13 Kanoon I 6754
3 December 2004
Z I N D A M A G A Z I N E
The Alarming State of the ChaldoAssyrians in Iraq and a Proposed solution
Robert W. DeKelaita
Baghdad, Iraq...The call was expected but chilling. The voice on the other line spoke quickly and with confidence. “$50,000 for your daughter,” he said. William reacted. “Let me hear her voice,” he demanded, “before I decide to give you anything. I need to know she is alive.”
“Father,” the frail but determined voice of a tortured child called, “do not give them anything. If I get out, I will never have the honor to face you or my brother.” All emotions pervaded William’s body. Nineveh, a 16 year old ChaldoAssyrian, was alive, yet lost. He wanted to know more, but did not ask. She continued “they have all taken me. I feel dead. If I get out I will kill myself. Do not give them anything.” It was her farewell to a father broken by helplessness, shame, and fear. The girl was never heard from again.
Nineveh’s story is no longer unique in Iraq. It is a familiar trend, this kidnapping of young women whose families have ties to the West. It is also, perhaps, the omen of the initial stages of what seems to be the disappearance of an ancient community that predates Arabs, Kurds, Turks and Muslims in Iraq. It is the story of the last stand of the ChaldoAssyrians of Mesopotamia, a people whose historical relevance in the world is in direct proportion to their political irrelevance in Washington. The Administration does not seem to care much, as the ancient community now comes apart with violence and intimidation in Iraq ripping at its core.
After the bomb attacks against 5 churches in Baghdad and Mosul in August, and again in October and November of this year, the world came to see that the claims of Christians from Iraq had legitimacy. ChaldoAssyrians were being targeted and had no protection. The Coalition forces are busy protecting themselves and have no time for little matters of historical significance like the end of Christianity in Iraq. This matter has little weight for the Pentagon, and the Bush administration in general. In a recent meeting with one US official from the Pentagon, members of the ChaldoAssyrian community in Chicago expressed a desire for special attention to the problems of Christian ChaldoAssyrians in Iraq, yet got a cold shoulder. “Every group in Iraq,” stated the official, “complains of the same thing. The Kurds, the Shi’ites, and the Sunnis.” In other words, the problems of the Christians are not unique enough to merit special attention. Events unfolding in Iraq, however, continue to prove otherwise. For Iraqi Christians, intimidation, harassment, violence, and general discrimination are the norms – and right under the noses of the authorities of “liberated Iraq.” The church bombings were visible images of horror. However, unnoticed are more subtle outrages; the daily pressure exerted against Christians by fundamentalists Muslims who seek conversion; the kidnapping of ChaldoAssyrians that has reached an alarming rate; the intimidation of ChaldoAssyrian-owned businesses; the rape of women as punishment; the threatening notes; the warnings; the killings of children.
The mayor of Tell Kaif, a young and energetic man, was full of hope. He had plans and dreams for Tell Kaif, an ancient and homogenous ChaldoAssyrian town that had lost most of its population over the years. When we last met in Tell Kaif in October of 2003, he spoke of renovation and reclamation of illegally lost lands. He showed determination to renovate his village and sent signals to his townsmen and other ChaldoAssyrians in the Diaspora. He is now on the run, soon after threats and an assassination attempt. The cross he has borne since the fall of the regime has become too heavy and the support too undependable. He speaks of the subtle problems with disappointment and bitterness, having lost hope for Iraq. There are too many problems, he told a friend in Detroit recently, that have gone unreported. In particular, he was disturbed at what he viewed was a trend to push ChaldoAssyrian businesses out of Iraq by subtle intimidation. Store owners are often asked to leave their businesses and go to the West, because, many Iraqi Muslims reason, the West is where Christians belong. Iraq, goes the argument, belongs to the “Umma,” or the Islamic nation, a notion made all the more attractive to the Islamists as a result of the presence of US troops. The groups with such thoughts and views have multiplied in Iraq, and it is a mistake to think of them as foreigners. They are as homegrown as Saddam Hussein and the US and Iraqi officials, appointed or selected, need to acknowledge the problem to begin to tackle it.
After the bombing of the churches in Iraq, a predictable round of condemnations was heard. All responsible authorities, organizations, and individuals expressed outrage that houses of worship would be targeted in such a way. Muslim leaders, including the controversial Muktada al Sadir, expressed regret and solidarity with the Christians of Iraq. Government officials, pointed to Zarqawi, the elusive bogyman of Baghdad. “Zarqawi’s fingerprints are all over this,” said one official. Others, including the leadership of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, noted that Iraqis were not capable of such acts. It was, in fact, the work of foreign terrorists. Convenient for the authorities, but unconvincing to the rest of us.
There is no doubt that Islamic sentiments have grown in Iraq. The frenzied building of mosques by Saddam Hussein, and his markings on the Iraqi flag were indications. But all one has to do is to look around any urban setting. People look more religious now. Islamic dress is the norm, and so are Islamic sentiments. Iraq has, thanks in part to the US, also taken on Islam as the official religion, setting into motion a greater role for the religion in state affairs. This is a dire trend. And to simply point to the Zarqawi’s or “foreign terrorists” as the evil doers shifts the responsibilities of the authorities elsewhere. Rather than taking steps to protect the Christian population, the authorities will merely point to better processing foreigners. This is not a solution.
The evidence that Christian ChaldoAssyrians are enduring persecution by Islamic or nationalists elements in Iraq is overwhelming. Over 40,000 have escaped Iraq and now reside in Syria, where they feel safer under the secular regime of Bashar Asad. Despite this evidence, however, the claims of interested parties continue to point toward “foreigners”, though no evidence has been presented to show what role these “foreigners” are playing. It should not come as a surprise that the authorities in Iraq, whether Iraqi or American, simply do not have much political capital in the existence and safety of the ChaldoAssyrians.
Western intervention, combined with Islamic zeal, has usually caused more harm than good for Christians in the East. This has been the case through the ages. And in Iraq, the British invasion is exemplary. British intervention in Iraq also had justification, namely taking Iraq away from the Ottomans. During this endeavor, the ChaldoAssyrians, as now, came to be viewed as protégés of the West, specifically of the British. As the Iraqi state sought a greater role in its domestic and foreign affairs, the ChaldoAssyrians became targets. In August of 1933, over three thousand men, women, and children were murdered in cold blood in what became known as the Semele massacre. Iraqi troops, under the British mandate, paraded themselves before happy throngs in Baghdad, having defeated an enemy within. Embarrassed by the ruthless display of cowardice and treachery of the Iraqi regulars, the British attempted to shift responsibility. The Nestorian Patriarch, Mar Eshai Shimun was blamed for being stubborn before the Iraqi government. Malik (Tribal Chief) Yacoub Ismail was blamed to instigating the affair. The massacre was the work of tribes and not troops, etc.
There was little doubt, however, that the Iraqi troops, acting under responsible authorities, committed the deed in Semele. Further, bounty was offered for the heads of ChaldoAssyrian males by government troops. And to confirm how the Iraqi masses felt about it, one should look at the photos of Iraqi troops being showered with flowers after having raped and murdered Christian women in Semele. Panic set in as the Christian population braced itself for further violence throughout Iraq. Luckily, the blood of Semele quenched the thirst of the masses until the British brought order to Iraq.
What was the Semele lesson? It is clear that the British intervention placed the ChaldoAssyrians in danger. Without a solution as to security and support, the vulnerable ChaldoAssyrian population became the sacrificial lamb for British domination.
The past now threatens to repeat itself unless certain measures are taken. There is no doubt that the Christians of Iraq will continue to be the “soft target” for their persecutors, paying the heavy price for American intervention, much the same as they paid for the British intervention. One letter by extremists, released soon after the church bombings, called them “the grandchildren” of the Americans, and warned of more attacks. Such warning cannot be taken lightly, and precautions are in order, though long overdue.
The Nineveh Solution
Currently, there are about 100,000 ChaldoAssyrians living on the Nineveh plains, the area north of the capital of the ancient Assyrians. For centuries, they have inhabited a string of ancient villages, clinging to their heritage, language, and customs. Here, they have maintained monasteries and churches for close to two thousand years. Archeological ruins under and around their villages attest to the existence of their forefathers centuries prior to the arrival of Christianity. The ChaldoAssyrians have no desire to politically separate their land from the rest of Iraq. Indeed, their heritage is an integral part of the ancient and modern history of today’s Mesopotamia, from Basra, in the South, to Zakho, in the North. ChaldoAssyrian aspirations actually enrich Iraq, highlighting the beauty of its ethnic and religious mosaic. It is for this reason that Iraqi Governing Council felt it necessary to state, in Article 53 of the TAL in particular, that ChaldoAssyrians’ rights were to be guaranteed in the Nineveh Plains.
There is much to be done. The Nineveh Plains area is in need of drastic rebuilding. It is an area that has been neglected by the previous regime. Various villages are medieval, with outdated public facilities. Having visited several of these villages, I found that they lacked sewage systems, proper electricity, and sufficient water facilities. The Assyrian Aid Society, along with other non-governmental organizations, has undertaken the task of rebuilding various structures in these neglected villages. Thus far, sufficient funding is missing. Hope, however, is slipping, as Iraq’s ChaldoAssyrians come under attack. The United States government must take action and quickly to rescue the existence of the ChaldoAssyrians by appropriating sufficient funding to an area that will become a safe haven for those escaping Iraq and seeking refugee status in other countries.
Why is this area the solution? First, it is the ancient home of the indigenous people of Iraq, prior to the Islamic conquest. Second, it is an area that has been, and continues to be, continually inhabited by a largely homogenous population of Aramaic-speaking (or Syriac-speaking) Christians. Inhabitants of villages know each other well and feel secure living among each other. Third, it is area that is uncontested politically. No group has asserted that the ChaldoAssyrians illegally inhabit this area. Indeed, such an argument would be absurd. Despite the concerns of some, the ChaldoAssyrians feel strongly about not being separated from the rest of Iraq, which their leaders consider their original land. And Iraq, that rich source of history, civilization and potential, is all the more better for it.
[Zinda: Robert DeKelaita is a human rights attorney practicing law in Chicago and across the United States. He has represented thousands of clients before American federal courts, and published numerous articles in several magazines, including Nabu Quarterly, which he published and edited from 1993-97.]
ADM May Withdraw From Kurdish Parliamentary Elections
(ZNDA: Baghdad) Reliable sources to Zinda Magazine have indicated that the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) has threatened not to participate in the elections for the seats in the Kurdish Parliament.
On 30 January 2005, Iraqis are due to choose the 275 members of the National Assembly. Kurds and other Iraqi citizens living in North Iraq will also pick the 111 members of the Kurdish Parliament.
The regional parliament in the Kurdish area in north of Iraq has been restructured to consist of 111 seats distributed as follows:
According to the information obtained from sources in Iraq, the Assyrian Democratic Movement is objecting to an article ratified two weeks earlier by the Kurdish Parliament in session. According to Article 15 the Syriac-speaking Christians in North Iraq would be referred to "Assyrians and Chaldeans". The ADM is demanding the use of the term "ChaldoAssyrian" instead, as mentioned in the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) of Iraq.
Interestingly last Wednesday, the two main Kurdish groups, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Masoud Barazani and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Jalal Talabani, declared that the Kurdish political powers "have reached an agreement to present a single list for the general elections as well as for the Kurdish Parliament" on 30 January, in an effort to increase their chances of gaining a maximum number of seats in the national and Kurdish parliaments.
It is rumored that Shiite parties are also planning to participate in the joint list. Representatives of the two largest Iraqi Shiite parties, Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, and two other secular Shiite leaders are reportedly close to announcing the list, which is expected to include representatives of the radical Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr.
Syria Resumes Trial of 22 Involved in Damascus Attack
Courtesy of the Associated Press
(ZNDA: Damascus) The trial of 22 people accused of involvement in a rare attack by gunmen in Syria's capital resumed Wednesday, with prosecutors demanding that the defendants be convicted on murder and smuggling charges, a defense lawyer said.
Two attackers, a policeman and a civilian passer-by were killed in the April 27 clash in Mazza neighborhood when gunmen detonated a bomb and opened fire. Security forces engaged them in a 90-minute gun battle.
The lawyer, Anwar Al Bunni, said the prosecution on Wednesday asked that the 22 be incriminated on charges of "forming a gang of evildoers, smuggling explosives and weapons and carrying out operations of killing and vandalism."
The court then adjourned until Dec. 15, Bunni said.
The trial of the 22 attacks had opened on Oct. 27.
The Syrian government initially called the clash a terrorist attack a rarity in this tightly controlled country. But Syrian officials later said the attack was a homegrown, isolated incident, backing away from suggestions that international terrorists were responsible.
Separately, Bunni, who is also a human rights activist, said authorities have rounded up 21 Assyrians in the northeastern province of Hasaka for taking part in an Oct. 17 demonstration demanding that the government arrest an Arab who killed two members of the Assyrian community earlier.
Bunni said the 21, including four adolescents, were arrested few days ago.
Syria's Assyrian population is estimated at about more than 500,000 people. About 200,000 live in Hasaka and Qamishli in northeastern Syria. While they enjoy freedom of worship, some Assyrians seek minority status to promote their language, Syriac, which only Assyrian churches now teach.
[Zinda: Mr. Salym D. Abraham, an Associated Press reporter in Syria, reports for Zinda Magazine from Damascus. The article above appeared in several Arabic and English language news sources.]
Turkey Welcomes Saints' Relics; Church-State Relations Warmer
Courtesy of Fides News Service
(ZNDA: Istanbul) An ecumenical assembly, including civil authorities and many Catholic bishops gathered on 29 November in St George's Orthodox cathedral in Istanbul to welcome the relics of St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. John Chrysostom..
The relics were handed over to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Rome on November 27, during a special ecumenical service in St. Peter's basilica. Buoyed by the enthusiasm generated by the Pope's gesture, large crowds attended the Divine Liturgy on November 30, marking the feast of St. Andrew, the patronal saint of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
"This was an act of reconciliation among the churches which is bound to have positive effects on ecumenical relations in the future," Father George Marovich, spokesman for the Catholic bishops' conference of Turkey, told Fides. National media outlets gave ample coverage to the event, which caused joy and emotion among all the different Christians in Turkey.
Church-state relations are gradually improving in Turkey. Recently a Jesuit church was returned to that order, and entrusted to the Syrian Catholic community in Istanbul. Christians hope that the formation of joint commission of Catholics and government members will help improve relations Church-state even further and also to define the juridical status of the Catholic community. "Progress in these talks will depend indirectly on Turkey's drawing close to the European Union, a process which will foster recognition of the Catholic Church in this country," Father Marovich told Fides.
During a meeting with Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July, the Catholic bishops of Turkey (Lain, Armenian, Chaldean and Syrian Catholic) had a chance to illustrate difficulties and problems encountered by Catholics in Turkey and also to make a request for official juridical status for the Catholic Church in Turkey.
Turkey has a population of 66 million, of which 98 percent is Muslim. The Christians who make up 0.6 percent of the population are divided among the Orthodox and Catholic churches; the Catholics include members of the Latin, Armenian, Syrian, Chaldean, Byzantine, and Maronite rites.
Assyriska Joins Allsvenskan
(ZNDA: Stockholm) The Assyrian Football Federation of Södertälje’s team, "Assyriska" is now officially a member of the highest Swedish football league the "Allsvenskan”.
According to the information received on Thursday, the appeal of the financially troubled team, Örebro, did not convince the Swedish Football Association and in its place the Assyrian team, Assyriska, was moved to the Allsvenskean League.
Team players and the Assyrian community of Södertälje will be celebrating this athletic achievement in Södertälje tomorrow and Sunday.
Assyrians Join 77 Other Nationalities at Congress in Moscow
Courtesy of Itar-Tass
(ZNDA: Moscow) The Second Congress of the Union of Diasporas in Russia opened in Moscow last Tuesday. The delegates suggested forming a public chamber of nationalities.
“We are concerned that ethnic minorities are not represented in federal agencies,” Union President Vartan Mushegyan told Itar-Tass. “The public body, which may be established under the Federation Council, will protect the rights and interests of small peoples and ethnic groups,” he said.
Seventy-eight nationalities sent their delegates to the congress, including the Assyrian, Georgian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Tajik, Korean, Kurdish, Chinese and Talysh communities, Mushegyan said. He said heads of leagues of small peoples and ethnic groups of north and south Russia had also come to attend the congress.
The demographic crisis, the nationalities policy and problems of migrants will be discussed at the forum. The League of Northern Peoples wants to discuss “the release of textbooks in the languages of small peoples and preservation of folk medicine, which is the way of their survival,” Timokhin said. “We are also concerned about difficulties in the translation of literature of small peoples into the Russian language. For instance, Ohio University has recently translated several works of the kind into English, but Russia does not show any interest in literature of northern peoples.”
A new media project will be announced at the forum. The TV Rainbow program will be launched on television in 2005 to give information about small peoples.
I'd like to know what Mr. Kakovitch's accomplishments are, besides making grandiose proclamations and churning out manifestos. Has he traveled to our Homeland? Is he active in any Assyrian organization? What are his contributions in support of our Assyrian brothers and sisters in Bet Nahrain who are in dire straits and desperately need out help? Any information will be appreciated.
We Are the Problem, Not Our Leaders!
Mr. Kakovitch is calling on us to vote for the church (or what he calls non-secular) spiritual authority to take the nation’s leadership back from our secular leaders who failed the mission to reinstate our national goals as if we were to achieve such goals in less than two years!
However, I am not sure whether we all recall the fact that the Assyrian nation was behind its spiritual leadership for 1500 years and yet we are where we are now!
I don’t think our problem is having bad or good leaders (spiritual or secular) as much as being ourselves good or bad people! Let us first find real remedies for our problems before blaming our leaders for our failures.
Can we ever stop making of our leaders and others racks to hang on them our own faults?
BTW, we know now that we tried the secular and the non-secular leaderships who both failed the mission. If our problem is really the leadership then (with no offence) why don’t we consider ‘renting’ a proficient person who has extensive expertise in such national tasks with good ‘resume’ and successful experience and see where we would end up with his leadership?
Athletic Club in Michigan Kick Starts the Season
My name is Ashor Chamoun representing the Babylonian Athletic Club of Michigan. Along with a few other guys, we founded a new athletic club here in Michigan. This e-mail is regarding our work we have put forth to establish our name and functions.
I am overwhelmed to inform you that we have taken the initial step and established a basketball league. We completed our tryouts and scrimmages, and next Tuesday December 7th will be our first season game.
The basketball league is called the Babylonian Basketball League (BBL) hosted by the Babylonian Athletic Club of Michigan. This basketball league is not the only function we are working on; we are also trying to setup a softball team for the spring, and of course a soccer team (or teams if possible).
These activities take time and a great amount of dedication. I would like to say that the 5 gentlemen working with me to make this athletic club possible are blessed individuals:
If any of you have questions, comments, or advise, we are more than happy to hear from all of you. Feel free to e-mail me (click here).
Camel's House or a Blue Lump
Youaw T. Kanna
My answer to question 4 to the Alexander Quiz is "Blue Lump". The battle of Gaugamela -- in Assyrian means "Blue Lump". For further reading see "The History of Alexander the Great
[Zinda: Our reader is referring to the phrase "Gooja Meela". The word "gooja" is used in Eastern Syriac to refer to a small lump, but may not entirely be Aramaic in origin. The word commonly used in Aramaic for lump is "gbil-ta". Unsure about our observation, we invite the Aramaic scholars among our readership to enlighten us further. E.A. Wallis Budge (1857 - 1934) was the Curator of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum from 1894 to 1924. Budge collected a large number of Coptic, Greek, Arabic, Syriac, Ethiopian, and Egyptian Papyri manuscripts. He was also involved in numerous archaeology digs in Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Sudan. Budge was knighted in 1920. He died November 23, 1934 in London, England.]
Title: "The End of the Right of Political Intervention?: The Example of Iraq"
A French press conference with Prof. Joseph Yacoub on Wednesday, 8 December 2004 at 3 PM
Professor Joseph Yacoub is the Professor of Political Science in the Institute of Human Rights at the Catholic University of Lyons, France and a specialist on minorities affairs.
Communique De Presse: Grande Manifestation Publique en Faveur Des Assyro-Chaldéens D’Irak
Paix En Irak, Securite Et Solidarite Pour Les Assyro-Chaldeens
Les Assyro-Chaldéens d’Irak subissent depuis plus de deux ans meurtres et brimades sur leur terre ancestrale, l’Irak. De grands attentats d’envergure ont été commis contre ce peuple, dont 16 000 membres ont choisi la France comme terre d’adoption (ils habitent Sarcelles dans leur grande majorité), dans les grandes villes irakiennes sans compter, bien sûr, les attaques incessantes et quotidiennes que cette communauté de 700 000 personnes subit actuellement.
Conscients de cette situation difficile et dramatique, l’Association des Assyro-Chaldéens de France et l’Union des Assyro-Chaldéens de France, implantées à Sarcelles, ont décidé d’organiser ensemble une grande journée d’action, avec le soutien et la participation d’autres associations assyro-chaldéennes de France. Cette journée d’action nous donnera l’occasion de sensibiliser d’abord notre propre communauté mais aussi l’opinion publique française au quotidien difficile du peuple assyro-chaldéen en Irak. Mais elle aura également pour but de soutenir l’ensemble du peuple irakien en général et de montrer notre volonté d’une paix durable dans ce pays en proie à des luttes intestines.
Cette grande manifestation publique, sous forme de marche pacifique et silencieuse symbolisant l’oubli des Assyro-Chaldéens, aura lieu à Sarcelles, le dimanche 05 Décembre 2004 de 15h à 17h30. De nombreuses personnalités sont attendues à cette grande journée d’action. Cette manifestation publique, ouverte à tous, aura pour point de rassemblement la Place de France et se dirigera à pied, vers la Sous-préfecture de Sarcelles où un communiqué sera lu à l’intention du public présent et des autorités françaises. La manifestation aura pour thème « Paix en Irak : Sécurité et Solidarité pour les Assyro-Chaldéens ».
L’Association des Assyro-Chaldéens de France (AACF) et l’Union des Assyro-Chaldéens de France (UACF) invitent tous les Assyro-Chaldéens de France ainsi que tous les défenseurs de ce peuple originel de l’Irak à se joindre à cette grande manifestation publique. Les Assyro-Chaldéens demanderont publiquement la protection de la France pour leurs frères d’Irak, au nom de l’amitié qui lie ce peuple au pays des droits de l’homme depuis des siècles. Pour que jamais ne soit oublié ce peuple par l’Histoire.
Naman Adlun – Président de l’AACF Stéphane Yalap – Président de l’UACF
Antoni YALAP Portable : 06 03 71 30 84 E-mail : email@example.com
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A Political Gambit
Not disparaging our national pretenders in Iraq, as well as their politically coerced alignments and alienations, one deserves to be audacious, vociferous and requisite, in asking them to step aside and to allow the non-affiliated Assyrian representatives, Assyrian movements, and generally speaking, Assyrians at large to run for the offices in the upcoming January 30, 2005 elections in Iraq.
This move is to demonstrate and to vertically lift the aspirations of Assyrians as a nation, and to encourage the Assyrian voters in Iraq as well as overseas -- as allotted to cast their ballots in no less than 15 countries of the world -- to come to the aid of all those that are left behind, and shall have to continue to strive in their livelihood as proud citizens, equal to all others, in Iraq.
The period of arguments and debates as to whether such a drastic move is proper and pejorative at this junction is undoubtedly futile, since no solution other than the one of enacting a totally non-aligned policy of the second largest minority in Iraq, namely Assyrians and their coreligionists in fomenting a national entity, rather than a political party, is closely related to sanity.
This theory is irreversible and it is based on the fact that all -- known to us at this time -- representatives on the ballots for the upcoming election, are either allied or sympathetic to the policies of the old political parties that were coerced to partake in the affairs of Iraq as members of Kurdistan Parliament, and Kurdistan political machines.
The quote below attests this fact:
"In 1992, when the first Parliament was formed, there were 105 seats 50/50 between the two main Kurdish groups KDP and PUK and 4 for the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) and 1 under the Christians."
"... Regional Parliament in the Kurdish is to consist of 111 seats as follows:
1. Kurdstan Democratic Party (KDP) - 42
It is worth noticing that all Assyrian political parties are to be subjected and recognized as political parties of Kurdistan. Not a single Assyrian party deems to portray itself simply Assyrian or otherwise Iraqi.
Obviously all efforts by the Assyrian representatives - no matter how honorable -- elected on the basis of their servitude to Kurdistan shall be hampered to the extent that their work shall totally benefit the nationalistic resurgence of the Kurds at the expense of the Assyrians.
There is no reason to adjudicate the fears and recriminations that may -- and definitely -- shall occur, to placate the voices of over 100,000 Assyrians living outside of Kurdistan, mainly in Baghdad area, and another 50,000 or so that may want to participate in this election at the overseas balloting centers.
This electorate is a force to reckon and the Assyrians of the north, subjugated and taunted by the Kurds must throw their towels and join this force that does not necessary, and outwardly, fall under the repressions and incriminations from any political spectrum of Iraq.
In conclusion, one is to toy with the events as they are, and not as they ought to be.
Cast your ballots freely as free men and women.
The more aggressive the non-committal votes, the more power to our brethren in Iraq.
It is essential to cataract the impending voting machines in Kurdistan with the ballots of noncommittal throngs of Assyrians of Iraq, in general, and overseas, in particular.
Our last hope is for our dedicated brethren in Kurdistan to ruminate our recommendations and to choose the better of the paths, for their sake, and perhaps, at least, for our pride.
When will the "European" Turkey Recognize the Forgotten Genocide of Assyro-Chaldeans?
"But who still remembers the Armenian genocide?" It is with this dreadful question that Adolph Hitler began the purification of Germany. To his vicious question, no answer had been given by the international community. It could only convince him of the impunity of his crime.
Even fewer are those who remember the forgotten Assyro-Chaldean Genocide. The Trium Vira, formed of three dark servants of horror, Cemal, Talat and Enver, who contrary to Hitler did not posed any question! The mission of this trio was quite clear and defined in advance by the central authority: to eliminate the Armenian traitors, formerly known as the members of the "Millet-I Sadika" (faithful community) and other Greek collaborationists and Assyro-Chaldeans. For the latter, this new pogrom was only a new stage, fraught with consequences, between the massacres of 1843, those of 1894-1896 and 1933 (massacre orchestrated by the Kurdish General, Sedqi, in the village of Semmel in Iraq).
The goal was simple: to eliminate any obstacle susceptible to block the way to the “turquization” and the Islamization of the past’s Turkish cosmopolitan society. It is this genocide of 1915 which allows the famous Turkish daily newspaper today, Hürriyet (which paradoxically means Liberty), from day to day to point out this arrogant and threatening slogan: Turkey belongs to the Turks!
My goal here is not to reconsider this black page of our history, neither the Turkish history and its circumstances, its causes and consequences, nor this first genocide of the Twentieth century, which was the unhappy century of Shoah (the Jewish Holocaust) and Rwandan genocides. As the first genocide in the Twentieth century, the Assyro-Chaldean specialist Sabri Atman notes, it occured in the shadow of the First World War!
I only want and can bring my testimonies as a remote grandson of the hundreds of thousands of martyrs and survivors of the Assyro-Chaldean genocide.
In difference to Germany which recognized the Shoah and which forms a part of the European Union today, Turkey continues to deny its crimes against humanity, decided, planned and carried out by the Young Turk government of that time (Jeune Turc), supported by the irregular armed people and the Kurdish tribes. Today’s Turks defend themselves by saying: "the Christian Armenians and the other people shamefully betrayed us". At best, they pretext with the circumstances of war which prevailed. These circumstances of that war would have constrained the failing power "to off-set" these populations from their ancestral lands.
In truth, 1915, the year of "Saypa - Sayfo" or sword, was only the apotheosis of this crime which began before 1915. The war allowed Cemal, Talat and Enver, discreetly supported by the Third Reich, to conclude the Jihad proclaimed a few time before, although the 1878 Conference of Berlin had asked the Ottoman Empire for the protection of his non-Moslem minorities. Thus, the genocide was overlooked in a world of war. It is quite later that the international public opinion, in particular the European one, realised the tragedy and horror of this slaughter.
Today, in all the Turkish schools, including in the schools of ethnic and religious minorities, young children learn how to deny the Genocide of 1915; they give them the necessary arguments to transform the truth into a lie. In fact, the children must believe and use all their energy to be made to believe that the crime was committed against the Turks, victims of their benevolence and their tolerance! To some extent, negativists of tomorrow, burning defenders of the single thought of a State, constituted on Christian’s blood by sanguinary pseudo heroes, whose strike, threatening at the doors of Europe always and still resist to open. Until when wonder the Turks?
It was in 1996 that I realized I was not only just a Christian but more specifically an Assyro-Chaldean! It is here, in France, that I discovered my origins, my history, my culture, my identity, my language... It is in this country of the Lights and the Revolution that I knew and learned about that tragedy from 1915, victory of hatred over love, the 250,000 Assyro-Chaldean martyrs and oppressions that my people underwent during centuries under the yoke of the Turks and the Kurds, enemies of always, brothers of Jihad! Before 1996, I was a pure Turk, differentiated only by religion, proud to be a Turk, abundantly nourished by the Kemalist ideology, systematically recited during years, each morning before lectures.
Another Turk, who refuses to subject himself to the official lies, Kemal Yalçin, in his book entitled "Seninle güler yüregim" (With You My Heart is Delighted), apologizes to the Armenians, Assyro-Chaldeans and Greeks for the committed crime, in the name of all the nation, by Ittihat ve Terakki (Union and Progress: we have the right to wonder whether progress can be possible by the union of hatred and the sword against humanity), with an aim of homogenizing the Turkish society.
A forgotten genocide, ignored by the contemporary history and public opinion, these small "great" Assyro-Chaldean people, direct heir of Mesopotamia civilization who underwent many massacres, who have a history marked out of murder, of oppression, of slavery. How to forget the 250,000 Assyro-Chaldean martyrs who represented two-thirds of these people? How to forget the sufferings of Giwarguis, of Hanné and of so many others? How is it possible to forget the naked feet of Kérima who supported during long years rapes and inhuman treatments? How to forget these refugees fleeing the death, beseeching American missionaries and consuls, French and British to save them? I ask you, is it possible and even conceivable to forget the father’s horrified face who saw his children placed on his lap in pieces?
We have a duty of memory. First, we must remember the people who suffered in the Genocide, and then fight against the lapse of memory, against hatred! Assyro-Chaldeans, Armenians and the Greeks who represented great powers for this cosmopolitan homeland and who represent nothing any more but only a drop in the Moslem Turkish ocean, and who have no hatred either against the Turks or against the Kurds. We cannot defer the crime of their ancestors on them, it would be unjust. But, there is a great pain. We feel the bitterness of the refusal, non-recognition. There is also this suffering, which will be dissipated by only one request for forgiveness. The Kurds already did it and that only can glorify them. It seems useful to specify here that certain Assyro-Chaldean villages were saved from destruction by the benevolent intervention of some Kurdish Aghas. Like what the hope, fraternity and the tolerance gained some battles in this war carried by hatred in a blood bath without precedent.
The duty of memory relates also to the public opinion and the international community: it is with the knowledge of the past that we will be able to fight the evil and prevent the new genocides. A number of countries already recognize the genocide of 1915: this figure must increase! Even if only the name of our Armenian brothers is quoted in the texts of laws voted for the recognition of the genocide, we should not forget that it was perpetrated against all Christians. Did Gypsies not undergo the same fate as the Jews, exterminated in the camps of death?
The demonstrations for the genocide’s recognition can only be encouraged because they make it possible to leave the lapse of memory, to sensitize the people, to encourage them to withdraw themselves from the indifference. In a moving remark Martin Luther King notes: "What frightens me is not the oppression of the evil people; it is the indifference of the good".
In conclusion , I sincerely address the Turkish people and their leaders: by ridiculing the memory of our martyrs, you succumb! We do not have any hatred against you. We ask you just - and God alone knows the important symbolic of this act which will honour yourselves - to recognize the responsibility for the Turkish State in the genocide and to be sorrowful for having committed this crime. Nothing else! Thus, our martyrs will be able to rest in peace. You are also in charge of a duty of memory. You will achieve it by recognizing our suffering. Moreover, thank you for the efforts which you will make in the memory of our martyrs!
A Wish: I make it a wish that a democratic Turkey be respectful and protective of all of its minorities. The wish for a Turkey which can recognize the errors of the past. Assyro-Chaldeans, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, the Kurds are only a priceless wealth for Turkey which strives for impregnated republican values and secularism.
Heritage Inspires Assyriska
Courtesy of UEFA
On 4 December, the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) will decide whether to grant Assyriska FF a licence to play in the Allsvenskan in 2005. A whole nation is awaiting the outcome of that meeting. For Assyriska are a club without parallel in Sweden, and perhaps in the whole of Europe.
Founded in 1974 as the footballing division of Assyriska Föreningen, a society for refugees from the former Mesopotamian land of Assyria, few would have anticipated when they started playing in the Swedish eighth division that they would have so much success and be followed by so many.
Clambering up the league structure throughout the 1980s, Assyriska reached a seemingly impossible peak for an "immigrant team" when they were promoted to the Swedish second flight in 1992. When they were relegated after one season - the first relegation in their history - some may have thought they had peaked.
However, the club came back stronger still, re-establishing themselves in the second tier. Meanwhile, off the field, Assyriska have been working hard to help integrate players and supporters irrespective of religion, language, colour or ethnic origin and have earned the support of the European Union.
"We play an important role in society, not only in Sweden but also in other parts of the world," said club chairman Zeki Bisso. "Assyriska have always worked hard to integrate people from different cultures, and we will continue to do so in the future."
Whether they will be able to take their work into the Allsvenskan depends upon how the SvFF adjudicates in the case of Örebro SK, who are appealing against an SvFF competition committee decision to relegate them from the Swedish top flight for financial problems.
Örebro's relegation left the path to the Allsvenskan open to Assyriska, who had previously been resigned to spending another season in the second division after losing out to Örgryte IS in the promotion/relegation play-offs. Should Örebro's appeal be upheld, that is exactly where they will stay.
However, that will not dampen the ardour of the club's supporters too much. With the bulk of the team's players being of Assyrian origin, Assyrians across the world have taken them to heart - tellingly, their play-off games against Örgryte were televised in 82 countries.
For some, the club are as near as Assyria - the majority of which is now in modern-day Iraq and Syria - has to a national team. And certainly, that might go to explain the passion of their fans, and, indeed, the fact that some supporters take the club's performances a little too seriously.
The pressure on the club's coaches and players is huge, with the men in charge expecting to receive regular, passionate bouts of advice from fans. Assyriska have been through eight coaches in the last six years. Of their last nine coaches only two have lasted for an entire season.
Earlier this year Assyriska player Alexandros Pappas quit the club after receiving death threats from supporters. Coaches have received similar unwanted attention, in addition to the daily difficulties of dealing with the club's myriad different cultures, languages and temperaments.
"The passion is good and bad," said Johan Ländin, one of Assyriska's small band of Swedish players. "Not every coach can handle the pressure of never being left alone, but on the other hand we always get enormous support." With a whole nation behind them every matchday, that is hardly surprising.
The following individuals contributed in the preparation of this week's issue:
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