is negligible and forfeit.

While the court must hear charges of rape, abduction, disappearance, murder, cleansing and forced relocation of Kurds in the North and Shiites in the South committed by Saddam's forces, it must also hear of the various attacks of rogue Kurdish rebels on Arab villages, abduction of Assyrian Christian women, killing of Turkomen Shiites, robbery and highwaymanism which culminated in the deaths of innocent Iraqi civilians who were caught in the crossfire between the Iraqi Army and the peshmerga. It must also hear of the revenge killing initiated by the Shiites in 1991, when they overtook Basra and slaughtered entire families of Ba'athists - from the head of a household down to every man, woman and child. Am I to understand that the killing of families because the father is a Ba'athist is vinidicated or justified by Saddam's ironclad repression of Shiites and Kurds? That, quite frankly is absurd, and if such an argument is to be made then the new Iraq is one of revenge, pillage and plunder, murder and purgery. Hardly the epitome of democracy in the Middle East .

The court must also hear the plea of the Assyrian Christian community in Iraq who claim that the Kurds are unleashing a strategy of ethnic cleansing in the North of Iraq, bringing in Iranian and Turkish Kurds to populate areas, initiated a land-grab and change the demographics of the region.

If Saddam is to be charged with embezzling the state's monies and robbing his people blind, then the nations that participated in the horrendous US-sponsored and US-enforced economic sanctions must also stand trial. More than 1.7 million people died (according to UN estimates), 500,000 which were children. Who addresses their concerns? Do they not deserve a hearing? Nearly 3,000 innocent people from 80 different countries died on September 11th. The number of dead Iraqi civilians because of the sanctions is 566 times the number of people who died on 9/11. That is 9/11 repeated 566 times. Yet, the memory of their plight has been forgotten. That is one million seven hundred injustices too many.

On Tuesday, Iraq 's foreign minister-by-appointment Hoshyar Zebari said “The UN as an organization failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny of 35 years. The UN must not fail the Iraqi people again.” The statement is an overwhelming jab in the face of history. It does not address the sanctions. It does not address the “smart bomb technology” of war that was waged on Iraq . It does not mention the 12,000 Iraqis who died in March, or the 3,000 who died since Iraq 's “liberation.” It does not mention the 998 Iraqis who died because of nearly 10,000 cluster bombs dropped in Iraqi civilian areas. Or the number of Iraqis who died because of trigger-happy US soldiers, anxious and nervous because of a populace growing ever hateful. Will these issues be addressed in a war crimes tribunal? No, US forces are considered immune to any such charges. The US has not signed on to the International Crimes Court for fear of its military being held accountable for the very acts committed in Iraq each and every day.

Who kept Saddam in power? Will US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie (1990) be a star witness to Saddam's idiotic invasion of Kuwait ? Will former US President Ronald Reagan appear in court to validate why the US gave Saddam Anthrax and other bio-weapons? How about intelligence to use against Iran during the war? Will we hear of secret negotiations between Iraq and Israel ? Will US companies who helped Iraq boost its stock of chemical weapons also stand trial?

Saddam was a butcher, he did slaughter thousands, and he did foolishly purge Iraq of its wealth. His policies bear the bulk of why Iraqis have suffered in the past 20 odd years. The list of crimes he and his people (chiefly, his sons) committed against the Iraqi people is expansive. However, if other grievances are not addressed and Saddam is given the death penalty, it will prove the Iraqis have learned nothing in the past and are cursed to repeat history. Every Iraqi ethnicity deserves justice: Sunnis, Shiites, Jew, Kurd, Catholics, Assyrians, Sabaeans, Yazidi, Zoroastrian...the list must be complete and comprehensive. Addressing the problems of one ethnicity and ignore those of another will simply widen the sectarian divide. Saddam's capture and ultimate “removal” will not solve Iraq 's problems. To think so is foolish and a poor judgment of history.

Firas Al-Atraqchi

[Z-info: Firas Al-Atraqchi holds an MA in Journalism and Mass Communication. He is a Canadian journalist with eleven years of experience covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry. Zinda Magazine readers can reach him at firascape@hotmail.com]


Aldo Maroni's Latest Project: Rebuilding Babylon

The Tower of Babel stands on a small pillar just inside the California Gallery ' s front door.

It ' s about one foot tall, and made of red clay. Blue green windows spiral up the outside.

A palace

Across the room, there is a white-walled palace with five baby blue onion domes.

The earthenware structures are classic Aldo Moroni work -- whimsically attractive, deceptively simple looking, but laden with the weight of history and culture.

Aldo Moroni stands by a prototype for the Tower of Babel . He based the design for this model on the painting by the Flemish painter, Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Photo by Euan Kerr

When the time is right, Aldo Moroni will move them across the room, to place them on the Babylonian landscape he has built in a large platform. It depicts the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers in Mesopotamia .

There are no buildings there yet. Moroni has it laid out as the Garden of Eden.

But that ' s going to change. Over the next three years Aldo Moroni is going to build Babylon .

The First Reed Huts

"I am going to have these little reed huts that will start civilizations," he says. "Those reed huts will become a city, like the city of Ur , one of the first cities. Those reed huts will become the Tower of Babel ."

When Aldo Moroni starts talking about Babylon , it can take a long time before he runs out of things to say.

He talks of how this area was a cradle of civilization, and the home of great kings such as Nebuchadnezzer. It was also considered a great prize by Alexander the Great and Kubla Khan.

Moroni says it was where humans first developed some basic concepts.

"Like the idea of making a brick. Or the idea of digging a hole to be able get water out of it, or the idea of channelling the water from the river to be able to irrigate your field, or the idea of growing wheat," says Moroni. "There ' s an argument about whether beer or bread were invented first. But that ' s another subchapter, because there are many subchapters in this story."

Brisk Sales

Moroni is clearly having a ball. His face, ringed by black curly hair, sports an almost constant grin.

He intends to follow the history of the area as it develops through the Ottoman Empire , World Wars I and II, through when Winston Churchill created the country of Iraq on the back of a napkin.

"Those little reed huts will become, eventually, the Holiday Inns and the skyscrapers you see on TV as our sons fight in the streets of Baghdad . That ' s what it ' s about."

Moroni says architecture is a metaphor for humanity, of who we are and what we are -- spiritually and physically. He says it ' s vital for Americans to see that the current war in Iraq is not a final resolution, but just the latest chapter in an ongoing history.

Everything gets tied back to the history in some way.

Choosing A Spot

He says his landscape base is made from a mixture of red clay dust, motor oil, grease and petroleum wax. It will never dry out, but will remain malleable, so he can mold it as necessary.

"Here ' s the wierdest thing about it," he says. "We are talking about this place where people are fighting about oil. What ' s my sculpture made of? Oil!" He cackles in delight.

You may be wondering how Moroni is paying for this project. In a novel way. He ' s selling off six-square-inch plots in Babylon to people he calls "citizen patrons."

The patrons pay $600 for each plot. When each phase of the sculpture is done, they get to keep all the structures built on their patch.

This led to some strange scenes on opening night, as people competed for the best sections. Some folks discovered they ' d been beaten out.

The Alpha and Omega Logo

"The Bachmans are here!" called one man.

"Oh, right on the river! Right on the point!" his wife responded. "I wanted that spot!"

Meanders in the river were popular, although some people like arts consultant Sue John had other ideas.

"I wanted to be in the center of Babylon , right smack dab in the middle," John said. When asked if she got it, she replied emphatically, "I did!"

John is excited about the Babylon concept.

"Its about the war. It ' s about creation. It ' s about the end of the world. It ' s about everything. It ' s about what is happening right now," says John.

Working his way through the crowd, gallery co-owner John Kremer is having a good time, too. He jokes the show has made real estate into an art form.

He says in a time when foundation support for large projects is getting tighter, this might just be a funding alternative.

Kremer ' s looking forward to seeing how the public reacts to the show. He says there is just something about Aldo Moroni ' s buildings that draws people in.

"They don ' t make archaeologists happy, they don ' t make historians happy," Kremer says. "And yet ... I heard more discussions today about Iraq , or the cradle of civilization. I haven ' t heard so many people say Nebuchadnezzer before in one room. So it really makes things alive for people."

Babylon will continue to grow in the California Building in northeast Minneapolis through 2006.

Euan Kerr
Minnesota Public Radio
30 December


A History of Hanukkah

To those outside the Jewish faith, the celebration of Hanukkah may seem like a revelry that resembles the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving rolled into one.

Though the themes of independence, reverence and thanksgiving are very much sentiments expressed in the observance of Hanukkah, an annual eight-day Jewish festival that begins this evening at sunset, the holiday also has very much to do with a historic battle won by an underdog guerrilla force against a formidable fighting machine.

"Hanukkah is the first battle for religious freedom in human history, a battle taking place in 168, before the Christian era," explained Rabbi David Mark of Temple Israel in Portsmouth .

The holiday is based on an ancient story rife with villains and heroes, challenges, miracles and celebration.

"This is a story about a family of temple priests, the Maccabees, who wanted to keep the old ways in the face of Hellenism," Mark said.

Jim Dricker, education director at Temple Israel in Portsmouth , prepares the menorah on Thursday. Tonight at sundown marks beginning of the Jewish celebration of Hannukah.

Staff photo by Rich Beauchesne

The family was headed by Mattathias, who had five sons - Simeon, Judas, Elazar, Yochanan and Jonathan. They lived during a time when Antiochus IV, an Assyrian, ruled the region on behalf of the Greek empire. Unlike previous Assyrian kings, Antiochus attempted to restrict Jews in the region from following their monotheistic religion and to force them to honor Greece 's pantheon of deities.

"So, here we have the Jews facing down a Greek way of living, not only in terms of religion, but in terms of philosophy, fashion, mythology and the role of the gymnasium," Mark said.

The spark that set off the Maccabean uprising of the Jews against the Assyrians centered on a messenger from Antiochus, who came to the town in which Mattathias held the role of local Jewish priest.

"This messenger came to the village of Modein ," said the Portsmouth rabbi. "He came with small figures of Antiochus - rendered as Zeus - for the Jews to worship, and then was about to kill a pig (an unclean animal in the eyes of Jews) for all to eat at the worship, when Mattathias killed the messenger."

Realizing the trouble that would come from killing an emissary of the king, the Maccabees fled to the hills, and Antiochus sent an army to capture and kill them. Greatly outnumbered by the troops, Mattathias understood the only chance for him and his followers lay in fighting a guerrilla war.

During the years of fighting, Mattathias grew old, and his son, Judas, took on the mantle of leadership. And against all odds - and because Antiochus got into a war in another part of his area of control that forced him to divide his forces - the Maccabees were victorious.

They reclaimed the capital of Judea , Jerusalem , and decided to rededicate the Great Temple , the center of Jewish worship, which had been defiled by the Assyrians.

"The Syrians had not destroyed the temple," said Rabbi Mark. "They had statues of the king inside, and pigs had been (slaughtered as offerings to the Greek gods) there, but the Maccabees reconquered the temple and purified the (Great) Menorah (the holy candelabra)."

The Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot, an eight-day celebration, had been put aside during the war, so the Jews decided to rededicate the temple in an eight-day festival.

"(The Jews) found only a small container of unspoiled holy oil to burn in the menorah (which normally would have allowed the great light to burn for only one day), but it burned for eight days, and that is the miracle of Hanukkah," Mark said. "Today, Jews display in their windows their menorahs, with seven candles, or their Hanukkiyah, a branch of eight level candles, with a ninth, called a shammash (pronounced Sha-mas), which is used to light the (other) candles, (and is) raised above or below the row of eight candles.

"(The purpose is so that) passers-by will see what day of Hanukkah is being celebrated by seeing how many candles are lit," he said.

Rabbi Mark said he agrees that the holiday appeals to many cultures.

"The lighting of candles in winter is a ritual found in many cultures," he said. "The European tradition of eating potato latkes (pancakes) fried in oil during Hanukkah relates to many, as the potato was a food familiar to the Polish, Irish and many others.

"The tradition stems from the miracle of the small bit of oil burning for eight long days at the temple, so eating foods fried in oil is something we do at this time of year," said the rabbi.

Laura Pope
New Hampshire



Ninos Aho & Yosip Bet-Yosip's Trips to China & Australia

The World Congress of Poets – China

The World Congress of Poets is an organisation linked with UNESCO, and was established 33 years ago under the slogan “World Brotherhood and Peace through Poetry”. It is still going strong and the Chinese Poetry Society recently hosted the 23rd congress in Taiwan between 23 and 30 November. This year's main topics were Nature and Music. Among its 272 participants, most of them locals, we are proud to have had two famous Assyrian poets – Malfono Ninos Aho and Raabie Yosip Bet-Yosip.

Malfono Ninos read one poem in the eastern dialect “Shimsha d-Shrara” (the Sun of Truth), and one in the western dialect “Habtho d-Heto” (Grain of Wheat), and Raabie Yosip also read a poem in the eastern dialect “Ganta d-Alaha, Atri Bet-Nahrain” (The Garden of God, my Land Mesopotamia). English translations of all the poems were published along with biographies of the poets in the anthology of the Congress.

In their poems, Raabie Yosip and Malfono Ninos passed on their message about the 7,000 years of civilisation Assyrians gave the world, contrasted with our present predicament as a stateless and refugee nation – an ironic historical juxtaposition. Raabei Yosip's poem especially touched on how Mesopotamia has been occupied by foreign armies, whose chemical bombs have not only destroyed the ancient sites and natural beauty, but have also damaged the children and hence the future of Iraq .

Justice S. Mohan, Sec. Gen. Maurus Young & Congress Pres. Wang Chi Lung with Ninos Aho

The Congress program was as follows: 23-25 November in Taipei University , and then a tour of the island from 26-30 November. The highlights included poetry readings at the Vandana Buddhist Monastery on 27 November and at Ling-Tung College in Taichung on 29 November. During the opening and closing ceremonies, and all the poetry readings, the auditoriums were packed with keen students, numbering about 500 in all.

Whilst there Raabie Yosip and Malfono Ninos visited the Taiwan National Museum and were please to see displays comparing and contrasting Chinese and other world civilisations – including the Assyrians. They were also happy to see one of the displays mention that fact that in 635 AD, Christianity was brought to China by the Church of the East missionary Alopen. Some of the poets attending the Congress had heard about Assyrians before, but others hadn't. Most of them were happy to hear information that was new to them and see that Assyrians still exist and the Aramaic language is still a living language.

Poetry Evening at Mor Malke Church , Sydney

On Friday 12 December a poetry evening was held by the Babylon Cultural Association at the Mor Malke Syrian Orthodox church Hall in Greenacre. It was attended by more than 75 people, mostly members of the western Assyrian community.

The program lasted two hours (from 8:30pm to 10:30pm ), and began with poetry, mostly in Classical Syriac (kthobonoyo) read by young boys and girls from the Saturday language school run by the association. Malfono Tammuz Tammuz also read a humorous poem in the colourful Turoyo dialect.

Assyrian poets – Ninos Aho & Yosip Bet-Yosip

The highlight of the evening were poems recited by Malfono Ninos Aho, songs sung by Raabie Yosip Bet-Yosip, as well as speeches by the two concerning their recent participation in the World Congress of Poets in Taiwan .

Presentations of engraved pens were made to the poets by former association presidents. Also many CDs were sold as mementos of the occasion. Everyone left the warm gathering content and full of love and respect for the poets.

Special thanks to everyone from the Babylon Cultural Association for their hard efforts in making the evening a success.

“Assyrian Poetic Vision” at the Assyrian Sports and Cultural Club, Sydney

On Saturday 13 December a poetry night and party called “Assyrian Poetic Vision” was held by a group of Assyrian Associations in Sydney at the Assyrian Sports and Cultural Club in Fairfield Heights .

Among the organisers of the night were the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA-Australia Chapter), the Assyrian National Organisation (ANO), the Assyrian Liberation Party (GFA), and the Gilgamesh Cultural Centre. The event was attended by more than 300 people.

The poetry program began at 8pm and lasted until 10:30 pm , and was followed by a party that finished at 2:30am . The poetry program showcased two guest poets, Malfono Ninos Aho and Raabie Yosip Bet-Yosip who not only spoke of their experiences at the World Congress of Poets in Tawian, but also read some of their best poems. Raabie Yosip also sang a song by William Daniel. Background music was supplied by Ninos Toma (tamboura) and Brian Berro (flute and duduk).

There were two performances by the Assyrian Folkloric Dance Group, under the management of Joseph Dadisho. Prolific Iraqi writer Ghaylan also participated by reading work by prominent Iraqi-Assyrian poet Sargon Paulus. The Masters of Ceremonies were Nicholas Al-Jeloo and Margo Hawel.

Presentations of certificates to the two guest poets were made by former mayor Anwar Khoshaba and Assyrian Sports and Cultural Club president Diryawish Shlemon. After the end of the official program, the party began with performances by Sargon Gabriel and local singer Ninos Toma.

Ninos Aho at the World Congress of Poets in China

House of Iraqi Poets at the Assyrian Sports and Cultural Club, Sydney

On Sunday December 14 a poetry afternoon was held by the House of Iraqi Poets, in conjunction with the Gilgamesh Cultural Centre at the Assyrian Sports and Cultural Club in Fairfield Heights . It was attended by more than 150 people from the Iraqi community, many of them Assyrians.

The program lasted four hours (from 2pm to 6pm ), and showcased local Iraqi and Assyrian poets, as well as Malfono Ninos Aho and Raabie Yosip Bet-Yosip. Most of them showed their love for their Mesopotamian ancestors, and emphasised the safeguarding of Iraq 's antiquities and reviving our past glory. A play about Iraq was also staged.

Malfono Ninos read one poem in Arabic, as well as one the eastern dialect “Aturaya Khata” (the New Assyrian), and one in the western dialect “Habtho d-Heto” (Grain of Wheat), and Raabie Yosip also read a poem in the eastern dialect “Ganta d-Alaha, Atri Bet-Nahrain” (The Garden of God, my Land Mesopotamia). An Arabic translation was read by Dr. William Eshaya Warda. Among the other Assyrian participants was local poet Margo Hawel, and among the more prolific Iraqi writers that participated was Ghaylan.

The event was followed by an information night by the Assyrian Aid Society of Australia, detailing the present developments in Iraq and our people after the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian General Conference. This was held from 6pm-9pm and included exclusive video footage of the conference.

Political Rally at the Assyrian Charity and Educational Community, Sydney

On Monday 15 December a Political Rally was hosted by Poets Ninos Aho and Yosip Bet-Yosip at the Ashur Club in Horsley Park . It was attended by about 70 people from all the different political parties and local associations.

The program lasted from 8pm to 11pm and in it the two poets presented a short history of the Assyrian nationalist movement and their perspectives on its future. Their conclusion dwelt on the formation of a network of pure nationalists that would achieve Assyrian national rights by 2050. The other alternative to this being either assimilated in the west or pushed out of the Middle East .

After a prolonged question time, with heated discussion on different current issues, Malfono Ninos concluded the evening with a reading of “Aturaya Khata” (the New Assyrian). This was their final event together in Australia .

Many CDs were sold as mementos of the occasion. Special thanks to Lenny Paul for his hard efforts in making more copies of the CDs for sale on such short notice. Special thanks also to everyone from the Assyrian associations and political organisations in Sydney for their hard efforts in making the tour of Malfono Ninos and Raabie Yosip a success.

Nicholas Al-Jeloo

Calendar of Events

Visit the Zinda Magazine Calendar at http://www.zindamagazine.com/calendar

Thank You!

Zindamagazine would like to thank:

Dr. Matay Arsan
( Holland )

David Chibo
( Australia )

Ashor Giwargis
( Lebanon )

Tomas Isik
( Sweden )

Petr Kubalek
( Czech Republic )

John Michael
( United Kingdom )

Dr. Ronald Michael
( Chicago )


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