The Honorable Yonadam Kanna, Representative of the Chaldo-Assyrians of Iraq holds the signed final copy of the Transitional Administrative Law during the signing ceremony in Baghdad on 8 March 2004. Photo courtesy of Reuters / Peter Andrews.
Iraqi Governing Council Adopts Bill of Rights
Unprecedented document for Iraq and the region
The Transitional Administrative Law sets out the basic rights of all the people of Iraq . With the adoption of this Law, the Governing Council has taken an historic step forward toward a democratic Iraq .
Individual rights guaranteed in the Transitional Administrative Law :
[Zinda: Click Here to view the complete version of the Transitional Administrative Law of Iraq.)
Britain , Iraq and the Assyrians: The Nine Demands
When Britain 's mandate of Iraq was to end in November 1932, the Assyrians were concerned about their minority status in the future independent Iraqi State.
On June 1, 1932 the Assyrian levies presented a signed memorial to their Commanding Officer stating that “ all the men had decided to cease serving as from 1 st July.” The reason was Britain had “ failed adequately to ensure the future of Assyrian nation after the termination of their mandate over Iraq .”
It should be noted the Assyrian Patriarch Mar Shimun and his bishops were preparing “ to concentrate the whole Assyrian nation in the Dohuk-Amadiya area at the beginning of July, and that the levies on leaving their intended to join this concentration.”
The British believed that the Assyrians were “ to try to coerce (the British) and Iraqi Government[s] into creating and recognising an autonomous enclave for the Assyrians in Iraq , or alternatively, to establish such an enclave by a coup de main.”
Britain was concerned that such political action could undermine the unitary nature of the future Iraqi State . It could also have inspired the Kurds to demand their own autonomous region in the North. Britain wanted to ensure that its vital strategic and oil interests remained intact in Iraq .
The British High Commissioner called a meeting of Assyrian officers on June 13 and laid down the law to them. He warned them “ that the step which they were taking would alienate British trust and sympathy, and asked them to reconsider their action.”
Britain “ would overlook their folly and permit them to continue in their service.” However, if they declined to heed the British warning, then “ this could only lead to disaster.”
The Mar Shimun was the key person in the Assyrian religious and political hierarchy. He was the most important person who could use his influence to tone down the tense political situation. The British were mindful of the Mar Shimun's position among the Assyrians.
(B) Assyrian Demands
At a meeting that took place at Amadiya on June 18, 1932 , the Assyrians addressed their petition to the British High Commissioner in Baghdad and a copy of it was also forwarded to the Chairman of the Permanent Mandates Commission in Geneva .
The Assyrian demands are reproduced in full below: -
“ (1) That the Assyrians should be recognised as a millet (nation) domiciled in Iraq , and not merely as an Iraqi religious minority.
(2) That the Hakkiari Sanjak in Turkey , in which some of the Assyrians formerly lived, should be annexed to Iraq and its villages restored to the Assyrians
(3) (a) That if this could not be done, a national home should be found for the Assyrians which should be open to all Assyrians scattered in Iraq and to all other ex-Ottoman Assyrians from all over the world.
(b) That this new home should be arranged to include the whole of the Amadiya district and the adjacent parts of Zakho, Dohuk, and Aqra districts and that it should be made into a sub-liwa under the Mosul liwa with its headquarters at Dohuk under a Arab Mutessarif and a British adviser.
(c)That existing settlement arrangements should be wholly revised by a committee provided with adequate funds, and that the land chosen for Assyrian settlement should be registered in their names as their own property.
(d) That preference should be given to Assyrians in the selection of officials for this sub-liwa.
(4) That the temporal and spiritual authority of the Patriarch over the Assyrian nation should be officially recognised and that an annual subsidy should be given to him.
(5) That the Assyrians should have a member in the Chamber of Deputies nominated by the people and the Patriarch.
(6) That the Iraqi Government should establish schools in consultation with the Patriarch in which the language of the Assyrians should be taught.
(7) That the League of Nations or the Iraq Government should make a gift of 5,000,000 rupees for the creation of a church waqf for the Assyrian church.
(8) That a hospital should be established at the headquarters of the sub-liwa and dispensaries at other places.
(9) That the rifles earned by the Assyrians by their service in the levies should not be confiscated.”
The Assyrians wanted a response to their demands by June 28. Such a deadline from the standpoint of the British High Commission was impossible. The Mar Shimun and other religious leaders insisted that the nine demands be honored in full.
However, they made one concession “ excepting the Hakkiari, as the condition of withdrawal of the levy manifesto of the 1 st June.” There was no way Britain would accede to the Hakkiari region located on Turkish territory being annexed to Iraq . The UK , Turkey and Iraq Treaty signed on June 5, 1926 in Angora ( Ankara ) finally settled the frontier between Turkey and Iraq .
(C) British Reactions
As the negotiation proved fruitless, Britain adopted a military and political approach towards the Assyrians. She displayed her imperial power by flying an infantry battalion using the Royal Air force (RAF) from Egypt to assume the duties of the levies.
These troops were finally distributed to levy stations at Mosul , Diana, Suleimani and Hinaidi . The British action had a salutary affect on the Assyrian religious and political leadership.
An encyclical issued by the Mar Shimun on June 29 to the Assyrian officers and men of the levies urged them to continue “ [the] loyal and obedient service in the force until the national petition of the 17 th June had been considered by the League of Nations and an answer given, adding that if they then wished to take their discharge they must do so in accordance with the orders of the British officers.”
The Assyrian levies at Diana, Suleimani and Mosul submitted without trouble to the Mar Shimun's injunction whereas at Hinaidi they were less compliant and behaved in a rebellious manner. Some 250 men were discharged from the levies.
At a political level the British High Commissioner “ promised that the levies would be maintained at their present strength until an answer was given to the Assyrian petition, or until the 15 th December which ever was the earlier. He also informed [the Mar Shimun] that certain questions raised in the petition, such as the recognition of the Patriarch, land settlement, schools, dispensaries and the retention of rifles, were recognised by him to be reasonable subjects for consideration, and that the earliest and most sympathetic attention to them would be pressed by him on the Iraqi Government, and through Her Majesty's Government, on League of Nations.”
(D) Iraq and the League of Nations .
The Permanent Mandates Commission met in early December 1932 to discuss the Assyrian petition. It supported the concept “ for a compact and homogenous settlement [for Assyrians] in Iraq ” and favored dispatching a League Commissioner to discuss Assyrian grievances with the Iraqis. The British Ambassador in Iraq , Sir F Humphrey urged the Iraqis to avoid discussing the idea of an autonomous Assyrian enclave. King Faisal and the Iraqi Prime Minister told Humphrey's of their opposition to a League Commissioner being dispatched to Iraq .
The Permanent Mandates Commission handed its report to the Council of the League of Nations regarding the Assyrian petition. It adopted a resolution at its meeting on December 5, 1932 stating that: -
“ The Council notes with satisfaction the declaration by the representative of Iraq of the intention of the Iraqi Government to select from outside Iraq a foreign expert to assist them for a limited period in the settlement of all landless inhabitants of Iraq including Assyrians, and in carrying out their scheme for the settlement of the Assyrians of Iraq under suitable conditions and so far as may be possible in homogenous units, it being understood that the existing rights of the present population shall not be prejudiced.”
As a new sovereign nation, the Iraqis wanted to demonstrate that they were quite capable of appointing a outside commissioner of their choice and also wanted to be seen cooperating with the League Council. It gave them the opportunity to address Assyrian grievances on their own. The Assyrians were apprehensive of Iraqi intentions regarding their future and minority status in this new independent state .
[Zinda: Stavros T.Stavridis is a historical researcher at the National Centre for Hellenic Studies and Research, Latrobe University, Melbourne, Australia.]
Turkish Embassy in London Denies Genocide ClaimsCourtesy of the Anadolu Turkish Agency
6 March 2004
(ZNDA: London) Turkish Embassy in London issued a statement last Friday denying genocide claims following the acceptation of a motion on Armenian genocide claims by Gwynedd Council in Wales, Britain the same day.
Press Attache of Turkish Embassy in London, Hasbi Akal, said that Armenians were very distinguished members of the Ottoman Empire.
''Although part of Armenians became tools of Russian expansionism after 1870, they formed gangs and were involved in acts of terrorism; Armenians remained as distinguished members of the Ottoman Empire,'' said Akal. Akal stressed that the efforts of the Ottoman Empire to take the people away from the war region, caused casualties both among Armenians and also among Turks, stressing that this was not a genocide policy.
Assyrian Organizations in Central Valley Lead Bingo Operation; AACC to Quit
Courtesy of the Modesto Bee
Americans legally wagered $550 billion in 1995, compared with $10.4 billion in 1982, according to statistics by the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. That figure includes bingo, which is legal in 46 states.
The number of American Indian casinos in the Central Valley and bingo halls locally mirrors this growth.
In the Modesto area, six nonprofit organizations host bingo, several nights a week, relying on the game as their main fund-raisers.
The Bet-Nahrain Assyrian Cultural Center on Central Avenue in Ceres took in almost $1.4 million in bingo revenue in 2001, netting $380,544, according to organization's 2002 tax documents.
St. Thomas Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church on North Berkeley Avenue in Turlock raised $88,122 from the game in 2003, according to records kept by the Turlock Police Department.
Financial information for the three other operations was not available despite requests to the Internal Revenue Service, police departments and the organizations.
The other operations are Assyrian American Association on Yosemite Boulevard in Modesto, the Assyrian American Civic Club on North Golden State Boulevard in Turlock, and the Assyrian Club of Urhai on Central Avenue in Ceres.
Hall, of the Ceres police, said there needs to be greater oversight and accounting of money pouring into bingo halls.
State law mandates that revenue generated by bingo operations go to charitable causes. But state authorities rarely police it, he said, leaving it to local jurisdictions.
For eight months, there's been no inspection of bingo halls in Ceres because the Police Department is short-handed, Hall said.
"Bingo is usually put on the back burner," said Hall, who just returned from an eight-month leave of absence. "It's awful hard to take a detective off homicide, rape and robbery cases to go enforce bingo."
Hall has called for a professional firm to audit the halls. But at a cost of $40,000, the audit is a tough sell during a statewide budget crunch, he said.
"We want a precise picture of where the money is going," he said. "Bingo is basically a volunteer-run operation that deals in cash, and so it's awful hard to catch any discrepancies. Right now, they just do internal auditing."
Hall said previous audits indicate the money usually goes back into the organization, to cover overhead, college scholarships, charity funerals and donations to other nonprofits.
Assyrian groups run local games
Some money goes to humanitarian causes in the Middle East, he said, adding that all the local bingos are run by Assyrian organizations.
Turlock police officer Dave Ranes said longtime bingo players regularly monitor the Turlock operation. They check whether jackpots exceed $250, the legal limit on nonprofit bingo prizes in California.
At the Mewuk Indians' Chicken Ranch Rancheria in Jamestown, however, the bingo jackpots grow until somebody wins, sometimes to as high as $30,000 to $40,000, according to Bob Watts, the Chicken Ranch bingo manager.
Watts said at least one-third of the bingo crowd flocks in from the Central Valley -- many riding Chicken Ranch buses that leave twice a day from Modesto and once a day from Stockton and Merced.
And while Indian casinos are becoming increasingly popular, bingo hall managers say they're more concerned about local competition.
One club to halt bingo
The Assyrian American Civic Club in Turlock soon will shut its bingo operation, first started in 1978, president Bill Julian said.
"In the last eight months, we haven't gained a penny," Julian said.
The club reopened its bingo in April after police closed it for a year and a half to conduct an investigation prompted by complaints about possible embezzlement of bingo funds, said Ranes, of the Turlock police. The club also lacked nonprofit status. Once the club applied for nonprofit status, the police allowed it to resume bingo.
But when the games resumed, the former flock of about 400 players a night didn't return. Crowds have dwindled to about 200 a night, Julian said.
Julian said the club can't keep pace with the competition's cheap rates -- five games for $10, prices so low players are flocking from Stockton and the Bay Area.
"We can't pay the overhead," Julian said.
That's how a lot of bingo aficionados feel.
When Renee Myers, 64, recently hit a $250 jackpot at the Yosemite Avenue hall, she clapped and shyly accepted a few congratulations from other players.
Wearing an ear-to-ear grin, Myers said she doubted she would report her good fortune to her husband.
"I'm not going to tell him. I'll save it just in case I run out of money," said Myers, who spends about $50 a week on bingo. The retired phone technician crotchets blankets, doilies, doll dresses and other decorations, hoping to sell them to build a nest egg for her hobby.
The key to avoiding addiction, bingo regulars say, is setting a firm limit on how much to spend. Once that money is lost, they walk away.
Before going to the bingo hall on Yosemite Boulevard. 64-year-old Edward Michael said he puts $24 in his pocket. That's all he can afford to lose per night, said Michael, who lives on a fixed income with his wife.
That buys him and his wife 20 games, a night's worth of entertainment, far from the drone of his hated television.
"As much as you bring, that's what you're gonna spend," Michael said with a firm nod.
Of course, most local bingo halls feature automated teller machines inside.
But Angelina Vasquez said she avoids the ATM at Bet-Nahrain Assyrian Cultural Center..
The child-care worker cannot afford to drop more than $50, plus whatever she makes selling tiny silk roses each bingo night.
Vasquez, 54, said she reads the Bible and believes God frowns on gambling. She explained in Spanish that she doesn't play because she wants to. She said she goes because her husband does.
If she doesn't, he flirts with other women, she said, laughing with them, lending them money. "When I'm here, nobody asks him if they can borrow money," Vasquez said, eyeing her husband, Miguel, with a smile.
Still, Vasquez said she enjoys the fast-paced game of random numbers and chance.
"It's a nice distraction," she said. "When I come to play, at least I know my money's goes to helping the churches."
[Zinda: Gamblers Anonymous meets Tuesdays, at 6:45 p.m. in the lobby of the Stanislaus County Behavioral Health Clinic, 1501 Claus Road, Modesto. For more, go online to www.gamblersanonymous.org.]
By Louise Milligan
THE heady days of the dotcom boom are a distant memory for froggy.com founder Karl Suleman, who was convicted yesterday of fraud for providing false information to get loans to buy two Ferraris and a yacht.
A jury earlier found him guilty of four counts of fraud for lying and exaggerating his wealth to obtain loans to buy a $355,000 Ferrari Spider, another $250,000 Ferrari and a $3.3 million motor yacht.
Claiming to have $14 million in an account held jointly with his wife, Suleman, 43, provided a finance broker with a false bank statement.
While a bank statement saying Suleman had $28 million in cash seemed authentic, suspicions were raised when it was discovered the word "withdrawal" was misspelled.
Between March and October 2001 Suleman also gave false statements to finance brokers three times.
Suleman's lawyer, Bruce Stratton QC, told Judge Berman the charges and financial woes had resulted in his client's marital separation. If granted bail, he planned to reconcile with wife Vivian.
Mr Stratton said there was no suggestion Suleman would not honour the loans and evidence had been provided to show the banks would have approved the loans without the false statements.
But Judge Berman rejected Mr Stratton's argument that Suleman should be granted bail because he had always turned up to court, had surrendered his passport and had co-operated with the liquidator of Froggy and the Trustee in Bankruptcy.
The judge said his risk of not appearing at sentencing proceedings, where there was a "high probability of a jail term", was too great.
Suleman, who once entertained former US president Bill Clinton on his yacht, had a spectacular rise and fall, from migrant shopping trolley entrepreneur to dotcom millionaire to bankrupt fraudster. Born in Iraq, he moved to Australia in 1976 at age 16 and became a prominent member of Sydney's Assyrian community.
Mr Stratton told the court his Karl's Trolley Service, which was set up in the late 1980s, started off with the purchase of a few carts and "grew and grew and grew".
He had up to 30 tractors for the trolleys, unencumbered by loans, before he decided in the mid-1990s to set up Froggy, an internet service provider.
Froggy expanded to a group of up to 20 companies, but it was liquidated and Suleman was banned from running a corporation for life after it was discovered he was running a fraudulent investment scheme that cost 2000 people an estimated $65 million.
Sentencing submissions will commence on April 13. Suleman faces a maximum of 10 years in jail for the first count of fraud and five years for each of the others.
Thousands congratulations to all fo you! I wish you all success in your perpetual efforts.
Ashur J. Yoseph
Congratulations and best wishes on the tenth anniversary of Zinda magazine. I am certain that we will see greater achievements in the next ten years. Kudos for the Russian edition, hope to see your Arabic edition soon.
Iraq's Transitional Administrative Laws: Reason to be Optimistic & Hopeful
I am an attorney practicing international law in Atlanta. I am Chairman of the State Bar of Georgia International Law Section and Co-chairman of the Middle East Law Committee of the American Bar's International Law Section. I am also legal counsel to the Assyrian Universal Alliance. I recently returned from Iraq having visited with an AUA delegation and privately for legal issues dealing with business in Iraq. Here is my (very) short summary of the new Constitution provisions:
-Iraq now becomes the first Arab country to adopt a Bill of Rights granting protection to women, dissenters, freedom of religious practice and belief, right to vote and legal appeals
-Independent militias will be prohibited and all armed forces shall serve under and be controlled by civilian government rule.
-Official religion of Iraq is Islam with regard to and respect for other religions.
-The official languages are Arabic and Kurdish
-Women should represent 25% of new national assembly and the assembly is to try to reflect a fair representation of all peoples
-Independent judiciary includes a federal Supreme Court of nine members
-Until a new government is elected, the country will be governed by national assembly and President, Prime Minister and a council of ministers.
-There is a President and 2 Deputy Presidents (Presidency Council) elected by National Assembly – all decisions of Presidency Council made unanimously
-Kurdistan National Assembly to remain in effect as official regional gov’t in the North.
-Those who lost citizenship through the oppressive former gov’t may regain their citizenship.
Congratulations to Assyrian Member of the Council Mr. Yonadam Kanna for ensuring that minority ethnic rights in language, religion, assembly and education. In my opinion Myuqra Yonadam deserves our respect for exhibiting leadership and a voice that is finally listened to by those responsible for governing the country for ChaldoAssyrian/Suryoyo peoples in Iraq. The American leadership on the ground know and respect him.
We are in a much better situation with this Interim Law than at any time before, even under the constitution of 1934. There is a provision to make claims for property lost by force under the former government. We are uncertain if this will mean only lost by direct taking of the governmentt or by force during the reign no matter by whom.
I see the very predictable issue of the true independence of the judiciary as a major factor in the success of these true “new freedoms.” If judges are not well trained, independent-minded and free from threat or punitive reprisals, much of the writing can be ineffective. The American Bar Association, through a committee I serve on, has pledged to offer guidance on these issues as has the International Bar Association and several friendly governments.
The question now is for the new constitution passed later by the Iraqi National Assembly. We see even within our own people it is very unpopular to allow free speech and expression of ideas that offend the majority of people. We know even in the U.S. that exercise of these freedoms is very irksome and chaffing to the government and to many people who want to shut up or stop a consistently loud minority voice. If any majority bloc of the Assembly agree to curtail these Bill of Rights freedoms Assyrians in Iraq could again be in a dangerous condition of being a suppressed minority without process of law.
The Kurdish region has to be considered with caution as well. If we are given are due in a fair manner (there are Assyrians who serve on the Assembly and in local gov’t but not many) we will be much better off than before. If not, it could be a continued struggle to extract our due from the “gov’t in power” over our villages and regions.
My final thoughts continue to be hopeful and optimistic. My discussions with ADM and church leaders in Iraq reflected again an optimism and caution with one overriding concern: given the chance, most all of our people would rather leave than to stay. This reflects both an economic reality that most Assyrians are not well off in their own lands as well as nervousness and mistrust regarding further persecution. If all of us who can regain citizenship do so it may begin to send the correct message. The U.S. has determined that having this dual citizenship will not be contrary to the U.S. citizenship rules.
God bless you all for your love of our people.
It's Not THE Assyrian Church!
The most important issue I want to tackle is Rev. Ken's continuous emphasis on the Church of the East and its leadership. I have had enough.
Don't Get into a Tit-for-Tat, Please!
Congratulations on your continuing service to our Assyrian nation with your dedication to bringing to those interested the most informative newsletter relating to Assyrian news and issues.
At the same time I wish to express my sincere disappointment for your engagement in tit-for-tat attack against another Assyrian entity or person who may have made comments not in line with the standards of journalism or nationalism as may be defined with unwritten understanding. Specifically I refer to your comments regarding Dr. Sargon Dadesho in your editorial of this week's issue.
It is said that two wrongs do not make a right and that we must keep in mind at all times, specifically when one takes a position of responsibility.
Imagine if the energy and resources (time) spent on attacking each other or attempting to rise in the polls was instead to be spent on assisting each other to enhance each other's service to our nation, what advancement in short period of time would be achieved?
For example, rather than attacking Dr. Dadesho for his comments regarding Zinda, what harm would it bring to Zinda if you were to ignore the unwelcomed comments and attempted to find the opportunity to create mutual cooperation with the better service of our nation in mind?
To Enlighten the Cable News Network
William Suleiman M.D.
I am sure you can reflect and speak about our beautiful language and educate these people for the sake of knowledge.
I appreciate your effort always.
Unnecessarily Passionate about the Passion
AACC of Turlock's President Report (2002-2003)
We have always helped & supported our community and we will continue to do so as long as we can.
AUDITING COMMITTEE REPORT (YEAR 2002-2003)
The AUDITING COMMITTEE duties are to audit ALL The Books of this Organization and to make recommendations to the Executive Committee through the Directors for improvements in the Finance System of the Organization.
One of The Auditing Committee task was to audit All The Books starting from the year 2000. The reason, we were told, is that the current Executive Committee was the responsible entity signing the Tax Returns.
The Auditing Committee Members have spent a lot of time in auditing All The Books of this Organization and there has been some complaints from some club members what is the meaning of Auditing All the Books. Our main goal in auditing the books was to provide proper Book Keeping Methods to minimize any wrong doings and recommend corrections.
The Auditing Committee Report is strictly based on The Cash Basis Method as it was reported to IRS. This means, the money that was generated as The Club's Revenue was properly deposited into the Club's bank accounts and the money that was dispersed as The Club's Expenses was properly withdrawn through written checks that were drawn from the Club's bank accounts. Based on The Cash Basis Method, the following are answer to questions that are normally asked:
The Club's Worth as of Year End 2000:
The Club's Worth as of Year End 2001 :
The Club's Worth as of Year End 2002 :
The Club's Worth as of Year End 2003 (Estimated):
Second question is, what is the Club's Operating Profits prior to, Increase (Decrease) in Fixed Assets, Principal Amount Paid Towards Loan, Increase (Decrease) in Accounts Payable, Club's Assistance and Gifts?
The Club's Operating Profit for Year End 2000 :
The Club's Operating Profit for Year End 2001:
The Club's Operating Profit for Year End 2002:
The Club's Operating Profit for Year End 2003 (Estimated):
First question is, what was being done in Year 2002 that was different than Year 2001?
Very simply put, The Club's Revenue was higher by approximately $45,000 from Club Functions, $30,000 from Rent and $60,000 from Sales and The Club's Expenses were lower by approximately $55,000 in Salaries and $60,000 in Food, Drinks and Liquor.
Dr. Fred Adams speech at the installation of the new officers at AACCOT:
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, dear members and honored guests…on behalf of the executive board and myself I wish to welcome each and everyone of you to the 2004-2005 officers installation party. I hope you will have an enjoyable evening.
I wish to extend my deepest gratitude to a group of young men and women who without their help and support we could not have accomplished what we accomplished in last two years…and that is my executive board and all the other various committees who so ever worked diligently and with devotion…to you I say thank you.
As president of this club I wish to give you a brief history of our accomplishment during the past two years…
As most of you may well know, when we first took over from the previous administration we inherited a debt of $75,000 which was all paid during last two years.
My sincerest gratitude to all of you members, and especially to my executive committee and to all those who worked so hard along with us.
Thank you very much.
Syriac Institute Initiates Digitization of CUA Collection
(ZNDA: Piscataway) The Syriac Institute has began in earnest digitizing the Syriac collection at the libraries of The Catholic University of America (CUA). CUA's collection of Syriac material is considered one of the richest in North America. This digitization is a part of the Institute's largest project aiming to build the most comprehensive library of Syriac books, manuscripts, journal articles, images, and artifacts. The vast library will be accessible on the Internet for users.
Above: training session at CUA. The staff include Monica Blanchard, Librarian (front), Monk Spyridon Mensing of Mount Athos (on computer), Jonathan Loopstra (next to Monica), Karen Bradely (back), Richard Ghazal (volunteer from the R.I. Syriac Church, near window), Simon Khazmo (volunteer from the D.C. Syriac Church). Top Corner: George Kiraz training Monk Spyridon. Other staff members are not shown.
This is about Asharidu, an Assyrian cultural, youth and athletic festival. A festival that will take us through the ancient Assyrian cultures and traditions 6000 years old. Events such as dancing, theatre, singing, art, poetry and of course football are all parts of a festival with great magnitude. A convention that will last for four days filled with lectures with various subjects, song artists and spectators from all over the world. This all can be summarized in one world, Asharidu, which is taken from the ancient Acadian language with the meaning: "Foremost, premier and superior".
Welcome to a journey where the limits are set by only your imagination!
Asharidu is a festival started by the Assyrian Youth Federation in Sweden (AUF) and is arranged in cooperation with Bethnahrin Association of Culture in Botkyrka (BKF). The meaning of the festival is to awaken and strengthen the Assyrian culture. The issue of culture in the various associations, both locally and nationally, has lost focus the past decade. To change this AUF arranged a festival dedicated to culture one day where different associations performed a unique show of some kind. That extraordinary day will be remembered many years from now, and that day also proved that the interest is very high to present similar activities. That is the main reason why AUF decided to arrange a grand Assyrian festival the summer of 2004. The name of the festival will be Asharidu and it will go on for four exciting days.
With this letter we are proud to present and inform You about this great Assyrian Convention 2004 in Stockholm. We want to give you the opportunity to attend and experience Asharidu which will satisfy your senses. You are hereby invited to participate to strengthen our Assyrian culture through theatre, dance, music or whatever you decide to present. Why not take part in the highly anticipated Assyrian football tournament 2004 which will go on the days of the festival?
Facts about Asharidu:
More information about food, room & board, program for the festival will be published regularly on the Asharidu website, www.asharidu.com. Please click the image below:
The Deportation of the Assyrians in Ottoman Documents
Dr Racho Donef
The deportation of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 is a well-documented historical event. Many Armenians scholars have meticulously collected documents to prove that these deportations, as the Turkish government prefers to call them, was part of a well-orchestrated campaign as a means to annihilate the Armenian population.
These document have been located through the tireless efforts of Jan Bet-Sawoce.
Translation: Racho Donef
PRIME MINISTERIAL OTTOMAN ARCHIVES
Department of the Interior
(BOA.DAHILIYE SIFRE KALEMI Nu:46/78)
It is very urgent.
The position of the Nestorians have always remained doubtful for the government [due to] their predisposition to be influenced by foreigners and become a channel and an instrument. Because of the operation and efforts in Iran, the consideration of the Nestorians for the government have increased. Especially those who are found at our border area with Iran, due to the government's lack of trust of them resulting in punishment … their deportation and expulsion from their locations to appropriate provinces such as Ankara and Konya, to be transferred in dispersed manner so that henceforth they will not be together in a mass and be [settled] exclusively among Muslim people, and in no location to exceed twenty dwellings and on the issue of settlement, with the proviso that the government will not undertake to provide any type of support, to be permitted to stay and transmit the communication to the appropriate Province and after the dispensation of the matter to depart from Van.
26 October 1914 
(BOA.DAHILIYE SIFRE KALEMI Nu:54-A/154)
It is appropriate for the care and sustenance of the Syrian and Chaldean women and children who are not Armenians, who reportedly have arrived from Baskale and Siirt on 23 July 1915, to be undertaken by their own community.
28 July 1915
(BOA.DAHILIYE SIFRE KALEMI Nu:55/273)
Ciphered telegram to the Provinces of Diyarbakir, Mamuretü'l Aziz  and Alleppo
It has been understood from the submission from the Command (?) that some members of the Syrian Catholic Community have been removed from their localities. To inform on whether or not these events took place.
28 August 1915 Minister
(BOA.DAHILIYE SIFRE KALEMI Nu:57/293)
Ciphered telegram to the Province of Mosul
It has been observed that, in the 16 October 1915 dated, 684 [numbered] edition of “Zuhur Newspaper”, printed in Bagdad, has published a telegram regarding the removal of the Nestorians sent from your Most High Province to the Province of Bagdad and henceforth [?] … the need not to give the opportunity for publication of official correspondence and telegrams of this sort has been communicated to them and the matter has been given serious consideration.
Date 5 December 1915 Minister
(BOA.DAHILIYE SIFRE KALEMI Nu:57/328)
Ciphered telegram to the Province of Bitlis
Date 30 October 1915
As there are deserted villages around Mardin and Midyat, the Province of Diyarbakir has been informed that the immigrant members  of the Division Public Order Cavalry, may settle [there] and that efforts to be made to dispatch them.
Date 7 November 1915
 Another name for the Sublime Port; the central office of the Imperial Government of the Ottoman Empire.
[Zinda: Dr. Donef is a leading researcher on the ethnic minorities of the Republic of Turkey and has previously contributed to the pages of this publication.]
The Second April 9
Dr George Habash
Transitional Constitution of Iraq: An Interpretation 1
Article 4: -- The Federal System is based on Geographic and Historical realities - not on the origins, race, ethnicity or nationality.
[Geographic and Historic realities are related strictly to the Kurdish aspirations, and totally ignore the race, ethnicity or the nationality of the Assyrians]
Article 7: -- Islam is the official religion of the State, and the source of all legislation.
[Islam and its tenets are Shari'a. No more, no less]
(A) No law that contradicts Islam shall be tolerated.
[Any other form of code of ethics or nationality that is contrary to Islam and its tenets, shall not be tolerated]
Article 9: -- Turkomen, Syriac and Armenian languages shall be respected, among others.
[Specifically, there shall be Turkoman and Armenian languages for both, the Turkomen and the Armenians, however, no language for the Assyrians. They have to contend themselves with the Syriac nomenclature]
(6) A reference is made for the first time to 'Kurdistan Region'.
[For the first time a 'Kurdistan Region' is called for]
Article 30: -- The law requires that women be guaranteed a 25% of the seats in the General Assembly. It also stipulates a fair representation to all communities of Iraq, including Turkomen and ChaldoAssyririans.
[A no-hyphen to separate the identities of the Chaldeans and the Assyrians strictly reinforces the concept of a sectarian-ecclesiastic denomination of the Assyrians, as being Christian Assyrians].
AND NOW THE KILLER!!!
Article 53: -- Kurdish Regional Government is henceforth recognized as a sole ruler of Governorates of Dohuk, Arbil, Sulaimania, Kirkuk, Diyala, and, Neneveh.
[The sheer disregard to the spelling of 'Ninewah' [as it was called so, ever since it had changed its name from the Province of Mosul to the Province of Ninewah, in the last two plus decades, is not a typing error. It is specifically spelled as Neneveh instead of Ninewah, to erase its memory as the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire, thus, eradicating its legality, forever, from any future claim or claims]
Kurdish Regional Government shall be composed of Kurdish National Assembly, Kurdish Council of Ministers.
[The Kurdish State shall have all it had before the war, plus the Province of Ninewah]
(D) It guarantees, administrative, cultural and political rights of Turkomen and ChaldoAssyrians.
[It guarantees all, except NATIONAL identity]
Kurdish Regional Government shall be in total control of the Police Force and the Internal Security Forces for its regional governorate. It shall also feel free to impose any taxes or levies upon the residents under its rule.
[All in all, there are two Iraq today. One in Baghdad, the other in the north. This equivalent is based on the divisions of the Provinces of Canadian Dominion, so cleverly predisposed and prescribed by the British Foreign Office, that even today, the Province of Quebec is only in possession of one single right, and that is the teaching of the French language in its school system].
Quebec, however, does not have control of its Ministry of Interior Forces, and its Internal Security Forces. Quebec does have a Chamber of deputies, and its police force, but these two elements are effective in all of the ten Provinces of Canada].
Hence, the Kurdish Regional Government is in reality a State within a State]
[The only elements radiating Kurdish Regional Government from an absolute State, are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Courts System, otherwise, Kurdish Regional Government is a State, not YET an absolute ONE].
= = = = = =
How the Interim Constitution of Iraq Betrayed the Assyrians
Now that the interim constitution of Iraq has been signed and made public, we can see that the Interim Government Council committed genocide against the Assyrians by stripping their national, cultural, linguistic, and historical rights.
The Assyrians, the indigenous people of Iraq , were not even mentioned as a nationality in the new constitution, with the exception of occasional references to Catholic Assyrians, (ChaldoAssyrians). This means that Assyria is no longer considered an ethnic identity, rather it is now known as a religious group, and can consequently be denied all national rights entitled to other nationalities in Iraq , such as the Arabs, the Kurds, the Turkomans, and even the Armenians. This fact is eluded to in ARTICLE 30-C , “The electoral law shall aim to achieve the goal of having women constitute no less than one quarter of the members of the national assembly, and having fair representation of all “communities” in Iraq, including the Turkomans and Chaldo Assyrians”. The language of the constitution clearly identifies the minorities, such as Turkomans and ChaldoAssyrians as communities, not nationalities.
In ARTICLE 53-A, the constitution writes “The Kurdistan Regional Government is recognized as the official government of the territories that were administered by that government on 19 March, 2003 in the governorates of Dohuk, Arbil, Sulaimaniyeh, Kirkuk , Diyala and Nineveh ”. Further to that, the law in ARTICLE 46-B provides the following guarantees to the federalism of Kurdistan , “the decisions of regional, local courts, including the courts of the Kurdistan region, shall be final”. The constitution also stipulates in ARTICLE 54-B that “with regard to the application of federal laws in Kurdistan region, the Kurdistan national assembly shall be permitted to amend the application of any such law within Kurdistan region”.
These acts subjugate all Assyrians of Northern Iraq to the Kurds and places their national identity under the full authority of a new nation called KURDISTAN . Now the Kurds can dictate when, where, how, and when Assyrians can practice their cultural, linguistic, national, religious and academic rights. Nineveh , the first ancient Assyrian capital is now a Kurdish province, according to the interim constitution. Item A , therefore spells genocide against the Assyrian national, linguistic, and territorial rights and integrity. To the extent that only Assyrians are the indigenous people of Iraq , and therefore the rightful owners of those territories, this act is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
The statement written in ARTICLE 4 “The federal system shall be based upon geographical and historical realities” actually makes the act of giving Dohuk, Arbil, Kirkuk , and Nineveh , (the geographical and historical homelands of the indigenous Assyrians) to the Kurds INVALID. Assyrians can PROVE these provinces were originally created, developed and maintained by the Assyrians, so what right does the interim constitution have in giving these territories to the Kurds? Thousands upon thousands of Assyrian artifacts prove these cities are Assyrian cities. Hundreds upon thousands of scholars, Assyriologists, and history books prove these are Assyrian lands. What “geographical” or “historical” proof do the Kurds have that these are Kurdish towns?
ARTICLE 53-A , 46-B and 54-B should concern every Assyrian, as history demonstrates the Kurds have slaughtered the Assyrians every time they have had the opportunity, and this time will be no exception. Beginning with 1918, the Kurds killed the Assyrian leader and patriarch, Mar Benyamin Shummon and have assassinated hundreds of Assyrian priests and monks, and burned down most Assyrian churches and monasteries in these very regions. That's how they were able to vacate these territories and rid them of Assyrians and claim the territories as their own. The Kurdification of Assyrians began around the turn of the century, and continues to this day. The Kurds have even been so bold as to call the Assyrian artifacts that have been recently discovered in these territories as KURDISH ARTIFACTS.
ARTICLE 53-B prohibits any change of territorial boundaries, by claiming “the boundaries of the eighteen governorates shall remain without change during the transitional period”, which means, the Assyrians are discouraged from challenging the territories given to the Kurds.
ARTICLE 53-C is a farce because on the one hand, in item B, the constitution maintains that “the boundaries of eighteen governorates shall remain without change during the transitional period”, in C it claims that “any group of no more than three governorates OUTSIDE OF KURDISTAN”, with the exception of Baghdad and Kirkuk, shall have the right to form regions from amongst themselves.” Pray tell where would that be? What territory is left for Assyrians to form as their region? Even then, “it must be approved by the National Assembly”, in which Assyria is not represented.
ARTICLE 53-D Guarantees administrative, cultural and political rights to minorities, namely, The Turkomans and the ChaldoAssyrians. Notice, that only Catholic Assyrians are mentioned, which means all other Assyrian ecclesial denominations are excluded from this guarantee. Additionally, there is no protection of Assyrian NATIONAL rights. This means they can hold office, open social clubs, vote, but they cannot form a regional nation, independent of Kurds, Arabs, and Turkomans. This opens the way to the eventual assimilation of the Assyrians into the overall culture of the region in which they live, and no one can guarantee the survival of their national identity.
Perhaps that is why the Assyrian language is not even mentioned in this interim constitution. ARTICLE 9 cites “Kurdish and Arabic are the two official languages in Iraq ”. It additionally guarantees the right of Iraqis to educate their children in other languages. If Iraq's indigenous language, which is “Assyrian” is not part of the school curricula as an official language, then what opportunity would the indigenous Assyrian people have to teach their children their mother tongue?, especially if they are totally subjugated by the Arabs in Central and south Iraq, and by the Kurds in the North?
Furthermore, the Assyrian language in ARTICLE 9 is referred to as Syriac, not Assyrian. Here's a double jeopardy for the Assyrians: Not only is the indigenous Assyrian language considered as non-official, which means it will not be taught in schools or used in professional environments, but has been completely wiped out from the constitution and replaced with a non-existent language: Syriac! There's no such language. This is totally erroneous and a big distortion of historical facts and evidence.
To sum up the fate of the indigenous people of Iraq , it would appear that President Bush and Paul Bremer were merely giving lip service to the Assyrians, when they both recently reiterated that “Assyrians must be protected”.
Nothing in the new interim constitution guarantees the survival of the Assyrian identity, language and territories in the new Iraq . On the contrary, the Assyrians once more, are on the brink of EXTINCTION.
The Assyrian National Dream in Iraq:
A fellow Assyrian asked: Is there any way that we can overcome this disease of selfishness, non-cooperation, and undermining each others' efforts and move on together towards accomplishing our common goals?
Attempting to answer this question is very complicated and long; in fact, it might be fruitless. Nevertheless, there are facts that we all know. There will always be that minority of people who have different opinion from the mainstream and there will always be those who will exploit this latter small group for their personal benefit; it is just man's nature and part of dirty politics. The question to ask is how mature this minority is to make sure that it practices its rights and expresses its opinion, yet, and at the same time, does not allow an opportunist to take advantage of them while exercising this given right. Expressing a different opinion and providing alternatives to a problem is one thing and using this different opinion in malice way to inflict injury to people and put them in danger is completely another.
First, we must look at ourselves carefully and evaluate who we are today; where we stand; what we worth; how much influence we possess; and how much power we have before we attempt to demand the sky from world powers. The Assyrian cause in Iraq today could not be won through poetry, emotions, or sheer force. This situation is different from that of 1921 or 1932 (or even in 1941) when we made some 20% of the total population of Iraq (Iraq population was estimated at 2,850,000 at its inception in 1921 and around 3,000,000 in early 1930s). The Assyrians in 1921, 1932, and until 1941 were, as organized force, better soldiers and fighters than any other Iraqi group. In fact, the entire Iraqi army could not face the Assyrian Levy. In 1941, the Assyrian Levy was on a course to take Baghdad if the British did not interfere. I am not going to address here the role of the British in undermining that superiority and I know that it was the British, who created that force. Still, even when in Hakkari, Turkey, and Urmia, Iran, Assyrians proved to mach the best of armies if given a reasonable chance. What I need to say is that Iraq today is different and we are different. Assyrians must pursue and resolve the Assyrian national question through diplomatic and political means; it is the only real path in today's world. A dreamer, backed by few followers, cannot accomplish Assyrian national rights while living the western dream and running a small business. Lets face it. I have, as a writer, the right to dream in my poetry; however, I dare not dictating solutions for complex matters dealing with the Assyrian national question concerning Assyrians that I have not built with an immediate and direct association. We must mature and rise to the occasion and evaluate the situation we are in, live the reality, and work to achieve the possible instead of wasting time on the impossible. While we keep singing Atour… Atour in California, the Assyrians of Iraq have been abandoning that same Atour.
When the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) was established in 1979, it had two options: Either operate in regions under the Ba'ath direct rule and work with and for the Ba'ath against the Kurds or establish itself in north of Iraq and work with the Kurds against the common tyranny of the Ba'ath central government. Not a single free, honest, and legitimate Assyrian political organization in Iraq established itself within the Ba'ath regime territory. The Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party (BNDP) is another example. All Assyrian groups were operating from north of Iraq and cooperating with the Kurds against the fascist Ba'ath regime in Baghdad. These organizations realized that they must use diplomacy and be cooperative in dealing with the Kurds. In matters of such nature, one must find an ally; one, especially with our limitations, cannot afford making everybody an enemy. In politics, they say, there are neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies ... there are only temporary interests. This does not mean that we stop from educating the world about the past and what the Kurds, in this case, have committed against the Assyrians. Both policies go hand in hand; we must learn how to walk that tight rope. Some individuals within these groups do work for the Kurds, and that is the fact that we cannot escape. Such individuals must be put where they belong in society; they must be exposed and left alone. Therefore, for some to raise questions about the ADM, in specific, for being under the Kurdish control simply because they were operating from northern Iraq (Assyria) is ludicrous, since all other Assyrian groups were until the liberation of Iraq. We have to understand that the political situation dictated that at the time; we had no other option.
I wonder what makes a claimed Assyrian nationalist in the Diaspora attack the ADM and its leadership in Iraq when he/she has done nothing beyond accomplishing personal gains, while the ADM has shown continuous cultural and national gains in Iraq. The last six months or so we have witnessed a vicious campaign orchestrated by Ceres, California based Bet-Nahrain Inc., and BNDP by leashing its continuous unfair attacks on the ADM and its leadership in Iraq. Sargon Dadesho, who is involved, in one capacity or another, with the Bet-Nahrain Inc.; AssyriaVision, AssyriaSat, and Bet-Nahrain Cultural Center or heading the stagnant and ineffective Assyrian National Congress (ANC) is taking the leading role in this attack campaign. If we investigate the people involved in all these institutions, we would realize that it is a small group that runs all this enterprise, which includes the ever money maker bingo business. Bet-Nahrain Inc. and Sargon Dadesho were involved in one serious project in 1980 and that was the "Assyrian Christian College." That one decent project failed before it really saw the light and we are yet to find what happened to the funds that were raised for that project . If Sargon Dadesho failed in establishing one school, how are we expected to believe that he can lead a nation or establish Assyria?
Today, BNDP has made an alliance with, and is promoting, a group of eleven men who established in Iraq what they called the Assyrian United Front (AUF). Why would Sargon Dadesho cooperate with and promote an 11-man body and not cooperate and work closely with the ADM, the choice of the majority of Assyrians in Iraq? If Dadesho has any issues of concern, they could be resolved through discussions and dialogue and not through cheap personal attacks on the person of Honorable Younadam Kanna, who perhaps holds the highest position any Assyrian leader has ever held in modern history. The ADM participated in the local elections in north of Iraq in 1992 and won four out of five seats in those elections, while a group supported by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) stole the fifth seat. We know that the KDP is working to marginalize and undermine the Assyrian question in north of Iraq.
Here, we need to ask: What is this Assyrian United Front (AUF) about and who is Yousip Al-Deroo, its mastermind?
The so-called Assyrian United Front was established in Baghdad on January 26, 2004 . This group has been publicized and promoted by BNDP, the Bet-Nahrain Inc. website  and AssyriaSat. In February 2004, the group issued a declaration in which it asked for support of the Assyrian people worldwide to represent them in their negotiations with Iraqi authorities. Their demands are impressive indeed. What was embarrassing though, in my opinion, is the mean through which the document was published initially and the person who posted it on the web originally. A person who published the declaration and the Assyrian demands supplied a yahoo e-mail account as a contact mean! Of course, BNDP and Bet-Nahrain Inc. published it on their web site few days later . This brings to memories another earlier attempt by certain individuals who in 2000 declared the establishment of the so-called Assyrian Preparatory Committee in Baghdad. At the time, that committee asked the support of the Assyrian people worldwide to empower another group of questionable people in order to represent Assyrians in its negotiations with the Iraqi Ba'ath regime .
The mastermind behind the AUF is a lawyer by the name of Yousip Al-Deroo (written also "Al-Diro" or simply "Deroo"). Yousip Al-Deroo is the group's consultant and he is, as it seems from his several appearances on AssyriaSat, the group's real mentor. He has been a guest on AssyriaSat and Sargon Dadesho's special TV programs many times, live from Baghdad. In 1970, when the Late Mar Eshai Shimun visited Iraq, Al-Deroo was approved by the Iraqi Government to be its contact point with the Late patriarch. He participated in many of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) congresses at the time as the delegation from Iraq. On November 6, 1975, Mar Eshai Shimun was assassinated inside his home in San Jose, California, and almost everybody believes that the Iraqi Ba'ath Government was behind the plot. In 1978, Yousip Al-Deroo was a member of the Iraqi delegation to the AUA Congress in Sydney, Australia. The five-member-Iraqi-Assyrian-delegation included: William Shawel, Yousip Deroo , Petros Gibriel, Sami Hanna and Shmoel Teto. Bet-Nahrain Magazine published an article showing excerpts of articles from two Australian newspapers shedding much light on the poisoning episode. The magazine mentioned the five names of the Iraqi Assyrian delegation mentioned above and deplored the use of a form of mustard gas to poison and murder Assyrians at the AUA conference in Sydney . The AUA points its fingers towards and accuses those five Iraqi Assyrian delegation for poisoning Assyrians at its 11 th World Congress in Sydney and claims that the poisoned sweets were brought by the five Iraqi delegation and specially packed in Iraq under the orders of the Ba'ath regime . Of course, following this, the AUA expelled Al-Deroo from its organization.
I am not aware of any official investigation that cleared Al-Deroo and the other four from the allegations regarding the poisoning issue. If Sargon Dadesho knows this fact since the information was published in a magazine issued by his own group, why is he then in association with this person today?
There is something very wrong with any Assyrian who sidetracks his/her people with meaningless issues in such decisive times. Why are we wasting our valuable time and using our supposedly Assyrian media in spreading propaganda against our own people in these crucial moments of our history? Attacking Assyrian leadership in Iraq will not gain us those rights. In fact, it raises many questions about the real intentions, motivations, and legitimacy of anyone who indulges in such activities. If we look deeper in this episode, we can easily argue and conclude that the only groups that could benefit from such activities are our enemies in Iraq; and the Kurds in north of Iraq in particular. I am for collaboration between the Assyrians of Iraq and those in the Diaspora. I am a believer in the fact that Assyrian leadership and people in Iraq cannot gain all that Assyrians demand by acting alone because of certain pressures perhaps from powerful Arabs and Kurds. However, this could not be achieved by attacking them; this is not sound policy, it is asking for disaster.
Meanwhile, the activities of the ADM (ZOWAA) go beyond building schools and teaching Syriac language to over 6000 students who will be our future. It goes beyond rebuilding destroyed villages, paving roads, and tearing grounds up and building irrigation canals; it goes beyond planting trees and enforcing our attachment to land. These, despite limited resources, are solid achievements that will make our people have a reason to remain in north of Iraq. The ADM calculated steps were the only reason why Iraqi opposition groups recognized, and for the first time in Iraqi history, the Assyrians as an ethnic group during the 1990 Beirut Conference. It is because of the ADM (and one cannot ignore the efforts of the Diaspora Assyrians) that Assyrians are on the map again today. I continue to read articles by Iraqi writers who have finally awaken and are looking at the Assyrians from a completely different perspective. They are finally respecting who we are and in some cases amazingly fighting for our rights. This was not accomplished by dreams, emotional outburst, and poetry alone, rather through hard work by the ADM in Iraq. What the ADM has done for Assyrians in Iraq is beyond erecting buildings and establishing TV stations; it is in reality the renaissance of the Assyrian in Iraq.
To revive Assyria, one must start from the bottom and construct the new Assyria one stone at a time. Every organization must have a short, medium, and long term plans. The organization that calls for the establishment of Assyria without specifically indicating how that Assyria will be established is only wasting the people's time and energy. We know that we could not revive Assyria with dreams and emotional speeches alone. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that what Dadesho is doing in fact is simply keeping those around him emotionally attached to something that he knows well that he cannot accomplish. Moreover, since that dream could not be accomplished, he uses the name issue to redirect the blame towards the ADM, thus keeping himself around the national scene. The ADM was barely in the national picture when Sargon Dadesho made his plans to build the school in the USA. Why did he fail? Was that because of the ADM? There is nothing easier than writing and issuing fancy looking mission statements and impressive manifestos that could be framed and hanged in our personal offices or published in our books; this is the work of writers. Meanwhile, serious politicians and true leaders, who mobilize massive people and nations, not only put things that look impressive on paper but draw precise plans to bring those plans to reality. I know that we must dream since dreams are like desert springs; but dreams alone in national matters are never enough.
Various individuals have risen to Assyrian leadership positions. These individuals could be divided into two categories: The first group comprises of those true leaders and winners, who have proven that they get things done. These leaders set up reasonable projects, yet important, and draw a clear strategy to accomplish those projects. The second group is those who run mediocre institutions and organizations, they are known losers, who do a lot of talking, look for personal gains and status. We have for so long mixed bingo runners with nationalists and educators with disc jockeys. Raabi William Daniel states that the term nationalism is overly used, even abused and it is abundantly affixed to insignificant accomplishments. He adds: "To be zealous is admirable, but caution is the indispensable lubricant to oil the gears of national Zeal, so that there is more service and less noise. In our organizations, unfortunately, we do have some noisy members in whose dictionaries such terms as caution or mature thinking are not listed. They have contempt for him who admonishes prudence; they hail with praise him who fans the flame of their rash deliberations; him they will call their hero" . As mature people, and after witnessing the political and national activities of many Assyrian groups in the last eighty years in general and thirty years in particular, we must be able to look at these groups, evaluate, assess, and then intelligently distinguish between them; distinguish between winners and losers.
Seriously, let us examine the situation in Iraq, who the real shakers and movers are, and integrate that with world policies. If all things considered, does anybody think that a declaration by an 11-man-front can move a small rock in Iraqi affairs? It would be interesting to hear from this group a detailed description to how they plan to obtain their impressive demands.
Almost every issue in life has two sides. I will dare and be an optimist today and look at that 50 percent full cup as half full. Few others chose to be pessimists and see it half empty. While few insist to live in a dream and enjoy nothing but a temporary mirage, many among the Assyrians are living the reality.
What is this reality?
Fact is that Assyrian heartland has been demographically changing in the last 80 years, from being Assyrian to being Kurdish, and no Assyrian group has addressed this issue seriously. We have neglected this issue grossly, especially by the Diaspora Assyrians, since they have a freedom to address it when those in Iraq did not. Fact is that Assyrian Diaspora has little concern for what goes on in Assyria. Fact is that most of the Assyrian organizations in the Diaspora have done basically nothing besides talk. Fact is that for 80 years the Assyrians in the Diaspora (cannot blame those in Iraq) have failed to bring recognition to Assyrians in Iraq, with the exception of the recognition of their language. This too was short lived; it remained ink on paper after few years. Assyrians were never mentioned in any Iraqi constitution and under any capacity, shape, form, or structure.
The above is important to admit and understand. To have a clearer vision of what we need to do and what our best chances in Iraq are, we have to understand:
If so, we must learn to be realistic and pragmatic. While a mirage is an encouraging moment for a man dying of thirst in a vast desert, this so-called AUF is not capable to accomplish any thing but be a roadblock for Assyrians. What are these eleven individuals uniting to be called a united front? Furthermore, eleven individuals cannot constitute a front of any shape, even if the BNDP was behind them. The complete disaster of the latest conference attended in Baghdad by the BNDP in collaboration with the separatist Chaldean organizations represented in the groups of Abd al-Ahad Afram and Ghassan Hanna Shathaya is a good indicator to where the Chaldo-Assyrians in Iraq stand from these groups. The total of 70 or so in attendance, including half non-Syriac speaking and non-Christian, is a loud proof .
We have had enough with these losers. It is time to look at ourselves and seriously evaluate our position in Iraq. We need to learn how to be good politicians because we do not have the power to get what we really demand by force. I do not know about you, but to demand the impossible and simply dream about it is not what Assyrians should pursue at this time. We are not ready to fly; therefore, let us take it as one step at a time. This temporary constitution (Iraq Fundamental Law) is a positive step. First, it guarantees the administrative, cultural, and political rights of the Assyrians (Chaldo-Assyrians in Iraq). Furthermore, it recognizes the Syriac language and guarantees the rights of its speakers to teach the language freely. This will lead to funding and assistance from the Iraqi Government to truly revive this language on a bigger scale. In addition to all this, all Iraqis, in general, are to be treated equal and all personal rights will be guaranteed including those of Assyrians. Still, this was only a battle in which we accomplished moderate goals, no matter how small. We must look ahead to the war that will be fought in less than two years from now (2005) when the permanent constitution will be written. We need to play our cards rights; we need to unite and work together to have the power necessary to lay all our demands on the table while coming from a strong position and not shaky one. The question is: Are we going to continue attacking those in Iraq and establish mediocre groups where one attacks the other or are we going to work with them to empower them and get them ready for 2005.
Finally, many hosts at AssyriaSat has continuously claimed and accused Honorable Younadam Kanna for being "the Christian representative" in the Iraqi Governing Council despite many reliable sources proving otherwise. If Honorable Younadam Kanna was the Christian representative, shouldn't we have seen something about the rights of Christians in Iraq in the just published Iraqi Fundamental Law (Temporary Constitution)? Let me ask: Do we even read the word Christian mentioned in the Iraqi Temporary Constitution? The answer is a clear NO. Honorable Younadam Kanna was not there to fight for our Christian rights per se, although the freedom of religion is guaranteed, he was rather fighting for our administrative, ethnic, cultural, and political rights, as the Fundamental Law clearly shows.
I need to say here that, today, it is vital that all Assyrian media outlets, whether web sites, TV or radio stations, Assyrian discussion forums, or Assyrian chat rooms must be used in much productive ways to empower Assyrians of Iraq. There are civilized ways to express constructive criticism. What AssyriaSat (and Bet-Nahrain Inc. behind it) is doing, meanwhile, is simply an attempt to undermine and marginalize the Assyrians of Iraq, and that is unforgiving. This is just how it seems to me and I regret that. I regret seeing Assyrians in the Diaspora involved in such reckless behavior towards their own flesh and blood in a dangerous and unstable Iraq.
 Read February 2, 2004, No. 44, issue of Zinda Magazine.
 Read the December 15, 2003, No. 40, issue of Zinda magazine
 The Sydney Morning Herald, November 17, 1978, and the Daily Mirror, November 22 and 23, 1978 issues. Reported in Bet-Nahrain magazine Vol. V, No. 9-11, December 1978 - February 1979.
 William Daniel. Assyrians of Today: Their Problem and a Solution. Chicago, 1969.
 Rev. Ken Joseph Jr. "Anti-Zowaa Meeting Fizzles!" Zinda Magazine. Vol. 1, March 1, 2004.
Assyrian Doctor Excited after Seeing Mel Gibson's Movie using Aramaic Language
Courtesy of the Times Reporter in Ohio
8 March 2004
By Ryan Karp
Dr. Nashat Gabrail had an advantage over other moviegoers watching Mel Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ.” He understood the language spoken in the film and didn't have to rely on the subtitles.
Only approximately four million people in the world speak Aramaic, the ancient, dying language spoken by Jesus and the Hebrews in “The Passion of the Christ.” Aramaic was the language of the time period.
Gabrail is hoping the movie, which was expected to earn more than $200 million by Sunday night, revives the Aramaic language and helps to educate people to its history.
“It's very exciting to see a moving picture for the first time in Aramaic,” he said. “I was impressed by the actors. They really learned it.”
Gabrail, an oncologist who has a practice in Dover and is a resident of Stark County, is of Assyrian Christian descent, original natives of Mesopotamia, the current Iraq. His native language is Aramaic.
Gabrail was born in Iraq and left in 1981 to teach in Scotland. He arrived in the United States in 1984 and briefly taught at the University of Missouri before relocating to Stark County in 1990. He opened Gabrail Cancer Center in Dover in 2000.
Gabrail said the dialect of Aramaic was so ancient in “The Passion of the Christ” that even he had to use the subtitles occasionally, but he said the language was completely accurate.
“I went in with an open mind to criticize, but I didn't see anything. Mel Gibson should be complimented for what he did. He took Scripture and translated it in an honest way into a movie.”
While 4,000,000 people in the world still speak Aramaic, only 200,000 can read it and write it. Gabrail is one of those 200,000.
He said the language diminished because of the dying Assyrian identity, which was denied under the Iraqi government and rulers of Iraq like Saddam Hussein. As time passed, the Aramaic language became spoken less and less. Assyrians were not allowed to speak it in public and were not taught it in schools. They learned it through family and church.
“Before Saddam was removed from power, we were not even allowed to say we were Assyrians,” said Gabrail. “Most Iraqis are Assyrian, they just don't know it.”
Gabrail lived under Hussein's leadership for a time when he lived in Iraq. He was not surprised when Hussein was captured and knew it would be a turning point in Iraq.
Now that Hussein is gone, Gabrail hopes they can teach Aramaic in schools again.
The Aramaic language has been kept alive because of the Assyrians' religious faith. The church insisted that the language of prayer and mass remain Aramaic. However, Gabrail thinks it should not have to rely on the church.
“We want our identity intact based on rights, so individuals can say who they are,” he said.
Gabrail said the United States is concerned about preserving the identity of the Assyrians because the majority of Iraqis are trying to insert the word Islam in the new Iraqi constitution, something Assyrians do not like because they are Christians. Paul Bremmer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, is a supporter of the Assyrians and is trying to prevent this.
Gabrail also said Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois wrote a letter to Bush signed by members of Congress. The letter asked the Bush administration to protect the Assyrians' rights.
President Bush recognized preserving the Assyrians' identity in a recent speech he gave. Gabrail said he was excited by the statement.
“The most powerful man in the United States recognized us,” he said. “It was like the Fourth of July. We celebrated.”
Gabrail works to preserve the Aramaic language in his own life and to educate others about it. He teaches it to his children. His son Michael, 14, is learning it online.
Gabrail speaks Aramaic with his mother and sister, who still live in Iraq, and other family members.
To bring Assyrian health professionals together, Gabrail established the Assyrian Medical Society.
“The idea is that everyone of us are trying our best to maintain this identity,” he said.
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