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Volume IX

Issue 45

9 February 2004
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This Week In Zinda

cover photo


The Mosul Settlement in 1926: A Press Review
A Microscopic Guide For Nation Builders

Stavros T.Stavridis
Ivan Kakovitch

Joint Declaration of AUA & ADM
Christians Among Suicide Bomb Attack in Arbil
Bremer Stands Against A System Based on Religion or Ethnicity


Dialogue between Vatican & Ancient Churches of East Opens Up
Christian Evangelism in Iran
Chaldean Instructor Worked as Translator under Saddam
On 3 April Shabaz Goes for A New Bat-a-Thon Record


Bravo, Dr. Slewa-Younan
We of All People Should Know Better
Mr. Bat-A-Thon Goes For Another Successful Fundraiser
Assyro-Chaldeans without Any Pretension
Rev. Joseph, Go Home!
Complaint Against KBSV

Dr. Nancy Khammo
Ramona Ellyin-Abbo
David Shabaz Jr.
Philomène Bouillon
Sargon Marano
Simon J. Mirza

Latest Issue of Hugoye

The Syriac Institute

Will the Last One to Leave Please Turn Off the Lights?
Self-Sacrifice: Quality of a True Leader

Rev. Kenneth Joseph
Fred Aprim
  Joseph Freidoun Poles  




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The Lighthouse

The Mosul Settlement in 1926: A Press Review




This article will show how various Belgian and Italian newspapers reported the Mosul settlement in June 1926 and the importance of the British Embassies in Brussels and Rome providing the Foreign Office in London with news reports regarding the state of public opinion in the capitals which they were accredited.  These news items were also passed on to the Australian Prime Minister in Melbourne for his information, at time when Australia had no official diplomatic relations with Belgium or Italy. Britain was responsible for the foreign policy of its empire.


A Brief Synopsis of the Mosul Question


The Lausanne Conference of 1922-23 organised by the major European powers-Britain, France and Italy- was intended to settle the differences between Greece and Turkey and to establish peace in the Near East. It should be noted that the United States delegation at Lausanne attended as “ observers.”  Some of the issues discussed at Lausanne were :- minorities, capitulations, exchange of populations, the future of the Straits, Anzac graves at Gallipoli, reparations and the Ottoman public debt. However Britain deliberately excluded the fate of Mosul from the ensuing discussions and believed the League of Nations could arbitrate on this matter.


Ismet Pasha, the Prime Turkish Delegate at the Lausanne Conference, argued for the retention of Mosul in Turkey. Ismet and Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary and British delegate at Lausanne 1919-24 presented historical, racial, political, economic and strategic reasons as to why Mosul should either be included in Turkey or in the Iraqi Kingdom.


The British  understood very clearly that the future of Mosul also involving the settlement of the Turco-Iraqi frontier was not about the Kurds, Arabs or Assyrians but rather the control and development of its valuable oil reserves.


There was no mention of Mosul in the Treaty of Lausanne signed on July 24, 1923. In fact Article 3 paragraph states:

“ With Iraq. The frontier between Turkey and Iraq shall be laid down in friendly arrangement to be concluded between Turkey and Great Britain within nine months. In the event of no agreement being reached between the two Governments with the time mentioned, the dispute shall be referred to the Council of the League of Nations. The Turkish and British Governments reciprocally undertake that, pending the decision to be reached on the subject of the frontier, no military or other movement shall take place which might modify in any way the present state of the territories of which the final fate will depend upon that decision.” 


Unfortunately Angora (Ankara) never liked the provisions of this article believing that Mosul should be included in the new Turkish state. The British and Turks met in May 1924 in Constantinople trying to resolve this issue without success. From August 1924 to the end of 1925, the Council of the League of Nations became involved in attempting to find a settlement over the disputed Turco-Iraqi frontier. The British stuck to their original plan of keeping Mosul within the Iraqi Kingdom despite Turkish incursions into the dispute frontier (also known as the Brussels line).



Finally on June 5, 1926 the Turco-Iraqi frontier was resolved with the signing of the Anglo-Turkish-Iraqi Treaty in Angora. Article 14 of this treaty was intended to mollify the Turks. It states that the “ Iraq Government shall pay to the Turkish Government for a period of twenty-five years from the coming into force of present Treaty ten per cent on all royalties which it shall receive: - (1) from the Turkish Petroleum Company.…” 


Mosul Agreement : Belgian and Italian Press Comment


The Belgian press operated under the democratic model where it was not subject to press censorship. It was free to publish articles commenting, criticizing and advising the government on how to conduct or improve its foreign policy. The Belgian press comment was overall favorable to the Mosul agreement for example with the Le Flandre Liberale considering it a “triumph of British diplomacy.” The avoidance of conflict between Britain and Turkey is reflected in all the Belgian press articles. 


In Italy, the press operated under the fascist system where the government of Benito Mussolini imposed press censorship. Any newspaper that failed to support or criticized the government’s domestic or foreign policy faced closure. Therefore the Italian press followed the official government line. Throughout 1926 Italo-British relations were considered to be satisfactory.


The Italian news stories were very favorable to Britain with Corriere d’Italia reporting that “ the settlement increased the strength of Great Britain, economically and morally.”  On the other hand the Tribuna reporting on June 5 stated “ that Turkey has given proof of an accommodating spirit.”  The Popolo d’Italia was the only Italian newspaper dissatisfied with the Mosul agreement. It thought “ there was no ground for jubilation” as Italy “ had been excluded [from the distribution of war time booty.]”


It should be noted that in November 1926 a number of newspapers –Mondo, Avanti, Stampa and Lavoro - considered hostile to the regime were suspended for an indefinite period by the Italian Ministry of the Interior.  It is against this background that the news articles reproduced below are best understood.


From an Australian perspective these news summaries sent by Richard G.Casey, the political liaison officer in London, provided the Australian Prime Minister Stanley Bruce with information on the attitude of the Italian and Belgian press on the settlement to the Mosul issue.


Stavros T.Stavridis



[Z-info:  Mr. Stavridis is a Historical Researcher with the National Center for Hellenic Studies and Research, Latrobe University, Australia.  The scanned document is from the National Archives of Australia (Melbourne Office) M1135/0 4 Confidential Correspondence to Australia From April 1 to August 5, 1926 nos.303-400 Volume 4 R.G Casey 1926.]


A Microscopic Guide For Nation Builders


(The following is an extract of International Law, vs. States Law on the succession and possession of extinct States, and the prerequisites of obligations and responsibilities of the successive State, to all rules and regulations entered into the annals of International Law, to the subjects of the extinct State, and its treatment of all its subjects, the national and religious minorities, in particular. There are 14,764 more sectors related to the rules and regulations of nation building, that have to be practically, memorized by heart.)


Birth of Iraq


Barely four years after the so-called liberation of inhabitants of Mesopotamia from the yoke of the Ottoman Empire, by the Allied Forces and the British Empire, this time, the latter, without consorting the League of Nations for the formal assignment of a Mandate, decided to exercise its control by means of a treaty with a pseudo-governing body, designated, to rule Mesopotamia until such time that the League of Nations assigns it as a Mandate to either France or Great Britain.


"On October 10, 1922, Great Britain signed a treaty with that same self-established ruling body of Mesopotamia, and, with mutual consent, named the new country, Iraq. This treaty confirmed British control of Iraq by giving Britain the following rights:


1. To appoint advisers to the Iraqi government.

2. To assist the Iraqi army.

3. To protect foreigners and Christian minorities.


"By this Treaty, Great Britain coalesced its policies of fraternization with Turkey. The British act in dealing with the Assyrian aspirations, was a one hundred eighty degrees detour with its dealings with the Canadians of French heritage, and a creation of a local government for a minority which had a compact territory in North-East Ulster [Northern Ireland]." [1]


Assyrian State


For nearly 400 years, Assyria was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, from mid-15th century to 1918, when the Ottoman Forces crumbled under the pressure of the Allied Forces of World War I.


Despite the horrid occupation, the Ottoman Empire did not relinquish the State of Assyria altogether. Actually, Assyria fared better by the Ottoman occupation than by the preceding conquest of its territory by the Arabs, the Sassanid and the Omayyad Dynasties, prior to that.


Assyria was granted autonomy, in all of its affairs, under the 'Millat System' theory, instituted by the Ottoman hierarchy in its conquests of non-Moslem States.


"'Millat System' [Autonomy] was not a creation of Assyria, or of the vanquished non-Moslem countries, but the gift of great Arab and Moslem conquerors and builders of Islam. Mohammad the Conqueror, at the zenith of his power after the fall of Constantinople [1452], translated the tolerance of Islam toward its subjects into the 'Millat System' by which those subjects were given large powers of self-government." [1]


These Autonomies were not territorial: that was impossible, if only because their members were too widely scattered. The Assyrians and their ecclesiastic co-nationals, Chaldeans and Jacobites were stretched all the way, from Adana [Southwestern Turkey] to Soleimania [in the Zagros mountain chain].




"Should Northern Mosul be made a Territorial 'Millat' [Autonomy], a State with its own revenues, subject to definite duties to the central authority within a State, with its own rights of defense, justice, education, and so forth, such an autonomous community would be a source of strength to Iraq just where strength was most needed, and where any other solution, of the problem would have been a source of weakness on the Turkish frontier. And if this should let other minorities, the Kurds fo example, demand similar treatment-which they also rightfully deserved-then one might have reminded the Arabs of the Eastern fable familiar to them, of the dying peasant who invited his sons to break a bundle of sticks. A federation of self-interest is much stronger than a purelyu centralized government of discordant minorities." [1]


Bearing in mind that Assyria was qualified to obtain the Autonomy solely because it would be able to fulfill the necessary requirements for its defense, revenue, access, to its own courts.


Law of Nations


"For, the Right being nothing more than the power of doing what is morally possible, that is to say, what is proper and consistent with Duty-it is evident that Right is derived from Duty, of passive obligation-the obligation we lie under to act in such manner. It is therefore necessary that a Nation should acquire knowledge of the Obligations incumbent on her, in order that she may not only avoid all violation of her Duty, but also be able distinctly to ascertain her Rights, or what she may lawfully require from other nations.


The Law of Nations is the science, which teaches the rights subsisting between nations or states, and the obligations correspondent to those rights." [2]


Definition of a Nation


"Nations or states are political bodies; societies of men united together for the purpose of promoting their mutual safety and advantage by the joint efforts of their combined strength.


Such a society has her affairs and her interests; she deliberates and takes resolutions in common; thus becoming a moral person who possesses an understanding and a will peculiar to herself, and is susceptible of Obligations and Rights." [2]



Extinction of a State


A state ceases to exist when it has lost the essential marks or distinguishing characteristics of a State. It may become extinct through voluntary action or as a result of conquest.


"Theoretically, extinction might result from natural causes, such as depopulation, extermination, total emigration, or a permanent condition of anarchy. But practically, states are extinguished through voluntary incorporation, forcible annexation, division in to several states, or union with other states." [1]


In the case of the Assyrians of Iraq, none of the factors described above could be applied, except for the factor known as depopulation.


This depopulation factor was caused by extermination or better yet, extermination by force. It is obvious that the observance of any agreements or promises made by the successive state to an annexed or incorporated state is a matter of conscience, or of moral rather than of legal obligation, but on the other hand, during the extinction of the State of Assyria, there was not a successive state by the name of Iraq.


"On October 3, 1932, Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations following favorable but somewhat hesitant reports from the Permanent Mandates Commission. Prior to admitting Iraq, the League asked her to give guarantees for the protection of minorities: the Rights of Foreigners: Respect for Human Rights, etc. … In compliance with these conditions, Iraq on May 30, 1932 [four months earlier], had issued a declaration containing the required guarantees." [1]




Henceforth, by creating a new country by the name of Iraq, resulting in placating Mesopotamia Thus, Assyria as a State was extinguished and absorbed into Iraq.


"…In case of total extinction and absorption or incorporation, the authorities are generally agreed that the annexing or absorbing State succeeds in the main to the rights and obligations of the extinguished State. The conqueror who reduces a nation to his subjection receives it, subject to all its engagements and duties toward others, the fulfillment of which then becomes his own duty." (Law of Nations). [2]


Breach of International Law


Ever since the creation of the State of Iraq, the citizens of Assyria and their ecclesiastic co-national allies were not allowed to form security perimeters around their territories, nor were they allowed to mobilize a security apparatus, for their own defense. Hence, a multi-facet religious and national conflict between the Assyrians and their neighbors erupted, and the Assyrian demise in view of the awesome power of the Azaris, Turks and Kurds, topped by the hard-line Arabs, who were mobilized with modern weaponry by the British, seemed to be imminent.


No Arab voice, either within or outside of the Iraqi Government raised their voices. The fate of the Assyrians catapulted into a fait accompli sealed off matter.


Political Maneuvers


Great Britain in general, and its subordinate allies, including the United States, turned their ears to economic rather than moral residues, right after World War I.


The Province of Mosul, the Assyrian domain for many millennia, was divided into two parts. The smaller portion remained within Iraq boundaries, whereas the larger territorial part-including the Hakkiari Region-was assigned to Turkey.


This division was not merely territorial, the Assyrians had to pay the highest price for this division. The Assyrian indigenous population of Iraq was divided, once again, and, almost one third of Assyrian nationals, were, extorted by Turkey. This disastrous division was the second mortal blow to Assyria and its allies. The first being the near-genocidal tactics perpetrated by unfriendly and motivated hard-liners of Turkey, Persia and Mesopotamia.


Mutual Three-Way Advantage


Assyria, the losing partner in Mesopotamia, saw its fruits divided between Turkey, Iraq and Great Britain.


Turkey, with relinquishing her claims to entire Mosul Province, received a promissory future unofficial guarantee of ten percent of Mosul's oil productions available to her use. Also, to Turkey's satisfaction, no mention was made of Kurdish autonomy or independence. But the most glamorous point was that the British accepted the Turkish decision NOT to allow the Assyrian expellees of World War I to return to their homes in Turkey, which meant the removal of Assyrians from the Province of Mosul, the land promised them some 12 years earlier, by British authorities.


Iraq gained its independence, and would be recipient of most sophisticated modern armament, and military training personnel from Britain for creation of an awesome modern army.


Britain would enter a consortium with Iraq and would profitably share in its oil revenues.


That was history of yesterday. Is there any reason to believe that the present history shall fare any better for Assyria?


Ivan Kakovitch





1. The Bees, Their Honey and the World. pp. 52-62. By Ivan Kakovitch. Pub. 1970,  Teheran University Press.

2. Law of Nations. pp. iv-ix. By Emerich de Vattel. Pub. The Hague.

Good Morning Assyria


Wednesday, February 04, 2004
For Immediate Release
Ankawa, Iraq

Assyrian Universal Alliance and Assyrian Democratic Movement at a Historic Meeting in Iraq

The governing bodies of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) and the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) met at noon on Tuesday, 3 Feburary 2004 at the ADM political bureau center in Ankawa, Iraq.

The executive board members of the Assyrian Universal Alliance included Senator John J. Nimrod, Secretary General; Mr. Praidon Darmoo, Secretary of Europe; Mr. Hermiz Shahen, Secretary of Australia, Mr. Carlo Ganjeh, Secretary of Americas; Mr. Youra Tarvardi, Executive Board Member; Mr. Betto Malik Chiko, Senior Advisor to the Secretary General; Mr. James Rayis, Legal Counsel and Mr. Joseph Markhay, AUA Adviser. The ADM delegation included the Honorable Younadam Y. Kanna, Secretary General; and Mr. Yousif Batros, Mr. Salim Tooma, Minister Younan Hozaya, Mr. Issac Zakaria and Mr. Nazar Hanna, members of of the Assyrian Democratic Movement leadership.

Our two leadership delegations met at noon on 3 February 2004 and on the morning of 4 February 2004 where they proceeded to discuss the agenda of the meeting.

The agenda included the political conditions of Iraq following the fall of Saddam's regime, the situation of our Nation, our legitimate national rights, and ways to mobilize, develop and deepen the relationship between the two groups.

Such undertakings will be accomplished by communication and cooperation between ADM and AUA. This cooperation will allow progress on our joint national efforts towards achieving legitimate ambitions in the new Iraq. It will serve to secure our rights in the new Iraqi Constitution.

We, together, will continue discussions to find reasonable methods in uniting our resources and give every effort to achieve the best future for our indigenous people of Iraq.

Assyrian Universal Alliance
Assyrian Democratic Movement

[Zinda Magazine note: This version of the declaration has a few grammatical modifications to the original text received on 6 February 2004.]


(ZNDA: Arbil) According to Kurdish sources in Arbil, among the victims of the suicide bombs that killed 109 people last Sunday, there were several Christians.

The Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Arbil, Msgr. Sher Ya’akob, miraculously survived the attack, despite having participated in the exchange of holiday greetings for the Islamic feast of Al-Adha. Fortunately, he had moved away from the scene of the bloodbath minutes before it had occurred.

Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. battalion in Arbil, Harry J. Schute, had left the scene just before the massacre also.

According to these same sources, on that day, Bishop Ya’akob, and a few other priests and several other Christians were attending the Islamic religious festivities and greetings.


(ZNDA: London) In an interview with Jawhar Hussein of the London-based Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper on 31 January, Paul Bremer, the Civil Administrator of Iraq, stated that the United States does not differentiate between the various Iraqi groups whether Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans, or Assyrians.

Ambassador Bremer also stated that the United States wishes to establish a just and democratic system for all, however, he expects a two-year time frame for the accomplishment of such undertaking.

On the issue of Kurdish autonomy in the north, Mr. Bremer agrees with granting the Iraqi Kurdish population some local administrative authority; however, he remains against any federal system that is based on ethnic or religious affiliations.

News Digest


Courtesy of the Vatican News Agency (6 February)

(ZNDA: Vatican) A recent meeting in Egypt aimed to help overcome divisions between the ancient Churches of the East and Rome, separated since the first millennium.

The first meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Churches took place in Cairo from 27 and 30 January.

The meeting was hosted by Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Shenouda III of Alexandria and the See of St. Mark. It was presided over by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Metropolitan Amba Bishoy of Damiette, general secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

In their opening speeches, Cardinal Kasper and Metropolitan Bishoy underscored the importance of the meeting which marks the beginning of new official theological dialogue between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches as a family, explained a statement issued in Rome by the Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The ancient Churches of the East (also called Orthodox) are the Churches which remained outside the influence of the Roman Empire and developed their own specific traditions in theological and ecclesiastical matters: the Copts, the Syrian Orthodox, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia, and the Malankara Church.

In the first part of the meeting the many studies and activities of the past 30 years were examined.

Later, discussion was opened up on the unofficial consultations and official dialogue held between the various Churches.

A paper, jointly sponsored by the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference and the standing conference of Eastern Orthodox Churches in the United States, was presented on various aspects of their dialogue.

The next gathering, on "Church as Communion," is scheduled for 25-30 January 2005. Cardinal Kasper extended an invitation to have the meeting held in Rome.


(ZNDA: New York) According to the recent issue of Christianity Today, the number of Assyrian and Armenian Christians in Iran is approximately 200,000.

In its March 2004 issue, Christianity Today's John W. Kennedy reports that "Christian ministries are walking through a door thrown open by the deadly December 26 earthquake...working on improving relationships with Iranians, and taking advantage of opportunities to demonstrate the Christian faith to them."

The December 26 earthquake in the city of Bam, 630 miles southeast of the Iranian capital Tehran, killed an estimated 34,000 people and injured 30,000 others. The Iranian government waived visa restrictions, allowing aid from Christian agencies and elsewhere.

According to this report, Evangelical Protestants in Iran number around 30,000, a majority of them Muslim converts. The report continues to say that Muslims who convert face intimidation, jailing, and even death.

Iranian Christians International in Colorado Springs reported that there the 200,000 ethnic Armenian or Assyrian Christians include Presbyterians, Anglicans, Orthodox, Catholics, and Pentecostals.

An Iranian pastor in exile who has regular contact with Christians in the country said 28 recent converts lived in Bam, but 25 died in the quake; the other three suffered injuries. Most became Christians as a result of radio ministry. They had been meeting in a home.

A minister in Tehran tells Christianity Today that Iranians are very open to the message of the western Evangelicals and as many as 100,000 people have become Christians as a result of radio, satellite television, or Internet evangelism.

The report says that "only 3,000 evangelicals lived in the country in 1979. Missionaries were expelled after the Islamic revolution, and as many as 90 percent of the churches were closed. The exiled pastor told Christianity Today that weekly church services now are held in fewer than 20 church buildings in the country. While there are an estimated 150 house churches in Iran, security concerns often curtail gatherings. Several Christian leaders have disappeared or been murdered, including four Assemblies of God pastors in the 1990s.

Posted on Mon, Feb. 09, 2004


Courtesy of Monterey Herald (9 February); by Kevin Howe

(ZNDA: Monterey) Next time you're worried about your annual employee evaluation, picture working nine years at 16-hour days for a boss who uses torture, prison and death as motivators.

Esho Joseph, an instructor at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey, had that job. He was a translator for the Iraqi Ministry of Information and Culture under Saddam Hussein's regime.

He translated from Arabic to English for most of the senior figures of the regime, including Saddam himself, from 1982 until he escaped from Iraq by making a deal with one of his torturers in 1991.

Joseph was one of six finalists sent to London in 1979 to learn to be simultaneous translators for the Iraqi government.

One of his brothers had to sign a voucher for him, guaranteeing his return from England, Joseph said. If he didn't, his brother went to prison.

Iraq was preparing to host the 1982 Non-Aligned Nations Summit, and similar groups of translator trainees were also sent abroad three years ahead of time to learn Russian, Spanish and French.

Joseph found himself translating for nearly every cabinet member of the government, high officials of the ruling Baath Party, and Saddam's speeches to foreigners.

A translator's duties also involved publishing a government-run English language daily newspaper, the Baghdad Observer, and translating daily summaries of foreign news stories for Saddam and his cabinet.

Working in the presence of a man who once fired one of his ministers for glancing at his wristwatch during a meeting while Saddam was speaking and another because the man picked up his teacup before Saddam did, "is very nervous work," Joseph said.

A translator didn't dare forget or fumble a word, even when tired or distracted.

At a meeting with a Japanese delegation with Saddam's son Uday, who headed Iraq's Olympic commission, shortly before the 1991 Gulf War, Uday learned one of the visitors was head of Japan's Olympic commission and began a tirade about how powerful Iraq was and how Iraq had pilots willing to fly to Paris, London, New York or Washington to bomb those cities and not come back.

"I used the word 'kamikaze' to describe what he was saying," Joseph said. "Uday wanted to know where I got that word and decided his father must have first uttered it. He didn't even know it was a Japanese word.

"I thought for a moment that that was the end for me."

One bizarre assignment for the translation team was to render, from English to Arabic, Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses."

There were to be only two copies; one for the government vault, one for Saddam's personal library, Joseph said. Saddam had heard of the book when the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini ordered Rushdie's death because of it.

"He wanted it in one week. We were to do it in addition to our daily jobs.

"One of us said that was impossible, and we were told, 'There is no word of impossible in a world controlled by Saddam Hussein.'"

The team divided up the 600-plus book's chapters among themselves and each worked on some, resulting, Joseph said, in a confusing, disjointed version written in several styles.

During the Gulf War, Joseph said, he and others were tasked to accompany foreign journalists in Baghdad as guides and translators, taking them to places where bombs or missiles had hit.

One place "came to be known as the baby milk factory," he said. "It was a biochemical factory."

He and the others could tell by the structure and the warning signs, in Arabic, around it that it was a military target, Joseph said, but didn't dare tell the reporters that was what they were looking at.

"I kept deceiving them, deceiving myself," he said. "I wondered, 'When can I be myself and say something truthful?'"

In answer to a reporter's question whether or not it was a factory for making baby formula, Joseph said, he replied, "I don't know. That left it possible for some of them to report maybe it wasn't a baby milk factory."

Those reports brought the wrath of Saddam down on Joseph and the others.

For several days he was beaten and interrogated but was able to truthfully say he didn't tell any reporter what the factory was.

"I told myself that this was one of the moments when I could just be shot by someone."

With the defeat of Saddam's army, Joseph said, the government began looking for scapegoats to take the blame, who could be "hanged or shot to teach a lesson.

"I decided it would be better to protect my head and my family."

Some generals and high Baath Party officials started worrying the regime might fall and began making plans and gathering money, Joseph said.

His own interrogator called him in and commented, "You hate me, don't you?"

Joseph said he told the man he didn't hate him. "I said, 'No, you're doing your duty. Someone above you would punish you if you did not.'"

The man then warned him that he was on an execution list, Joseph said, and his interrogator helped him, his wife and two-year-old son flee for the Jordanian border.

Joseph's wife, Tanya, was pregnant at the time, and gave birth to a second son when they sought and got asylum in the United States.

He and his wife both teach Arabic at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey, where Joseph also teaches Kurdish.

He returned to Iraq in November, accompanied by National Public Radio reporter Jacki Lyden, who had met him in Baghdad in 1991.

Joseph said he found his brothers, one of whom had been a prisoner of war in Iran for eight years during the Iran-Iraq War, and who had been interrogated and watched by authorities after Joseph fled in 1991.

"He had to report once a week to Baath Party headquarters."

A brother-in-law lost his job "because of me and because his cousin deserted from the Iraqi army," Joseph said.

"In the Saddam regime, when one member of the family is labeled as a traitor, the rest pay the price, even the children."

A member of the Aramaic-speaking Christian Chaldean ethnic minority, Joseph discovered on his return last fall that many of his fellow Chaldeans had left Iraq to escape the simmering Islamic fundamentalism "boiling" in their homeland.

One of his brothers lives in France, a sister in Australia, and brothers-in-law have moved to Sweden and Iran.

Despite the hardships of a recent war, Iraq's situation is not as grim as it's being portrayed in the news, Joseph said.

He visited elementary schools where he found children happy to be learning lessons other than studying the life and wisdom of Saddam Hussein.

Driving from his hometown of Zarko in Kurdistan to Basra, "I could see satellite dishes on the poor mud huts in remote villages, an indication of how the people are really hungry to get out of their shackles and see the rest of the world."

There was a sense of insecurity, Joseph said, as people faced the reality that bombs could go off at any time. Many were seizing the chance to settle long-simmering blood feuds, and people do express anti-American and anti-Western sentiments.

But, he said, "people of all ethnicities, education and background, driver to university professor, streetsweeper to civil servant, there is almost a consensus that if U.S. troops withdraw it would a catastrophe -- civil war."

Commenting on the current controversy over the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Joseph remarked, "I believe the United States did something great, not only for the Iraqi people, but for the entire region.

"Saddam was a weapon of mass destruction. Look at all these mass graves."

The alternative to making war on him for ignoring the United Nations' demands for weapons inspections, Joseph said, was to lift the sanctions against Iraq.

"Imagine that money pouring into the hands of Saddam. Would he use it to help his people, or to acquire weapons to harm America? I absolutely agree he was a threat to world peace. He had all the means in his hands: a country, an army and the support of others."

[Z-info: National Public Radio will air a segment on its program "All Things Considered" Feb. 16, featuring interviews with Joseph when he was in Iraq.]


Courtesy of the Modesto Bee (8 February)

Like every hitter, Dave Shabaz hopes for a home run with each swing of the bat. But Shabaz hopes for something else, too: money to fight cancer and, more recently, heart disease.

To achieve his goals, he steps into a batting cage and starts swinging, continuing for hours on end. And he asks the public to donate money for his effort.

He said his fourth annual bat-a-thon will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 3 at the Funworks amusement park, 4301 Coffee Road, in north Modesto.

"I'm estimating I'm going to hit 5,500 balls," he said.

Shabaz, a Turlock resident, put on his first two bat-a-thons for the American Cancer Society, in honor of his sister, Sharon Warda, a breast-cancer survivor.

Last year, he switched beneficiaries, directing proceeds to the American Heart Association in memory of his mother, Nina Shabaz, who died of an aortic aneurysm in 2002. The heart association will be this year's beneficiary, too.

Shabaz has another connection to the association: He is corporate events director for the Stanislaus-San Joaquin branch.
He held his last three bat-a-thons at Pedretti Sports Complex in Turlock.

Last year's event brought in $3,400, he said, and this year, with the switch to Funworks, in more populated Modesto, he is hoping to raise $10,000.

The bat-a-thon is co-sponsored by Funworks and ESPN Radio 970.

[Z-info: Donations can be made while watching Shabaz conduct his bat-a-thon. Or people can mail donations to the American Heart Association, P.O. Box 3544 Turlock 95381; checks should be made payable to the association. For more information, call Shabaz, 996-5988, or go to www.batathon.org.]


Surfs Up!
Letters From Zinda Magazine Readers


I would just like to pass a message on to Dr Shameran Slewa-Younan. I would like to say Congratulations on your degree and the research award. I hope that you will be a shining example to the Assyrian people of our achievements and a role model to our youth. All the best in your research. God Bless you.

Dr. Nancy Khammo
United Kingdom


It is certainly unfortunate that a French official was so misinformed with regards to the Assyrian and Chaldean populations within France. His oversight should be corrected. However, I fully support the efforts made by the French government to quell the increasing Islamic fanaticism in France. We, of all people, should be familiar with the underlying danger, hostility, and instability fanatic Islam can create within a country. How can they ban head scarves and not other religious symbols? Once again, we of all people, should be sensitive to the real issue and problem that France is facing. Why not give France the same support that we have given past regimes in Iran and Syria that tried to do the same?

Ramona Ellyin-Abbo


My name is David Shabaz Jr. and I am an Assyrian from Turlock, California. Zinda did a story about my annual fundraiser called the Bat-A-Thon. I am doing this for the 4th year in a row and I raise money for charity. All the proceeds from my event will go to the American Heart Association, for which I am the Corporate Events Director here in Stanislaus County (Modesto, Turlock area). I have a web-site for my Bat-a-Thon so you can see just what it is I do. My web-site is www.batathon.org

David Shabaz Jr.


This is a community shocked by the charges made against her. It will participate in the consecration, on Saturday, February 7th, of the church built for her in Teals (France).

Where are the famous "big crosses"? Not on these walls, nor on our clothes. There is only a picture of Pope Jean-Paul II behind me!" answers sitting in his office, Joseph Adlun, head of the Association of the Assyro-Chaldeans of France (AACF) based in Teals (Val-d'Oise) in north suburb of Paris. These Christians of the Eastern rite (the Chaldean Church is connected with Rome), surprised by the recent comments of Luc Ferry about their "big wooden crosses" are getting ready this weekend to inaugurate "their" church, in Teals.

"The only decorations here are photos of the traditional clothes from the Turkish or Iraqi villages of which we are natives and decimated by several waves of repressions", clarifies Joseph Adlun. And on his jacket, as only "patent" sign of religious membership, a small badge representing the Assyro-Chaldean flag.

The Assyro-Chaldeans speak about Aramaic, about the language of the Christ. Numerous in West, these refugees from Turkey and Iraq are a part of the Christian minority, proud to be the direct heir of the prestigious Mesopotamia and of a 5000-year-old history. They are approximately 16,000 in France, among which approximately 10,000 live in the Paris region and 4,000 in Teals. "We are integrated well into the French society. I am married to a Frenchwoman, in Teals myself. There are many marriages of love and reason in our community and we do not wear big crosses ", adds Joseph Adlun. "Curious", toward being suddenly pointed out and at the young eastern Christians especially - the incomprehension reigns.

" I would never have thought that one day we would be aimed by all this debate on the secularism, it is surprising ", says Ayten Karatay, 20, social intercultural intermediary in the AACF. This beautiful brunette wears a small cross around her neck, which she hides under her jacket. She enlivens the spirit of the "Assyro-Chaldean youth" and also participates in a free monthly magazine drafted by the young students, entitled "The Lions of Babylon". They meet every Thursday in the premises of the Association. "Our monthly last December was completely dedicated to the veil, to the star and to the cross ", she explains.

Some pupils joined her and the AACF to discuss "the current debate". "I am surprised and disappointed by the comments of Mr Ferry, says Jean Samat, age 19, about Gonesse. The law against the patent, political and religious signs is going to be enfored with difficulty. Anyway, I think it’s bad to go to class with a big cross there, I do not wear it in a visible way. Mine, I saw it with my faith and with my heart. It remains discreet under my shirt."

Angela, age 18, also an Assyro-Chaldean, wears a discreet cross under her pullover: "it is my security. I am not going to show it. But if a law passes, it is going to raise problems and reactions in the establishments", she assures me. "Hello, what about the culture at least!” another young person is being ironic. “The Minister was badly informed. Not only we are not called the Assyro-Chaldean, but these big crosses do not even exist."

Philomène Bouillon


I would like to reply to the article title "Go Home Mar Dinkha" which was written by Rev. Ken Joseph.

I have a lot of respect for Rev. Joseph who has been helpful to the Assyrians by talking about the Assyrian in Iraq on TV and in the Newspapers. However, I see him going into something he is not an expert in and does not know what he is talking about. I am writing this letter from Baghdad. I will be here for three months as my work requires. I can tell you this. Mar Dinkha being here in Baghdad will not do the Assyrians any good or bad and also what about Mar Gewargis. Don't you recognize him as a spiritual leader of the Assyrians? Do you think he is not doing his job? The situation in Iraq is not stable and will not be for some time. I believe that anyone coming here will not do the Assyrians any good. What we have to do for the Assyrians right now is help them financially and hopefully within a year or two, when the situation is stable, His Holiness will come to Baghdad.

I wholeheartedly agree with our clergies’ letter to Zinda Magazine. Please Rev. Joseph, GO HOME. Don't let the political parties play with your thinking.

Sargon Marano


I am taking this opportunity to bring to your attention, even though, the Bet-Nahrain Cultural Center, who has been licensed to have an Educational Radio KBES of Bet-Nahrain, and Assyrian TV Studio KBSV Channel 23 broadcasting in the City of Ceres, the County of Stanislaus, the State of California has many educational programs that serve the community, especially the Assyrians.

But, at the same time, it has many controversial political programs. Some of which have brought ill feelings among many Assyrians. The Dadeshos, namely Sargon and William, and their crew have been violating the F.C.C. rules by using the educational Radio and TV broadcasting for their political end.

Many times the Dadeshos, and some of their associates putdown some prominent Assyrian Social, Political, and Religious leaders. The Dadeshos, for years, have been insulting people who are not in line with their political views. They advocate many ideas that are contrary to the Assyrian cause, worse yet, they do not give the right to those who differ from them in opinion, to rebut. This practice of Bet-Nahrain Radio and TV broadcasting is in violation with the democratic system of our chosen country, the United States of America.

I, as a firm believer in our system, cannot tolerate the injustice that is done by the Dadeshos, to those who do not support their political stand on all the issues related to the Assyrian cause. On Sunday, the night of February 01, 2004, Mr. Sargon Dadesho, president of Bet-Nahrain Cultural Center, announced, " Mr. Yousip Daroo, from Iraq, is going to be connected with our TV Station and will answer any questions asked by callers." Callers, who have somehow connection with Bet-Nahrain Cultural Center, Bet-Nahrain Political Party, and AssyriaSat TV Studio, which belongs to Bet-Nahrain Cultural Center, were given ample time to ask questions, and get answers, to their questions, from Mr. Daroo. It was around 11:15 PM when I called, and addressed my question to Mr. Daroo. My Question was preceded by a statement, "I know that, until 1978, you used to be a member of the delegation from Iraq, who attended Congresses of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and my question was: "Can you tell me what Assyrian political Organization you worked for in Iraq after 1978?

Before I could get an answer from Mr. Daroo, Mr. Dadesho ordered the controller of the calls to cut me off the line. And I was cut off. At which time, Mr. Dadesho followed his order by a statement, saying, "He is an agitator." Mr. Dadesho took advantage of his position being in control of the program, and said on the air that I am an agitator without giving any wrong doing by me to support his statement.

I have been involved, and have held many prominent elective offices in many Assyrian social, and political organizations. In 1963 I was elected as President of the Assyrian American Association of Philadelphia. In 1968 I moved to Chicago, where in 1973 I was President of the Assyrian Social Club of Chicago. At the same time I was made an honorary President of the Assyrian Civic Club of Chicago. I have been appointed to Chair different Committees, and to become Midwestern Regional Director of the Assyrian American National Federation. I have been elected as Executive Secretary, later as Vice President of the A.A.N.F. In 1981-1982 and 1982-1983 twice I was elected as President of the Assyrian American National Federation with which 32 Assyrian Organizations throughout the United States of America are affiliated. Then until the present time, I have been elected as a member of the board of advisors of the A.A.N.F. In 1982 I was elected as Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, an Assyrian international organization which has as its members, Assyrian organizations, federations, and councils from countries throughout the world. Since 1982, I have been on the Executive Board and/or Board of Advisory of the Assyrian Universal Alliance. In 1992, I was the founder of the Society for Settlement of the Assyrians which helped in the settlement of the Assyrian refugees, who came to Stanislaus County and also helped those who needed help in the immigration cases. In the year of 2000, I was one of the founders of the Assyrian National Council of Stanislaus, with which are affiliated 8 Churches, 8 social, educational, and cultural organizations and 4 political organizations in the Stanislaus County.

In all humbleness I have held all those positions. Now Mr. Dadesho on the air says "he is an agitator." The point I am raising is not meant to be against anyone’s freedom of speech, that is protected by the constitution of this land, but to defend the rights, of those individuals, like me, against whom a character assassination statement is made on the air without stating any action on my part that would support their statement. Also in defense of many Assyrians, who have as much right to be heard as the staff of KBES & KBSV broadcasting, who for years, have been deprived of their right, to express their political views, and to rebut on any political issue related to the Assyrian cause, that is expressed and discussed on the KBES & KBSV media.

I am sure that you would agree with me, getting license to operate a radio & TV media cannot be used as a license to step on the rights of others. The reason for bringing this matter to your attention is the you are in a position to be able to remedy the problem in a proper way. Meanwhile, I expect Mr. S. Dadesho to apologize, on the air, for the statement he used against me. And the Bet-Nahrain Cultural Center to do the same in writing. Moreover I would like to have equal time, also time to be given to those who would like to rebut the issue that was discussed with Mr. Yousip Daroo.

Thank you in anticipation. I am looking forward to hear from you.

Simon J. Mirza

[Z-info: Mr. Mirza’s letter was submitted to the United States Federal Communication Commission - http://www.fcc.gov - in Washington D.C. For more information on the KBES/KBSV and AssyriaSat visit: http://www.betnahrain.org/KBSV/kbsv.htm.]

Surfer's Corner


Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute (http://www.bethmardutho.org) has published a new issue of its peer-reviewed academic periodical Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies (Vol. 7, No. 1). The issue is available electronically on the Institute's home page, and will be available in-print later this year. (Volume 5, 2002, is now available in printed form; see subscription note below.)

The issue contains the following:

In Memoriam. Three obituaries of Mar Raphael Bidawid (by George Kiraz, Beth Mardutho), Judah Benzion 'Ben' Segal (by Geoffrey Khan, Cambridge University), and Michel van Esbroeck (by Lucas Van Rompay, Duke University).


Generous Devotion: Women in the colophons of the Church of the East (1500-1830).
Heleen (H.L.) Murre-van den Berg, Leiden University

Abstract. In the centuries following the Ottoman conquest of northern Mesopotamia and Kurdistan, the Church of the East showed a remarkable vitality, which was expressed among other things in a considerable manuscript production and the restoration of churches and monasteries. This article intends to highlight the contribution of women to this revival. It is based mainly on a study of manuscript colophons and a few inscriptions, which testify to the large number of women who were involved in financing the production of manuscripts and to their reasons for doing so. A closer reading of the colophons also reveals details about the social position of these women, the role of their fathers, brothers, and husbands, as well as about their position within the church—varying from incidental references to daughters of the convenant, deaconnesses and nuns, to highly-esteemed mothers and well-doers in the Christian community. Finally, the article asks for a closer reading of the colophons in order to enlarge our knowledge of the Church of the East in this period of history.

The Reception of the Book of Daniel in Aphrahat’s Fifth Demonstration, “On Wars”.
Craig E. Morrison, Pontifical Biblical Institute

Abstract. Aphrahat composed the fifth Demonstration at a time of increasing tension between the Roman and the Sasanian Empires. In anticipation of the Christian Emperor’s military campaign against Shapur II, the Persian Sage found in the bellicose language of the Book of Daniel a reassuring message for fourth century Christians living under Sasanian rule. The cryptic style of this biblical book readily lent itself to the exigencies of his historical context in which an equally cryptic style (braz) was required. This article considers how Aphrahat recast the Book of Daniel so that it might become a window for understanding his own world.

Mallpânâ dilan Suryâyâ. Ephrem in the Works of Philoxenus of Mabbog: Respect and Distance.
Lucas Van Rompay, Duke University

Abstract. This paper focuses on two theological works by Philoxenus of Mabbog (d. 523) in which the author considers Ephrem’s theological views. One is an early work, the Mêmrê against Habbib (482-484); the other is the Letter to the monks of Senoun, which may be dated to 521. In the early work, quotations from Ephrem’s work occupy a prominent position, but in the later work only a very few quotations are found and the author criticizes the imprecision of Ephrem’s language. This change in attitude between the earlier and the later work is symptomatic of the transition through which Syriac Christianity passed around the year 500. Syriac theological thought was reconfigured along the lines of Greek patristic theology and the legacy of Ephrem, “our Syrian teacher,” caused some discomfort.

Publications and Book Reviews.
Recent Books on Syriac Topics.
Sebastian P. Brock, Oxford University

Gillian Greenberg, Translation Technique in the Peshitta to Jeremiah. Monographs of the Peshitta Institute 13.
Craig E. Morrison, Pontifical Biblical Institute

Conference Reports:

Papers on Syriac topics presented to the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia, November 25, 2003. Ilaria Ramelli, Catholic University of Milan

The International Syriac Language Project (ISLP). P.J. Williams, Aberdeen University

Paper Abstracts from the IVth Syriac Symposium and IV Forum on Syriac Computing, 9-12 July 2003. Eugene Aydin, Princeton University


Appeal: The Syriac Digital Library Project
Summer Seminar: "Aramaic in Post-Biblical Judaism and Early Christianity", Duke University, June 14 - July 23, 2004
IXth Syriac Symposium and VIIth Conference on Christian Arab Studies, 20-25 September 2004.

Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute
New Jersey




The Last Christian Family in Samawa, Iraq!

Almas Marcos, carefully peers out her front door covered from head to foot in the islamic `Abah` a head to foot black robe which covers the whole body except part of the face. As a Christian of course she should not have to wear it but she faces imminent danger if she dares leave the house without being covered.

Just for the record it is not just a black robe - the `Abah` is a bulbous, massive, black `thing` that totally envelopes a woman and in groups of what can best be describe as `black ghosts` they move across the streets in a never ending and very strange attempt at public chastity.

Almos, her husband Bassam, Grandmother Muneera, son Stephan and daughters Muneera and Lina are all that remain of a once thriving and cosmopolitan community of Christians, Jews and others in this now all `islamic` city.

The city boasts a beautiful Jewish Temple that once served a flourishing Jewish community.

The last Christian family in Samawa, Iraq truly lives a double life. Having been born and raise in the city it is theirs too, but they clearly live in fear of the majority.

Inside they maintain a fairly, modern, `christian` atmosphere - the moment they step outside their front door they are `in hiding`.

What has changed? Not them. They have been there for generations. `islam` has changed! Formerly very tolerant, with historically large and vibrant non-islamic communities the middle east has seen its Christian population go from over 12% just a half century ago to now just under 2%. The Jewish expatriate population of over million had dwindled to a few thousand.

Most people forget the dramatic `ethnic cleansing` that has taken place in the middle east over the past decades transforming Israel or what was then known as Palestine from a 76% Christian population to today's about 2%.

A thriving Jewish community in Baghdad, for example while completely gone still reminds the careful observer of its presence in the large Jewish Communities of present Baghdad which according to some estimates had a nearly 40% Jewish community at the end of the second World War.

`What are we to do?` bemoans Mrs. Marcos. `All the others have left - emigrated. We are too old to do so too. `.

`I want to move to Baghdad and find another life`` says 23 year old LIna. `There is no future for me in Samawa`.

As a reward for many years of faithful service as a government driver Bassam Marcos was given the home he had occupied for decades days before the fall of the Sadaam Government. One piece of good news to a family surrounded with nothing but bad.

The case of the Marcos family is a microcosm for the problem that plagues the future of a free, democratic, vibrant and cosmopolitan Iraq. The two paths - the one to freedom and an open society clearly desired by most Iraqis or the path back to medieval islamic oppression.

Talking to Iraqis ranging from Sunnis to Shiites to those that dont believe, makes it clear that while Iraqis may be `muslim` they are nearly united in their fervent desire that they do not want to become an islamic country like Neighboring Iran.

Ahmed Tarik, 32, a Sunni Muslim quickly asserts `we may be muslim but we do not want an Islamic government. We just want a normal government - a democracy where we are free to choose our leaders`.

Sadek Zamel, 34, a Shiite Muslim agrees. `Nobody in Iraq wants an Islamic government. We just want to be normal!`.

Mustafa Sadaam, 23, a Shiite concurs `We believe Government and religion should be separate. This is the best way to have government. We do not want to become like Iran where they are together.`

Hayder Mousa, 33 and avowed `non-believer` concurs `I am an artist - a filmaker. I just want to be free to make films as I see fit. I want Government to do just that - government. We are tired of bad governments. We just want to be left alone.`

At the same time when asked the simple question did they pray today - a requirement of all muslms that they pray five times daily - each quickly and quietly admits that they did not - not even once!

This illustrates best the situation - while islam is presented to the world as a monolithic religion with radical adherents, in most situations as here in Iraq, just like people throughout the world most really do not `believe`.

They are, as they keep repeating just `normal` people. They just want to be like everybody else in the world! They freely admit that they do not `practice`, yet are stuck in a system that does not allow them to leave.

They are overjoyed, now that Sadaam is gone that they can surf the internet, watch 200 satellite TV Channels, talk on the telephone and with their friends - all in freedom! They are all adamant `we do not want one dictator replaced by another`!

The argument can be made that what is known today as `islam` is nothing more than a political system used to enslave nearly 1 billion people throughout the world who do not `believe` in the traditional sense of the word, but are born into a situation that shockingly they are not able to freely choose nor leave.

The `dirty little secret` about `islam` is that what is being practiced is neither according to the Koran or traditional Islamic teaching. While the Koran is clear in teaching that `religion must not be under compulsion` that is clearly what is happening on the ground.

Homes in Iraq received a notice on their doorstep immediately following the fall of Iraq in the same pattern as in post-Shah Iran that read in part `The women of this family will immediately begin to wear the Islami headdress or we will do one of the following - kill you, rape you, burn your house or kidnap you`.

`What in the world is this` even the most casual observer would ask?

Those born into `muslim` families incredibly cannot `leave` a `religion` they never even chose to join. Amazingly and without missing a beat the islamic `experts` will casually say that once a person has been born into a muslim family they cannot leave under penalty of death!

The current interpretation of `islam` practiced in most of the muslim world therefore denies legally the most important human freedom - freedom of thought.

Asked the question what would he do if his son or daughter decided to `leave` the `islam ` they had never chosen to join in the first place, 32 year old Mustafa Sadaam says without hesitation `I would kill him`.

`kill him` for simply exercising his God-given freedom of thought and belief?

Traveling north from Samawa with 23 year old Lina Marcos in the car for a week in Baghdad we see the reality that is southern Iraq.

in city after city, village after village, democracy, the rule of law, any even outward signs of a free society have collapsed.

Instead of the black/red/green flag of Iraq which should be legally there, the green flag of the Shiites flies over everything - city hall, the huge water towers, the police station - over every institution making a mockery of even the trappings of democratic principles.

The Shiite leader, Sistani himself not even an Iraqi but an Iranian, holds sway not through democratic elections he is so prone to advocate, but through his gang of `thugs` who enforce the totalitarian state that he espouses as his brand of pseudo `islam`.

How does it all function? The 20% ``tax` extorted from all citizens under his control by his religious `mafia` provides the means to support this Iranian who seems for some reason to put fear into the hearts of the American administrators of Iraq.

The solution according to a source that asked to remain anonymous? `It is easy! the Americans should simply say that Mr. Sistani is not an Iraqi - he is an Iranian and send him back to Iran where he came from - that would solve a big part of our problem! He is not an Iraqi and has no business speaking for us.`

What should the Marcos family, the last family in the city of Samawa do? What should the estimated 2.5 million other Assyrian Christians of Iraq - their homeland, as the indigenous people of Iraq and the other minorities do? Leave? Run? Try to stay?

The question remains in the American court. Did young Americans give their lives to turn the people of Iraq, against their will over to an Iranian totalitarian dictator that operates by mob rule, fear and terror or will the dictator Sadaam be replaced by a secular, `normal` constitution, fair and free elections and autonomy and government that can serve as a model for the middle east?

It is up to the American people to stand up and say that the sacrifice of their young men and women was not to create the Islamic Republic of Iraq and another wierd, terrorist, totalitarian dictatorship operating under the guise of `islam` to provide another hotbed for terrorists to operate, but to create a `normal` government for the longsuffering people of Iraq one in which the Marcos family need not be the `last Christian family in Samawa` and the millions of Assyrian Christians, Jews, and others living overseas can be assured of a future and come home to help rebuild their country.

An Iraq where the Iraqi flag - not the flag of an unelected dictator flies over the city halls and where the rule of law guarantees the basic human freedoms common to us all for all Iraqis regardless of what they do or do not believe.

That is what the Iraqi people want and that is what they should be allowed to have - not a rushed handover to the totalitarian, Iranian dictator who will plunge Iraq back into the dark ages and civil war on July 1, but a measured, careful restoration of sovereignty not to unelected, thugs but to the Iraqi people - they deserve no less!

The message to `the last Christian famly in Samawa, Iraq` should and must be `stay, you have a future!`

Rev. Kenneth Joseph Jr.

[Z-info: Our contraversial Assyrian priest from Japan, currently working in Baghdad, is dubbed `God`s man in Baghdad`. He directs Assrianchristians.com and is writing a book about his experiences in Iraq entitled `I was Wrong.]


Few points I need to bring forth before I pose an important question to ponder. There are governments, political groups, and institutions that have certain policies that they follow and they seem as if they never deviate from them because such policies make their core principles in the public eye. Others believe that situations and circumstances dictate policymaking; a case much true in progressive and successful political groups. While each has its own pros and cons, a powerful country such as the United States could survive certain downfalls from following the first option, still, it opts at times to choose the second option for its own interest.

Meanwhile, Assyrians, as a stateless people, weak, powerless, unorganized, and not supported or backed by any powerhouse in the world, cannot afford to follow a rigid policy. The way I see it is that the Assyrian policy must follow a more flexible, rational, and cautious path.

In modern Assyrian history, there have been few numbered occasions where national matters reached a pinnacle before they came crashing down due to one factor or another. While some of these factors were within the Assyrians' control and internal in nature; however, others were external and out of their control. Did the Assyrians have any chance to swing the external factors their way in those early experiences? I doubt it. Still many of the Assyrian leaders themselves did not show the qualities that leaders must display in crucial moments.

The United States is implying that she is going to give the United Nations (U.N.) that chance to take part in the process of rebuilding of new Iraq; many countries and people support this important step. However, the U.N. had a horrible experience in Iraq few months ago and its envoy to Iraq was murdered by a cheap terrorist attack. Few days ago, a reporter asked the current head of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC): what guarantees Iraq can give to protect the lives of the visiting members of the U.N.? The rotating president of the IGC answered something to the meaning of that the IGC will give them as much guarantees as they give to themselves. He said in essence that the IGC members were targets themselves and that they face death every moment; however, they were careful and they try to take all precautions possible, the rest was in the hands of God. This display of self-sacrifice by the IGC members is a strong barometer by which these members should be judged.

When we have the only Assyrian member of the IGC, Honorable Younadam Kanna, risking his life, and the future of his family, for his people, we must pause for a moment and ask why? Why would Honorable Younadam Kanna do such a thing in such an environment of uncertainty? Few months ago, one member of the IGC was assassinated and another attack later occurred on the complex that houses the other members as well. I could understand how someone being selfish and looking for self glorification in times of peace; however, when a threat of life is present, I think life becomes more precious than a temporary position as a member of the IGC. Here is Honorable Kanna who has lived in danger most of his adult life. Here is a man who fled with thousands of other Assyrians the tyranny of the regime after the Iraqi uprising in 1990 and lived in refugee camps.

On the other hand, we have Assyrian leaders who are enjoying the good life in the West and have displayed all signs of recklessness in handling the Assyrian affairs. They undermine, marginalize, and attack the desperate Assyrian leadership of Honorable Younadam Kanna in Iraq in these crucial times of Assyrian national struggle, a struggle for survival and coexistence?

Then we witnessed some 250 groups, organizations, institutions, unions, associations, councils, federations, and notable Assyrians (known also as Chaldeans and Suryan) approve of this leadership. However, few others remained to reflect signs of true Assyrian solidarity. Then, another well-known organization, the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) decided to travel to Iraq and meet with the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM). After several meetings in Ain-Kawa on February 3-4, 2004, the two parties issued a joint communiqué that stressed the cooperation with, and support of, our people in Iraq as the core of their future activities.

Few voices on AssyriaSat and Internet based forums have constantly referred to the G8 (Assyrian political organizations meeting in London last year.) These few persistently accused Honorable Younadam Kanna that he betrayed the rest of the group in the G8. They, in fact, went beyond that and called Honorable Kanna cheap and demeaning adjectives, which I find inappropriate to mention here. Well, the fact here today is that with this final communiqué between the ADM and AUA there is only one organization that is left out from those who were represented in the G8. I am not sure how Honorable Kanna has betrayed the G8 when 6 out of the 8 members of the G8 are today in one way or another are cooperating with each other. The fact is that today only the Bet Nahrain Democratic Party, which was represented by Sargon Dadesho and Romeo Hakarri, is the lone non-cooperative from within the G8.

Self-sacrifice is the ultimate gift a leader can give to his people. Honorable Younadam Kanna lives it daily and many Assyrian leaders have practiced it by traveling to Iraq and showing their support for the Assyrians of Iraq and their leadership. When will Sargon Dadesho take that path?

Fred Aprim




In the early 1980’s travelers to Baghdad or Assyrian jazz lovers in the city by the river Tigris may recall the piano player at the Sheraton, Babylon, and Meridian hotels.

Zinda Magazine recently caught up with Joseph Freidoun Poles in London. He speaks fondly of his days with a jazz group in Baghdad until 1983. It was the only bank in Iraq playing jazz and blues in Baghdad.

Joseph was born in Kirkuk in 1964. Until 1979 he played with a local band in Baghdad and then switched to to a music genre less appreciated in his homeland. Between 1983 and 1986 he joined the Pilots Band. Sadly the war between Iran and Iraq left many dreams unrealized and Joseph’s band soon split up.

The horrors of war give a new lease of life to Joseph’s unscathed artistic side. He began to write poetry and write about politics. It was between 1987 and 1990 that the visiters to the Meridian and Sheraton hotels in Baghdad enjoyed hearing the virtuosity of Joseph on his piano.

Then came the first Gulf War in 1991. Another war, emigration from the homeland and immigration to a mysterious land toward an unknown destiny taught Joseph much more than he had imagined. He began to delve into a new mix of eastern and western music. His compositions described his personal experiences – sounds not quite popular with the Assyrian audiences.

In 1992 Joseph Poles played for King Hussein of Jordan and composed a piece titled “Blanket from a King” in the memory of the late monarch of Jordan.

In 1993 he continued his solo piano career in Malta at the Fortina and Jerma palace hotels. He was presented to the Maltese President as the “Musician of Considerable Merit.”

In 1998 he was playing his piano in Germany. His compositions were broadcast live to 70 countries from Belgium and in September 2000 he performed before an audience of 6,000 people at the Hengelo Festival in Holland. His music has been heard in several European countries and at many festivals, public occasions, and prestigious events. He has also played for dignitaries such as the German Ambassador and was awarded a medal of recognition in Meine, Germany.

Joseph Poles has writtten several music pieces like “Pictures from My Soul” and “The White Flower”. He also wrote a book on how to teach music.

Joseph Fereidoun Poles loves art and his family. Like many Assyrian artists living in the Diaspora he is as unknown among his people as are his musical pieces. The European audiences love him, yet he yearns for the love of his people, for the smooth jazz nights by the banks of the river Tigris, and for an unsettled recognition of his place among the Assyrian greats.

Calendar of Events

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

Thank You!

Zindamagazine would like to thank:

Dr. Matay Arsan (Holland)

David Chibo (Australia)

Ashor Giwargis (Lebanon)

Tomas Isik (Sweden)

Dr. George Kiraz (New Jersey)

Petr Kubalek (Czech Republic)


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