10 Kanoon I 6754
Volume X

Issue 47

30 November 2004


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Is A ChaldoAssyrian Safe Haven in Iraq Necessary?

This Week in Zinda
  The Assyrian Manifesto VII

Ivan Kakovitch

  List of Approved Christian & ChaldoAssyrian Political Parties
5 ChaldoAssyrian Parties May Join Kurdish Parliament
Iraq's Christian Minority Under Threat as Never Before

Pascale Warda Visits Holland

  NWS Young Liberals Condemn Attacks in Iraq
Cheers for AYEP Contestants
Sell Outs

Zaya Toma (Australia)
Joseph Haweil (Australia)
Ashuriena-Gozal E. Baba


AAS at the City of Chandler Multi-Cultural Event
UCSB Mid East Studies Conference Call For Papers

Youkie Khanania (Arizona)

  Appeal for a ChaldoAssyrian Safe Haven in Northern Iraq AINA
  A Review of Prof. Ephrem-Isa Yousif's Book Antoni Yalap (France)
The Lighthouse
Feature Article(s)

The Assyrian Manifesto VII

Ivan Kakovitch

The Prince of Kurdistan

'The Prince of Kurdistan' was how the late Patriarch of Assyria, Mar-Shimon, Mar Benyamin was referred to by the non-Assyrian, Moslem inhabitants of Mesopotamia.

The word 'Kurdistan' was not by any means an inference as to the demeanor of His Holiness, but a sign of respect not only for His Beatitude, but also for his leadership of the nation of Assyria.

The Murder of the Patriarch

True, he was murdered by a barrage of bullets from the rooftops in a Kurdish Village of Kohne Shahr near the city of Salamas, on February 25, 1918, and worse, he was ultimately degraded when his body was stripped, publicly displayed, and then thrown out on the street by the followers of a Shekak Kurdish Warlord, surnamed 'Simko' (The Red) [bloody], however, most of the inhabitants were appalled by this event, although realizing that it was an internationally motivated political mayhem, perpetrated against Assyria, as a whole. Mount Semele. (1st Ed. Alexandria, VA - USA 2004.) By Ivan Kakovitch.

Succession of National Power

Thus, Assyria, as a non-secular nationality, passed the baton of power of its nation into the hands of a young successor, Mar-Shimon, Mar Ishaya XXIII, via Regency headed by Lady Surma, the Late Mar-Shimon Mar Benyamin's sister.

And, thus, following the non-descript politico-ecclesiastic patterns, the nation of Assyria continued to be governed, as well as being represented by Mar Shimon, Mar Ishaya XXIII, until his assassination in San Jose, California, almost exactly twenty nine years ago, in November 1975.

The Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV

The ecclesiastic selection of the new Patriarch, namely Mar Dinkha IV was in conformity with the previous centuries-old ordinance in the nation and the Church of Assyria, and it is thus at the behest of Assyria that His Holiness Mar Dinkha remains at the helm of his nation, as well as at the helm of the Church of Assyria.

Decrepit Political Movement

In the last fourteen months, there has been a movement to demean the functions and the title of the non-secular hierarchy of Assyria, and to place the national leadership into the hands of a political party that has entrenched itself in the annals of the Kurdish Parliament in northern Iraq. This movement, and its sycophants, including at least one high-ranking Church of Assyria Archbishop, namely, Mar Bawai Suro, with a few adherents among the lesser Church of Assyria laity in the ranks of Priests, are hard at work enunciating to portray the Church of Assyria, and its titular head, Mar Dinkha, as lackadaisical and obtrusive on the path of the political arena of Assyria.

Media Propaganda

This misappropriation by one of the political parties of Assyria and its followers seems to have become more aggressive in its format, and in its plebeian pantheon of absolute authority. Its postings, its essays, its innuendos, and its diatribe in continuously abounding articles articulating the idea of having The Patriarch Mar Dinkha 'pack up and move to Iraq' have even been published on the only reputable Assyrian web magazine, 'Zinda', of San Jose, along with its Russian language web for Russia, as well as on the 'Assyrian Forum', of Chicago, operated by AINA.

Manifestation of Assyria

Assyrians worldwide although silent for the time being, are being asked therefore, to magnanimously rise up and become more vociferous by stamping out such anti-thematic outcries, once and for all.

This voice shall be focusing the manifestations of the Assyrians worldwide in advocating that as long as there is no Government of Assyria, this nation shall not under any aspect, nor under any promise befall into the hands of a single political party.

To surrender the future of a nation into the hands of one party is synonymous with desecrating the walls of democracy in favor of autocracy and eventual dictatorship.


In conclusion, our manifestation shall remain to continuously and irreversibly respect the non-secular ecclesiastic authority of Assyria until such a time when an authority of a government of Assyria has taken up roots.

HENCEFORTH; All Assyrians, from all over the world, whether as political party members or independents, ought to foment such a Government, if not on political arena, at least on an Administrative Format, so that its functions and its attributes benefit the socio-political life of Assyrians as an International Lobby.

[Zinda:  Mr. Ivan Kakovitch is a former professor of history, editor, journalist, translator, abstractor and recently an autor. His latest book is 'Mount Semele' a novel depicting the creation of the State of Iraq, and the hardships, struggles and movements of Assyrians to remain as an identifiable force in their native country, Iraq. The plot covers the years of 1915, culminating on the infamous day of The Semele Massacre, of August 8, 1933. He holds degrees from the University of Paris, New York University and The American University. He has written several manifestations on issues bearing importance on the causes of the Assyrians. Thus, this latest is titled 'Assyrian Manifesto VII'.]

Good Morning Assyria

List of Approved Christian & ChaldoAssyrian Political Parties for January Elections in Iraq

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  At press time the following is a complete list of the ChaldoAssyrian and/or Christian groups and individuals in Iraq who have been approved to run in the January 30th elections in Iraq:


Hikmat Dawood Hakim

Political Parties

  1. Assyrian Democratic Movement (led by Mr. Younadam Kanna)
  2. Chaldean Democratic Union Party (led by Mr. Abd al-Ahad Afram)
  3. Assyrian Patriotic Party (led by Mr. Nimrod Baito Youkhana)
  4. Assyrian National Assembly (led by Mr. Audishoa Malko)
  5. Chaldean National Congress (led by Mr. Fouad Raheem Bodagh)
  6. The Syrian (Syriac) Independent Group (led by Mr. Isho' Majid Hadaya)
  7. Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party (led by Mr. Romeo Hakkari)
  8. Patriotic Union of Beth Nahrain (led by Mr. Giwargis Khoshaba Michael)
  9. Christian Democratic Party (led by Mr. Minas Ibrahim)
  10. Brotherhood Democratic Union (led by Mr. Shmouel Jajjo al-Botani)

There are also two political parties led by Christian leadership:

  1. Kurdistan Labor Democratic Party (led by Mr. Yousuf Hanna Yousuf)
  2. National Assembly (led by Mr. Hana' Edward George)

The office of the Prime Minister and the Electoral Commission announced this week that the Iraqi elections are set as scheduled at the end of January 2005 and that there are no plans for postponing these general elections.

According to al-Jazeera, 42 Shi'aa and Turkoman groups have issued a statement in which they declared that the postponement of elections is illegal and pressed for having the elections on the set date of end of January 2005.

According to CNBC (11/26/2004) many Sunni and the two main Kurdish groups have asked for the elections to be postponed for at least 6 months due to security concerns.

5 ChaldoAssyrian Parties May Join Kurdish Parliament

(ZNDA: Mosul)  In a recent interview, Mr. Romeo Hakkari, Secretary General of the Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party
(BNDP) in Iraq, posted on ankawa.com, explained that his party and 4 other ChaldoAssyrian parties will be entering the parliamentary elections in the Kurdish Parliament in January.  The four other parties were identified as:

1. Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party (BNDP)
2. Chaldean Democratic Union Party
3. Assyrian Patriotic Party (APP)
4. Chaldean Cultural Club

Mr. Hakkari noted that he is in contact with Masoud Barazani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) regarding the admission of the five political parties into the Kurdish Parliament.

Mr. Hakkari also commented that he has been in contact with the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa), but the discussions have been futile.  The Assyrian Democratic Movement has not officially commented on either entering the Kurdish Parliament or joining the other five parties.

Mr. Hakkari's BNDP is against the postponement of the January elections.  He noted during the interview that the postponement of the elections " is not in the interest of our people, but an act of submission to the terrorists."

Iraq's Christian Minority Under Threat as Never Before

Courtesy of the Newhouse News Service
29 November 2004
By Borzou Daragahi

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  Each school year, Sister Beninia Hermes Shoukwana, a Christian nun and headmistress of the public school near Palestine Street, is peppered with the same innocent questions from her mostly Muslim students.

"`Madame Headmistress,' they ask me, `why don't you dress like mommy? Why do you always wear the same white dress?"'

But this year, some remarks from students -- and parents -- have become cutting, even vicious.

"I've been accused of trying to convert little Muslims into Christianity," says Sister Beninia, 64, as creases of worry spread across her forehead and her eyes turn downward. "Leaflets have been distributed asking the parents to withdraw their kids from my school."

After decades of living in relative harmony with the country's Muslim majority, Iraq's Christian minority says it is under threat as never before, with increasing violence directed at its places of worship and a building exodus of its 800,000 or so members.

Already an estimated one of every 10 Iraqi Christians has fled the country, most of them to neighboring Syria.

Sister Beninia has been running the white brick Hebtikar School for more than 30 years. These days, she says, are the worst of times, and she's unable to hide her distress over the fate of her country and fellow Christians, most of them Chaldeans, members of the Nestorian sect who converted to Catholicism in the 16th century.

"For years Christians and Muslims lived like brothers and sisters," she says. "Today the extremists are trying to separate us."

Five Baghdad churches were attacked in October. In August, similar attacks killed at least 10 and wounded nearly 50 Iraqi Christians.

"The people are terrified, actually, about what is happening," says Father Saad Hanna, a priest at Mary Jacob Church in the Dora section of Baghdad.

Recently a bomb blackened the side of the small church. Its parishioners number a third of what they did before the war.

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"The people no longer come to church," Hanna says. "The truth is, we are in trouble, and we don't know how to overcome this."

Sister Beninia says she has no plans to leave, vowing to continue her efforts to educate Iraqi children and build bridges between different faiths.

She's had plenty of experience facing down troubles, beginning with the Baath Party's 1974 decision to nationalize all schools, including Hebtikar, which was originally run by her convent.

"They wanted to force me to join the Baath Party, but I always refused," she says.

Despite her refusal to join Saddam Hussein's political machinery, she kept her job because of her organizational skills and popularity with students and parents. Another challenge came during Iraq's war with Iran in the 1980s. Because of fuel shortages, Sister Beninia walked three hours to and from her school.

In the chaos following the 2003 fall of Saddam's regime, she spent the entire spring and summer holed up at Hebtikar, protecting it from would-be looters. "I wasn't armed, and I was vulnerable," she says, speaking exceptionally good English. "But I confronted the thieves, and they went away."

Sister Beninia would not say who is distributing the leaflets urging parents to pull their children out of school. But she says that despite the threats, the number of parents who want to enroll their children at Hebtikar continues to grow. With a student body of 3,000 in primary and secondary grades, some classrooms are stuffed with as many as 60 students. The school is building an annex.

"Of course I'm afraid that the fanatics will consider this school a target," said Khaled Hamed Rachid, whose three daughters attend Hebtikar. "Even so, I will never take my daughters out of the school because its level of discipline is unique."

Sister Beninia says she heard the Lord's call early, joining the Convent of Chaldean Sisters at 11. But she also felt drawn to the world of classrooms and books. She has run schools in Iraqi Kurdistan and in the southern Shiite city of Basra.

She worked at schools in Kuwait and Dubai before returning to Iraq in 1971 to become headmistress of Hebtikar, then called the St. John School.

Every day at 7:30 a.m., Sister Beninia leaves the Convent of Immaculate Conception, a humble four-story building with a portrait of the Virgin Mary in its sitting room. She boards a Hyundai minibus -- without escorts or bodyguards -- and heads to work, where she's bombarded with the daily minutiae of running a big school: substitute teachers, tardy students, worried parents.

Despite her administrative duties, Sister Beninia maintains a hands-on approach with students. At recess, she hollers through a megaphone, demanding order from a crowd of uniformed children pouring into the school yard. "Stay in line," Sister Beninia commands. "Don't run around."

The children obey.

When classes end abruptly because of nearby fighting or explosions, she often remains at school until dawn, waiting to hear that students and teachers have arrived home safely.

Sixteen students, mostly Christians, recently left the country.

Every day desperate parents visit her office, saying that they are frightened and considering abandoning Iraq. She urges them to stay.

"I try to explain to them that wherever they go they'll always be immigrants," she says. "Iraq is like our house. It's our duty to try to clean up our house."

News Digest

Pascale Warda Visits Holland

(ZNDA:  Holland)  Iraq's Minister of Immigration and Displacement, Mrs. Pascale Warda, visited the Netherlands last week and met with several high-ranking officials in that country. 

Minister Warda, an Assyrian-Iraqi, held meetings with Holland's Ambassador to Iraq; Mrs. Verdonk, Minister of Immigration and Integration; the Director General of International Affairs and Immigration; Major D. Fabius, Ministerial Advisor General; Mr. Bravo, Policy Advisor on Immigration; and European Parliament member, Mr. A.J. Maat; and various Dutch parliament members.

A few Dutch and European news media covered Mrs. Warda's meetings at length.  According to one official:  "The Dutch politicians did not know much about the Assyrians; we now know all that we need to know."

Assyrians advising Mr. Warda on this trip were Mr. Hormis Ishaak, the head of the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Holland; Rev. Ken Joseph from Japan, and Ms. Attiya Gamri, the parliamentary representataive of the Dutch province of Overijssel.

Rev. Ken Joseph and Ms. Gamry spoke to several audiences on the conditions of the Assyrians in Iraq, the impact of the elections in January, the "Five R's" of demanding a safe haven, reconstruction, etc., and the immigration issues facing Assyrians after the recent attacks.

A more detailed report of Minister Warda's visit to Holland will be published in the coming issues of Zinda Magazine.

Photo courtesy of Al-Kahleej Newspaper in Dubai shows His Holiness Mar Zakka, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church and his official delegation during a visit to the United Arab Emirates and meeting with His Highness General Sheik Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the UAE Army, the current Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Prime Minister of the federal government of UAE.

Surfs Up!
Letters to the Editor

NWS Young Liberals Condemn Attacks in Iraq

Zaya Toma
Political Officer
NSW Young Liberals

The Young Liberal Movement of NSW is the most influential youth political organisation in Australia, and is the youth wing of the centre-right conservative Australian Liberal Party, led by the current Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon. John Howard MP.

On Saturday the 27th of November at our state council, which is where branches from all over the state of NSW gather to discuss policy, was a policy motion moved by the Smithfield branch, a branch with many members from an Assyrian background as it is located near Fairfield, which harbours the largest concentration of Assyrians in Australia.

The motion was passed unanimously by over 100 delegates in the presence of Federal members of Parliament and is now a part of the official policy of the NSW Young Liberals.

In a sign of support for the situation faced by Assyrians, the following policy motion was passed unanimously at state council:

11/24/04 - The Liberal Party of Australia, New South Wales Division condemn the hideous and unjustifiable attacks on the Assyrian and Armenian Christian churches in Baghdad and Mosul that killed 15 worshipers and injured another 65. These attacks are a crime not only against Iraqi Christians but all Iraqis who seek a free and democratic Iraq. The Liberal Party of Australia, NSW Division further deems that the formation of a Christian enclave in the north is necessary to safeguard the country’s Christian minority, who makeup 3% of the total population.

Cheers for AYEP Contestants

Joseph Haweil

Congratulations to all of the participants of the Youth Excellence Contest. It is remarkable to see that these youths are setting an example and are demonstarting to us youths around the world that we too, can achieve!

Sell Outs

Ashuriena-Gozal E. Baba

The Assyrian American Association of Southern California (AAASC) has done it again! The destruction of the meaning of New Years' Eve and its excitement began as soon as November 2004. Bad news has come our way again. Bringing a non-Assyrian singer in an Assyrian event has brought distaste in the mouth of pro-Assyrians.

In our homeland, we are continually being slaughtered for centuries till this day by the same religious group that the non-Assyrian singer happens to be. The Islamic fundamentalists have been brutally butchering our fellow Assyrian brothers and sisters in Iraq and many other Middle Eastern countries. The president of the AAASC has failed to veto a call for the bringing of a non-Assyrian entertainer. This is an outrage! With all due respect to that religion, by bringing a non-Assyrian entertainer we are turning our backs on those who are being killed in our native homelands, specifically those in Iraq. We are betraying them by committing this despicable act!

The AAASC was once a nationalistic home for many years for Assyrians residing in the Los Angeles area; however, today, unfortunately, it has converted into a non-Assyrian center. Instead of leading the Assyrian people in the right path of nationalism, the president is following the followers of anti-Assyrians.

By bringing a non-Assyrian singer, the president and the board have no right to speak of nationalism pertaining to the Assyrian nation for this destructive act only brings down our community. If non-Assyrian singers are being so adored by these few individuals, then I should ask this: Why commemorate the death of Assyrian Martyrs on August 7th if you are going to contradict yourselves a few months later?

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I always hear the whining of "Why doesn't Ashur Bet-Sargis sing in our association?" and as the president pretends to care, she speed dials a non-Assyrian singer to beg him for a month and a half to sing for New Years in our association. After finally getting Omid to come sing for "free" while charging $10,000 for the band, she declared "see, Assyrian singers never do this for us!". Yes, she's right, Assyrian singers don't do this for us; Assyrian singers do WAY MORE for us. It was not Omid or any other non-Assyrian singer that raised thousands and thousands of dollars for our people as well as for the AAASC to get back on its feet again twice. I must say to the president, don't EVER talk about Assyrian singers in that manner because you DO NOT know anything about them or their history. They have done more for us than any other individual would do for their own nation. Please learn and understand the history of the Assyrian singers and their generous acts for us before running your mouth criticizing our own flesh and blood.

Music is a part of nationalism. The association ignorantly dismisses the association of music and unity. When hearing our beloved Assyrian singer, David Esha, sing Ya Akhoonee (qatookh baydakh), I feel so proud to be an Assyrian and I become aware of the Assyrian struggle as well as a deep connection with my people with more than just a name.

James H. Cone wrote in The Spirituals and the Blues, "Black music is unity music. It unites the joy and the sorrow, the love and the hate, the hope and the despair of black people; and it moves the people toward the direction of black liberation. It shapes and defines black existence and creates cultural structures for black expression."

If you've read George the Drummer Boy by Nathaniel Benchley, George becomes a Drummer Boy during the American Revolution and goes to war without a weapon, but only his drum to beat for the soldiers. The role of the Drummer Boy was simply to yelp out encouragement for the troops to continue to fight for what they believe in.

Lee Hirsch put it best when he said, "The music held blacks together and gave a voice to their struggle. They used it to record their history, initiate the young into adulthood, and assert their soulfulness. Songs of defiance and songs of determination were the linchpins of survival for an embattled people. Today, the music continues to play a role as it helps South African youth understand their culture and history."

Now, how can one say that music does not encourage nationalism? Vuyisile Mini, who was a singer, songwriter, and activist/voice of the African liberation in South Africa was hanged and buried in 1964 and went to his hanging still singing songs of liberation to give incentives to those against the official policy of segregation in 1948.

Thus, leading to the logical conclusion that the bringing of a Persian singer, who will sing songs in Farsi, will intoxicate the young with the words of non-Assyrians. This is a crime against our people and the president and the board should be held accountable for the straying of our youth into various communities, especially that of the Persian community.

Furthermore, I would like to add that I was very offended by the online posting of the entertainers on New Years' Eve. Following the Middle Eastern mentality, a male was placed above a female showing superiority of the male. However, in the civilized Western countries, women ought to be respected and placed first because of their significant role in building society. I find this to be extremely sexist and religiously discriminative.

I am calling on all Assyrians in the Los Angeles area to recall such a committee that truly does not work for fellow Assyrians, but only deems it necessary to instill business tactics by belittling Assyrian entertainers and bringing non-Assyrians in favor of amalgamation with those individuals. Not only are they committing these terrible actions, but also, they seem to stray away from the bylaws of this institution, which call for the assistance and unification of Assyrians.


Surfer's Corner
Community Events

Assyrian Aid Society Sponsorship in the City of Chandler Multi Cultural Event

Youkie Khanania
Chapter President

The Assyrian Aid Society of America (AAS), Arizona Chapter for the third year in the upcoming Chandler event. The previous two events were proven to be a great success, both for the City of Chandler and AAS.

The annual Chandler event will be held on Saturday, January 15, 2005 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Representatives from various ethnic groups, agencies and companies participate in the event by a stage activity, handing out information or selling products and food. It is expected that more than 10,000 people will visit the event.

The Assyrian Aid Society of America is a charitable 501 (c) (3) organization supported solely by private contributions. For further information about the AAS, its history and mission, please visit: www.assyrianaid.org.

This year, the AAS will present a group of dancers in ethnic clothing performing various Assyrian dances. In addition, two booths will be set up for selling ethnic food and other items related to Assyrian culture.

The AAS is looking for businesses and companies to sponsor our participation in this event. We will produce 600 T- shirts bearing the event information and sponsor's name. With $250 contribution, the sponsor's name will be placed on the back of the T-shirt. A $1000 contribution will place the sponsor's name on the front of the T-shirt.
If you are interested, please contact the local chapter. All payments shall be directed to "Assyrian Aid Society of America" and must be received by December 15, 2004.

UCSB Mid East Studies Conference Call For Papers

7th Annual Middle East Studies Conference:  "The Crisis in Iraq: Where Do We Go From Here?"

Saturday, March 19, 2005
UCSB Campus 9:00 am - 6:00 pm


The UCSB Center for Middle East Studies announces a call for papers for its Seventh Annual Middle East Studies Conference. The theme of the 2005 conference will be the crisis in Iraq. We invited individual paper proposals or pre-organized panels from any discipline related to:

1. Gender and War
2. Religion and War
3. War and International Law
4. Resistance and US Policy
5. War and Culture.

Papers will be considered for publication. Paper presentations should be brief 15-minute summations so as to allow time for question and answer sessions. To submit an individual paper proposal or workshop or panel proposals, email us the required information and a 250-word abstract NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 1, 2005.

The email address is cmes@cmes.ucsb.edu

All individual and panel proposals should include the following: 1) Name of each presenter; 2) email address; 3) institutional address and affiliation; 4) phone number; 5) title of paper (and/or panel or workshop); 6) 250-word abstract.

Working groups and conference panels will be announced on February 7, 2005.

Logistics: Participants and attendees should plan to arrive in Santa Barbara on Friday March 18, 2005 or very early on Saturday morning March 19, 2005. The conference will convene at 8:30 AM and will end at 6:30 PM. There will be a concert of Iraqi music on Friday evening at 8:00 PM. The conference will be followed by a group dinner for participants.

Paper presenters and conveners of working groups will be provided with a $250.00 honorarium and a night’s hotel accommodations. University of California or California State University faculty members are not eligible for the honorarium and hotel accommodations and must apply at their own institution for inter-campus travel funds. Travel expenses for participants will not be covered by CMES.

You may email your proposal to cmes@cmes.ucsb.edu or mail your proposal to:

Professor Juan E. Campo
Center for Middle East Studies
University of California
Santa Barbara 93106-3130

For more information call the UCSB Center for Middle East Studies at (805) 893-4245.


Appeal for a ChaldoAssyrian Safe Haven in Northern Iraq

Assyrian International News Agency
30 November 2004

A November 25 communique entitled "Appeal for a ChaldoAssyrian Safe Haven in Iraq" has once again highlighted growing international alarm over continued attacks targeting Assyrian (also known as Chaldean and Syriac) Christians in Iraq. Signed by 11 organizations spanning several countries in Europe and North America, the Appeal notes that "The systematic and sophisticated Church bombings of August 1, October 16, and November 8 have been supplemented by nearly daily reports of abductions, beheadings, burnings, and killings of innocent ChaldoAssyrian civilians." The Appeal continues "The continuing onslaught against the vulnerable ChaldoAssyrian civilian population is perpetrated with the specific intent of terrorizing the indigenous Christian population into leaving their homes."

The Appeal lists three urgent points of action including that the Iraqi government and the international community:

Assist ChaldoAssyrians in providing security for all ChaldoAssyrian churches, institutions, towns, and villages throughout Iraq, Establish an interim Safe Haven in the Nineveh Plain (located in the Ninveh and Duhok governerates of Northern Iraq) to be maintained and enforced by ChaldoAssyrians in order to protect and preserve the historic lands of the ChaldoAssyrian people and to serve as a sanctuary for threatened and internally displaced ChaldoAssyrians, Implement Article 53d of the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) and establish an administrative area for ChaldoAssyrians in the Nineveh Plain.

The need for a Safe Haven has been described as an "interim" step to counter the current period of general insecurity and the specific targeting of ChaldoAssyrians throughout parts of Iraq. According to one Baghdad resident, "scarcely does a day go by that an Assyrian Christian is not killed in Baghdad for no other reason than that he is an Assyrian Christian." The net result of the ongoing attacks, the terrorizing, and the series of Church bombings has been the oft-reported mass exodus of over 40,000 ChaldoAssyrians from Iraq (story). As one proponent of a Safe Haven noted, "the intention of an interim Safe Haven is to provide those people currently contemplating selling and leaving their homes an opportunity to stay in the country in a secure area defended by ChaldoAssyrians themselves." Failing to establish such a sanctuary as soon as possible will only eliminate the option of staying in the country for tens of thousands more Assyrians.

Assyrians have repeatedly noted that Assyrians themselves will guard the Safe Haven. There is concern about outsiders enforcing such an area. For example, there is concern that Kurds may want to use the general insecurity and intimidation felt by Assyrian villagers as a pretext for extending their occupation of non-Kurdish Areas. Other Assyrian leaders remain concerned about the perception that a Safe Haven enforced by foreigners would create animosity and tension with surrounding Iraqi communities. Still other worries include the concern that any other force would not have the commitment or stamina to guard the areas as Assyrians would. "A Safe Haven enforced by ChaldoAssyrians themselves with the legal support of the Iraqi government and the international community would resolve those lingering doubts and fears."

The Appeal also calls for the implementation of Article 53d of the Iraqi government's Transitional Administrative Law (TAL, English, Arabic), which calls for an administrative region for ChaldoAssyrians within the Nineveh Plain. The inclusion of ChaldoAssyrian administrative rights in the Nineveh Plain remains the major outcome of the October 2003 Chaldean-Assyrian-Syriac Conference in Baghdad sponsored by the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) and the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO). Although the Iraqi people themselves through the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) as well as the international community through the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) endorsed ChaldoAssyrian aspirations for administrative rights in the TAL, it is widely believed that this will necessarily entail a long-term political process.

As one observer noted, "There's already talk about some Iraqi groups wanting a 6 month postponement in the election. Even if the elections proceed later, there will need to be a constitution committee deliberating such agendas." The process, then, may be long and arduous. "We definitely need to remain engaged in the process till the end. However, that long-term political process does not adequately begin to address our immediate security concerns. The Safe Haven does just that." Another analyst added "The Safe Haven and administered area are complementary -- the only difference being one of timing. We need to do something now in order to preserve some 'facts on the ground' for our future administered area. If the territory of the Nineveh Plain is not now secured, it may become a moot point in the future if current trends and our mass exodus continue. Without it, the US and its alies, along with the Iraqi government would be furthering the agenda of the Kurdsih arm of Al-Qaeda, the Ansar Al-Islam."

This concern is indeed validated by the Washington Insitute's 2003 Report on Ansar Al-Islam which states: "In August 2001, leaders of several Kurdish Islamist factions reportedly visited the al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan with the goal of creating an alternate base for the organization in northern Iraq. Their intentions were echoed in a document found in an al-Qaeda guest house in Afghanistan vowing to "expel those Jews and Christians from Kurdistan and join the way of Jihad, [and] rule every piece of land . . .with the Islamic Shari'a rule." Soon thereafter, Ansar al-Islam was created using $300,000 to $600,000 in al-Qaeda seed money, in addition to funds from Saudi Arabia."

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The Appeal is also noteworthy because it draws support from Syriac Maronite and Coptic organizations. The joint signing of the Appeal is another in a series signs of closer cooperation amongst communities recognizing that they continue to face similar and growing pressures and circumstances in the Middle East. For Maronites, the reasons run still deeper in that there is a greater recognition that there is a shared ancestry, language, religion, and Syriac heritage as well. For Copts and non-Christian minorities as well, there is recognition that ChaldoAssyrians in Iraq represent the first of a regional test case. A direct overt manifestation of this growing understanding was the participation of hundreds of leaders and activists consisting primarily of Copts, Lebanese Christians, and ChaldoAssyrians in the Middle Eastern American Convention (MEAC) on October 1, 2004 in Washington DC (AINA, 10-07-2004).

More recently on November 19 and 20, the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights under the leadership of Fr. Keith Roderick brought together Maronites, ChaldoAssyrians, and Mandeans for a gathering in Washington DC. At that Conference, Mr. Ashur Yousip of the Assyrian Aid Society argued for greater reconstruction aid to help develop the Nineveh Plain. Mr. Robert Dekelaita of the Assyrian Academic Society outlined the growing pressures faced by ChaldoAssyrians and the need to establish a Safe Haven in the Nineveh plain. Mr. James Rayis, a prominent Atlanta based attorney and member of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA), likewise emphasized the need for security and administrative rights in the Nineveh plain. Mr. Suhaib Nashi of the Mandean community highlighted the threats to the Mandean community in Iraq as well. Mr. Walid Phares of the World Maronite Union spoke to the general regional pressures impacting minority communities.

As one analyst noted, "The entire region is under pressure and yet faces potentially revolutionary transformation. The first test case for greater freedoms, democracy, and pluralism begins in Iraq. If the ChaldoAssyrians who opposed Saddam's regime for decades and cooperated with the overthrow of the regime do not regain their rightful place in the Iraqi mosaic, then that does not bode well for Maronites, Copts, and all other minorities in the future Middle East." It was exactly that sentiment that prompted Mr. Michael Meunier of US Copts and Ms. Nina Shea of Freedom House to call for a concerted effort by all of the communities represented at the MEAC to focus on the ChaldoAssyrian community in Iraq as the most at risk group.

The Appeal concludes by noting that "With reports that tens of thousands of ChaldoAssyrians leaving Iraq, there now exists the real possibility of the extinction of the indigenous ChaldoAssyrian people in Iraq for the first time in their 6700 year continuous existence. The final litmus test for the Iraqi government's and the international community's genuine commitment to pluralism and democracy remains the preservation of the indigenous ChaldoAssyrian people of Iraq." The establishment of a Safe Haven patrolled by ChaldoAssyrians will add a valuable option to those unable to safeguard their families but who still yearn to remain in Iraq until a better, brighter future evolves.


A Review of Prof. Ephrem-Isa Yousif's "A Mesopotamian Chronicle (1830-1976)"

Antoni Yalap

Ephrem-Isa Yousif is an Assyro-Chaldean intellectual who resides in Paris, France. This exceptional writer is from an Assyro-Chaldean village in Northern Iraq, Esnakh, known as Sanate in Arabic. Ephrem-Isa Yousif wrote many books on the Assyro-Chaldean language, culture, history and philosophy published by the “l'Harmattan” editions in Paris. His works written in French language have been translated into Turkish and Arabic.

E. I. Yousif has published seven books: “Perfumes of Childhood in Sanate, a Christian village in Iraqi Kurdistan”, 1993; “Mesopotamia, Paradise of the Old Days”, 1996; Syriac philosophers and Translators, from Athens to Baghdad”, 1997; “The Tiger and Euphrates’ Epopee”, 1999; “Syriac Chroniclers”, 2002; “The Flowering of the Syriac philosophers”, 2003 and finally “A Mesopotamian chronicle (1830-1976)”, published in 2004.

Yousif's “Mesopotamia, Paradise of the Old Days” was translated into Turkish by Mustafa Aslan and published by Avesta Editions in 2004, in Istanbul. “The Tiger and Euphrates’ Epopee” was translated into Arabic by Ali Nagib Ibrahim and published by Dar Al-Hywar Editions in 2001, in the Syrian city of Lattaquiyyé. E. I. Yousif, along with Professor Joseph Yacoub, are the most known Assyro-Chaldean intellectuals in France.

Professor Yousif is the director of the “Eastern Civilizations and Peoples” collection published by “l’Harmattan”. The first work published in this collection is “A Mesopotamian Chronicle” which we I will present to you in the following lines.

Professor Ephrem-Isa Yousif (Photo by Samuel Yalap)

Ephrem-Isa Yousif attended the primary school in his native village, Esnakh. He left his village to go to Mosul to continue his studies before arriving in France. At “Lumières” he obtained two doctorates in Civilization and Philosophy in Nice. For many years, he taught philosophy at the University of Toulouse, in South of France. Currently, he gives lectures and conferences throughout France.

In his last publication, “A Mesopotamian Chronicle”, he reminds us of the history of Mesopotamia between 1830 and 1976. He talks to us about the political, social and religious events which happened in this area during 150 years. Of course, this period is punctuated with massacres, dramas, and the genocides which changed the geopolitical configuration of the ancestral land of the Assyro-Chaldean people, the original people of this land. The Assyro-Chaldean nation did not take up arms against violence and the assimilation, and preferred to stay on this land until our days, in spite of oppression and the exile caused by a fanatic regime, now removed.

The new book’s presentation in Paris, on November, 26th, 2004 (Photo by Samuel Yalap)

“A Mesopotamian Chronicle”, an historical work, so agreeably written in a very fluid literary style by E. I. Yousif, has met great success in France. French people, opposed to the Americans and to the British peoples on the Iraqi question, do not know very well the complex and animated Iraqi history. They know even less about the history of Assyro-Chaldeans, the original inhabitants of this young Republic based on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, directed initially by the British government, then by the kings in the years which followed the Independence and later by a bloody dictator, Saddam Hussein, who did not hesitate to harm his own people. Today, he waits to be judged for his crimes by the Iraqi people.

This much documented book of an exceptional historical and literary quality is based on anecdotes told by three generations of Assyro-Chaldeans. The 250 pages are to be read like tales for children. The only problem is that this tale does not finish like the tales from the Arabian Nights. The end is tragic; the inhabitants of this small village perched on the mountain are constrained to leave their native land on which they will be able to return never again.

E. I. Yousif writes to us about his memories, the memories of his grandmother Ketro, who had the face burned by the sun. He speaks to us about his father, Youssef, who had learned Arabic but who spoke it with a strong accent. He is likely to have seen the Iraqi monarch. And guess where? In Esnakh, in his own village. They are the memories of a people which had seen Mesopotamia changing, evolving. On the top of the mountain, the political stakes of this new kingdom become a Republic seemed so far. However, the Assyro-Chaldean villages of the North of Iraq underwent the repercussions of the political decisions made in Baghdad.

This is all that E. I. Yousif explained to a crowd of 150 people who had come to listen to him in one of the most famous Parisian bookshops located on Champs-Élysées.  The event was filmed by Samuel Yalap, the producer of the Assyro-Chaldean Voice. You can view the video images of this remarkable presentation, commented in Soureth [Syriac], by clicking here [76 MB].



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Thank You
The following individuals contributed in the preparation of this week's issue:

Fred Aprim (California)
Dr. Matay Arsan (Holland)
David Chibo (Australia)
Ramin Daniels (California)

Mazin Enwiya (Chicago)
Tomas Isik (Sweden)
Petr Kubalek (Czech Republic)
Anobel Odisho (California)
Aprim Shapera (United Kingdom)

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