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Volume VIII
Issue 43
3 February 2003
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This Week In Zinda

cover photo

  Chaldean Catholic Church & National Politics
  Atra Project Reports Successful First Two Months
Opposition Meeting Set For 15 February
Tareq Aziz to Meet Pope John Paul in Mid-February
  Zinda Confirms, Mar Bidawid's Resignation Untrue
War in Iraq Would Spark A Tragedy, Says Indian Episcopate
A Declaration from the Assyrian Military Council Leadership
Assyrian Past Caught in the Line of Fire Archaeologists Say Iraqi Dam Threatens the City of Ashur
Last Year Over $20 Million Sent Illegally To Iraq From Michigan
Gilgamesh & The Discovery of The Oldest Trading Ship
Tony Blankley Calls Saddam, "The Assyrian Dunderhead"

A Dunderhead Yes, An Assyrian - No!
Martyrs Yousif, Youbert, & Youkhana
February Issue of National Geographic
God Save Our Assyrian Patriarchs
Let Us Be A Nation of Courage!
Chaldean "Nation"?
More Important than the Name
The Assyrians & Their Rights in the Future Iraq
Assyrian Churches were Behind the Drama
Zinda Plays into the Hands of the Enemies


Nineveh University Opens Its Door on the Internet
Assyrian New Year Convention in Europe
SBS Radio Streams Through the Internet

  Should Turkey Be Accepted in the European Union?
Build Your House Upon A Rock
  3 Assyrian Artists Exhibit Their Work in Holland
Bishop Mar Bawai Soro to Pray at the State Of The City Address



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The Lighthouse


The main characteristics, boundaries and the name of the Chaldean Catholic Church were officially reconciled and legally defined in the middle of the 19th century, in December 1847 to be exact. For the first time the Vatican granted Mar Yousif Oudo the title of "Chaldean Patriarch in Babylon". His Church, consequently, was recognized by the Ottoman authorities and included within the denominational decree of the "Millet", an organizing relationship between the ruling Muslims and submissive Non-Muslims. Since then, the Church has remained always and continuously loyal to the local and central authorities and never was involved in politics or demanded any political or nationalistic rights or claimed a specific and exclusive ethnicity, separate from followers of the other branches of the Church of the East, in particular her mother Church, the Nestorian.

Since the emerging period of nationalism, the official Catholic Church had severely opposed such ideology and fought all nationalistic movements. In 1894, a Synod of 35 Catholic bishops was held in Vienna, Austria to discuss nationalism and national liberation, the principles which demanded dismantling of empires and establishing national states based on language, culture, etc. The bishops initiated their meeting by giving thanks to Franz Joseph (1830 - 1916) the Emperor of Austria and Hungary, "who received from heaven the message of managing, strengthening and uniting all peoples in one Empire". In their conclusion, they declared that "the difference of people in languages, which is the fundamental basis of nationalism, is a consequence of sin and aberration and it is evidence of the Mighty God's fury upon human being".

It was expected of the Chaldean Catholic Church to be affected by such a stand toward nationalism, limiting her interests, claims and activities within denominational boundaries. However, by the time 'nationalism' and other principles of liberation & self-determination reached the Ottoman Empire, the situation of the peoples and the Catholic Church began changing, yet the Chaldean Catholic Church and her clergies never altered their position.

In spite of the Turks' proclamation of "Jihad" or Holly War against Christians and the participation of France - the defender of the Catholic minorities in the Ottoman Empire - against the Turks, the Chaldean Church remained the same and very loyal to the collapsing Turkish authority. Moreover, the Church stood against the few followers who were involved in Assyrian nationalistic movement and promoted the ideology of nationalism. This attitude gave Turkey a good opportunity to exploit and use the growing Assyrian national movement led by the Patriarch of the Assyrian 'Nestorian' Church of the East. In March 1918, Patriarch Mar Benyamin Shimon was assassinated by the Kurdish Agha Simko Shikaki, and subsequently succeeded by his brother Mar Polous Shimon. The Turkish authorities tried to exploit this tragic situation by using the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Emmanuel Yousef in convincing Mar Polous Shimon to accept Turkish offer and submit to the authorities. All efforts and attempts were without success. In 1920 when Mar Polous passed away, his followers, lacking a church building in Baghdad, approached Mar Emanuel for his permission to perform the burial ceremonial and bury Mar Polous' body in a Chaldean church. The Chaldean Patriarch rejected their request. Their Armenian counterparts accepted the request however.

After WWI, the whole world changed their views on nationalism, yet the Chaldean Church did not. The Ottoman Empire vanished. New national movements emerged in the region, including those of the Arabs, Jews, Assyrians, Armenians and Kurdish. The modern Turkish state was founded and other nation-states were established. New Arab countries were created and officially, the main part of Mesopotamia was announced as a new state of Iraq and accordingly the Assyrian national movement was shaped. The hurricane of WWI and its consequences never swung Chaldeans' doctrine of avoiding politics, or adopting a nationalist posture or claiming ethnical or national rights. On the contrary, the Church and her clergies continued affirming their loyalty to the dominant authorities, practicing St. Mathew's Chapter "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" - (Mathew 22:21), and following St Paul's preaching at Rome "Everybody must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves …" (Romans 13).

Everywhere and at any period, the Chaldean Church as a great church and her clergies as the most educated believers of the Church of the East, were following God's words in perfect manner. During the direct British administration of Iraq (1917-1921), the office of the British Civil Commissioner conducted a referendum on the type of the expected political systems in Iraq (See Self Determination in Iraq, Office of Civil Commissioner 1914-1917, British Library Document ST.48/14), and the Chaldean Church and community opinion was as follow:

"We the community of Chaldean Catholic greet the Empire of Great Britain which has freed us from the bondage of the Turks, and delivered us from the trails under which we laboured. We entreat your Excellency to endeavor to ensure that we remain under the shade of the British Empire. Thus, we shall be able like other nations, to live in a state of progress, achievement and prosperity, and to pray ever for his Majesty King George V now happily upon the throne" (Singed by the Chaldean Patriarch and some 30 of the most prominent members of the Chaldean Catholic community in Mosul).

It is not necessary to compare the Chaldean Catholic Church's stand on being involved in the national politics, or her claims for specific rights with that of the other branch of the Church of the East, namely the Assyrian 'Nestorian' Church. This is well detailed in many resources. However, it is very important and unique to compare that with the Syriac Orthodox Church. In the same document, the opinion of the Syriac clergies and their followers was as follows:

"We the entire nation of the Old Syrians, known under the name of Jacobites, join with the Protestant community in offering our thanks to God. He has delivered us from the bondage of the Turks by the entrance of the victorious British forces into our city - Mosul, and these forces have won us our freedom after we had haled to the condition of slaves - the same freedom of which Great Britain entered the war and which one has made such efforts to attain. We who belong to the Assyrian race are among the delivered. Our primary need is a government to direct our business, instruct our youth, bring up our children, place us in the rank of civilized nations, assure security in our land and set straight our circumstances. These blessings we cannot obtain but by the aid of capable men to take in hand the management of our affairs. Seeing that our community has no capable men to undertake so vital services and that for the present we cannot govern ourselves, we earnestly beg the British Empire itself to deign to govern our Assyrian community dwelling throughout the Vilayet of Mosul until such time as we can govern ourselves. For this favor, we offer our thanks to Great Britain. Trusting in this we have signed and presented this declaration in the city of Mosul and the villages around. We beg your King George V. (Signed by the Jacobite Archbishop of Mosul and some 30 of the leading men of his community, and few Protestant representatives).

In 1921 the Iraqi civil government was established, the British Mandate was lifted, Iraq was announced as independent country and in 1932 entered the League of Nations without binding the new and inexperienced country with any guarantee and liabilities on minorities protection. The case of Assyrians was the most burning problem at the time. The Simel Massacre was committed in 1933 against the Assyrian Nestorians. The old-new fascist method used by the Ottomans revived by the Iraqi Generals and Pashas who practiced it on the Assyrian population. All these tragic developments greatly affected other Christian minorities. Fears and servility continued dominating their state of mind and feelings toward the Muslim rulers. Eventually this led the Chaldeans to reaffirm their loyalty to the new government and remained more disassociated from the national politics or any claim for specific ethnicity or national rights.

After WWII a mass migration of the Chaldeans from their villages and towns, in particular from those around Mosul, to the big cities ensued. In Baghdad they established private businesses, and entered civil services and government employment. The Chaldean Patriarch Mar Yousef Ghanima (1947-1958) moved his Patriarchal See from Mosul to Baghdad. A new and obvious era of harmonization, integration and the melting of Chaldeans within the Iraqi society began in the big cities and has continued until today.

During the era of the Ba'ath control of Iraq (1968-present) the Chaldean Church and Chaldeans, desirously or forcible, became more faithful to the authority and more cautious toward national politics. It is needless to detail this current and contemporary period, well known to many Zinda readers. But it is worth mentioning an event which occurred in summer of 1977.

Mr. Hashim Shabeb, the Director General of the Iraqi Media and an Iraqi Intelligence service personnel, who was designated by the Ba'ath party leadership to deal with the Assyrian case in Iraq and Diaspora, led a delegation of the Syriac speaking organizations to the United States and England where they met with the Iraqi Assyrians from both Churches. Laudatory rallies were conducted, speeches and parties were organized in order to promote Ba'ath ideology and Iraqi policies. The Chaldean communities warmly welcomed them, while Assyrians insulted them. On their return to Baghdad Mr. Shabeb wrote in his report to the high Ba'ath authority: "The Chaldeans will remain always faithful to the government, loyal to Ba'ath party, trustful & dependable in implementing our strategy toward our Christian minorities in Diaspora, while Assyrians will remain always traitorous and unfaithful to the Iraqi government and the Ba'ath party". It was Mr. Shabeb's secretary, an Assyrian fellow by the name of Zaya, who relayed the content of this report when we met abroad.

Certainly, avoiding politics, disclaiming specific ethnicity or national rights and continuing allegiance to the government authorities would be of great benefits to the non-political groups within a society - namely, the Church that remains well established in Baghdad & other big cities. A great progress was made on many levels, in particular during His Holiness Mar Paulis Shekho (1958-1988)'s long service as Patriarch. A big number of church buildings were built; many new priests and bishops were consecrated and gained high education. Catholic schools were the best in Iraq and the number increased and modern ecclesiastical institutions were established. On the secular level, Chaldeans made the greatest progress among the Iraqi people. They became the most educated people in Iraq; eminent professors, lawyers, doctors, distinguished journalists and famous authors & historians. It is worth mentioning that the first Iraqi girl who entered the School of Medicine at the Baghdad University and became the first woman-doctor was Chaldean.

On business and economic levels, the Chaldeans have greatly contributed to the Iraqi economy. They are everywhere: banks, government offices, industry, trade and private business. They monopolize the hotel and tourism industry, and have brought new style of life into the Iraqi society. On the social scene, they established the famous social clubs in Baghdad namely the Alwiyah, Hindiyah, Al Mashraq and Al Anwar - high class and VIP clubs, without any cultural activities related to the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans were Arab by language and culture, Chaldean by denomination.
After Iraqi government's issuance of the so-called "Cultural Rights of the Syriac-Speaking", a massive number of new Chaldean clubs were established. Nearly each Chaldean village formed a club in Baghdad. These were considered of lower class than the previous clubs, and soon became centers for alcohol consumption and bingo games - open to public regardless of religious affiliation or ethnicity. No cultural activities were conducted at these establishments, apart from that of the Chaldean Babylon Club (from Alqush) and Al Akha'a Al Ahli -The Brotherhood Civic Club- (from Zakho). In the latter two clubs a few dramas and activities to promote language and heritage were performed by their most educated members. These were incidentally members or friends of the Assyrian Cultural Club in Baghdad.
In accordance with the above law, some other cultural organizations for Syriac-speakers were established in Baghdad. These included the Cultural Association and the Union of Syriac Writers. By support and encouragement of the Iraqi government, few Chaldean and Syriac clergies, including high ranking bishops, were involved in establishing these organizations. The well-educated and nationalist Assyrians from both denominations, Chaldean and Nestorian, some of them from the Assyrian Cultural Club, joined these organizations. This eventually resulted in shrinking and vanishing of the role of the clergies. The new generation of the nationalists partially succeeded in placing these organizations on the right nationalist path. A few and good objectives pertaining the language and culture were achieved until the time when the Ba'ath party realized the seriousness of these organizations. These organizations were finally closed down by combining them with the official Iraqi Union of Writers.

However, against this enormous progress made by the Chaldeans, there was a price, a great price, to be paid on their ethnicity and nationalist identity. They gradually began to vanish especially among the Chaldeans living in the larger cities. Language, history, culture and customs, which are the fundamentals of a shared ethnicity with the followers of the other branch of the Church of the East, namely Assyrians, became meaningless. To them Chaldean was only a Church or a Christian denomination and any other given significance on Chaldean ethnicity and shared national identity with the Nestorian Assyrians was unfavorable and had harmful consequences. To Chaldeans, Assyrian means politics, and it is a historic Chaldean custom to avoid national politics. Today, many high ranking Chaldean clergies believe that the unification procedures between the two churches, Chaldean and Assyrian, will be unsuccessful; because the Assyrian Church is a nationalist and political church while Chaldean is not. Any unification between both branches will drag Chaldeans into unwanted problems of politics, they believe. Therefore, disassociating such a name as 'Assyrian' from their denomination or Church was very important to avoid Iraqi authorities' fury, and to maintain the progress made by them, and to protect their advanced status in Iraq from ruin.

Moreover, for the second and third generations of Chaldeans living in the big cities, in particular, among high social classes, Chaldean is no longer an identity. They prefer Christian or Catholic or Christian Arab, rather than Chaldean. This was the basis for the Christian Arab concept, lately used by the Ba'ath Party in its fascist ideology toward all sects of the Assyrians. The 1977 census in Iraq is a practical example. It is the same in the Kurdish administrated northern region of Iraq, where Kurds copied Ba'ath policy toward the minorities. The majority of Chaldeans stood against teaching of the Syriac language alleging that teaching in Kurdish or Arabic languages is more prudent for their children's future than Syriac. This encouraged the Kurds to allege that the Chaldeans are Christian Kurds. At the present time, if an Arab asked a Chaldean in Baghdad or Basrah or Mosul about his identity, he will say he is Massehe (Christian) or "Moslawi" (from Mosul). He will either deny, or feel ashamed, or be afraid to say that he is from Telkeep or Tel Sqoof or Bittnayi or any other great Chaldean Assyrian villages. To them the great Aramaic-Syriac language of the Lord Jesus has become just a "Flehee language" (the language of the peasants), the lowest and discarded social class in the Iraqi mentality.

From the above very brief history of the Chadian Catholic Church and the Chaldeans' view toward nationalist politics and nationalism, we can firmly conclude that the Church stayed genuine, very faithful to its principles, sincerely instructing its believers in the very true and correct way of separating the church from politics. The Church never became involved in politics or nationalism or claimed for a separate ethnicity or specific or exclusive national or ethnical rights, simply because it is a Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church which honestly and perfectly was and is still representing the Chaldeans and their ecclesiastic interests. As such, there was no need whatsoever for the Chaldeans to establish their own political parties or exclusive nationalistic organizations as long as their identity and general interests were identified by a denomination and the Church was perfectly performing such duties.

However, for the politically conscious followers of the Chaldean Church it was very normal to have nationalist and political aspirations. They joined the Assyrian nationalistic movement in its early stage and lately the Assyrian Universal Alliance or the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM). Others joined the most revolutionary organizations in Iraq, which adopted armed struggle against Iraqi central governments, as the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

It is a fallacy to say that the Chaldeans did not establish their own political parties or ethnic organizations due to continuous absolutism of the Iraqi governments. Kurds, Turkomans, Nestorian & Syriac Assyrians even Armenians were more persecuted in Iraq than Chaldeans but they established their own nationalist political organizations. Each is a separate and specific ethnic group, while Chaldean is a denomination and as so they are represented by the Chaldean Church. It is odd that few Chaldeans allege that "Chaldeans shied away from creating their own nationalist political groups and instead opted for securing their rights by joining or establishing other Iraqi political groups". It is true that many Chaldeans joined these groups, as ADM, ICP and KDP and ascended their leaderships. Few of them played a heroic role in their struggle against the Iraqi dictatorial regimes. They did that because these groups were representing and securing their nationalist interests (as with ADM), Iraqi common interests (as with ICP) and regional interests (as with KDP), but not as Chaldean interests. They joined these organizations as Assyrians, Iraqi and Kurdistani. It is nonsense and imperceptible that Chaldeans, who were under continuous persecution of the Iraqi regimes, avoided creating their own nationalist group, meanwhile they joined and created the most revolutionary groups in Iraq, which were continually pursued and tyrannized by the Iraqi regimes.

Now it appears that after more than a decade, a bishop in the Diaspora and his Chaldean followers have found Moses' Stick, and by just one magical stroke are able to create a five thousand year old nation --"The Chaldean Nation"-- a nation separate from the Assyrians. The "Chaldean Renaissance" a novelty of Bishop Mar Sarhad Jammo is not only a historical sophism, but a flagrant contradiction with the facts and reality. Indeed it is a real heresy with respect to the Chaldean Catholic Church. It is a violation to the Chaldean heritage and to its sincere message. In short, such heresy is the beginning of spoiling and distortion of the great Church of the Chaldeans, and even more, it is an attempt to destroy the positive trends and steps of unification between the two churches, Chaldean and Assyrian. If Mar Jammo's notion of the "Chaldean nation" was not well received among Chaldeans in Detroit and resulted without any conclusive support, then we can imagine what will happen to him if he stood on stage of Al Mashraq club in Baghdad and delivered his ideas to the Chaldean who "are 3.5% of the Iraqi population".

It is well known that all the Chaldeans bishops are well educated in history of their nation & church. They are well aware of their Assyrian background and heritage. They know that the Chaldeans who inhabited the plains and mountains of Ashur, geographically and objectively are Assyrians more than the inhabitants of Hakkari, but denominationalism, and sometimes their traditional faithfulness to their Church, has covered up this fact.

The issue of Chaldean nationalist identity has existed since early days of the Assyrian nationalism, which emerged in the late years of the 19th century. A single nationalist name for all denominations of the Church of the East was the main problem in particular among clergies who were the major determiners and players. Many Chaldeans and Syriac Orthodoxies joined in, led and wrote on Assyrian nationalism but did not solve the problem which has been inherited and continues until today. In spite of that, no one, ecclesiastical or secular, dared to call for a specific Chaldean nation separate from the Assyrians. No doubt, some of the Chaldean writers, mainly clergies, called Syriac language as Chaldean or referred to Chaldean as people but all these given definitions were within denominational understanding, not nationalistic.

Now, there is a question full of skepticism on reasons for raising this separatist and devastating issue today. We are the most desperate nation when it comes to unity and solidarity. Based on historical facts and today's reality, I can attribute such destructive behavior to one or more of the following reasons:

1 - The contemporary history of the Assyrians shows that there is a direct relation between nationalism and denominationalism in their society. The more nationalism develops and progresses the more denominationalism becomes agitated and excited. The successful nationalist policy and consequently the great achievements made by the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) are unlimited to be described. Teaching Syriac language, surpasses the denominational borders & ascends many Chaldeans leadership and ministerial posts. United State's recent recognition of the ADM as a democratic organization entitled for financial and political support is another. All are of great progress and of ever first-time achievements in our modern history. In Diaspora, the Assyrian name is everywhere, through political parties, social & cultural organization, Radio, TV & Satellite channels, websites and in international conferences and meetings. All this has agitated apprehensions of the denominationalists and considered as real threat to their personal and denominational interests. The allegations of the "Chaldean nation" and "Chaldean renaissance" are denominationalists' reaction to the progress made through Assyrian nationalism. The distorted and ridiculous idea that any Chaldean or Syriac joining an Assyrian political party or organization, or declaring oneself as Assyrian would be deemed as an apostate from his Chaldean or Syriac Church still controls many clergies and denominationalists, leading to dire consequences.

2 - The United States' Act of Iraq Liberation and its US $ 97 million financial support to the Iraqi opposition groups is unique and a constructive move. When President Bush recognized the ADM as a democratic organization and entitled it for financial support, most Assyrians and genuine Chaldeans were more than happy for such accomplishment. A first of its kind in the Assyrian history. On the other side, for some denominationalists of Chaldean community this was a disappointing move adding to the previous disappointment when the Iraqi opposition groups in their meeting in London last October 2002 mentioned Assyrian rights only without referring to the Chaldeans. Now, the "Chaldean renaissance", Chaldean National Congress, creations of new Chaldean nation and etc, all come as reaction to such disappointments and an act to "get a piece of the cake" and prevent ADM from obtaining "the Chaldean share." While any visitor to Garbia (North Iraq) can observe that ADM's nationalist policies cover and include all Assyrians without any denominational regards.

3 - In politics, there is no permanent friend or enemy, as Winston Churchill said. Politics eventually is interests. Political experiences show that it is not necessary to be friends in order to meet interests of both parties. There might be mutual interests without friendship or accord or signed agreements. During WWI, the interests of the two rivals, Britain and France, met in defeating the Ottoman Empire. The same happened during WWII; the mutual interests of the United States and the European democratic countries were the same as the communist state of the Soviet Union in defeating Nazism and Fascism. Today there are many examples confirming this "national interests' theory.

Hence, everyone knows that one of the main strategies of the Iraqi Ba'ath regime is the elimination of the Assyrian nation through denominationalism. The current Ba'ath regime had inherited the Iraqi mentality toward Assyrians and ideologically and politically has put it in practice. The Ba'ath's apprehensions of the Assyrian name reached to a degree that can be named as "Assyrian Phobia". Assyrians in Iraq are neither a sizeable community, nor a financially and politically influential group. They are the most indigenous people of Iraq with magnificent history and obvious nationalist constituents; therefore, any logic and practical Assyrian claim will easily be legitimized and acceptable by the international community. Moreover Assyrians in Diaspora are very active and are the "loud voice" of the Assyrian case in particular through their web sites and Internets, the Mighty God's Blessing to Assyrians.

These immunities did incite Iraqi regime to avoid as much as possible the physical persecution and to compel to measurements that are more "peaceful" such as encouraging denominationalism among Assyrians and crumbling them into smaller sectarian fractions, which will be much easier to be consumed in the "Christian Arab" melting pot. The "Chaldean Renaissance" allegation and other denominationalists' calls are in agreement with the same Ba'ath policy and serve the same purpose in dismantling the Assyrian nation into small denominations. This agreement in purpose does not mean that the Chaldean propagandists are in agreement with Ba'ath party or are their agents. There is no such thing to be proven and is not our intention to do so, but they should know that they are carrying out the mission on behalf of Ba'ath party in Iraq. This favor could be appreciated by Ba'ath party and probably will turn their eyes away from involving the Chaldean clergies in politics as long as it can serve the Ba'ath strategy in destroying the Assyrian nation.

On the contrary, in Garbia the propagandists for "Chaldeanism" are in full agreement with the Kurds and with the Kurdistan Democratic Party. For instance the founder of so-called "Chaldean Democratic Union Party" is a well-known senior member of the KDP, a real puppet for Barazani and a denominational tool in the hands of his Kurdish party to destroy the Assyrian unity, to contain ADM's role and to repulse its successful achievements and progress. Such ill representation by a disreputable person is an abuse to Chaldean community more than to the whole of the Assyrian nation.

4 - The experience of the last couple of years of negotiations between the Chaldean and Assyrian churches had proven that there is an imbalance of ecclesiastical capability and nationalistic consciences between both churches and communities. The Chaldean Church institutionally, financially and administratively has improved. Her clergies are well educated and obtained high degrees. The Assyrian church is still following the traditional and out of date systems, in particular with regard to educating the clergies. Sending young Assyrians to Rome for study in Catholic institutions in order to become bishops for future is a means of reducing the gap, a good move indeed.

On the nationalist side, the followers of the Assyrian Church have more developed and well-established political and ethnic organizations and extensive experience, while the Chaldeans are in general farthest away from national politics & ethnic affairs and without organizations with national identity. The godfathers of the unification of the two Churches believe that a combination of Assyro-Chaldean or Chaldo-Assyrian name is a fundamental base for a successful unity of the two Churches in one church without any consideration to the nationalistic name whether it be a single name or a combination of two or more. In order to successfully build up such a combinatory title and bring it to life, the Chaldeans should have the same nationalistic organizations and upgrade their denominational status to an ethnic level same as the Assyrians. Such upgrading needs clubs against clubs, websites against websites, Chaldean News agency against Assyrian News agency, federation against federation, flag against flag, Chaldean National Congress against Assyrian National Congress, Chaldean Cultural Center against Assyrian Cultural Center, Chaldean Democratic Union Party against Assyrian Democratic Movement and so on.

In short, Chaldeans need to be a nation as long as the Assyrians are a nation, so that nation-to-nation will make an equal and balanced combination of Chaldo-Assyrian, a good and satisfactory name for a "New Nation and a New Church" and will solve the problem of the identity and name of the Church and the Nation. In principle, the idea of upgrading Chaldean national status is worthwhile, but it is absolutely on the wrong direction. Chaldean as a denomination cannot be put on the same denominational track and be call nationalistic. This will lead to nowhere but the destruction of our Nation and Churches. The real Chaldeans need to correct the direction and place their community on the real and objective nationalist track otherwise the hoped balance of unification will never occur. The slashing combinations of Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac during the USA census of year 2000 had given a negative result to all sects of the nation. I am sure that attempts of upgrading Chaldeans from denominational status to a nationalist level without using the right measurements will definitely result in more separation and destruction of our nation and eventually of our churches.

It is nonsense to argue with the propagandists of the "Chaldean nation" on the right nationalist track of their community, which is Assyrian because they know this fact much more than any other non-Chaldean. As long as this fact is closely related to politics, denominational mentality and personal interests will continue decaying our nation's entity including our churches. However, the excuse that the Chaldeans used to identify their collective identity by such name for so many years and they cannot easily relinquish and replace it by something different is acceptable and respectable. But, at the same time, Chaldean as a church and denomination should not mix it with nationalism and confuse the ordinary people. Assyrian is not a replacement for Chaldean. They are two different worlds, spiritual and national, soul and material, completing one another but never replacing each other.

National identity is not a man-made name; it is not fabrication of intellectuals meeting or nationalistic conference or a conclusion of a professor's article or lecture. It is the Mighty God's blessing to a people. It is an outcome of very long historical procedures, which are beyond man's control. It is non-adoptable, changeable, or replaceable. It is a matter of life and death to a people who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their identity. Look at the Assyrian name; from the early time of the world and human creation, from the biblical time until today's time, the Assyrian name is still surviving through very long and bloody processes. How can we expect that Assyrians, after paying the greatest price in maintaining their name, will accept a change or modification of their identity? It is a divine miracle that Assyrian name has survived for such a long time!

Aprim Shapera
United Kingdom

[Z-info: Mr. Shapera, a political scientist living in London and a regular contributor to Zinda Magazine, writes and lectures extensively on the current Assyrian political affairs.]





(ZNDA: Dohuk) Zinda Magazine is in receipt of a report from Dr. Ashour Moradkhan, Director of the Atra Project in North Iraq. In his statement released last week, Dr. Moradkhan explains that since his return to North Iraq in late December 2002 the Atra Project staff has been able to plant 85,000 new fruit trees, of which only 2 percent have been damaged. "The trees are healthy, growing fast and strongly…This year our children and families will have enough apples. But not enough to go to market. Hopefully in the coming year we will go to the market with full hands", says Dr. Moradkhan.

According to the statement, the current demand exceeds 100,000 apple and 50,000 peach trees. Dr. Moradkhan explains that his staff and the villagers will have planted all 150,000 trees by the end of this year: "because they are our soldiers of peace, they will guard our lands from the vultures". Dr. Moradkhan is planning for the introduction of nuts, almonds and pistachios in 2004.

The Atra Project's agricultural success is already facing enforceable challenges. For one, the value of dollar against the Iraqi dinnar is dropping almost daily. The possible war in Iraq is another issue of concern to the project sponsors. The local currency -- the 1991 Iraqi "Swiss-print" dinar -- is trading at 7.6 to the dollar, up from 15 just last June. The currency is disappearing from circulation, bringing the market and much-needed U.N. reconstruction projects to a standstill.

In addition to planting trees, Dr. Moradkhan is investigating the ability, susceptibility and readiness of each village to learn what can be done to increase each Assyrian family's income. Building tree nurseries and fish farms are already underway. With the money donated from the Bet-Eil Assyrian Church, for example, a fish farm is currently under construction. It will be named the Bet-Eil (House of God) Fish Farm. Plans for a nursery farm in the village of Sicrini are also underway.

Fundraisers such as this one by the Assyrian Aid Society of Arizona support Atra Project and other Aid programs in North Iraq.
Participants consumed 170 plates of delicious kebobs.

Rice fields, water dams, deep wells, honey farms are but a few projects that expect to raise the Assyrian families' income in the coming years.

Once picked from the trees, the fruit require storage and transport. Atra Project has plans for the building of storage facilities and equipment, according to the statement. If enough contributions are received from the Assyrians living outside of Iraq, Dr. Moradkhan explains that many new Assyrian university graduates can be employed in Atra Project's offices and manufacturing sites.

[For more information on Atra Project contact your local Assyrian Aid Society offices: in the U.S. visit http://assyrianaid.org/chapters.html]


(ZNDA: Arbil) Leaders of the opposition groups to Saddam Huseein have arrived in north Iraq to prepare for a 15 February meeting that could lay the groundwork for a post-Saddam Hussein government.

Most opposition leaders crossed into North Iraq via the Iranian border. They are part of a 65-member committee set up during an opposition conference in London last month. The Assyrian representatives among these are Mr. Albert Yelda of the Iraqi National Coalition and Mr. Yonadam Kanna, Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa). At press time Mr. Yelda had not arrived in North Iraq.

The meeting was originally scheduled to take place in the city of Arbil in Massoud Barazani's territory (KDP). However, sources to Zinda Magazine indicate that the city of Sulleimaniyah in Mr. Jalal Talabani's PUK territory is also under consideration.

A "top secret" American airstrip near Sulaymaniyah is being prepared for use in case of an air-attack from North Iraq.

In an interview with the Gulf News reporter, Tanya Goudsouzian, on 3 February Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) noted that: "America's plans do not include the Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Iraq, nor do they include using Kurdish forces. The Americans have their own forces. They asked us only to protect and defend our own area, not to participate in any attack against the Iraqi forces…If we attack Kirkuk, we would provoke Turkey. If we attack Mosul, and there are casualties, this would create a kind of animosity between Kurds and Arabs. For this reason, we are not planning to attack any Arab or Iraqi towns."

In speaking to the Kurdistan Observer on 20 January, Mr. Massud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) denied being a candidate for presidency in post-Saddam Iraq; and referred to his vision of a future Iraqi government and the proportion of representation. In the 1992 Salah al-Din conference the proportions for Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans, Assyrians and Chaldeans were agreed upon as Arabs 66%, Kurds 25%, Turkomans 6% and Assyrians and Chaldeans 3%. This division, Barazani notes, was based on the last census in Iraq which was carried out in 1957 under the monarchy. The population censuses which have been carried out after this were not credible. He finds the Sal al-Din compromise as a temporary solution "until a new
census is carried out to show the real proportion of the population in Iraq."

The Kurdistan Observer writes: "In this context Barzani acknowledged that the number of Christians in Iraq - the Assyrians and Chaldeans - was declining in a concerning way and it was necessary to protect them for the sake of protecting the identity of Iraq itself."

The Assyrian political delegation in North Iraq demands a minimum of 6, possibly 9% representation for the Assyrian groups (Nestorians, Chaldeans, and Syriac Orthodox).


Courtesy of Reuters (5 February)

(ZNDA: Paris) Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, one of Iraq's most prominent Christians, told a French newspaper he would travel to Rome in mid-February to meet Pope John Paul II.

Aziz told the Paris daily Le Monde that he had asked for an audience with the Pope, who has firmly criticized plans for a U.S.-led attack on Iraq, and immediately got a positive response.

Asked if he would meet the Roman Catholic pontiff on February 14, he said: "Yes, I will go. I asked for this meeting with the Pope, on the advice of friends in Italy and the Vatican, and I got an immediate agreement."

In an address last month to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the Pope declared: "No to war! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity."

Aziz is a member of the Chaldean Catholic Church, an Eastern Rite church in communion with Rome. Mr. Aziz' meeting with the Pope will coincide with the meeting of the Iraqi Opposition Groups in North Iraq.

News Digest


(ZNDA: Beirut) Zinda Magazine has confirmed that the rumors surrounding the resignation of His Beatitude Mar Raphael Bidawid, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, are unfounded. His Beatitude Mar Raphaël I Bidawid has left Hotel Dieu hospital on Monday, 3 February, and is now at his residence near Beirut, where he has already resumed his patriarchal duties. He will stay in his residence in Lebanon until complete recovery until June of this year.

Mar Bidawid's office in Lebanon informed Zinda Magazine that rumors regarding Mar Bidawid's resignation have been circulating in the U.S. Chaldean dioceses. On Friday, unconfirmed reports mentioned the sudden resignation of Mar Bidawid due to his illness. The same report mentioned Mar Yousip Oudo, Bishop of Aleppo, Syria as his successor to seat of the Chaldean Patriarchate of Babylon.

According to the Canon Law of the Chaldean Catholic Church, the resignation of a Patriarch must be accepted by both the majority of the bishops who comprise the Holy Synod of the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Holy See in Rome, namely Pope John Paul II.



For Immediate Release
31 January 2003

The Assyrian group in the military council of the Iraqi National Coalition is calling upon all Assyrians from all the military ranks, officers and soldiers, to volunteer and initiate registration of their names at the following Assyrian group offices. Information must include the passport and phone number.

This is the opportunity through which Iraqis can prove that they are a united and effective national power outside the framework of the political organization and other groups; and to participate in the Iraqi opposition effort and to take responsibility for the process of change and to rescue the Iraqi people and build a civil, stable society in a federal, democratic, plural Iraq that is suitable for everyone.

Send your information to these addresses:

Mr. William Wards
Fax 612-9610-6898

Mr. Nadan Jarso
Fax 209-572-4662

U.S. Chicago
Mr. Ishaya Eshoo
Fax 847-679-1857

Mr. Albert Odisho
Fax 463-146-5729

Mr. Samir Yalda
Fax 463-610-0523

Assyrian Military Council Leadership

[Translated from Arabic to English by the Staff at Zinda Magazine. Note: the English version of this document is not an official statement of the said group.]


Courtesy of Vatican News Service (4 February)

(ZNDA: New Delhi) An attack on Iraq, a nation already devastated by malnutrition, poverty and economic sanctions, would trigger a colossal tragedy, warn India's bishops.

In a press statement today, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) expressed its anxiety over the "clouds of war" hovering over West Asia.

The bishops were equally concerned "over the firm stand taken on behalf of some countries that are avowed to put an end to the production of weapons of mass destruction as it has worsened the atmosphere."

"Every effort must, therefore, be made by the international community to avert such human made tragedy, and seek other paths to find lasting solutions to the problem of proliferation of arms," said Bishop Percival Fernandez, CBCI secretary-general.

The leading American cardinal in Rome also sharply criticized a proposed U.S. pre-emptive attack on Iraq, saying Washington "has not offered conclusive evidence of imminent danger to its national security."

Cardinal James Francis Stafford, formerly archbishop of Denver, Colorado, and now head of the Vatican's Council for the Laity, is the highest-ranking U.S. cardinal in the Roman Curia.

In statements to Inside the Vatican magazine, he said that the "government of the U.S.A. has recently threatened to use nuclear weapons against Iraq. This is unworthy of the oldest representative democracy in the world. Furthermore, the government of the United States has compromised its own basic principles by implicitly endorsing the use of torture since Sept. 11, 2001."


Courtesy of the Financial Times (5 February); article by Ted Bowen

(ZNDA: Sydney) As the American juggernaut rumbles toward Baghdad, rival groups of academics, curators and collectors are scrambling to influence the cultural agenda of a post-war, post-sanctions Iraq. Leaders of US organizations representing archaeologists and other Near East scholars on one hand, and museum directors and collectors on the other are lobbying State Department and Pentagon officials. Their mission is to minimize destruction and looting of cultural property in the event of war, and with the White House sounding more bellicose by the hour these efforts have gained urgency.

Modern Iraq covers the region bounded by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that gave rise to some of the earliest known civilizations. Its borders encompass some of the oldest evidence of agriculture and artifacts from the fourth millennium BC development of cuneiform writing. The country contains remnants of Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian empires, as well as biblical sites. A sustained air and ground war would almost certainly damage some of these treasures and open the way for looting. For example, a bomb blast near the Arch of Ctesiphon in suburban Baghdad could crack or topple the third-century structure, which is the world's largest parabolic arch built of brick. The arch is perilously close to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Agency.

Representatives of museum directors, collectors, preservationists, Near East scholars and archaeologists late last month met in Washington with officials from the Defense Department and State Department to discuss their concerns. The talks were an opportunity to "show our concern for antiquities sites and museums, as well as standing monuments," says McGuire Gibson, a professor of Mesopotamian archaeology at the University of Chicago, and president of the American Association for Research in Baghdad. Professor Gibson has been leading efforts by the Archaeological Institute of America and the AARB, an academic group representing numerous disciplines. He has also presented to the Defense Department a detailed catalogue of about 4,000 Iraqi sites, only a fraction of the archaeologically significant locations in the country, which could number in the hundreds of thousands around the Tigris and Euphrates. "In effect, the entire country is an archaeological site," Gibson says.

Other interested groups include the American Council on Cultural Policy, which includes private collectors, museum directors and former government officials, and which works closely with the American Association of Art Museum Directors. Ultimately, the various organizations have different approaches to preserving antiquities. Scholars of the region, particularly archaeologists, have an interest in keeping artifacts in context, while collectors and museum directors are orientated towards acquisition.

None of the groups, however, has weighed in on the appropriateness of a war with Iraq. But recalling the belated and flawed communication between the US government and experts during the 1991 Gulf War, the experts "want to point out what happened in the past and to try to suggest ways in which we can avoid that, if at all possible, or at least to mitigate the consequences," says Jane Waldbaum, AIA president.

After the Gulf War, looting from museums and dig sites was widespread and Iraqi antiquities flooded the international market. Food shortages led people in the countryside to cultivate archaeological sites. With the prospect of renewed warfare, the AIA and AARB have urged the government to observe international treaties on cultural property, to work to minimize damage to archaeological sites and artifacts, to prevent looting, and to facilitate the preservation of Iraqi cultural heritage in the wake of any conflict.

International law enforcement agencies must be vigilant against illicit trade in Iraqi antiquities, says Patty Gerstenblith, a professor at DePaul University School of Law. The scholarly groups also urged compliance with the 1970 Unesco Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, a treaty signed by the US and UK, Iraq and more than 90 other countries.

Iraq's antiquities laws have their origins in the British administration of the League of Nations mandate following the first world war. "We would want to ensure that the current Iraqi antiquities law is maintained and enforced," says Jane Waldbaum. "They have very strict requirements for the sale and removal of antiquities from the country. It's virtually prohibited." Unesco could have a role in determining future Iraqi cultural policy, if asked by a member state to intervene, according to Guido Carducci, chief of the organization's International Standards Section in the Cultural Heritage Division. In working out the details, "the antiquities department should be given the resources it needs to resume doing what it was before. They were apparently a very well run antiquities service - one of the very best in the Middle East," according to Ashton Hawkins, president of the ACCP and former executive vice president and counsel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

He suggests that Iraq's prohibition on sales of antiquities is basically appropriate. At the same time, he argues that the proper role of an antiquities department is to identify and maintain seminal and emblematic artifacts and to consider the selective sale of the rest in order to fund preservation of the former. "National patrimony doesn't consist of everything. It consists of the most important things," he says.

Some US and international policies treat collecting as a contributing factor to looting. "But on the whole, collectors stay away from that kind of material now.

"Reasonable intelligence [and] common sense should guide legitimate collecting. You should stay away from Iraqi material that might come on to the market in the next couple of years."

It's not clear how the destruction of Iraq's cultural property would be treated under international law. Neither the US nor the UK is a party to the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, although Iraq is one of the 103 state parties to the treaty. It bars the targeting of cultural sites unless militarily necessary and calls on parties to prevent looting and the export of cultural property from occupied countries. Carducci maintains that the Hague Convention's main strictures are established in customary international law, and that both the US and the UK accept this principle.

Unesco officials and western scholars say rebuilding the Iraqi antiquities agency and reviving the country's academic and professional infrastructure are keys to safeguarding its cultural heritage. But given the increasing odds of widespread devastation, Carducci does not sound optimistic. "From a military point of view [protection of cultural property] is of course not the first priority. It's always been like that."


(ZNDA: Mosul) An Iraqi dam under construction on the Tigris River threatens to submerge the remains of the spiritual capital of the ancient Assyrian empire in an act archaeologists liken to flooding the Vatican.

Much of the city of Ashur, which thrived for more than 1,000 years until the Babylonians razed it in 614 B.C., could vanish under a lake to be created by the Makhoul dam, U.S. and European archaeologists said.

More than 60 outlying historical sites are also threatened.

Ashur, or Assur, was of such importance that it lent its name to the Assyrian civilization itself.

``Losing it would be like, I guess you could say, losing the Vatican,'' said Mark Altaweel, a Baghdad-born doctoral student at the University of Chicago who is using satellite data to study the ruins-rich region surrounding Ashur.

Ashur sits on a bluff about 130 feet above the Tigris between Mosul and Baghdad. Most of the city, including the lower portions most vulnerable to flooding, have never been explored in the century since the first archaeological teams visited the site.

The city was the spiritual center and trading hub of one of the world's first great empires that at its peak stretched from Egypt to Iran and northward into Turkey.

Estimates of how much of the city would be submerged vary from half to the entire site.

The dam, slated for completion by 2007, is the result of economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, said John Malcolm Russell of the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston.

Iraq has been pushing toward greater self-sufficiency in food production, which has led to the development of massive irrigation projects of which the dam is part, said Russell, an art historian and expert in ancient Assyria.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is now assisting Iraq in assessing the Makhoul dam's impact on Ashur and what, if any, measures can be taken to prevent its destruction, said Giovanni Boccardi, chief of the UN organization's Arab states unit. A report detailing its recommendations has not yet been made public.

Iraq has also submitted a draft nomination to UNESCO to have Ashur named a world heritage site, which would add it to a list of 763 locations around the world, including China's Great Wall and the ruins of ancient Pompeii.

But a plan to protect and manage the site must be devised before that status can be granted.

``The possibility for the site to be inscribed on the list will obviously depend on our capacity to identify ways and means of ensuring the conservation of the outstanding universal value of Ashur,'' Boccardi said.

In Iraq, antiquities officials have dispatched 10 teams of archaeologists to the Ashur region, said Peter Miglus of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, who last dug at the site in 2001. Since then, no international teams have been asked back.

``There has been no invitation issued, as they euphemistically call it, to rescue these sites,'' Russell said.

Overall, the situation for archaeology is not much better elsewhere in Iraq since the end of the Gulf War. Thousands of looted objects, including Assyrian reliefs purloined from museums and storehouses at archaeological sites, have appeared for sale at auction and on the Web.

``I have become so depressed by the flow I have stopped looking at eBay,'' Russell said.

Archaeologists, including members of the Archaeological Institute of America, fear the situation will worsen if there is war.

``It will be a mess if we go in again,'' said Samuel Paley, professor of classics at the State University of New York, Buffalo. ``Who knows what will happen. You balance what we consider the political needs of today with the heritage of antiquity: What comes out on top?''

[ Z-info: For more information visit http://www.assur.de & http://www.unesco.org].


(ZNDA: Sofia) Robert Ballard, the man who discovered the remains of The Titanic, announced that last summer he had found the remnants of the oldest commercial ship in the world in the Bulgarian part of the Black Sea.

It is speculated that the vessel found could have been a merchant ship headed for the Mediterranean, intending to drop off its fish steak cargo in Greece. The ship probably originated at the Turkish port on the Black Sea's southern shore and headed north to the Crimean peninsula, where evidence of ancient Greek colonisation had been discovered previously.

Ballard came to the Black Sea to search for another ship that has another meaning and is referred to as Noah's Ark.

Is it possible that Noah's Ark lies somewhere in the depths of the Black Sea and is preserved? This is the question that bothered the mind of the great explorer. He put together his expedition in 2002 to try to trace a lost civilisation - a mission that could shed more light on the controversial timing and site of the biblical Great Flood.

Scientists offer us, as a candidate for the Great Flood, the flooding of the Black Sea in 5500 BCE.

Gilgamesh, hero of Babylonian mythology, went on a journey to find Utnapishtin, who had survived the flood. Gilgamesh meant to make Utnapishtin tell him how to escape death. So the great flood of antiquity tiptoes into yet another old myth. Maybe there were several floods. This Babylonian story can be traced back further than Genesis in its written form.

If, as some think, the Gilgamesh story refers to a Sumerian ruler who lived around 2600 BCE, the Black Sea flood would be much too early and somewhat far to the North. Still, Gilgamesh had to travel to find Utnapishtin, and myths do leapfrog from one real event to another.

The Black Sea flood was a truly major upheaval. The last ice age retreated 12 000 years ago and the world began warming. As it did, ice melted and oceans rose, while lakes began to evaporate and shrink.

The Black Sea was a great freshwater lake in those days and, as the new technology of farming matured eight thousand years ago, farmers moved into the lands around it.

By 5500 BCE, the lake lay 150 metres below sea level. Then the thin strip of land between the salt Sea of Marmara and the freshwater Black Sea gave way. A terrible gush of water cut through, creating the Bosporus channel. The flow was 400 times greater than Niagara Falls - making a sound heard over 100 kilometres away.

The water advanced one kilometre a day. Within three months it had flooded 100 000 square kilometres of farmland. The Black Sea had turned from fresh water to salt, and its size increased by a third. The farmers fled, carrying their art to places that had never known farming. Stone-age farms first appeared in the valleys and plains of central Europe about 200 years later.

The flood turned the high ground of the Crimean Peninsula into a near island. It created the Sea of Azov, above the Crimea and connected to the Black Sea by a small channel. The Sea of Azov remains a nearly freshwater body, fed by the Don River.

The rest of the Black sea is fed by the Danube and Dnieper rivers, but it is also fed by the salty Mediterranean. The fresh river water flows out through the Bosporus at surface level, while the heavier salt water flows in underneath it - in a fittingly Byzantine arrangement of flows.

And what about Noah's and Utnapishtin's floods? We can never know, of course. But the Black Sea certainly provides a dramatic enough basis for the grand myths - that we still remember today. This is what makes many scientists believe that the Bible described the Black Sea flood as the Great Flood and this could be the only real historical event that lies behind the book's story.


Courtesy of the Associated Press (31 January)

(ZNDA: Detroit) "If we don't help our relatives, who's going to help them? Nobody," said Amir Denha, publisher of the Chaldean Detroit Times newspaper.

Millions of U.S. dollars transferred from Michigan families find their way to Iraq annually. Last year, more than $20 million was sent illegally to Iraq from Michigan, according to U.S. Customs in Detroit.

Members of the Detroit area's Iraqi community said they do not have a choice when it comes to helping family overseas.

Iraqi Americans who send money to family back home are facing increased attention from federal authorities because of a possible war with Iraq.

Before his remaining family members fled the country, Denha said he would give money to people traveling to Iraq to give to his family.

But now, Iraqis in the Detroit area and across the nation face a federal crackdown on sending money to their homeland, a nation the Bush administration has focused on as a major enemy in the war on terrorism.

Although sending money to Iraq has been illegal since 1990, federal authorities have stepped up enforcement in the past year, The Detroit News reported in a Friday story.

Iraqi community leaders and others say the ban on sending money home to impoverished relatives is frustrating for family members who do not want to break the law, but want to support family.

James Dinkins, the acting special agent in charge of the U.S. Customs Office of Investigations in Detroit, acknowledged the hardship that Iraqi Americans are trying to relieve by sending money. But he questioned why people would send large amounts of cash, because just a few U.S. dollars can feed an Iraqi family for more than a week.

"Regardless of whether the money is going for food or clothing, ultimately some of the money makes its way back into the hands of Saddam," Dinkins said. "Part of the embargo is to put pressure on people and the government to change their practices. The government only changes if the people put enough pressure on them."


(ZNDA: Washington) In a 29 January column in the Washington Post, Tony Blankley, the editorial page editor of The Washington Times calls Saddam Hussein an "Assyrian dunderhead":

"Now that George W. Bush is in the White House, Saddam's fatal hour is upon him. With even Hans Blix and Colin Powell now beating the drums of war, we shall see if the Assyrian dunderhead is capable of giving up his toxic dreams and accepting exile. But like the poor devils who feel compelled to seek the deadly AIDS infection, Saddam has probably eroticized possession of the deadly weapons, and is likely to stand his ground and draw his terminal breath in the next month or two˜perhaps on the Ides of March."

At press time no reaction from the Assyrian observers has been received at Zinda Magazine offices.

For a full copy of the editorial titled "Stumbledee and Stumbledum" visit: http://washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20030129-92283052.htm

Mr. Dunderhead's syndicated column appears on Wednesdays.


Surfs Up!
Letters From Zinda Magazine Readers


[Leave it to Zinda Magazine readers to speak their mind on issues that concern the Assyrians. Here are a few letters sent to Mr. Tony Blankley of the Washington Post (see News Digest)]:

I am writing concerning your article published in the Washington Times entitled, "Stumbledee and stumbledum" (January 29, 2003).

I enjoyed the article, but found one error in your reference. You have implied that Saddam Hussein is Assyrian.

Hussein is not an Assyrian.

Assyrians are a Christian community that exists in Iraq and has been brutally persecuted over the last century by the neighboring Muslim communities and, at times, by the government itself.

Currently, the Assyrian groups are working with the US State Department and other US allies to establish a post-Hussein regime. President Bush has already publicly stated his desire to work with and protect the Assyrian Christian minorities in Iraq.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like further clarification on the different ethnic groups in that region.

Best Regards from an Assyrian-American,

Marc Mar-Yohana

I have come to discover that you called Saddam Hussein an Assyrian in your January 29th column. I read your column and agree with certain portions, but please note that Saddam is not Assyrian. As a matter of fact, Assyrians are an opposition group in Northern Iraq that are eligible to receive assistance from the U.S. government under Presidential Determination No. 2003-05. You also have been mentioned in the weekly Assyrian online newsletter Zinda Magazine. Please, take the opportunity to clarify this misinformation. I believe you meant no disrespect to my Assyrian people.

Helbard AlkhassAdeh

President Bush may be blessed for having foolish enemies but certainly he is not for having historically ignorant editors writing about him. How dare you to slander all Assyrians by applying their name to this murderer? For an editor who uses history to make his point you certainly are an ignorant and racist person. From your alleged knowledge of history, you could not find more suitable names for Saddam from current history. How you heard about Hitler, Stalin, Ben Ladin, Idi Amin, Sharon, etc., in whose company Saddam will feel much at home?

Practically, the entire civilized world agrees that Saddam is a dictator, murderer, and a menace to his own people. If president Bush can eliminate Saddam without destroying Iraq and its people, he will certainly receive the blessings of the majority of Iraqis and especially of Assyrians who have been victimized by Saddam for over 30 years.

The poison that is dripping from your pen is not any better than the blood that is dripping from Saddam's hands. Do you believe that you can convince the American people of your stupid argument? I certainly have more faith in our people and their just judgment.

Youel A Baaba

Dear God! Tony, I've always known you to be a true moron, but referring to Saddam as an Assyrian really seals the deal. How horrible to throw a false accusation out there when the general public does not even know who the Assyrians are, and are now to believe that a dreadful tyrant like Saddam is one. For your info (actually, I think you do know this but for whatever reason felt compelled to write otherwise), Saddam is NOT an Assyrian. His hometown of Tikrit was once an Assyrian area, as was most of Iraq as it is the homeland of the Assyrian people. However, Tikrit, like most of the country, was then taken over by the Arab Muslims who rule it today. Saddam Hussein is an Arab; you owe the small Assyrian community an apology. No, I will not be holding my breath.

Elki Issa

I was outraged at your recent remarks regarding Saddam and the Assyrian nation. As a respected editor, I would expect that you should not and would not character assassinate the Assyrian nation by calling this ferocious fiend an Assyrian. You should do a background check on Saddam and the Assyrian nation. They do not and will not mix well. Let me give you some background information to try to assist you in understanding the immeasurable differences between the Assyrians and this evil man, Saddam.

In 1981, he enforced mandatory laws that stated that all Assyrians must register in the census as Arabs. Some Assyrians use many Jewish names, such as Isaac, David, Abraham, Simon, etc. and they also use Assyrian names, such as Ashur, Sargon, Ninos, etc. Saddam said, "The Jews are our enemies. You Assyrians with the Jewish names MUST change your name to one favored by me."

In 1985, Saddam Hussein totally subjugated the Assyrian churches, which have been there for thousands of years. He placed a Baath Agent in the board of directors of the church in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul, and many other cities to leach information from the Assyrian community.

In the same year, he changed the Assyrians' school's names to Arabic names in all of the cities in Iraq that had Assyrian schools. He coerced a decree that the Assyrian teachers could not teach Aramaic (Old Assyrian language) to the students. He took over all of the Assyrian Associations and converted them to Arabic names and placed Baath Agents in the board of directors to scrutinize everything the Assyrians did.

In addition, that same year, he callously and viciously executed four Assyrian Democratic Movement (Opposition Force) members. He prohibited the Assyrian priests to bury them according to Assyrian Church tradition.

In 1988, Saddam threw cyanide compound gas on the Kurdish villages, which are neighboring the Assyrian villages. Do you think that the cyanide compound gas did not disperse to those in the environs, it just resided in only the Kurdish villages? Did you know that in the same year he bombarded all the Assyrian churches and villages, which existed almost 2000 years ago?

In 1991, he blatantly announced ethnic cleansing against the Assyrian people and other minorities residing in Iraq. Because of such psychosis, hitherto, thousands of Assyrians became and are becoming refugees and fleeing to Turkey, Jordan, and Syria for tranquility. Thus far, there are over 5,000 refugees still living in Amman, Jordan.

The Assyrian people converted to Christianity in the first century after Jesus Christ. They built a large number of churches in south of Turkey and north of Iraq. We are the first people to convert to Christianity. With all respect to the Muslim community, Saddam is a Muslim, which has a cosmic amount of dissimilarity with Christianity.

Last year, Saddam declared that he would build an irrigation system on the city of Ashur in order to obliterate our identity from Iraq. He had a fully thought out plan on how he would eradicate our history and raze our people in Iraq and then he would pompously proclaim that Assyria never existed.

Assyrians were and always will be the cradle of civilization. The Assyrians created the first alphabet; the first library of cuneiform text was of the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal, which had Hammurabi's Code, which is to this day used in the court of law. They had the most superlative mailing system of that time. The Assyrians invented the wheel and the wheeled fortresses, which are the ancestors of the modern tank used in warfare. Assyrians developed high medical practice, which was very efficient and Assyrian doctors used many types of medicine and performed sophisticated surgery, commonly eye surgery. They had the first ambulance service. The Assyrian mapmakers (cartographers) created the longitude and latitude grid system that we still use today to locate various areas of the globe.

Assyrians are one of the founding fathers of dignified civilization and Saddam is the annihilator of dignified civilization.

How dare you write such madness that Saddam, that atrocious scum is Assyrian? You owe this magnanimous Assyrian nation a public apology for debasing the Assyrian name. I have never heard in history of an Assyrian name being Saddam. Have you? Never, because Assyrians would never degrade themselves by calling themselves or their children Saddam, for he has tortured and brutally murdered the Assyrian harmless and innocent youth and community. He has raped us of our rights and has shown no mercy to the Assyrian people. This monstrous man has stripped us of our identity and butchered our future generation.

This is why I am here today living in this beautiful country, I say and call it with pride, America. This stupendous country has embraced us with compassion, love, and freedom. It permits us to freely preserve our identity, culture, tradition, and our Aramaic language. This exquisite country allows us to speak our mind and fight for our rights. It strives to protect us from all harm and has given a voice to the voiceless. I will always show gratitude towards America, the land of the free and the home of the braves.

God has always and will continue to bless America.

Edward I. Baba

Your article "Who is President Bush's stupidest opponent: Saddam Hussein or Tom Daschle?" was a very interesting one full of objective analysis of the situation at hand. However, one remark made me stop for quite a while and ponder on its meaning. In your reference to Saddam, you said: "the Assyrian dunderhead". Now, I know that dunderhead is another word for a stupid person, but as for Saddam being Assyrian, is a totally new ball game. As an Assyrian myself, if there was a 0.1 percent chance of him being Assyrian, I would renounce my Assyrian identity, and I'm sure that many many others would do the same.

Sir, I would be most grateful to you if you would mention what was the idea behind your referral to Saddam as such. I hope that it had nothing to do with discrediting the name Assyrian for any reason at all. Assyrians are not Arabs nor Muslims. Assyrians' language, culture, traditions and customs are completely different from that of Saddam's Arabs, just as Americans are different from them.

Sam Shalalo


For the last century and a half efforts to undermine the Assyrian existence and dislodge them from their lands have persisted whether by the Ottoman Turks, Iraqi governments or the Kurdish authorities. Whereas the first group inflicted religious genocide against the Assyrian Christians, the latter two have committed systematic and forced displacement through terror; forced cultural assimilation; assassinations; massacre and systematic genocide.

The Iraqi regimes ruled the Assyrians with repression and through the iron grip. Its policies included the control on the press, where any printed word was submitted for pre-censorship. Assyrian newspapers and periodicals were to function only as mouthpieces of government. History curriculums were corrupted and they emphasized only on the Islamic and Arab side of the Iraqi glorious history. Representations of Assyrians in central and local governments were always absent unless the individuals were government-backed puppets. The Iraqi Constitution did not recognize the Assyrians as an ethnic group. In the north, meanwhile, the Kurds referred to the Christian Assyrians as Christian Kurds.

These policies have forced the Assyrians to flee and disperse in the four corners of the world beginning in the 60s and then early 1970s. The Assyrians have experienced a void in the organized national movement due to the oppressive policies inflicted upon them. They lacked the organized movement to translate the simple dreams of liberty, equality and fraternity of this suffering nation into a vision and a clear political agenda in Iraq. This policy took a serious turn when the Iraqi government began to force Assyrians to register as Arabs or Kurds in the Iraqi national census of 1977. These policies magnified the dim future of Assyrians in Iraq and the call for the birth of an organized national movement became an urgent necessity. Although the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) was born in 1968 in France, and the Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party (BNDP) in 1974 in the USA, the Assyrians still needed a grass-rooted movement at home. This is why the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) was born in 1979 in Iraq.

From its inception, the ADM was targeted and its members harassed and persecuted. In mid 1980s many Assyrians were imprisoned by the Iraqi Baath regime. In February 3, 1985, three young, educated and nationalists Assyrians Martyrs Yousif Toma, Youbert Benyamin and Youkhana Esho were cowardly executed in Baghdad without a fair trial.

Today, on this 18th anniversary of the Assyrian fallen martyrs Yousif Toma, Youbert Benyamin and Youkhana Esho, let us remember those heroes who gave their lives for the Assyrian freedom; let us remember the souls of all sons and daughters of Assyria, who sacrificed their lives for Assyrian liberty. Let us pray and honor their memory, a memory that must be embedded in our hearts and minds until the end of time.

Fred Aprim


The brief two page article in the Febuary issue of the National Geographic magazine titled "Iraq 'The Sum of Its Parts' / Diversity in a Desert Land" by Mike Edwards under Geographica series is a very concise story of Iraq's history, geography (1 page is a map with census data), that introduces the country to the reader. I was pleased to see reference made to 'Assyrian Christians still worshiping in Aramaic, the language of Jesus;' ...This is a perfect article to have at this time so when we are asked about Iraq we can refer people to it.

Milt Khoobyarian


Can anyone get to His Qadeeshoteh and send him our sincere Assyrian wishes? God save Qadeeshout 'd Mar Raphael Bidawid and Qadeeshouta d'Mar Denkha who are always saying that we are Assyrians, but dispersed and scattered among many Churches.

God bless You All, Amen...

Salam Siamando Khzyran


I refer to the article by Mr. Youel Baaba, titled "Church of the East: Challenging Issues," published in Zinda Magazine on January 6, 2003. I would like to commend Mr. Baaba on such a brilliant analysis and articulate style in defining the problems in our church and suggesting wise solutions.

I must also thank the Lord for the fact that there are intelligent people (la mashperane) among us who have a strong faith, self-denial and courage to confront the sad realities about our church in its current status. I say this because there are also among us in the Church of the East those who under the pretext of "preserving our church reputation and its unity" will simply deny the existence of any problem and instead would present a false, misleading picture only to "drug" the innocent among us and project every thing as being "swell." The latter approach is definitely unethical and therefore wrong, especially in the church, the family of God.

A nation (including its churches) that has no courage to confront its social ills and which avoids hearing its member's criticism is doomed to disappear from the face of earth. Because, such a nation is like a man who is seriously ill but is terrified to go to the hospital. The illness will eventually get to him and kill him.

Mr. Baaba tries to tell us that we are not immune from temptations and that we have problems. He carefully cites a Church of the East law from the Holy Sunhadus, which imposes "ANATHEMA" on everyone who breaks that particular law. This is a very serious matter because "ANATHEMA" means Kherma or Tahreem, (a formal ecclesiastical condemnation or excommunication of persons). In cases that ANATHEMA is imposed on one or more people, you will see that all God's blessings and mercy shall be removed from that person or persons, especially when such people violate the law openly and knowingly. If our church leaders have mishandled Mar Aprim's case in contrast with the Sunhadus, they will definitely put themselves in trouble with God. Because it seems that they openly and knowingly have chosen to violate God's law and thus have removed themselves from God's blessings and wisdom.

ANATHEMA is not something new; it has been enforced since the New Testament times. Saint Paul used it in his letter to the Galatians (1:9) to warn them against teachings other than those that have been handed down to them. Therefore, when any church leader does something that is contrary to what has been handed down to our church, it is expected that just as stated in the Bible the Sunhadus will declare that person or persons to be under ANATHEMA.

One should also never underestimate the consequences of ANATHEMA on the faithful of our church. If our spiritual leaders have openly and knowingly defied God's will and law, it will cause serious damages to the rest of us, as well, because we are supposed to follow their teachings and example of life! Through the history of the Hebrew people of the Old Testament, the Bible teaches us that whenever nations have broken God's commandments, they end up facing tremendous hardship and destruction.

We must not allow any one, even our leaders, to drag all of our beloved church, our precious children and us into such an ANATHEMA (God's anger) situation, which is a case that the rest of us have no fault in causing. Why should the rest of us who are innocent of this ANATHEMA be forced to suffer the penalties on behalf of a guilty leader who despite of everything else still proclaims his innocence due to our people's ignorance about the Sunhadus laws and to strengthen his position by favoritism among some of our Church of the East leaders?

The Holy Bible is the constitution of the Church of the East. The Holy Sunhadus Law is derived from and is wholly based upon the Holy Bible. We, the church faithful, should never allow our church leaders to divert from Church Laws and from the Bible due to their biased politics, tribal influences, or the wish of an individual regardless of the office that he holds. Changes in the Sunhadus can be done by the Synod of the Church but only when these changes are based on the Holy Bible, otherwise if a church that alters the Sunhadus (God's law) outside of the Biblical mandate, then such a church is not a church of God anymore but only a cult that caters to the interest of man.

Let us therefore be a nation with courage. Let us be friends of Almighty God, and an instrument in His Mighty Hand just like our Assyrian forefathers were, when the LORD Almighty blessed them saying, "Blessed is . . . Assyria my handiwork . . ." (Is. 19:25). Let us urge and appeal to our Patriarch His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, the church elders, intellectuals, and all decent people like Mr. Baaba to prevent our church leadership from destroying the spiritual and moral fabric of the coming Assyrian generations. This whole case is an obvious reversal of what our Lord taught us 2000 years ago. Despite his perfect innocence, our Lord Jesus (one person) sacrificed His life for the sake of many.

Thank you Zinda for your good work.

Edward Mikhail


When the Assyrian nation was faced with genocide and many massacres on the hands of the Turks and Kurds, where was the so called "Chaldean nation"?

When the brave Assyrian men and women formed underground political cells in the name of the Assyrian nation, where was the so called "Chaldean nation"?

When the Iraqi census was taken, and when all Assyrians stood brave defending the existence of Assyrian name, where was the so called "Chaldean nation"?

When the Assyrian martyrs were hanged because of the Assyrian name, where was the so-called "Chaldean nation"?

When the Assyrian democratic movement and the Assyrian aids society and other Assyrian organizations established tens of Assyrian schools, relief programs, radio and TV programs, where was the so-called "Chaldean nation"?

When Assyrian political groups worked for decades to prepare the Assyrian name for a time like today, where was the so called "Chaldean nation"?

The answer is that there were many Chaldeans massacred, many are members of Assyrian political cells, many have been killed defending the Assyrian name, and many participate in all the good works of the Assyrian nation. Those Chaldeans believe in the one and only Assyrian Nation. Those Chaldeans understand that they are Assyrians.

On the other hand, we see many people, like Bishop Sarhad Jammo, that very clearly are serving the enemy of the Assyrian nation. These people should not be given any chance to advance their evil plans of division. These people come acting like Angels, Just like it says in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 11:14 "But I am not surprised! Even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light."

I call on all Assyrians in the Chaldean Church to send letter to His Beatitude Mar Raphael Bidawid, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, asking him to take an immediate action against this man, so called "Bishop Jammo", before he does further damage to decades of hard work.

We should also know that there will be others in line to advance this divisive agenda, but we should push them aside, one by one, as they surface. Every minute these people are in charge costs the Assyrian name years of hard work. Don't let that happen.

Ninos Lazar


I have been reading the arguments and at times drawn into them, in many forums then all of a
sudden something dawned on me. I resemble us to the two men who were standing at the bus stop arguing as to who will get the last window seat. Meanwhile, while busy fighting and arguing, the bus departs and neither gets any seat. We are so busy arguing as to the name of our nation, while the world is busy preparing to divide our ancestral homelands and maybe keep us subjects of more nations than before. Let us wake up and concentrate on getting our share in return for giving some up, and lets call it the Land of Christ for Christ's sake as Christianity binds us as children of one Church who split when two brothers did not see eye to eye or maybe as a mechanism of survival. FOR God's sake lets not miss the boat, as it may not anchor for hundreds of years, unless we become a sore in the side of the world. Get this subject of the name out of the way, let this matter be so insignificant by addressing the real matter, where are our rights and where is the justice, let's unite and secure our sovereignty as Christians and accept the fact that Nabi Muhammad, God's blessings upon him, was also a prophet who converted the remaining of non-believers into believers using the sword as those who remained as such for 700 years and the Christians failed to convince them peacefully, needed the sword to see God.

Yes we suffered due to the misuse of the meaning of God as a major portion of our nation lost itself to the Arab Nation through Islam, but does that not mean that we and the Arabs are brothers by blood as those who converted will always carry in their veins a trace of the original blood.

For this factor we the Assyrians agree to allow them to keep part of our ancestral lands, and live happily. The Kurds on the other hand have also lived in the region for a long time. They have also taken during their raids on the Assyrian peaceful nation thousands of Assyrian women and forced them to become their servants and to bear children for them. Well it stands to reason that we have some Assyrian blood flowing in the veins of many Kurds, as such we agree to give them part of our ancestral homeland. But how do these two nations expect to take all of the Assyrian homelands and divide it amongst themselves;, it is not acceptable and it will never be acceptable.

Well we missed the boat once as we were betrayed and look what is happening. These countries owe it to the Assyrians as well as the Kurds and Arabs to deliver justice to the Assyrians. Yes ladies and gentlemen, let us not be fooled and kept busy by the puppets of our enemies, forget the name issue and concentrate on the land issue. "The Land of God" (Araa d'Msheekha)is not a bad name as it portrays the main and true common element in our people. We do not have our sovereignty, and if continue to live with the shame of being subjects to other nations even in our own ancestral homelands stolen by others. Yes ladies and gentlemen I say the name issue and the percentage issue and the bull democracy these hypocrites speak about. Assyria is the missing link to that region and without it I pray that those who live in that region never know the feeling of peace, and security. I know it is a harsh thing to pray for, but I say for now it is better than terrorism, as God's power when God delivers justice is harsher than a few people blowing themselves up killing others. But in peaceful ways we owe it to our massacred forefathers to do what is in our power to do.

I say to you and to our political organizations, social and cultural, our media and our awakened Assyrians to work overtime and awaken all the Assyrians and invite all of your friends and theirs and demonstrate in every country that we are in, to awaken the world that "It is enough. We want to live with pride to decide our destiny without fear of oppression and death at the hands of our oppressors. We want what was stolen from us back. At least enough of it to support the remaining of the Assyrians." That is not very much to ask for, and hey why not give the world a test to see if they mean it when they stand against terrorism, as if they do not deliver justice when the inflicted with injustice makes its case, then they condone that peaceful means do not work. Guess what they are in fact saying, terrorism is the only way. Assyrians, wake up and let us not miss the boat, rally in thousands wherever you are and ask the governments of those countries to wake up, and support the victims of injustice.

Just a thought, why not coordinate this with the Kurds and with common banners "FREEDOM FOR KURDS AND ASSYRIANS".." Independent states for the Assyrians and for the Kurds"
"KURDISTAN AND ASSYRIA". Perhaps the Kurds will awaken and do what is in their benefit. Please, think about this and discuss it at least with your local organizations and pass it to the political parties and allow all of us a chance to weigh this possibility.

Nenus Younan


We thank Bishop Sarhad Jarnou for his lecture in Detroit. But I would like to comment briefly on his speech if I may.

1. The use of four languages, Assyrian/Arahic/English/Chaldean made is very difficult for people who speak one of the four, to grasp the full meaning and essence of the subject matter.
2. Bishop Jamou's historical accounts of the early 19th century atrocities against the Assyrians, and their departure from Iraq was almost an explanation by Bishop Jamou as to why the Assyrians have lost their legitimate rights in Iraq, and that they are no longer he considered the indigenous people of that country because of their departure to Turkey, and that the true owners of the land are the Chaldeans. And their large number gives them the right to be mentioned first in the Iraqi constitution. But he stopped short of asking the future Iraqi government to consider a pay hack in favor of the Chaldeans for the services rendered to the country by past Chaldean Patriarchs such as Yosef Ghanima.
3. He never mentioned the rights of the Assyrian in the New Iraq.
4. He forces a renaissance of a Chaldean Nation upon the listeners, which he deems it necessary to justify a future aspiration in Iraq.
5. He feels sorry for the Assyrians, but does not say clearly whether he is in favor of the full right of the Assyrians in Iraq or at least to compensate them, equally, even in few words, for past atrocities they suffered.
6. This lecture is a confirmation to what Mr. Sargon Malik's said in his reply to Mr Baaba.
Bishop Jamou is trying to upgrade a religious identity to a Nation status.
8. I agree with Mr Fred Aprim of California to boycott the drama, and call upon Bishop Bawai, Rev. Oshana Kanon, and Rev Shamoil Dinkha to stop using Church funds to finance such hypocrisy, while we need to use Church money to a better use here in California, such as building Mar Addai's Church in Turlock.

Finally, history will be the judge to demonstrate in all fairness whether the intentions of the people mentioned above are sparkling honest.

Furthermore I give my full support to Mr. Sargon H. Malik's letter published in the Zinda Magazine.

Kais William


Last week the Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock in its weekly program on Friday at 5:30 pm announced the dates/time/locations of Bishop Sarhad Jammo and Bishop Bawi Soro's drama, and also announced the name of the two churches that have financed this event:

1. Assyrian church of Modesto Mar Geworges, which as we all know is under the leadership of Bishop Soro.

2- Rev Samuel Dinkha of San Jose church and Oshana Kanon of Mar Geworges church were urging and begging church attendance to support this event knowing clearly the Bishop was one of the organizers. Keep in mind both priests are under the leadership of Bishop Soro. Also keep in mind not in any other Assyrian church this was allowed.

3- It is sad that this event has been cancelled immediately, because boy it could reveal the truth and a lot about some of Church of the East clergies and their stand toward our great Church.

4- God bless who said there is a conspiracy on our church by are own.

Victoria Mesha


With deep regret, we would like to inform you that you have allowed your esteemed magazine to become a tool in the hands of some unidentified individuals who use Zinda Magazine to defame Assyrian personalities who have devoted their entire life and all of their earthly assets to our Holy Church and our beloved Assyrian Nation.

In your issue of January 20, 2003, a so-called "Mr. Sargon H. Malik" wrote a very derogatory article filled with malicious innuendoes and viciously attacked the credibility of H.G. Mar Bawai Soro.

The five-point conclusion that "Sargon Malik" has stated reveals his unfaithful nature and his wicked intentions. Each of the three Assyrian parishes under the jurisdiction of Bishop Mar Bawai has its own bank accounts. We, as the administrators of church accounts, affirm that His Grace has never authorized spending any amount of money as alleged by "Sargon Malik." The money needed for the organization of the drama was to be financed by our brothers and sisters at the two Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Parishes in San Jose and Turlock. Furthermore, attacking the education of His Grace is a solid indication of the bitter ignorance of this person. You should know that H.H. Bartholomew the head of the Orthodox Church is a graduate of Rome along with many other leaders in the Christian world. Furthermore, it should be noted that education without faith is meaningless and that our dear Bishop is 100% faithful to the Word Of God and to the Assyrian Church of the East. This is about Christ and fulfilling his mission on earth and not politics. There is not a single organization or church in today's world that is perfect. We, in the church, therefore strive each day to work in a constructive fashion to help the church fulfill its mission in spreading the Gospel and continually analyze any internal as well as external impediments in accomplishing this goal.

We, as church volunteers, have worked in the administration of His Grace for many years and have known him to be a spiritual person, an intelligent leader, and a caring and decent Christian. With a clear vision and a wise choice, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, our own Patriarch, delegated the noble mission of uniting our Eastern Churches to H.G. Mar Bawai, who has endeavored to fulfill this calling with utter convictions. We are proud to have H.G. Mar Bawai as our bishop and leader, we are all behind him with full support to accomplish God's mission. Stop attacking him for fulfilling his Christian mission.

We are requesting that Zinda magazine be more responsible in its mission to fulfill its duties more objectively and always base its reports on verifiable information and sources. If this magazine is to be taken as a credible source of information, it must stop publishing misinformation, lies, and rumors that have no validity. We live in a country and a society where journalists have a responsibility to confirm their source of information and have separate sources verifying the story prior to its publication. For your magazine to continue to publish articles that are not verifiable or editorials based on rumors and hearsay does a disservice to your readers. In addition publishing such misinformation amounts to no more than fodder found in tabloid magazines. Zinda must have a certain sense of responsibility and be held accountable in its role among the Assyrian people as a source of information and to take this responsibility lightly only plays into the hands of the enemies of all Assyrians.

Emanoel Daryoush
Motwa President
Mar Yosip Cathedral, San Jose, CA

Shimshon Antar
Motwa President
Mar Narsai Parish, San Francisco, CA

Sargon Sarkis
Motwa President
Mar Giwargis Parish, Ceres, CA


Support Your Local Assyrian Aid Society chapter today.

Surfer's Corner


We proudly present the first website serving the Assyrian students community around the world. In early 2002, a group of us realized that lack of a strong international union of Assyrian university students was delaying the progress of our student activities. Nineveh University, sponsored by Zinda Magazine, was created to bind together the disparate bands of Assyrian youth throughout the world. Our goal is to promote the academic and social education of Assyrians in the Diaspora and the homeland.

Nineveh University was founded on the basis of three principles:

1. To Network Assyrian Students

Meet new people who share similar backgrounds, goals, and experiences in an environment that is conducive to Assyrians. Share academic experiences and personal observations. Advise and motivate others in their pursuit of personal and community goals. Pursue these objectives toward the cohesion of different Assyrian student groups.

2. To Assist and Encourage Assyrians to Pursue Higher Education

Our goal is to provide the necessary information to students so that they are adequately prepared for university exams and applications. This also means that we will provide scholarships and information on financial assistance to interested students.

We would like to guide and encourage students to pursue education within the context of their interests, be it a professional degree or liberal arts studies.

3. Bring Social and Community Awareness to Assyrian Youth

Since Assyrians constantly face multiple and challenging issues in an increasingly complex world, we want to bring social and political issues to the forefront of student thought and action.


Nineveh University is open to motivated and interested individuals of Assyrian ancestry - regardless of denomination or religious affiliation. Unity is the key to our future.

Nineveh University is geared towards University students in undergraduate and graduate studies. However, we realize the importance of educating high school students on meeting college requirements, understanding college applications, applying for grants and scholarships, and asking for general advice on anything and everything. That is why a good deal of our website contains specific information for those students.

Our Hope

We are starting this community with a student directory (available to all) and a discussion forum that is intended for members (coming soon). In the near future, we are hoping to expand our services depending on student interest - the future of this community lies in the desire and ideas of its members.

Nineveh University Team


A new millennium stands for a new time, and a new time means developing and coming up with new ideas. Therefore the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO), in cooperation with the Federation Tur Abdin (FTN), linked unions and the Assyrian Youth federation, would like to start the new year 6753 with a major Assyrian New year's Convention.

This Assyrian (Suryoye) New Year's Convention will last three days and will take place on April 18/19/20 2003.

The program contains a variety of activities. A few examples of these activities are an exposition of four artists, two of who are from Syria. An international volleyball tournament takes place on Friday April 18. Saturday April 19 an international folklore-tournament and a poetry-competition will be organized. The choir will perform that same night with classical Assyrian church music. Finally the day will be closed by a wide cultural festival, in which we can enjoy the performance of Juliana Jendo.

The final day, Sunday April 20, a seminar about the Assyrian (Suryoye) Genocide of 1915 will take place. A political (round table) discussion will follow afterwards. This evening a play will be performed by the theatre-group Gilgamesj from Germany, in the Rabotheater. There will also be a solo performance by the famous 'Ud' player Elias Mousake.

You will yet receive the more detailed and final schedule.

Participation in this convention will improve the unity and cooperation. You can contribute in various ways. We would appreciate it if you could inform us of your participation as soon as possible.

Through your participation we will elevate the Assyrian (Suryoyo) fulhono in Europe to a higher stage. Therefore we hope to welcome you on this event.

The Assyrian New Years's Convention is being organized in cooperation with the following organizations:

Centre for Information and Documentation Assyria (CIDA)
Federation Tur Abdin the Netherlands (FTN)
Tur Abdin Association Hengelo
Assyrian Mesopotamian Association Enschede (AMAE)
Assyrian Youth Federation (AJF)


Shukri Aziz
Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO)


The Assyrian Program on SBS radio will be available via internet in a Stream Line format as of Friday, 31 January. The entire program can be instantly accessed and heard in its full one-hour of latest news, current affairs, interviews.

1. Log on to the web and go to www.sbs.com.au/radio
2. Choose Assyrian program for 'Streaming Radio' from the drop-down menu (in the blue masthead)
3. Click 'GO'
4. For language highlights in Assyrian, look for the language groups box on the right hand side of the Radio front page, Choose Assyrian Language and click 'GO'

Wilson Younan
SBS Assyrian Radio Program



Human Rights Without Frontiers Int. urges the new Turkish government to recognise the 1915-1919 Genocide

Would the European Union have accepted the membership of Germany if this country had denied the existence of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews? Certainly not. More than 80 years after the so-called Armenian genocide, Turkey persists in denying it has ever taken place. In the aftermath of the move initiated by the recent recognition of this genocide by France and Sweden, it would be worth making Turkey's adhesion to the EU conditional to its recognition of the genocide committed not only against the Armenians but also against all other Christian minorities (1) (Assyrians, Chaldeans, Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Orthodox Syriacs) by the Ottoman Empire with the complicity of the Kurds, between 1915 and 1919. (2)

The first genocide of the 20th century took place in Turkey between 1915 and 1919. About two million people lost their lives in mass-scale massacres which had been masterminded by the "Young Turks", Enver Bey and Minister of Interior Talat Pasha. Most of the victims were Armenian Christians, thereby giving it the name of the Armenian genocide. There are, however, other Christian groups which have been forgotten in that tragedy: Greek Orthodox, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Orthodox and Catholic Syriacs. It was also forgotten that the killings against Christian minorities had already started decades earlier, a fact about which no one had cared.

This first genocide was announcing the Holocaust that was perpetrated on the occasion of WW II. In 1940-1945, a specific group was also targeted all over Europe under Nazi yoke, the Jews, but people seemed to forget that other minorities, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Romas, homosexuals and others, had also shared their tragic fate. The persecution of these minority groups had already started before WW II in the general international indifference and passivity. That page of WW II is now being rewritten. The page on the so-called Armenian genocide should, therefore, also be rewritten.

Two wars, two genocides but one and the same pattern. Ignoring the first genocide paved the way for the second one because no lesson had been drawn from history. Before planning the Holocaust, Hitler said to the leaders of his party "Who now still remembers the Armenian genocide?"

The Genocide, A Taboo Issue

In Turkey, the genocide is still a taboo issue almost 90 years after it took place and there is no sign of change in sight. Those who want to combat revisionist and negationist theses and who want to rewrite history risk to lose their freedom and even their lives in Turkey.

In 2000, Father Yusuf Akbulut, a Syriac Orthodox priest, was arrested, jailed and prosecuted on the grounds of treason because he had told a journalist that the "Armenian genocide" was a reality but that other Christian minorities had also been massacred. On 4 October 2000, the newspaper "Hurryiet" entitled the interview "A traitor among us". Two days later, Turkish military security agents arrested the priest.

The position of the successive Turkish governments has always been that during WW I Armenians and other Christian minorities were displaced because they were traitors who had taken sides with the enemies of the Ottoman Empire: Russia, France and UK.

The Armenian thesis, shared and supported by many independent historians and academics, is that the so-called war deportations were only a pretext for some nationalistic masterminds in Istanbul to plan the extermination and the systematic execution of the Armenian people, and more widely of the Christian populations living in the eastern provinces, so as to achieve an ethnically homogeneous Turkish state.

Genocide In International Law

The word genocide is sometimes abused in media language and does not always correspond to the reality of the facts. So, what is a genocide? The United Nations answered that question in 1948 in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, art. 2:

"In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Numerous experts have abundantly illustrated the aforementioned criteria with concrete examples (3). There is no doubt that the mass-scale massacre of Christian minorities was a genocide.

Moral Recognition of the 1915-1919 Genocide

Of course, the U.N. Convention cannot be applied retroactively although Turkey has signed it and ratified it. But Turkey could recognise the genocide, point at its masterminds, condemn them at least morally, apologise for it and pay damages under one form or another to the minority groups that have been exterminated. One form of compensation could be to recognise those groups as national minorities and to grant them rights that are enshrined in the Framework Convention on National Minorities which Turkey has, up to now, failed to sign and to ratify.

'Cultural' Genocide

Unfortunately, in the last decades, Ankara has chosen another way and has pursued its policy of extinction of the Christian communities in the south-east of the country through means of a cultural genocide. The war against the Kurds was a good pretext to put the Christian minorities under pressure, to make their lives unbearable and to push them to emigration. In the last 20 years, 90% of the Christians have emigrated from Turkey. All the methods listed in the U.N. definition of the genocide were used against them. Villages were burnt down and evacuated. Fields and vineyards were damaged and rendered useless for cultivation. Graveyards and houses were destroyed. A number of Christians were deprived of their Turkish citizenship. Young girls were abducted and forcibly married to Muslims while others were released in exchange for a ransom. Christians were arrested on the ground of alleged collaboration with the Kurdish fighters; others disappeared, were killed or are still missing. Churches and monasteries became derelict and beyond repair. Everything was done in order to prevent the survival of their language and their culture.

The Turkish state either carried out that cultural genocide or turned a blind eye to the exactions committed by the Kurdish Muslims against the Christian populations.

Framework Convention on National Minorities

The only way the current Turkish government can repair the damage caused by the Ottoman Empire is to sign, ratify and implement the Framework Convention on National Minorities and to implement it without any restrictions.

Considering the aforementioned facts, Human Rights Without Frontiers recommends to the Turkish state

- to recognize the genocide perpetrated against the Christian minorities in 1915-1919;
- to set up an international enquiry commission on the genocide which would comprise independent academics from various countries;
- to revise the history of Turkey in schoolbooks;
- to sign and ratify international instruments protecting national minorities such as the Framework Convention on national minorities drafted by the Council of Europe;
- to correct the mistakes of the past and to guarantee the present and the future of the Christian minorities by recognising them as national minorities
- to authorise the Christian minorities;
to protect, use and promote their respective languages and religions;
to build new churches and monasteries;
to restore architectural monuments and various places of worship;
to open schools, social institutions and cultural associations;
to restore the names of villages, towns and places in their original language;
- to allow members of Christian minorities in exile to go back to Turkey and to regain their property;
- to guarantee the economic development of the areas where those Christian minorities are rooted;
- to guarantee the life and property of people belonging to those Christian minorities
- to promote tolerance
- to prosecute any individual or organisation which would spread ethnic or religious hatred.

By doing this, the present-day Turkish government would show its willingness to make up for the damages and losses inflicted to a number of its minorities under previous rules, and would improve its moral profile on the international scene thereby further removing a major obstacle to EU membership…

Willy Fautré
Human Rights Without Frontiers Int.
Avenue Winston Churchill 11/33, 1180 Brussels, Belgium
Phone: 32 2 3456145 - Fax: 32 2 3437491

Notes :

(1) See Sébastien de Courtois, Le génocide oublié. Chrétiens d'Orient, les derniers araméens, Paris, 2002, 297 p., Ellipses Ed., 32 rue Bargue, 75740 Paris Cedex 15 - http://www.editions-ellipses.com
(2) Anti-Christian massacres had already started in the 1880s, long before WW1. See Georges Brezol, Les Turcs ont passé là…, Paris, 1911, 398 p. (Recueil de documents, dossiers, enquêtes, et suppliques. Récit des massacres d'Adana en 1909)
(3) See Eugène Griselle, Syriens et chaldéens, leur martyr, leur espérance, Paris, 1918, n°115-116, 123 p. - Jean Naayem, Les Assyro-Chaldéens et les Arméniens massacrés par les Turcs, Paris, Bloud & Gay, 1920, 170 p. (Témoignages sur les massacres d'Urfa, de Seert, de Kharpoût et Diyarbakir) - Joseph Yacoub, Les réfugiés assyro-chaldéens de Turquie, Forcalquier, CEDRI, 1966.


Lately certain voices on the Internet have begun to claim that only a few numbered individuals are blackmailing Bishop Sarhad Jammo and pushing him in the path of creating a separate Chaldean ethnic group. I wish that these individuals would explain how they have reached this conclusion. Personally, I cannot agree with such claim, because there is no justification or excuse for anyone considering oneself a leader to bend under blackmail -- especially when his/her people are in the balance. Assyrians remember the stand of Patriarch Mar Benyamin Shimun early in WWI, who refused to give in to the blackmail of the Ottoman Turkish government. He sacrificed his own brother instead of jeopardizing the lives of his people. Such is a true leader.

Why the Bishops?

I personally believe that these few individuals are in turn motivated and led by the bishops in question. Why? Commonsense tells us that since the Chaldean community is dominated by its church and the clergymen, individual members of the church cannot continue being accepted in the community without the blessing of their clergymen. I believe that either Mar Sarhad Jammo or Mar Ibrahim Ibrahim can easily disassociate such individuals from the majority of the Chaldean community if they so desired or felt threatened. Therefore, to hint that individuals, who can be counted with a single hand, could blackmail the bishops is a theory that lacks the logic of a reasonable argument.

In northern Iraq the Kurds have been promoting the separate Chaldean ethnicity in order to weaken the Assyrian national movement. In fact, this has been the Kurdish policy since 1961 when the Kurdish movement began. There are plenty of examples from the past that substantiate the once hidden Kurdish policy. It became so obvious ten years back when the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) in 1992 established a phony organization under the Christian umbrella for two purposes: a) to challenge the national movement, and b) to undermine the Assyrian national name. The KDP has continued for decades to use all means possible to present the Assyrians as Christian Kurds or at times as a Christian sect. Still, more recently, the KDP entered the 14 December 2002 Iraqi Opposition Group meeting in London flanked by two of their Chaldean agents, Abd al-Ahad Afram and Yousif Al-Qas Hanna (Abu Hikmat), both strongly associated with the KDP and in a matter of fact members in the said Kurdish organization. Those same individuals blamed for blackmailing the bishops are in continuous contact with Mr. Abd al-Ahad Afram.

In the United States, the bishops were leading this movement of the official separation of the Catholic sect from mother Assyria. It started in the early 1990s when we read Bishop Sarhad Jammo's letter to the Census Bureau justifying the name Chaldean as an ethnic title. This, amazingly, coincided with the rapid developments in north Iraq as the Kurds began to secure their grip on the region and needed to eliminate any future Assyrian and Turkoman claims to land and property or administrative rights. They figured that this would be possible by weakening the Assyrians through the process of divide and rule. Bishop Jammo's justification (then Father Jammo) for using the name was that the ancient Chaldeans, as he claims, were the last native political power that ruled Mesopotamia. Furthermore, the two bishops sent letters dated 3 December 2002 to President Bush and the U.S. State Department confirming this separatist path.

If anyone were genuine in his belief why would he need to work for years in complete secrecy with the Census Bureau? A genuine person does not need to work in hiding; a genuine person comes out in the open and argues his/her concerns and offers solutions. In Matthew 7:15-16 we read: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"

This is not the time for division and the creation of new artificial nations among the helpless and weak. This is the time for genuine concern for standing together to face these dangerous times. This, however, must be built on solid foundation in order to stand the test of times.

The Compromise; Constructive or Disparaging

A tiny group of individuals are using the fear tactic, stating something like: "The Chaldean political movement and the drive toward the separate Chaldean nation are gaining support." This is nothing but a political hoax. We know today that after Bishop Sarhad Jammo's speech, "The Chaldean Renaissance", in Detroit early in January 2003 a private meeting including the Bishop and some 20 notables did take place. In that meeting the Bishop received the support of only three individual members of the so-called Chaldean National Congress for his ideas: Joseph Kassab, Ghassan Hanna and Hanna Qalabat. The other present did not show any support for his movement. The Bishop was overwhelmed by the negative response to his speech and plans. I believe that the majority of the Chaldean community is against this separate movement, we all believe strongly that we are ONE nation, separated only because of cosmetic differences due to denominational disputes, foreign pressures and interference, and the struggle among certain clergymen for the leadership of the churches.

Build Your House on a Rock

In the meantime others are introducing compromises like the compound name "Assyro-chaldean". As they put it, it was used in the League of Nations' deliberations in 1920. The term "Assyro-chaldean" has always been foreign to Assyrian ears. The French authorities re-introduced it at the time while relying on the previous French Catholic monks' use of the compound word. The "compromisers" rely on terms used by few native Catholic clergy decades back when they used the mythical term "Chaldo-Athur". Until about hundred years ago there was NEVER anything named Chaldo-Athur in our history. Why invent something that has no historical foundation? Furthermore, history lessons have taught us that compound titles do not work. Raman Michael, an Assyrian activist in Chicago, responds to certain folks who defended the compound title on the Assyrian Forum by stating the following: "Compound names of one nation cannot endure the test of time because they inherently reinforce the artificial differences between communities of the same nation." Oh how elegantly was that put!

I need to stress here what Jesus Christ said to the disciples and the multitudes: "…Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it" (Matthew 7:24-27).

We all desire to reunite our people. Then why certain individuals want to build the foundation of this nation on the mythical Chaldean sand when we have all the means to rebuild it on a 4000-year-old Assyrian rock?

Fred Aprim



(ZNDA: Amsterdam) Three Assyrian artists, Mushe Malkey, Yacob Ibrahim and Youssef Abdelke, all three from Syria will have their work on display in the Netherlands.

The exhibition sponsored by the East-West Foundation is called "Syria Nu" and will run between 26 January to 10 March in Galerie Amber, and Caro Art Gellery in Leiden, The Netherlands. Four other non-Assyrian Syrian artists will also be featured.

The exhibition will then move to Enschede, the Netherlands, where it will be open to public between 3 May to 27 June at Publikescentrum Beeldende Kunst.

For more information visit: www.eastwestfoundation.org


(ZNDA: San Jose) Every year in January the Mayor of San Jose speaks to the residents of this second largest city in California in the traditional "State of the City" address. This year's address will be held on Wednesday, 5 February 2003 and the public relation office of Mayor Ron Gonzales has invited Bishop Mar Bawai Soro of the Church of the East to open the program with an invocation (prayer). Bishop Soro has accepted the invitation and accordingly the Mayor's office has offered the Assyrian community 100 complimentary invitations (tickets) to attend the ceremony.

Complimentary tickets are also available at the Mayor's Office (801 North First Street, 6th Floor, in Downtown San Jose), (408) 554-2800. Tickets will also be available at the "Center for Performing Arts" before the event.

Center for Performing Arts
255 Almaden Boulevard
Downtown San Jose
Wednesday, February 5, 2003
5:30 p.m. (Sharp)

-- Event Schedule --

City of San Jose Program For the State of the City Address by Mayor Ron Gonzales

· Program Host
· Color Guard Presentation
· National Anthem
· Invocation By Bishop Mar Bawai Soro
· Mayor and Council Swearing-In Ceremony
· Pride of San Jose and Good Neighbor Recognition Awards
· Introduction of Mayor Ron Gonzales
State of the City Address 2003
· Dessert Reception

Calendar of Events

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

Members of AAS-Arizona enjoy khigga at a recent international cultural program .

Thank You!

Zindamagazine would like to thank:

Naures Atto

Jacklin Bejan

Michael S. Benjamin

Nahrain Kamber

Youkie Khaninia

Petr Kubalek
(Czech Republic)

Emil Soleyman-Zomalan


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