AMERICA PROTECTED ITS OIL AS ASSYRIAN HISTORY WAS LOOTED
The looting of the National Museum of Iraq on the 11th and 12th of April was utterly inexcusable and completely preventable. Over 170,000 pieces of artifacts covering 7,000 year of the history of Mesopotamia was looted or destroyed within 48 hours! An angry mob and several professional thieves ransacked the most modern museum in the Middle East and with it destroyed a colossal portion of the Assyrian history. Where were the American soldiers with their high-tech weapons to save 25,000 clay tablets that included the Epic of Gilgemesh, King Hammurabi’s Code of Law, and King Naramsin’s bronze bust? Sadly we may never find the statue of Dudu of Lagash (2600 B.C.), the Ram in the Thicket from Ur, or the priceless manuscripts from the Ottoman and Abbasid periods again. The U.S. and the Coalition Forces did nothing to prevent this looting.
Before the war, archaeologists gave U.S. military planners a list of 4,000 sites in Iraq that warranted full protection. McGuire Gibson, a University of Chicago professor and president of the American Association for Research in Baghdad, had already explained to the U.S. military officials that there may be a looting of the museums by thieves that operate within a professional network of art smugglers and implored the U.S. authorities to send troops to protect the museum buildings.
Why then weren’t contingency plans made to avert this disaster?
Clearly the U.S. government should be held responsible for the preventable loss of the Assyrian and Islamic heritage of Iraq. A museum employee explains: "As soon as I saw the American troops near the museum, I asked them to protect it but the second day looters came and robbed or destroyed all the antiquities.” The looters roamed undisturbed and not a single bullet was shot to scare them away. Armored vehicles were positioned on the nearby street, manned by U.S. Marines. They did nothing to stop the pillaging In Basra, British officials even publicly stated that they allowed the looting of some buildings.
The Assyrians, from everywhere, have the right to express their indignation at the U.S. military forces in Iraq during the destruction and unforgivable looting of their history. The Assyrian nation has forever lost treasures far more precious than the oil so vigilantly protected by the U.S. military. This may come as a surprise to Mr. Rumsfeld that no amount of oil can bring back the undeciphered information on the shattered Akkadian tablets in Mosul.
The museum in Baghdad is in the Al-Salhiya neighborhood, nearby a poor neighborhood. Early Saturday, five armed men showed up at the gate, armed with a Kalashnikov, pistols, and iron bars. They walked into the museum, accused journalists of stealing artifacts and ordered them to leave. The looting began soon after.
The museum's computer system, is smashed – but the data in the hard disks may still be saved. Earlier the museum curators had removed the artifacts from their display cases and placed them into storage vaults. But the brute plunderers smashed open the doors of the vaults and took everything. It is even possible that someone familiar with the museum participated in the theft, they say.
Equally important is the Mosul University library, with its rare ancient manuscripts, also plundered. The library was ransacked despite appeals from the city's mosque to stop the looting. Gangs stormed the museum storeroom and walked away with ancient Assyrian and Babylonian stone tablets. Bombing was also reported to have damaged museum in Tikrit and a museum at Baghdad's Al-Zohur Palace, the former residence of Iraq's Hashemite kings.
Where would these stolen artifacts end up?
There are only a few hundred buyers, mainly Japanese, for the more well-known artifacts. The smaller items like coins, cylinder seals, figurines, will hit the antiquities black market. Likely places include Paris, Israel, Switzerland, New York, London, Berlin and especially Tokyo. The golden objects will possibly be melted down. But the chances of recovery for most of these pieces is very low. During and shortly after the first Gulf War in 1991, some 4,000 pieces were lost. Had it not been for Saddam Hussein’s execution of the smugglers, thousands of other pieces may had been lost. In 1998 alone, he executed 10 people for chopping off the head of an Assyrian winged bull (Lamasu), a piece that dates to 1000 B.C.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the British Museum announced Tuesday they will send in teams to help restore ransacked museums and artifacts. Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of the UNESCO and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have called on customs officials, international police, art dealers and neighboring countries to block the trading of stolen antiquities.
The stolen artifacts from any of thirteen major Iraqi museums, libraries, and cultural centers belong to the people of Iraq. The events of April 11 and 12 may still be repeated in places like Nimrod, Ashur, Nineveh, Babylon, Ctesiphon and Ur. Since the Assyrian history must be protected at all cost, Zinda Magazine urges the Assyrian federations, academic institutions, and the churches to demand full protection of the historic sites and the immediate return of the stolen objects to the Iraqi authorities. Each stolen or lost object must be treated as a vital piece of history and catalogued and pursued until found.
At the end of the 13th century the Mongolian hordes attacked the city of Baghdad and pillaged world’s greatest center of learning at that time. Books and building were burned and priceless historic objects demolished. At the time, the ancient history of Bet-Nahrain was still covered under meters of dirt and ignorance. This time what the Mongolians could not see, the rude masses of uneducated Iraqis, and possibly vengeful Kuwaiti and militia men ransacked in the name of liberation. The Assyrian people and Iraq for that matter can never be fully liberated until the treasures of Iraq are returned to the Cradle of Civilization.
ASSYRIAN IRAQI DOCUMENTS PROJECT
Following the 1991 uprisings, Kurdish officials and the CIA secured an estimated 18 tons of Iraqi state documents, which were transferred to the United States. These documents are important evidence of the repressive actions by the Iraqi government against its own citizens.
In November 2002, a group of concerned Assyrians met in Washington D.C. and discussed the translation and publication of few such documents that specifically concern the Assyrians in Iraq and abroad. Zinda Magazine volunteered to develop a website for public viewing of these documents. In the past six months, the Assyrian Iraqi Documents Project (AIDP) was founded and with the help of a very able staff several such documents have been meticulously translated from Arabic to English.
With the publication of this week’s issue, Zinda Magazine announces the debut of the AIDP website and the publication of the first set of four documents. In the coming weeks, the AIDP staff will continue adding more translated documents. For our Arabic readers, each original document is also made available for viewing.
The AIDP website can be visited at: http://www.zindamagazine.com/iraqi_documents
Z-Crew & the AIDP Staff
ASSYRIANS AND TOMORROW’S IRAQ
The time is coming for the birth of a new, democratic Iraq which offers freedom and equal rights to all its citizens. Assyrians, as Iraqi citizens must take advantage of these new rights and work to preserve their existence in the future Iraq.
Our professionals and our academics must ready themselves to return to Iraq and aid in the rebuilding of the country. We must be well represented in Iraq’s professional and academic scene. Our doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, artists, musicians, archaeologists, historians, sociologists, politicians, journalists, anthropologists, and many more, should aim to go to Iraq and be part of the country’s rebirth.
Our people in the diaspora should aim to gradually return to the homeland and begin new lives in a country, which recognises their fundamental rights as Assyrian Christians and Iraqi citizens. Focus should be made on a certain part of the country and we should then work to build up our demographics there through resettlement, so that we can become a majority in that area.
But this will not be easy and any thoughts of Assyrian resettlement in Iraq, especially the north, are very hard to put into practice. We do not ask for an armed struggle or a separate country. All we would like is to re-establish Assyrians in a part of their ancestral lands. First there must be stable jobs and our villages must become much better developed.
Assyrians in Iraq need jobs. They need a stable income and a comfortable lifestyle. Employment opportunities can be created for them with the help of Assyrians in the diaspora. Assyrian companies can contribute greatly to the lives of Assyrians in Iraq and the wealth of the country.
The lives of many Assyrians in northern Iraq depend on agriculture and animal husbandry. Our villagers cultivate wheat, barley, apples, peaches, pears, walnuts, grapes, and other fruits and vegetables, and keep cattle, sheep and chickens. This job must be made easier and more profitable for our people. They need irrigation projects, new tractors and more high-tech equipment.
Maybe an international Assyrian company and national co-ops can be established to buy Assyrian products at a good price and sell them on the Iraqi and international markets for a profit that can be used to create more jobs and buy back more land to cultivate. Our diaspora communities are ideal in establishing worldwide branches.
Maybe later, collective farms (like Israeli kibbutzim) can be established where groups of young Assyrians from the diaspora can spend time working the land and learning about the lifestyle in the homeland – and building a spiritual bond with it.
Diaspora Assyrians that have the ability can establish chains of stores or supermarkets inside Iraq. For example, Assyrians are the only one’s in Iraq that own liquor stores. Maybe these businesses can be expanded and improved, as well as other businesses set up. More importantly, shops can be set up in places where they will be heavily depended on and can surely make a lot of money.
Assyrians in the future Iraq must also work hand in hand with the tourism ministry to cash-in on the tourist industry. There are Assyrian villages situated in some of the most beautiful parts of northern Iraq – this can be channelled into nature tourism. The ancient churches and monasteries in Iraq can be part of faith tourism. The ancient Mesopotamian sites and modern Assyrian villages can contribute to culture tourism.
With the investments and contributions of certain Assyrian businesspeople in the diaspora they can build a network of hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, tourist villages, casinos, camping grounds, skiing facilities, etc. All of these can work in co-operation with one another and support each other’s business.
Assyrians can also establish tour companies, and go into the transportation industry as well. Just like the Izla bus company in Syria, Assyrians in Iraq can also establish a network of busses and minibuses between provincial centres and smaller towns. Just like the Nineveh taxi service in Urmia (Iran), Assyrians can have a taxi service in different cities in Iraq.
Our villages must be resettled and life must be made more comfortable for those living in them. The government must provide all Assyrian villages with electricity, running water and sealed roads. There must be houses with all modern conveniences, shops, medical centres and doctors, Syriac schools and libraries, internet-cafes, community halls and cultural clubs, sporting facilities and churches, etc. We must concentrate on how we can bring the city to our villages, rather than helping our people leave their villages for the cities.
Even in the cities, diapsora Assyrians can buy blocks of flats. The flats can be rented at a cheaper price for local Assyrians. It will provide Assyrians with affordable homes and will also provide an income for future projects.
Many villages, etc. that have been stolen by Kurds and other groups can be reclaimed through international courts, developed and resettled. Other lands that have been sold can be bought back and the squatters on them evicted. It would be preferable to Assyrians in the future not to sell their lands to non-Assyrians.
In a future Iraq, Assyrians must utilise all forms of media. They must have TV and Radio stations as they already do in northern Iraq, maybe even an Iraq-based satellite station. There must be nationwide Assyrian newspapers and magazines in Syriac, Arabic and even English if possible. Assyrians must have internet websites and establish printing houses. They must excel in the arts, establishing national folkloric groups (music, dance and drama, etc.), art galleries, and theatres. They should also begin an Assyrian film and movie industry. This all will encourage more and more Assyrians to maintain their unique and ancient language, and will serve as a means of information and organisation for the wider Assyrian community in Iraq and abroad.
Many people will think that such ideas are fanciful, but with the will of able Assyrians all this and more can be achieved. It is the strong nations, who stand together and decide their own future, that survive. Assyrians must not take a future democracy in Iraq for granted. They must appreciate it for everything it’s worth and use it as a stepping-stone towards greater cultural advancement and the benefit of the nation as a whole.
ASSYRIAN DELEGATION ATTENDS THE MEETING IN NASIRIYA
(ZNDA: Washington) Mr. Ishmail Nanno, a representative of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa), arrived from Arbil to the meeting for Iraqi Opposition Groups convened in the southern city of Nasiriya on Tuesday to discuss the future of Iraq and the transitional government that will run the country.
The ADM sources have informed Zinda Magazine that the leadership of the central committee may be joining the representative on Wednesday evening. A statement from the meeting is expected on Wednesday.
The US delegation was headed by Zalmay Khalilzad, the White Houses envoy. A statement adopted at the meeting stated that a future Iraqi government must be democratic and based on the rule of law and that Saddam's Baath party must be dissolved.
In the mean time a meeting in Kirkuk was called for to establish a temporary city council for that city. Sources to Zinda Magazine indicate that the council will comprise of 24 members, representing Arabs, Kurds, Turkomen and Assyrians, with six representatives from each group.
(ZNDA: Arbil) Last week at a town hall meeting in Alqosh, Mr. Narsai Warda, a member of ADM Political Bureau, congratulated the Assyrian people for the liberation of the town and addressed the unity of the Assyrian Chaldean people. He emphasized unity, forgiveness, and repudiated revenge from those who under certain circumstances were part of the fallen regime. A team from the Assyrian Democratic Movement established the first radio station in Arabic and Assyrian to broadcast to all of Alqosh, Sharafiya, Tellasqif, Baqoofa, Telkaif, Jambor, Karamles, Bakhdidi, Bartilla and the vicinity.
Other liberated cities and villages include Kirkuk, Almas,
Arrapha, and Rahinm Awa. In the Mosul plains, the village of
Tellasqif was liberated during the liberation of Mosul.
Kirkuk witnessed the same chaotic situation as Mosul, but the coalition forces quickly organized a meeting between certain political notables of the city's Arab, Kurd, Assyrian, and Turkoman population to bring security to town and secure transportation, water, and electricity.
In Mosul plain, the villages of Bartilla, Karamles, Baghdidi, Ba'shiqa, and Bahzani were secured by the coalition forces backed by the Peshmarga and elements of the Assyrian freedom fighters of Zowaa. Additionally, detachments of the coalition forces accompanied by Assyrian freedom fighters from ADM advanced toward Tellesqif, Baqoofa, Batnaya and Telkaif to secure and stabilize these localities.
On 12 April the Assyrian Democratic Movement members celebrated the 24th anniversary of their political group’s founding in Iraq.
(ZNDA: Baghdad) More than 10,000 internally displaced Christians have taken shelter from the war in Iraq at Nineveh in the north, near Mosul, according to local Church sources.
The city's population of 25,000 has grown with the war refugees, and the humanitarian situation is worsening.
The city authorities in Nineveh, whose population is mostly Christian, have only small stocks of food and medicine. The local people are trying to collect food and other emergency goods for the new arrivals.
DR. KATRIN MICHAEL SAYS IRAQIS MUST CHOOSE OWN LEADERS
Courtesy of Cybercast News Service (9 April); by Jeff Johnson
(ZNDA: Washington) Leaders of the Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein said Tuesday that two conditions are essential for the success of democracy in Iraq: No one from Hussein's government or military can be involved, and the Iraqi people must eventually choose their own leaders.
Dr. Katrin Michael, an Iraqi Chaldean Christian and member of the group Women for a Free Iraq, suffered eye, lung and nerve damage from a chemical weapons attack by the Iraqi Army on Iraqi Kurds in 1987. She wants Saddam Hussein gone but is also concerned that the future Iraqi government not be dominated by Islamic fundamentalists like those of its neighbors.
"As a minority in Iraq, I think the single biggest threat, post-Saddam, is going to be Islamic fundamentalists," she warned. "American assistance forces must be sure to secure the minority's rights in the process of reconstruction and especially in writing a new constitution."
President George W. Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair Tuesday to discuss what part the U.N. would play in the rebuilding of Iraq. Santorum believes that, while the U.N. should have a supporting role in humanitarian efforts, the coalition that freed Iraq should have the final say over military and political matters.
BELGIAN MINISTER SHOWS SOLIDARITY WITH ASSYRIANS
(ZNDA: Belgium) On Monday, 31 March, the Belgium city of Luvanne Lannove witnessed a reception party commemorating the Assyrian New Year 6753. In attendence were Mr. Andra Vlaho, Belgium Defence Minister; Mrs. Mary Joza Lalwa, Member of Belgium Senate; and the delegates from the Belgium Socialist Party.
The official speaker of the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) and its representative in Belgium, began the event by welcoming the guests. He gave a brief description about the Assyrian people and the Assyrian community in Belgium. Then he talked about the dangerous situation in the Midle East and the tragedies experienced by the Iraqi people with all their ethnic groups especially the Assyrians. He added that the Assyria existence as an original ethnic group and Christian minority is threatened under Saddams' regime hammer, war's anvil, and the plans for future Iraq. The ADO speaker ended his speech by praising the courageous stand of the Belgium government that supported the international legitimacy in handing the Iraqi crisis, protesting war, and its humanetarian initiatives done today to suport the Iraqi people. The gathering stood one minute in silence in support of the Iraqi people. Then, the official speaker of the ADO presented his excellency the minister a copy of Prof. Joseph Yacoub book "Threats Against Iraqi Christians" published recently.
The Belgian Defense Minister made a statement in which he openly explained the reasons for conflict and disparity in NATO in regards to the Iraqi crisis. He emphasized on the Belgium’s position on the exhaustion of all possible peaceful and diplomatic means and to refer to the Security Council to ending the war and rebuilding of Iraq.
Mrs. Lalwa spoke about Belgium' Socialist Party’s political stand which supports and endorses the struggle of nations and ethnic groups to obtain freedom, democracy, and human rights. She added: "I am with all oppressed people and I do not believe that there exist any regime in the world that has the right to impose its control and domination by force on other people ... your people's case has attracted my attention and I am ready to support it."
At the conclusion of the speeches, a bouquet of flowers was presented to his excellency the minister and a red rose to Mrs. Lalwa in the name of the Assyrian chidren of Iraq.
On Sunday, 6 April, "The Voice of Assyrians" radio broadcast an interview conducted with the Belgian Minister of Defense and Mrs. Lalwa.
The presence and participation of Mr. Andra Vlaho, Mrs. Mary Joza Lalwa, and the accompanying delegates in the first of April 6753 continued late into the night. The Minister stated: "My message to you in commemoration of the Assyrian New Year is that I wish the Assyrian nation will regain peace, tranquility, and prosperity and happiness for all her people and loved ones."
Courtesy of the Mercury News (15 April); by Rodney Foo
(ZNDA: San Jose) San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales encouraged the city of San Jose, California on Monday to lend a financial hand to families of reservists serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
At a news conference at the Army National Guard's headquarters on Hedding Street, Gonzales and a host of community and business leaders announced a partnership of businesses, unions, the military, and various organizations that will generate support for reservists' families who may need help financially or otherwise.
Gonzales asked companies and citizens to sponsor discounts or provide donations to the families. The Church of the East in San Jose pledged $5,000.
[Z-info: To listen to Mar Bawai Soro’s recent interview with the Vatican Radio click here: 04_14_ohzone ]
To download RealPlayer, click here.
Courtesy of the National Catholic Register (6-12 April), by Andrew Walther
(ZNDA: North Hollywood) Like many Iraqis living in the United States, Father Noel Gorgis is following the war in his homeland with special interest.
And he is watching it from a very different vantage point than the last time the United States fought Iraq.
Father Gorgis, a priest at St. Paul Assyrian Chaldean Catholic Church in North Hollywood, had to serve with the Iraqi army in the 1991 Gulf War.
He was stationed at the H3 airfield, the suspected Scud headquarters in western Iraq that allied special forces seized in the early hours of the war to expel Iraq from Kuwait. Though he was a priest, he was given no special status in the Iraqi army.
"The Iraqi army has no chaplains; I was a regular soldier," Father Gorgis said. He endured air bombardments and, as the war continued, he fled to Turkey. From there he made his way to the United States in 1992.
Like many Iraqis living in the United States - Christian and Muslim alike - Father Gorgis sees the current war as an opportunity for improvement in his country, an opportunity the American government has vowed to see through to the end.
"Most people here are looking for change in Iraq," Father Gorgis said of his parishioners who are almost all of Iraqi origin. "Ninety-nine percent don't like Saddam."
He believes Iraqis back home want change, too, though they cannot
voice their feelings for fear of the current regime's henchmen. Iraqis
"don't like Saddam, except in Tikrit," the town where the
dictator was born, he said.
So great is the fear of Saddam's security apparatus that even Iraqis here in the United States are unwilling to speak out for fear of reprisals against their families, according to Father Gorgis.
"Last night I talked to my sister in Baghdad," he said March 27, "but I cannot say 'wait for freedom' because she might be harmed." He said his sister was leaving Baghdad for the relative safety of the north ahead of the ground assault on the city.
Father Gorgis said Christians still in Iraq have real concerns.
"[Iraqi] Christians are afraid from the bombing, the embargo and their Muslim neighbors," he said.
Don't Repeat '91
Because among Muslims "there is much hostility to Christians," Father Gorgis said he hopes "the Americans will stay longer" than in 1991 and a government is established that will ensure Christians can live in peace.
A senior Bush administration official, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed that President Bush and many in government do indeed intend to stay long enough to make things work.
The administration's strategy is to "identify moderate Muslims who can speak for the heart of Islam," to help them promote a message "of tolerance and peace" and to "amplify their voices," the official explained.
The moderates, he said, have been squelched between their own governments and Islamic extremists.
Christians make up only about 3% of Iraq's population. They include Assyrians, an Orthodox Church, but the majority of Christians are Chaldean Catholics, who left the Assyrian Church to come into communion with Rome 450 years ago.
As many as 250,000 Iraqi Christians now live in the United States.
Bishop Bawai Soro of the western diocese of the Assyrian Church of the East was born in Kirkuk, Iraq, and educated in Baghdad before emigrating. He came to the United States in 1976 and lives in San Jose, Calif.
Like Father Gorgis, he looked with hope to a post-Saddam Iraq. He said Assyrian Christians, even more than Chaldeans, have been "Western-oriented" since World War I, when they helped the British drive out the Turks and form the state of Iraq.
"The time is right to transform global politics in the Middle East," Bishop Soro said, adding that he believes Iraq is the perfect place to start that transformation.
Once the initial anger about casualties wears off, people will welcome the Americans as liberators, the bishop predicted.
He is heartened by the resolve of the Bush administration to create
a free Iraq.
According to Bishop Soro, Iraq is looked up to because it has the best combination of advantages of any Middle Eastern country: It is wealthy, well educated and business savvy, he said. Its riches include not only oil but also its agriculture, minerals and well-educated people.
"It is shocking to see Iraq sunk to [its current] level," he said sadly.
The bishop explained that many Iraqis are angry at Saddam because of the political repression and the fact that his government has gone about a program of "Arabization" in which the other cultures in Iraq - Assyrian, Turkish and Kurd - are ruthlessly suppressed.
The persecution, he said, is not so much religious as it is cultural and political.
Entifadh Qanbar, a Muslim who is the Washington representative of the Iraqi National Congress, an expatriate opposition group that hopes to be at the forefront of the political restructuring of Iraq, said his vision of Iraq is one of religious freedom and democracy.
Though some have praised Saddam for not persecuting Christians outright for their faith, Qanbar insisted a new regime "will be more tolerant: It will be democratic."
Even the prosecution of the war itself gives Bishop Soro hope.
The way you change that "is through love," Bishop Soro said, and the way the war - which he characterized as "a charitable war" - is being fought, "accepting surrenders, avoiding civilian casualties," will go a long way toward healing the citizens of Iraq.
And while the politicians and military commanders make their plans, Father Gorgis said he wants people to remember to take part in that which brings the greatest hope of all: prayer.
"Prayer," he said, "is our most powerful weapon for peace and justice."
[Z-info: Andrew Walther
writes from Los Angeles.]
PROF KAMBER: IRAQI EXILE HOPEFUL FOR HIS NATION'S FUTURE
Courtesy of the Kalamazoo Gazette (5 April); Tom Minehart
(ZNDA: Kalamazoo) Iraq could become a "catalyst for peace, democracy and prosperity" throughout the Middle East not long after Saddam Hussein is toppled, says an Iraqi exile in Kalamazoo who could become part of a postwar Iraqi government.
"That's what we are hoping," said Emanuel Kamber, a professor of physics at Western Michigan University. "Iraqis deserve a better government, a pluralistic, parliamentarian government that guarantees human rights for all citizens irrespective of ethnic background or religion."
Kamber is a member of the London-based Iraqi National Congress, an assembly of 500 Iraqis representing various ethnic and religious groups of Iraq. He is deputy chairman of the 65-member INC Council, which serves as a liaison between the assembly members and a seven-person INC leadership council headed up by Iraqi opposition leader Ahmed Chalabi.
Chalabi is backed by the U.S. Defense Department, but State Department
officials say most Iraqis do not support him.
"We have to think Iraq will be a catalyst for peace, democracy
and prosperity," he said. "If we think Iraq will be a disaster
after Saddam Hussein, then why would we be working all these years
to get rid of him?"
"Even if we assume only 50 percent of these people go back to Iraq to help the process of democracy ... that will help the process," he said.
Democratization will require time and struggle, he said, noting that the United States did not achieve democracy until well after the Civil War. "We hope it will be a peaceful process after what we call the liberation," he said.
Kamber said his meetings last month with U.S. officials convinced him that Americans sincerely want Iraq to be liberated. And he said American help will be needed for some time.
"It's very important for the Americans to be there until Iraq can establish a democratic government and conduct its own affairs," he said.
Kamber is Christian and an Assyrian, an Iraqi ethnic group also known
as Chaldeans or Syriacs. More than 75 percent of Iraq's 24 million
people are Arab, more than 15 percent are Kurdish and 5 percent are
Assyrian, Turkoman or another ethnic group, according to the CIA World
Factbook 2002. More than 60 percent are Shiite Muslim, more than 32
percent are Sunni Muslim and 3 percent are Christian or another religion.
Rumsfeld has proposed to President Bush that an interim Iraqi authority
composed of exiled leaders be quickly installed in the southern part
of the country now largely under U.S. control, the Washington Post
"The future political system is the sole responsibility of the Iraqi people," he said. "As long as it is a constitutional country that recognizes the rights of all minorities."
Kamber has worked with the Iraqi opposition for many years, but he
was never a political prisoner. He left Iraq in 1979 and worked in
London and Kansas before he came to WMU in 1989.
KAMBER: PROFESSOR AIDS RECONSTRUCTION OF IRAQI GOVERNMENT
Courtesy of Western Herald (9 April); Heather McLain
(ZNDA: Kalamazoo) One Iraqi-born Western Michigan University professor and member of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) is collaborating with members of the Bush administration to plan for a new Iraqi government, as American forces work to tear down Saddam Hussein's regime.
Emanuel Kamber, WMU physics professor, said the Bush administration would like to have a unified, democratic and sectarian government in Iraq. He has been helping the U.S. government plan for rebuilding Iraq since June 2002.
Kamber is involved with the "Future of Iraq Project" and was part of a group that met with Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on March 6 at the White House in Washington, D.C.
Kamber said the group wanted to ensure that coalition forces would minimize civilian casualties and avoid causing excessive damage to the country's infrastructure. However, he said he strongly supports the war effort as an attempt to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein.
"Americans are there to build a better Iraq," Kamber said.
Kamber has been involved in efforts to free Iraq for years. He left the country in 1979 to complete his master's degree and Ph.D. in the United Kingdom, and came to the United States in 1985. Before leaving Iraq, he was involved in underground efforts by students and academics to spread democracy to the Iraqi people.
Kamber is the deputy chair of the central council of the INC, which last met in July of 2000. He said he is frequently in touch with members of the group, and that the leader of the INC is currently in Nasaria working with Iraqi freedom fighters. He estimated that there are currently 700 to 1,000 free Iraqis joining American forces fighting Hussein in Iraq. Recently the INC has been talking to Iraqi citizens about how a transitional or interim government may work once the war is over, he said. The question of who will lead the new government is still under discussion.
"We would like to see a transitional government for a short time," Kamber said, estimating that this might last between six months and two years. Although he said it is uncertain exactly what this government will look like, he said he expects U.S. involvement until Iraq establishes a stable government.
Kamber said Iraqis should first work on building a civil society based on the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. He hopes Iraq will eventually build a government that holds democratic elections. He added that Iraqis will eventually need to write a new constitution.
Once the war is over, Kamber said he plans to participate in the process of rebuilding Iraq, perhaps in an advisory position. He said that unlike countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq has many things in its favor when it comes to rebuilding. There are many universities in Iraq, the population is well educated and the country has a good infrastructure to build from, he said.
Iraqi-born people all over the world will want to be involved in the rebuilding process once the war is over, Kamber said. There are already Iraqi professionals in neighboring Jordan who plan to go to Basra, and many human rights groups want to participate as well, he said. "We hope this government will be multi-ethnic and based on rule of law," Kamber said.
Kamber, an Assyrian Christian -- an Iraqi ethnic group that he said comprises 7-8 percent of the Iraqi population -- is hopeful that the future of Iraq is looking up. Iraq is rich in culture, and before Hussein took power the country's diverse religious and ethnic population thrived, he said.
"Iraqis have been working together and living in peace for centuries,"
LONDON LECTURE: ASSYRIANS AFTER THE FALL OF NINEVEH
A lecture will be presented by Rabi Hermis Aboona on Thursday, 1 May at 8 p.m. The topic of this lecture is “the Assyrians After the Fall of Nineveh.”
The lecture will be held at the following address:
Assyrian Society of the United Kingdom
A short biography of Rabi Hermis Aboona:
Born 1940 in the ancient Assyrian town of Alqosh, moved to Baghdad in 1952 and in 1964 graduated from the University of Baghdad with a BA degree in Law.
In 1983 he joined the University of Exeter to further pursue his academic studies, where he spent six years of research to prepare his thesis on “The independent Assyrian Tribes of Tiyari and Hakkari and their relations with the Kurds and the Ottomans 1831-850”.
He has written 12 volume series under the title of “Assyrians after the fall of Nineveh” some of them have been published, another four are to be published in June next year.
Published numerous articles in North America, Europe and Middle
East, Edited two volumes on “Assyrians and the Modern sports”
by Isak Isak, also “Safarid Kasha Sliwa L’Shmaya”
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LIBERATION OF ALQOSH
[Z-info: the following is an exclusive report submitted from the Information Office of the Assyrian Democratic Movement regarding the liberation of the town of Alqosh in North Iraq]:
Congratulations to our Iraqi people and to all noble and benevolent people throughout the world on the fall and collapse of the fortresses of the dictator in Baghdad.
Today is the third day that the region of Mosul plain has breathed the air of freedom. Tomorrow could be the dictatorship's last days in the entire country as indications confirm that throughout Iraq the dictator's fortresses are collapsing, one after another.
This morning, groups of Zowaa's freedom fighters arrived at our Chaldean Assyrian villages spread along the 'Ain Sifni, Alqosh, and Badriya axis. As dawn came on this day of spring, a Zowaa detachment entered the village of Sharfiya, south of Alqosh. Our people welcomed Zowaa's freedom fighters with hugs as the near-by church rang its bell in a spectacular scene. Few moments later, balconies were embellished with purple flags and decorated with national slogans. The comrade in charge spoke to the population and thanked them for their warm welcome. He quieted the crowd and told them that the dictatorial regime was removed and assured them that the chauvinistic policies will disappear without a trace.
Soon after, three freedom fighter groups from Zowaa headed to the village of Tallesqaf and stationed at the contact lines with the regimes' forces that initiated bombing using canon fire and ground resistance with Doshka weapons. But this bombing did not result in any casualties. We hope that our freedom fighters will enter Tallesqaf during tomorrow's early morning hours.
Alqosh is the symbol of power and pride, the pride of the mountain that backs its city. Alqosh has smacked dictatorship one more time. This is Alqosh's habit; the town and her people never accepted oppression. Alqosh was one of the first towns that ejected the dictator and his gang and it was Alqosh that welcomed Zowaa's freedom fighters with cheers; it backed and supported them. The scene in Alqosh is indescribable. The foundation of dictatorship is scattered to dust. It is hard to envision the scene for those who have not visited the region in the last ten years. From Dohuk to Fai'da all the way to Jambor and to the split of Badriya; and from the crossroad of Sharafiyat Alqosh and across Alqosh-'Ain Sifni axis, one cannot avoid a disgusting scene of hundreds of inspection points, hundreds of military installations and camps of a humiliated and exhausted army at the hands of rotten tyrant. Concrete blocks that stick in your face; spoil the vast beautiful and spectacular green valley. The coalition forces leveled military fortresses and installations. The dictator built these concrete fortresses to protect himself from the outburst of the people and the coalition forces, but the will of people proved more powerful than all dictatorships.
At the junction of Shafiyat Alqosh, one of the ugliest inspection points reads "Stop .. Inspection Command" and what a phrase. Hundred meters aside from that command post there are six artificial stopples that are clearly visible to the driver or a citizen who is given a good doze of insults before reaching home and his family. The distance from that point to Alqosh itself is no more than one kilometer (around 0.6 mile), but you have to slow down to minimum speed at town's entrance as you see on both sides the dictators' fortresses and the Ba'ath Party offices. A simple picture the average citizen uses to see multiple times during a day. We saw that picture today, but it was a different and clean picture that did not include the regime's ugliness and repugnance. The concrete blocks have been leveled to the ground and people are working to clean up their fields and orchards from the rubble. The rubble of the regime's military camps and stations occupied vast lands; it requires the help of the local administration to assist the people in the clean up. As far as check points that brought fear into people's hearts, you pass by them without any interference today. A driver might honk to that fighter standing there along the road side or a signal will be given to alert drivers from the artificial stopples. For the person who has taken that route before, it is definitely not easy to deal with the conflicting emotions felt today. It is going to take a long time before these painful memories vanquish and are replaced by beautiful ones.
Back to Alqosh, the town entrance today put a person in the center
of events and at the first steps of the new era that has begun.
You look to your left and right and what a surprise! It was here
only few moments ago the center of oppression and terror, and in
a blink, a buried dictatorship that was based on killing, blood,
and terror. The entrance to Alqosh looks beautiful and nothing blocks
its splendor. Nothing stops you from climbing Alqosh's mountain
peak. And if you visit Alqosh and did not visit its mountain where
the tomb of Rabban Hurmiz is, that great eagle's nest, the equation
remains incomplete. They are two marks for one title; a historic
and rooted town that inherited supercilious from Nineveh and the
mountain that inherited an everlasting withstanding and bravery.
REV. KEN JOSEPH RETURNS TO BAGHDAD
The Assyrian clergy from Tokyo, Japan – Rev. Ken Joseph – is returning to Baghdad. He is taking a convoy of three trucks full of water, food, medical supplies and letters for family members from Amman, Jordan into Free Iraq for the Assyrian Christians and others in need!
At Zinda Magazine press time, the trucks had just crossed the
Jordanian-Iraqi border with 20 tons of relief supplies for the
Assyrian churches and others in need and 8 volunteers to help
pass out the nearly 10,000 bottles of water and nearly 1,000 letters
from family members to their families in Iraq.
Should you or someone you know have a loved one or friend in Iraq Rev. Ken Joseph and his team from Japan may be able to trace their whereabouts. To learn more please visit: http://www.assyrianchristians.com/locator.htm .
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