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Volume IX

Issue 16

2 June 2003
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This Week In Zinda

cover photo

  A Local Accord
  Urmia: An Assyrian Village in Russia
  Zowaa & Chaldean Representatives Meet in Baghdad
Assyrians Abducted in Bartillah, Barazani Forces Blamed
7 Assyrians Elected to Kirkuk City Countil
Catholic Church Offers Aid to Rebuild Iraq
  California Assembly Passes AJR 31
Assyrians Feel A New Sense 0f Urgency
AUOC Commemorates Memorial Day in Modesto
Assyrian-Chaldeans of Ankawa

Hoping Americans Stay Forever
Our unity is Our Strength and Our Split is Our Weakness
Assyrians Need to Be Educated on Ancient History
Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Assyrians
Let’s Do It Again Next Year

  ANC of Stanislaus Dinner Dance Party
Visa Information for the World Assyrian Conference in Moscow
9th Annual Youth Excellence Pageant Application Packet
Beni Atoori's 'The Jimmy Show” on DVD and VHS
  Politics vs. Academics: Vision for Better Future…?
  25 Years of Successful Cultural Efforts in Augsburg



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Zinda Says


Politics is about allocation of power: who gets what and how much of it, when and how. In a few weeks either a large assembly of Iraqis will ‘democratically’ choose the new leaders of their country or an Iraqi council will be selected by the U.S. administrators to help in their governing of Iraq. For the first time since the establishment of Iraq, Assyrians have a real chance to play a role in the allocation of power in that country.

The Darwinian politics of “Numbers over Names” (see last week’s editorial) and the pressure from the U.S.-backed coalition forces in the Assyrian homelands has compelled the members of the Assyrian Democratic Movement’s central leadership group to make a difficult decision last month: the Syriac-speakers in Iraq are to be known as Chald-Assyrians (or Assyro-Chaldeans as some presume) in the future constitution of Iraq.

Today, the “Chaldean Dispute” dominates the Assyrian politics. The Chaldean nationalist movement, under the aegis of the Chaldean Catholic Church in the United States and somewhat supported by the Kurdish parties in the North, is pushing for the recognition of a distinct people as “Chaldeans” in Iraq, separate from other Christian groups. Last month in an unexpected press release this “Chaldean Renaissance” was described as diametrically opposed to the ‘one-nation’ ideological goal espoused by the “Assyrian” nationalist movement. The Chaldean bishops’ proposition holds that the Syriac-speakers in Iraq should only “co-exist” as two or more different ethnicities that happen to emerge from a common ancestry.

The “Assyrian” political parties since early 1900’s have been anticipating a different destiny for our people, one that entails a miraculous merger of the various Syriac-speaking groups (Sooraye or Suryoyo) and churches in the Middle East under a single leadership. Instead, each Syriac-speaking church has produced a dominant nationalist movement: Nestorians’s Sooraye, Syrian Orthodox Syriacs and Arameans, and now Chaldean Catholics’ Chaldean ethnicity. A secular group from each church group, apart from the ones mentioned, with much difficulty took a bold step to appeal to the historical truth of the origin of all Syriac-speaking people. The result was deemed heretical. The history of the Syriac speakers did not begin with the birth of Christianity in Mesopotamia, they claimed, rather with the rise of the Assyrian-Babylonian power before the writing of the Old Testament. The holy Zion and the new Israel were soon replaced with the glory of Nineveh and the greatness of Babylon. Moses and Canaan gave place to Gilgamesh and Bet-Nahrain. In effect, the position and power of the churches began to diminish. The final blow to the primacy of the churches was the affirmation of a new name for the collective conscience of the Syriac-speaking people in the Middle East – that of the Ashuraye or Atouraye, which was translated as “the Assyrians” in English and other European languages.

Initially, the churches disputed this assertion, but soon after they conceded to the will of the majority and began adopting the name of “Assyrian” to coalesce the unity of the Syriac-speaking people. The parishes of the Assyrian Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Assyrian Chaldean Catholic Church declared their new identity upon their church buildings from Mosul to Massachusetts. The most actively engaged among these has been the Church of the East. The Madinkhaye’s diligence resulted in the assassination of two of their illustrious patriarchs and a denominational split within a 60-year period.

Since the 1950’s one or more bishops within each of the other two churches have tried to covertly reverse this historical process, even to the point of collaborating with the Arab governments and the Baathists in particular. The Assyrian Democratic Organization (1957), the Assyrian Universal Alliance (1968), and the Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party (1973) shielded the Atouraye nationalists in the face of much opposition and ridicule provoked from the antagonistic bishops. The “one-name, one-leadership, one-purpose for one-nation” slogan urged by the AUA sympathizers was utterly opposed by a few Syrian Orthodox and Chaldean bishops fearing for their own supremacy. The parishes, one by one, began to re-name their churches as Syrian Orthdox and Chaldean Catholic, abandoning the “Assyrian” name altogether.

The name dispute has been creeping into our politics every time our political parties and activists produce an inch of progress in the Middle East. The “slashes and dashes” issue during the U.S. Census 2000, the Syriac-Assyrian controversy in Europe since the 1970’s, and now the national identity of the Assyrian Christians in the post-Saddam Iraq are but a few examples.

The Assyrian Democratic Movement or Zowaa’s decision to adopt a compound name for the Syriac-speakers in Iraq is a political choice, not a national decision. We can only hope that it will engender an atmosphere of unity for our people in Iraq under one common political representation. On the other hand, the newly adopted name must remain an Iraqi experiment and a regional accord until the name dispute is handled sensitively after much dialogue and negotiations from all Assyrian groups from around the globe. Let us not forget that a third of our national identity is rooted in the Syriac-TurAbdin-Aramean heritage. The compound name of Chaldo-Assyrian does not address this important segment of our nation, some of whose members have been the fathers of our Assyrian national movement.

Sadly our political and religious leaders did not resolve the name dispute in time for the reinvigoration of our national interests in Iraq. We accept the verdict of the Assyrian Democratic Movement with much hesitation – unaware of any future publicity stunts played by the Kurdish and ‘Chaldean’ nationalists. At the same time we realize that nothing is more important than the unity of our people and no issue can justify confrontation leading to the dissection of our already beleaguered nation. Khoyada (“unity”) of the Syriac-speaking people of Middle East must reign supreme among all our political interests.

The most disconcerting aspect of the “Chaldean Renaissance” is that it is sponsored, supported and funded by the Chaldean Catholic Church, for whose assertions hardly any “Chaldean” intellectual or civic leader inside Iraq or in the Diaspora appears to display any interest. Case in point: the recent elections in Kirkuk and Mosul. In both northern Iraqi cities, the elected officials were declared as Assyrians. Yet, both Chaldean and Madinkhaye Assyrians were elected regardless of their religious affiliations. This was a victory for every Assyrian Christian – be it Syriac, Chaldean, Madinkhaya, or Protestant. Why then can the successes in Kirkuk and Mosul not be once again repeated in Baghdad?

The vexed name dispute will remain with us for a while longer. The radical Chaldean bishops in the United States, despite their visible affinity for unity, will continue to play a critical role in fomenting discord among our people; and our political parties will persist on their stand to unite all religious factions. There is little likelihood of any breakthrough in the near future. Therefore, our political leaders outside of Iraq must remain patient, and maintain their long-term commitment to the unity of our people and fulfilling our legitimate aspirations in Iraq. After all, we are all Assyrians and a majority of us belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq.

Wilfred Bet-Alkhas

The Lighthouse


The word “Ur” means ‘cradle’ or ‘city’ and “mia” is ‘water’ in Assyrian. Urmia is therefore a city or dwelling by the waters. This is also the name of a picturesque lake in the north-west of Iran, inhabitted by Assyrians since the first millienum B.C. The city of Urmia (or Oroomiyeh) is located on the eastern side of Lake Urmia.

The first settlement of Assyrians in Russia occured around 1830 in Transcaucasia, on the territory of the modern Armenia after Russo-Persian war which led to Turkmanchai Peace Agreement. The Assyrian Christians began to arrive in Russia in the hope of finding protection from the Muslims. A few Assyrian villages were established in Armenia not far from Yerevan. These are Koylasar (Qalla d’Assour) nowadays called Dimitrovo, also Dvin, Arzni, Shagriyar, Gill. Gill was located in the mountains and has disappeared since. Between 1870 and 1875 in Koylasar, the first Assyrian school was established in Russia. It was founded by a great Assyrian scholar and teacher, Rabbie Pavel Aivazov.

In 1877-78 the Russo-Turkish war brought a new wave of Assyrian refugees to Russia and another Assyrian village appeared on the shores of the river Aras (Araxes). The river served as a border between Russia and Turkey. The village of Karkhan–Arazdayan’s inhabitants were mainly the natives of the village of Atlakandy in the Urmia plains in Iran.

Mr. Oleg Georgizov hands the First Place Cup to the captain of the Urmia Soccer team

The focus of this article are the Assyrians of Kuban region, in southern Russia. The appearance of Assyrians in Russia was not a random event. At the beginning of the 20th century the Russian troops were positioned in northern Persia. The main part of the Russian troops consisted of the Cossack regiment of the Labink district. Labinsk is a small town in the Kuban. region. The relationship between the Assyrians and Labinsk soldiers was harmonious, a factor which later compelled Assyrian to seek refuge in Labinsk. On arriving in Labinsk Assyrians started farming.

The local authorities of the Soviet regime were concerned about the constant flow of Assyrian refugees and were trying to find a shelter for them. At the same time Russia was going through a period of dispossession of the kulaks (land-owners) and collectivization, the result of which was the the freeing of the land under kulaks. The authorities decided to give the Assyrian refugees the pieces of land that were hardly used not far from Novoalekseevskaya village of Kurganinskiy district. Thus, the first Assyrian village was born in the Kuban region in 1924. The natives of Atlakandy called it Urmia.

In 1925 the World Convention of Assyrians took place in Moscow. It was organized by the All-Union Society of Assyrians “Khayadta” headed by S. Piraev. “Khaydta”’s mission was to unite Assyrians of Russia. It undertook numerous attempts to maintain the Assyrian language, folklore, dances, and maintaining Assyrian culture. It was all possible as long as the Assyrians lived together and not in isolation. Thus, they turned to Urmia. “Khaydta” began to persuade Assyrians to move to Urmia, where they could plan a cultural center for the Assyrians. Many Assyrians moved to Urmia from a great number of places in Russia. A growing village, it numbered around 50-70 families.

In 1926 in Armavir (30 kilometers from Urmia) Rabbie Enwiya Georgizov and Rabbie Ushanna Bedroyev established an Assyrian school. In the beginning they taught four classes. However the school quickly grew and by 1929 it had 7 classes. Many young Assyrians from all over the Soviet Union moved to Urmia having heard about this institution of learning. A hundred Assyrians moved from Armenia. Local authorities offered two buildings for this school: one for holding the classes and another as a dormitory. The government funded the school for meals and other needs.

In 1932 the Armavir State College introduced a special course for those who successfully completed 7-years education in the Assyrian school. The same year Rabbie Enwiya Georgizov moved to the village of Urmia to organize a new 4-year school. He was subsequently the headmaster of the School in Urmia, a career which spanned 30 years. Every year he sent 25-30 students to the Assyrian school in Armavir.

Being in an unfamiliar environment Assyrians had to maintain their language, culture, traditions. Life of Rabbie Enwiya Georgizov was devoted to the school in Urmia; he was one of the most educated people of his time in Russia. Besides history and other subjects he taught Assyrian language. He also translated plays by world’s renowned playwrights into Assyrian and directed the drama class. But the most precious investment that was ever made by Rabbie Georgizov was keeping Assyrian language alive through his book “The Grammar of Assyrian Language”. At the same time he organized the Assyrian dance group which is still active. Urmia still exists and remains the densest location of existence for the Assyrians in Russia.

The Krasnodar Soccer Team at the Urmia Soccer Tournament

Krasnodar is the the capital of Kuban (170 km from Urmia). Krasnodar Assyrians had always wishes to maintain their language, culture and traditions. Nevertheless, this goal became possible only after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In 1990 “The Assyrian Society of Kuban or “Khaydta” was established and registered by Mr. Oleg Georgizov (a son of Rabbie Enwiya Georgizov). This was the beginning of very active social life for Assyrians.

Assyrians from Krasnodar organized several community groups around Russia which included dance groups, soccer teams, language and history classes. 1990s were marked with an impetuous rise of national identity among Assyrians, especially in the Kuban region. One of the events that has become a tradition since 1991 is the Assyrian soccer tournament which takes place every year in Urmia. The soccer teams from St.Petersburg, Moscow, Krasnodar, Labinsk, Urmia and the Republics of Armenia and Georgia take part in these tournaments. Unfortunately due to recent political and economical changes, the teams from Armenia and Georgia have not been able to participate since 1994. The tournaments take place between the first and fifth of May, when a few thousand Assyrians from all over Russia participate in the festivities and come to Urmia. The games take place during the day, and in the evening all Assyrians come together in the local social club and dance until the dawn. Urmia does not have hotels or motels, but the doors of every house in this village are open for any guest that arrives.

The Assyrian dance group “Nineveh” in Krasnodar was established in 1993 under the Center for the National Cultures. The Assyrian youth of Krasnodar had a yearning for learning their culture, dances and language. Young people from Krasnodar, and the villages of Dinskaya, Afipslkaya, and Krymsk are members of this group. Everybody wished to learn Assyrian dances, resurrect the ancient Assyrian dance forms and also show Assyrian culture to people of different nationalities in Kuban. They realized that keeping our culture alive depended on them alone.

“Nineveh” still exists. It takes part in different concerts and meetings that are carried out by Krasnodar authorities for different nationalities. The Russian representatives and people of other nationalities welcome and enjoy the demonstrations of our dance group.

Alla Georgizova
Krasnodar, Russia

[Z-info: Translated from Russian by Ms. Nina Georgizova].





[Z-info: The following is an unauthorized translation from Arabic.]

Press Release
3 June 2003

On Monday, June 2, 2003, representatives from the Chaldean Catholic Church met with members of the Assyrian Democratic Movement Political Bureau at the Assyrian Democratic Movement's headquarters in Baghdad. The Chaldean Catholic Church delegation was headed by Mar Ibrahim Ibrahim, Bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Detroit; and comprised of the
following: Dr. Nouri Mansour, Mr. Joseph Kassab, Dr. Steve Garmoo, Mr. Shawqi Qunja, and Mr. Fawzi Dali.

The Assyrian Democratic Movement Political Bureau was headed by Secretary General Yonadam Kanna, and comprised of the following Bureau members: Shmael Nano, Yonan Hozaya, Toma Talya, Issac Isaac, and Rommel Moushi.

The two sides addressed in a brotherly atmosphere our people's situation in Iraq after the war and the ways and means to enhance our national unity. The two sides agreed on:

1. Emphasis on the unity of our ChaldoAssyrian nation.
2. Work to create the atmosphere between all of our people and organizations to assure our national union.
3. Strive to organize a comprehensive and expanded national conference comprising representatives from all the ChaldoAssyrian organizations in Iraq and abroad to study our true national origin, and address the ways and means to accomplish our rightful national rights and our role in the new Iraq.
4. The assembly agreed unanimously to continue meeting, whether in Iraq or abroad, to accomplish the unity of our nation and stressed to continue the struggle for the sake of the just cause of our ChaldoAssyrian nation.

The Cultural and Information Bureau
Assyrian Democratic Movement


(ZNDA: Baghdad) On 21 May, Rev. Ken Joseph – an Assyrian humanitarian missionary priest in Iraq, met with the head of the British Forces in Baghdad, Mr. Stuart Gordon, and presented a list of missing Assyrians in North Iraq. Zinda Magazine sources indicate that the abduction of this group of Assyrians was first reported by a Non-Governmental Agency – and not any of the Assyrian political parties in North Iraq. The unidentified NGO reported these as members of a political party called the “Assyrian Union”. They appear to have been taken from their offices in Bartillah (near Kirkuk) on 15 April.

The list of the missing persons includes:

Yasar Kucukasalan
Jac Yahkop Sen
Gebro Gurbuz
Fikri Hobel
Basar Iso
Salih Pedaui
Ivan Francis Yoran
Efrem Semir

According to Rev. Joseph, these individuals are “all Assyrian Christians and were taken in by Barzani forces as far as we can tell.”

Rev. Joseph also presented a letter sent to local Assyrian families – directed to the women in particular - and also sent to an unidentified Assyrian bishop warning of the consequences of disobeying Islamic laws. In the letter to the Bishop Assyrian men were told to begin wearing beards.

Rev. Joseph tells Zinda Magazine that he was “shocked to talk to the civilian head of the U.S Operations in Iraq, Mr. Jay Garner, and find out he had no knowledge whatsoever of the situation.” Rev. Joseph says: “It was clear to me that he is not being informed of what is taking place on the ground and how the country is being taken over systematically by Islamic forces literally under the noses of the authorities in charge. If something is not done immediately it will be a fait accompli and there will only be a pullout to ponder.”

Rev. Joseph continues: “Retired Army Lieutenant General Garner assured me that the Coalition is committed to ensuring that a secular government will take over that will protect the rights of all involved and it will not be an Islamic country.”


(ZNDA: Kirkuk) U.S.-backed voting in northern Iraq's main oil city of Kirkuk ended Saturday with shouting, threats of an Arab walkout and interference by an American general — signs of ethnic divisions and a sense of powerlessness that the voting was meant to overcome. Five Arab delegates were detained by U.S. soldiers and taken from the municipality building in plastic handcuffs. Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of the 4th Infantry Division and the U.S. military leader in the area, ejected two independent delegates from the auditorium where the vote was announced for shouting their objections.

39 U.S.-approved electors from each of the city's main ethnic groups — Kurds, Arabs, Turks and Assyrians — voted for six council members from their ethnic group.

Six independents were also chosen by 144 delegates from a U.S.-approved list of 12 prominent residents.

According to the Assyrian Democratic Movement official statement, the 6 Assyrian council members are:

1. Dr. Emil Nasser (Baghdad, b. 1950)
2. Isaac Polous Mansour (Shaqlawa, b. 1943)
3. Sabbah Nasser Hindi (Kirkuk, b. 1937)
4. Ashur Yalda Benyamin (Kirkuk, b. 1954)
5. Edward Orahim Odisho (Kirkuk, b. 1951)
6. Sargon Lazar (Kirkuk, b. 1973)

The additional member chosen by the 144 independent delegates is Mr. Fuad Mattai (Ankawa, b. 1945). The total presence of the Assyrian constituency in the Kirkuk City Council is 7 out of possible 30 or a little over 23%.

On Tuesday, the Kirkuk council then chose a Mayor and three Deputy Governors. Mr. Sargon Lazar was elected as the Deputy Governor in charge of the Planning Affairs for the Kirkuk Province. Delegates chose a Kurdish mayor-governor, placing this oil-city under the control of the two major Kurdish groups - PUK and KDP. The other two elected DG’s are a Kurd and a Turkomen.


Courtesy of the Zenit News Agency (3 June)

(ZNDA: Baghdad) At the end of his visit to Iraq, John Paul II's special envoy said that Catholic relief groups worldwide will offer a coordinated contribution to the country's reconstruction.

Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," ended a five-day visit to Iraq on Monday, said in a statement that the areas of greatest need are food, housing, health and education.

The German archbishop said that he went to Iraq to express, above all, the Pope's "spiritual closeness" to "those who have gone through sorrowful consequences of the war in these past months."

The archbishop took along to Iraq a substantial donation from the Pope for the country's reconstruction.

Together with Archbishop Fernando Filoni, the apostolic nuncio in Iraq, Archbishop Cordes celebrated the Eucharist on three occasions with the Catholics of the country: on May 29 in Baghdad, on May 31 in Mosul in the Chaldean rite, and on June 1 in the Syrian Catholic rite.

During his stay, the archbishop held numerous meetings, particularly two encounters with more than 10 Catholic bishops. He also met with various bishops of other Christian confessions in Baghdad and Mosul, and also with the civil authority; the director general of the United Nations Development Program, Francis Dubois; the mayor of Mosul; and some diplomatic representatives.

The archbishop also visited some religious congregations and the respective charitable institutions they administer, including St. Raphael's Hospital, the home of Mother Teresa's sisters, and an institution for young girls in Mosul.

"Having experienced a great spirit of communion and collaboration among Christians in Iraq, I have assured them that I will refer these sentiments of profound recognition to His Holiness," he added.

Quoting the "Declaration of the Patriarchs and the Bishops of Iraq" of April 29, Archbishop Cordes affirmed "the contribution that the Catholic Church could make for a future in which the religious, cultural, social and political rights of all are acknowledged," and, in particular, where Christians have "the right to profess freely their own faith."

[Z-info: Following his recent visit to Iraq, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," made this statement to journalists. The statement has been slightly adapted here.]

In these months, the Holy Father has repeatedly expressed his concern for the events that are occurring in Iraq. Before the war, he sent as his special envoy Cardinal Etchegaray, to search for a negotiated solution to the imminent conflict and thus to safeguard peace.

Following that visit, he asked me to be the spokesman, after the wartime events, of his spiritual closeness to those who have gone through sorrowful consequences of the war in these past months.

My visit began last May 28. Together with the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Filoni, I celebrated the Eucharist on three occasions with the Catholics of that country: on May 29 in Baghdad, on the 31st in Mosul in the Chaldean rite and on June 1 in the Syrian Catholic rite. Therefore, I could address myself to the Christian Community, present each time in overwhelming number, confirming the paternal union and encouragement of the Holy Father.

During my visit, numerous meetings were held, in particular, two reunions with more than ten bishops: with them I have reflected especially on the significance of the charitable commitment in the ecclesial mission. Moreover, I met both with various bishops of other Christian confessions in Baghdad and in Mosul, and also with the civil authority; the director general of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Mr. Francis Dubois; the mayor of Mosul; and some diplomatic representatives.

Besides, I had the chance of visiting some religious congregations and the respective charitable institutions, which they administer, among which St. Raphael's Hospital, the Home of Mother Teresa's Sisters and the institution for young girls in Mosul. Every one has expressed gratitude to the Holy Father for his tireless commitment to the people of Iraq and to peace. Having experienced a great spirit of communion and collaboration among Christians in Iraq, I have assured them that I will refer these sentiments of profound recognition to His Holiness.

In accordance with the given mandate and the task of our Vatican department (the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"), I could verify personally the necessities of the country in view of a plan of aid which will involve the Catholic humanitarian organizations. They have already identified some sectors of intervention such as emergency aid, food, housing, health, and education. Many Catholic aid agencies are intending to take charge, together with other institutions, of these necessities.

As per the "Declaration of the Patriarchs and the Bishops in Iraq" of April 29, 2003, I wish to confirm the contribution that the Catholic Church could give for a future in which the religious, cultural, social and political rights of all are acknowledged, and in particular, where Christians are guaranteed the right to profess freely their own faith.

News Digest


(ZNDA: Sacramento) On 22 May, 77 of the 80 California Assembly members voted unanimously to pass AJR 31 - "the Assyrians of Iraq" - Resolution. The remaining three members were absent at the time of voting.

AJR 31 was introduced on 23 by Assembly Members Greg Aghazarian and Darrell Steinberg in support of the Assyrian people in Iraq.

Hundreds of emails in support of this legislature were sent through Zinda Magazine and Nineveh.com's online forums since May 1.

The Resolution is presently being reviewed in the Californa Senate and will be formally introduced and discussed on the Senate Floor as early as next week.

"The passage of AJR-31 in the California Assembly can only be attributed to the determination of its authors and the enormous support of Assyrians following news on the Internet," commented Mr. Wilfred Bet-Alkhas, editor of Zinda Magazine shortly after the news of AJR-31's safe passage today.

The bill's authors expect that the resolution will successfully pass through California Senate and thereafter sent to the Secretary of State, Colin Powell.


Courtesy of the Modesto Bee (25 May); by Julissa McKinnon

(ZNDA: Modesto) The destiny of the Assyrian people in Iraq is being mapped in hotel conference rooms across America.

This is where the Assyrian elite -- the presidents of political and social organizations, lobbyists, journalists -- come together to debate politics, trade business cards and organize.

About 50 such leaders gathered late Saturday afternoon in a basement room of Modesto Centre Plaza. The meeting was one of many activities of the 37th annual Assyrian State Convention, with activities in Modesto and Turlock.

The program continues today with a banquet dance party at the Red Lion Hotel in Modesto, and a separate dance party at Modesto Centre Plaza. A picnic is planned Monday at Tuolumne River Regional Park.

From left, Youil Qaryaqos of Modesto, Edward Haskel, Alphonse Odisho and ex-Illinois state Sen. John Nimrod converse at the 37th annual Assyrian State Convention at Modesto Centre Plaza (photo by Drew Fleming)

Saturday afternoon's meeting started more than an hour late, but everyone there shared a common sense of urgency. Even as they spoke, the new Iraq was taking shape -- in the wake of the U.S.-led war that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

Assyrians say they need to act now if they are to play a role in the new power structure.

"It's a historic opportunity for our people and country," said Rommel Eliah, representative of the Assyrian Democratic Movement for the United States and Canada. "In the new Iraq we want representation in all branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial."

Many Assyrian organizers believe that the fight for Assyrian representation in Iraq will be won on U.S. soil.

If not for such conventions, the U.S. State Department may never have taken heed of this small, mostly Christian ethnic minority in Iraq.

Over the past year, Assyrian groups in the United States have unified their voice and streamlined their message to U.S. leaders, driving home the point that Assyrians are the indigenous people of the land that now is Iraq.

"Our priority is for a secular democracy in Iraq and for recognition of our roots in the country," Eliah said.

But for Assyrians to get a foothold in the emerging Iraqi government, Assyrian leaders admit that they need U.S. assistance in establishing a democracy. Without a democracy, the Assyrians who comprise only 10 percent of Iraq's population do not stand a chance at a voice in government.

Former Illinois state legislator John Nimrod, an Assyrian-American, has been informing congressmen of the Assyrians' plight for decades.

"You can't tell people what you want until they know who you are," said Nimrod, who is secretary of the Assyrian Universal Alliance.

In the past year, the State Department added the Assyrian Democratic Movement to its list of legitimate Iraqi opposition groups. President Bush cited the oppression of Assyrians and other ethnic minorities in his Oct. 7 national address.

Two weeks ago, the California Assembly unanimously passed a resolution acknowledging the Assyrians' plight in Iraq.

Carlo Ganjeh, secretary of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, talked about the decadeslong persecution of Assyrians: "We try to lobby different people in government, in the House and Senate, because we have to make sure that Assyrians are protected."

He expressed concern that the minority Assyrians will be overrun during the chaotic transition after Saddam.

In the past two weeks, he said, he has heard reports of several Assyrian store owners being killed, and Assyrian girls being kidnapped. He expressed consternation at news that several churches in Baghdad have been surrounded by speakers hooked up to mosques, booming out Koran readings and prayers.

"Other Iraqi opposition parties will try to ignore us," Ganjeh said. "But the United States will help us be represented in all levels of government. If we're not, the future doesn't look good. If we are to preserve our history, language, culture -- we need to stay centralized in that region."

But like many Assyrians now settled in America, Ganjeh said he is not planning to move back to Iraq. He came to America with $17 in his pocket, he said, and now runs his own mortgage company in the Bay Area.

"It's a melting pot in the U.S. We all become Americanized. Eventually you lose your language culture and heritage. That's why we're hoping that people remain in the homeland."


Courtesy of Modesto Bee (27 May); by J.N. Sbranti

(ZNDA: Modesto) Ashur Rasho had been in America about a year when the Army drafted him in 1969. The young Assyrian immigrant had fled his Iraqi homeland seeking freedom, and before he knew it, he was sent to Vietnam to fight for that country's freedom.

Rasho didn't mind the service or being wounded because he knew liberty was worth defending.

So it was with pride that Rasho watched American troops battle for freedom this year in his native Iraq.

Ashur Rasho of Modesto presented a wreath on behalf of the Assyrian United Organizations of California during ceremonies at Acacia Memorial Park in Modesto on Monday.

"It took a long time, but we're so delighted this happened. We've been waiting for this," said Rasho, a 57-year-old Modesto businessman. "Exporting freedom is the American way. Hopefully the entire Middle East will overthrow the tyrants there and be free."

Members of America's armed forces "deserve the highest honor for what they've done," said Rasho, who showed his gratitude by attending Monday's Memorial Day service in Modesto.

About 100 people gathered in Acacia Memorial Park for the 30-minute ceremony.

Veterans and politicians spoke words of praise and thanks for military members, past and present.

Many in the audience sat or stood on the lawn covering the graves of World War I and World War II veterans. Buried elsewhere in the ceremony are those who fought in the Civil War, Korea and Vietnam.

The 150 or so Americans who lost their lives fighting in Iraq received particular notice at this year's memorial.

"We are very grateful to them for liberating our homeland," said guest speaker Alphonse Odisho of the Assyrian United Organizations of California. "They are extending the freedom that we enjoy here to other human beings and we greatly appreciate their effort."

Odisho noted that many Assyrians who live in Stanislaus County came from Iraq. For decades, he said, the Assyrians -- who are Christians -- had their "ethnic rights, human rights and civil rights violated in Iraq."

Now, because of U.S. military efforts, Odisho said they have a chance at equality.

More than a million American service men and women have died fighting for such freedoms since the nation was founded, said Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced.

"Veterans deserve our commitment every single day, not just on Memorial Day," Cardoza said.


Courtesy of the New York Times (23 May); by Sabrina Taverise

(ZNDA: Arbil) Tucked in a corner of this ancient, somber Muslim city is a neighborhood that wears skimpy clothing, eats cheeseburgers and drinks beer.

It is called Ankawa and it is home to a small but lively community of Assyro-Chaldeans, or Assyrian Christians, one of Iraq's smallest - and proudest - ethnic groups. They number 1.3 million in Iraq and are descendants of the indigenous people of Mesopotamia, with a language that dates back to 3000 B.C.

An equal number of the Assyrian Christians have settled outside the region, mostly in Chicago and Detroit.

"We are the remains of the original Iraqis," said Yonan Hozaya, a senior official in the Assyrian Democratic Movement, a political party. "You must take care not to lose us."

The neighborhood here is in no danger of disappearing. It is the main meeting spot for many in this city. A steady stream of slowly cruising cars flows past on the main thoroughfare, referred to by locals as Champs Élysée for its lively shops. Young men sit low behind the steering wheel of their cars. Women walk arm in arm. Liquor stores abound.

Ankawa stands in contrast to the rest of Erbil, a Kurdish Muslim city where alcohol is not for sale and most women wear a hijab head covering. Young people are not allowed inside the city park at night without being accompanied by a family member.

In Ankawa, even young women stroll through the local amusement park alone. On a recent night there, Rajuna Yelda, 22, a basketball player in jeans and sandals, walked arm in arm with Sabina Gilyana, also 22, a smiling young woman wearing a tight-fitting leopard print T-shirt.

"In Erbil, families can't just walk around like this," said Ms. Yelda, gesturing with her hand and polished fingernails. "Our parents trust us."

The beating heart of the neighborhood is a restaurant called Italiano, the only one in Erbil that serves pizza. Locals sit on the tiny outdoor terrace and graze on quattro formaggio pizza until midnight.

The restaurant's name "is very strange," said Hekmat Shaba, an Assyrian Christian who is the chief cook. "No one here knows Italian food."

For locals, the most mystifying item on the menu is called, simply, Kentucky. Mr. Shaba described it as a chicken dish but could not explain its origin. It is a Western word, he said, adding that he thought it referred to the way the chicken was cut.

"I heard there is a place that is also called Kentucky," he said, and laughed self-consciously after a visitor explained that it was the name of a state in America.

Why, one might ask, is Ankawa so free? Mr. Hozaya said it was because Assyrian Christians throughout the centuries had always been ruled by foreigners, like Persians and Romans. That made them more flexible and tolerant to those around them.

"We are always thinking of European life and of freedom," he said. "We are the barometer of democracy."

In Ankawa the Assyrian Christians are Catholics. There are five religious groups in the ethnic group, three of them Eastern Orthodox. The Assyrian Christians splintered time and again throughout history, most recently in 1963, when one group split into two over a dispute about which calendar the church should follow.

"You see we have many names, but we are all one people," Mr. Hozaya said. "It's a very deep ancient history with many problems. It was always divide us and conquer."

Now Mr. Hozaya and others in the Assyrian Democratic Party are trying to demand their fair share in representation in the new interim governments being established in the north of Iraq. As fewer than 5 percent of the Iraqi population, they will never play a large part. But as the government becomes more democratic, their role as a swing vote will be key.

The two main Kurdish political parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdish Democratic Party, "have been ruling this area by themselves," he said. "That's not fair."

Assyrian Christians are always on the cutting edge of change in Iraq's north, Mr. Hozaya said. They are the first to have the latest fashions. They had the first soccer team in all of Iraq.

A former resident of the area, Leo Zirar Halifa, 21, was out for a stroll on Wednesday night. He was visiting from Austria, his home since he left Iraq during the war between Mr. Hussein and the Kurds in 1991.

"Now life is better," Mr. Halifa said in confident English. Still, he would not consider moving back. In Vienna, his new home, his Polish girlfriend and his bartending job await him.

"I asked her to come with me on vacation, but she said, `No it's crazy in Iraq.' But I don't think it's dangerous. I like walking around. It's my neighborhood."


Surfs Up!
Letters From Zinda Magazine Readers


It is dusk in Baghdad and I am talking to the regular group of men who gather near the house I am staying in to talk about the day's events.

"What do you think about the Americans? How long do you think they should stay? Are they doing a good job?" I ask.

The answer is very complicated while at the same time very, very simple. It is the "politically correct" thing to do to complain about the Americans, say they are not wanted and tell them to "go home."

The reality, though, is very different.

As usually happens throughout Iraq, people look around before they tell their true feelings. Simply put they are still afraid to speak the truth. Before it was Saddam, now it is the Shiites and others who frighten them.

"The Americans are doing wonderfully. We want them to stay forever," I hear.

I am not surprised. It is exactly like I thought. When I was in Iraq before the war, the reported feelings were that while the people of Iraq did not like Saddam, they would fight for their country and were against the war.

As I said then, the people wanted the war to come so they could be liberated from Saddam but were not free to talk. The same situation with a different twist exists today.

It is not widely reported, nor fashionable to say the Americans are loved and wanted in Iraq, but in fact as they were wanted before the war, they are wanted now.

"We hope they stay forever" is the true feeling of the silent majority in Iraq, contrary to what is reported.

The logic is very simple -- the Iraqis do not trust their leaders. Faced with a very complicated situation of a 60 percent Shiite majority, a former police state, Iran at their doorstep trying with all its might to destabilize

their country, and desperately relieved and happy to be finally liberated from nearly 30 years of Saddam, they want the United States to stay.

The greatest fear of the man on the street is that the Americans will tire and leave. "We pray that they stay and stay forever" is the feeling of the vast majority, but they look both ways before they say it.

Why? The answer is quite simple. The following is the translation of a letter being given out throughout Iraq in various forms.

"'In the name of God the most merciful and compassionate'

"Do not adorn yourselves as illiterate women before Islam (From the Koran) to this noble family,

We hope that the family will stand with brothers of Islam and follow the basic Islamic rules of wearing the veil and possessing honorable teachings of Islam that the Muslims have continued to follow from old times.

We are the Iraqi people, the Muslim people and do not accept any mistakes.

If not, and this message will be final, we will take the following actions:

1. Doing what one cannot endure (believed to be rape)
2. Killing
3. Kidnapping
4. Burning the house with its dwellers in it or exploding it.

This message is directed to the women of this family.


This message from a Shiite Islamic organization says it all and explains in a nutshell why, though finally liberated, the Iraqi people still live in fear.

They are not in fear from the crime and looting that is reported in the press. Of course, it troubles them that the electricity is not up and running properly yet, garbage is still scattered and the schools are not yet functioning, but these are all items that the Americans are working to fix. It will take time, but they will be ultimately solved.

An interesting discussion followed one of the daily meetings we attended with U.S. authorities to coordinate activities. Following a long litany of things that do not work and a regular complaining, one Iraqi at the table spoke up: "I think many of those did not work properly even before the war."

Suddenly there was silence at the table as the reality of his statement sunk in.

The much reported anger of the Iraqis at the slowness of bringing Iraq up to speed is much exaggerated. Of course, people are frustrated -- I am too when the electricity suddenly goes off, the water is sporadic, or garbage sits in the street.

At the same time, we just got through a war! Standing in front of the Palestine Hotel watching a large group of Shiite Muslims complaining, I asked a simple question: "Could you hold a demonstration like this before the war?" There was a stunned silence and then a sheepish grin.


What people truly fear is the takeover of their finally liberated country by a group of what they term simply "crazy" people. When fellow Muslims call them "crazy" and they send letters like the above -- a similar one that came to one of our bishops a few days ago -- one begins to understand their true fear.

If there is one mistake being made by the Americans on the ground, it is that they are just too "soft" on the "bad guys."

In the desire not to offend, the Americans in the view of the silent majority have been too soft on the "crazies." If there was one single event that put fear in the hearts of the regular people, it was when one crossed the border into Iraq. A man that even Saddam Hussein would not let into Iraq for 23 years -- the leader of the Shiite Muslims who had been living in Iran as an exile, Ayatollah Mohammad Bakr Al Hakim.

Upon returning to Iraq, he promptly called for the creation of an Islamic state, similar to Iran.

What can the United States do?

As one who was born and raised in Japan -- a mirror of what is happening in Iraq took place 58 years ago -- I for one feel Japan's example can be a "road map" for the future of Iraq.

My parents were among the thousands that responded to Gen. Douglas MacArthur's call for 10,000 young people to help rebuild Japan following the war.

They came with many others who gave their lives to see a war-mongering, pseudo-religious police state transformed into the economic powerhouse and leader for good in the world that Japan -- for all its many problems -- is today.

Just like Iraq, immediately following its surrender, there were the voices calling for more consideration for Japan's "culture" and leaving the basic institutions in place.

Instead, strong accountability was put in place, war criminals punished and executed, pre-war institutions that had created the war machine eliminated, and a strong constitution put in place, which included a watertight prohibition against any religious involvement by the state. This small but critical U.S. presence 58 years following the war remains.

Why? As any Japanese will tell you, quietly because it is still "politically incorrect," they want the Americans to stay.

As Iraqis told me before the war, "we are not afraid of the Americans' bombing. There will be mistakes. People will be killed, but we do not believe the Americans will ever purposely bomb us." People when they are free to tell their true feelings inherently trust America.

They will all bring up the myriad of other interests they feel the United States has in its cards -- oil, control of the world, and on and on -- but at the end of the day they want America to stay involved and fear most of all that the American people will grow tired and leave them to the "crazies."

What can we do to ensure that Iraq will go on to become another "Japan" and be a leader for good in the Middle East?

The answers come from the common people. I will never forget discussing with many of the peace activists I originally supported before the war, asking whether they had talked with the common people to ask what they wanted. "No, we don't have to. We know what they want," was the response.

What do the "regular people" in Iraq want? Just like they wanted the Americans to save them from Saddam and were ready to pay any price personally to do so, their advice is simple and we ignore it at a price.

First, don't be soft on the Shiites! Don't listen to all the voices saying be "culturally sensitive." People who say if you don't believe like we do, we will rape, kill, kidnap or burn down your house, do not deserve to be talked with. As the "regular people" say, "they are crazy and cannot be talked with."

An important first step? Send Ayatollah Mohammed Bakr Hakim back to Iran, where he spent his exile torturing Iraqis in Iranian prisons.

"Cut out the cancer that will destroy our country" is the feeling on the street.

Second, immediately stop the daily cacophony of speakers that blare from mosques across the country. This is not an issue of respecting religious institutions. The use of massive speakers to blare out "calls to prayer" is a recent phenomenon.

According to the "regular people," one of the best things the British troops did in 1991 in the areas they controlled was to visit with each mosque and tell the imam that there was complete religious freedom. They told him he could do whatever he wanted, but the blaring of speakers all day long and into the night was not religious but political and was banned, as has been done in many other Islamic countries.

Even neighboring Jordan has banned all such blaring speakers except for one in Amman.

This one move immediately changed the atmosphere for the "regular people" and sent a strong message that there was a future and the British at that time meant business about a secular Iraq with freedom and opportunity for all.

There will be cries to be "culturally sensitive" on this issue but the constant blaring is a constant political statement that says there is no equality. It is the simplest but most single important step that can be taken to give Iraqis hope that things will be different in the future.

In addition, the Islamic headdress, which we saw battled in Afghanistan and is now an issue on the ground in Iraq, should be banned. Many other Islamic nations have come to the simple conclusion that given the example of the letter sent out and the reality of the weakness of the position of women, there is no situation in which a woman can be thought to be in a position to freely choose to wear the veil, covering of the head or the full body covering.

The only solution is to ban it completely so it does not become an issue and used by the "crazies" to impose their values by intimidating the weakest of the population -- the women.

Third, begin immediate 24-hour television in Arabic, Kurdish and Assyrian -- the principle languages of Iraq. It is unbelievable that to date, it is not up and running while neighboring Iran continues to blare unbelievable messages into Iraq.

The "regular people" are confused and upset not at what they see -- in each of the regular homes I have stayed in, the Americans tanks drive by patrolling the streets at least three or four times each night -- it's what they do not see.

What is most needed on the ground is information. In the absence of it, the "crazies" get the edge. Television, newspapers and radio with information on the progress of reconstruction, information on daily needs and encouragement for the future are necessities.

Fourth, don't be so overly sensitive to Islamic issues. It will be the "death knell" to success in Iraq. As was done in Japan, the "cancer" needs to be rooted out. Virtually all the "crazy" positions that are imposed are not in the Koran and have nothing to do with Islam.

The American position should be to respect the Koran as a religious book and respect Islam as a religion, but to never tolerate anything done in the name of either that defies the moral principles of international society.

"There shall not be compulsion in religion," states the Holy Koran; Part 3 Surah 2 al-Baqarah 256 Page 68.

The Americans shall strenuously support freedom of religion and the freedom to openly propagate any religion, but will never tolerate any form of intimidation or even implicit state support for any one religion. It was this singular issue that guaranteed the success of postwar Japan.

Fifth, create a secular, non-religious constitution for Iraq. I do not mean ask the Iraqis to do it -- after 30 years of intimidation and living in a police state, they are psychologically incapable at this time of doing it

themselves. Exactly as in postwar Japan, we need the best and the brightest minds of Americans and Iraqis together to do this. The best tool at this time is the 1925 Iraqi constitution with the religious articles taken from the Japanese constitution.

This is critical. On this one issue, our Iraq will fail or succeed. Don't listen to the voices again about being "culturally sensitive." The United States faces a simple and stark problem -- there is no "Islamic" nation anywhere that constitutionally guarantees equal rights. Check it out.

One will be shocked, as I was to read constitution after constitution and find out that one is not allowed by either constitution or law to leave Islam. This allows a situation to be created where the most important human right -- the right to freedom of thought -- is not allowed in any Islamic country by virtue of the fact that individuals are not allowed to legally leave the "religion" they were born into, nor allowed to specify "nothing" when asked about their religious belief.

This is where Japan succeeded -- the Americans were vicious in their complete elimination of any religious test or favoritism in the Constitution and subsequent laws.

Sixth, create representative government. Don't do this in long, tedious consultations. This needs to, as in Japan's case, be imposed with consultation.

Special provisions must be made to include special rights for special people who during Saddam's time were purposely spread thinly across the country to make sure they would never be strong enough in any one area to be able to affect representation.

The Assyrians, the indigenous people of Iraq -- the "Native Americans" if you will of Iraq along with the Kurds and the Turkomans -- need to have special autonomy in their homelands so they will feel they have a future and stay to build Iraq, and exiles by the millions living abroad will see a future to return.

Along with this representative government giving special rights to indigenous people in their homelands, there must be a careful and complete settlement of all outstanding claims for land. This was one of the other major areas that caused postwar Japan to succeed -- the Americans were vigorous in breaking up the illegal land situations that had developed over the years. This situation is mirrored in Iraq.

Land must be returned completely to all those who had their land taken by Saddam so individual Iraqis will have their own land and "own" a future. There must never be any perception that Saddam's "friends," as those who assisted in the nightmare that was Japan before and during World War II, continue to benefit.

The elimination of the speakers at the mosques will show Iraqis on a practical level that the United States is creating an equal playing field for all Iraqis.

Finally, get telephones for the U.S. military and ORHA offices in Baghdad. For those of us who interact with them, it borders on the absurd. Imagine a whole "government in waiting" that cannot communicate across the few feet of various agency offices.

This touches a greater issue -- let's not think we can set up an Iraq on the "cheap."

Will it be expensive? Of course, it will. Is it worth it? Yes it is. Iraq is a rich country. It has more than enough resources without using any of the U.S. taxpayer's money. We must not forget that it took seven years of post-war occupation in Japan to root out all the "bad guys" and set up a new government.

Will it pay off? Has Japan "paid off"? It is a simple but critical question -- do we want another "Japan" or do we want another "Iran?"

It is my prayer that the United States will have the courage to stay the course -- it may take seven years of direct occupation and decades of limited basing but it will be well worth it.

Now is the time to be strong, forceful and remember the lessons of the past. Japan is our greatest example. As one who was born and raised in Japan, I grew up regularly having someone out of nowhere shake my hand and say "thank you for Gen. Douglas MacArthur and for what you did to Japan after the war."

It brought back memories as I stood with our neighbors on a dusty Baghdad street at dusk and heard them reply to my question of how long should America stay in Iraq.

"We hope the Americans will stay in Iraq forever."

Rev. Ken Joseph

[Z-info: The Rev. Ken Joseph Jr. is an Assyrian and a minister who directs Assyrianchristians.com.]


A careful eye looking into our history as a nation - whichever name you want to call it and regardless how far you could go - could easily distinguish few souring and shocking things:

1. We had always some individuals who played a significant role in our nation’s fate, or so called "leaders", who were able of creating crisis to weaken our nation by splitting it into groups of religious believes, tribes, or even cultures. All these attempts were purely based on personal ambitions and temporary worthless benefits.

2. We always blamed others of being the " wicked hidden hands" for all our weaknesses and our fault decisions.

3. We always handle our disputes and disagreements when it is little too late. We even sometimes allege we don’t have such disputes; just hiding our heads into sand!

4. We always lacked rational and civilized paths to resolve any internal disputes and our anger and disrespect of others opinion driven us always to wrong paths.

5. And yet, we always claimed that we are the most civilized ethnic group in our region!

Let’s look into these issues and try to find out where are we today and how much are we close of a new crisis that might be the most dangerous in our nations whole history.

The issue is the attempt of creating new ethnic group Chaldeans, so let us find out:

·How is the group identified?
·What are the historic bases behind it?
·Why became an issue now?

It is true that we have read in the history books including the Bible all the names that we are bearing and discussing today, i.e. Assyrians, Chaldeans, Arameans, Babylonians, Sumerians and so on. However, can we conclude that these are different races or ethnic groups or they are simply different names (or terms) for bigger and greater ethnic group that ruled Mesopotamia for more than 7000 years? If we go by the historical facts and scientific research, then we must come to a conclusion they are the latter, one great ethnic group, but if we go by our personal ambitions and selfish egoism benefits then we could split them into much more groups based even on their tribes.

How do we identify any ethnic group or race?

We all know that ethnic groups are identified on certain criteria that join group of people:

1. Blood

2. Language

3. Common or shared history

And based on these factors we could easily conclude that all these names (or terms) dissolve into one greater ethnic group, that is the indigenous people of Mesopotamia. If we look at the Arabs, we have heard of much more names (or terms) but they were all dissolved into one nation, Arabic! How about Kurds and how many names (or terms) they do have and so is the case with Turkumans. Do we ever take lessons from history or from our neighbors?

Now, are we picking a name (or term) for our nation? And if so, then I don’t see any harm of discussing this issue that will eventually suffice and be agreeable upon from all parties. However, if the hidden agenda is to create new split in our nation, then we need to stop such evil attempts and reject all the parties or individuals who are adopting, supporting and promoting them and take all the measures and actions against them regardless of their power and position.

What are the historic bases behind this issue?

We all know, and even the people who are behind this attempt, that there is no such historic basis whatsoever for this issue, and there were no other names (or terms) for our nation, until 1500 AD when the Roman Catholic Church started the first split by gaining Christian faithful from other churches rather than turning infidels into Christianity! This split was enforced later in the mid 18th century by the formal creation of the Chaldean Catholic Church, which was another dagger from the Roman Church in the heart of our Church of the East.

May be we were driven by the events and with the lack of rational reaction we started to restore or to claim our historic rights in changing our church name to Assyrian Church of the East in an attempt to convince Rome that we are still here as if it was a challenge of names rather than handling the issue in a rational way and try to repair the damage that occurred in our nation.

It is a matter of fact that when the name (or term) Chaldean was first introduced was an attempt to split the Church of the East, but cannot one expect that it was manipulated later in the last century to a much more evil intentions by denouncing some of the so named Chaldeans their ethnic origin as Assyrians and turn to be Arabs! Where was Rome on protecting these Chaldeans from turning into Arabs and where was the Chaldean Church from protecting these Chaldeans and from preventing them denouncing their own language and turning into Arabic language in their prayers and their homes! Is it a coincidence that our government (whether Iraqi, Turkish or Iranian) was just watching our nation split? Would have those governments accepted and watched the Rome missionaries turning their Muslim faithful into Christianity? We all know the lessons behind the story of sticks and how it is much easier to break one stick and I am sure those governments knew it as well and were just enjoying the

Why these attempts now?

It is obvious that there are beneficiaries from this evil attempt, inside our nation as we all know, and also there are some wicked blooded hands not dry yet from the blood of our nations martyrs that are beneficiaries from this agenda and thus promoting it by all their means. Well, there is nothing new in this issue, as we knew from our long history that we always have had such individuals and enemies.

Why now? Is it because we are close to a historic moment in our nations history of having the opportunity in restoring some of our historic rights and thus we must not be as strong as we should to fight for these rights? Or is it because our personal ambitions are once again preferred upon the sake of our nations fate. Or (which I strongly doubt it!) is as simple as we are again unable to find out the best interests for our coming generations who will blame us as we are used to blame our ancestors. Do we ever take lessons from history?


If we are genuine in our intentions and faithful to our nation and honest to our generations to come, then we must rise to higher levels of spirituality, intellectuality, good intentions and closer brotherhood in order to overcome our challenges and should we do so, no foreign hands (wicked, evil, bloody or whatsoever) could ever succeed to bring harm to our nation.

Our nations challenges are not our personal benefits nor are our personal joy and practice of power; these challenges are sacred mandates to all of us to end the painful suffering from every individual in our nation that have been suffering for generations. No force in the world is capable to split or harm our nation unless we are week enough or we are willing, accepting and supporting this force.

I urge all my great nations intellectuals, leaders, and patriots to take a moment of peace away from any anger or egoism and gather in a genuine efforts to stop preferring our personal ambitions upon those of our nations and stop blaming others for our faults and start a calm, rational and civilized discussion and have this crisis be resolved once and for all and only then we could show and tell the whole world how a great nation we are.

Alfred Alkhas


There seems to be heaps of puzzlement amongst our people regarding the ancient history of the Assyrians. I don’t believe that we are spending enough time (or any at all) informing and educating the children on our glorious history, culture and civilization. When I was younger nobody ever taught me about the history of the Assyrians or how they came about to existence. I never knew of the Akkadians, the Sumerians, and neither Hammurabi nor Gilgamesh. How can Assyrian children be brought up today and not have some foundation or knowledge concerning their ancestral dominance that existed for over 3000 years.

We always seem to enjoy our New Years parades throughout the nation on April 1st, yet our children really don’t know what the significance of our celebration means. We do a great job for funding the New Years Eve events, yet we can’t find a way to fund and promote the knowledge of our great history to our younger generation. Heck, we find ways to promote our parties at conventions and holidays better then anything you can imagine.

Depressingly as it may seem, we need to find a program that stimulates the mind of our young ones, so that confusions are avoided in the future. Nobody seems to understand our history as it is. Some have grasped the concept of it, and possibly adopted assumptions of their own perception, which is fine but still causes controversies to arise.

I am challenging the Churches and Organizations to provide a program for all of the Assyrian, Chaldean, Suryanees, Maronite, and Syriac children that will require them to be educated on the Ancient History of the Assyrians. This way they will be proud of who they are and what they are. From a psychological stand point this will give them the confidence they need for the rest of their lives and they will be able to pass it on. This is a lengthy process and it will take some time and I will do the best that I can to jump start it.

Michael Benjamin Younan


Lately, it has been evident that many Assyrian Organizations have been formed for the same redundant purposes, to speak and represent the Assyrians living in the nearby communities. In Chicago, there are enough organizations to speak for millions of citizens, this goes without criticism. Compelling as it may sound, too many is too much to handle. In some aspects, it almost seems as though these organizations are competing against one another causing pandemonium and upheaval.

In a sense, it seems as though the Assyrians are being misrepresented. We are not getting the proper recognition we should be receiving. The Kurds, which are less populated than the Assyrians in America, are held with higher regards and seem to have the upper hand in the United States when dealing with the issues in Iraq. Why aren’t the Assyrians mentioned in the news? Why are the Kurdish Troops fighting along side the Americans and getting media coverage on CNN? Why aren’t the Assyrians in that position? Could it be misrepresentation?

Our Assyrian Legislatures have done a lot for us and I personally commend them for it, however, it seems as though they have not done enough. We need to find a way to break this wide open. In a sense it’s as we have we climbed the mountain but we just haven’t reached the peak yet. I’m sure the Assyrian Legislatures have been lobbying ample amounts of money to Congress to fight for our rights and freedom in Iraq but yet problems are still forth and coming. Rev. Ken Joseph recently stated that our Assyrians are being harassed, raped and victimized in our homelands and the problems continue to increase.

In closing, I hope that by the grace of God, all Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, Maronite, and Souryanee Organizations find a way to work together as one. This will allow our people to be represented in the proper manner. One voice speaking loudly for all. Until this has been accomplished, nothing will be held in high regard in the eyes of our great politicians of the United States or any other Nation. They will judge us as distrustful to each other and treat us as such. For feedback please email me at michael_younan@yahoo.com

Michael Benjamin Younan


The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the Assyrian Aid Society of America once again participated in the Human Race Walkathon on Saturday May 10th at Shoreline Park in Mountain View. The Walkathon is a festive occasion where thousands of people gather every year to support honorable causes through charity organizations of their choice.

This year National Semiconductor sponsored our team and matched the donations. Walkathon 2003 was a huge success for our chapter. Seventy people signed up and we raised over $7,000 (including matching funds). Silicon Valley Volunteer Center which organizes the Human Race Walkathon takes a 25% share of the proceeds, thus the net amount raised for our chapter was over $5,000. This money will provide humanitarian relief for our people in our Homeland through the Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq.

We express our gratitude to all the people who supported us either by donating money or participating in the 5K walk.

Assyrian Aid Society
Santa Clara Chapter

Surfer's Corner


The Assyrian National Council of Stanislaus (Mootva Umtanaia Aatooraia d'Stanislaus) completed its elections a short while back. It is now preparing for the swearing in of the new officers. This will be done at a dinner dance party on Friday, June 6, at the Assyrian Civic Club of Turlock.

If you are interested in mingling with the honorary invitees who include state and federal senators and congressmen, presidents of local universities, and mayors of surrounding towns, this will be your opportunity to do so. I have several tickets available for this event. Tickets are $25 each.

Please let me know if you would like to reserve one or two seats while there is room.


Installation of Officers Dinner Dance Party
Assyrian National Council of Stanislaus
Time: 7:30 PM
Date: Friday, June 6
Place: AACC of Turlock
Donation: $25 per person
Singer: Walter Aziz

For Information Contact: Bernadette Khanania @(209) 606-7872

Bellos Nisan
Public Relations Committee


As we informed you earlier, the 2nd World Assyrian Conference will be held in Moscow between June 27 and 29, 2003. The main topic of this Conference is “Assyrians Today: Historiography and Linguistics”. And within the framework of the Conference a Satellite Symposium “Future of Iraq” will also be held.

We apply to you, if you wish to participate in the work of the Conference and Symposium, to send us the following information for a visa reception before May 27, 2003:

- Full name
- Birth date
- Citizenship
- Sex
- Passport No and date of expiry
- City, where you would like to receive a visa (Russian Embassy or Consulate)
- Fax No to which we can send you an invitation.

Please, do it as soon as possible, if you want to take an active part in elaboration of objective strategy for further development and preservation of the Assyrian nation.

Please, send by E-mails:

or by fax:

Organizing Committee


A Zinda Magazine Public Bulletin
29 May 2003

Dear Assyrians:

It is my great pleasure to inform you that we will be hosting the 70th National Convention to be held in Rosemont, Illinois duirng the Labor Day weekend, August 28, 2003 to September 1, 2003.

As part of the convention program the National Convention Committee is organizing the "Ninth Annual Youth Excellence Pageant", a program that promotes and rewards education, talent, knowledge of the Assyrian language and history, and good character amoung our young Assyrians. The pageant is also intended to instill the sense of Assyrianism in the hearts and minds of our youth.

Please go to the link below for the Application packet which includes the criteria required to participate in the pageant, the application form, and other necessary documents.


Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


Denise Gewargis


(ZNDA: Los Angeles) Assyrian film producer, Beni Atoori's 'The Jimmy Show' (starring Frank Whaley, Ethan Hawke, and Carla Gugino) is now available for purchase and rental at Stonelock Pictures, Blockbuster.com, and Amazon.com's websites.

After many accolades and months of waiting, audiences across the globe are now able to watch this highly acclaimed film in the comforts of their home.

Based on the Jonathan Mark Sherman play Veins and Thumbtacks, 'The Jimmy Show', set in the 1970s and '80s, is about Jimmy (Frank Whaley), a failed New Jersey inventor who abandons his work to become a stand-up comedian. Audiences on the amateur comedy circuit aren't known for their gentility, and following several disastrous shows, Jimmy takes up a new "profession," boozing, which further strains his relationship with his family. As the film progresses, Jimmy's monologues grow darker and ever more sinister. This is a wonderfully introspective film for all those with hopes and dreams.

To find out more about the movie, please click on: http://www.StonelockPictures.com/JimmyShow.html

Jude Calvillo
Director of Development
Stonelock Pictures, LLC



When it comes to Assyrians, the negative image I have about politics has overshadowed the very few glorious moments this word has ever acquired within the community. National and international political consequences have devastated the Assyrians throughout the 20th century. Therefore, it was natural that I cared less for it through much of my life. However, the name issue and the introduction of the various compromises regarding the Assyrian name has brought me ever close to the political aspects of the Assyrian name affairs. The further I thought about the name issue; discussed it; listened to other opinions; and considered the real situation on the ground, the clearer it became that resolving it could not be decided on emotional outburst and rhetoric especially at the present time because of well known rooted problems. I have looked at the matter from both the academic/historic and the political sides carefully. I can say confidently that I do understand the name dilemma and its ramifications on the future of Iraqi Assyrians and perhaps on the Assyrians around the world. Having stated that, I still found myself torn between the deeply rooted historic and academic facts available to us from one side and the political aspects of the name from the other.

When the latest name compromise issue became public, I felt obligated to write these thoughts and facts in order to give the readers a better opportunity to weight the issue objectively.

I have been a strong supporter of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) in the last eight or nine years, in one shape or another. My conviction to support the ADM came very natural; it became stronger with time. The majority of Assyrians in north of Iraq who witnessed the ADM experience throughout the last 11 years support it. Of course the Assyrians in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul, Basra and other regions, who were under the previous dictatorship did not have the same privilage and could not live the same experience. Hence the latter group is not in a good position to pass judgment on the ADM. One cannot win the support of people if he/she did not live up to their expectations. Hundreds of thousands of Assyrians in north of Iraq cannot be wrong, let us face it. One can fool ten, twenty, hundred people, not thousands. Hence, I have supported almost all the ADM decisions in Iraq, or should I say the known decisions we are familiar with here in the west, because the ADM is on the ground there and they know better what is best for Assyrians in Iraq. However, this should not mean that I must agree with every single decision the ADM makes. For example, the use of a compound name "AssyroChaldean" or "ChaldoAssyrian" introduced by the ADM recently, as part of the political compromise, misses several important considerations but it can suite current Assyrian political dilemmas in Iraq or certain other regions.

From the political point of view, and throughout the history of modern Iraq, established in 1921, Iraqi governments, and lately Kurdish political factions since 1991, have played and used the name issue against the Assyrians. Iraqi governments understood that they could not ignore the legal and legitimate rights of the indigenous Assyrians. Therefore, the Iraqi governments, and Kurdish leaders lately, have used the "Christian denominational" or "tribal" cards to undermine any Assyrian national or ethnic aspirations. On one side of the coin, they used few loyal "Christians" in certain governmental positions in order to prove to the world that they were tolerant of the "Christian" community. This policy has been used since the early 1920s. On the other side, they oppressed, persecuted, harassed, and terrorized the ethnic Assyrians, which explains why the majority of the Assyrian people are living in the Diaspora today.

Before I continue, allow me to throw in these questions. Are we politically matured to make a political decision? Do we have the vision to distinguish between what is beneficial for us and what is not? And most importantly, have the Diaspora Assyrians been politically active to dictate what is appropriate for the Assyrians in Iraq?

The United Nations through its Economic and Social Council organ has issued many resolutions calling for the protection, recognition, and promotion of rights of the indigenous people in its various plenary meetings. Such resolutions include:

*Resolution 1982/34 in the 28th plenary meeting of 7 May 1982;
*Resolution 1986/34 in the 19th plenary meeting of 23 May 1986;
*Resolution 1988/35 in the 16th plenary meeting of 27 May 1988;
*Resolution 1996/24 in the 46th plenary meeting of 23 July 1996, and others.

Are the Assyrians the indigenous people of Iraq? History says yes. If so, what have the Diaspora Assyrians, who have all the freedom in the world, done politically to acquire that status, which applies to them legitimately? What have the Diaspora Assyrians done to assure their Assyrian brethrens' recognition and protection as the indigenous people of Iraq?

In addition, the United Nations has issued many resolutions that protect the minorities. Such resolutions include for example:

*Resolution 1986/33 of 19th plenary meeting on 23 May 1986,
*Resolution 1990/39 of 14th plenary meeting on 25 May 1990,
*Resolution 1991/30 of 13th plenary meeting on 31 May 1991,
*Resolution 1992/4 of 32nd plenary meeting on 20 July 1992,
*Resolution 1995/31 of 52nd plenary meeting on 25 July 1995, and others.

Furthermore, numerous United Nations resolutions in regards to:

*Social Justice: Resolution 1988/46 of 16th plenary meeting on 27 May 1988 and Resolution 1990/25 of 13th plenary meeting on 24 May 1990.
*Human Rights: Resolution 1987/14 of 14th plenary meeting on 26 May 1987; Resolution 1988/5 of 12th plenary meeting on 24 May 1988; Resolution 1989/81 of 16th plenary meeting on 24 May 1989; Resolution 1990/48 of 14th plenary meeting on 25 May 1990; and Resolution 1992/11 of 32nd plenary meeting on 20 July 1992.
*Compensation for Victims of Gross Violations of Human Rights: Resolution 1990/36 of 14th plenary meeting on 25 May 1990

All these resolutions entitle the Assyrians protection, freedom, social justice, national, civic, religious, linguistic, cultural, and political rights. What have the Diaspora Assyrians done to assure that these resolutions are transformed into the new Iraqi constitution? Did we prepare ourselves to face a day like today?

If we analyze the path of the Diaspora national movement, we could conclude that it has failed the Assyrian people. World affairs today are dictated by successful collaboration and effective communication with certain powers around the world. Since the Assyrians' mass migration that started some 30 years ago, how much time have the Diaspora Assyrians invested with the democratic and powerful governments around the globe? It is safe to say that the collaboration of the Assyrians with the western governments and international institutions in connection to their national affairs has been trivial. In general, the Assyrian political organizations and their respected leaders have been involved in petty matters. They have been indulging in senseless and meaningless arguments for so long. In their best moments, when Assyrian leaders got together to show a united stand, their meetings always proved in time a serious deficiency in real organization. In other words, their declarations did not spell defined strategy, did not address the ways and means to accomplish any points agreed upon, and most importantly there never were follow-ups to ensure compliance and progress. Consequently, declarations remained ink on paper and worthless. Furthermore, and in most cases, those meetings lacked one or another segment of Assyrian society, and hence a collective thought was always missing. Contrary to this, it seems to me that the Assyrians of Iraq, through the ADM, have positioned themselves politically to face the new challenges despite unfavorable conditions. We wished for a meaningful and productive understanding between the Assyrians in Iraq and those in the Diaspora to face today's challenges together. This was very vital because the Assyrians in Iraq have been under great pressure from the various groups, whether Arabs or Kurds, and the political and moral support of those in the Diaspora was essential. But such support and understanding did not materialize, with the exception of non-significant monetary assistance.

Consecutive Iraqi governments and certain Kurdish political organizations and leaders realized that two major things needed to be done in order to undermine and marginalize Assyrians' rights. These rights were in conflict with the pan-Arab and pan-Kurdish movements. First, they kept the Assyrians busy in internal conflicts through the ever-popular rule of divide and conquer by using one religious denomination or organization against the other. Second, certain pan-Arab revisionists have in a malice way embarked on rewriting the history of Iraq and succeeded to obscure, marginalize, and distort the Assyrian presence in the region for some time and that we must overturn. Meanwhile, revisionist Kurds, since 1991, have begun an intensive campaign to rewrite their own history and mainly on the expense of the Assyrians'. How effective they have been on the international scene? That is not hard to figure out if we examine the outrageous publications about the Kurdish claims and their presence in Iraq that have been published in the West. The Kurds have effectively used the large sums of grants they have received in the last 12 years whether from European countries or the United States or through the millions of dollars they raised by controlling transit taxes through Iraqi borders that has been under their control since the establishment of the No-Fly Zone in 1992. One cannot ignore the numerous conferences organized by universities throughout the western world geared towards the Kurdish cause and the overwhelming publications in the same regard through such monies. One can easily assert that the Kurdish case has gained its worldwide publicity through the last 10 years or so. The power of money has much to do with it for sure. Can the Diaspora Assyrians afford to remain idol in allowing this to continue and what measures could be taken to limit the damage done already? Diaspora Assyrians must tackle such issues, which must be the core of their political work away from the continuous unfruitful bickering against one another.

From the historic point of view, Assyrians' history in the present region of Iraq is a glorious one. Historical, academic, archaeological, and church records speak loudly of such history, whether Assyrians were referred to as Ashuraye, Athuraye, Suraye, Suryaye, Nestornaye (Nestorians), or Yaqubaye (Jacobites), and most recently as Kaldaye (Chaldeans). Self-claimed historians today no longer can deny the rich Assyrian history in a reasonable argument. With the introduction of many previously unknown accounts and documents, the Assyrian history is finding its place among world academics today. Still, we cannot afford to rely solely on certain good scholars to defend our history; we too must work hard to reach the international community and familiarize it with our cause.

Individuals or people as a whole in various aspects of life have succeeded to survive because they learned how to make bold decisions in those moments when they faced critical times and periods of distress. The Assyrians are facing such moments in Iraq today. Realizing this, the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) has taken a courageous stand in order to stop the bleeding and the efforts of certain separatist groups who continue to work to undermine and marginalize Assyrians' rights. In its various steps, the ADM has positioned itself to ensure that Assyrians have their rightful place in future free Iraq. Many claim that by adopting the compound title "AssyroChaldean" or "ChaldoAssyrian," the ADM is emancipating a vision, a political vision. Is the ADM jeopardizing and marginalizing Assyrian history? I will leave that to the reader to decide after putting these thoughts about certain points for analysis.

I need to point to certain implications regarding these compound terms "AssyroChaldean" and "ChaldoAssyrian." A point worth understanding is whether we are treating the title Assyrian as a noun or an adjective.

The English dictionary defines:

1. A Noun as a word that is the name of a subject of discourse, i.e. person, place, people, etc.
2. An Adjective as a word that typically serves as a modifier of a noun.
When we say "ChaldoAssyrian," Chaldo here modifies the Assyrian. We can at the same token say Nestorian Assyrian, Jacobite Assyrian, Presbyterian Assyrian, Good Assyrian, faithful Assyrian, etc.

Meanwhile, when we say "AssyroChaldean," it is a new ball game all together. ChaldoAssyrian is less controversial because there was a term known as Chaldo or Kasdo (for Chaldean) in history, therefore saying ChaldoAssyrian does not take anything away from the historical word Chaldean. Of course, one must distinguish between the present day Chaldeans, i.e. Catholic Assyrians, and ancient Chaldeans; two words that have no connection historically and one must take into consideration the real meaning of the term Chaldean, defined as astrologer by mant historians. Meanwhile, saying AssyroChaldean, "Assyro" here means nothing. I am not aware of anything known as "Assyro" in history. Therefore, by using AssyroChaldean we are doing the Assyrian name great injustice. Still, it worth mentioning that the compound title AssyroChaldean was used by the French authorities, because of the influence of the Vatican monks, mainly French, during World War I and later it was mentioned in the Treaty of Sevres of 1920, contrary to ChaldoAssyrian, which was not in use. With this, we face further complications. One simply cannot satisfy everybody; that is the sad reality.

Still, in both "AssyroChaldean" and "ChaldoAssyrian," the fact remains that we are forgetting the representation of the Suryoyo or Suryan segment of our society. One wonders, what was the U.S. Census 2000 mess then all about. Were those collaborating in the Census 2000 playing a temporary game to gain the support of the members of the Syrian (Suryan) Orthodox and Catholic Churches when they introduced the slashed Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac formula? Well, today, few leaders from both the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Assyrian side, who are propagating the "AssyroChaldean" term, are claiming that the population of the Suryoyo or Suryan is small in Iraq; hence, it is not that important to include them in the present formula? I found this very disturbing and I reject such thought completely. It is unforgiving to exclude the Suryoyo (Jacobite) Assyrians, Nestorian Assyrians, Presbyterian Assyrians, and few others at the expense of Chaldo Assyrians; there is no justification for this at all.

I have tried to address this issue from different points of view, and as the reader can see, none of the introduced compound names seems appropriate. Still, the point is, are we addressing this issue from the historical or political point of view?

Despite the fact that "Politics" and "Academics" might influence each other, they still are considered two different things. Sound policy-making demands vision and flexibility; a stiff young tree is bound to break against strong winds. Although the Assyrian national movement in Iraq is 80 years old, still, the organized movement is only 30 years young. This young Assyrian national movement cannot survive if it neglected and ignored the current reality and conditions on the ground. Fact remains that many Assyrians (known also as Chaldeans and Suryan) are still denominational, tribal, narrow-minded, and immature in their national thoughts and nature. Whereas education will overcome this mentality with time, today's politics, as claimed by the supporters of the new compound name, demand from all of us to accommodate such political compromise if we were to have a meaningful presence in future Iraq.

Do we want to see 1921 all over again? Do we want to propagate and promote separation or do we want to learn from the mistakes of the past? What is my message here? Am I re-evaluating my previous convictions that the congregations of the Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Syrian Orthodox Church, and many smaller Syriac-speaking churches, are not ethnically Assyrians? Let me assure the reader, not on my life and neither is the ADM in my opinion.

While Assyrian history is the writings on the wall, golden print that is immortal, politics, in general, are temporary measures meant in essence to assure the well-being of the people. Although part of me wants to support this new political compromise for sake of unity, still, certain reservations continue to haunt me. How would we be represented in the new Iraqi constitution? This is one question. Furthermore, one must learn from the past. The "Chaldean side" promised unity through the Census 2000 slashed title Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac. However, we are aware what bishops Ibrahim Ibrahim and Sarhad Jammo and those few behind them did later! These same people ignored the presumably unifying Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac category they introduced earlier and submitted several requests to U.S. government officials demanding separate ethnic identification. Today, many of us expect that the term “AssyroChaldean" or "ChaldoAssyrian," to be accepted by many parties involved, however, one can ask for how long and what could the separatists do next? Iraq will be a democratic country. Democracy will ensure freedom for every thought and agenda across the spectrum. Even if the term "ChaldoAssyrian" or "AssyroChaldean" would find agreement within many of our people in Iraq, one cannot avoid the fact that certain groups will establish Assyrian only, Chaldean only, or other exclusive organizations, something that we must consider.

In conclusion, I need to emphasize on what I have stated already. I have been a supporter of the ADM and I still am because I have lived to witness much hope from this movement during the last 11 years. Yes, the ADM has not been perfect in certain aspects, but that is only expected from a young organization that has learned from its experiences and matured in some very unusual circumstances. But the question that I keep asking myself, should I believe in history and the fact that we are nothing but "Assyrians" or should I subscribe to this new "political compromise"?

There seems to be certain truth in the fact that various Assyrian segments are requiring a political compromise. What is my role here as an Assyrian not living in Iraq? What is the best for our people in Iraq? What is most important at this moment is that any compromise must assure the unity of Assyrians in Iraq, with all their denominations, because it would be a disaster if we compromised on our name today and still did not gain the political advantage sought by such compromise, through the constitution. Last thing we want to see is two separate names Assyrians and Chaldeans in the new Iraqi constitution.

I personally would have preferred the more historic "Assyrian" name or yet the inclusive "Assyrians (including Chaldeans and Suryan)" compromise in exchange for a better national future for all the Syriac-speaking people in Iraq. But the question remains, am I in position to speak on behalf of the Assyrians in Iraq? Well, maybe not. Still, this is my name and changing or altering it makes it my business.

Fred Aprim



At a time, in which many Assyrian communities seem to lack cultural centers, the Assyrian Association of Augsburg celebrates its 25th jubilee. 25 years of successful work in the cultural and social ambit. How did we become such a stable and repudiated institution?

It all started in 1978, when a few active youngsters pondered the idea of establishing an Assyrian association in the city of Augsburg in Germany, due to the fact that many Assyrians gathered and settled there. Basically our goal was based on the assembly of our people. Furthermore it served on one hand the maintenance of our culture and language through for the future generations, and also to boost the integration of our people into the local public and community.

To reach these goals the association concentrated on presenting our culture and developing different committees like the Dance Group, Ladies’ Auxiliary, Sport’s Committee, Youth Committee and the Drama Group. In being active to an almost professional degree as it is with our Drama Group with its outstanding productions like “Gilgamesh”, “Babylon” and soon to go on stage, “Lilith”, the association has succeeded in making our nation known not only in the region, but also across Europe.

Another essential committee of our association is certainly its independent youth group, called the Assyrian Youth Group of Augsburg, which counts for more than sixty youngsters between the ages of 14 and 30. In addition to running meetings, parties and other fun activities, every year the youth organizes seminars and camps, dealing with the Assyrian history and identity. Another effort of the youth is the establishment of a language course to teach the members in writing and literature. Thus the Youth Group aims to educate the Assyrian youngsters to be aware of their history and identity. Moreover, the youth in our organization was one of the moving forces that inspired the foundation of the Assyrian Youth Federation of Central Europe last year.

Especially after moving to its new facilities in 1999, our association has become commenced new projects and is ushering into other further spheres, in particular motivating the younger generation to be actively involved.

Finally, the Assyrian Association of Augsburg- Hudro d’Bethnahrin- has increased in the last 25 years to a stable institution, and has become a cultural centre for all Assyrians of all ages in the city of Augsburg. Consequently, as a youngster, raised and influenced by this association, I hope that the younger generation will keep on the successful work and even try to extend it for our nation’s sake to preserve our language and cultural heritage.

On the occasion of its 25th jubilee, our association will celebrate a five-day festival, in which the different departments of the club will present their work in form of little performances, plays or exhibitions. In addition there will be hold two panel discussions on the integration of the Assyrians in Augsburg and the Assyrian Question in the 21st Century. Of course, there will be likewise parties and a soccer tournament to celebrate the jubilee together with the members of the club and all the guests from abroad.

Everyone is welcome!

Nicme Seven


Schedule of Activities at the 25th Anniversary Festivities in Augsburg

Calendar of Events

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(United Kingdom)

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