Where Assyrians Get Their News.
101 San Fernando Street, Suite 552
San Jose, CA  95112  U.S.
Voice (408) 918-9200
Fax (208) 723-1240
20 Tdabaakh 6753
Volume IX

Issue 25

11 August2003
return to zindamagazine.com

If you are printing the magazine from your web browser, click here.
This Week In Zinda

cover photo

  Zowaa, Hands Off the AANF!
  A Narrative of A Meeting with Kucukaydin
…That It May Not Be Repeated Again
  AINA: PUK and KDP Deny Knowledge of Assyrian School Situation
Assyrians Return to Mardin, Turkey
ABC News Interview with Family of Tariq Aziz
Iraq Sues Marvel Comics & Director Ang Lee
  Shuraya Celebrates 25th Anniversary
Lina Nissan Passed Away on Martyrs’ Day
Christian Science Monitor Interview with Yonadam Kanna
FlowCom to Buy Karl Suleman’s Froggy

Frustrated with our “Leaders”
No Need for Personal Attacks
Return of the Assyrian Stolen Generations to Mother Assyria

  Zowaa Political Rally in San Jose
Rossiniano Festival in Italy Presents Semiramide
Call for Papers: Fifth Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies
  A Forgotten Genocide - A Forgotten People?
  Nadia Mirza: Iraqis are Confused, But Also Grateful




Zinda in Adobe Acrobat Format

Zinda Magazine in Adobe Acrobat Format

Zinda Magazine is now also available in Adobe Acrobat format.

Download the Magazine

Download Acrobat Reader from adobe.comYou will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this document.


Zinda Says

Zowaa, Hands Off the AANF!

Opinions on the use of the compound name, Chaldo-Assyrian or Assyro-Chaldean, in Iraq continue to divide the Assyrian public, in the United States in particular. Many believe that the use of this term in Iraq may soon be accepted by other communities abroad and soon every Syriac-speaking individual could be identified as a Chaldo-Assyrian. An event which took place on Saturday in Chicago may confirm the suspicions of these skeptical nationalists.

Reliable sources to Zinda Magazine have confirmed that on Saturday, 9 August, a dinner party was attended by the heads of several Assyrian organizations and the Chaldean Federation of America. Attendees also included members of the Assyrian American National Federation’s executive board who presumably attended the event on behalf of their own local groups and organizations. These included Mr. Alaiden Khamis, Vice President of the AANF; and Advisor, Mr. Gilyana Yonan.

Apparently the most significant topic of discussion at this event was the possible merger of the two federations, namely the Chaldean Federation of America and the Assyrian American National Federation. As often is noted in this column, any means of bringing together the disparate factions and groups within the Assyrian nation must be praised and supported. However, what alarmed our editorial staff was the true intentions of this gathering when we discovered that a key player in such negotiations was absent on this evening. Zinda Magazine was informed that the president of the AANF did not attend the dinner. In fact according to the office of president Atour Golani, he was not even informed of such a gathering in Chicago.

A “Chaldean” source who attended this event has told Zinda Magazine that there were as many as 40 people in attendance. The Chaldean Federation of America was not aware that Mr. Golani was not informed about this event and that a high-ranking member of the AANF had promised the CFA that local organizations in Chicago will soon be rallying support for the merger of the two federations. Furthermore, at the upcoming National Convention in Chicago a proposal for the merger of the two organization and the adoption of a new compound name would be put before the AANF delegates.

Ever since the adoption of the compound name to designate the Syriac-speaking people of Iraq, the Assyrian Democratic Movement has encountered stiff resistance in North America. According to a local chapter organizer in the United States, the number of individual contributions to Zowaa in California has gone down since May of this year. The abrasive and politically motivated attacks aired on the AssyriaSat television program have further inflamed the public anger. Mr. Yonadam Kanna, Secretary General of the ADM is often called a “traitor” on the air and accused of selling off his identity. Even the author of this editorial has not escaped the wrath of Sargon Dadesho and his blindly supportive team of followers.

The attendees at the dinner function in Chicago comprised of the ADM supporters from Illinois and Michigan. Mr. Khamis is an ardent Zowaa supporter and as many other Zowaa sympathizers in the AANF does not appreciate the affiliation of his organization to the Assyrian Universal Alliance. The AANF under the control of the ADM from Iraq would in turn provide a greater market share for Zowaa in North America and guarantee a favorable outcome during all future general elections and negotiations in Washington. Mr. Khamis is a possible candidate for president in the 2004 AANF elections.

Mr. Golani has been quite active since he learned about the absence of his name from the guest list. In a memo to the AANF officials on Tuesday, he demanded the immediate resignation of all those “who attended an unauthorized meeting on behalf of the Federation”. He writes: “All their duties on behalf of the Federation shall seize to exist… These people will no longer have any association with the AANF and its affairs.”

Whether these individuals in question attended the meeting on behalf of the Assyrian American National Federation is yet to be determined. What is of importance in this case is the immediate effect of the use of the compound name in Iraq. The “local accord” in Iraq may soon take a new turn and expand into other important social, religious and political domains outside of Bet-Nahrain.

The local and national leaders of Zowaa in North America carelessly use such phrases as the “Assyro-Chaldean Martyrs” or “Chaldo-Assyrian history” and “AssyrianChaldean kings” in their political rallies and public speeches. The truth of the matter is that neither King Ashurbanipal nor Molphono Naom Faiq were Chaldo-Assyrian, nor at any time did likes of Dr. David Perley intend for the AANF to become representative of specific religious groups within the Assyrian nation.

The Assyrian American National Federation is the umbrella representative of 37 local Assyrian organizations in the United States, serving its affiliates regardless of their religious affiliation and background. Such religious and linguistic designations as “Chaldean”, “Suraye”, or “Syriac” cannot be applied to the collective national identity of “Assyrian”. The use of compound name in Iraq was and is a negotiated compromise among local political and religious groups to define a singular leadership in the interim post-Saddam Iraq.

What were the officers of the AANF thinking on Saturday evening when the CFA executive group noticed Mr. Golani’s empty chair? That somehow he will be missed by all attendees? Such immature miscalculations and impromptu acts harbored by the ADM sympathizers are costing the real Zowaa fighters in Iraq a great deal of foreign support. Let us not absurdly complicate the situation further for our fellow Assyrians in Iraq. As for the compound-name supporters in America, hands off the AANF! On the 70th anniversary of the establishment of this national organization, no foolish impromptu acts can alter or wipe away the true and collective 7,000-year-old identity of the Assyrian people.

Wilfred Bet-Alkhas

The Lighthouse

A Narrative of A Meeting with Kucukaydin

The appointment was for midday but we got there about fifteen minutes late, as it is not easy to find a place in Germany if you only speak English. We waited by the car as Sabri went to make sure that we have got the right house, five minutes later he came down to call us up, accompanied by this man that comforted me just by his presence; he was kind, cordial and seemed to posses a surreal tranquility.

This man was Demir Kucukaydin and we were there to interview him for a Seyfo documentary, produced by Firodil Productions.

From left to right: Demir Kucukaydin, Sabri Atman, Isa Nahroyo and the author

I sat observing the apartment, as Jeet the Camera man started setting up the equipment. The faces framed on the walls seemed to converse with me, each telling me a story that differs from the other, yet they all formed a totality portraying a struggle of good verses evil. Suddenly my mind along with my eyes zoomed to the corner where Kucukaydin was setting, and now looking through his serene eyes I could almost see and feel the pains and perils, which he has endured for choosing to have a stance where democracy and justice are proclaimed but not found.

Kucukaydin is a dissident writer and thinker. He spent many years of his life in Turkey’s political prisons. He now lives in Germany and continuous with his struggle for a better world. A world where equality prevails and the majority is not exploited by an oligarchy that guards its interests with tyranny.

As we got more acquainted and once he managed to decipher my Azari Turkce (the Turkish spoken in Kirkuk, Iraq), I asked him why Turkey is in denial of the Assyrian genocide and why are the people in Turkey so far fetched from the facts?

He instantly transformed from this tranquil man that I had come to know to a source of vigour and information. I felt as if he was drawing it all from his years of struggle and like a volcano that is finally ready to erupt he said, “It is no surprise that Turkey denies the Assyrian genocide, for the current state of Turkey has been built on the blood and bones of over four million Christians Assyrians, Armenians and Pontos Greeks.”

“To be quite honest with you I have been politically active as far as I remember but only twenty years ago I came to know that there were Assyrians and Kurds in Turkey. It is ironic that this revelation did not occur when I was a normal youth roaming the streets of Istanbul but in the political prisons where I met a few Assyrians and Kurds. So let it not surprise you that the common citizens in Turkey are ignorant of the true facts when it comes to the matter of the genocide. This is the result of biased media, books and the curriculum taught at the schools.”

After a warm cup of tea we started filming again and he said, “We often hear of Armenians and Assyrians lobbying for the recognition of genocide in Europe and America. In my opinion this is wrong because they are not serious about this issue! The genocide is only brought to the fore when it serves their interests and used as a flip card only to tease and not to pressurise Turkey. You must understand that they support and help maintain the Kemalist generals in power. The Assyrians must work towards bringing a democratic change in Turkey and help Turkey to transcend to a democratic state if they want their genocide recognised, and this can only happen if they liaise with progressive individuals and democratic institutions from within Turkey”.

Perhaps the most significant statement was his reply to our final question which concerned the relationship of the Assyrian and Turkish people, and if the Turkish public perceives the Assyrian lobbying for recognition of Seyfo as antagonism. He said, “To begin with and to be sincere with you I do not think that the word genocide is enough to describe what your people have suffered in the hands of the Young Turks. You must look and find a grander expression, a term much bigger than genocide to depict your suffering, and lobby for the recognition of that”.
“On the contrary I think that Turkey’s recognition of Seyfo would be the country’s first step towards a brighter and more prosperous future. Turkey’s recognition of Seyfo is as essential for Turkey and the Turkish people as it is necessary for the Assyrians”.

On the way back driving through the fast autobahns of Germany I could not help but compare Kucukaydin’s moving words with the overt intimidations of Tansu Ciller’s and Ismail Cem’s statements made when the French National Assembly recognised the Armenian genocide. And I imagined a better Turkey if people like Kucukaydin were in power.

Nineb Lamassu 
United Kingdom

…That It May Not Be Repeated Again

The following speech was delivered last week in Sydney, Australia by Mr. Alfred Mansour on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the Semel Massacre and the Assyrian Martyrs’ Day.

* * * * *
Dear Guests,

Welcome here this evening. I hope that you are having an informative and enlightening time with us tonight.

I would like to share with you few of my thoughts in relation to the situations that we are living these days.

I think of August as a month of mixed feelings. Feelings of sacrifice and sorrow, struggle to survive, achievement and a feeling of happiness and pride.

Sorrow for Hiroshima and Nakasaki that were bombed with the terrible nuclear weapon during the month of August 58 years ago. Japanese people and the whole world remember and pray to God that what happened may not to be repeated again.

We Assyrians remember that event well and pray for the Japanese people as we understand the meaning of being wiped out from the face of earth as a result of many events that .We have suffered. Everyone knows the story of the great flood through which our hero Utnapishtim Noah saved the human race and all its creatures from extinction. Noah's journey of survival took almost a whole year but the world re-emerged. We also know well the fall of Nineveh 612 BC, the fall of Babylon 539 BC and the events that lead our land to be invaded by Persians, Arabs, Greek, Romans, Mongols, Turks and British. We do not have the time to talk in great details about these invasions but in brief we can say that our land became the fighting zone and our environment and people have suffered greatly during the many thousands of years of invasion. All through the wars that were fought to conquer our holy land many of our people lost their lives. Over one and a half million Assyrians were killed during 20 wars between Arabs and Persians in no more than 10 years. During the first and second world wars, the mass killings and destruction of history and culture resulted in the loss of more than 70 percent of our people and we were disbursed in more than 45 countries.

We remember the great Martyrs and sacrifices of 1933 in Semeileh and other Assyrian villages.

We lived through the Iraq Iran war. Which started during the month of August, and the invasion of Kuwait which took place in the month of August. We remember and grief over the innocent lives that were lost during the bombarding of our great land and people with the powerful bombs that equaled to seven and a half times more than the Hiroshima bomb. We witnessed the sanctions that extended over twelve years, the last war, the destruction of our country, people and history and the unveiling of the mass graves and crimes of Saddam on our people.

Ironically, I was reading the other day that August used to be a joyful month for ancient Assyrians. It is documented that ancient Assyrians used to celebrate their yearly sports festival during this month under the patronage of their great king Gilgamesh. They demonstrated their strengths and powers in bodybuilding, wrestling and other sports in front of him. This practice still took place during the modern Assyrian era and as such they used to call August the month of Gilgamesh.

Thinking of Gilgamesh and relating him to our current situation these days may rekindle the spark of hope in our hearts. If we consider literature, sports and art to be the mirror of a society's achievements we can see that Gilgamesh is the first person in history who gave value to the individual. He saw the importance of individuals in mobilizing and motivating the developments of societies rather than just being a reflection to their surroundings.

In literature, before Gilgamesh the individual's picture was vague with no clear definition, taking orders from the higher powers and Gods. Gilgamesh emerged as an individual who wants to take control of his destiny.. he wanted to find the secrets to eternity and to sculpture his future by his own hands. What we see today in discoveries and achievements in technology, space, medicine and biology is only an extension to the search that Gilgamesh once started the search for eternity. This is what makes me believe that we as Iraqis we have to follow the Gilgamesh example in trying to find our individuality and pull ourselves from the deep dilemma that we have been thrown into. It is time for us to take control of our own destiny and create a better future for our new generations. Let us step beyond our narrow approaches and consider the wider world society that we are part of. We too today as we do each year are trying to turn all the sadness and sorrow that we witnessed through the years into a proud moment that we commemorate in the honor of our Martyrs.

May our talk this evening about the real story of Baghdad museum and our sincere discussion that will shortly follow about our opportunities in rebuilding Assyria, may it restore our pride in our past and inspire us with hope and determination for our future.

God bless us all and thank you for listening.

Alfred Mansour

[Z-info: Mr. Alfred mansour is the past president of the Gilgamesh Cultural Centre and the current Treasurer. During his presidency the GCC celebrated the Festival of Gilgamesh at the University of Sydney, celebrated the 150th anniversary of the University and installed the statue of Gilgamesh on the grounds of the university in the year 2000.]



AINA: PUK and KDP Deny Knowledge of Assyrian School Situation

The following statement was released by the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) on 8 August 2003:

(ZNDA: Chicago) The U.S. Department of State expressed concern to representatives of the two main Kurdish parties in northern Iraq, regarding the establishment of Assyrian secondary schools in northern Iraq. Both the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) and the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) denied having any knowledge of the situation which Assyrian organizations and individuals have confirmed.

The State Department stated that both parties requested more details including the town and the local Assyrian authority which has been denied permission. Assyrians in the U.S. expressed surprise that the State Department had no knowledge of this situation. Assyrians in northern Iraq are fearful that by the time there's a resolution, the school year will be over and the Assyrian students will further fall behind.

Assyrians Return to Mardin, Turkey

Courtesy of Zaman Newspaper (12 August); by Seyhmus Edis

(ZNDA: Mardin) The Elbegendi (Kafro) Village of Mardin will be built following European standards. The dream village will have pools, tennis courts and sports facilities.

After emigrating to different European countries years ago, the Assyrians of Mardin are returning to their homeland. After 30 years, 25,000 Assyrians decided to return to the lands they were born and raised in. The Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, issued a statement in 2001 in which he stated that Assyrians can return to their villages at anytime.

A new project is to be implemented in the Elbegendi Village of Midyat town in Mardin. Already described as a dream village, the cost of the new Elbegendi Village project is quite high. In the first phase, 14 villas are to be built in the village. The villas are to be built with Midyat stones and the foundations laid in accordance with the design of historical buildings. Cost estimates for each villa is about 75-100 thousand Euros.

One of those preparing to return to Mardin is Yakho Demir, who has been living in Switzerland for 25 years and working as a hotel administrator. According to Yahko Demir, construction costs will be covered by Elbegendi (Kafro) villagers who emigrated to Switzerland and other European countries. The Elbegendi village will be built in accordance with European standards. The dream village's infrastructure will be laid underground. Old buildings will be preserved and restored. Yahko Demir said that they have received great support from Mardin Governor M. Temel Kocaklar and the GAP (Southeastern Anatolia Irrigation Project). Administration for the project has begun and the GAP has already started to drill at the village. Other plans for the dream village project include benefits from surrounding vineyards.

"The Mardin vicinity is the richest place on the earth with its historical and cultural treasures. I believe that we will grab the attention of the world with these new investments and projects. I think any foreign tourist who visits Turkey will be willing to visit Mardin as well", says Demir. "This is a start. There are more projects to come. We owe it to these lands where we were born and raised and owe our loyalty to our fellow men in these lands. We decided to pay our dues."

ABC News Interview with Family of Tariq Aziz

(ZNDA: Amman) In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Good Morning America on 11 August, the wife and children of Tariq Aziz said that the U.S. officials had not kept their part of the deal. During the interview, Mr. Aziz and his family were identified as “Assyrian Christian”.

Mr. Aziz, 66, has two sons, Ziad and Saddam, and two daughters, Zaina and Mayisa. Aziz was born in the Assyrian town of Qaraqosh in North Iraq.

Tariq Aziz's daughter, Zainab (left) wife, Violet (middle) and son, Saddam. Photo courtesy of ABC News

Aziz, a Chaldean Catholic, turned himself in April 24, days after the fall of Saddam. Under the terms of the deal, his family received safe passage to Jordan aboard a U.S. C-130 aircraft. Since then, they have lived in an apartment in the Jordanian capital of Amman provided by the Jordanian government.

Since his surrender, the Aziz family said they received just two letters from their father via the Red Cross. The latest communication, a brief note, arrived last week.

"We never saw him since that day," said his son, Saddam Aziz. "We never had any contact with him, except for the letters from the Red Cross."

White House officials have refused to comment on the allegation. The Pentagon, for its part, issued a statement maintaining all detainees in Iraq were being held humanely and in accordance with the requirements of the Geneva Conventions.

From their Amman exile, his family said Aziz truly believed Iraqi forces would rally, and said the family never even packed a bag in anticipation of the end.

Reality struck on April 9, however, said Aziz' wife, Violet. On that day, television images showed U.S. tanks in the streets of Baghdad. "We realized Baghdad had fallen and we started crying," she recalled.

The next few days passed in terror as the family moved from house to house, watching their world crumble as looters ransacked the Baathist official's Baghdad home.

"Our house has been looted," said Zainab. "Our family home has been looted and destroyed.

"Around 11:30, the Americans arrived at the house," recounted Violet between sobs. "He was sitting next to me and his sisters. They came inside and he said. 'I am ready to surrender.'"

According to Zainab, her father negotiated his surrender solely for the well being of his children and grandchildren. "I think he believed he would be treated fairly," she said.

Although the family said it feels it has been let down under the terms of the negotiation, Aziz' wife and son still have faith in his captors.

"The Americans are very fair and very good people," said Saddam. "They know who is a criminal and who is not. And I would ask them to treat my father fairly — and to release him as soon as they finish."

With a penchant for French wine, Aziz was a polished diplomat who survived the shifting fortunes under the patronage of Saddam. With his trademark Cuban cigars and his glasses and moustache, his appearance was sometimes compared to that of Groucho Marx. But the image belied his well honed political and survival skills. With a degree from Baghdad University, Aziz rose to the top of the Baath Party ranks.

His family insists Aziz has no knowledge of Saddam's whereabouts.

When asked if her father knew about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, Zaineb implied she did not believe it existed.

"They [U.S. officials] are going to detain him long enough so that they can find weapons of mass destruction; they are going to detain him for a long time," she said.

His family maintains despite the former Iraqi regime's abysmal human rights record, Aziz personally is not guilty of crimes against humanity.

"If they have proof that he has blood on his hands, there should be a trial, right?" asked Zainab.

More than three months after his surrender, Violet still holds out hope one of Iraq's most adept diplomats will make it through his latest ordeal and that she might be able to see him again.

"Insha'allah, [God willing]," said Violet with a sad smile when asked if she thought she would ever see her husband again. "Insha'allah."

Iraq Sues Marvel Comics & Director Ang Lee over Copyright Infringement

Courtesy of the Watley Review

(ZNDA: Baghdad) The interim Cultural Ministry in Iraq is taking advantage of its new freedom to file a lawsuit against Marvel Comics and film director Ang Lee, alleging that the "Hulk" is based on the ancient Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh.

"It has become quite clear, after seeing the film courteously provided by the interim military administration, that this 'Hulk' is a blatant and uncredited adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is an undeniable part of our cultural heritage," said Cultural Minister Ahmad Sattar. "We are demanding $100 million, plus punitive damages."

"Gilgamesh, like this Hulk, is mighty beyond compare: 'Like a wild bull he makes himself mighty, head raised over others/There is no rival who can raise his weapon against him.' Is this not reminiscent of the scene in the movie where the Hulk fights off American tanks?" said Sattar. "In addition, some translations of Tablets X and XI distinctly suggest that Gilgamesh was green."

Marvel Comics and Ang Lee dispute the charge. "We have nothing but the utmost respect for the newly freed Iraqi people and their culture," said a Marvel spokesman in a prepared statement yesterday. "However, the Hulk is based on Stan Lee's college roommate, not an ancient Sumerian god-king. Stan couldn't even find Sumer on a map." Lee disputed this, but declined to comment further.

The case is seen as a test for Europe's new "Cultural Heritage" copyright laws, which grant copyright dominion in perpetuity for works of art seen as intrinsic to a nation's cultural heritage. America, which has none, has protested the European laws.

"The notion of perpetual copyright protection in America has been gaining steam since Disney successfully lobbied Congress to extend its own hold on the early Mickey Mouse films," said legal expert Myra Banner. "Ironically, in doing so, Disney may have opened itself up to more lawsuits such as this." Other nations whose literary treasures have been plundered by Disney, such as France and Greece, are watching the Iraqi case closely.

"If we win this lawsuit, we pledge to use some of the damages awarded to fund our own blockbuster adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh," added Sattar. "Possibly a musical."

News Digest

Shuraya Celebrates 25th Anniversary

(ZNDA: Wiesbaden) On 26 July the Shuraya political party celebrated its 25th year of inception in the German city of Wiesbaden. Several other Assyrian political parties attended the celebrations. The speakers at this event included:

Retired Senator John Nimrod of the Assyrian Universal Alliance
Malfono Ninous Hanna of the Assyrian Democratic Organization
George Maraha of the Assyrian Liberation Party
Mr. Teri Botrus of the Assyrian National Party
Prince Anwar Muawiya al-Amawi, Prince of the Yezidis
Mr. Elie Baraghid, a representative of the Lebanese military forces
Shamasha Ghassan Younan of the Shuraya Party

Lina Nissan Passed Away on Martyrs’ Day

(ZNDA: Hasaka) Lina Nissan, the 18-year-old Assyrian girl from Syria, who was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) in 2000, passed away last Thursday in her hometown of Hasakah, Syria.

Since a bone-marrow transplant was not readily available in Syria, Ms. Nissan was brought to Canada and then the United States for treatment in 2001.

The surgeons at University of Chicago offered to perform the $250,000 operation for the $100,000 raised by the Nissan family through charity events in Chicago and from international donations.

With the help of many Assyrian families, doctors, and the generosity of several humanitarian organizations including the Assyrian Aid Society of America, Ms. Nissan was able to receive the required treatment in the United States. Her brother, Daniel, was identified as a matching donor for the crucial bone-marrow transplant.

Lina Nissan received her brother’s bone marrow in October 2002 and began a 7-week chemotherapy treatment. She returned home to Syria. Lina's condition deteriorated again this year and she passed away on 7 August surrounded by her family members and friends.

Lina Nissan is survived by her mother Wardeh, father Shimon, brothers, Daniel and David and sister Helen.

[Z-info: See Ms. Stella Alkhas' essay "The Day I Met Lina" at http://www.zindamagazine.com/html/archives/2002/10.21.02/index.php#TheLighthouse].


Christian Science Monitor Interview with Yonadam Kanna

Courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor (6 August); by Ann Scott Tyson

(ZNDA: Baghdad) Like many Iraqi politicians, Yonadam Kanna has a flair for the theatrical.

During a meeting over sugary tea in his spacious, well-appointed office, the member of Iraq's new 25-person Governing Council abruptly rises from his plush armchair. He steps into a back room, and returns gripping a three-foot- long sword.

"Don't be afraid," he says, his gray moustache curving mischievously. "This is the sword of Uday. He used it to cut women's heads off." In fact, "You are sitting in Uday's office," he tells a female visitor.

"I sent another sword to [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld to put in the US national museum to show people how criminal he [Uday] was," Mr. Kanna continues, referring to the late son of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The usually mild-mannered Kanna can be forgiven for a little victor's bravado. After repeated jail terms followed by two decades in the wilderness as an Iraqi opposition leader against the Hussein regime, Kanna relishes the irony of his new position: His Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) now occupies the sprawling Baghdad compound that formerly belonged to Uday Hussein's paramilitary group, Saddam Fedayeen.

"An empire of terrorists has collapsed," he says.

Still, the question for many Iraqis is whether Kanna's gusto will be matched by concrete achievements, as Iraq's fledgling Governing Council begins to create from scratch the framework for democratic rule in the nation of 24 million people.

The hurdles to genuine effectiveness by the council, which convened July 13, are many. First, it is an interim body approved by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which as the occupying force retains the ultimate decision-making power in Iraq.

Major international and regional groups, including the United Nations and - this week - the Arab League, have declined to recognize the Governing Council. Last month, the UN Security Council decided not to give the interim Iraqi body a seat. On Tuesday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa called the Governing Council "a start" but opted to withhold recognition until post-Hussein Iraq has an elected government.

Among the Iraqi people, the power of the body remains a question mark, interviews with residents suggest. On the extreme end of the political spectrum, some strident Shiite Islamic clerics have derided the Governing Council as a tool of American tyranny.

Finally, Iraq's very ethnic and religious diversity - reflected in the council's makeup - makes reaching consensus difficult for Kanna and others as they debate key steps in the transition to a permanent elected government in Iraq.

In one of its first major decisions, for example, the council failed after an all-day discussion late last month to select a single president. Instead, it established a rotating presidency, with nine different members serving for one month each in the order of their names in the Arabic alphabet.

"Maybe it would be better if we had one president plus some deputies," Kanna said, "but we are trying to keep the coalition together, so to keep our momentum we agreed on nine people who roughly represent the majority of the council," he said. "We did this for the sake of unity."

The council's 25 members represent all Iraq's ethnic groups including the roughly 75 percent who are Arab, 15 percent who are Kurdish, and the rest who include Turkomans and Assyrians. More than 60 percent of Iraqis - and council members - are Shiite, with more than 30 percent Sunni. Three council members are women, or 12 percent of the total, a high ratio for Arab Islamic countries. About two-thirds of members come from long-time Iraqi opposition groups, while the rest were chosen for their technical expertise.

Collective leadership is the priority, with the president mainly serving to run meetings, Kanna said. The upshot, however, could be a continued lack of decisiveness by the council.

Other primary tasks of the council include: establishing ministries and appointing ministers - which is ongoing this week; selecting Iraqi envoys to other countries; setting national economic, education, and health policy; and creating a commission to draft a new national constitution.

A new constitution, Kanna and others agree, must ensure fair representation for all groups in order to secure Iraq's long-term political stability. This week, the council is discussing a constitutional preparatory committee of 15 diverse experts who will take approximately six months to rewrite the Iraqi constitution, Kanna said.

One sensitive issue will be the role of Islam in the constitution. While the constitution should uphold religious freedom, it is also likely to include a clause expressing respect for "the Islamic culture of the majority of Iraqi people," says Kanna, who is a member of Iraq's Christian minority.

Once the constitution is complete, the plan is to hold a national referendum for Iraqis to vote on it. National elections will then take place, possibly within a year from now, according to coalition and Iraqi officials.

Relations between the interim council and the CPA have been good, Kanna says, although he and other members voice some criticisms of the coalition's handling of security problems in Iraq. After the war, Iraqis looted vast arms warehouses, "taking their pick" of weapons ranging from AK-47s to grenades, he says. Hussein released thousands of criminals before the war.

The council will meet with top coalition generals this week to push for a greater Iraqi security role, he says. One plan calls for sending an Iraqi civil defense battalion to each of the country's 18 governorates.

"The people will never be happy with tanks in the streets every day," Kanna says. "A national Iraqi force will be much more active and productive," he says, adding that Iraqi forces can better sort out "bad guys" unwittingly hired by the US-led coalition.

Despite an ambitious agenda, the council faces practical obstacles to its work. It still lacks a spokesman, has no by-laws, and has yet to define its basic institutional relationships with the CPA or local governments in Iraq. Phone communications are limited, e-mail remains a novelty to some, and security is a constant concern - one reason the council is moving to new offices this month.

Still, Kanna is optimistic as he stands on the roof of his compound. An Assyrian women's movement building and TV station have taken the place of Uday's torture chambers, and children play soccer on a field where Iraqis five months ago feared to tread.

Creating a democracy in Iraq will take time, but at least, he says, the worst is over. "We suffered 35 years," he says. "Now the best job is done, there is no more Saddam Hussein and his regime."

FlowCom to Buy Karl Suleman’s Froggy

Courtesy of AustraliaIT (13 August)

(ZNDA: Sydney) FlowCom is bidding for Karl (Khalid) Suleman’s Froggy internet business for an undisclosed sum, more than 18 months after it walked away from a previous bid. Better known as a small broadband network operator serving the corporate sector, Flowcom provided the underlying Internet service for Froggy.

In May 2002, the NSW Supreme Court banned Mr Suleman from from running a corporation for life over an unregistered investment scheme that cost more than 2,000 people, mainly from Sydney's Assyrian community, an estimated $65 million.

Froggy was last put up for sale in late 2001, along with the rest of the business empire of the Assyrian businessman Karl Suleman whose assets were liquidated after he was caught running a fraudulent investment scheme.

"This acquisition is an obvious next step in diversifying our user base, which we were not quite able to make in January 2002 when Froggy last changed hands," FlowCom chairman Neil Tuckwell said.

"We're better placed to make this sort of move now, with the support of Crown Financial, our secured creditor."

FlowCom had been the frontrunner to buy Froggy in January 2002, but walked away at the last moment and instead struck a four-year service agreement with Froggy's successful buyer, Bluejoy.

In January 2001 FlowCom was bidding against a range of parties, including OzEmail and Hotkey Internet Services, a subsidiary of US telco Primus. It offered less than $100 for each of Froggy's 30,000-strong Internet customers.

FlowCom this week announced it was acquiring Froggy's 30,000-strong customer base, as well as its infrastructure, domain names and brand.

Froggy's biggest shareholder Tim Berry had agreed to remain with the business.

FlowCom said the acquisition would help extend its presence among internet users.

"This continues the company's strategy of deriving the majority of its revenues from end-user services rather than from the carrier and reseller sector, which was the company's main market two years ago," it said.

FlowCom said Froggy already operated on its network, so the transition for Froggy's customers would be seamless.

Froggy staff and operations would continue as at present.

Surfs Up!
Letters From Zinda Magazine Readers

Frustrated with our “Leaders”

It is so frustrating to read about and watch all of the international news coverage on Iraq, but one hardly hears a whisper about the plight or the predicament of the Assyrians in Iraq. Yes Assyrians, not Christians or Christian Arabs, Christian Kurds, or any other Assyrian-slashes. It makes me wonder why are we in such a predicament? One has to search deep into our ”leadership”. Our “leaders” are all working on the same agenda, but they all have chosen the lone path. “It’s my way or no way”. They hardly talk to each other as though they were two ships passing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or any other Ocean for that matter. Even if that ocean is Iraq, United States, Europe, or any other part of the world. This communication break down is the biggest reason why we can’t come to a common ground. Our “leaders” are all so involved in building their own organizations, their own egos. They have forgotten about the need of their people. The fact is that they are all failing their agenda proves that they have no purpose for us. In the age where communication Reign supreme our leaders are living in their own virtual reality.

We need leaders who are in touch with our people, who will sit down with all other organizations in bet-nuhrain and in Diaspora. Leaders that will not compromise the future of our nations for the short term gain of their organization. We need leaders that will not belittle the works and efforts of others organizations for their own fulfillment. We need leaders that will network their efforts with other organizations and not duplicate them. We need leaders who are consistent with their decision and not change them as the climate. Our Assyrian brothers in Bet-Nuhrain need us as much as we need them. We need them to maintain our past as much as they need us to maintain their future.

We would like to call upon all of our leaders (political and religious) to come together in a national form and review all of their efforts. They need to look at what is working? What is not working and why not? They need to communicated and work together in a general consensus on where to go next? How do we raise our nation awareness and how do we get international recognition? Finally, our leaders will be held accountable for their decisions. This is why 95% of our Assyrians in the world are either passive, fearful or on the run, because our leadership lacks the backbone and the foresight. They do not think globally only singularly.

I am a frustrated with the plight of my people. Therefore I am passively waiting for our true leader (Ashour/ Sargon/ Ninos) for a call. We are all worriers for our nation, but we are still waiting for that one voice that will represents all.

Albert Warda

No Need for Personal Attacks

I apologize to Zinda Magazine and to the individuals drawn in this absurd discussion and even though I prefer to Keep quiet if the foolish speaks rather than to respond. But the reason for responding to Ms. Shemiran Daniali is to avoid being read as a sign for Silence to mean acceptance. My intentions are not and will not be at any time to attack individuals and my cause rises much higher than this sort of shameful behaviors. I tried to address the issues we are facing and they are facts because they are what we have on the ground now and they exist even if we hide our heads in the sand!

I am still asking (even begging) our parties from all ranks and sectors to be proactive, realistic and brave. However, I did not put any conditions nor forced people to accept my thoughts rather I am asking to take these actions. In turn, I would like to ask Ms. Daniali, how are you responding to people who don’t agree with your opinions?

I did not describe Mr. Kanna anywhere in my article as being a strong leader; rather I asked our nation and I quote from my article We ought to stand united behind a strong leadership backed from all parties, groups and organizations and it is obvious that I did not mention any names here. Yet if Ms. Daniali can read only one name then my message to her is: “Mr. Kanna is our representative and our negotiator now and this is fact, whether you like it or not.”

Judging individuals might be acceptable only if based on facts and I am really surprised and must praise Ms. Daniali for her intelligence, being able to read my article as cheering ADM and Mr. Kanna for saying: I think we all agree and sincerely hope that the coming era is Iraq of democracy, and we all have our obligations and rights to denounce and replace our representatives should be held incapable of handling their duties and unable to convey, negotiate and fight for our demands properly and efficiently.

I will not slip in my discussion to this shallow level and would tell Ms. Daniali, not you nor anyone else dare to doubt my beliefs, my devotion to my nation and my patriotism. It is your business how to understand events but I would tell you that you are one of those naïve individuals who think that Mr. Kanna or the Iraqi council or whoever else can erase 7000 years of history just by our acceptance of being represented in the Iraqi council under the Christian name! To evade further personal attacks I would advise Ms. Daniali, if you do not agree on your representative then you should convey that to those who elected or selected him and that is my definition of being realistic! My question to you is: “Who elected Mr. Kanna in London to represent our “Band of Brothers” and consequently to represent our Assyrian nation and was not he selected later by Americans to represent all Iraqi Christians for this reason?”

I will not explain here how did the Americans came to select the Iraqi council, but can Ms. Daniali tell us whether Mr. Kanna chose the “Christians” term or did Americans and Iraqis dictate it to him? Or was it some Arabic media and individuals who propagate this term as we heard lately from Mr. Kanna himself?

If we have had discussed our demands for recognizing our rights publicly and reached a final conclusion on how to present them to the public, then I would ask Ms. Daniali: “Did we ever publish these demands? Did we start our campaign calling other nations and international groups to support the recognition of our rights? Talking to our fellow Assyrians only, in my opinion, is not sufficient because we all Assyrians agree on our rights (even yet to be announced). What we need is to send our message to others and convince them, not ourselves, that these rights are legitimate.

Ms. Daniali ought to know that the Assyrians as the indigenous people of Iraq is HISTORICAL fact and not only Iraqis but also the whole world recognizes our Assyrian history. If she thinks that we should start such campaign now, then she may assign this task to herself and I have some helpful hints for her to start with. She may try to convince some Assyriologists who claim that Assyrians are extinct people and maybe she could also convince O’Reilly of the FoxNews that we still exist!

Finally, I would like to tell Ms Daniali that I am fully aware of my duties and know how to respect the pen in my hand and please to keep her advise to herself because "You can’t give what you don’t have". My message to her is to be objective in her future writings, should she insist to continue, and refrain from personal attacks when she lacks the knowledge of finding the real answers and, last but not least, to learn how to behave in public before she steps out of her door.

Alfred Alkhas

[Zinda Magazine reserves the right to refrain from publishing letters that do not focus on a topic of general interest, rather the author of a previously published message. All such letters will in future be forwarded to the authors for whom they are intended only.]

Return of the Assyrian Stolen Generations to Mother Assyria

The realities of the modern situation in our modern political and scientific world have thrown up formidable challenges to the forces of religion. Hence, ecumenism, which aims at united, purposeful Christian action, can surely strengthen the citadels of faith and religion. There is a great need for few of the Assyrian clergy and their followers, those who left their mother church (Church of the East) and joined the Roman Catholic Church, to allow and permit ecumenism to take a centre point in their minds and hearts. This is a very meaningful concept. It means a search for unity and happy co-existence among various churches in its true and real form. Especially for those who share the same national ethnic name, history, culture and language. So, it clearly demands and demands rightly that those Assyrian Christian denominations that are in union with the Roman Catholic Church (Monophysites) to think again and begin to reverse course by refraining from reappointing a new head on the seat of the “uniate”. This is a time for healing and unity with the mother church (Church of the East), by accepting his Holiness Mar Dinkha IV as the supreme head of this united church that which will lead to everlasting unity under one leadership forever.

When such unity is achieved, the united church will be able to urgently enter into a dialogue with the Vatican on the bases of mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs. It will be able to examine and resolve all the outstanding differences and promote unity based on the realities and values of modern time toward achieving constructive outcome for the church of Christ. Our Church must enter into such a dialogue from the point of power not from the point of weakness, which will result in paving the way for the return of all those Assyrians that had been away for few centuries, back again to the arms of their true mother Assyria (Church of the East).

Such a move is of great importance to a nation that has lost its political rights and national land (country), like our stateless Assyrian nation (i.e. the Assyrian nation which was and is relentlessly trying hard to reclaim its ancient national land (Land of Ashur – Assyria).

Since the overwhelming majority (99%) still identify themselves by their true Assyrian ethnic national name, including the clergy within the Roman Church, it’s proper for all of them to speak up and break their silence by making their points and voices regarding their true Assyrian identity. They have to be heard loud and clear by those 1% radicals and extremists within the clergy and members of the abovementioned church.

Keeping silence at this crucial time is a sin. The silence of the majority of the faithful good men and women could make satanic souls to triumph. Herewith, I urge all 26 bishops and Archbishops of this Assyrian denomination who adherers and is in union with the Roman Church to agree to take a brave stand in this brave new world, to learn and practice what they preach in regard to love, unity, hope, mercy and compassion, by unanimously voting against the reappointment of a new head on the seat of the “uniate”. Instead, let them stand in favour of marching towards unity with the mother Church of the East and the making of the unification of our Assyrian nation a true reality again.

It’s right here that the supreme head of the Assyrian Church of the East with all its metropolitans, bishops, other clergy and all Assyrian nation world wide to even take more responsibility to facilitate all necessary path by marching towards achieving this unity for the sake of our nation and for the sake of our Assyrian national goal.

The “Ecumenism” which calls for a true unity and happy co-existence among various churches does not mean it is to be limited between clergy themselves, but to all members of the church (societies), i.e. which constitutes the great need for unity among all without being limited only between church leaders of various churches or sects (denominations). It is a sin to keep their flocks divided. What good is there for the clergy to be united among themselves while keeping their members divided? And how is it possible for the clergy to promote such an artificial unity to their members as true unity? It’s very important to achieve a true and everlasting unity without any hidden agendas and without any devastating objectives.

Let us not forget the terrible persecutions which the Assyrian Church of the East had to endure through the centuries under the non-Christian Roman Emperors who destroyed the new Assyrian Kingdom of “Essron” (new Assyria) and its capital Urhaie (Edessa) in 243 A.D. This fall was by far more bitter than the fall of Nineveh and Babel. With the kingdom of “Essron” Assyrians still had great hope to even be able to liberate the heartlands of Assur that were occupied by the Medes and the Persians which that led to the entrapment of Assyrians of Babel and their assimilations in less than 250 years. Some of them were displaced and taken to settlements around the Caspian Sea in Persia and in Louristan in southern Persia, so the Assyrians of today are beyond any reasonable doubts true remnants of Nineveh and the north – north west territories of Assyria in modern day Turkey and Syria. There the Assyrians continuously identified their ethnicity as Assyrian, by their culture and most importantly the language, and the persecutions of the Monophysites (Roman Church) followed short after 312 A.D. (when Roman Emperor Constantine officially embraced Christianity). Their Satanic planning to divide our poor Assyrian stateless nation and the Church of the East by searching for weak targets within the Assyrian territories had faced with continuous failures that lasted nearly 1358 long years. These failures drove the Monophysites to a bitter mental state of madness and jealousy towards the mother church (Church of the East). The popularity of the mother church was as such that the other two churches of that time especially that of the Roman Church were no parallel and no match for the Church of the East.

The bitter fall of the Assyrian New Kingdom of “Essrone” in 243 A.D. did not stop the contributions of the Assyrian missionaries of the glorious Church of the East to humanity and to Christianity. It was re-organised again in 247 A.D. in Seleucia and become a well organised church towards the end of the third century A.D. Since the churches in the Roman Empire were undergoing persecutions during the first three centuries of the Christian era, there was no organisation in the churches in the west. It was only after Emperor Constantine proclaimed his famous Millan Edict in 313 A.D. that the Christians in the Roman Empire could breath freely. So the organisation of the church in the west began only after Constantine had come to power in 312 A.D. He later in 325 A.D. organised the meeting of Nicea, where 318 holy fathers attended, including Mar Aprim Atouraya (Souraya). He was send by His Holiness Maran Mar Shimun Bar Sabbai. It was at this summit that the famous Nicean Creed of “We believe in one God” was prepared and approved by all.

World Historians have since recognised the importance of all contributions and sacrifices were made to Christianity and to humanity by this great Apostolic Assyrian church of the East. The names of great cities such as Urhaie (Edessa), Nissibin, Selucia, Nineveh & Many others are well known to all nations.

When the devastating persecutions of the Mongols against the Assyrians and the Church of the East ended, the hyenas, wolves and foxes of the Monophysites (Roman Church) reappeared with more efforts in searching once again for the weak targets to launch their attacks on the wounded prey (wounded lion – Assyrian Church of the East). With their first attempt in the plains of Nineveh in 1545 A.D. they interfered in the domestic dispute which existed within the Church of the East in relation to the system of appointment of the supreme head of the Church. Those against the tradition were deceived and encouraged by the French Missionaries of the Roman Church and were taken via Jerusalem to Rome to meet with the Pope. This was followed by another attempt in 1681 A.D. in Diarbaker (Ancient Assyrian city of Amed in South-Eastern of modern time Turkey) by taking an opportunist third class clergyman (priest) named Yousep to Rome. He was ordained as head of the Church for those Assyrian followers of the Roman Church. Again it was followed by their third attempt in plains of Nineveh (Capital of the Ancient Assyrian Empire) backed by the Byzantine Turks in 1830 when they began to call their Assyrian followers and church by a new name “Babel” (an Ancient Assyrian City) rather than the irrelevant name been used earlier from 16th Century. The big question is, since all the actions of the Monophysites missionaries had taken place in and around Nineveh, and since all those who had been encouraged to follow them were Assyrians-Ninevites from Nineveh and its Metropolitan suburbs and villages, why then, not selecting Nineveh or Ashur, Nimrod, Arbil, Dursharokin, Amed, Karkha D’beth Slukh (Karkuk) as a name for their Assyrian followers and church? Why select “Babel”, an Assyrian ruined city on River Prat (Euphraties) in southern Assyria (land of Assur), knowingly there had been not even one single Assyrian Christian living there at that time.

Whatever their intentions were, it proved to be very fatal for the Assyrian people and the Church of the East. They divided the Assyrian house into two. So it is clear now that their satanic intentions were to establish long term bases within the Middle East by using the indigenous Assyrian Christians who followed the Roman Church for the fulfilment of their political and economical ambitions. The Monophysites were well aware that by promoting their new Assyrian followers with that irrelevant name on the church they would be able to remain longer within the land of Assur – Assyria. The Roman Church always has focused on destroying other nations’ languages as they knew by only such a method it’s possible to wipe out any nation’s ethnic national name. This was the shortest route to assimilate nations and a fertile ground to encourage them the use another language as a replacement, ie Maronites are ethnically Assyrians. They were encouraged by the Roman Church through influences from Paris and Rome by various means to replace the Assyrian language (Sourath, Syriac – Aramaic) by Arabic which led to the Arabization of these Maronite Assyrians. The same was planned on those Assyrians that followed the Roman church from the 16th century, but this group was a different proposition. They were resisting the change of their mother language and refusing to be Arabized because they were mostly people of Nineveh and its metropolitan suburbs. It is very clear that the Romans were bitter enemies of the Assyrian language.

Their efforts were to destroy the great Church of the East, established by Christ himself on Apostolic foundation through Apostles, St. Peter and St. Thomas. By this the promise of Lord Jesus to Ugar of Urhaie was fulfilled. For this reason it spread with remarkable speed throughout Asia. The apostolic Church of the East before closing of the 3rd century A.D. had 25 Metropolitan sees and 200 Episcopal sees (bishoprics) with more than 100 million members, and by the opening of the 12th Century A.D. this church had 51 Metropolitan sees, 900 bishoprics and 180 million members. It was a great wonder how this church spread. Moreover, this expansion did not take place by earthly force. Not by worships, not by military forces, not by political agents in different countries but by the power of Jesus Christ, with only the New Testament and the cross in their possession. It’s no wonder why those fools and jealous western clergy, politicians, journalists within the Roman Church circles were busy forging history. It’s even more clear today that their aims were mainly for their unlawful economic gains and truly they were thieves and not soul saviours. Such a type of circles (French, Romans) were even propagating lies in Europe by labeling the glorious Assyrian Church of the East and its followers as unbelievers. These lies were revealed by European sources in the 19th Century, leading to the Europeans themselves including those within Rome and Paris to re-evaluate their trust with their Roman Catholic Church. Those who could hardly memorise events of 20 days prior to the writings of events, such writers exist even today with their own set of agendas and objectives. Some of them even argue that World War II has taken place before World War One!

The Vatican became a full member of the United Nations since the Geneva Convention of 1951 with a permanent seat. Therefore it must not interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, i.e. (Assyrian Nation). Such an interference by the Vatican is against the UN charters and is against the International law. It became a full state with a government and political ambitions.

So it’s right for the Assyrians to urge the international community and the great powers of today, especially all of Asia and in particular all governments of the Middle East to protest against the vicious behaviours and interferences of the Roman Church towards the Assyrian Church of the East. This is the historic church of Asia and the sole and only true custodian of the Apostolic faith and free from any political influences. It’s hoped that all the Middle East including India and china will act and return all properties of the Church of the East and the making of justice to prevail.

Worth mentioning is the execution of the Assyrian Bishop Mar Atha Alaha by the Roman Church in the 17th Century in India. He was seized on his way to Malabar and taken to Goa and burnt at the stake (crucified, blinded and burnt). The Roman Monophysites’ persecutions of the Church of the East and in particular on the Assyrians were not short of genocide.

The highest degree of faith is by use of force stop those who are trying to inflict harm to a family or a nation (for self-defence).
The second degree of faith is to stop and convince them via verbal and legal means to change course.
The third and the lowest degree of faith is to at least admit in their hearts that those who wish to inflict harm are vicious and wrong people (souls).

Note: Few sources that only are related to the history of the Church of the East were written by: Labourt, Dr Hayes, Marco Polo, the Italian famous adventurer and John Stewart .

Elias Yalda

Surfer's Corner

Zowaa Political Rally in San Jose

The Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) presents a political rally and two distinguished speakers on Friday, 15 August at San Jose’s St. Mary's Assyrian Chaldean Church at 8:00 PM. The church is located at 109 N. 1st St. in Campbell.

The speakers are Mr. Rommel Eliah, ADM representative in North America and Dr. Adam Benjamin, Executive Committee Member of the ADM. Dr. Benjamin visited Iraq in May.

ADM – Santa Clara Chapter
San Jose

Rossiniano Festival in Italy Presents Semiramide

(ZNDA: Rome) Lasts week the 24th Rossini Opera Festival was inaugurated in Italy with the presentation of Semiramide (Assyrian Shamiram), Gioachino Rossini’s masterpiece. The symphony orchestra was directed by Carlo Rizzi. Darina Takova was Semiramide, Daniela Barcellona as Arsace, Ildar Abdrazakov as Assur, and Gregory Kunde as Idreno, supported by the Prague Chorus.

The story of the Assyrian queen Semiramide presents many characters, driven by different motives, both political and ethnic, much like the current situation in Iraq.

Semiramide is set in ancient Babylon. The queen Semiramide and Prince Assur have murdered her husband, Nino, and attempted to murder her son (and heir to the throne) Arsace. Arsace has survived however, and now, 15 years later, he returns, unknown to either his mother or would-be stepfather, as a decorated commander on one of the kingdoms far-reaching frontiers.

In a case of mutual misunderstanding, Arsace asks for the hand of Azema, and Semiramide misinterprets his amorous overtures as love for her.

Semiramide's accomplice, Assur, indicates that he expects to be chosen as king, but fears the priest Oroe knows about his role in Nino's death. Indian King Idreno also joins the ceremony, who has come to the sanctuary to ask the gods' blessing on his love for the princess Azema.

Semiramide arrives with much fanfare, and prepares to announce the successor to the throne (presumably Assur) when in a great flash the sacred flame is suddenly extinguished, to the shock of the crowd. Semiramide turns to Oroe for guidance, who claims the gods are troubled by the unpunished murder of King Nino's ghost, and that an oracle will soon arrive from Memphis (Egypt) to bring order.

Later, after the frightened crowd has dispersed, Oroe returns to find the Commander Arsace, who has arrived at the temple to also receive the gods' approval for his love for the princess Azema. He carries with him a casket containing the sword and scrolls belonging to his late father, items that Oroe appears to recognize. Assur appears, and reprimands Arsace for leaving his post without his (Assur's) permission. When Assur learns of Arsace's plan to marry Azema, he threatens to kill the young commander, and Arsace in turn vows to never recognize Assur as king.

Back at the palace, Semiramide rejoices over the return of Arsace, and with her ladies in waiting await his arrival. The ambiguously worded pronouncement by the oracle at Memphis proclaims that peace will be restored with Arsace's return and marriage, which Semiramide takes to mean her own wedding to him.

Arsace arrives, and in one of Rossini's most eloquent duets, a case of mutual misunderstanding transpires. Arsace asks for the hand of Azema, and Semiramide misinterprets his amorous overtures as love for her, agrees to his request.

In the finale of Act One, Semiramide announces that Arsace is to be both king and her husband, and that Idreno will be granted Azema's hand in marriage. The bewildered Arsace is appalled, Assur is furious, Azema is disappointed, and the citizens of Babylon are confused. Just as she orders Oroe to unite Idreno and Azema, the ghost of King Nino dramatically rises from his tomb, and proclaims that Arsace will be king, but that he must enter Nino's tomb to make a sacrifice to the dead king's ashes, thus avenging his murder.

Act Two of Semiramide opens in a room at the palace, where Semiramide and Assur quarrel over their past crimes, which are beginning to unravel their reign. Assur reminds Semiramide that she had promised to marry him as his reward for his assistance in the killing of Nino, and the two threaten each other with going public with the the secret.

Semiramide and Assur each threaten to "go public" and ruin the other with the truth. Meanwhile, in the palace sanctuary Oroe and the Magi assemble to lead Arsace to Nino's tomb. Oroe reveals to Arsace that he is the son of the slain Nino and Semiramide, and therefore rightful heir to the throne, and that his mother and Assur in fact murdered his father. Arsace vows to kill Assur, but prays that his father's spirit will be merciful to his mother.

In a room in the palace. Arsace reveals to Semiramide that he knows she and Assur have killed King Nino, and that he, Arsace, is her son. Tormented by guilt, Semiramide offers her life, but Arsace is forgiving, and responds that however hateful she is in the eyes of the gods, she is still his mother. He tells her he is going to Nino's tomb to beg pardon for her, and to avenge his father's death.

In a remote part of the palace, near the tomb of Nino, Assur prepares to meet and kill Arsace, but he learns that Oroe has revealed his crimes to the people, and he therefore has no hope of becoming king. This, and his guilt, drive him to the point of madness, which he shakes off and prepares to do battle.

Oroe has guided Arsace to the mausoleum of Nino, where he will meet Assur, but Semiramide, fearful for her son's safety, has also gone there, and in the ensuing duel Arsace kills her by mistake. As Assur is led off to his judgment the horrified Arsace accepts the crown and the acclaim of the people.

The "spatial" direction of Dieter Kaegi included an enormous round table in the center stage that acted as the table of King Artu and then transformed into a conference table where the powers of the world decide on the fate of a master plan that dominates the scene.

[Z-info: The synopsis of Semiramide courtesy of the National Public Radio].

Call for Papers: Fifth Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies

Friday, May 28 through Sunday, May 30, 2004
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Bethesda, MD

The Program Committee of the Society of Iranian Studies (SIS) welcomes contributions in all fields of Iranian studies, especially new areas of investigation and/or novel approaches to traditional fields. Pre-organized panels and interdisciplinary panels, which attempt to establish dialogue between the many disciplines encompassed by Iranian studies, are particularly welcome.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is September 30, 2003. The abstracts must be limited to 250-300 words, and must present a succinct outline of the central theme and main argument of the paper. Abstracts should be sent by e-mail to: Rahimieh@mcmaster.ca. Confirmation will be sent by e-mail. Please also send paper copy of abstracts to:

Nasrin Rahimieh
Dean of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L9

Fax: +1 (905) 528-6733

The conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda. Arrangements have been made for reduced rates. To make hotel reservations, contact the Hyatt Regency Hotel directly at 1-800-233-1234 or the conference site at the following address:

Bethesda Hyatt Regency
One Bethesda Metro Center
Bethesda, MD 20814, USA
Tel: (301) 657-1234
Fax: (301) 657-6478

Individual Data

Name (first, middle initial, last):
Mailing Address:
Zip Code:
Work Phone and Ext.:
Home Phone:

The Society for Iranian Studies (SIS)
Co-sponsored by the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies (ASPS)

[Due to a strong current academic interest in the study of the various ethnic backgrounds in Iran, Zinda Magazine urges its scholarly readers to consider presenting the Assyrian Case at this academic forum.]


A Forgotten Genocide - A Forgotten People?

For the 2nd year the Austrian Section of the Assyrian Democratic Organisation (ADO) invited the President of the Austrian Federal State Parliament Johann Hatzl, numerous parliamentarians, Church honoraries, and Assyrian compatriots for a commemoration of the Assyrian Genocide ("Shato d'Seifo - Year of the Sword"). The ceremony took place at the famous ball room in Brigittenau in Vienna on May 3rd, 2003 and reminded about the Genocide, discussed its background and demanded its acknowledgment, both by the European states and by the Turkish government.

Each year, on April 24th, Christians living in Near East or originating from there – like Assyrians, Armenians or Greeks – commemorate the beginning of the Genocide 1914-18 in Turkey. Even after almost 90 years the topic of the bloody pursuit and killing of over 2 million Christian did not loose any of its importance. The official Turkish side placed since then the coat of the silence over the historical events and refuses its recognition. The Christian ethnic groups concerned fight for decades in vain for the acknowledgment of this Genocide. The trauma, which separates Christians and Muslims in Turkey and in the Diaspora for so many years gained on sharpness recently by a call of the Turkish education minister. As the German Newspaper S?ddeutsche Zeitung (May 23, 2003) reported, the minister requested that the Turkish and also Armenian primary schools have to write essays to fight the "groundless genocide statements". In the middle schools the pupils may write against the "statements of the Armenians, Pontus Greeks and the S?ryanis [Turkish name for Orthodox Assyrians]". The reactions are interesting in this context. Protests raised not only among the Christians but also among Turkish journalists against this "bad joke" (so the Islamic newspaper Yeni Safak). This until recently inconceivable behavior of the press can be interpreted as the breaking the old protection fences in this debate.

The Assyrian Democratic Organisation (ADO), established 1957 in Syria strives for years for the rights of the Assyrian people and acknowledgment of the Genocide. An important goal of the ADO, so Dr. Jaques Iskandar, is the internationalisation of the Assyrian Question. The fight for the cultural and national rights of the Assyrians is a peaceful effort and is based on mutual respect of their neighbours, emphasized Dr. Iskandar, the theologian and moderator of the event.

"The question of the past is important for the future," noticed Federal State Parliament President Johann Hatzl in his greetings. “History is part of the personality of a people” he added. Not only the suffering but also the achievements would contribute that. In this sense he congratulated the Assyrians in the name of the City of Vienna for what they carry out and accomplished in history.

That the destiny of a people lie not only in its own hands but are also dependent on the "more powerful ones" was the thesis of Mrs. Anna Elizabeth Haselbach, the Vice President of the Upper House of Parliament of the Republic of Austria. She demanded from the "powerful ones" to insist on the adherence to the contract of Lausanne from 1923 with regards to the Assyrians. Therein the rights of the minorities in Turkey were defined. Assyrians should be allowed to freely speak and teach heir language continued Mrs. Haselbach. "This are human rights that needs to be respected." She concluded "that we understand your efforts for a righteous and peaceful future” and promised to support this efforts “so far we can".

Mr. Issa Hanna, Chairman of the ADO, Europe, urgently appealed to the Federal State Parliament President to support the request for acknowledgment of the Genocide. In his speech he touched the U.S. led war against Iraq. He reminded about the fact that in Iraq the Assyrians place the third-strongest ethnic group and requested the responsible nations to let participate all ethnic groups (Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians and Turkomans) in a future government and organisation for a democratic State of Iraq.

Mr. Ergen Aslan, Chairman of the ADO, Section Austria, presented some new facts about Tur Abdin, which is the homeland of many Assyrian immigrants to Austria. In 2001, Mr. Ecevit, the Prime Minister at that time released a decree, granting all (emigrated) Assyrians the rights and obligation to their assets and property in Turkey. This triggered a large echo in the Turkish and Western media. Since then many Assyrians the possibility of a return is discussed.

Some Assyrian families took initiative with the responsible authorities in the district town of Midyat in order to initiate the legal formalities. Mr. Aslan Ergen reported that the applicants have been insulted, struck or intimidated by threats: "Not even Turkish attorneys take such cases because of fears from Kurds and Islamic fundamentalists, who illegitimately acquired the possession of the Christians", he said. By such cases the efforts around a peaceful coexistence of the different ethnic and religious communities in Turkey receive a setback again. Because they stir only fears and prejudices. At the same time it becomes clear that decrees are not converted necessarily into the practice.

In her extended speech, Dr. Gabriele Yonan defined a substantial problem in the enlightenment process of the Genocide by the Turkish side which resists vehemently the term "genocide". Meanwhile deportations, killings of Christians are hesitantly acknowledged, however a systematic Genocide is explained as "propaganda" and still rejected. Therefore Mrs. Yonan speaks of "a Genocide without names and search for identity". One must find a name she said which becomes fair to both, the descendants of the victims as well as of the perpetrators. Turks do not feel addressed by the current terminology. Therefore at a recent conference the suggestion came up to speak of "Ottoman Genocide at Christian minorities". Thus, it would become clearer that the victims were not only Armenians, but also Assyrians. Additionally it would be clear that the perpetrators are to be found in the late Ottoman regime. However, today's Turkey must take the responsibility to that extent, that it smoothes the way to an enlightenment about the dark marks of its history.

According to Yonan, the definition of the genocide as fixed in article 2 of the U.N. Convention of 1948 applies clearly to the murder of the Christians in 1915. It concerns a) The killing of a sub-population, b) Causing serious physical and mental injury to a sub-population, and c) Intervention in the living conditions of a sub-population. The historians agree, so Yonan, nearly without exception that 1915 was a Genocide. She mentioned numerous documents, among them some from Pater J. Lepsius as published in his "blue book". She also referred to the book “Flickering Lights” as published in 1924 in America and statements made by the Syrian Orthodox Bishop Afram Barsaum. The above mentioned instruments as defined 1948 however can not necessarily be applied to today's Turkey. However, one can not forget the cultural Genocide which occurred during the last three decades against the Christians in Tur Abdin. The Turks, so Yonan , wanted to get rid of the remaining Christian population and set under the pretext of the Kurdish fighting the Christians under pressure. 250,000 Christians left Turkey for these reasons and emigrated into the Western countries.

Meanwhile and after three generations passing, history still "exists in the collective memory of the population and can exist there for 1000 years." In order to come to a new and peaceful start, Yonan added that Turkey would have to recognize the Genocide as a part of their history and condemn it. Turkey should apologize with the descendants and carry out compensation, by recognizing Assyrians as linguistic and ethnic minority in Turkey - as specified in the "Convention for National Minorities". This convention was not signed by Turkey however until today.

The sensitivity of the topic rather increased in the long years since "Shato d'Seifo". The importance of education and investigations on the Genocide are urgent. A prove to this are the letters of the "Initiative of the Muslim Austrians" and the "Islamic Religious Community in Austria" on the occasion of the anniversary in Vienna. Both organizations do not deny the crimes of the ruling powers at that time, however vehemently resist that the Islam would have to hold debt as root cause of systematic driving out and destruction of the Christians.

Here sensible approaches are needed on both sides. It concerns right, not revenge, it is about forgiveness, but not forgetting.

Assyrian Democratic Organization


Nadia Mirza: Iraqis are Confused, But Also Grateful

[Z-info:  The following commentary by Ms. Nadia Mirza is published in the August 8th issue of USA Today newspaper.  Ms. Mirza is a member of Women for a Free Iraq and also a founder of the Assyrian Community for Civic Responsibility.  She is also the president of the Assyrian Academic Society in Chicago.  Ms. Mirza's picture with President Bush appears in the August 4th issue of Zinda Magazine.]

As an Assyrian-American of Iraqi ancestry, I publicly supported the liberation of Iraq because I had firsthand knowledge of the danger posed by Saddam Hussein; my family was forced to flee his rule of terror.

Most of my fellow Americans also believed Saddam was a threat to the world and that a war to remove him was necessary and just. But now many struggle to understand why there are attacks against coalition forces and why Iraqis do not seem more grateful.

Polls show Iraqis overwhelmingly support the coalition. But they still fear Saddam's Baathist loyalists, who threaten and murder those who cooperate with the coalition. Foreign terrorists also have infiltrated Iraq to sabotage the reconstruction. These terrorists and the Baathists want to perpetuate chaos, hoping mounting U.S. casualties will force us to retreat.

Iraqis fear that we will not have the staying power to defeat the Baathists and terrorists. The recent killing of Saddam's sons bolstered their confidence, but they still worry because some Baathists retain positions of power under the Coalition Provisional Authority. One member of the Iraqi Governing Council, Akila al-Hashemi, reported to Saddam's deputy Tariq Aziz. Also, the former ministers of information and health, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf ("Comical Ali") and Omed Medhat Mubarak, remain free or have left the country.

Plans for putting Baathists on trial remain vague.

Such indecisiveness confuses Iraqis, and our enemies manipulate it as anti-U.S. propaganda. The Persian Gulf states and Iran are broadcasting false rumors on TV and radio of U.S. mistreatment of Iraqis. It's urgent that we counter the disinformation.

When I recently met with President Bush, I told him how grateful I was for his leadership in removing Saddam. I also told him that Iraq will not be free, and the world will not be secure, until Baathism and terrorism are defeated. We owe it to the soldiers who gave their lives to liberate Iraq to finish the task.

A free Iraq will demonstrate how our faith in people's yearning for freedom and America's patient commitment to that cause can give birth to democracy in the Middle East. The enemies of freedom understand the stakes involved. We cannot afford to let them win.

Nadia Mirza

Calendar of Events

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

Thank You!

Zindamagazine would like to thank:

Evelyn Anoya (Holland)

David Chibo (Australia)

Abdulmesih BarAbrahem (Germany)

Mazin Enwiya (Chicago)

Ashor Giwargis (Lebanon)

Petr Kubalek (Czech Republic)

Mary Mansour (Australia)

Dr. Eden Naby (Massachusetts)

Maryam Safar (Australia)


ZINDA Magazine is published weekly.  Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarily represent those of  the ZINDA editors, or any of our associated staff. This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals.  ZINDA reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium.  All letters and messages  require the name(s) of sender and/or author.  All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 words or less and bear the name of the author(s).    Distribution of material featured in ZINDA is not restricted, but permission from ZINDA is required. This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news.  To subscribe, send e-mail to:  z_info@zindamagazine.com.

Zinda Magazine™ Copyright © Zinda Inc., 2001-2003 - All Rights Reserved - http://www.zindamagazine.com