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Volume IX

Issue 43

26 January 2004
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This Week In Zinda

cover photo


Lies in Turkish


Several Assyrians Among Victims of Deadly Attacks in Baghdad
Murders of Christian Liquor Store Owners Raise Concerns in Iraq
Persecuted Christians near Turkish-Iraqi Border


Gunmen May Be Hiding Among Assyrians of Melbourne , Australia
Chaldean Archbishop: “ Iraq Not Ready for Elections”
Dr. Osipov Elected VP of Russian Academy of Military Sciences
Ex-BNDP Officer Accuses Sargon Dadesho of Deceitful conduct
Syro-Malabar Church Gets Leeway on Electing Bishops
Iraqi Looters of Ancient Graves
Assyrian Academic Society Election Results


Reflections on Rev Joseph's Article: “Go Home Mar Dinkha”
What's Going on Out There?
Assyrians Participate at the Multicultural Festival in Arizona
Pat Robertson, Disciple of Jesus and the Assyrian Ambassador
I Ran for Life


AACF Presents the Documentary “The Last Assyrians”
Dinner & Dance Party in London


The Future of Democracy in Iraq through a Sensible Constitution
Meeting with the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Brussels
It`s a Baghdad Morning!
WarTime Broadcasts : Iraqi Crisis of May 1941


    Dr. Shameran Slewa-Younan




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The Lighthouse

Lies in Turkish

This paper constitutes a response to a series of articles published in the Turkish daily Hürriyet , by Ozdemir Ince in 2003, under the titles of “Genocide and Sweden ” and “Lies in Assyrian [Syriac]”.

In this extraordinary series of 20 articles, Ince accuses perished Assyrians and Armenians of treason. According to this viewpoint it is the murdered party that is at fault, not the murderers themselves. In this series of articles the only community, which has no fault about the events that took place in 1915, is the Turkish nation and the Ittihat ve Terakki [Society for the Union and Progress of the Ottoman Empire ] government – also known as the Young Turks. Everyone else is guilty of something or other, the missionaries, the Armenians, the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Protestant Church, the Hamidiye Corps (ie Kurds), the French, the English and the Russians.

The first article in the series was written after a genocide conference in Stockholm in early 2003. [1] Ince labels the Swedish academics who participated in the conference as “mercenaries”, ie paid soldiers. Under the title “Genocide and Sweden ”, in his article Ince quotes E Feigl in A Myth of Terror, Armenian Extremism: Its Causes and its Historical Context to support his position: “… around the lake of Van in February 1915 there was an Armenian insurgence”. Heigl further states that the Armenians massacred 30 thousand Turks and adds: “on 22 July 1915 the Turkish army which re-conquered the city, killed 20-25 thousand Armenians for revenge”. [2]

Ince charging against imaginary adversaries arrives at the following mock conclusion: “The Armenians who committed treason and rebelled against their country and who killed 30 thousand Ottoman citizens are just and innocent. On the contrary the Ottoman army which punished the treasonous action of the Armenians against their country are ‘guilty of committing genocide'”. His sarcasm is directed at foreign scholars who implicate Turkey with the crime of genocide. In the quoted passage Heigl states “the Turkish army”; Ince changes this to “the Ottoman Army”. Furthermore, it is not clear what Ince means by 30 thousand Ottoman citizens (Turkish, Kurdish or Circassians who inhabited Van at the time?) This matter of ‘treason' is worthy of note; Hürriyet exploits it profusely in articles about Assyrians and Armenians. As has been documented elsewhere, when the Assyrian priest Yusuf Akbulut stated that “genocide occurred”, Hürriyet immediately declared him a “traitor”.[3]

It is also interesting to note the use of Heigl in this article. Ince who talks about academics, who are not impartial, obviously regards Heigl as an objective academic. The second points of interest is the strategy of reducing the genocide to a single event in Van and then holding the Armenians responsible for massacring Turks and deny the genocide in this manner.

Morgenthau who was the USA consul in Constantinople between 1913 and 1916, reports that in Van, within three days, 24 thousand Armenians were killed. In effect Ince also concedes this. According to Morgenthau when the war started members of the Society for Union and Progress (the Young Turks) asked the Armenians leaders to cross to Russia and start an insurgence against the Russians. Armenians did not accept this. This concept of ‘treason' originated from that instance. Morgenthau found it very strange that the Ottoman government which repressed the Armenians for 30 years expected loyalty from them.[4] This illogical expectation unfortunately still endures in Turkey; communities which for years have been repressed are required to show allegiance to “the country” (in effect to the state).

In the second article of the series entitled “Genocide and Sweden ” Ince, brands the three Swedish academics who participated in the conference as “mercenaries”.[5] It is not specified who pays these so-called “mercenaries”. It is clearly implied that the Assyrians pay the academics of the Swedish Universities, which of course is a fabrication of Ince's; the Assyrians lack the resources which the Turkish Republic enjoys.

With great fanfare, Ince points out that two priest participated in the conference, and as though this fact has any significance, adds sarcastically, “of course you cannot have a genocide [conference] without priests”[6] I would respond to this assertion thus, “priest and religious leaders have the right to participate in genocide conferences for priests were also subjected to massacres”. Furthermore, what could be so objectionable about priests participating in a conference? Ince who derides the involvement of priests in the conference seems to find quite normal the partaking of the Turkish Consulate staff in the same event. In fact, he hides this detail from his readers. With this type of half-truths and concealments, Ince is appealing to the prejudices of the Turkish readers and in fact he is reinforcing this narrow-mindedness. It is clearly implied that the participation of priest in conferences amount to a church conspiracy. According to Ince, members of the Protestant Church have contributed to the rendering of events as “genocide”, rather than as “civil war”.

Ince, who is clearly not very objective, surprisingly, I must sy, published a letter from an Assyrian, by the name Michael, who took an exception to the first three articles in the series. Ince could not resist, however, making this comment concerning the letter-writer: “a typical example of ‘genocidist' mind”; ‘genocidist', to coin a term, being a person who pursues the issue of genocide. Michael, who notes that the Turkish academic who participated in the Swedish conference “Omer Turan, is clearly not very knowledgeable” also makes an interesting observation to Ince “[e]very day you seek rights for the Turks who live in Europe from the Europeans who you still cal gavur s [infidels]. Furthermore, you are seeking rights you are not prepared to grant to your own minorities”.[7]

The journalist, who does not respond to this observation, mockingly calls Michael ‘Baron Michael'. Why is Ince derisive of his Assyrian reader? If someone contemptuously him ‘Ozdemir Pasha', would he not take exception to that? Ince's response to his reader's comment was: “How can I not trust Omer Turan and instead trust Swedish professors who are deprived of knowledge of the Ottoman language and the old script who accordingly cannot research the Ottoman Archives?”

If professor Turan has found a document in the Ottoman archives, which proves that “the genocide did not occur”, he should provide it to academics and publish it promptly. There is no such document because there could be no such document and Omer who is doing research in the Ottoman Archives cannot prove that genocide did not occur. The documents in the Ottoman Archives have been carefully selected and any documents, which may be drawn upon to discuss the genocide, would not be available for the public. Documents indicating or proving genocide would not be given to researchers so as not to contradict the Official Thesis and version of events of the State. It is, however, also possible that archival staff can make errors and underestimate the value of some documents to third parties.

Moreover, the genocide is not an event that could be proven only through the documents in the Ottoman Archives. The archives of Germany, France and Britain, as well as others, have already been researched, documents published and the genocide of 1915 is beyond doubt except in Turkey itself.[8] I would respond to Ince in this way: “would I not trust the Swedish academics who have been educated in a liberal country, and trust instead Omer Turan who does research in Turkish Universities, unable to evade the framework of the Official Thesis?”

Ince's hatred of Assyrians is evident in the second series he entitles ‘ Yalanin Süryanicesi ' [Lies in Syriac]. In this series, which started as a response to an Assyrian reader, Ince says, “we should trust non partisan historians”. He never identifies those so-called non partisan historians; perhaps Omer Turan and some American academics paid by the Turkish Republic qualify as non partisan.

Ince accepts deportations took place in the Ottoman Empire but attributes this to the civil war and the need to defend the indivisibility of the Ottoman Empire . In his third article in this series, he advises his readers to read “the non partisan historians”, though still these books or their authors are not identified – most probably Ince has Omer Turan's books in mind. Finally, he asks his reader to be patient and announces that he is just about to embark upon discussing “the Assyrians events of 1915”.[9]

In the fifth article Ince states that the Suryani [Assyrians] were forced to live with the Muslim Arabs who from the VII. Century dominated Mesopotamia : “In those days as there was no national consciousness, many Suryanis converted to Islam in order to avoid paying the cizye tax [for non-Muslim] and live in peace”. He also adds that the Suryanis continued to convert to Islam even after the Turks dominated Anatolia [ Asia Minor ]. These assertions could be true. The Assyrians and other Christian peoples were forced to convert to Islam in different periods. What is objectionable, however, is Ince's assertion: “Among the Suryani who happily converted to Islam, do not doubt that there could be many ancestors of current Turkish nationalists.”[10] Many Turkish nationalists could have Assyrian ancestors but the notion that the Assyrians happily converted to Islam is peculiar hypothesis, to say the least. More than likely those who wanted to avoid heavy taxes or be subjected to the Ottoman scythe and other discrimination have concerted to Islam. I personally I have not read of mass instances when the Christians converted to Islam happily (that is voluntarily and without a threat) after the Arab arrival in Mesopotamia and the Turkish arrival in Asia Minor . Ince would not have read those either. It is yet another false hypothesis.

In the seventh article on the topic, it is the turn of the Greeks to be attacked: “in the Greek insurgence of Moria that began in 1821, 25 thousand Muslims were killed in a few days” [note that he says Muslims not Turks]. I wonder how many Hellenes were killed in the four centuries of Ottoman domination? Are they not important? To call the Greek Independence War an ‘insurgence' is a phenomenon that could be encountered only in the official Turkish history books. According to this notion, whoever rebelled against the Ottomans was a traitor. Only the Turkish nation is entitled to independence and other nations could only be slaves of Turks, and at the same time grateful for their situation. This is the thinking one discerns by reading these articles. Ince continues with inanities in the same article. “In the nineteenth century the reforms resulted in more freedom for the Christian peoples and that encouraged their wishes for independence. Moral of the story: do not grant the minorities any freedom because they could rebel and demand independence.

I am not sure how Ince measured the freedom of the subjugated ( reaya ) peoples in the Ottoman Empire but it seems their share of this difficult to measure concept (freedom) had increased. What were these freedoms though? Aytekin Yilmaz, in his Turkish book “ Anatolia ”: from multiculturalism to monoculturalism defines these “freedoms” as follows: In the Ottoman Empire the non-Muslim peoples were treated as second-class citizens. They were subjected to many denigrating practices. For example, it was prohibited to ride a horse, carry a weapon, to walk on the footpath. The color of their shoes and the quality of the fabric of their clothes had to be different. It was forbidden for them to wear collared caftan, clothing made of silk, fine muslin, fur coat, and turban. For example, the Armenians wore red hut and shoes, the Greeks black and the Jews blue of the same. They also had to paint their houses with different colours. They could not even wear clogs in the bath house ( hamam ). They had to hang a small bell in waist clothes [or bath towels].”[11]

When Ince says ‘more freedoms' he may mean that after the Tanzimat (Reform) period the Christians could finally wear clogs and remove their bells.

“If Abd ü lhamit II inaugurated a Panislamist policy, the reason is the successive rebellions of Christians for Independence and the Russian, French and English politics against the Ottoman Empire .” In short, the Ottoman Panislamism is also the fault of the Christians. Perhaps, Pan Turkism is also a foreign conspiracy.

In his eight article Ince alleges that the “Assyrian genocide was invented”.[12] How did the Assyrians invent genocide? That is to say, how did this conspiracy took place? Had “the Assyrians” (which Assyrians?) gathered in a place and said “let us invent genocide”? These types of arguments are childish and devoid of any semblance of seriousness. They can go no further than fooling an unsuspecting Turkish public, if at all.

In his tenth article, Ince - I would agree with some of his remarks here - states: “You English who's land you are distributing to whom? … You English you try to distribute Ottoman lands but why are you giving away the same lands to the Assyrians as well as the Kurds?”[13] I also find unacceptable that the English and the French attempted to have distributed Middle Eastern and Ottoman lands according to their national interests at the time, but the problematic notion is that “those lands” belonged to the Turks only. The ancestors of the Ottomans did not bring these lands they occupied from Central Asia , whence the Turks originated. Ince says these lands belonged to the Muslims for the last 1200 years. First of all, why go as far back as 1200 years only? Secondly, why is it that the heirs to the Muslim loot are only the Turks? Thirdly, it is not clear when he says Muslims which nations or communities does he mean: Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Turcomans, Persians, Alevis or Sunnis? Because he cannot say that Turks lived in Asia Minor for 1200 years he uses the appellation Muslim as surrogate for Turk. The Arabs who are also Muslim were not bound by religious ties and preferred to become independent form the Empire.

Ancient nations such as the Hellenes and the Assyrians lived much longer in Asia Minor and Mesopotamia respectively - much more than 1200 years - yet in Ince's doctrine only the Muslims who lived there for 1200 years and later Turks are entitled to them. These suppositions are ahistorical and illogical.

In the article series “Lies in Syriac” Ozdemir Ince liberally quotes and Assyrian researcher, Yakup Bilge. Ince uses passages from Bilge's book to criticize the Assyrians. Bilge in his book states that “… for Assyrians the most important period was the First World War. The Ottoman forces participated in the Assyrian-Kurdish war. The eastern Assyrians (the Assyrians who lived in Hakkari and Van) had declared war on the Ottomans”. Following this quotation Ince repeats that “the Assyrians declared war on the Ottomans!” However, Bilge specifies as “Eastern Assyrians”. It was the Nestorian (Assyrian) Patriarch who declared war. The Syriac Orthodox Assyrians (Western Syrians) who lived in Turabdin made no such formal declaration although they were still attacked by the Ottomans and were also subjected to genocide. Either Ince does not know these historical facts or he is trying to confuse the reader. Even though Ince makes liberal use of Bilge's book, he seemed to have overlooked the following sentence from the book: “… in Middle East during the upheaval that began in the beginning of the century and continued up to 1935, the Assyrians were continually subjected to massacres and were forced to live their homeland.”[14] Although Bilge blames the West for the upheaval, Ince who perhaps was reluctant to also blame the West for the massacres, ignores this part of the book.

In the eleventh article Ince wonders: “after all these events if the Turkish Republic does not trust the Assyrians is it the fault of the Turkish Republic ?” [15] Well, yes, it is! Note that it is not the right of the nation that was subjected to genocide to be distrustful. This right is reserved, according to Ince, to the inheritors of the state that perpetrated the genocide. Again, the 1915 events against the Assyrians are placed in a context of a civil war and then Assyrians are labeled as traitors and this is why Ince says the Turkish Republic does not trust Assyrians. It seems superfluous to make such argument at all, given that there are very few Assyrians left in Turkey to constitute a threat to the Turkish Republic .

Ince in the same article also raises the question of impartiality of sources of information for genocide research: “the reports by Christian missionaries, staff of consulates and secret service staff should be carefully examined (because they are not impartial)”. Omer Turan's sources no doubt are impartial and objective (!). The objectivity of the staff of the Ottoman Bureaucracy and the secret agency Special Organization ( Teskilat-i Mahsusa ) is well known. Bilal Simsir who has carried out research in this field, in his books published by the Turkish Historical Society - no less - have included many reports by staff of the foreign consulates. Consequently, reports that suits the Official Thesis are published as neutral, independent and objective observations, while all other sources are regarded as subjective and partisan.[16]

“Finally we need to defer this matter to non-partisan historical science and real non-partisan honorable historians”. By “honorable and non-partisan historians” no doubt Ince is referring to Turkish Republic supporters such as Justin McCarthy. It is a another well known fact that the foreigners working for the Turkish Republic are “non-partisan” but the foreigners who conduct research on the genocide are paid mercenaries.

It is time for this disingenuous and dishonest proposition that “the question of genocide should be left to the historians” to come to an end. While the Turkish consulate official are expected to abandon their normal duties and, where possible prevent, and/or attend genocide conferences to sabotage them, it is quite hypocritical to say that the study of the genocide should be left to the historians. Ince who does not seem to be a historian, yet believes himself to be entitled to comment. A right he is unwilling to grant to the Assyrians.

It is also important to add that Taner Akçam who regards the 1915 incidents as “an event of mass murder” is not mentioned in the articles. Naturally, he is not objective either.[17] According to Akçam, a coded telegraph sent from the Interior Ministry to Diyarbakir on 12 July 1915 states that in Mardin: “700 Armenians and other Christians were slaughtered like sheep”, refers to “estimates that in total 2000 people were killed” and it adds that there is fear that all Christians will be massacred. The telegraph concludes with the following sentence: “the general measures and policies which were constituted for the Armenians under no circumstances would apply to other Christians” and the telegraph asks that this practice end.”.[18]

This document was read out to Ö mer Turan in the Stockholm Conference and the good professor said that he did not believe this document, despite the fact that it was written by staff of the Ottoman Bureaucracy and published by the Turkish Historical Society . [19]

It is difficult to analyse this manner of thinking, which is approved by Ince. Documents which do not support the Official Thesis of the Republic are wrong, falsified, partisan, product of a conspiracy, or other, yet documents published by the official channels in Turkey which talk about Greek, Armenian atrocities against the Muslim population, and documents declaring Assyrians to be treasonous, are correct and non-partisan. This is completely unreasonable.

As a result matters that should have been resolved long time ago are still current and very much on the public agenda. In 2004 the Turkish Republic representatives are still hoping this matter will go away if they deny it long enough. In effect, the efforts of some academic and journalist have the opposite effect. They guarantee a public discourse on the genocide by the continual denial and machinations. There is nothing to gain by attaching a small community such as the Assyrians in Turkey . They pose no threat to Turkey .

Dr Racho Donef


[Dr. Donef is a leading researcher on the ethnic minorities of the Republic of Turkey and has previously contributed to the pages of this publication. As a member of the Zinda Crew in 2004, Dr. Donef serves as an advisor to Zinda Magazine and will greatly contribute to our readers' understanding of the ethnic minorities' issues in Turkey .]


[1] For more information about the conference see ‘Türk tarihçi Omer Turan, Soykirim'i (seyfo) yalan ve çamur atmalarla inkar etmeye çalisti', ACSA Betnahrin Information , 4/6/2003 [ http://www.acsa.nu/artikel.asp?lankid=22&artid=338 ]

[2] O Ince, ‘Soykirim ve Isveç (1)', Hürriyet , 9 April 2003 .

[3] R.Yavuz, ‘I ç imizdeki hain', H ü rriyet , 4 November 2003 .

[4] H. Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story , 1918, XXI.

[5] O Ince, ‘Soykirim ve Isveç (2)', Hürriyet , 11 April 2003 .

[6] O Ince, ‘Soykirim ve Isveç (3)', Hürriyet , 14 April 2003 .

[7] O Ince, ‘Aldatildiniz', Hürriyet , 25 April 2003 .

[8] G Yonan, Asur Soykirim i : Unutulan bir Holokaust , Istanbul , 1996.

[9] O Ince, ‘Yalanin Süryanicesi (2)', Hürriyet , 2 May 2003 .

[10] O Ince, ‘Yalanin Süryanicesi (5)', Hürriyet , 9 May 2003 .

[11] A. Yilmaz, Çokkültürlülükten Tekkültürlüge “Anadolu” , Tohum Basin Yayin, Istanbul , 2002

[12] O Ince, ‘Yalanin Süryanicesi (8)', Hürriyet , 16 May 2003 .

[13] O Ince, ‘Yalanin Süryanicesi (10)', Hürriyet , 21 May 2003 .

[14] Y Bilge, S üryanilerin Kökeni ve Türkiyeli Süryaniler , I stanbul , 1991.

[15] O Ince, ‘Yalanin Süryanicesi (11)', Hürriyet , 23 May 2003.

[16] B Simsir, British Documents on Ottoman Armenians , Vols 1 and 2, Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1983.

[17] T Akçam, ‘1915 Efsaneler ve Gerçekler', Radikal2 , 26 May 2003.

[18] T.Ak çam, I nsan haklari ve Ermeni sorunu , Istanbul, 1999, p.25.

[19] ‘Türk tarihçi Omer Turan, Soykirim'i (seyfo) yalan ve çamur atmalarla inkar etmeye çalisti',

ACSA, 4/6/2003 [ http://www.acsa.nu/artikel.asp?lankid=22&artid=338 ]


Good Morning Assyria

Several Assyrians Among Victims of Deadly Attacks

(ZNDA: Baghdad ) A suicide car bomb detonated outside the entrance to the Green Zone also known as "Assassin's Gate" near Coalition headquarters in Baghdad early Sunday, 18 January. At least 31 people were killed. According to sources close to Zinda Magazine in Baghdad fourteen Assyrians were either killed or wounded.

Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq , condemned the attack.

Relatives of Najia Adam Shabu at her funeral

In a statement posted on the Coalition's Web site, Bremer mourned the "innocent victims" and reaffirmed the U.S. plan to handover authority to Iraqis later this year.

The identity of one person killed was given to Zinda Magazine as Sargon Shawel and another injured person as Polous Khanna.

According to Mr. Atheer Tallo , a Zinda Magazine reader in the United States , another victim of the attack was his cousin, Hadeel Louis Asmaro. Ms. Hadeel was in her early 20s, a university graduate who was engaged to be married to a physician in Denmark . She was working as a computer programmer nearby the location of the attack.

On 21 January, three Assyrian and one Armenian women died when masked gunmen raked their vehicle with automatic fire. Five other women and the male driver were wounded.

Najia Adam Shabu, being buried at a cemetery in Baghdad Thursday, Jan. 22, 2004 . Photo by Hadi Mizban

The Armenian victim, Askhik Varojan, worried about her job in the laundry of a U.S. military base after insurgents began targeting Iraqis who were cooperating with the occupation forces.

She boarded a minibus Wednesday for her job at the U.S. base at Habaniyah, 50 miles west of Baghdad , determined to hand in her resignation rather than live in fear.

"She went yesterday to tell them that she wouldn't go to work any more and to claim her salary," Varojan's sister, Eida Varojan, sobbed.

Varojan took the job at Habaniyah three weeks ago to support her paralyzed husband and four children, relatives said.

On Thursday, her coffin was brought to the dingy one-room apartment, where relatives gathered to mourn. Her 20-year-old daughter, Anjel, fainted from grief.

"Come and see our home in order to know why we work (with the Americans)," said another daughter, Emma Hagoub, 25. "My father had a stroke and can't work. We live six people in one room."

Vera Ibrahim, 39, one of the survivors of Wednesday's attack, said some of the women were dozing when an Opel car began pursuing their vehicle and two buses traveling in convoy on the highway between Baghdad and Habaniyah, where the women worked.

The two buses accelerated but the minibus could not keep up, she said. When the Opel came abreast of the minibus, four men, their faces covered with checkered cotton masks, began firing at the tires.

"Without thinking, I hid my head under the seat," Ibrahim said from her Baghdad hospital bed. "The driver kept speeding and the shooting continued. Then the driver got injured, and he swerved toward the wrong side of the road."

She said the attackers fled when they saw another car approaching. "When it became silent, I shouted to the people who gathered around," she said.

Ibrahim said three women immediately and a fourth was mortally wounded. Police confirmed the death toll.

Ibrahim said she started working at Habaniyah two months ago because she needed the money. Unemployment in Iraq runs between 50 and 60 percent.

"I won't continue this work. I am afraid. They wanted to kill us all," she said.

Relatives of the dead said they realized they were at risk by working for the Americans.

"But it is a question of money," said Seita Noubar, 48, whose sister Sona was among the dead. "What can we do? She just wanted to earn a living."

Of the attackers, Noubar said: "If they were real men, they would have gone after men and fought Americans with tanks, not poor women."


Murders of Christian Liquor Store Owners Raise Concerns in Iraq

Courtesy of the Associated Press (19 January); by Matthew Rosenberg

(ZNDA: Basra ) By most accounts, Sameer got off easy - the 42-year-old Christian liquor merchant received only a warning from the masked men who waved Kalashnikov rifles in his face and trashed his house in search of booze.

Others weren't as lucky. Abid Slewa was shot in the head as he unlocked the front door of his liquor store. Bashir Elias, caught selling alcohol from the back of his car, was shot to death Christmas Eve on a street crowded with cheering onlookers.

Polous Hanna lies injured in a hospital bed as his mother cries in the background after he was brought to a Baghdad hospital from the scene of a car bomb which exploded outside the main gate to the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition. Photo by Samir Mizban

The sale and consumption of alcohol is legal in secular Iraq , even if many Iraqis avoid it for religious reasons. But as many as nine liquor store owners, most of them Christians, have been killed in Basra since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April, according to merchants.

The slayings have raised concerns within the U.S.-led coalition about the prospects for a tolerant and democratic society emerging in a region dominated by increasingly powerful - and conservative - Shiite Muslim clerics.

British officials and Iraqi police say they have no firm figures on the numbers of people killed for selling alcohol, although they acknowledge such killings have occurred.

The officials and those who have been threatened believe extremists from Basra 's resurgent Shiite majority are behind the murders.

"There is an element emerging in the Shiite community that does bear arms, that may be violent," coalition spokesman Dominic D'Angelo said. "People are feeling threatened, and not without reason."

However, he cautioned that "there are lots of different groups emerging right now."

Basra 's leading Shiite clerics deny any involvement in the killings. But they do acknowledge that their supporters have been warning people not to buy, drink or sell alcohol, which is banned under Islam.

"These liquor shop owners, we talk to them and tell them that by selling alcohol they are injuring the whole community, bringing shame on all of us," said Sheik Abu Salaam, the Basra representative of hard-line cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Under Islamic law, repeat offenders eventually would be put to death, he said.

"But we cannot harm them here ... it is against the law of Iraq ," he said.

Shiites - who comprise 60 percent of Iraq 's 25 million people and are especially dominant in the south - were harshly repressed under Saddam's Sunni-dominated government.

But influential Shiite clerics, including many who unabashedly support imposing Islamic law in Iraq , like al-Sadr and Salaam, have gained considerable power. The influence of the top clerics is clear throughout the south, where posters bearing their images have replaced the once-omnipresent face of Saddam.

With the new faces have come a new set of fears.

Besides the murders, dozens of liquor stores owned by Christians have been torched in recent months.

Women in Basra , 340 miles southeast of Baghdad , say they have been admonished by angry men for leaving home without a headscarf.

"If I leave my house with my head bare, people shout at me - they yell 'whore,"' said Aida Wahid, a 41-year Christian who owns a beauty salon.

Men tell of being stopped at intersections by gangs of Islamic activists and ordered to shut off music.

Basra has remained a largely peaceful oasis in Iraq , with attacks against coalition forces focused in the Sunni-dominated area north and west of Baghdad .

But the city's once-thriving, albeit small, bar and club scene has practically vanished. Saddam closed bars in a bid to win the religious establishment's support following Iraq 's defeat in the 1991 Gulf War, but alcohol was sold legally in shops. Residents said some bars continued to operate discreetly even after Saddam's ban.

"We're living in a new Iraq ," said Sameer, the liquor store owner, who spoke on condition that only his first name be used.

His shop was just down the street from Slewa's, the man shot in the head as he opened his store in May.

"Right after Saddam fell, men started coming by and telling us to stop selling alcohol," he said.

Slewa's murder was the last warning Sameer needed.

"I haven't opened up since," he said.

He now works as a driver for an American company in Basra .


Persecuted Christians near Turkish-Iraqi Border

Courtesy of the Assist News Service (24 January); by Stefan J Bos

(ZNDA: Silopi) While heavy bombardments in the snow-covered nearby mountains of Northern Iraq often shake the town of Silopi near the Iraqi-Turkish border, already persecuted Christians in Turkey 's volatile border region prepare for an even fiercer battle.

Every US-led attack against Iraqi positions increases the chance of a new violent campaign by Muslim radicals against the Christian minority here, according to the pro-American Assist News Service.

'We need peace more than anything at the moment, and prayers,' says 31-year-old Isa Dogdu, a theological teacher at the Syrian Orthodox Church in the medieval city of Midyat , about 150 kilometres north of Silopi.

His church is the main denomination of local Christians, also known as 'Syriac people', a reference to the dialect they speak. It has close ties with over one million fellow believers across the border in Iraq who mainly belong to the Assyrian Church of the East with its spiritual centre in Nineveh , now Mosul , where the Bible says prophet Jonah brought the message of repentance.

History of Suffering

Like their brothers and sisters in Turkey , they know Syriac, based on the Aramaic language that Jesus Christ is believed to have spoken.

Both groups also share a history of suffering, as surviving in Turkey 's mainly Muslim environment is not an easy task. 'In the last 10 years, 20 to 30 Christians, including some women and children, were murdered in Turkey 's border region,' says a well-informed source with close knowledge about the situation.

Assist News Service has established that other families have been threatened by a variety of Islamic groups, including the radical PKK group that is fighting for an independent Kurdistan in Turkey and northern Iraq . In addition, Christians have been threatened and attacked by the militant Hizbullah organisation, which fought the PKK, as well as village guards and Turkish security forces.

Threatened and Scattered

'Christian families stood often accused of aiding the PKK by providing shelter and food to them. But they had no other choice, as these PKK fighters also threatened them. It was a no-win situation,' says a source requesting anonymity.

The Turkish authorities have promised to improve religious and human rights as they prepare to negotiate the country's efforts to join the European Union within the next few years. Believers say their situation somewhat improved in the last four years. Yet there is fear of a backlash as 'some circles will see the war in Iraq as a fight between Muslims and Christians,' says Dogdu.

Only an estimated 3,000 Christians are currently living in Turkey 's border region with Iraq and Syria , down from 50,000 believers two decades ago. In the area of Midyat, once a proud centre of church life, only 100 of the 1,000 Christian families have stayed, according to church estimates.

'Praise Heavenly Father'

Those who are left behind 'must be seen as missionaries' with a vision, says Dogdu. 'Our Christian presence here is a witness to our faith and our religion. I think this is one of the biggest missionary activities,' he explains.

'Just like Jesus said: "Be good so that people see your good deeds and then praise your heavenly Father." He has noted that 'many Muslims' visit the nearby Mor Gabriel monastery.

Dogdu says: 'Muslims even consider it a holy place. Some come to get information about Christianity, others to get an answer for their prayers... They also reach out to Muslims. Christians in this region have, for instance, gold and silver shops as well as vineyards. They often employ Muslims.'

Massacre of Christians

He stresses he knows 'of one Muslim working in a Christian shop whose grandfather killed 40 Christians during the World War One massacre when hundreds of thousands of Christians in Iraq and Turkey died. His grandfather initially killed 39 Christians, and later an elderly man, to make the number 40 so he could go to heaven...'

As Muslim prayers reverberate throughout Midyat, Dogdu's 35 students sing an old Syriac song in honour of those who gave their lives for Christ. 'Hallelujah,' they shout, the word that is clear in any language. 'When the Lord will come again, He will see their works,' they add.

Most of these youngsters, age 12 to 18, left their parents in villages to live and study at the Mor Gabriel monastery. During daytime, they gather at the local, mainly Muslim, state school, where some have reportedly been threatened by fellow students. At night, these students study the Bible, pray and discuss their future plans.

'Christ is Everything'

'These children want to serve the Lord,' explains Dogdu to ANS at a meeting in an ancient church building in Midyat, which has its cross-tower overlooking several mosques. He suggests it is part of an effort to ensure that one of the only major Christian communities in the Middle East region can survive.

'I want to become a Christian Syriac teacher because there are not enough teachers in our village,' says 17-year-old student Thomas Budak.

Despite the difficulties and history of bloodshed against Christians in Turkey , he does not want to leave his country. Budak says: 'The Christian faith is more important than anything else. It is more important than my life on earth.'

News Digest

Gunmen May Be Hiding Among Assyrians of Melbourne , Australia

Courtesy of the Herald Sun (18 January); by Carly Crawford

(ZNDA: Melbourne ) Two gunmen wanted for murder are believed to be on the run in Melbourne armed with machineguns.

The fugitives are believed to have been part of Sydney 's recent bloody gangland war.

Raymond Youmaran, 25 Raphael Joseph, 27


Their presence is fuelling fears that those murderous gang networks, linked to sections of the Lebanese community, have spread to Victoria . Police believe the men, Raphael Joseph, 27, and Raymond Youmaran, 25, could be carrying semi-automatic pistols and machineguns.

Warrants have been issued for their arrest over a year-old shooting murder.

"They are extremely dangerous and should not be approached," NSW Detective Acting Inspector Paul Auglys said.

The specialist police squad investigating Sydney 's string of revenge shootings has strong leads that Youmaran and Joseph, also known as Hussony, are hiding within Victoria 's 2000-strong Assyrian community.

Acting Insp Auglys, from NSW's Taskforce Gain, said he had information the men visited Joseph's girlfriend at a St Kilda hotel. It is also known they met contacts in Broadmeadows during November.

"I would say they are most probably in Victoria ," Acting Insp Auglys said. "My suspicion is that Joseph is there and Youmaran is or has been."

Their criminal records are dominated by drug convictions. Warrants have been issued for their arrest over the murder of Dimitri Debaz outside a Sydney hotel in late 2002.

That killing is believed to have sparked tit-for-tat attacks that have claimed at least nine lives. The violence is driven by turf wars between rival Lebanese syndicates, including the Abdulrazak and Darwich families.

The hunt for Joseph and Youmaran shows that Sydney 's violent criminal networks extend into Melbourne . Gangs from Sydney 's Lebanese community use Victoria as a dumping ground for stolen goods.

"They're cleaning out shops and moving the goods down here," a Victorian police source said.

Victorian Assyrian Community group president Eden Eishoei encouraged anyone with information about the men to contact authorities.

"We are a very peaceful community," he said. "When you live in a country, you have to accept the rule of that country."

Police are investigating whether there is a link between the gangs and last week's shooting up of a Lebanese reception centre in Brunswick .

Anyone with information on the gunmen can call Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.


Chaldean Archbishop: “ Iraq Not Ready for Elections”

(ZNDA: Rome ) Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk , 56, has cautioned against elections too soon. He was commenting on the statements of Shiite Ayatollah Ali Sistani, a "person who is esteemed by everyone," the archbishop said.

"But we have to be realistic: His request to hold elections in two months is impossible," Archbishop Sako said. "One must be content with what can be done. The Iraqi people are still not prepared; they must be prepared. They must learn to respect and accept the other. All this cannot be done in one or two days."

"Behind these impossible requests are foreign pressures, which do not take into account the internal situation and the real needs of the people," the archbishop added.

Noting the difficult economic situation and the lack of services endured by a people "no longer satisfied with promises," the archbishop appealed for help from the international community, especially Arab countries.


Dr. Osipov Elected VP of Russian Academy of Military Sciences

(ZNDA: Moscow ) On 24 January the general meeting of the Academy of Military Sciences of the Russian Federation (ÀÂÍ) took place in Moscow , presided by Army General Gareyev. At the opening of this meeting Mr. S.B. Ivanov, Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, read a greeting message from President Putin of Russia. Then several reports on perfecting the system of military management was heard.

Prof. Sergei Osipov

During the second half of the meeting, the attendees participated in the elections of new officers of the Academy of Military Sciences .

Members of the Academy of Military Sciences elected Professor Sergey Osipov who has been involved with the “National Safety” issues put forth before the Academy. Professor Osipov's involvement has helped in the creation of the medical safety policies at the ÀÂÍ Research Center "Health".

The membership present elected Professor O.J. Atkov as the president of the Center. Professor Atkov was a former USSR pilot-cosmonaut and and a hero of the Soviet Union . Dr. Osipov was then elected as the Vice President of the Academy.

Dr. Osipov is an active Assyrian-Russian who lives with his family in Moscow . His weekly radion program, Qala Atouraya, is broadcast throughout Russia , former Soviet republics, and the Middle East . He is also the chief organizer of the annual academic conference, the Assryian World Congress in Moscow .

[ Zinda Magazine congratulates Professor Osipov on this significant professional achievement. Prof. Osipov is a regular contributor to this publication and our upcoming Zinda Journal in Russian language. Special thanks to Mr. Vasili Shoumanov reporting for Zinda Magazine in Chicago .]


Ex-BNDP Officer Accuses Sargon Dadesho of Deceitful conduct

(ZNDA: Dohuk) In a written letter published on the popular Arabic Internet bulletin board “kitabat.com”, Mr. Barkho Shimon – a former representative of the Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party – has accused Mr. Sargon Dadesho of deceitful conduct.

The long-time leader of the Assyrian political party and a commentator on the AssyriaVision satellite television, Mr. Dadesho is also the head of the Assyrian National Congress.

In a 6 January 2003 news article in Zinda Magazine Mr. Shimon – as a BNDP representatative - was reported to have visited several political and religious dignitaries in North Iraq and distributed gifts to needy Assyrian families.

In his letter dated 17 January 2004 , Mr. Barkho explains that four years ago the Assyrian Relief Fund in Australia sent financial aid to needy Assyrians living in the villages of northern Iraq . He notes: “At the time, we distributed the monies and recorded the whole process of distributing this financial aid on video.” Mr. Barkho then writes: “Those videotapes were broadcast on Sargon Dadesho's AssyriaSat as aid from BNDP when it was not the case. He lied to the common people and deceived them in order to get more contributions for his TV station.”

According to the letter, Mr. Barkho was prompted to write this letter as he watched a repeat broadcast of these videotapes on AssyriaVision television satellite. “After four years…we watched on Sargon Dadesho's TV a re-broadcast of the same old videotapes as new financial assistance,” writes Mr. Barkho.

Mr. Barkho also accuses Mr. Dadesho of claiming “to distribute new aid to our people in northern Iraq when the fact is that BNDP did not do such a thing; neither before nor now.”

Mr. Barkho justifies the writing of his letter by saying “We saw it necessary to make this public clarification to our people, especially those in the Diaspora to avoid further deception of our honorable Assyrians, since it was I who was personally responsible for the distribution of the aid received from the Assyrian Relief Fund four years ago.”

The Assyrian Relief Fund (ARF) is a charitable organization, registered in 1999 in the state of New South Wales , Australia . Its main objective is to help needy Assyrians in Iraq especially the disabled and the elderly.

In September 2003, four members of the ARF headed by Dr. Mariam Joseph (president), Gilbert David (treasurer), Joe Joseph (secretary) and Magdoline Shalalo (member) visited Baghdad , Kirkuk , Erbil, Dohuk and the surrounding villages to assess the situation in Iraq .

In the U.S. courts, deceitful conduct as described in Mr. Barkho's letter is treated as a criminal liability for the person accused of manipulating others to give something of value by concealing a fact. Mr. Dadesho has not commented on his television shows on the nature of these accusations at presstime. In the meantime neither was Zinda Magazine able to confirm the authorship of the letter prior to its publication deadline.


Syro-Malabar Church Gets Leeway on Electing Bishops

Courtesy of Zenit News Agency (16 January)

(ZNDA: Vatican ) Vatican confirmed that the Synod of Syro-Malabar Bishops now has wide leeway in selecting bishops and establishing and suppressing eparchies, or dioceses, in its territory.

The Holy See granted this in a decree the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, presented to the archbishop major of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil.

The decree was presented during the general assembly of the Indian bishops' conference, which ended Wednesday in Trichur, in the state of Kerala.

According to Cardinal Daoud, when the Holy See recognized the Syro-Malabar community as a major archbishopric in 1993, matters of liturgy and the creation of new eparchies and election of bishops were not included.

Reservations with regard to the liturgy were removed in 1998, and now, following the recent plenary assembly of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Pope has also revoked the restriction on matters of eparchies and bishops.

From now on, the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church will not only be able to decide, by majority vote, on liturgical questions, but will also be able to make a list of candidate bishops, conduct necessary inquiries from bishops, priests, and responsible members of the laity, select the candidates by majority vote, and submit the names to the Pope for approval.

The Catholic Church of India includes the Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankar rites. The Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankar Churches date back to the Apostle Thomas.


Iraqi Looters of Ancient Graves

Courtesy of FoxNews (15 January)

(ZNDA: Baghdad ) Archeologist John Russell, flying in a U.S. military helicopter, looked out over the barrel of the gunner's machine gun and saw his nightmare in the desert below: dozens of brazen looters in broad daylight busily robbing graves as old as 5,000 years.

"That whole chapter of our past is gone forever. How am I supposed to I feel?" said Russell, who was on the verge of tears.

But in a way, his flight over a half-dozen archeological sites and his inspection of this Sumerian city offers some hope. This week, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority(CPA) in Baghdad began a new program to stop the wave of highly destructive looting that began with the American invasion.

Officials organized a special archeological protection service and are training its first 168 senior officers and instructors. The Italian Carabinieri police committed cars, radios and weapons to the effort, and the CPA has set aside between $2 million and $3 million for the project.

And it sent Russell, who holds a doctorate and specializes in ancient Iraq , to begin surveying the damage.

The initial assessment — it's pretty bad.

In the two-hour-long flight south to this location from Baghdad , Russell flew over several sites, all of which showed recent looting damage. Two of them were looted so badly — with little grave-like holes dug from wall to wall — virtually no room was left to dig for anything else.

"You can easily spot the looters holes. They look like craters on the moon," Russell said.

And they did. Holes dotted the ground in Mashkan-shapir , a Babylonian-era city, which was considered a world power in the time of Hammurabi; in Nippur , which ruled the area between the Sumerian and Acadian regimes some 2,500 years ago; and in Drehem, famous for its 4,000-year-old hardened clay tablets — the probable object of the thieves' searches.

The worst appeared in Isin, which was a world center several hundred years before Hammurabi wrote the first written code of laws in human history. Some of the looters scattered at the sound of the helicopters. Others waved.

The holes dug in this Sumerian mound provided both good news and bad news. The holes were started by looters, who were then spotted, and arrested. Archeologists came here and surveyed the damage and discovered previously unknown tombs.

"The exposed artifacts will be removed properly and sent to a museum to be studied and the site will be covered over again for its own protection," Russell said.

The largest piece the archeological team disinterred was a burial urn that contained the bones of a baby. Russell said the remains could be from as early as a thousand years B.C., or as late as a few hundred years A.D. The looter's hole from which it came will be backfilled with dirt, he said. And the whole site will be protected by the new guards.

"The best thing to do with an archeological site," Russell told Fox News, "is to leave it alone."

When a site is properly surveyed, it takes years to map the surroundings, take and analyze soil samples, and attempt to learn everything possible about the target group, he said. Scientists want to know how they lived, what they ate and what was their culture. Grabbing individual clay tablets and ancient cylinders makes that impossible, Russell said.

He said the proper excavation of a tomb — like the one uncovered here and left by looters — could take as much as five years. Some of the organized digs, halted by the 1991 Gulf War and left abandoned, began more than 100 years ago. Some of them were still productive before the beginning of the latest war last March.

Russell, a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and a technical advisor to the Iraqi cultural ministry, said the rebuilding of Iraq "should provide enough work for an entire generation of archeologists, and more" without anyone ever beginning a new dig. Opening canals and building roads in a country with some of the oldest urban ruins on the planet invariably turns up something, he said.

"Contractors and builders should provide their own archeologists, or support a university team before they begin destruction," Russell said, "and fortunately we now have language in the building agreements calling for just that."


Assyrian Academic Society Election Results

(ZNDA: Chicago ) On Sunday, 18 January, the members of the Assyrian Academic Society held their annual general elections and elected the following individuals to office as the new officers of the AAS:

Executive Officers:

President: Dr. John C. Michael

Vice President: Firas Jatou

Secretary: Rima Ports

Treasurer: John Khoury

Committees Chairpersons:


Publications: Dr. Audisho Khoshaba

Ways & Means: Dr. Edison Ishaya

Public Programs: William Solomon

Education: Sonia Abraham

Membership: Sargon Audisho


To learn more about the AAS activities and objectives visit: http://www.aas.net


Surfs Up!
Letters From Zinda Magazine Readers

Reflections on Rev Joseph's Article: “Go Home Mar Dinkha”

The article by the Rev. Ken Joseph in the ‘Literatus' section of the last issue of Zinda Magazine ( January 12, 2004 ), entitled ‘MAR DINKHA, GO HOME!' has been a source of dismay and dissatisfaction with its author and the esteemed editors of Zinda Magazine . The article by Rev. Joseph demonstrates an intentional attack against the clergy of the Church of the East, particularly of those who are living in Iraq and those in the West, while utilizing the condition and emotions of the Assyrians living in Iraq . What's more, the article is almost entirely concerned with the return of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East to Baghdad – which has been in fact the historical seat of the Assyrian patriarchate and to where it will one day return by God's grace – in a manner that seems to be wholly centered upon the person of the patriarch in an uncharitable manner.

Any morally-sound person would appreciate and welcome the suggestions and criticisms of a member of the Church of the East with regard to the question of the return of the patriarch to Iraq . However, the fact remains that Rev. Joseph is neither a member of the Church of the East nor one of her clergy and thus, in our opinion, has no valid right to point fingers at her clergy or direct her prelates as to what their agenda for their Church should consist of. It is true that as an Assyrian he has every right to call upon the return of the various politicians and political-party leaders of our nation, some of whose names he has enumerated in his article and which we do not wish to mention here by name, but the same is not true when it comes to pointing his finger at the Church of the East and her bishops/clergy!

Furthermore, the fact remains that he has left the Church of his forefathers, for whatever reason, and has forfeited the right to engage in the internal life of the Church of the East. The work of the Protestant missionaries amongst the Assyrians in times past, especially in the Urmia region, is well known by any true and honest student of history at large, and Church history in particular. It is true that schools and learning were promoted amongst the member of the Assyrian Church of the East, but it is equally true that the missionaries brought about divisions amongst our nation which are still felt to this very day. Rev. Joseph, as a member of one of the various Protestant denominations, he is not a member of the Church of the East and has no right to meddle in the internal affairs of a Church of which he is not a member. We invite, and indeed challenge Rev. Joseph to return to the Church of the East and labor for the revival for which he calls amongst her children and as one of her own!

His charges against the faithful of the Church of the East are also highly taken as an affront. His comment: “Staying in home after home I could almost never find a Bible, nor could I find an Assyrian or even a Priest who knew how to pray!” is a generalization that is beyond unfair. Is he so intimately familiar with the prayer-life of every Assyrian Christian in Iraq ? Has he checked the homes of the members of the Assyrian Church to see whether or not they have a Bible on hand? His other comment, “We had a joke in Baghdad – if the Priests prayed every time they lit up a cigarette, there would be a revival!” was especially found to be offensive. It is unjust to condemn the Assyrian priests in Iraq , or elsewhere, for ‘lighting up a cigarette' and to insinuate that it has replaced their personal prayer. He claims to have provided the Assyrians in Iraq with emergency aid, among whom would be the priests, yet he makes a mockery of them in his article; to have made them the butt of ‘his' jokes (to whomever the ‘we' refers) is downright appalling!

In fact, contrary to what he was often told – “Oh, that is our culture! We do not pray so much” – prayer is intimately a part of the spiritual life and patrimony of the Church of the East. It is sufficient to be familiar with the official prayers of the Church as contained in her beautiful and theologically-rich liturgical books (which is characteristic of any and every apostolic Church) to see that the Church of the East is a community of prayer! Personal prayer is also a part of lives of her individual members; at least this has been our experience in our pastoral work. Even the most unlettered member of this Church knows how to pray spontaneously from the depths of the heart!

If you have observed deficiencies in the Assyrian Church in Iraq, which by the way every Christian Church in that country is experiencing for reasons which are well-known to all of us, it would have been much more Christian of him to have informed the prelates of the Assyrian Church there rather than having publicized them with ridicule in the media! The fact remains that there are other Assyrian/Syriac-speaking churches in Iraq , which are not a part of the Church of the East. Has he observed their prayer habits and spiritual life as well?!

Finally, his countdown of when the patriarch has promised to go to Iraq – “It is January. He has not gone nor are there any plans for him to go” coupled with his provoking words: “Before you condemn him for his lack of courage and lack of leadership and totally unacceptable common concern…” seem to insinuate that he has been placed in a position of leadership of the Assyrian Nation and Church. May we know what is his official position in the Assyrian community in Iraq and in what capacity he is operating in that country, especially with regard to the Assyrian community? From what is well-known, the Assyrians and Christians of Iraq already have a recognized representative who functions in an official capacity! By what authority does he call upon the patriarch of a Church to which he does not belong to return to Iraq or not? Is this not a matter which is best determined by the bishops and faithful who are a part of the Assyrian Church of the East? Such questions need to be answered before he can exert himself and his ‘authority' upon other Assyrians. If he has been engaged in providing Iraqi Assyrians with aid and ‘emergency relief supplies' – God bless him for it, but please, don't sound the trumpet!

At this point, a word or two need to be said about the apparent campaign of invective against the Assyrian Church of the East by Zinda Magazine and its editor. It seems that the scope of the e-magazine is to parade the faults and shortcomings of the Assyrian Church of the East and her clergy! Unfortunately, the magazine has become a forum for soliciting any and every unkind and critical remark against this Church – a Church whose faithful have suffered countless travesties and which has been thrown into decadence by factors, for the greater part, outside her own self. This has consistently been the case, and we especially refer to your article in three parts “The Assyrian Church of the East: The Next 2000 Years” of August and September 2002, among others. If it is part of Zinda Magazine 's agenda to portray the faults of the Assyrian political and religious spheres, then your observations and judgments should be fair. On the contrary, it is obvious that the Church of the East, in particular, has been placed under your microscope for scrutiny and ridicule!

Although it is true that the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of free speech and freedom of the press, we kindly ask that ethical norms – a basic Christian principle – be observed as well. The liberties of speech and press do not entail being unjust and engaged in the use of invective. It should be the guiding principle of the mass media to gather and report information in an ethically acceptable and morally-conscious manner; the media should not be biased nor have as its point of departure any pre-conceived notions. God bless you and all the readers of Zinda Magazine !

Rev. Patros Patros

Rev. William Toma

Rev. David Royel

Rev. Semaan Daood

Rev. Paul (Korosh) Benjamin

Priests of the Assyrian Church of the East studying in Rome


First of all I want to tell Rev. Ken Joseph ‘Broavo'. I am so impressed with his article ‘Go home Mar Dinkha' (Zinda, volume IX Issue 42, 12 January 2004 ). That's an important issue we had discussed many times with my friends in Russia and USA . But he is the first one who put it in public view, and I want to thank him for it.

We Assyrians, for a long time didn't have a chance to criticize our spiritual leaders. All the same we should know that they have had many historical responsibilities for their people. And sometimes their behavior and decisions played a negative role in Assyrian destiny.

Vasili Shoumanov



[Z-info: Mr. Shoumanov is the librarian and archivist of the Ashurbanipal Library in Chicago . Mr. Shoumanov is also the editor of a new Russian-English newsletter on the web titled “Atranews”. Visit Atra news at http://www.geocities.com/atranews.]


Rev. Ken Joseph is absolutely right in demanding that the Patriarch of the Church of the East return to Bet-Nahrain. For close to two thousand years the patriarchate held steadfast with its flock in its home in Bet-Nahrain. It maintained our faith and our identity during times of great pain; atrocities, persecutions, and genocide in our homeland. The Church of the East is the Church of the "East". The patriarchate should return to Bet-Nahrain where it belongs as soon as possible.

Samuel Saro

New York


I wholeheartedly agree with the article “Mar Dinkha, Go Home!” And I would say:

Every day they need you, Kassi,

but this day specially.

They need some extra strength

to face whatever is to be....

This day more than any day

They need to feel You near - to

fortify their courage and to

overcome their fear.

Youaw T. Kanna



I believe that someone has finally spoken some sense in all this madness. The Assyrian people have been existed due to their religion. Our Church was the leading missionary rebels who spread the word about Christ to the four corners of the world. What can be said today about them? They are spoiled and not worth noting. It starts with Mar Shimmun, and Mar Aprim and who else. Do they come and visit the dying or the sick here in America ? Not in my family.

I refuse to hand them a stack of cash. Since when does a priest need so much money to live. I applaud Fr. Ken Joseph. Mar Dinkha, the Assyrians in the U.S. can wait for you. Go back to Iraq and help the dying, the suffering, the people who need spirtual direction now.

Who am I to speak? I am an Assyrian woman from Chicago . My experience? My uncle had a sroke a couple of years ago, when the priest was called from St. George's parish and asked to come and pray for my uncle. His reply: “Oh we don't like to go there because they have lice and germs. What's your job man?”

I am deeply saddend that our Church does the least it can for its people. Why should we support the church when the Church is not supporting its people.

Linda Mareewa Pecho



What's Going on Out There?

I just wanted to know if there was anyone working on raising the general public's awareness on the plight of the Assyrians? Is there any way we can get a few minutes on Larry King Live, CNN, or The Wall Street Journal? I know in the past we have been mentioned in all of the media formats, however I just wanted to know if there was anything we can do to really get their attention? Any Ideas?

George Youhana



Assyrians Participate at the Multicultural Festival in Arizona

A multicultural festival was held in Chandler , Arizona on Saturday, January 16th, in downtown Chandler . The Festival featured foods, music, dancing and little bit of history from various cultures, namely Irish, Assyrian, Chinese, and African among other cultural. The Assyrians proudly displayed their flag and danced khigga in front of a large crowed.

Albert Warda



Pat Robertson, Disciple of Jesus and the Assyrian Ambassador

On the evening of April 15, 2003 and just six days after the fall of Baghdad , I watched Club 700 programme which is produced by CBN television Christian channel for the God TV which is viewable in the west and many parts of the world.

Pat Robertson read Isaiah 19:23-25: In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria . The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria . The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria , a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying 'blessed be Egypt my peolpe, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inhertance' (NIV).

With a map of the Assyrian kingdom before the fall in his hands extending from Assyria to Egypt via Israel , he predicted the latter day Assyria and the prophecy of Isaiah, an Assyrian state encompassing all Mesopotamia up to the great sea and reaching Egypt via Israel . Pat Robertson valiantly did what an Assyrian leader cannot do. We wholeheartedly thank you Pat for talking for us and God bless you and bless your mission in serving and making known the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord to the entire world.

Dr. George Habash

United Kingdom


I RAn for Life

I ran the PF Chang Rock and Roll ½ Marathon on January 11th 2004 . Although most will not understand, I must say it was again a wonderful experience. I ran the ½ marathon in 2:32:57 . Misunderstanding of race entry, I was registered to run the half marathon (13.1 miles) and not the full marathon (26.2 miles). Due to the timing, I did not have enough time to change it.

Despite nursing a leg injury/strain and getting over a bad case of flu only a week before the race, it was important I run and finish my race, especially since my cause for running was so important.

My mother is continuing her chemotherapy and has two more treatments, which should be over by March this year.

She recently had a PetScan to determine if cancer had spread, and with God's help, it has not. This is GREAT news for us.

Words can't explain the gratitude my family has for the second chance at life she is getting as she fights cancer. We hope and pray that God gives the power for a cure.

Just as my mother is getting the chance, the Assyrians of Iraq, especially the children, will get another chance of better living with your wonderful donations. With your help, I raised $3531.10, which has gone directly to Assyrian Aid Society in helping the Assyrians of Iraq. My family and I wish you only good things in life.

In closing, I would like to dedicate my run for fighting cancer, not only to my mother, but to every friend, coworker, and strangers never met, who are fighting the same battle. For those who have lost their lives, I pray for their souls and pray for their families. I especially dedicate my run to Lamia Shamoon, my cousin and one my best friends, who continues to battle same as my mother, and to Ewan Gewargis and Aziza Shamoon, who left us fighting the battle.

May you and your families be blessed. Please share every moment with your families, especially parents. If it was not for parents, we would not have our lives on this wonderful place we call Earth!

Nina Klyana


Surfer's Corner

AACF Presents the Documentary “The Last Assyrians”

Mr. Naman Adlun, president of the Association of Assyro-Chaldeans of France , as well as his Board of Directors, invite you to see the documentary film “The Last Assyrians” directed by Mr. Robert Alaux.

This documentray by the French director, Robert Alaux, titled "The Last Assyrians" was shot on location in Ur , Babylon , Baghdad , Mosul , Alqosh, Dohuk , Turkey , Syria , Europe, and the United States .

It narrates the lives of today's Syriac-speaking people who call themselves Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs.

The film depicts "Assyro-Chaldeans" as the descendants of ancient Mesopotamia . The film explains that accused of a religious heresy the Assyrians moved to China and Mongolia to spread their newly-found religion. In the 20th Century they were victims of two massacres in 1915 and 1933. They left their homelands to come to Europe and the United States .

"The Last Assyrians" describes the current conditions of the Assyrians in Iraq and the activities of the Assyrain Democratic Movement. It touches upon the challenges facing Assyrians as they begin to sort out their religious and national identities affected by centuries of suffering in the East.

Length: 52 minutes

Showtime: Thursday, 5 February at 6:30 pm

Address: Taillepied Avenue , 95200 Teals, France

Room André Malraux

Admission: Free


Dinner & Dance Party in London

The UK branch of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) would like to inform you of our forthcoming ‘Dinner & Dance' function, which is scheduled to convene at our Assyrian House on Saturday 31st January 2004 , from 8.00 PM onwards.

The entertainment for the evening comprises the very talented Assyrian singers:

Ogun Bet Shmouel from the United States & Nagam Moushe from Sweden

The singers will be accompanied by George Sam, a well-known musician from Sweden .

Tickets are priced at £20.00 each (dinner included) and will be sold on a first come first serve basis at the Assyrian House during the following dates:

Wednesday, 28 January from 8-10 pm

Thursday, 29 January from 8-10 pm

Friday, 30 January from 8-10 pm

Strictly No Children!

Light refreshments will be available at the canteen; Alcohol is not available for sale at the Assyrian Society premises.

The purpose of the event is to raise funds for a project that we are working on in conjunction with the Assyrian American League and a Human Rights Organisation based in Europe . During the months of February, March and April a delegation comprising Assyrians from Iraq and the USA and representatives of the Human Rights Organisation will be meeting with European Parliament members, United Nations members as well as European Governments in order to promote the political, national and religious rights of our people in our ancestral homeland.

This is a defining moment in our history and we hope and trust that you will support us in making this event a success.

Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa)

United Kingdom



The Future of Democracy in Iraq through a Sensible Constitution

The Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) was established by the Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator L. Paul Bremer on July 13, 2003 . The IGC began to prepare the path for the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqi people and paving the road for the writing of Iraq 's new constitution. The IGC issued a political declaration on July 22, 2003 . The declaration emphasized that Iraq must be democratic, free, pluralistic, and federal. Article 3 declared that the declaration respects the Islamic identity of Iraq since the majority of Iraqis were Moslem; however, the rights of all Iraqis, regardless to their race, ethnicity, or religion were guaranteed through the constitution. On August 18, 2003 , the IGC created a Preparatory Committee for Constitutional Process in order to study all aspects related to the most acceptable, scientific, practical, logical, and fair manner of writing Iraq 's new constitution. This preparatory committee needed to find as well the ways and means in order to select the members who will write the constitution, taking into consideration the recommendations of this preparatory committee.

Dr. Hikmat Hakim is one of the 25 members of the Preparatory Committee for Constitutional Process. He graduated from the University of Basra , College of Economics and Law / Law Branch. Hakim worked as an attorney from 1970-1973 in Baghdad . Soon after, he traveled to Moscow and obtained his Masters and Ph.D. in Law and constitutions. Dr. Hakim, the ChaldoAssyrian representative in this committee is visiting the United States and he presented a speech in Detroit on January 7, 2004 . He started his lecture by stating that some media outlets, where radio, TV, or Internet, have claimed that the Governing Council was formed on sectarian basis that did not represent the Iraqi people. The reality is, Dr. Hakim states, that Iraq consists of Arabs, Kurds, Turkomen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Mandeans, Armenians, and others; this is the fabric of Iraqi society. If that is the case, why do some propagate that the Governing Council is sectarian? This is the Iraqi reality; the members in the Governing Council represent this fabric.

After the preliminary discussions by a group within the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), four options emerged about the new Iraq constitution, the foundation of any democratic state:

  1. Direct Election: Certain groups within the committee began to press for taking direct census and then holding direct elections. However, the United Nations' expert declared that conditions were not ready in Iraq to carry on census process. Iraq 's progress was not possible to be held back until census were taken since that might take up to three years to prepare. Furthermore, the cost of census undertaking is around $75 – 100 millions, money that is much needed in the rebuilding process. Most importantly is that there are four million Iraqis outside Iraq and they need to be part of this process and the Iraqi embassies abroad are not yet capable to undertake such process.
  2. Partial Elections: This suggestion is based on the foundation that elections should be conducted on the provinces level. Meaning, each province of the 18 Iraqi provinces will hold its own elections by picking a council from the various ethnic and religious groups, in addition to technocrats, educated and notables. Then a person out of these councils will be elected by the council itself. The number of these elected representatives will depend of the population of that specific province; for example, one representative for every 100,000 of the population.
  3. Duel Structure: In this system it was suggested that the Iraqi Governing Council would select experts in constitutional law, politics, economics, and sociology who will write the draft of the constitution, then that draft was to be voted on it on the national level.
  4. A last option was that experts would write a two-years temporary constitution (now coined Iraq Transitional Administrative Law).

After many discussions, the last option was adopted. The IGC and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) reached an understanding on November 15, 2003 to set a timetable for the restoration of full Iraqi sovereignty and present the Transitional Administrative Law by February 28, 2004 .

Dr. Hakim explained how the whole process of paving the road for the writing of the constitution began and where it stands today. The committee, which he was part of, began its activities by traveling to all the 18 Iraqi provinces and communicating with many Iraqis of various groups to get their feedback regarding this matter.

The Transitional Administrative Law will emphasize, states Dr. Hakim, on democracy, freedom, pluralism, and federalism. Furthermore, there must be a separation between the legislative, judiciary, and the executive branches of government. There is a consensus among the 25 members of the constitutional preparatory committee on other main issues, such as guaranteeing certain basic human rights for all Iraqis. The Transitional Administrative Law will stress a respect for the Islamic identity of Iraq since Islam is the religion of the majority in Iraq . However, it will provide guarantees for religious freedom for other non-Moslem groups; it will assert the separation between the various branches of government; and it will ensure that civilians will administer the Iraqi army (similar to that in the United States ). Furthermore, there is a consensus among the preparatory committee for the writing of the constitution that the Kurdish formulation that Iraq is made of two main ethnic groups Arabs and Kurds is rejected; such statement will not see its place in Iraqi constitution despite the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) own version and suggestion of the constitution. Additionally, the term minorities will not be used to reflect the smaller ethnic groups in Iraq . Dr. Hakim stated that all Iraqis are equal in the eyes of the law; the duties undertaken by the Arabs and the Kurds are not heavier or superior to those applied on the other ethnic groups; therefore, there shall be no primary and secondary ethnic groups in Iraq .

However, two problems arose while brainwashing the structure of the future constitution: one religious and the other ethnic in nature. About the first problem, few members of the IGC refuse to accept the consensus and logic; they demand that Islam be the official religion of the state. Others demand that the Islamic Shari'aa law be the main source for law in Iraq . Dr. Hakim elaborated on this issue further. If Islam, he says, became the official religion of Iraq according to the new constitution, then there must exist special provisions in the constitution that guarantees the complete rights of the non-Moslems and clarifies that a non-Moslem could hold any position in Iraq , including the presidency of the land. Democracy could not be achieved if one certain ideology was considered superior over another; and Shari'aa is an ideology where it depends on the Koran. Demanding the Shari'aa to be the only source of laws in the land overrules any serious claim for democracy since one specific ideology could not rule over all population. If that is the case, the Communists could demand that Marxism be the source of law and the pan-Arabs could demand that the Nasirate national ideology be the source of the land. Since politics is the art of executing the conceivable, the various groups must learn how to give and take; Iraq could not accomplish democracy if all its groups did not learn how to give-up on certain thing or give up one thing in order to get another.

The other problem is ethnic in nature. The Kurds are demanding federalism. The consensus is with a federal system in Iraq , however, the thoughts varies from one group to another about the shape of this federalism. The Transitional Administrative Law will not get into the details of this governing system at this moment; i.e. whether the federal Iraq will be geographic, ethnic, or along the provinces.

About the Iraqi National Assembly (The Legislative Assembly), Dr. Hakim states that local caucuses from each of Iraq 's 18 provinces will convene to elect delegates from among their groups to participate in the Iraqi Transitional National Assembly. This should be accomplished by May 31, 2004 . Then, by June 30, 2004 , the Iraqi Transitional National Assembly will convene to elect its leaders and assume full sovereignty for Iraq , and national elections by the end of 2005, according to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) web site.

In each Iraqi province, a committee of 15 members will supervise these elections (Organizing Committee). These 15 members will be selected as follows: five by the IGC; five by the city councils; and five who will represent the biggest administrative units in the province. These members will have to qualify through certain conditions.

Fred Aprim



Meeting with the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Brussels

The Assyro-Chaldean Voice, the weekly broadcast of the Assyro-Chaldean Association of France, was in movement in Brussels , Belgium , on Friday, January, 16th, 2004 all day long, with the aim of meeting the representatives of the Assyrian Democratic Organization, Mtakasta Demoqratayta Atourayta, ADO .

Indeed, two representatives of the Assyrian Democratic Organization were on a European tour, in order to meet Assyro-Chaldean people to inform them about the current situation in Iraq and in Syria and to tell them the conclusions of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac conference, which was held in Baghdad from 22 till 24 October of 2003. These two persons, Mr Bashir Saadi, General Secretary of the Assyrian Democratic Organization, and Gabriel Mouché, member of the political office of the same organization, came from Syria .

Here it is useful to remind the origins of the Assyrian Democratic Organization. The origins of ADO back up to 1957, the year when a dozen men began to meet in order to discuss the answer of the Assyro-Chaldean community to the politic of arabisation led by the Syrian regime, which always goes on the same base.

So, Mtakasta is the Assyro-chaldean political party which has had the most important longevity so far. Zawaa, the Assyrian Democratic Movement, was created in 1979. Bachir Saadi said that Zawaa was the representative of Mtakasta in Iraq and that ADO was the representative of ADM in Syria . They organized together the great international conference in Baghdad , which took place in Baghdad last October.

In the 70's, Mtakasta participated actively in the establishment of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, which was created in France . Considerable efforts were made by the Assyrian Democratic Organization to avoid useless conflicts on the naming of our people. The beginnings were quite difficult. The purposes were to convince the young people of the necessity of political formations to advance the Assyro-Chaldean nation, to favor the training of the young people, to distribute various propaganda documents and to favor the learning of a united people having the same rights as all other peoples of the world.

In 1970, Mtakasta made some important decisions: the executives of ADO had to speak abouth both western and oriental dialects of the Neo-Aramaic language. The male members of the party had to get married to the feminine members of the organization.

The ADO principles amounted to two: the Assyro-Chaldeans are the indigenous of the ground of Mesopotamia . Therefore, they had the same rights and duties as the other ethnic groups of the Middle East . These two principles were expressed in the final statement of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac conference, which was held in Bagdhad.

The Assyrian Democratic Organization is, with the Assyrian democratic Movement, Zowaa, one of the two most important political formation of our time. Their complementarity is indisputable. Both parties are very active in Europe . The European centre of ADO is in Germany . The American office is in Chicago .

The two responsibles of ADO were in Brussels to meet the press and to animate a conference on the Middle East . Their stay in Belgium ended on Sunday, January 18th, 2004 , after having participated in a photographic exhibition entitled “From Tour Abdin to Hakkari”. Bashir Saadi was elected to the Syrian parliament from 1994 untill 1996. As for Gabriel Moushé, member of the committee indicated to the conference of Bagdad, he stood for the parliamentary elections in Syria , during the last electoral campaign in the name of ADO , but the results being falsified, and he was not able to enter the parliament.

Mr. Joseph Adlun made a long video-interview with both representatives. Several questions of current events were treated, as the new changes intervened in the organization, the relations with Zawaa, the Assyrian Democratic Movement, the situation of our people in Iraq , the rights and the liberties recognized in Syria for the Assyro-Chaldean people. Bashir Saadi considered that deep changes are in progress in the countries of the Middle East: in Iraq , the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein fell, so our people can hope for a better future. In Syria , our community has some rights as a monastic community but we are not recognized as a national community, we remain Arabic Christians. He hoped for changes in the coming year.

In Turkey , he said, everything begins to go better. Turkish people seem "more and more sweet" with the Assyro-Chaldean and efforts are made on behalf of the authorities to recognize a certain shape of culture, but the school works continue to distil the image of an enemy community of the Turkish nation.

During the interview made with Joseph Adlun for the Assyro-Chaldean Voice, Bashir Saadi reminded that the purpose of their visit in Europe was to meet the members of our people in Europe to increase the exchange and the dialogue between the mother country and the Assyro-Chaldean of the Diaspora, an exchange which is in the interest of both parts, which form only a single nation.

Bashir Saadi dealt with the 10th congress of ADO , which was held in August 2003. The topic of this congress was the policy of the party. Mtakasta called back by this occasion the fact that the Assyro-Chaldean constitute the indigenous people of this region between Iraq , Syria and Turkey . Our people is not a guest, he said underlining that the Assyro-Chaldean nation has to benefit from the same rights and political and cultural duties as the other ethnic groups. Every centimeter of this territory is our, as it was in past. ADO clarified during the congress that they were ready to work in narrow collaboration with other political organisations with the aim of getting all the justifiable rights of the Assyro-Chaldean people.

Gabriel Moushé explained to the Assyro-Chaldean Voice the position of the Assyrian Democratic Organization on the final statements of the conference of Baghdad . Indeed, this conference which had gathered hundreds of activists was the common initiative of Zawaa and Mtakasta. This conference had designated Yonadam Kanna as the representative of the Assyro-Chaldeans within the temporary Iraqi government and chosen the name Chaldoassyrian as national name.

Bachir Saadi also expressed himself on the brotherly relations which connect ADO with the Assyrian Democratic Movement, headed by Yonadam Kanna , especially since 1986. The common political action became intensified from the 90's. Saadi considers as justified the representation of the Assyro-Chaldeans of Iraq by Yonadam Kanna

Both representatives of the Assyrian Democratic Organization insisted on the hopes of deep changes in Iraq for our people. Indeed, since the fall of the dictatorial regime, our people, who united under an only name, try to obtain political and cultural rights.

As for the situation in Syria , Bashir Saadi evoked the situation of the Assyro-Chaldeans: changes are expected in Syria , where the members of the community, considered as Arab Christians, enjoy some liberties. However, when they appear as an ethnic group, the same rights are not valid. Gabriel Moushé, who had stood for the Syrian general election in the name of ADO , had been a victim of fraud. The Assyro-Chaldean population amounts to 500 000 persons in Syria . In Maloula, a small Assyro-Chaldean village in the North of Syria, it is planned to settle a cultural centre for the protection of the Syriac language. The Assyro-Chaldeans of the Diaspora always have to have in their mind that Syria is an integral part of Mesopotamia , Beth Nahrain.

This interview is was produced in the Aramaic language in our program later.

Samuel Yalap


Assyro-Chaldean Voice



It`s a Baghdad Morning!

It`s a Baghdad morning! As one who is up early to pray it is nice as there is always the sound of a rooster somewhere nearby to supplement your alarm clock!

Baghdad may be a big city but it is still has the feel of a small town.

it is a bit difficult these days as the early morning quickly becomes a cacophony of sound as the various mosques broadcast through massive loudspeakers what is called the `Call to prayer`.

A very, very loud prayer being read in a sing song voice by one of the Mosque representatives - these days rumored to be only taped!

According to 32 year old Haydar Mousa, himself a Shia Muslim `Hardly anybody prays during the call to prayer. We are all in bed at 5AM . We are muslim, but just like other countries few really believe. It is more of a custom that nobody follows.`

The `Call To Prayer`, some would call it an all day intimidation - is now banned in at least three Islamic states but it serves as a very strong reminder all day long of the power of Islam - like it or not.

The next sound that begins to shake the ground is that of the Amerian Tanks as they rumble by to begin their patrols followed by the loud patter of the Helicopters that take off and cross us on the same type of daily patrols.

As one look out into the city the images are at first hard to reconcile - Women in the Mahjbaa which is a head to foot black robe that covers literally everything except part of their face, the wide eyed radical Shiite youth just coming from a demonstration with their green flags and banners, a group or tired looking American soldiers trying to wade through it all in their small convoy of battered humvees, the hawkers trying to sell everything imaginable and then the children - everywhere.

These visible signs of Islam would lead one to think that people rejoice at the prospects of an Islamic Government. Hayder Mousa, a filmaker, continues ``Iraqis do not want an Islamic Government! We jus want to have a normal life. Normal government. Normal life. We just want to be like everybody else. Why do the Americans keep pushing for an Islamic Government even though we dont want one`.

Apparently lost on policy makers and pundits the world over are the reality in so-called `Islamic States`. The reality is that people are essentially the same everywhere. They have their personal beliefs or thy do not but regardless they are personal.

This was the question I posed to Ambassador Bremer directly. When asked if the US was going to insist on a secular - non-religious constitution he replied `That is up to the Iraqis to decide themselves`. I replied `Ambassador Bremer, the Iraqis are not exactly in a position to be deciding such things themselves right now. But they are Muslim. Why shouldn't they have an Islamic Constitution.`

At that I lost it! Here was the man in charge of the future of Iraq, not only did he know seem to know that the British did not have a constitution he did not seem to know one of the most important facts on the ground in Iraq - THE IRAQI PEOPLE DO NOT WANT AN ISLAMIC GOVERNMENT and are confused why the Americans seem to want on!

They have various levels of dreams and goals for themselves, their families, their groups but essentially they are the same. Most especially they want to be left alone to pursue those goals free of interference.

Ban Jamal, a Lawyer and a Woman and an Assyrian Christian puts it another way `We want to and deserve to be free. That is all. We want the rule of law. Good government. Then our country will prosper`.

The massive power and influence of Islam portrayed as so strong, so ominous and overwhelming in fact is very fragile system that derives its power from intimidation from the early morning blaring speakers to the near forced head covering to the strongly expressed desire of people under its `rule` to be free.

One experience, in a small store, in Amman probably illustrates the myth and the reality best. Coming into the store I noticed nobody at the front. Peering into the store I could see someone bent over `praying` on his prayer rug.

The sounds of prayer were suddenly broken by the ringing of his cellphone. Without missing a beat he continued in his prayer while at the very same time answering his cellphone and carrying on a conversation.

When he had finished his prayer/telephone conversation, he carefully wrapped up his carpet and put it away then walked up to the front of the store. Before he had a chance to greet me he looked out the window to see a young lady walk by and kissing his hands he gestured after her and said `Ahh`!

I paused `Excuse me. Didnt you just finish praying? ` I asked. The first thing you do after you finish praying is `Ah after a beautiful girl? You pray and talk on the telephone at the same tie? What is this?

I ask.

`Ah, you got me` He responds with a laugh! This is the reality.

Now it is getting quiet, the slow rumble of the massive traffic jams that are Baghdad begin to take over and the liberated city of Baghdad, defying all the pundits and naysayers is slowly gearing up for boom times!

Traffic jam? Yup, traffic jam. The number one problem in Baghdad these days is the traffic! Sure doesnt sound like the Baghdad you hear about outside does it? It almost sounds like someone is getting the word out that Baghad is dangerous, terrible so they can keep all the `goodies` for themselves!

The real thoughts on the minds of Iraqis? `Thank you, Americans for getting rid of Sadaam. Please help us so we can set up a system that will guarantee we dont get another even worse dictator. Please stay with us until we can get a good constitution that keeps religion out of government, fair elections to make sure the `thugs` dont take power back again and by the way drop me a good job or contract on the way . . and please stay. `

It`s a Bagdad morning! Things are just fine, thank you`!

Rev. Ken Joseph Jr.


[Z-info: Ken Joseph Jr, dubbed `God`s Man in Baghdad` is an Assyrian, directs Assyrianchristians.com and is completing a book on his experiences in Iraq before and after the war entitled `I Was Wrong`]


WarTime Broadcasts : Iraqi Crisis of May 1941

The series MP261/4 item Box 1 contains four bound volumes which list all the incoming short wave broadcasts from a diverse range of broadcast sources. This series is indispensable for someone researching or studying the Axis powers'- Germany , Italy and Japan -wartime propaganda broadcasts.

During the Second World War the Department of Information based in Melbourne , Australia received incoming short wave broadcasts from various sources about the propaganda campaign waged by the Axis powers' against Britain . The author has reproduced the item below, as the Australian Archives could not provide a photocopy due to conservation and preservation reasons.

These volumes are tightly bound and a section of the text is so badly faded that I had to hand write it. In some cases because of the unreadability of the written text, I had to guess some of the words.

This article should be read in conjunction with my earlier piece titled The Iraqi Revolt of May 1941 which appeared in Zinda Magazine on October 7, 2002 . It is important to note, once again, that the Assyrian levies played an important part in the defence of the Habbaniya airbase and also assisted the British to put down the Rashid Ali revolt.

Department of Information 375 Collins Street Melbourne , Broadcasting Division (Weekly January 1 – June 25, 1941)

Weekly Review of Incoming Short wave broadcasts (All Times AET)

May 7th 1941 :

“ Iraq . Axis propaganda has constantly professed [concern] for the Arabs; in Axis broadcasts we have heard a great deal about the ancient culture of the Arabs, and proclamations have been issued stating that the Axis powers intend to give the Arabs an important place in a new world order. At the same time, every disagreement between the British and Arabs was carefully noted.

The clashes in Iraq between the British and Raschid Ali's government have been represented in Axis propaganda as one phase of a general Arab uprising against Britain . The flood of propaganda about the Balkan campaign is subsiding and the Iraq affair has taken its place as a major propaganda theme. Accounts of the fighting have been fairly perfunctory: the Iraq air force has damaged the RAF badly; Habbaniyah aerodrome has been occupied by the Irakis since Saturday (This claim was made first by Berlin in a broadcast in Spanish to Colombia at 10.45 am May 6th. Later, however, at Midnight , Berlin Broadcast in English language bulletin that Habbaniyah aerodrome had been shelled by the Irakis); Basra is encircled; Rutbah has been occupied. The emphasis has been rather on Arab uprisings in other British controlled territories, a demonstration of sympathy for the Irakis in Palestine , Syria and Egypt .

That the Iraq affair must be given the widest possible significance, Axis propagandists have spoken of desertion to the Irakis of Indian troops; of trouble between British and Indian troops in Egypt; and said a religious leader in Iraq had called upon Moslems in particularly in India, to wage a holy war against England.

And Tokio Nichi Nichi was quoted by Berlin (May 5th, 1.15PM ) as saying that the sympathy of all oriental nations was with Iraq .

Some quotations from Axis propaganda illustrate these points: “ The uprising in Iraq against the English has made a great impression on the Arabs in South and East Arabia . The commander of the British forces in Aden has asked for reinforcements; the atmosphere in Hadramaut and Yemen has necessitated the taking of safety measures.” ( Berlin May 5th, 4PM )

“The Hungarian press comments on the Iraq putsch. Magyarorrzag writes that it is a local move but part of the Axis struggle against Britain . It threatens to drag the whole Arab world into the conflict and gives the Arabs a chance to fight for their freedom.” ( Rome May 5th, 3PM )

(This sits ill with Axis powers' professed desire, noticed recently to limit the conflict and their condemnation of the “putsch” by which Yugoslavs tried to preserve their freedom.)

Rome , like Berlin , has daily reported events and …proclamations, and has been mainly interested in stressing that the Irakis in resisting Britain are representing the Arab world. It is pointed out that the fighting in Iraq is not merely of local importance, but is just part of the Axis struggle against Britain and the entire Iraq nation is said to be behind the present Government.”

Tokio “ Nichi Nichi “ provided propaganda material for Berlin . Tokio Radio has also sought to give the Iraq affair widest significance: “ The Iraq incident may be a turning point in Asia . It is not only a local problem, as the religious aspect must be considered also. India , Burma , and Iran are vitally implicated. The present situation may lead to the decline of British power in Asia .” (May 3rd, 8.30PM )

So far we have heard, Axis propagandists have not dared to include Turkey in the Moslem people who are said to support Iraq and join in a holy war against Britain . The British commentator Donald Messenger said “ Turkey has offered to mediate in the undeclared war between Britain and Iraq , thus proving that the rumours of a holy war are not well founded, since Turkey is a Moslem country.” (May 6th, 8.20Am )

Ankara Radio assures an objective attitude. In a broadcast on May 6th ( 4.15 AM ) the Iraq regent's proclamation to his people was quited; and a Baghdad report was noted, according to which Raschid Ali thanked the people for their support and said that he only wished to preserve the independence of the country. This broadcast also had an item, not heard from any other source: “ Britain has announced that… should Raschid Ali agree to a legally elected Government and the observance of the Anglo-Iraq treaty England will have no quarrel with him.”

May 7th 1941 Radio Saigon stated “ the events of Iraq , Saigon stressed the fact that the British oil supplies would not be affected even if the Iraq sources were closed.” (p.8)

Radio Tokio “ The outbreak of hostilities in Iraq was made the occasion of a partially definite statement of Japan 's wishful thinking. This was on May 3rd…” Large forces of Arabs are ready to march from Palestine … Iraq is the turning point for India , Malaya , Burma and all Eastern Asiatic countries.”

Later broadcasts seem to identify the Arabs with Asiatics, but the link wasn't quite clear.”

The German invasion of mainland Greece and Crete in April-May resulted in the evacuation of British, Australian and New Zealand troops to Egypt .

This allowed Nazi Germany to control the Balkan Peninsula and thus making it easier for her to gain access to the rich oil fields of the Middle East . Britain considered the importance of these oil fields to supply it for its domestic and wartime needs. The ability of the Royal Navy to keep vital sea-lanes open from German naval attack was considered essential to Britain 's national security.

Furthermore Iraq occupied an important geo-strategic position in Britain 's line of communication in the Persian Gulf and with India .

The series MP261/4 item Box 1 contains four bound volumes which list all the incoming short wave broadcasts from a diverse range of broadcast sources. This series is indispensable for someone researching or studying the Axis powers'- Germany , Italy and Japan -wartime propaganda broadcasts.

During the Second World War the Department of Information based in Melbourne , Australia received incoming short wave broadcasts from various sources about the propaganda campaign waged by the Axis powers' against Britain . The author has reproduced the item below, as the Australian Archives could not provide a photocopy due to conservation and preservation reasons.

These volumes are tightly bound and a section of the text is so badly faded that I had to hand write it. In some cases because of the unreadability of the written text, I had to guess some of the words.

Department of Information 375 Collins Street Melbourne , Broadcasting Division (Weekly January 1 – June 25, 1941) Weekly Review of Incoming Short wave broadcasts (All Times AET)

May 7th 1941

The Near East May 21, 1941

“Axis broadcasts give Iraki bulletins in full. According to these, the British claim to have taken Rutbah is untrue and the garrison at Habbaniyah will have to surrender very soon, and the Irakis have already destroyed 30 British tanks. So far there has been no mention in Axis broadcasts of Axis assistance for the Iraq rebels. Berlin reported on May 18th ( 11.25AM ): “Strong force of British and Australian troops disembarked at Haifa for Iraq . The Australian troops must await reinforcement; the British troops are intact, but lack army.”

The Axis continues to present Iraq revolt as the nucleus of a genuine Moslem uprising against Britain , with accounts of widespread Moslem sympathy for the Iraq cause. Berlin has mentioned the visit of the Iraq Finance Minister to Ibn-Saud, with the comment that “ the friendship between Iraq and Saudi Arabia is particularly noticeable.” (May 20th 11.PM) (p.4)

Tokio “ On May 16th, Radio Tokio announced that the Soviets was encouraging her army to volunteer in the Irakian Air Force. On May 17th Tokio issued a denial of the rumours “emanating from American and British sources”, that Soviet army were being encouraged to volunteer for service with Iraq .

May 28 1941

The Near East

“ Though Berlin , Rome and Tokio still broadcast Iraki army bulletins, claiming great successes for Iraq troops, they have had little to say in the past few days of a general Moslem support for the Iraq cause. Berlin reported that “ relations between Iraq and Turkey have greatly improved following the visit of the Iraqi Defence Minister to Ankara .” (May 22nd, 10PM ).

Berlin reported that Ibn-Saud had indignantly rejected British proposals that he should extend his territory at Iraq 's expense. (May 24th 1.15 PM ). Berlin also announced (May 26th 4PM ) that the son of the “anglophile Emir Abdullah” of Transjordan was raising a force to fight against Britain .” Of Iraq communiqué an Ankara broadcast to “New York Times” said “It is becoming increasingly clear that Iraq communiqués are not telling a true story.” (May 26th 9.20PM )

On May 28th, the American correspondent, in another of these 9.20 am broadcasts from Ankara , said it was thought that Rashid Ali might soon join his defence minister in Ankara and that he had quarreled with his Nazi advisers about the small amount of Nazi aid.

Berlin is still silent about German aid for Iraq . Tokio reported on May 22nd ( 9PM in Japanese) that Germany was transporting troops and ammunition through Turkey and on May 23rd ( 6.30 PM in English) that crack German troops had been despatched to the Mosul area, where they would cut the pipe-line to Haifa .”

June 4, 1941

The Near East

“ Berlin announced the Iraq Armistice on Sunday June 1st ( 4PM ) thus. “ The Iraq position has changed within the last 48 hours in favour of Great Britain . British units have reached Baghdad , where the Major has offered to surrender… It cannot be said that the change was brought about by the strength of British arms: Rome on May 31st ( 3PM ) denied that Raschid Ali had fled from Baghdad and said he had only gone to inspect his troops. A few hours later at 9PM , the B.B.C announced that the Irakis had asked for an armistice.

Since the armistice Axis broadcasters have masked that the surrender concerned Baghdad only, and that fighting continued behind the city and in Transjordan . Tokio broadcasts have followed the same line; in a broadcast in English to Australia , the Tokio announcer said, “ Regarding the alleged armistice between Iraq and Britain , it is pointed out that the Irakis still have sufficient forces to oppose Britain …. An extensive anti-British movement on the part of the Arab people maybe expected shortly.” And Tokio continued to believe in the potency of a general Mohammedan uprising against the British; the Mohammedan Society of Japan cabled a message of encouragement to Mohammedan's throughout the world, and to their compatriots in Iraq , calling them to fight to the last for their independence.” (June 2nd 9PM )

(Source : National Archives of Australia , Melbourne office MP261/4 Box 1 Weekly review of Monitoring reports 31-7-1940 to 27-5-1942

Stavros T.Stavridis


[Z-info: Mr. Stavros T.Stavridis is Historical Researcher for the National Centre for Hellenic Studies and Research, Latrobe University , Bundoora , Victoria , Australia . Mr. Stavros can be contacted at s.stavridis@latrobe.edu.au.]



Dr. Shameran Slewa-Younan

A former Westfield Sports High student, Dr. Shameran Slewa-Younan of Prairewood, has been awarded a prestigious research fellowship to study brain injury recovery.

Dr. Slewa-Younan, 30, graduated from Westfield Sports High in 1990 and went on to Sydney University to graduate in a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in psychology.

Last year she completed her PhD in Psychological Medicine and shortly after was awarded an Australian Clinical Research Fellowship worth a total of $450 000 to study the effect of sex hormones on patients recovering from brain injury.

“I will be looking at role of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen have in the recovery after a major head injury,” she said.

“These hormones have shown in rate that it is really beneficial to have progesterone in your body to reduce the size of brain swelling after a brain injury.”

“It has huge implications in future treatment in terms of drug interventions”.

“In the United States doctors are already trialing progesterone in the treatment of brain injuries.”

“When I received the fellowship it validated the implications of this field of research.”

Dr. Slewa-Younan is a researcher in the Clinical Disorders Unit at the Brain Dynamics Centre of Westmead Hospital & University of Sydney. As a research fellow at the New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry she was looking at gender differences in schizophrenia as reflected in synchronous gamma (40 Hz) activity.

Dr. Slewa-Younan 's interest in the brain stemmed from an interest in understanding the basis of schizophrenia. Through Shameran's clinical work with patients with schizophrenia, she noticed differences in the clinical presentation and course of the disorder in women and men. Women appear to have greater positive symptomatology while men present with greater negative symptomatology such as blunted or inappropriate emotional responses.

Dr. Slewa-Younan was particularly interested in discovering the psychophysiological correlates of these gender differences - if we could identify brain mechanisms that predicted the different course of schizophrenia in women and men, this may ultimately improve our treatment and management of the disorder. She moved from a clinical position to take up a PhD. Her central question is "Are gender differences reflected in the Gamma activity of patients schizophrenia? ".

At Westmead Hospital Dr. Slewa-Younan 's research focus has been the recovery and rehabilitation of patients with a traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Slewa-Younan published work include articles in the Psychiatric Times (March 2001; 18 (3): 46-48); International Journal of Neuroscience (2001; 107: 131-144); Brain Injury (June 2000; 14(6): 505-512); and International Journal Of Psychophysiology (2000; 35: 51); Psychological Medicine (1999; 29:1175-1181).

“There were more than 300 applications for the fellowship and only about 15 a year are chosen.”

“To get a fellowship you have to be in the top 5 per cent in your career level of researchers in the world – not just Australia .”

In her research, Dr. Slewa-Younan will be tracking the cases of patients with head I injuries in Westmeed, Liverpool and Nepean Hospitals .

She is looking forward to the challenge of her work over the next four years.

“The potential to find something new and share it with the scientific community is a huge honour,” she said.

[Special thanks to our readers in Australia Mr. Jack Yohanan and Mr. Nicholas Al-Jeloo . Based on the article by Jim Gainsford for the Liverpool City Champion ( 21 January 2004 ). Photo courtesy of Helen Nezdropa.]

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Thank You!

Zindamagazine would like to thank:

Dr. Matay Arsan ( Holland )

David Chibo ( Australia )

Nick Dinkha ( Canada )

Ashor Giwargis ( Lebanon )

Ninos Isaac ( California )

Youkie Khaninia ( Arizona )

Tomas Isik ( Sweden )

Petr Kubalek ( Czech Republic )

Atheer Tallo ( U.S. )

Pavel Varda ( U.S. )



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