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Volume IX

Issue 18

16 June 2003
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This Week In Zinda

cover photo

  Rev. Ken Joseph's Presentation in San Jose
  The Charter Declaration of the Chaldo-Assyrian National Committee
Kurdish Parties Merge, may include zowaa leadership
Zowaa Guard Injured during Clashes with ex-Officers in Mosul
KDP Releases 8 Abducted HBA Members
Barzani Calls Kirkuk a Kurdistani City
Salesians Resuming Children's Summer Camp in Iraq
  U.S. Lawmaker Urges President Bush to Support Assyrians in Iraq
Lawmakers urge Bush to not overlook Assyrians
Warka Vase Returned to Baghdad Museum Baghdad
Museum Staff Revolt; Donny George Asked to Resign
Assyrian Council Officers for Stanislaus County Elected
Assyrian Singer, Evelyn Daoud, Passed Away in Syria
Maronites in Brazil

Love the Calendar!
Zowaa is Our Only Hope
Are We Really Prepared?
The Chaldeans of our Assyrian nation

  Oriental Institute’s Statement of Concern
Video Streaming of the Syriac Symposium
  From an Alien to a subject: Assyrian Naturalisation in Australia
Iraq's Museums: What Really Happened
  Aprim Shapera in Baghdad: A Zinda Magazine Interview



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The Lighthouse


Rev. Ken Joseph Jr. has traveled to Iraq twice, before and after the War. On his second trip to Baghdad after the war, he brought with him tons of supplies for Assyrians, including drinking water, food, and medicine. He returned few days ago to the United States. We talked on the phone, and then we met for a while before his presentation.

I had seen him days before leaving San Jose for Iraq prior to the start of the war. Meeting him this time around was as if I was looking at a different person; he was not the joyful Ken I had met few months earlier. Obviously, the situation of Assyrians in Iraq had affected him, which was reflected throughout his presentation. In one certain moment he was so emotional that he could barely speak and that left tears in everybody's eyes. The presentation he gave in San Jose on June 11, 2003 was very depressing and discouraging for me. The picture he gave about the Assyrian affairs is completely different from what we hear through the Assyrian political organizations present in Iraq.

Rev. Joseph stressed in his presentation the importance of appropriate and qualified Assyrian representation in their negotiations with the Americans, who are going to decide the fate of Iraq. The Assyrians of Iraq, says Rev. Joseph, are not qualified to carry on sophisticated dialogue in English and are not in position to make any demands because they are afraid from the Kurds and the Shi'aa. Whatever demands the Assyrian representatives are making, are coming from a point of weakness and not from strength. The Assyrians, he says, seem to suffer from a Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Decades of oppression have left the Assyrians of Iraq afraid; they lack self-confidence; and are hesitant from presenting their rightful demands. They need qualified Assyrians from the Diaspora on the ground in Iraq to give those in Iraq moral support and to negotiate with the Americans aggressively.

The Assyrians of Iraq, continues Rev. Joseph, lack the basic communication skills in the language of those making the decisions, i.e. English. They are so happy when they get an opportunity to meet with the Americans but when they do, they seem to be content with having the meeting itself rather than addressing their demands. Furthermore, they seem sometimes confused about what the outcome of the meeting was all about! Rev. Joseph explains that in one specific meeting for example, in which he was present, he personally understood one thing while the Assyrians thought that the Americans had promised them something else!

Furthermore, Joseph stresses that the Assyrians must not rely on verbal promises and must be careful with the language the Americans are using. It is vital that any promises be documented and official, because at the end of the day, verbal promises could be forgotten all together or they simply would not stand. Most importantly, the Iraqi constitution is going to be written soon and Assyrians need urgently to look for qualified individuals, lawyers for example, or experts in how constitutions are constructed and phrased because how the constitution is worded could make a lot of difference.

One of the things that caught Rev. Joseph’s eyes throughout his visits was the absence of the Assyrian flag especially when everybody else raises their ethnic flags. He asserts that he visited so many towns and villages and he did not see one Assyrian flag. Before the war, he was told that Saddam will turn on them if they did that. What was the excuse for not raising the Assyrian flag after the liberation of Iraq, Joseph wonders. Many Assyrians had told him that nobody cares for, supports, or backs them up and they believe that the Americans will betray them just like the British did in the past. The general population feels that the Americans are there today and will leave few months from now and if they demand too much, ask for protection, or raise the flag, for example, the Moslems will turn against them later. Rev. Joseph then explained that Assyrians must ask for at least autonomy and self-rule; it is the only way to guarantee their protection because they cannot survive as a weak minority among a hostile majority.

One alarming point raised by Rev. Joseph was the fact that Islamic fundamentalists are not only controlling the south, but also enforcing their control over Baghdad. Fundamental Islamic groups, says Joseph, are laying their hands over many Iraqi service institutions, such as hospitals. These groups had infiltrated the hospitals and had began to install their connections in the administrative personnel depts. and started to pay the employees who have not been paid for months, thus gain their support. Joseph brought our attention to the letters that are being sent to Assyrian families ordering them to abide by the rules of Islam, such as wearing the veil, or face harsh consequences like rape and murder among other things. He had a sample of one such hand-written letter with him.

On June 13, BBC on-line News published an article in which UN officials confirmed the intimidation practices of Islamic extremists and the specific demands of radical clerics that women and girls, even Christians, must wear the veil. One UN Iraqi staff member had received a hand-written letter saying that she would be killed unless she started covering her hair, the BBC reported.

The June 13th issue of The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) touched on the issue of the treatment of women in the new Iraq. The CSM stated that women are being told to wear the "hijab," an Islamic head scarf, and the "'abaya," the big and billowing head-to-toe black cloth that is placed over a long black cloak—which itself is worn over a woman's under-clothing—with a separate, tightly fastened head scarf, similar to the chador worn in Iran. This is happening everywhere, including the universities. One wonders if the new Iraq is going to be ruled by the Islamic Shi'aa cleric and the fate of the Assyrian Christians in such society.

Rev Joseph was distressed by the fact that the Assyrians of Iraq have almost completely forgotten how to believe and pray. He adds that the Assyrians have been, for all practical purposes, culturally Islamized. He continues to state that they have forgotten their savior Jesus Christ; and have forgotten the promise of God that Assyrian will rise again. Whenever meeting with Assyrians, he reminded them with the Isaiah 19:23-25: "In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance."

One final note, Rev. Joseph tried hard to avoid talking about the name issue even when he was asked about it. Repeatedly, he excused the audience for not being able to answer questions or discuss issues in connection with this matter. However, he was so pressed that he finally stated that he really did not want to get into that specific issue but he explained: “I have met some hundred individual members of the Chaldean Catholic Church and asked every single one of them whether they were Assyrians. The only answer he received each time was a clear ‘No’." Rev. Joseph left it at that.

I was very disturbed throughout the three-hour long presentation and the following question and answer session. We are getting two different pictures here and one does not know whom and what to believe. Is the future of Iraq as rosy as our political groups are portraying it or is Iraq on the brinks of being another Iran or perhaps Lebanon?

Fred Aprim

[Z-info: For more information on Rev. Ken Joseph and his activities, visit ww.assyrianchristians.com]




[Z-info: The following is an unauthorized translation of the first press release of the Chaldo-Assyrian National Committee from Arabic.]

3 June 2003

Today, our blessed Churches have come together represented by all denominations, united, responding to the call of their congregations. This gathering was under the leadership and presence of Mar Addai II, Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East; Mar Shlimon Warduni, Assistant Patriarch of the Chaldean Church; Mar Gewargis Sliwa, Bishop of the Church of the East; Mar Soryous Hawa, Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church; Mar Mattai Shaba Matoka, Bishop of the Syrian Catholic Church; Mar Jack Isaac, Dean of Babylon College for Philosophy and Theology; and Mar Avak Assadorian, Bishop of the Armenian Orthodox Church and other clergies.

The very inclusive meeting took place on May 13, 2003 at the Hall of the St. Mary’s Church in Baghdad. The guests discussed issues concerning our people in a new Iraq. They stressed the importance of the formation of a committee that includes all our Churches and authorized a follow up to these issues and adopted a single collective national name for our single nation.

For this purpose and to facilitate this process, because of the current situation - since our country of Iraq is at the brink of many changes, including the drafting of the new constitution and laws that must affirm our national existence and full rights side by side with other Iraqi ethnic groups - the meetings continued and on the 19th of May 2003 the following people were elected to form the Committee:

From the Chaldean Catholic Church

Adeeb Koka Yonan
Elias Matai Mansour
Benyamin Mikha Haddad
Behnam Farag Mikhael
George Zaya Zoma
Hikmet Yosif Shaya
Saeed Yaco Shamaya
Amanoel Mosa Shikwana
Fuad Rahim Bodagh
Namiq Nasim Jerjis
Nizzar Hanna Al-Deerani

From the Church of the East

Aprim Esho Benyamin
Dr. Donny George
Noel David Toma

From the Ancient Church of the East

Palous Yosip Malik Khoshaba
Benyamin Eliah Iskhak
Yoarash Soro Boboo

From the Syrian Orthodox Church

Dr. Bashir Matti al-Tdoori

From the Syrian Catholic Church

Alber Mardan Elias
Ricardos Yosif Ibrahim
Fuad Ghazanchi

The Committee from the first day of its inception began to visit the members of the Churches and their Bishops, and the headquarters of the organizations. In the spirit of a united group they conducted many meetings. They adopted in the Syriac language, the title of “Chaldo-Assyrian” for our nation. The name of the Committee became the Chaldo-Assyrian National Committee and they issued the following declaration:

“Our Chaldo-Assyrian nation has roots that go back into the Akkadian roots in the deepest of human history. They are the descendants of the ancient Iraqi civilization (Sumerian and Akkadian), the builders of the first human civilization, whose roots were established in the 24th century B.C. by Sargon of Akkad, the founder of the first empire known in history. This political existence of the Akkadians continued with two names, first the Assyrians who established their kingdom at the end of the Third millennium B.C. and influenced the ancient Near East. The second were Babylonians whose political influence continued from the beginning of the second millennium B.C. and the last Babylonian ruling dynasty was the Chaldean dynasty that ruled between 626 and 539 B.C.

Our Assyrian and Babylonian forefathers participated greatly in the continuation and development of the first Iraqi civilization. They codified laws, organized daily matters, built civilized societies with freedom, prosperity and justice. They have left behind the archeological remains and their writings in all aspects of life including literature, medicine, law and other sciences.

The Aramaic language and its Syriac successor since the 8th or 9th century B.C. existed along with its sister language the Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian), because the Aramaic language was simpler for writing due to the use of the alphabet instead the cuneiform. This language became the official language of their kingdom and literature and culture since the Achamenid dynasty in entire Iraq and the neighboring countries.

With the advent of Christianity in Mesopotamia in the A.D. First century our Chaldo-Assyrian forefathers took this new religion and spread it in the entire East. In Syriac language, they wrote all the liturgical expressions of the Eastern church and all its denominations. From the Mediterranean shores to China, this complete supremacy of the Syriac language in entire Iraq continued until the first half of the A.D. 7th century. The Syriac language played its vital role in entire Iraq along with its sister language the Arabic. It remained a dynamic language until the A.D. 13th century when the Arabian Kingdom fell in the hand of the invading Mongols.

Our forefathers, the Suryans (which is the name given to Chaldo-Assyrians), participated greatly in building the Arab civilization, by participating in the initial movement in the literary work, publications, and unique achievements in all aspects of sciences. They made great efforts in translating various scientific works into Syriac language and also Arabic.

But the presence of Chaldo-Assyrians diminished greatly, due to foreign invasion of Iraq, especially in the hands of Hulako and Timaur Lane and those who followed them. But our people survived despite all harsh conditions and extermination attempts. Our Syriac language survived with its literature, heritage despite its disuse. Since the establishment of the Iraqi national government in the 1920’s our people revived slowly.

Today and after the start of the new era in our country all our dear Iraqi people are looking forward to building of a country and to live prosperously. Our nation, with all its attributes and our Chaldo-Assyrian people with all that they possess of the heritage, through hard and long struggle with their infinite gifts, continue this role side by side our national forces. Through their political and cultural organizations, they seek:

1. to build an independent free Iraq that uses its wealth to establish welfare and prosperity to all its people.
2. the cooperation of all Iraqis in all their attributes to build national unity represented in a pluralistic democratic country governed by law that guarantees freedom for all human rights that allow for Iraqis to participate in building a new Iraq that will regain its civilized role.
3. to reach the best possible constitutional and legal form in which our Chaldo-Assyrians can enjoy their national, religious, political, cultural, administrative rights and administer where they live.
4. to put in place constitutional language and practical programs to rejuvenate and build Syriac language, the language of our Chaldo-Assyrian people.

We promised the Iraqi people that we would do our best for the unity of Iraq, its freedom, prosperity and its progress.


(ZNDA: Dohuk) Iraq's two main Kurdish political parties agreed last week to merge their local administrations in order to exert greater influence in Iraq's national politics. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), run separate elected governments in the Kurdish region in northern Iraq that has been independent from Baghdad since 1991.

Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani, set up a six-member committee to map out a plan for unification. The group was charged with completing a proposal by the end of June.

Mr. Talabani will take with him a proposal for expanding the seven-member council that advises the American administration. The additional members are Mr. Yonadem Kanna, Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) and Mr. Adnan Pachichi, a former Iraqi diplomat who has been vocal in his support of Kurdish interests.

Mr. Kanna’s influence is growing quickly as the five Syiac-speaking Churches in Iraq agreed with his group to use the compound name of Chaldo-Assyrian for the official designation of the Syriac-speaking people of Iraq. Last week, the ADM officials in North America announced the opening of a new Zowaa branch office in the British-controlled city of Basra.


(ZNDA: Mosul) On Thursday 12 June, ex-military personnel from Saddam Hussein's Baath party demonstrated against the United States in Mosul to protest loss of jobs and income.

During the angry clashes, U.S. forces killed four Iraqis. Following the clashes, a group of former Iraqi military personnel headed to the offices of the Iraqi National Accord (I.N.A), an ex-Iraqi opposition group previously based in England.

The demonstrators, armed with knives and other weapons, attacked the personnel inside the building. I.N.A staff managed to escape to the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) headquarters in Dawasa, Mosul. ADM (Zowaa) guards successfully dispersed the crowd by firing warning shots from their AK-47 guns in the air.

On the following day, the ex-Offiders returned to attack the ADM (Zowaa) building, this time armed with automatic weapons. One ADM guard was injured by a bullet which struck his head. He is now in a stable condition and and treated in an intensive care unit.


(ZNDA: Mosul) According to an official Statement of the Political Bureau of the Patriotic Union of Mesopotamia (Khuyada d`Bethnahrain Athraya - HBA) in Mosul, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) released eight abducted members of this organization in early June.

Yasar Kücükaslan, Jack Yakob Shen, Gebro Gurbuz, Fikri Hobel, Basar Isho, Salih Pedaui, Ivan Franciss Yoran and Efrem Semir were abducted from Bartila in Mosul on 15 April and remained in captivity in Salahaddin for nearly seven weeks.

The report from the Tebe-News in Europe notes that the Patriotic Union of Bethnahrin plans to expand its operation in Mosul, Kirkuk and Baghdad, and begin work in the KDP-controlled Behdinan region.


(ZNDA: Kirkuk) Nechirvan Barzani along with a number of other Kurdish ministers toured the city of Kirkuk today and visited the newly elected mayor of the city to congratulate him, his deputy and the city council members.

In a speech at the opening of the Shafaq cultural center in Kirkuk which will promote Kurdish language and culture, the Kurdish prime minister referred to the decades of Arabization and forced deportation of Kirkuki Kurds, Turkomens, Assyrians and Chaldeans by the previous regime. He stressed that Kirkuk is a Kurdistani city but that it should be a city for the peaceful co-existence of Kurds, Arabs, Turkomens, Assyrians and Chaldeans.

Modern Kirkuk was an important point of contact for the ancient Mesopotamian merchants in the first millenium B.C. Its original name was Arrapha. In a royal letter of assignment, King Sargon II (721-705 BC) notes his mediation between his two governors of the cities of Arrapha and Kalah on the issue of sharing a territory.

Later Arrapha was renamed "Kirkha d'Bet Slookh" as it maintained its importance in trade and a Christian center.


Courtesy of the Zenit News Agency (17 June)

(ZNDA: Mosul) Salesian priests in the Middle East are anxious to be back among the children of Mosul after the war.
As in 2002, they will start a week of preparation for summer camp team leaders on June 25. This will be followed in July by three weeks of morning activities for about 400 adolescents, and afternoon activities for an additional 300 youngsters from seven Chaldean parishes in Mosul and one Syrian-Catholic parish.

The Salesians are an international organization founded by St. John Bosco, the third largest Catholic religious order in the world. The camps encourage local parishes to initiate a process of socialization among the participating children. The camps organize a number of activities, including recreation, sports and formation.

News Digest


For Immediate Release
Contact: Bret Ladine
June 13, 2003
(202) 225-6131

WASHINGTON - Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, introduced a resolution this week expressing concern for the status of Assyrians in post-war Iraq in an effort to draw attention to the plight of the two million Assyrians who were oppressed and not officially recognized under the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Cardoza, along with the resolution's broad list of bipartisan original co-sponsors, also sent a letter today to President Bush, encouraging official recognition of the Assyrian community in the new Iraq government.

"Assyrians deserve to have a voice in shaping the future of Iraq - something they have been denied for decades," Cardoza said. "Assyrians paid a heavy price under Saddam Hussein. Not giving them adequate representation in the new government would be a grave injustice."

The bill introduced Thursday by Cardoza calls for Assyrians to be entitled to freedom of religion, with the right to celebrate their culture, and supports consultation with Assyrian leaders in discussions regarding the future government of Iraq.

Specifically, the bill urges President Bush to instruct the Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations to work to ensure that the rights and concerns of Assyrians are upheld in ongoing debates over the new government in Iraq.

"I heartily commend Congressman Cardoza for his commitment, compassion and concerted efforts to support the Iraqi-Assyrian minority in their rightful quest for inclusion in the 'new Iraq,'" said Lazar Piro, President of the Assyrian National Council of Stanislaus County.

The 18th Congressional District contains one of the largest Assyrian populations in the United States. The Assyrians are a distinct, indigenous people of Mesopotamia. Under Saddam Hussein, Assyrians were referred to simply as "Christian Arabs." They opposed the Hussein regime, and as a result, many Assyrian leaders were assassinated.

------Letter Begins Here--------

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As debate over the future of post-war Iraq begins, we strongly encourage official recognition of the Assyrian community in the new Iraqi government. To accomplish this goal, we encourage you to include representatives of the Iraqi Assyrian community -- one of the most significant minority groups in Iraq -- to participate in meetings regarding the structure and composition of the new government.

The Assyrian community, including Chaldeans and Syriacs, are a distinct, indigenous people of Mesopotamia, but were not officially recognized under the regime of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Instead, the Iraqi constitution recognized Arabs and Kurds and referred to Assyrians as “Christian Arabs.” Since approximately 2 million Assyrians are living in Iraq, we believe it is critically important for the future government in Iraq to recognize the Assyrian people, who made great sacrifices to oppose the regime of Saddam Hussein.

For many years, the Iraqi regime oppressed the Assyrian people in their attempts to obtain greater freedom and recognition. In Iraq, they were restricted from cultural, linguistic, and religious expression. Despite their oppression, the Assyrians were essential partners in the Iraqi opposition movement, but paid dearly in the assassination of many political leaders.

As the new government begins to take shape, we believe it is essential that the Assyrian people have a voice in the future of Iraq. We appreciate your attention to this matter and we look forward to hearing from you in the near future.


Members of Congress:

Dennis A. Cardoza
Anna G. Eshoo
George Radanovich
William O. Lipinski
Donald M. Payne
Jan D. Schakowsky
Diane E. Watson
James P. McGovern
Zoe Lofgren
Michael M. Honda
Rahm Emanuel


Courtesy of the Modesto Bee (16 June); by Michael Doyle

(ZNDA: Modesto) San Joaquin Valley lawmakers are urging the Bush administration to include Assyrians in the new Iraqi leadership.

In a letter organized by Merced Democrat Dennis Cardoza, 11 House members are championing Assyrians as crucial to Iraq's future. The lawmakers cite an estimated 2 million Assyrians living in Iraq, and the repression they suffered, as reason for the attention.

"We believe it is critically important for the future government of Iraq to recognize the Assyrian people, who made great sacrifices to oppose the regime of Saddam Hussein," the letter to President Bush stated.

Cardoza's district contains one of the largest Assyrian populations in the United States, with an estimated 10,000 living in Turlock alone.

Mariposa Republican George Radanovich, whose congressional district shares Stanislaus County with Cardoza, also signed the letter and joined in introducing a related House resolution.

The nonbinding House resolution voices "concern for the status" of Iraq's Assyrian population and urges that Assyrian rights be upheld under any new government.

"We're concerned with the Islamic fundamentalist parties in Iraq," said Sargon Dadesho, a Ceres resident and founder of the Assyrian National Congress. "There have been some speeches by the mullahs asking the Christians of Iraq to submit to Islamic law."

Dadesho said the new Iraqi constitution should recognize the nation's Assyrian population. The Iraqi constitution under deposed dictator Saddam Hussein referred to Assyrians as "Christian Arabs."

The Iraqi constitution remains a work in progress. The former U.S. diplomat overseeing the rebuilding, L. Paul Bremer III, discarded plans for convening a national conference to establish Iraq's new political leadership.

Instead, Bremer said he would select 25 to 30 Iraqis to serve on an interim advisory board.

Thursday, Bremer told reporters he expected to name the advisers "within the next four or five weeks." Bremer added that a larger convention of "several hundred" should convene in late July to draft a constitution.

The new House resolution states Assyrians should be "consulted and included in discussions" about the government. An eight-member international task force to which Dadesho belongs, and which he said represents the five leading Assyrian political parties, has asked the State Department to be incorporated into planning efforts.

The resolution is the first of its kind to be introduced on Assyrians' behalf since 1997, when a House measure expressing concern for the plight of Assyrians attracted two supporters and did not advance out of committee.

The Assyrian measure also reflects how Congress caters to concentrated ethnic populations with commemorative and advisory resolutions.



Courtesy of the Associated Press (13 June)

(ZNDA: Baghdad) The sacred Sumerian Vase of Warka, one of the most valuable artifacts of the Iraqi National Museum collection, feared lost forever, was returned on 12 June in the trunk of a car.

The 5,000-year-old white limestone vase, the world's oldest carved-stone ritual vessel, was handed over with other looted items, U.S.-led coalition forces said in a statement.

The Sumerian Warka Vase: (Left) before the looting, (Right) as recovered on 12 June. Photo courtesy of Prof. McGuire Gibson, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Three men gave the pieces to security staff at the central Baghdad museum, a gesture that could reassure archaeologists worried about Iraq's ancient treasures.

"This is one of the most important pieces from the Baghdad museum, and I am delighted it has been returned. It is reason for people all around the world to celebrate," said Pietro Cordone, senior adviser on culture for the Coalition Provisional Authority, the formal name of the occupation forces.

Cordone, a former Italian diplomat, was at the museum when the men arrived unexpectedly and thanked them personally. The authority did not identify them.

The vase, still pictured on the Interpol Web site of missing artworks, is a major Mesopotamian artifact widely studied in art history and archaeology. It depicts Sumerians offering gifts to the goddess Innin as well as scenes of daily life in the ancient city of Uruk. It was carved about the time the city's Sumerians were inventing writing.

A team of German archaeologists discovered the vase in 1940 near the city of Samawa in southern Iraq.

The coalition's statement said the vase was returned "safely" but did not give details on its condition.

Some looted items have been recovered under a no-questions-asked amnesty program, while others were found in raids or in secret government vaults.

The Vase of Warka is one of 47 main exhibition items that coalition officials said last week was still missing. They did not identify the other 46.

"We will continue to do everything we can to secure the safe return of other missing objects," said Cordone.

Last week, coalition authorities announced the recovery of the treasures of Nimrud, missing since the fall of Baghdad and found in good condition in the country's Central Bank, in a secret vault submerged in sewage water.

The treasures -- gold earrings, finger and toe rings, necklaces, plates, bowls and flasks, many of them elaborately engraved and set with semiprecious stones or enamel -- date back to about 900 BC.

Once the home of rare Islamic texts and priceless, millennia-old collections from the Assyrian, Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations, the Iraqi National Museum was plundered in the lawlessness and chaos that followed the fall of Baghdad on April 9.

The looting and destruction triggered an international uproar, with many curators and archaeologists from around the world blaming the United States for failing to protect the institution. Some compared it to the 13th-century sacking of Baghdad by the Mongol hordes.

U.S. military commanders have rejected the charges, saying the museum was not on the list of sites their troops were ordered to secure upon entering the city.


Courtesy of the Guardian (17 June); by Rory McCarthy

(ZNDA: Baghdad) Iraq's national museum, home to many priceless artifacts which were thought to have been looted after the fall of Baghdad, has been plunged into a new crisis because of a revolt by staff.

More than 130 of the 185 staff of Iraq's state board of antiquities office in Baghdad, which runs the museum, have signed a petition demanding the resignation of its directors.

Staff said they believed that some of the thefts from the museum were an inside job. They also accused Dony George, the board's head of research, of arming them and ordering them to fight US forces.

Mr George admitted to the Guardian that he armed staff but denied instructing them to shoot US troops. He said none of the directors had a hand in the looting.

The row came after weeks of confusion about the artifacts apparently stolen from the museum under the gaze of US troops. At first Mr George and other directors accused the US military of failing to protect the building. But in the past two weeks many of the most precious pieces, including the golden treasures of Nimrud and the Sumerian vase of Warka have been returned.

One employee said: "We want elections for new directors and we want an investigation into what happened at the museum."

US military investigators have discovered that the keys from a director's safe went missing and have never been found. Several employees said they found secure doors leading into the building unlocked but not broken after the first days of looting. A wall which concealed a secret entrance to underground store rooms, which only a handful of senior officials knew about, had been knocked down.

Staff also described how Mr George gathered employees in the museum for a meeting in the early days of the war at which he ordered them to fight US troops or face the sack. One employee who was present at the meeting said: "He [Mr George] said: 'If the Americans come you have to fight.' They never mentioned thieves once."

Missiles destroyed a building opposite the museum during the war. Staff said Mr George ordered them to fire at US aircraft or parachutists.

Mr George, who has worked for the board for 26 years and is known internationally, admitted he had been at the meeting and that guns were distributed but said he told staff only to guard the museum against looters.

"They were given strict orders they were here to protect the museum from any kind of looting that might happen," he said. "They would never fight or shoot against any kind of tank or helicopter because it would be suicide."

He said he had been a member of the Ba'ath party, but not a senior one. Refusal to join, he said, would have meant "troubles in my position here [at the museum] and at home".

A spokesperson for the US-led coalition provisional authority (CPA), which is running Iraq, said Mr George's Ba'ath party membership had been investigated and he had been cleared. "All other allegations are just hearsay," the spokesperson said. Elections have been organised by the CPA in the ministry of culture, which oversees the museum, to choose new directors. But staff from the antiquities board are unlikely to take part. "It is not the way it works," the spokesperson said.

[Z-info: Mr. Donny George was recently elected to the Chaldo-Assyrian National Committee to represent the interests of the Church of the East – see this week’s Good Morning Bet-Nahrain.]


Courtesy of the Turlock Journal (17 June); by Jesika

(ZNDA: Turlock) The Assyrian National Council of Stanislaus held an installation dinner last week where five new officers were elected.

The new officers are: President Lazar Piro, Vice-president Bernadett Khannania, Secretary George Samuel, Treasurer Sam Rasho and Financial Secretary Christina Tamraz.

The new officers will serve two-year terms.

Ballots were cast at seven voting locations. Three were in Modesto and four in Turlock. The election system was set up to allow all Assyrians living in the Stanislaus County could vote.

Political and educational leaders went to the Assyrian American Civic Club for the June 6 dinner. Among them were Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian, Sharon Silva from the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, Stanislaus County sheriff’s Lt. Mark Puthuff representing and representatives from CSU Stanislaus.

The swearing-in ceremony was followed by a speech given by the new president. Piro’s spoke about the many different goals he hopes to achieve while in office.

Piro began his remarks by recalling significant contributions by Assyrians.

“More than 20,000 Assyrians live and work in Stanislaus County,” he said. “Many operate businesses and farms in the region like their ancestors, local Assyrians excel in education science, politics, social services, and industry. They are building a better world for Assyrians and Americans.”

“Our consistent message to the world is that from ancient times to this day the Assyrians from ancient Mesopotamia who had developed a strong sense of divinity were the first people to embrace Christianity over 2,000 years ago.”

Piro later changed the tone of his speech and spoke about the three visions the new officers hoped to achieve.

The first vision, Piro said, was “a vision of progress for educating our youth by teaching our Assyrian language and culture.”

The second was vision of progress for the care of our elderly, he said, “by developing integrated services to give them meaningful lives.”

The third vision is of progress for “safe harboring of our immigrants by providing help with adjusting to a new culture and assistance traveling through the complex maze of legality and loneliness when entering this land,” Piro said.

“The Assyrian National Council is your knowledgeable, committed voice, we are prepared to speak out with governmental leaders on all levels - local state and national,” he said.

“We form a united front with highly qualified members who will address the critical and often complex issues of implementing our stated goals.”


(ZNDA: Qamishly) According to a report from Syria, Evelyn Daoud, a well-known singer and educator, passed away last week in Qamishly, Syria. Better known as “The Assyrian Fairouz”, in reference to the internationally acclaimed Lebanese singer, Ms. Davoud began her singing career at an early age. However, she did not pursue music as a profession. For nearly five decades, Ms. Daoud instructed generations of Assyrians as a teacher and school principal in Qamishly, Syria.

[Z-info: Zinda Magazine offers its condolences to our readers and the thousands of Malfonitho Evelyn Daoud’s students who carry on her dedication to the Assyrian cause and love for learning around the world.]


(ZNDA: Beirut) According to a report from the Maronite Church’s Synod which ends this week at the Fatqa Monastery in Kesrouan, there are 9 million Lebanese in Brazil alone, two-thirds of whom are Maronites.

According to a Maronite bishop at the meeting eight dioceses perform services in Syriac in Brazil. The bishop also noted that at one time within a 14 minister Cabinet in Brazil, there had been five ministers of Lebanese origin, including three Maronites.

He said that 15 percent of Brazil’s parliament are of Lebanese origin and there are four bishops, as well as some 150 priests and many members of municipal council, all of Lebanese origin.

Several speakers said that distinguishing between a Maronite identity and a Lebanese identity should not obliterate the fact that most of the Maronites across the world were of Lebanese descent.

Surfs Up!
Letters From Zinda Magazine Readers


What an awesome idea, the calendar is truly an asset to the magazine. I am very impressed and look forward to checking it out regularly! You should land-mail a flyer or announcement of this calendar to all the churches and most Assyrian organizations that are not online, so that they too can take advantage of this tool. Thanks for all your hard work...it is well appreciated!

Linda Badalof


Here we go again, another so-called “proud” Assyrian voicing his uneducated opinions. I will be the first to say that “unfortunately” I’m not educated enough in my heritage and or Assyrian politics. But, I have to argue the facts regarding what is right versus what is assumed.

I have yet to become a member of an Assyrian Organization and really understand what each organization is doing for our people. Briefly, I was born in Baghdad, my parents both worked effortlessly to put bread in our mouths, and yes, we did escape the regime too… Just like most of the readers. Lived in Chicago since 1975 and now live in Phoenix (since 1999). My mother lives with me and my father passed away last month (May God rest his soul). My sister is married to an “Assyrian” with three kids; I’m married, to an “Assyrian.” Ok, can we relate now?

Many of us write in disgust, quoting the Bible, quoting what is said in Assyrian Forums, and wasteful Assyrian chat rooms. I have yet to read a letter or a comment from a Proud Assyrian not bashing another Assyrian, (example: Zowaa and Mr. Kanna). Please let it be known I am not a member of Zowaa and or a part of any Assyrian Political Movement,

The Egyptian citizen that is so proud to be an Assyrian that she in turn married a Scottish man disturbs me? Proud to be an Assyrian?

Let’s talk about Mr. Kanna (Secretary General of Zowaa) that lives in this third world country, ma’am, do you know what time this man wakes up in the morning? What time this man sleeps? Where he sleeps? How he feeds his family? How many agenda’s he has? What is he facing every day?

A writer a while ago mentioned this and if I may quote, “If he is so hungry for the dollar bill, why is he living in a third world country?” Perfectly said.

Please try to understand my point of view when reading your article, you have so much hatred for this Assyrian hero that you probably don’t have a clue what his responsibilities are. Yet you give us, the readers, an eerie feeling that we have Assyrians living supposedly in Egypt, married to a non-Assyrian, insinuating that Zowaa reminds you of the Ba’ath party and to dare to mention that we have trees planted in our “Holy” land so you can send him a rope to hang himself? Do you have any idea (living in Egypt) how many Assyrians have been hung in our homeland for what they believed in? My uncle and his family were hung outside their home on street lights during Christmas, should they have been hung on trees instead? The land may be holy, but you my dear are evil. It just proves to show that it takes someone like you, a so-called proud Assyrian, yet given the chance, be so reckless and evil. Lady, stop quoting the Bible to us, practice it for yourself.

There is no reason why we all talk about outside of the homeland, because we don’t really know how they eat, drink, or sleep. Everyday must be hell; we live a life of luxury compared to our people that live there. We can pray and give support to our people, but to try to ridicule and be so self-knowledged regarding what is best for them, be ashamed. A proud Assyrian is a righteous Assyrian and that comes from the heart, whether dead or a live, buried in Germany, Sweden, Iraq, United States, Greece, Italy, Canada, Russia, Australia, United kingdom, or EGYPT. Born Assyrian, Live Assyrian, and die Assyrian.

Mrs. Will and I are living a very comfortable life. She should look around and not blame me for her choices in life. She cares for what’s right in the homeland? Then she should go to the North and make a change. For everyone else out there that wants pity for the suicidal death of the Shah’s daughter or for why he (Shah) was buried outside of Iran, shame on you. I mourn our Assyrian Freedom Fighters (Martyr’s). I respect what he did for his people, but I AM AN ASSYRIAN from Bet-Nahrain!

In closing, I hope that one day she will make that change. Listen to what is being said and act accordingly. Don’t blame anyone else for one’s choices in life. Stop the suffering outside the homeland. Be strong and unite. You yourself are feeding into this Anti-Assyria.

Steven Enwia


Time is running out and we (Assyrians - with all our denominations!) are all looking for an end of the tunnel, watching closely critical developments in Iraq, crossing fingers and even praying for an end to our suffering and long struggle for our rights as a nation and religion. We are all hoping that the end of the tunnel would be as good as we are expecting from our leaders presuming they are all standing united with one voice when negotiating with the decision makers for the coming - hopefully soon - Iraqi Democratic government. History tell us that all nations tend to unite behind their cause in such times in order to reach their ultimate goals, unfortunately we see divisive parties emerging and we even started fighting each other for benefits (yet to come!).

What are we expecting?

I am not an attorney neither a politician nor a civil rights activist, however I believe that our first priorities and most important issues (but not necessarily conclusive to) can be summarized by the following demands that our people could expect full recognition from a democratic Iraqi government with the provision of stating them clearly in the anticipated new Iraqi Constitution:

1. Recognition of our ethnic group (Assyrian Identity).
2. Recognition to have equal citizenship and civil rights as of those of other Iraqi ethnic groups.
3. Recognition of our rights in religion, language, culture, education, etc
4. Recognition of our rights in administrating (self-governing) our cities and villages.

How much we are prepared?

From a realistic optimistic point of view and to avoid underestimating the genuine efforts of our religious and political leaders, I think that these leaders are far behind as is our whole nation from being ready for such a historic change. We need to be prepared adequately and fully aware of the imminent historic challenges facing all of us that would determine the future of our nations and failing to do so would quite possibly make us lose this historic opportunity as we did with other similar opportunities we had before in our recent history during the last century, and consequently, we might miss another chance to achieve great history for this generation and generations to come and then we can not blame except ourselves!

Our efforts to make this change happen must be clearly defined and have profound steps and it is the historic and sacred responsibility of all of our leaders (religious, intellectuals and politicians) to make these demands a reality and to bring our nation to the safe shore of freedom. The most important aspects to achieve these undisputable and sacred rights are - at least to accept and undertake the following actions, and again I might be missing some other important issues that could be identified by expertise:

1. Dismiss any disagreements between our churches and political parties on other relatively minor issues as expected from a civilized nation to do in such times.
2. Adopt these demands as non-disputable rights and have no ambiguity of whatsoever in defining them.
3. Provide full support to our religious, politician and intellectual leaders until we make these demands reality.
4. Prepare our nation for this historic change with the full support of all our communities from all over the world.
5. Conduct all means, that are internationally acceptable, to reach our ultimate goals.
6. Raise an international campaign for our cause backed by nations and individuals whom are recognizing our human rights and are willing to support us in our historic endeavor.
7. Prepare contingency plans in case we face a situation where the new Iraqi government might deny all or part of these demands.

Where are we now?

May be I am wrong and misjudging the situation in all what I mentioned should we have known solid answers to all these concerns, yet just to be fair, I think it is not my fault in not having a clear picture of what has been achieved so far because either so little has been achieved and therefore no need to be mentioned in our media or there we have had substantial achievements but we are not well informed by our media. Nevertheless and regardless of what would be the correct answer, I am quite confident that we must have achieved considerable steps regarding these concerns and it would be much more helpful should we inform our nation of all important details and may be we could set a check list of the following points that we could review periodically to maintain the leverage on handling these demands and also to build a greater momentum to move forward and make this historic opportunity a reality:

1. Are our elected representatives from all sectors doing what is expected?
2. Have we announced a profound and clearly defined work plan?
3. How much has been achieved of our work plan so far?
4. Are we supporting our leaders enough to help them achieve our ultimate goals?

Again, time is running out and if we are not on schedule; then we might be in real trouble and need to review our resources, avenues and means. This is our nation’s most sacred project and the work plan we have must have clearly defined tasks with realistic deadlines that aught to be executed efficiently and proficiently, otherwise, it would be another failure that we would all regret and we don’t have that lavishness of losing this opportunity to get our nation to the safe shore and as we all know the history never forgives!

God Bless Our Assyrian Nation.

Alfred Alkhas


The Assyrians of the Madinha church, now for nearly a century, have been leading and championing on behalf of all the Syriac-speaking Assyrians for the establishment of an Assyrian homeland in our ancestral land of Beth-Nahrain. They heroically showed leadership and sacrificed noble men for the holy Assyrian cause.

Despite setbacks, compromises and even betrayals, the Madinhaya section of our Assyrian people stood firm and defiant to force the Omtanaya and Athranaya nationalistic agendas and we all witnessed that and no one can deny.

I say this with my personal admiration for the Madinhaya section of our Assyrian people even though I am not a Madinhaya myself.

The formation of Zowaa Democrataya Ashuraya inside tyrannical Baghdad in 1979 was a proof how the Madinhaya section of our people meant business. Fearless as ever, the Movement has sent its defiant message affronting a regime so brutal despite being at the zenith of its scathing power. That great manifestation has to applauded by all our Assyrian masses.

While the other two sections of our people ( the Chaldean and Syriac) accepted the de facto status of being mere Mshihaye as long as they can feed their children and the Jizya tax is not forced on them.

With our national tide on the rise and the reward seems certain, this made a few individuals of the Chaldean section jerky and started sending their clattering messages, concocting and theorizing the notion of Chaldeanism. Only a new fad in the past two years or so.

Their hidden qualms are very clear to us ranging from failure of the past, the feeling of guilt and envy of the nationalistic identity of the Madinha church, nothing more and nothing less.

I financially support many Christian organizations and one of them is the Barnabas Fund which helps Christians ruled by bearded and turbaned men of ‘the everlasting hatred’. In one issue of its magazines it dedicated a focus article on ‘Iraq’ in anticipation for the situations of Christians in that country as the war seemed to loom.

The magazine listed some of the Christian churches in the country and described the Chaldean Church as an outcome of a split from the Ancient Church of the East in 1620, and declares the church is made up of Assyrians (issue March-April 2003).

While living in the state of Baghdad I had met many of our people from Alkosh, Ankawa, Batnaya and Telkeppe and I well remember that none told that he or she is a Chaldean , but if they did it was meant the Chaldean Church.

The people I had met at home whether Syriac, Chaldeans or Madinhaye we all met as one people and although at the time there was no political platform to unify us for the sake of the Assyrian national liberation but we met with enthusiasm as brothers and sisters under the banner of Mshihaytootha. Chaldeanism never existed and Syriacism never existed too.

I must admit that in my early years here in ‘Britain’ I was not an Assyrian nationalist but when asked deeper about my nature of being a Christian from that country I would normally say and with pride that we are the remnants of the Assyrian Empire.

We are one nation and one people by all the meaning of these words, and this is observable from the grassroot status of our people, something lacked in other races. Nasser, an Arab hero and a gifted orator drummed up these words (one nation and one people) to his Arab listeners but in reality it never materialised. The Arabs remain today more than one people and more than one nation. The same thing applies to the Kurds.

The Moroccans are different from the Kuwaitis and the Bahdinanis different from the Suranis. People of Alkosh, Bartilla and Barwar, the Syriac-speaking people, are all the same, related to the same origin, history, culture, language, religion, status and we have the same destiny.

The banners of falsehood will not distract our people from the Assyrian path of liberation and all the betraying schemes of divertion from our national liberation will be doomed to failure.

The chairman of the Chaldean Federation of America‘s letter to the President says that the Chaldean name was ‘adopted’ and gives a breakdown of the Christians in our homeland as 3.5% Chaldeans, 1.5% Assyrians and Syriacs. Here the aim is to show the numerical superiority.

In a printed statement two Chaldean bishops went deeper by saying that Chaldeans are 3.5%, Syriac 1.0% and Assyrians 0.5%. The purpose of this breakdown is to show that Assyrianism is small.

They talk about restoring the ancient Chaldean name and invent a new definition, the Chaldean language. They go further that the present day Chaldeans are distinct ethnic and cultural community while broadening the Chaldean manifesto ‘Chaldeans, speaking in the name of Chaldean organizations’.

All these statements are absurd and show the undiscernable nature of the authors. The statements are so poor and tenuous that they lack a core of essence and substance.

The Patriarch of the Chaldean Church says he is Chaldean by Church but Assyrian by nationality. How can such a novice monk or any adherent contradict his superior?

In a petition to the Papal nuncio in Baghdad endorsed by more than 600 known Assyrians, among whom a good representative figure with Chaldeans by church repudiated the secular action of the novices in interfering with our national and political life.

How to forge such claim of Chaldeanism? The north of Nineveh plain is Chaldean by Church and the south is Syriac by Church. Shall we form two states in Nineveh plain? Or shall we force the Syriac to call themselves Chaldean which is neither logical nor possible. The Syriac are Assyrian so the same thing applies to the Chaldean Church.

This distortion is very clear. Look the invention of the Chaldean Democratic Union in Barazani-ruled enclave. Here the name is taken from the Assyrian Democratic Movement with the alteration of Assyrian by Chaldean and then replacing the Movement by Union to avoid copying.

Likewise the Chaldean National Congress is copied from the Assyrian National Congress. Another is the Chaldean International News Agency which is copied from the Assyrian International News Agency.

More fun is the definition of the Assyrian towns around Mosul as the Chaldean towns whereas in fact half of them are Syriac and never Chaldean.

The Syriac are either Catholic or Orthodox and its wise to mention that the Chaldean and the Syriac Catholic churches are the same (both Papaye) but all Assyrian by nationality. This is the common factor between the two.

I am ready to become a Chaldean by Church any time but there is no Chaldean church in my region and by doing this will not alter my nationality as being forever Assyrian.

Dr. George Habash
United Kingdom

Surfer's Corner


The following is the “Statement by the Oriental Institute's Iraq Museum Working Group concerning the Looting and Destruction of Iraq's Museums, Libraries, and Archaeological Sites”:

We, the undersigned, condemn the looting of Iraq's archaeological museums, the destruction of its libraries, and the damage done to its archeological and historical monuments and sites during and after the invasion of Iraq in March and April of this year. These losses are devastating not only to Iraq's sense of its own history and identity, but also to human heritage as a whole.

In the face of this unprecedented destruction, we demand immediate action from the authorities currently in control of Iraq to protect Iraq's archaeological and cultural heritage and to fully implement all requirements set out by the "Hague Convention on the protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict".

Assessments of the scope of the damage to archaeological and historical sites, museums, and libraries in Iraq have to be organized by internationally recognized cultural institutions such as UNESCO. Such efforts should accept assistance from any scholar who is willing to participate, regardless of his nationality. Cooperative international response to these conditions is imperative in view of the magnitude of the task and to reassure the world community that these actions are impartial and free of political manipulation by any party. Cooperation and exchange of information between participating scholars must not be impeded by agencies of any government.

We express our willingness to cooperate with international efforts to recover looted Iraqi antiquities, manuscripts, books and other cultural properties, and to assist our Iraqi colleagues. Many of us have appropriate experience and knowledge, are eager to contribute, and are especially eager to reaffirm the bonds of international scholarship. We offer our assistance and participation to legitimate international efforts to assess and repair the damage to Iraqi cultural property.

May 26, 2003

Iraq Museum Working Group:

Charles E. Jones (Research Archivist, Oriental Institute)
Prof. Nicholas Kouchoukos (Archaeology, Department of Anthropology)
Dr. Clemens Reichel (Research Associate, Oriental Institute)
John Sanders (Senior Research Associate, Head of Computer Laboratory, Oriental Institute)
Prof. Matthew Stolper (Assyriology, Oriental Institute; Chairman of the Committee on the Ancient Mediterranean World)

The following faculty and staff members of the Oriental Institute and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) of the University of Chicago have co-signed this statement:

Dr. Abbas Alizadeh (Oriental Institute)
Prof. Robert Biggs (Assyriology, Oriental Institute)
Prof. Fred M. Donner (Near Eastern History, Oriental Institute and NELC)
Prof. Peter Dorman (Egyptology, Oriental Institute; Chairman of NELC)
Dr. Gertrud Farber (Research Associate (Sumerology), Oriental Institute)
Prof. Walter Farber (Assyriology; Curator of Oriental Institute Tablet Collection)
Prof. Stephen Harvey (Egyptian Archaeology, Oriental Institute)
Carrie Hritz (CAMEL Laboratory, Oriental Institute)
Prof. Jan Johnson (Egyptology, Oriental Institute)
Prof. Wadad Kadi (Islamic Thought, NELC)
Dr. Farouk Mustafa (Arabic, NELC)
Prof. John Perry (Persian Studies, NELC)
Prof. Martha Roth (Assyriology, Oriental Institute)
Dr. Gil Stein (Director, Oriental Institute)
Dr. Emily Teeter (Curator of Egyptian and Nubian Antiquities, Oriental Institute Museum)
Jason Ur (CAMEL Laboratory, Oriental Institute)
Prof. Theo van den Hout (Hittitology, Oriental Institute)
Dr. Karen Wilson (Museum Director, Oriental Institute)
Alexandra Witsell (AARB, Oriental Institute)
Prof. Chris Woods (Sumerology, Oriental Institute)


The Syriac Institute in cooperation with the Media Center of Princeton Theological Seminary are pleased to make available to the public a live video streaming of the public events of the Fourth North American Syriac Symposium, to be held in Princeton on July 9-12, 2003. The live video streaming will cover the welcoming session, to include choir recitals from the various Syriac-speaking Churches, the plenary invited speaker sessions, and all of the Syriac Computing (SyrCOM) sessions. Some of these sessions will be later archived on the Beth Mardutho web site. The bandwidth of the video streaming is limited to 80 users at a time.

Established in 1992, Beth Mardutho seeks to promote the study and preservation of the Syriac heritage and language, and to facilitate opportunities for people to pursue the study of this ancient legacy globally. “Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute,” formerly known as The Syriac Computing Institute, has always been a pioneer in bringing the latest in computer technology to academia and Syriac studies.



The scanned images listed in this brief article are from the National Archives of Australia, Melbourne office collection. These documents are from the B741/3 series that contain some 11956 items.

click on the thumbnail to view the full image in a new window


This series was under the control of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch (CIB)who investigated matters such as application for naturalisation for resident aliens, tracing the whereabouts of aliens/or foreigners, arrivals and departures of aliens and the registration of alien immigrants.

The focus of this piece will be on two Assyrians – George Saleeba and Rosie Soma – both of whom arrived in Melbourne in the colony of Victoria in 1892 and 1894. Prior to 1901 Australia consisted of 6 self-governing colonies each responsible for their own internal affairs and who ceded some of their powers to the newly established Federal Government. As an “ independent” nation, the Australian Federal Government was responsible for internal affairs covering immigration, defence, and the issuing of currency whereas foreign and strategic policy was the responsibility of Great Britain.

George Saleeba and Rosie Soma applied to become naturalised British subjects and the Investigation Branch was required to conduct background checks on the applicants to ensure their suitability as British subjects. Documents 1 and 5 show Precis of Form 40 (Statutory Declaration) which required the candidates application to be certified by three persons who knew them. This form also listed current and previous addresses in Australia, occupation, date of birth and parent’s nationality and marital status of the applicant.

Once this information was collected from Form40, the Investigation Branch then prepared a “Report on Application for Naturalisation ” which permitted them to complete their background checks on the applicant in question. In the general remarks section of the “Report on Application for Naturalisation ” document, the investigating officer would recommend to the Department of Home and Territories that the applicant was either suitable or unsuitable in becoming a British Subject. (Documents 2 and 6).

In George Saleeba’s “Report on Application for Naturalisation ” form, question 16 states that “ [he] has become almost entirely Australian in outlook and sentiment. He married an Australian lady and his family all born here ” and general remarks section “ This applicant is a business man of long standing in Melbourne and is well known in Flinders Lane (see Document 2)

Rosie Soma’s “Report on Application for Naturalisation ” form indicates that she was “ a very respectable lady.” She wanted to apply “ for an old age pension.” Such positive statements would have greatly enhanced Saleeba’s and Soma’s application for naturalisation. (Document 6).

Both were granted British naturalisation on October 9, 1925 and February 18, 1927 respectively. (Documents 7 and 8)

During the First World War all aliens residing in Australia were required to register under the War Precautions Regulations of 1916. This document was known as “ Form A The War Precautions (Aliens Registration) regulation 1916. Form of Application for Registration” which required aliens to register with Australian authorities. Failure to register was regarded as a breach of the regulations meaning that the alien could be fined and imprisoned. It should be noted that Saleeba’s wife, though English by birth, was required to register under wartime regulations because she was married an alien. (Documents 3 and 4)

In Rosie Soma’s file, Form A was not included but her Report on Application for Naturalisation shows that she registered as an alien possibly in 1916. It is more than likely that her Form A might be located in some other file in the National Archives of Australia. (See Document 6, Question.9)

Another wartime document not included in Saleeba’s and Soma’s file was “ War Precautions (Alien registration) regulation 1916 Form E notice of change of Abode” document. This meant whenever an alien changed their address, they were required to report to the nearest police station by completing a new Form E. Furthermore if an alien wished to visit a friend or relative outside of Melbourne, they required the permission of the local police.

Such measures allowed Australian authorities to keep aliens under close surveillance who were domiciled in Australia during the 1914-1918 war. Again failure to notify the police was regarded as a breach of the wartime regulations meaning that the alien could be fined and imprisoned. The war precaution regulations were discontinued in 1922.

In conclusion, this article has outlined the procedures that Assyrians were required to undertake in order to become naturalised British subjects. The documents also show that the term Syrian and Assyrian are used interchangeably.

(Source National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office Documents 1-4, B741/3 V/1507; Documents 5-6, B741/3 V/3193)

Stavros T. Stavridis
National Centre for Hellenic Studies and Research

[Z-info: The author, pictured here with his wife, Rebecca, will be visiting the United States in August to promote his latest research findings on Assyrians and their early experiences abroad. A complete schedule of appearances will be published in Zinda Magazine in July. If you wish to invite Dr. Stavridis to your school or community for an exhilirating discussion of Assyrians, please contact Zinda Magazine at z_info@zindamagazine.com.]


What is the true extent of the losses to the Iraq Museum -170,000 objects or only 33? The arguments have raged these past two weeks as accusations of corruption, incompetence and cover-ups have flown around. Most notably, Dan Cruickshank's BBC film Raiders of the Lost Art insinuated that the staff had grossly misled the military and the press over the extent of the losses, been involved with the looting themselves, allowed the museum to be used as a military position, and had perhaps even harboured Saddam Hussein. The truth is less colourful.

Two months ago, I compared the demolition of Iraq's cultural heritage with the Mongol sacking of Baghdad in 1258, and the 5th-century destruction of the library of Alexandria. On reflection, that wasn't a bad assessment of the present state of Iraq's cultural infrastructure. Millions of books have been burned, thousands of manuscripts and archaeological artefacts stolen or destroyed, ancient cities ransacked, universities trashed.

At the beginning of this year, the staff, led by Dr Dony George and Dr Nawala al-Mutawalli, began to pack up the museum in a well-established routine first devised during the Iran-Iraq war. Defensive bunkers were dug in the grounds. Early in April, Dr John Curtis, head of the Ancient Near East department at the British Museum, described a recent visit to Baghdad during which the museum staff were sandbagging objects too big to be moved, packing away smaller exhibits, and debating "the possibility of using bank vaults and bunkers if the worst came".

The worst did come. On April 11 the news arrived that the museum had been looted. We later discovered that there had been a two-day gun battle, at the start of which the remaining museum staff fled for their lives. Fedayeen broke into a storeroom and set up a machine gun at a window.

While senior Iraqi officials were begging for help in Baghdad, the US Civil Affairs Brigade in Kuwait was also trying from April 12 to get the museum protected. They already knew that its most valuable holdings were in vaults of the recently bombed Central Bank. The museum was secured on April 16, but it took until April 21 for Civil Affairs to arrive.

Captain William Sumner wrote to me that day: "It seems that most of the museum's artefacts had been moved to other locations, but the ones that were looted were 'staged' at an area so that they would be easier to access. It was a very professional action. The spare looting you saw on the news were the excess people who came in to pick over what was left." In other words, there was no cover-up: the military were informed immediately that the evacuation procedures had been effective. Suspicions remained that a single staff member may have assisted the core looters. But, Sumner says: "It might have been one of the grounds people, or anybody. I suspect that we will never know."

Within a week the museum was secure enough for George to travel to London. At a press conference he circulated a list of some 25 smashed and stolen objects which the curators had been unable to move from the public galleries before the war. They included the now famous Warka vase, which had been cemented in place. Last week it was returned in pieces. Other losses came from the corridor where objects were waiting to be moved off-site. George was understandably reluctant to reveal the location of the off-site storage to the Civil Affairs Brigade as security was still non-existent.

Inventories of the badly vandalised storerooms finally began after the catalogues were pieced together from the debris of the ransacked offices. Dr John Russell, an expert in looted Iraqi antiqui ties, made a room-by-room report for Unesco late in May. He noted that most of the objects that had been returned since the looting "were forgeries and reproductions". Other losses, he reported, included some 2,000 finds from last season's excavations at sites in central Iraq. His summary tallied well with George's. "Some 30 major pieces from exhibition galleries. Unknown thousands of excavated objects from storage. Major works from galleries smashed or damaged." The unknown thousands are beginning to be quantified. Expert assessors in Vienna last week estimated the losses from the museum storerooms at between 6,000 and 10,000.

Outside the Iraq Museum, the picture is equally grim. At Baghdad University, classrooms, laboratories and offices have been vandalised, and equipment and furniture stolen or destroyed. Student libraries have been emptied. Nabil al-Tikriti of the Univer sity of Chicago reported in May that the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs lost 600-700 manuscripts in a malicious fire and more than 1,000 were stolen. The House of Wisdom and the Iraqi Academy of Sciences were also looted. The National Library was burned to the ground and most of its 12 million books are assumed to have been incinerated.

In the galleries of Mosul Museum, cuneiform tablets were stolen and smashed. The ancient cities of Nineveh, Nimrud, and Hatra lost major sculpture to looting. The situation is far worse in the south. Some 15-20 large archaeological sites, mostly ancient Sumerian cities, were comprehensively pillaged by armed gangs.

It will take years of large-scale international assistance and delicate diplomacy to return the Iraq Museum to functionality. The process is deeply charged with the politics of occupation and post-Ba'athist reaction. The Civil Affairs officers are discover ing that senior staff are not necessarily enamoured of the American way, while junior staff are testing their newfound freedom to complain about their bosses. One insider commented: "George might make them work instead of read papers. And that is what all the fuss is about."

The British School of Archaeology in Iraq and the British Museum now have staff working in the Iraq Museum, while other organisations worldwide are fundraising. George, Mutawalli and his colleagues have achieved the extraordinary in preserving as much as they have. We now need to help them salvage as much as possible from the wreckage and re-establish the country's cultural infrastructure so that Iraqis can plan their future knowing their past is secure.

Dr. Eleanor Robson
United Kingdom

[Z-info: Dr. Robson is a council member of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq and a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. The article above was written for the Guardian’s June 18 issue.]



[Z-info: Our magazine’s regular contributor and politial commentator, Mr. Aprim Shapera, left for Baghdad on Tuesday, 10 June 10. The following is Mr. Shapera’s notes on his travel experiences during the 8-day tour of the country in an interview conducted last week with Zinda Magazine in Dubai.]

Z: What was the significance of your lecture in Baghdad?
Shapera: For the first time since creation of modern Iraq in 1921, Assyrians were freely listening to a purely political lecture concerning their national issues. Despite the extremely hot weather, unsafe environment, curfews, shortage of transport and heavy traffic, Assyrians from different denominations rushed and packed up in the Babylon Chaldean Club to listen to my lecture in Baghdad on Sunday, 8 June. I titled it “the Assyrian Political Parties and Their Significance in Iraq at the Present Time”.

Aprim Shapera lecturing in Baghdad at the Chaldean Babylon Club

Z: Who was present?
Shapera: In attendance were Mar Gewargis Slewo, the Archbishop of the Assyrian Church of the East in Iraq; Mr. Ishmial Nano, member of the ADM politburo; Mr. Nimrod Batyo, Secretary General of Assyrian Patriotic Party, and many other members of these and other parties, churches and social clubs. Over 400 people had gathered in the Hall and many more stood in the garden to hear this lecture.

Z: Where in Baghdad was the lecture held?
Shapera: The event was cooperatively organized and arranged by the Ashourbanipal Cultural Society (ABCS) and Babylon Chaldean Club.

The well-known Assyrian personality, Mr. Khoshab Sulaka, introduced me to the audience. The lecture started at 5:00 in the afternoon and lasted for 40 minutes, delivered briefly in order to give more time to the floor. The lecture and discussion lasted for 3 hours.

Z: What did you talk about?
Shapera: The lecture comprised of a brief theoretical understanding of the concept of a political party, its constituents and requirements, the extent of its application on Assyrian political parties, comparisons between the Diaspora and homeland parties and the significance and role of each one at the present time. My lecture also covered such topics as the abnormality of the mushroom-like increase in the number of Assyrian political parties, rejection of the one-party system, confirming the necessity of pluralism within a limited number, and the adequacy of the capable parties.

The lecture concentrated on the current events in Iraq attesting to the fact that the issue of the Assyrian right in Iraq is purely an Iraqi Assyrian issue and the Diaspora Assyrian role must come into play as a supportive element only, and not determinedly, which was extremely accepted by the attendants.

Mar Giwargis Slewo, Metropolitan of the Church of the East in Baghdad and Mr. Ishmael Nanno of ADM, Mr. Nimrod Baytoo of the APP and other Assyrian dignitaries listen to Mr. Aprim Shapera

Z: What were some of the questions asked from the floor?
Shapera: Questions from floor were mainly on the same subject, nearly all of them rejected the new appearance of the new Assyrian parties and concentrated on strengthening the current Assyrian parties without increasing the number.

Other issues were raised were on the unifying name of our nation in which almost all Assyrians of Iraq agree to be the method to secure our national right in Iraq. Immigration or repatriation was another hot issue discussed in the event.

Z: Were you in Baghdad when the meeting of the 5 Churches took place?
Shapera: Yes, in fact I attended the Saturday, June 7 meeting. This was a very important meeting on the subject of the use of a unifying name. They held it in the Ashourbanipal Cultural Society Hall and included members of the Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East, Syrian Orthodox Church, Syrian Catholic Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church.

These members were authorised by the heads of their five churches to confirm a unifying nation name and that we are one nation whatever the name may be.

Z: Were you able to visit the headquarters of the Assyrian political parties?
Shapera: Yes, I visited the offices of the APP and BNDP and several times had the opportunity to visit the headquarter of the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Baghdad. In contrast to the occasional presence of members at the first two locations, at every visit I found hundreds of people gathered at the ADM headquarters to show their support.

Z: What is the most important lesson you brought back with you after visiting the Assyrians in Baghdad?
Shapera: In my opinion, we the Assyrians in the Diaspora, despite of our agreements or disagreements on the name issue, must respect the opinion of the Iraqi Assyrians and support their decision. We do not have a complete picture of what is happening in Iraq and cannot make a rational decision on their behalf. This is my message to the Assyrians I visited in Baghdad and those abroad.

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