Mar Binyamin Shimmun
Mar Binyamin was born in 1887 in the village of Kudshanis in the family of Isaiah, brother of Patriarchy Mar Ruwil Shimun (1860-1903), and Asyat, daughter of Kambar from Iyl. There were six other children in the family: Isaiah, Zaya, Rolus (was patriarchy in 1918 - 1920), David, Hormizd, Surma.
On 2 March 1903 Patriarch Mar Ruwil, feeling his death coming, appointed his nephew Binyamin to be an archbishop. On 16 March, Mar Ruwil dies.
Mar Binyamin was in power during the most tragic period of the history of Assyrians – the First World War, when endless massacres and the exodus of the Assyrians from their homeland took place. Defending their national interests, the young Patriarch had to maneuver between Turkey and Russia. Here, we should add that at that time Assyrians were “attacked” by different foreign religious missions (those of Russian Orthodox Church, American Presbyterian, French Catholic, English Episcopal etc.); the missions, rivaling for the souls of Assyrians, tried to tear them apart by means of bribery and threats. Local Muslims, in their turn, were greatly irritated by all the contacts Assyrians had with western missionaries. The last straw for them was the Assyrians taling the side of Russia in the Great War.
Before the break out of the war between Turkey and Russia, the Assyrian-Russian relations grew better. This tendency resulted in converting a segment of the Assyrians into Russian Orthodoxy in 1889.
In 1910 Mar Binyamin established good relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.
On 3 August 1914 Mar Shimmun was summoned to Van by the Ottoman Vali, Tahsim Pasha. During their conversation Tahsim expressed the request of the government for the Assyrians to stay neutral in the war.
In September 1914 Russians formed a military brigade of Assyrians in Persia (modern Iran). But due to the defeats in the battlefield in December 1914 Russians had to leave Urmia, thus dooming Assyrians to massacres. Moslims reacted at once. Assyrians were victimized and slaughtered. Especially brutal were the Kurds.
In 1975 Mar Binyamin takes a final decision in the issue of supporting Russians by his people. In December 1915 Mar Binyamin met with the Grand Prince Nickolai Nickolayevich in Tiflis (capital of Georgia). They made an agreement providing for the Assyrianss to form three battalions with the help of Russian officers. In turn Turkey arrested Hormizd, the Patriarch’s younger brother, and made him a hostage. Turkish government demanded the Patriarch to put an end to any relations with Russia. Receiving no resignation from the Patriarch, the Turks executed his brother. It was then when Mar Binyamin uttered his famous phrase that grew very popular among Assyrians: “My people are my numerous children. But how can I betray them, even for my brother”.
In 1916 General Chernozubov sent a military exhibition in Hakkyari. The squads within the expedition were led by the Patriarch’s brother David; Ismail, Malik of the Upper Tyari; and Andreus, the Jilu Malik.
It should be noted that though the Patriarch’s authority was still profound he could no longer fully control his people as before. Soon new leaders appeared, they grew popular among the Assyrians during the War. Agha Putrus was the most outstanding of them in that period of time. He often was in disagreement with the Patriarch.
In February 1918 Mar Benjamin received a letter from the Governor of Khoy where the latter arranged a meeting and discuss a number of questions. Their meeting took place in Dilman. Both parties agreed to maintain peace in the region.
In March, Mar Benjamin received a letter from Ismail Agha Simku, who offered to come together and discuss a peace treaty between the Assyrians and the Kurds. It was decided that the meeting take place in the Kurdish settlement of Kohna Shahr inSalamas (near Dilmane, north of Urmia).
On 3 March, the patriarch accompanied by his brother David and Colonel Kondratyev, arrived at the meeting. The meeting was also attended by: :ieutenant Zaytsev, instructors S. Matveyev and S. Tumasov; Shmuel Khan (son of Sarhang Bedzhan from Mawana); and his brother Isaiah; Daniel Ismail (son of Malik Ismail); Ziga and Nikodim Levkoyev, Slyva Isyaev, Lazar Zervando, Ivan Dzhibayev Yakov Abramov, Dzhadzhi Givargiz (Lower Barvar), Lazarev and others, totalling some 150 people.
Following is the extract from memoires of Daniel Ismail (from Upper Tyari), the head of the Assyrian squad who attended the meeting between the Patriarch and the Kurds:
“When Mar Shimmun stepped out of his carriage, Simko himself went out to meet Qaddishute (His Holiness), bowed twice after the custom, took his guest to the house. The meeting took more time than usual, so I sent one of my soldiers (Dzhadzhi) into the house to view the situation. He came back and reported that everything looked normal. To be on the safe side I entered the house myself saying to my attendant to bring several soldiers inside in a little time later. When I entered the house I saw that the meeting room was overcrowded. Mar Binyamin was sitting in the center, on his right – Colonel Kondratyev, David Shimmun, Shmuel Khan and 4 Russian officers, and on his left – Simko and his people. A Persian servant entered the room and started to serve tea. I noticed that the Russians were offered no tea and reproved the servant for this. Everything said that Simko had something on his mind.”
The Patriarch was buried in the Armenian settlement of Khosroabad, in the courtyard of the Armenian church of Saint George. He was 31 years old. Burial rite was conducted by Mar Iliya Beth Abuna of Alkosh.
Simko kept on hiding from Assyrians for some more time, but he was doomed. In his life he managed to harm not only Assyrians and Russians but Persians as well. He was later captured by the Persian policemen and shot.
Many rhymes (durikks) devoted to the murder of Mar Shimmun are written in Assyrian; they are popular among the people. One of such rhymes, a ballad written by Freydun Aturay, was heard and taped by me from Elena Alexandrovna Pochoyeva (born in 1913) in the Armenian village of Dvin on 24 August 1985. Below is the small extract from this song:
Simko Mshilmana (Ye, Simko the Moslem)
May the memory of Mar Binyamin Shimmun, Patriarch Catholicos of the Assyrian Church of East, never be forgotten!
Ismail Daniel, Assyrians and Two World Wars, Tehran, 1964 (written in Assyrian)
The Patriarch Mar Binyamin Shimmun
Assyrians Injured During Kurdish Riots in Syria
(ZNDA: Qamishly) The northeast Syrian town of Qamishli on Sunday was the scene of gunfire, burning grain silos, and damaged public buildings. A railway station, schools and public offices in the city have also been wrecked or burnt. Since Sunday tens of Kurdish residents have reportedly been killed duirng pro-war with Iraq demonstrations.
Final Declaration of the ADM Conference - Scandinavian Branch
Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM)
Under the banner of "To make the organisation of the Scandinavian Section efficient in accordance with the developments in the Homeland”, the Scandinavian Section of the Assyrian Democratic Movement held its second conference in Jönköping, Sweden, on February 27-29, 2004, with delegates from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.
The conference was held while our ChaldoAssyrian and Iraqi people in general are going through a new era after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the end of the dictatorship. We are experiencing a critical period through which the foundation of future Iraq is being formed to create a democratic and independent country that guarantees the rights of all ethnic and religious groups. Thus a new law, which will underlie the constitution, was decided by the Iraqi Governing Council. The leadership of ADM which represents the ChaldoAssyrians in the Governing Council achieved important results on this matter. The law recognises our national rights (administrative, cultural and political), using our language (Syriac) in national schools and authorities and guarantees a fair representation of the ChaldoAssyrians in the interim government. During this reconstruction process, ADM and several Iraqi organisations were a target for terrorist attacks with intent to cause destabilisation and insecurity in the country and ruin the national unity. We condemn these terrorist actions directed on ADM, our people and other Iraqi organisations.
The conference pointed out the significant role of ADM as a consequence of its long struggle and sacrifices and the attendance from our people around the country, which gives ADM a considerable confidence. On the national level ADM enjoys an outstanding reputation and represents the ChaldoAssyrian people in the Governing Council via Mr. Yonadam Yousef Kanna and has greatly contributed to the agreement about the combined name (ChaldoAssyrian) in conjunction with the General Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Congress.
On the Scandinavian level the conference established the necessity of organisational reconstruction in accordance with the development in the homeland and stressed the role of the ChaldoAssyrian women and youth. The period between first and second conference was evaluated to correct the mistakes and invent methods for a better development and to be able to implement the party’s policy in accordance with the recent changes. Furthermore the delegates assured to continue the work that ADM´s martyrs and our people started to achieve our legitimate rights.
Our great reverence to the souls of our martyrs.
The Assyrian National Congress
Living Under Kurdish Rule Now?
First of all I would like to congratulate you and Zinda crew for your 10th anniversary and for an excellent job that you are doing in publishing the Zinda Magazine. I have read every issue in the last couple years to keep myself and my family up to date about the events concerning our great Assyrian nation.
I read the latest issue and I was very much disturbed with the following article in the Transitional Constitution of Iraq:
The film is in Aramaic and there is little mention from Mel Gibson on todays Assyrians but please keep in mind that an issue always has a beginning. Mr. Gavary seriously can't expect Mel Gibson to go on television and speak at length about the Assyrian people's plight. Let me offer some advice: "It is not going to happen".
I believe the majority of Assyrians are happy with how the film represents Assyrians and the Aramiac speakers. It is great that this has started a small amount of media recogniton and debate.
Please be happy with what is happening and please give the recognition and awarness process of the Assyrian people time to develop.
The Passion of the Christ: A Review
In the weeks prior to the release of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of The Christ,” the word controversial was on everyone’s lips, even those who probably had no real understanding of the word. In an essence, the word became an oxymoron, and people everywhere became a protégé of each other. Then in the final phase, the media pumped so much adrenalin into the public, calling it everything from violent, disruptive, anti-Semitic, to conflict hidden, that some were indeed afraid to go and see it for themselves. But the Passion is strong, and the word of God is a stronghold. Read on…
In an interview with an angry Jewish Rabi, the movie was criticized for being filmed in two dead languages, meaning Latin and Aramaic. The latter one, Aramaic, was the official language that was used in the Middle Eastern region two thousand years ago, and the Jews, having been subjects of the Assyrian Empire, spoke Aramaic. Modern day Assyrian, Arabic and Hebrew are all derivatives of the assumable dead Aramaic language. In fact, in the Assyrian Church (The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Assyrian Church of the East) all sermons are held in the Aramaic language. So, for all those in need of a little lesson in history, when making an inference to Semitic, it is all three languages. Personally, I felt very connected because I understood 80% of the movie, without reading the subtitles.
Mel Gibson’s making of The Passion of The Christ was no coincidence. In all his interviews, he openly discussed being at an all time low point in his life, including the unbearable thoughts of committing suicide. But it is during those times of spiritual struggles that God wants us to go to him. And the grace of God is great as he will not allow us to go under. In this particular case, I believe that God placed Mr. Gibson in a state of desperation in order to breathe a new life into him, and through that the Lord delivered his message. A message that is much needed in an age of immorality.
The movie depicts the last twelve hours of the life of Christ on earth. It is told, in so many words, through his endurance of atrocities and the crucifixion. The movie sets sail in the garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus is praying “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:36-57. From its commencement, the movie will grab you, take you to a whole new spiritual level, and will not let go until the end. My personal favorites were the flashback scenes, especially one of Mary, mother of Jesus. Mary had a flashback of her son as a little boy. Young Jesus fell as he was running, and his mother ran to his rescue calling “here I am.” As she regained herself back to reality, in front of her eyes was her son who had taken another fall, carrying his cross to his own crucifixion. Bewildered, she ran to him, just as she had done when he was a little boy, and, again, with those very same words she called “here I am.” Jesus turned to his mother and said, “You see, mother, this is how I make all things new.” Needless to say, the eminence of Christianity is depicted in the crucifixion scene when Christ calls out to God saying “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” This scene is the ultimate reflection of the humility and forgiveness in the teachings of Christianity.
The Passion of The Christ is not just a film. It is an experience, an awakening, a hope, a gift to all people of all ages for all generations. Go see it! Take your children. This movie is not violent. It is history that can not be changed, and to take anything away from it would be unorthodox. After two thousand years, Jesus Christ remains a super star and his show is sold out. He remains the most influential figure in all of man’s history.
Don’t be ashamed to glorify Jesus Christ.
At A Crossroad
Bailis Yamlikha Shamun
Satisfied with the Breadcrumbs?
I was watching the Ashur TV program as they were interviewing Mr. Younadam Kana. Mr. Kana is the Assyrian and the Christian representative to the Iraqi council responsible for creating the constitution. Mr. Kana exuded pride during his interview, for all of the strides he had made for the Assyrian people in the new Iraqi constitution.
Zowaa and Non-Zowaa, Please Listen to Our Demands
Dr George Habash
In early March the shikhtana council in Baghdad signed an interim charter that would form the basis for shaping the Baghdadi establishment and that would formulate its structure. I have learnt about the charter from reading national papers and browsing various Assyrian sources mainly the internet as I feel it is degrading to follow the bindings of a council I personally do not recognize where its members have no history but brought to the forefront by events as paper tigers after the fall of Saddam from grace following the Kuwait fiasco in summer 1990.
The Zowaa representative signed the charter representing his organisation with sympathy from a few other organisations all of whom have not yet penetrated the Assyrian hearts and this is manifested by their diminutive memberships and the failure of these organisations to live up to the expectations of the Assyrian masses.
News reached me that a Kurdish group is more active in Ankawa than Zowaa and that there is Kurdish presence and militias in our towns in Nineveh where there not a single native Kurd.
I applaud every Assyrian nationalist Zowaaist and non Zowaaist but ‘I will not cease from mental fight’ until my expectations are met and this feeling is the feeling of our Assyrian masses.
Zowaa and non Zowaa must know that they cannot hold the Assyrian flag in one hand and its coffin in the other but must realize that either have to work for the national liberation of the Assyrian masses in equitable and compatible way along with all other components of the Baghdadi state or step aside. Here Provincialism cum Centralism for all and we go for it or Federalism for all and we go for it.
The Zowaa signature in achieving trivial things does not meet the aspiration of our nation while other components of the national rainbow take the lion shares. We have to stand head and shoulder among the others.
Since summer 1990 when the ousted regime started to crumble all ethnic groups of the Baghdadi state started bouncing even groups smaller than the Assyrians and this meant that we all have to achieve recognition and this recognition must not be based on appeasing the big three while side-stepping the Assyrians, Yazidis and Mandeans who are the indigenous people of the land prior to the arrival of the bigger groups.
It is true that Zowaa have signed the charter but it is truer that the Assyrian nation did not sign and will not sign any surrender or capitulation pact.
Every nation has its charter and there many smaller nations worldwide fighting for their freedom and the Assyrian nation will follow that path and will continue its great struggle until it achieve the national rights in equitable way with the others.
Please Zowaa and non Zowaa these are the Assyrian demands:
(1) The creation of Assyrian province or provinces and the rejection of the Assyrian Administrative Region (AAR)
We have nothing against any co-national and want to live amicably and in neighbourhood but not at our expense.
We reject the Kurdish march into our heartland and we transcribe that into submission to Kurdish intrusion and bullying and therefore demand that the Kurds retreat from our heartland and that is part of Duhok province from north to south and parts of Aqra and Arbil regions. The Mosul town be included in the Assyrian province and extended southward to include all our archaeological and historical sites. This can be done by cantons-style system or other ways may be found.
The proposed map for AAR obtainable from AINA website is a farce because it denudes the Assyrian nation from its essence-Assyrianism by just becoming the Assyrian Jazira or even Turkmania or Yazidia.
The Kurds are going too far by exploiting the absence of the central power and pushing too much and mostly at the expense of the Assyrians and other co-nationals. Further it seems that the Kurds want the control of every Kurdish town and this meant that creeping into our heartland. Some Kurdish towns have to fall under our control while the remote Assyrian presence will naturally fall under their control.
(2) Encouraging reverse migration of our people from cosmopolitan towns to the Assyrian heartland
The current situations in the country oblige us to think more than twice about our existence in regions we moved into for economic reasons and survival. The slaughter of our people in Baghdad, Basrah and other cosmopolitan towns and the threat, kidnapping and rape in parts of the country where we existed as small communities proved no longer tenable.
We Assyrian and Christian people tend to aggregate together due to national, religious and cultural ties and therefore for our people to feel more secure and build coherent communities we have to opt for living in one province or more run and administrated by themselves. This requires constructing new Assyrian towns and villages quite apart in our heartland.
If that is achieved then I am sure that our people in Dispersion will start packing to return to their land of their ancestors bringing with them cash, expertise and modern life to build our small nation and live in peace and prosperity.
(3) Renaming our towns and villages to original Assyrian names
So far and despite of one year of post Saddam bizarre we failed to achieve something Assyrianically. Our towns are still named deridingly by Arabised or alien names. For example the names are still Qaraqosh not Bakhdida, Karamlees not Karimlash, Bartilla not Bartley, Talkaif not Telkeppe, Batnaya not Batnaye, Alqoosh not Alqosh and Ainkawa not Ankawa. Above all the region of Al-Hamdaniya still exists which is a large area south and east of Assyrian Nineveh. This is a sample and there many Assyrian towns and villages that must be renamed.
But this may be currently prevented by the new Kurds and previous Arabs to dilute our national claim.
(4) Zowaa and non Zowaa must gain the trust of our people
I personally give Zowaa 50-50 but should Zowaa start to listen to the demands of our people then for sure I will approve Zowaa in its policies but this require that Zowaa change the image it had begotten and learn from the wrong practises of the Baathists by allowing the spirit of dialogue and give and take approach. Currently Zowaa and its sympathizers use the language of intimidation and insult for imposing their version of views.
If you follow the Assyrian forums on the internet and analyses you will encounter the same absurd clichés-ready answers:
(a)We lack the demographic bomb and we are diminutive in number; then they use the language of self-flagellating and self-defeating to downsize and belittle the importance of our nation in order to accept their flimsy version of capitulation.
Zowaa Democrataya Ashuraya please remain Democrataya and Ashuraya and what I mean is being Democrataya you have to allow different views than yours and listen to them and Ashuraya means that you continue to bear high the banners of Assyrian liberation and not betraying it. I hope you listen.
Publication of Journal Zinda is Timely
Prof. S. Osipov
From the bottom of my heart I congratulate ... the team of Zinda Magazine on the Tenth Anniversary. There is no doubt that Zinda has become the spark which has inflamed the hearts of many Assyrians and has thrown its light upon many positive and negative aspects of our life in the Diaspora and in the historical motherland.
[Zinda: Read Prof. Osipov's article in this week's Literatus section.]
A Mini Assyrian Convention in Dubai
The gathering of a small group of Assyrians in Dubai's Irish Club on 5 March. Guests had arrived from as far as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia , Holland , Canada , Spain , Sweden , Syria and Iraq.
Georgia Press: Robert Murray's Symbols of Church and Kingdom: A Study in Early Syriac Tradition.
This is a must read for any scholar, student or general reader interested in the Syriac tradition.
In this revised and updated edition of his classic work, Robert Murray offers the fullest and most vivid picture yet available of the development and character of the culture, illustrating both its original close relationship to Judaism and its remoter background in Mesopotamian civilization.
This book deals with a topic of interdisciplinary importance, at the cultural crossroads of the ancient and medieval worlds of east and west, and of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It will be of interest to a correspondingly wide range of scholars and students. No knowledge of Syriac is assumed.
‘A superb work’ -- Wayne A Meeks, Yale University
'After more than a quarter of a century, Robert Murray's Symbols of Church and Kingdom still remains by far the best introduction to early Syriac Christianity. It has justly become something of a classic.' -- Sebastian Brock, University of Oxford
‘This scrupulous book with an unfailing historical sense is alive to the language of the Late Romans, laying bare with sympathy the way in which Syriac-speaking Christians spoke of the Church…’ The New York ReviewCode: 1-59333-114-2
Pre-Publication Price: $59.00
Post Publication Price: $64.00
Size (in): 6 x 9
Pages: ca. 420
Publication Year: Forthcoming, summer 2004
Lawlessness is Our Destiny
Professor Sargis G. Osipov
In December 2003 the “National Saint-Petersburg” magazine published an article by Leonid Shlimmonov titled “The Foreigners” which described misfortunes of the Assyrians residing in the city of Khanlar in the Republic of Azerbaijan. The article described a deportation of June 14, 1949. By chance or by plan the exile was timed on the holiday of Mar Zaya. The Assyrians of Khanlar were exiled to the Tomsk Region in Eastern Siberia. 4663 people were removed from Khanlar in 4 echelons in cattle-boxes.
of Tomsk Regional Committee of the Communist Party to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR about additional settlement of special migrants to northern areas of the Region
Thus the Soviet authorities solved the problem of providing Siberia and the North with cheap man power. It is also evident that the authorities of even such an almighty and great power as the USSR could not treat all nations with such lawlessness. The Assyrians being deprived of civil rights most of all, having neither a state, nor autonomy and no leaders able to protect them will always and everywhere be exposed to such misdeeds. It is high time to think about it; all of us, no matter how safe we are in our present state.
Not So Fast Mr. Bremer! 550 Young Men and Women did not Die to Create an Islamic Government
Rev. Kenneth Joseph Jr.
The war was over! The Americans entered the country victoriously! They immediately began the exhaustive process of purging members of the former regime, disarming the military and getting basis services to the public.
"We do not want an Islamic government. While we believe in Islam and the Koran too often the religious leaders work more for themselves and not for the people. All you have to do is look at Iran."
Sadek Zamel, 36, and a Shiite puts it this way: "We don't want a religious government. We just want to be normal like the Americans. We want to travel -- we have not been able to travel outside the country for 13 years, we want to be able to take vacations, to be with our families -- to be normal."
Hayder Mousa, 33 is a Sunni Muslim and a producer: "I just want to be able to produce movies and work. I am a Muslim but I don't want religion in the government in any way. We just want to be a normal country. We definitely do not want to become like Iran."
The question remains, why? Why in the world would 550 young men and women lose their lives to create a country that states in its constitution `Islam is the official religion of the State`
Did not the Americans learn the lesson 47 years ago that unless ideology and religion is taken out of the law you cannot have the rule of law, freedom and democracy?
The `Transitional Administrative Law` is still transitional and Iraq is still under American administration. On July 1 Iraq is scheduled to be handed over. While there is still time, the clear desire of the Iraqi people is `we just want to be normal - we do not want religion in government`.
If the current July 1 schedule is maintained and a handover to the `Transitional Administrative Law` goes forward Iraq will immediately go into Civil War and the deaths of 550 young men and women will be betrayed.
Yonadam Kanna Supports Greater Representation for Women in Iraq
(ZNDA: Baghdad) In February 2003, a group of concerned Iraqi women met to establish Women for a Free Iraq (WFFI), rallying support for the liberation of Iraq and the Iraqi women. On April 21-22, 19 members attended a meeting for "Winning the Peace: Women's Role in the Post-Conflict Iraq," that took place in Washington D.C. The Women's Alliance for a Democratic Iraq (WAFDI) was formed at this meeting and the attendees committed themselves to the empowerment and advancement of women in a free and democratic post-Saddam Iraq.
Ms. Pauline Jasim of Chicago, an officer of the Assyrian American National Federation, is the Vice President of WFFI. Recently she arrived in Baghdad to actively engage in the activities of her organization and directly assist in the post-Saddam reconstruction efforts.
[Zinda: Membership in WAFDI is open to all qualified men and women who are sponsored by WAFDI core member and who believe in equal rights and opportunities for all Iraqi women, regardless of color, ethnicity, or religion.]
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