WE MUST PREVAIL!
The tables have finally turned. As this week’s issue goes to press, another night of heavy bombing portents the end of the tyrannical leadership of Saddam Hussein and the beginning of a long road ahead for the Assyrian homeland. Soon the country of Iraq will enter a short episode of chaos and adjustment, followed by a long period of restoration. Assyrians in Iraq are already optimistic about the revitalization of Assyrian identity, language, political rights, and Christian faith. Their optimism must equally be fueled by our active involvement and support.
We in the west must recognize the grave magnitude of our non-performance during these complex and confusing days. Our silence and apathy may cost many lives and irreparable damage for the Assyrian communities in Iraq. A simple prescription for success is optimism, innovation, and leadership. Indeed this is how the Assyrians in North Iraq have survived two decades of isolation and neglect.
It is crucial that all community leaders enjoin their Assyrian families and individuals to participate in activities that could promote greater recognition of the Assyrians in Iraq and help raise much needed funds for the war-torn Assyrian families. This requires strong leadership on behalf of our leaders and a genuine sense of optimism by the rest of us.
Our performance in the past two weeks has been regrettable. Of the dozens of Assyrian communities around the world consisting of over 1000 families, only two – San Jose and Chicago – took to the streets and demonstrated for the recognition of the Assyrian rights in Iraq. This lack of concern among our people is inexcusable and cannot be tolerated.
Aggressive measures create drastic results. Ask yourself two simple questions: Do a minimum of 5 percent of the inhabitants in your city know about the Assyrians of Iraq? If not then you must immediately commence aggressive solutions: barrage local newspaper with letters, organize peaceful demonstrations, and contact your local political representatives. At this point, there is no AUA vs ADM, Chaldean vs Assyrian, Pro or Anti-War. All our forces must be amassed and directed toward two deliberate outcomes: clear recognition of Assyrian rights and enormous financial support for needy families.
By the time you read next week’s editorial, the capital of Iraq may be under total control of the U.S. and U.K troops. The problem we will be facing then may not be lack of food or shelter, rather our inability to guarantee equal participation in the governance of Iraq.
Nothing less than Divine Providence has brought the Assyrian nation to this stage of its historic existence. While the butcher of Baghdad and his evil men are being punished for their crimes against our people, we will continue to engage in reconstructing Iraq, our homeland, and our identity.
LAMENT FOR URUK
A Sumerian Poem Written around 3000 B.C.
Heaven and earth put their divine powers to sleep.
When together An and Enlil had created it, that one resembled
As its gigantic horns reached up to heaven, who trembled in his very
That one drew nearer.
Who desecrated the fearsome radiance which crowned it?
U.S. SELECTS DR. KAMBER, 29 OTHER IRAQI AS 'FRONTMEN'
Courtesy of the Washington Times (26 March); by Sharon Behn
(ZNDA: Washington D.C.) The State Department has named more than 30 Iraqi exiles, most of them living in the United States, to head to Baghdad to serve as the professional core of a new administration as soon as possible after the fall of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime.
Among the selected group is the Assyrian political activist, Professor Emanuel Kamber of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Prof. Kamber was among the Assyrian delegation to the 16 December meeting in London.
The exiles say they expect to serve as the "frontmen" of Baghdad's new government, linking with Iraqi nationals on the ground to reconstruct everything from the country's police force to its banking system.
"We would be in some advisory capacity," Mr. Kambar
said. "We hope to see a civilian transition of Iraq from
the inside and the outside" within six months to two years
from the end of successful military action. "I would like
to see a democratic, secular, multiethnic Iraq," added
FINAL STATEMENT FROM ANKARA MEETING
(ZNDA: Ankara) On 19 March, representatives of Turkey and the United States met with delegations of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and the CMM, INA, INC, ITF, KDP, PUK and SCIRI in Ankara, Turkey.
The following is the official statement of the participating members of the Iraqi Opposition Groups:
All participants agree that among their principle objectives regarding the future of Iraq are the following:
-- Enabling the Iraqi people to build a fully representative and democratic government that meets international standards, including free and fair elections, respect for the rule of law and private property, equality before the law and respect for human rights, consistent with principles agreed at the opposition conference in London.
-- Preservation of Iraq’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity;
-- Elimination of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities, in accordance with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions;
-- Full compliance with all relevant UNSC resolutions to allow for Iraq’s full re-integration into the world community so that there would be no need for sanctions or no-fly zones;
-- Determining the future political system and the constitution for Iraq through the full participation and free consent of the totality of the Iraqi population;
-- Using the natural resources of Iraq as a national asset and for the Iraqi people as a whole, to strengthen the national economy;
-- Making use of the above principle objectives, in order to help foster national unity and reflect the reality that all parts and cities of Iraq belong to the nation as a whole, in perpetuity;
-- Protecting civilian lives and property, strongly discouraging
the uncontrolled movements of refugees and internally displaced
persons, and strongly discouraging Iraqis from taking the law
into their own hands or
-- Elimination of discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, gender, language or religious conviction. The protection of the rights and freedoms of all constituent peoples of Iraq – Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans, Assyrians, Chaldeans and others – will be paramount in a future Iraq;
-- The reformation of the Iraqi national military, to include the reintegration of all militia organizations (including those forces now operating under the command of the Iraqi opposition) and the reformation of Iraq’s security institutions;
-- Elimination of terrorism and of support for terrorism in and from Iraq, as well as denial of safe havens and weaponry to terrorists.
250 ASSYRIAN FAMILIES FLEE BAGHDAD TO DOHUK
(ZNDA: Dohuk) Zinda sources from North Iraq indicated on 19
March that over 250 Assyrian
Information received this morning indicates also that more
than half of Dohuk and Arbil's residents have already left their
homes for the villages in the north for fear of possible exposure
to chemical agents.
CHURCHES IN IRAQ PROVIDE SHELTER
Courtesy of Zenit News Agency (19 March)
(ZNDA: Baghdad) Churches in Iraq will stay open for people in need of shelter during bombing, said Latin-rite Archbishop Jean Benjamin Sleiman of Baghdad.
"The churches, however, will stay open, regardless of what happens, to guarantee at any time shelter for all," he said. "The government has given food rations so that, for at least a week or so, there should be no food problems.
"I would like to say to President George W. Bush: 'War also harms the victor; the only possible victory is peace.'"
"In a certain sense, we are all Americans, as we are all
citizens of the world," the archbishop added.
BOMBS DAMAGE THE CHALDEAN PATRIARCHATE IN BAGHDAD
Courtesy of Vatican News Agency (23 March)
(ZNDA: Baghdad) Bombs damage the Chaldean Patriarchate in Baghdad, but auxiliary bishop Emmanuel Karim Delly was not wounded by the explosions.
On Saturday, news agencies said that the 75-year old prelate, who has been bishop since 1962, had been wounded by bombs that fell near his residence in the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans.
"Glass from the windows fell on top of me. But nothing happened to me. The Virgin protected me. I am well," the bishop told the Italian Catholic television channel "Sat2000" on Saturday afternoon.
Monsignor Shlemon Warduni, also an auxiliary bishop of the Chaldean Patriarchate, explained in turn: "There was a bombing next to our Patriarchate. All the windowpanes broke and this is the reason that the rumor spread that Bishop Delly had been wounded. However, as he himself has said, he is well."
Bishop Delly made an appeal to "stop the war, to stop this catastrophe, in which children, young people, elderly people, women, men are lost. Everything is lost with war; much is gained with peace."
"In particular, we ask all families to pray the Rosary, as Pope John Paul II has requested," the bishop concluded.
Courtesy of Vatican News (21 March)
(ZNDA: Baghdad) Today different Christian Churches in Iraq consecrated the country to the Virgin Mary.
The Christians of Baghdad have gathered to pray around the statue of the pilgrim Virgin, in many churches of the city. The statue has been on pilgrimage in Iraq since 1998. The announcement of the consecration was made on Sunday, March 16, in all the churches of the capital.
The act of consecration will be attended by representatives of the Catholic Church and of other Christian confessions.
The Chaldean Patriarchate will be represented by Bishop Shlemon Warduni and Bishop Emmanuel-Karim Delly; the Latin Catholic Church by Archbishop Jean Benjamin Sleiman; the Syrian Catholic Church by Archbishop Athanasius Matti Shaba Matoka; the Armenian Catholic Church by Archbishop Paul Coussa; the Syrian Orthodox Church by Archbishop Saverius Jamil Hawa; and the Assyrian Church of the East by Archbishop Ghevargese Warda Daniel Sliwa.
The solemn act took place at 6:00 p.m. in the Chaldean Cathedral
of St. Joseph in Baghdad, before a statue of the pilgrim Virgin,
Queen of Peace, Vatican Radio confirmed.
CHRISTIANS IN JORDAN REMAIN AGAINST US-LED ATTACK ON IRAQ
Courtesy of Jordan Times (23 March);
by Natasha Twal
From conducting special prayers for peace to issuing statements against the war, Christians from different denominations all agree in their stand against the war.
Latin Bishop of Amman Salim Sayegh said the ongoing war in Iraq is "unjustified" and "unjust" adding that the Latin Vicariate of Amman has issued a statement calling for peace and is collecting funds to assist Iraqi refugees and third country nationals.
According to Sayegh, the stand of the Latin Vicariate, which includes all Latin churches here, complies with that of Pope John Paul II.
Speaking on the Italian religious channel, "Telepace," the pontiff said Saturday the war was threatening "the fate of humanity ... Violence and arms can never resolve the problems of men," exclaimed the Pope.
Head of the Melkite Catholic Church Father Nabeel Haddad issued a statement denouncing the war, calling on those involved to listen to their "conscience" and respect human rights.
"We are saddened and frustrated by the military action against Iraq that could not be stopped by the cries for justice," Haddad said.
Haddad, whose church is conducting continual prayers for peace, particularly during the Lent season, said: "We stand here as a single nation from different origins — both Christian and Muslim — to stop these ugly actions."
A call for peace also came from the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) that is arranging a `prayer day' on Monday, which will include readings from the Holy Bible, the singing of hymns and children lighting candles.
"We have sent invitations to all of our 125 associations around the world to join us in prayers Monday and to light candles for peace," head of the YWCA, Reem Najjar, explained to The Jordan Times.
The vigil is to be held at Saint Mary of Nazareth Church in Sweifieh and "is open to both Muslims and Christians," said Najjar.
In addition to the condemnations of war in Iraq, Evangelical churches in Amman are cooperating with the Red Crescent in providing aid to third country nationals in the Ruweished camps.
Through the Jordanian Evangelical Committee for Relief and Development, established during the first Gulf War, the churches are providing $8,000 worth of daily food assistance, according to the committee's spokesperson Issam Hijazeen.
"A total of 30 young volunteers left for Ruweished last Friday to help provide food to displaced nationals crossing the border," Hijazeen said, adding that the committee has set up its own kitchen towards that end.
Retired Christian teacher and mother of four, Suad Shatara, expressed her condemnation of the US-led war.
"Of course I do not support this unjust war, where both young and old are being massacred for no specific reason," said Shatara, adding that Christians and Muslims here are "one nation that suffers the same pain from this injustice."
Mother of two and active member of the Roman Orthodox Church in Sweifieh, Sawsan Sahhar, strongly condemned the war as well.
"I am against the killing of innocents and against the disruption of a sovereign country by outside forces," said Sahhar, saying any change in Iraq, if it must occur, should happen from within.
Jordan is presently home to some 170,000 Christians, representing
five per cent of the country's five million citizens.
ASSYRIAN DELEGATION VISITS PM TONY BLAIR
(ZNDA: London) On Wednesday 19 March, an Assyrian delegation presented a letter to Mr. Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The delegation also met with various members of the British parliament. The Assyrian delegation comprised the following (left to right
1) Samir David – Bet Nahain Democratic Party
Prime Minister Tony Blair
19th March 2003
As we are nearing a turning point in the history of our homeland Iraq, the below mentioned Democratic Assyrian political organisations would like to take this opportunity to highlight the plight and concerns of our people in Iraq.
Assyrian Christians are the indigenous people of Iraq, our history in that region spans 6000 years. Assyrians speak the Aramaic language, the language of our saviour Jesus Christ and indeed Assyrians were the first nation to accept Christianity in the first century A.D.
During the First World War, Assyrians allied with the British against the Ottoman Turks and as a consequence lost over half our population as well as our ancestral homelands.
There are approximately 1.5 million Assyrian Christians in Iraq today. Under the current dictatorial regime, Assyrian people have endured 35 years of systematic oppression, persecution and summary executions due to our distinct race and Christian beliefs.
The Iraqi census in 1977 forced Assyrians to register as either Arabs or Kurds, this was in line with the regimes policy of forced Arabisation of the Assyrians in an attempt to eliminate our identity.
Under Saddam’s regime, over two hundred Assyrian villages and countless ancient Assyrian Churches and Monasteries were razed to the ground, Churches and Monasteries, which had remained intact for over 1,600 years. The inhabitants of these villages were either killed or displaced. Non-Assyrians now inhabit these ancient Assyrian villages and we fear that they may have been lost forever.
Assyrians are forbidden to teach the Assyrian Aramaic language and are not permitted to christen our children with Assyrian Christian names.
Due to the barbaric policy of Saddam’s evil regime, over one million Assyrians, 25% of our total number worldwide, have fled Iraq over the last 30 years.
We, the below mentioned Assyrian political organisations support you, Mr. Prime Minister and the President of the United States of America in your joint leadership to liberate the people of Iraq, without your support and moral stance, such a task is impossible. We believe this is crucial for the safety and security of the people of Iraq, the region and the world.
We strive for:
In order for democracy to work in Iraq, all ethnic groups irrespective
of race, religion and numbers must have fair and equal representation
in all official government organisations and institutions. The Assyrians
worst fear is that our legitimate rights may be once again ignored
and suppressed. Therefore, we urge the British and American governments
to utilise their influence to ensure that democracy is built on a
solid foundation by ensuring that all ethnic groups are treated and
looked upon equally.
As British citizens of Assyrian descent we stand by the United Kingdom in its effort to bring about a lasting peace to the world.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the British and American troops and the innocent people of Iraq.
Assyrian Democratic Movement
SYRIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH LOSES SLEEP OVER HIS IRAQI FLOCK
Courtesy of Associated Press (18 March); article by Bruce Stanley
(ZNDA: Damascus) As leader of one of the world's oldest Christian sects, Patriarch Zakka Iwas has pursued his calling from Baghdad to New York and back again to the Iraqi capital.
He lives and works now in Damascus, seat of the Syriac Orthodox Church — a 1,500-year old institution that counts thousands of members in the United States. His prayers have focused lately on his hometown, Baghdad, and the 10,000 followers of his church living there.
Candy-red prayer beads clicked in the patriarch's fingers as he spoke of his anxiety about the dangers facing Christians in a war launched by U.S. President George W. Bush against Iraq.
"I'm sick because of it. I sleep only a little, and I'm very worried. I pray that God will have mercy on us and save our people and our country, not only Iraq but the whole area," he said in a recent interview.
Iwas, 69, insists he is no friend of Saddam Hussein. He met the Iraqi President several times while serving as archbishop of Baghdad and Basra. Iwas left Iraq when he became the church patriarch in 1980, one year after Saddam rose to power.
"I am not with the government. I am not with the regime. But I am with the people," he said.
Iwas is suspicious of Washington's motives. Like many in the Middle East, he believes the Bush administration's relentless push to disarm the Iraqi leader is driven by greed for Iraq's oil reserves — the world's second largest — and not by compassion for its people.
"Americans are trying to destroy Iraq, as they did Afghanistan, to get the petroleum and other things. That is clear," he said.
"Is this human rights? What is the business of the United States to move into this country or that country, to remove this or that head of state? Why don't they do that in Israel, to help the Palestinians?"
Iwas, whose official title is Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, draws a sharp distinction between Americans and their government. He spent two formative years studying at the Episcopal Church's General Theological Seminary in downtown Manhattan. He left in 1962 with a love for the people he met there, and a newfound passion for the music of Beethoven and Handel.
Unfortunately, he said, Americans are likely to find themselves reviled in the Middle East because of an Iraq war, particularly if they make no forceful effort to stop Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights.
Iwas spoke with a passion and bluntness that seemed at odds with the conservatism natural for a cleric steeped in ancient tradition. When he conducts services at St. George Cathedral in the oldest, walled section of Damascus, Iwas speaks in Syriac, a modern version of Aramaic — the language Jesus Christ is believed to have spoken. He discusses the medieval Crusades as if they were a recent calamity.
Iwas, a monk, wears a crimson cassock and a matching, fez-like hat. With his white beard and paunch, the outfit gives him the vague look of Santa Claus.
His church, known also as the Syrian Orthodox Church, was founded in the year 452 after a schism with the bulk of the world's Christians. Of its 4 million members, half are descendants of converts in southern India's Kerala state. Others live in Germany, Sweden and in the United States, where immigrants from the Near East introduced the faith in the late 19th century. About 4,000 families worship today at Syriac Orthodox churches in America, with large communities in Los Angeles, Michigan, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Syria's Christians and Muslims have coexisted peacefully for centuries. Although most Syrians are Muslims, about one-tenth are Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics, or followers of smaller sects such as the Syriac Orthodox.
"We are very good friends, let me say, brothers," he said
of the country's majority Muslims.
ASSYRIAN-JAPANESE CLERGY RETURNS FROM IRAQ
Courtesy of the Washington Times (23 March);
by Arnaud de Borchgrave
[Z-info: See Rev. Ken Joseph’s
letter from Amman, Jordan in this week’s SURFS UP!]
SAN JOSE CELEBRATES AKITU FESTIVAL, RAISE MONEY FOR IRAQ
(ZNDA: San Jose) On Saturday the Assyrian American Association of San Jose, with the assistance of the local chapter of the Assyrain Aid Society of America, collected over $7600.00 for the Assyrians in North Iraq. The occasion was the Assyrian New Year party held in San Jose. Entertainment was provided by two Assyrian vocalists: Ogin and Ashur Bet-Sargis.
One week earlier, over 600 Assyrians from San Jose and surrounding
communities took to the streets of downtown San Jose and demonstrated
for the recognition of the Assyrian constitutional rights in Iraq.
SADDAM RECEIVED KEY TO CITY OF DETROIT IN 1980
Courtesy of the Detroit News (26 March); by Jennifer Brooks
(ZNDA: Detroit) Saddam Hussein has collected many things in his 24-year reign -- palaces, enemies. And the key to the city of Detroit.
"It is very strange, thinking about it now," said Pastor Jacob Yasso of Detroit's Sacred Heart Parish, who presented the key to the city, along with the compliments of then-Mayor Coleman A. Young, to the Iraqi leader in 1980. One of the mayor's staff gave Yasso the key as a courtesy to the city's Chaldean community.
"Now, you must remember that in those days, Saddam Hussein was a puppet. He was an American puppet," said Yasso, who leads the Chaldean Catholic parish on Detroit's west side.
In the 1980s, Iraq and the United States were allied in their mistrust of Iran.
Even so, Yasso was surprised by his warm welcome in Baghdad in 1980. This welcome came from the same regime that denounced Yasso for speaking out from his pulpit against the nationalization of Iraq's schools. The Iraqi embassy squired Yasso and a delegation of 25 Chaldean Catholic on an all-expenses-paid trip to the homeland to celebrate Sacred Heart's 50th anniversary.
Saddam gave Sacred Heart something else: a check for $200,000 that paid off the church's debt, with enough left over to build a parish center. "Today, we use the center to teach American citizenship classes," Yasso said.
The priest still remembers his final words to Saddam.
"'Mr. President, we would like to have our Iraq in faithful
hands,' I told him," Yasso recalled. "And he told me, 'Iraq
is in faithful hands.'... I would like to know why he has done this
to his people."
MAR BAWAI TO SPEAK AT THE VALLEY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
His Grace Bishop Mar Bawai Soro of the Assyrian Church of the East will speak on Tuesday 15 April at 7:30 p.m. at the Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley, California. The topic will be "What is it like to live in Iraq as a Christian".
The Habbaniya Union School Association puts out, under the editorship of Michael K. Pius, a semi-annual newsletter of 24 to 32 letter-size pages comprising of articles and pictures, of both current and vintage nature, relating to its former students as well as to its residents and the local town of Habbaniya in general. Two issues were published during the second half of last year and the next issue is due to come out in April or May. To date the Association has about 200 members – and growing.
The annual membership in the Association is US$8.00 for USA, including all family members, and US$10.00 for all other countries. The fee includes an annual subscription to HUSA newsletter.
If you are a former Habbaniyan, or interested in Habbaniya and its people, please contact the Administration Manager, Benyamin E. Yalda, 9350 N. Parkside Drive, Des Plaines, Illinois 60016-5134, USA: Tel. 847-296-7587, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and an application form.
DURING THIS TIME OF CONFLICT
About 1 million of Iraq’s 24 million people are Christian. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq trace the beginnings of their church to Pentecost. In the list of those who were saved, the book of Acts mentions “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia” (Acts 2:9) - ancestors of modern Iraqi believers. As ethnic Assyrians, many Iraqi Christians celebrate the worship of Jesus Christ in Aramaic, the native tongue of Jesus.
The apostle Paul reminds us of our essential unity with Iraq’s Christian population: You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28 (NASB)
Dear Heavenly Father,
During this conflict I remember our Christian brothers and sisters
in Iraq. The book of Proverbs declares, “The name of the Lord
is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.”
(18:10). May my fellow believers find safety and security in their
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Grant to them the peace that only
You can give through Jesus
ENOUGH OF SADDAM AND PEOPLE LIKE HIM
[Z-info: The following article was written by Mr. Sam Shalalo for the Four Corners magazine in Australia.]
As an ex-Iraqi, having been born in Baghdad and lived there for 25 years before migrating to Australia in 1969, and as an Assyrian Christian, I'm more than entitled to give a clearer picture of the situation at hand. The war on Saddam or, as some call it, the 'Strike on Iraq', will definitely change the whole atmosphere in the area. Iraqi people of all persuasions, ethnicities, religious denominations simply can take no longer of what Saddam Hussein and his regime can dish out to them. But they can take in anything at all that can be provided by a superpower. Notwithstanding the often commented on problems between the Kurds and Turkey, or the Shiites and Sunnis, or the seculars and the Islamists; they all share one thing in common, they've had enough of Saddam and people like him, and they've all had enough of divisions, party politics and ethnic hatreds.
Iraqi people experienced democracy, albeit prematurely, under the former rule of the Kingdom of Iraq. Under the different rules since the republic was established in 1958, there have been no real democratic elections as the ruling parties or personalities have known for certain that none of them would be in power if elections were held at any time. Yet, democracy is not as strange to the Iraqi people as some people think. Under a system planned and managed by the UN or USA or a combination of some sorts, the democratic system will definitely find a safe haven in Iraq. There will for sure be some areas of conflict and others of antagonism towards different sects and groups, but the Iraqi people can easily and quickly adapt to a spirit of tolerance and patience if they are coached correctly by people who are experienced in such matters.
The Shiites are not so much against the Sunnis as they are mortally against the person of Saddam and his junta. The Kurds are not against the Turks as much as they are against restricting their national freedom. They're not pursuing independence from Iraq as much as having a say in their own affairs. The Turkomen are much less Turks than they are Iraqi. The Christians are not yet ready to claim anything more than freedom of worship and practicing their own culture while pursuing a policy of tolerance for whoever may come to power and most emphatically if the ruler is elected democratically. The Assyrians, as practicing Christians and as the indigenous people of Iraq have had it worse than any other group and for a lot longer than anyone else. Yet, all they are seeking is to be able to stay Assyrians and practice as Christians and have some sort of freedom in using their language, culture and customs within an area of administrative rights.
This war is just and legal. The UN may not have sanctioned it officially, but those in the UN who opposed for any reason at all the war on Saddam don't have the slightest idea of what it is all about to live under his regime. They may see pictures or hear stories about it, but it is never the same as living it. I would like to see those people transformed to live under such a regime and then oppose such a war when discussed in the Security Council of the United Nations.
FIRST ASSYRIAN WOMAN ELECTED IN THE NETHERLANDS ELECTIONS
Privincial elections were helo on 11 March in the Netherlands (Holland). In the Province of Overijssel, the Labour Party ("Partij van de Arbeid"), the second largest party in the country, presented Ms. Attiya Gamri, a newcomer to the election list, on the Party’s sixth slot.
Ms. Attiya Gamri is the first Assyrian woman to be elected into such a high political position in Europe. She is well known to the Assyrian community across Europe for her dedicated work related to Assyrian human rights issues and within political and cultural organizations. She has always struggled to improve the position of Assyrian women. Over the past few years, she has participated in several human rights and cultural events organized in countries such as Iran, Syria and Lebanon, all of which are locations where large number of Assyrians continue to live.
Ms. Gamri’s Goals:
Ms. Gamri believes that "the world exists for 50% of women.” She questions, “why are more women not represented in politics, a forum where decisions for a country and society are reached?” She believes that in many cases, women have a completely different view than men and as such, the female perspective can enrich the political debate. Over the past years, Ms. Gamri has dedicated herself to working intensely with Assyrian political parties where she claims to have learned immensely. However, it is unfortunate, she claims, that she has also noticed a lack of professionalism within these organizations. From her position as an elected legislator, she hopes to support the Assyrian political parties in improving their work and in educating people in the political process. She also hopes more Assyrian women will enter the field of politics; so that, they can influence decisions that impact the society in which they live.
Assyrian Role Models:
In the modern era, unfortunately, not many Assyrian women have taken an active part in political questions. However, one influential Assyrian woman’s political voice who has impacted Ms. Gamri is that of Surma Khanim.* Surma Khanim is also known to many as "the Ambassador of the Assyrian people." Another political leader who has made an impression on Ms. Gamri is the late Professor Ashur Yousuf of Kharput.** Professor Ashur Yousuf dedicated his life to the political awakening of a sleeping people.
Today, in Ms. Gamri’s opinion, the politicians whose talents move mountains are: Mr. Yonadam Yacob Yusuf (ADM), Dr. Yacob Isa (ADO) and Mr. Numan Neshro. She admires them for their charisma and political vision for the Assyrian national question. Finally, Ms. Gamri says, “I admire Dr. Eden Naby, for her dedication, professionalism and organizing skills and Dr. Katrin Michael, a brave Assyrian Chaldean who has skilfully raised the attention of both the media and politicians about the presence of our people in Iraq."
Duties to the Assyrian People:
Ms. Gamri states, "I will always try to maintain good contact with my people. And as long as the political parties serve the interest of this oppressed people, I will try to support them in their battle for human rights and international recognition. When I am able to, I will not hesitate in presenting the Assyrian Question on the international political agenda. The issue of the denied Assyrian Genocide of 1915 ( "Sayfo") is one of my priorities.
Surma (Surma Khanim) "Woman Ambassador" http://www.atour.com/~history/1900/20000830c.html
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