Ekrem Kas and Jacques Kas
Every year the Chaldo-Assyrians of the village of Meer in south-east Turkey, presently living in the suburbs of Paris, France, celebrate Saint (Marta) Shmoni's festival of the Ascension Day, as they did when they lived in Turkey.
Why does this village celebrate the Ascension Day more seriously than the other Chaldo-Assyrians villages and who was Mart Shmoni? Let us look at the origins of this holy feast.
It is told said that 300 years ago, when the village counted for hardly 10 families, a young Meeryaya (resident of Meer) perched on a tree, saw some ghosts (our parents said Djine) walking to the village with the intention to hurt the villagers.
Who is Mart Shmoni? Her story is counted in the second book of Maccabees (Old Testament) which does not appear in the Jewish Bible, but is included in the Greek and Latin canons and in the Protestant Apocrypha. It is told that a woman, Shmoni, preferred to give her life and that of her seven sons rather than renouncing God. Shmoni and her sons were sentenced to death by King Antiochus. The story is dated to approximately 130 B.C.
The residents of Meer pray to this Saint to ask her for continue protection. It was decided 25 years ago that homage would be paid to Mart Shmoni every first Tuesday of the month of May. The new village priest, Qasha Awraha from the village of Herbol, proposed the celebration of this Saint on the Day of Ascension, a holiday. The name of Mart Shmoni was also given to a Church not very accessible because of its location in the Mountain of Meer (Tdura d' Meer).
Living in France, the Meeryayees continue to celebrate this Saint as they did it in Turkey. After the Mass in the new church of Mar Toma (St. Thomas), the Chaldo-Assyrian natives of the village of Meer, danced and performed a representation of the book of the Maccabees when King Antiochus killed Mart Shmoni and her sons. There is but one difference between the celebrations here and that celebrated in Turkey: many other Chaldo-Assyrians from other villages and elsewhere in France attended the festivities and everyone equally enjoyed with tremendous happiness.
(ZNDA: Baghdad) On 25 May, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Administrator Ambassador L. Paul Bremer congratulated the Chaldo-Assyrian Iraqi Minister of Transportation, Mr. Benham Z. Polus, for reaching a milestone as the Ministry officially transitioned to full sovereignty.
“We celebrate today the delivery of the Ministry into our responsibility, and we are careful to continue the sharing cooperative work with our friends at the CPA to proceed straight to completion of all of the Ministry’s plans,” Minister Polus stated.
Under the leadership of Minister Benham Z. Polus and his staff together with the CPA’s Senior Advisor and staff, the Ministry of Transportation has made important progress in the rebuilding of Iraq’s transportation infrastructure with significant results throughout the system, including:
In an official press release the CPA notes: "The Iraqi Ministry of Transportation has re-gained full authority by completing short and long-term strategic plans, a budget and an administrative reorganization. Fundamental management systems have been put in place and a system of checks and balances has been implemented to deter and root out corruption. Ministry functions have been realigned within the organization to facilitate more accurate and timely decision making. Ministry organizations have also been created to house the new functions of Policy and Regulatory Enforcement that were previously the responsibilities of the State Owned Enterprises."
Courtesy of BBC
Starting months in advance, the Iranian Ministry of Culture had designated 17 May 2004 as the scheduled day for this event. Although, the function was broadly advertised in the Iranian media, its cancellation was announced only a day before it was to take place. The organizers blamed the cancellation on an unexpected change in the schedule of the former Minister of Culture (Mohammed Beheshti) and announced a new date of May 20, 2004 for the function.
Despite the official cancellation and in an utterly unorganized fashion, the function however, did take place. And the few Alkhas enthusiasts did manage to deliver their message of appreciation for the work and dedication of the artist.
In the beginning of the program, the Master of the Ceremony explained his unexpected and sudden appearance, and then continued on to introducing Hannibal Alkhas. Shortly after, it was Mr. Hossein Sayfizadeh, a long time admirer of Alkhas, who opened his speech with a piece of poetry in Farsi (Persian) and went on to describe Alkhas as a true mastermind/philosopher for the modern age. Sayfizadeh closed his notes with an excerpt from a poem by Alkhas:
Next in the program roster were three short films dedicated to Alkhas. The first film, by Mohammed Reza Sharifi, portrayed Alkhas' colors caught in a lovemaking collage. Present in this film is the artist as he gives life to the portrait of Forough Farokhzad (the celebrated 20th century Iranian Poetess). The second film shows Alkhas in a classroom with young children where he is pursuing his on-going passion and determination in trying to foster and support the young talent. The third film titled "Yellow, Red, and Blue". This film portrayed Alkhas next to his over-sized canvases that tell the very Assyrian legacy through time.
Mohammed Reza Firouzeh (president of the Art Association), also began by expressing his sudden insertion in the quickly-formed program and honored Alkhas for his ingenious and dedication to art. Then, Mohammed Nosrati (Superintendent of the Iranian Museums) accompanied by Faramarz Talebi (Chairman for the Iranian Cultural Week) presented Alkhas with a life time achievement award. Ironically, even the award only noted 50 years of service instead of 60 that have been dedicated by the humble Artist.
The event was late and unorganized. As fluent as some admirers might have tried to make it appear, this function still screamed to be utterly undeserving of the maestro. But the man himself was there to say a few words, and a few words in the name of justice for art, he did say! When Hannibal Alkhas took the stage, the dismay in his voice was more than apparent: "I don't know why Mr. Beheshti is not present here? I can't understand why everyone is apologizing for not being informed on time, or being asked to appear out of roster? This cannot possibly be the way to honor an artist who has given so much to his country. Please know this, I am not disappointed because this has been done to me, I am only grieving for a man who has dedicated 60 years of his life to painting! If I were a European baker for 60 years, undoubtedly, they would present me with an oven of my own at the end of my ropes! I thank God for I have a basement to call home today, and it's the kind and admiring looks of many of you who appreciate me through my work".
The ceremony also marked Alkhas' last day of gallery displays. As always, he brought a new and innovative idea during this showing... he closed the viewing by displaying his incredible wooden statues in each corner.
Alkhas was born in 1930 in Kermanshah, Iran. So far, he has held over 100 private and more than 200 public viewings in Iran, Europe, Canada, USA, and Australia. Alkhas has taught art for nearly 35 years.
Assyriologist, Jeremy Black, Passes on in Oxford
Courtesy of the Independent
(ZNDA: London) The famed Assyriologist, Jeremy Allen Black, born in Isleworth, Middlesex (United Kingdom) on 1 September 1951 died in Oxford on 28 April 2004.
In 1988, the Assyriologist Jeremy Black was appointed University Lecturer in Akkadian (the principal ancient language of Mesopotamia) at Oxford University.
In addition to grammar and lexicography, Black was concerned with literature, his thinking culminating in Reading Sumerian Poetry (1998). In partnership with A.R. Green, he produced Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia (1992), while other fruitful collaborations resulted in A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian (1999, with J.N. Postgate and A. R. George), and the standard cuneiform publication Literary Texts from the temple of Nabû (1996, with D.J. Wiseman).
He served Oxford University as Senior Proctor in 1995-96, and from 1999 until 2001 was Chairman of the Faculty Board of Oriental Studies. He also found time to administer the innovative and much-appreciated online corpus of Sumerian literature, for which he was awarded outside funding, which enabled him to establish a research team, whose work will continue in the Oriental Institute in Oxford.
Black was born in 1951, the only son of a tea taster. His early childhood was hard. Isolated in hospital for a year at the early age of two as a polio victim, he had then to contend with the death of his mother when he was five. Jeremy was educated at Slough Grammar School, and went up as Exhibitioner in Classics to Worcester College, Oxford, in 1969.
After finals he then changed to the study of Sumerian and Akkadian under Professor Oliver Gurney, and grew to become an exceptionally able cuneiformist and a careful editor of inscriptions, with a particular concentration on Sumerian. His Oxford BPhil of 1975 was followed by a DPhil in 1980 on Sumerian Grammar in Babylonian Theory, partly supervised by Edmond Sollberger. Before completing this he left Oxford to work at St Catherine's Foundation at Windsor Great Park.
From 1981 to 1982 he was Research Associate at the Oriental Institute in the University of Chicago, and between 1982 and 1988 was successively Assistant Director and Director of the British Archaeological Expedition to Iraq, where his many years surveying archaeological digs while pursuing philological work left him with a deep love and knowledge of the country. He was not always practical, and a typical Baghdad episode describes Black's grumbling at the poor nature of a white cheese he had spread over toast and put under the grill, oblivious to the fact that it was vanilla ice-cream.
Black's ability for friendship and talking to people on many levels on a wide range of subjects was one of his greatest gifts. He had a great love of music, was adept at the flute and recorder and loved playing music of the Baroque and Classical eras. He also sang in many Oxford choirs. In company he was immensely engaging, a connoisseur of good food and drink, and well-polished, hand-made shoes.
Jeremy Black's 1987 marriage to the archaeologist and fellow Near Eastern scholar Ellen McAdam ended in divorce, but they remained on friendly terms, and indeed had been planning together an exhibition on the Sumerians. At the time of his death, he was also planning to return to Baghdad.
Legislative Council Highlights Assyrians in Australia
(ZNDA: Sydney) On 12 May His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia and leaders of the Assyrian-Australian community were invited to meet with David Clarke at the New South Wales State Parliament House in Sydney.
The Hon David Clarke on the Australian Assyrian Community:
"Tonight I highlight the contribution being made to Australian society by the Australian Assyrian community. Sadly, I feel it is also necessary to highlight the persecution, intimidation and discrimination that Assyrians have faced over the years, and are still facing, in the Middle East and particularly in Iraq. We hear little about the Australian Assyrian community. It does not set out to draw attention to itself, but it is a community with many fine achievements. Not too long ago I had the honour of attending the official opening of the new Assyrian church community schOol at Fairfield. It is a magnificent school, and great credit is due to His Grace Bishop Ma MeeIis Zaia of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Assyrian community generally for this achievement. This is a school in which Australian values and Christian virtues are taught, and where the ancient and culturally rich Assyrian language is preserved.
The Assyrian nation goes back to ancient times, and the Bible makes many references to the Assyrian empire, which at its height extended throughout Mesopotamia Into modern day Iraq. Iran, Turkey and Syria. The Assyrian cities of Nimrod and Nineveh were centres of civilization and culture in ancient times. The ancient Assyrians are recognised as pioneers in medicine, astronomy, science and mathematics. Their achievements in agriculture and irrigation are well documented, and their contribution to art and music and their building of libraries stand as a testament to their lasting gifts to mankind. The theories of Job of Edessa rivalled those of Aristotle. The fourth century University of Nisibis was the prototype for future universities. Through the missionary efforts of the Apostle Thomas, the Assyrian nation was one of the first nations to convert to Christianity; in turn the Assyrians sent missionaries as far ahead as China, India, Japan and Korea.
However, history records that by the fourteenth century the Assyrian people were facing perilous times. With the spread of Islam, Christian Assyrians were compelled to either convert to Islam or suffer persecution and added taxes. Further severe persecution was instigated by the Mongolian Timurlane. Over the next few centuries the Assyrians faced continuing cycles of persecution, pogroms and uprooting from region to region. The Assyrians have fared little better in the twentieth century. During the First World War the Assyrians sided with the Allies but their reward was further genocide, this time at the hands of the Turks, among others More then two-thirds of their population perished Despite promises of self-determination by the League of Nations, genocide against the Assyrians continued unabated,. With the rise of Saddam Hussein, Assyrian Christians face renewed dangers. Measures were imposed to destroy their cultural identity. Their families were divided and whole communities were displaced.
Hundreds of Assyrian villages were destroyed and history was rewritten to eliminate’ any reference to the Assyrians Of four million Assyrians, more than half have been scattered outside Iraq. including tens of thousands now residing in Australia, The Australian Assyrian community rejoiced at the fall of Saddam Hussein They support Australia’s role.in Iraq with great enthusiasm. It is their heartfelt wish that Assyrians in Iraq have restored to them their cultural identity and the right to practise unhindered their Christian faith, free from violence by extremist fundamentalist Islamists, which they currently face. They hope that Assyrians in Iraq Will gain the political rights that all peoples are entitled to: the right to administer their own affairs, end the right to live their lives in freedom without intimidation and discrimination. I hope that the pleas of the Assyrians in Iraq are heeded. I wish the Australian Assyrian community well in its continuing record of positive achievement in our State and our nation."
The New Executive Committee of the Assyrian American Association of San Jose
(ZNDA: San Jose) On Thursday, 27 May, members of the Assyrian American Association of San Jose (AAASJ) elected a new Executive Committee at their new "shotapota" building in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, California. The following members were elected:
Mr. George Zaia.........................................President
Mr. George Zaia succeeds two-term president of the AAASJ, Mrs. Jacklin Bejan. The by-laws of the AAASJ allow only two consecutive terms for the presidency of this Association. Local and national Assyrian observers anticipate greater involvement for Mrs. Bejan in repeating the successes of her last 4 years in San Jose within the arena of the Assyrian national and/or global politics in the United States. Reliable sources to Zinda Magazine in Chicago indicate that California may otherwise hold the key to winning this year's elections of the Assyrian American National Federation held in late August. The State of California will be hosting this year's national convention.
$23 Million Chaldean Center to Open in December
Courtesy of the Detroit News
(ZNDA: Detroit) Adhid Yousif Miri studies the entrance of the new Chaldean Community Cultural Center and sees his ancient homeland of Iraq.
“If you look at the Babylonian Entrance in Iraq, it’s just like it,” Miri says, pointing to four pairs of giant stone pillars rising from the earth, part of a grand entrance to the center — the first of its kind in Michigan and the United States — which is expected to open to the public in December 2004.
Visitors walking through the doors of the massive brick-and-stone, 92,000-square-foot building should expect a serious history lesson on the last 5,000 years of culture and contributions by Chaldeans, a people who trace their history to ancient Mesopotamia.
“This is going to be our hallmark,” said Miri, president of the Chaldean Iraqi-American Association of Michigan. “We expect this to be a huge draw for schools, other community groups and visitors to the city of Detroit.”
And at a time when the war in Iraq dominates the news, local Chaldeans are hoping the museum and cultural center will educate and remind everyone of their rich history.
“This was the cradle of civilization, where the wheel was invented, where astronomy and mathematics began. The first schools, the first library, the first law,” Martin Manna, spokesman for the association said. “This gives us a chance to tell our story.”
Metro Detroit is home to the largest population of Chaldeans — about 100,000 — outside the Middle East. About half of that population lives in Oakland County, center officials said.
The association, which has 1,000 member families, is spending $23 million to build the sprawling center on the grounds of the Shenandoah Golf Course on Walnut Lake Road, a property it purchased in 1993. The building will also include a new clubhouse and pro shop for the 18-hole course and restaurants and a conference room.
The focus of the community center will be its art gallery, museum and cultural center and a banquet hall that seats 750.
Association officials are collecting pieces of Chaldean art by working with scholars and historians from around the world and members of the Chaldean community who may have pieces packed away in their homes. Part of the center’s mission is to acquire, exhibit and serve as a permanent home for the artwork.
Museum organizers hope to reproduce part of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and craft a time line of the entire 5,000-year history of the Chaldean people.
Rosemary Antone, chairwoman of the center, is actively negotiating with the Berlin Museum, the Louvre in Paris, the Detroit Institute of Arts and Cranbrook to acquire artifacts or copies of artifacts for the center.
“The Berlin Museum has a lot of the original artifacts of Iraq and Mesopotamia. They have casts of the Hammurabi Code and the original tablet of writing. We are hoping to purchase a copy of the original,” Antone said.
Another source of artifacts comes from local Iraqis who are cleaning their closets and attics, retrieving stored books, fabrics and silks, hand-woven straw baskets and fans.
As part of the museum, the association plans to re-create an Iraqi village with figures, pottery and other items to show what life was really like in a Christian village more than a thousand years ago.
The lower level of the building will contain a gymnasium, where youngsters and adults can play basketball or soccer and swim in an outdoor pool, and classrooms where people can learn to read, write and speak Aramaic, the oldest continuously spoken language in the world.
“With what’s going on in Iraq, it is a language that may become extinct,” Manna said. “We are trying to do everything to preserve it. We have a lot of people who are here now who still speak it.”
The association has formed partnerships with school districts and other community groups such as the Jewish Community Center and area temples to encourage others to learn about the Chaldean community. The Chaldean community of Metro Detroit has changed, Miri said, and is attaining higher education levels, demanding higher standards of living and increasing in size.
“This really reflects the pride and progress of the community,” Miri said. “The aspiration and needs of the new generation have grown as well. We need to create something to preserve this culture or people will disperse."
Irish-Assyrian Student Awarded $40,000 Scholarship to Notre Dame
Courtesy of the Navajo-Hopi Observer
(ZNDA: Phoenix) Daniel O'Connor, a senior at Tuba City High School was this year's Salutatorian at the graduation ceremony held last week. Daniel is of Irish and Assyrian descent and the son of Ann and Dr. Pat O'Connor.
He is a Top Ten Senior and member of the National Honor Society. Daniel won a full scholarship to Notre Dame University worth around $40,000. Notre Dame University has a longstanding history of teaching, research, scholarship and community service. Daniel is also a member of his school's basketball team.
Tuba City is a city of about 8,500 people of whom 95 percent are American-Indians.
Attention Class of 2004 Assyrian Graduates!
Zinda Wants You!.......It's that time of the year - graduation gowns, tassels, diplomas, parties and the end of perhaps the most eventful years of one's youth. Are you graduating from high school, college and university this year? Zinda Magazine wants to know. Send us the information requested below to Class2004@zindamagazine.com before June 12 and we will include you in our prestigious list of Zinda Magazine Annual Assyrian Graduates. We encourage the parents, friends, and relatives of this year's graduates to contact their loved ones also. We hope that your profile will also include your favorite photo from your years of study. Here's the information we need:
You certainly deserve a big celebration and what better than sharing your success with thousands of our readers in over 60 countries around the world.
Congratulations from all of us at Zinda Magazine!
The paragraph below is an excerpt from the article published in the Zinda Magazine of May 24, 2004: "Archbishop Giwargis Sliwa, the Patriarchal vicar of the Assyrian Church of the East in Iraq, spoke next. He thanked the U.N. special envoy for meeting with the Chaldo-Assyrian group, who represented various institutions. He stated that the Chaldo-Assyrians look forward to an important role for the U.N. and that it should draw the major outlines for the upcoming critical period facing Iraq. Following the Archbishops' speech, others participants were given a chance in the discussion on the importance of the guarantee to the Chaldo-Assyrians of a fair share in the upcoming government and all its agencies."
Mar Giwargis Sliwa, the Archbishop of the Assyrian Church of the East, or any other Priest, Bishop, Archbishop or Patriarch would never contemplate to apply the subjective nomenclature 'Chaldo-Assyrian' in their statements, no matter when, where, and to whom they are addressed.
Margiwargis Sliva did not address the UN Representative on behest of the 'Chaldo-Assyrians'.
Mar Giwargis Sliva used the nomenclature 'Atourai' (Assyrians) and 'Chrassiani' (Christians)-on two occasions for the first, and on one occasion on the latter, when confronted with the UN Representative in Baghdad.
It is irresponsible for the Editorial Staff of Zinda Magazine to publish such fabricated and reconstructed article, without investigating.
However, it is also despicable to advance, a political strata upon its readers, since it tends to be a journalistic rather than a political toy.
Zinda Magazine ought to have known better than painting words into the mouth of a revered servant of the Church of the East.
Just like Mr. Bush would not speak on behalf of the safety of the Communists of North Korea, inasmuch as Mr. Kim would not do likewise on behalf of the Capitalists of Wall Street, neither Margiwargis Sliva nor his counterpart the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church would sidestep their faiths on behalf of each other.
I had high regards for Zinda Magazine, and I cherished and respected it by providing some contents to be published in it for a while. I am sorry I have been associated with it at all.
Zinda Magazine proved not be affiliated with journalistic approaches, but rather with political aims.
[Zinda: The article in question carries no personal commentary or opinion by Mar Giwargis Sliva.. Zinda Magazine will continue to use the term "Chaldo-Assyrian" in relating information and events that pertain to the Syriac-speaking population in Iraq. We appreciate our readers' politically-movtived opinion on this matter and their constructive criticism in helping us improve the quality of our reporting.]
Our Expectations Are Much More!
I must say that you are doing a great job and I must commend you on your extraordinary efforts in covering all the Chaldo-Assyrian affairs around the world.
Having said that, I think that great part of your mission also is to examine any news before posting them in this respectful and important magazine we ever had. On this regard, I would like to bring your attention to the article about Mr. Lbramimi’s meeting in Baghdad with several Chaldo-Assyrians representing various institutions or, to be more precise, “political, civic, cultural, professional and vocational groups in Iraq”.
It does not say who attended this meeting in addition to His Grace Mar Gewargis, what was the context of the meeting nor the topic of the discussed issues except “to obtain their feedback and prepare for the transfer of power on 30 June 2004” and for few vague words from His Grace Mar Gewargis about ‘Chaldo-Assyrians look forward to an important role for the U.N. and that it should draw the major outlines for the upcoming critical period facing Iraq.’
I think we need to provide much more details on such important news other than Lbrahimi’s great declaration! "We are not going to kidnap Saddam Hussein from his prison and bring him back to the presidential palace."
Did this Chaldo-Assyrian group present any specific demands to the UN regarding their share in the future Iraqi government? Did they discuss any precise concerns regarding the current and future situation of the Chaldo-Assyrian people in Iraq and in North or South regions specifically?
I don’t think that such meetings are deemed fruitful or even worth mentioning without our demands for national rights and our concerns being discussed and addressed properly. We don’t have such luxury time and opportunities meeting frequently with high-ranking officials, whether from the UN or else where, and we must take full advantage of such occasions to best serve our national cause.
Typical Responses to a Challenge
Memorial Day Is Not Shaikhani Day
Shamasha Dan Daniel
"Soldier, rest! Thy warfare o'er,
~Sir Walter Scott
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in this nation's service. But most Assyrians nowadays do not know the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, and neglected. Assyrians do not know the proper flag etiquette for the day. Many think this day is for filling convention halls, and dancing Shaikhani.
To help educate and remind Assyrians of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans (that is including Assyrians) "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps." To observe this day one can take a lead from General John Logan "...gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime....let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan." --General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868
The "Memorial" in Memorial Day has been ignored by too many of us who are beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Often we do not observe the day as it should be, a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice by:
Victims of Genocide Share a Common Destiny
Bailis Yamlikha Shamun
As to dealing with Turkey, I urge caution in our approach. Regardless of past Turkish behavior, we are living in a time that is entirely unlike that of nine decades ago and under a different world order. With the trend of democratic ideals and human rights spreading throughout the globe, it behooves us to employ diplomacy. While making the point of the genocide, our objective should be to realize certain advantages diplomatically rather than confront this powerful adversary. I believe, securing the return of our people to their former lands would, in fact, be a major accomplishment. I also believe that Turkey's intentions to join the European Union and its attempts to alter its former image, should play in our favor. Indeed, there are recent indications that the Turkish authorities are leaning in that direction.
Our Duty to Debunk Those Myths
Thanks again and still more congratulations for your esteemed efforts for the promotion of Assyrianism.
I want to congratulate Ninos Isaac for his article "Assyria in the face of History" in which he refutes the unscholarly description of Assyrians in History books.
I personally endorse Ninos's opinion and wish to extend my warmest greetings.
To bring grist to his mill, I would say that I have read that a clay
tablet has been translated that shows Assyrians consideration for the
welfare of captives.
It is our duty to debunk myths about Assyrians being "cruel".
Shame on self-styled "professors" who are actually ignoramuses of Assyrian History !
Good work to help honest researchers to probe beneath the surface as Ninos and your magazine are doing.
All the other interventions are great too (especially the one about the
History of "Newroos").
Human Race Walkathon, A Smashing Success
AAS-Santa Clara Valley Chapter
The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the Assyrian Aid Society of America again participated in this year's Human Race Walkathon on Saturday May 8th at Shoreline Park in Mountain View. The Walkathon is a festive annual occasion where thousands of people run or walk to support honorable causes through charity organizations of their choice.
Due to the overwhelming response by our community this year, we had two teams with a total of 120 people registered for the 5K walk. National Semiconductor sponsored our teams again and matched the donations. Walkathon 2004 was a smashing success, it raised a total of $12,730 including the $6000 matching funds donated by National Semiconductor. Silicon Valley Volunteer Center which organizes the Human Race Walkathon takes a 25% share of the proceeds, thus the net amount raised for our chapter is $9630. This money will be used through the Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq to help displaced Assyrians return to their villages in Bet-Nahrain.
Our most heart-felt thanks to all of the people who supported us either by donating money or participating in the 5K walk. We very much appreciate your generous support. Let's do it again next year.
[Zinda: The Assyrian Aid Society of America (www.assyrianaid.org) is a tax exempt, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization · Federal ID # 94-3147517 · All contributions are tax deductible.]
Got to Say Something Right Now?
The United States and the United Nations continue their efforts to establish the foundations for what they envision as a federal, free, democratic, and pluralistic Iraq. However, there are those opinions that realize that the experiences of the last 83 years make it impossible for the various ethnic and religious groups, especially the Assyrian Christians, to live in peace in Iraq.
Assyrians and the Making of Iraq
In 1921 and as the mandated power over Iraq post World War I, Great Britain played a significant role in creating this artificial country called Iraq. Still, it was not until 1926 that Great Britain, Turkey, and Iraq agreed on the present Turkish-Iraqi frontiers. In October 1932, the extraordinary efforts of Great Britain paved the road for Iraq to enter into the League of Nations (Replaced by the United Nations after World War II) as a sovereign and independent state. However, reality on the ground was something completely different. Dodge explains that Iraq was a territory inhabited by a diverse and divided population run by a small clique of mainly Sunni politicians who could not control the country without the help of British airplanes . The British relied on certain tribal leaders and Baghdadi politicians to run Iraq while ignoring the rest of the ethnically and religiously diverse population. Many of the Baghdadi politicians were members of the fallen Ottoman military and political institutions, who were the reason behind the Assyrian massacre few years later.
The British mandatory obligations, writes Dodge, were based on Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant. The article stated that a Mandate could be terminated only when a "Community shall be able to stand alone without the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by the Mandatory" . The British failed miserably in establishing a true democratic and stable state before leaving Iraq; therefore, subsequent problems throughout the history of Iraq fall on the shoulders of the British failed policy.
Historians agree that the Assyrian national awakening verged among the Assyrians by the end of nineteenth century . It was during World War I (1914 – 1918) that the Assyrian national movement was at its peak. However, the 1933 Simmel massacre of 3000 unarmed Assyrians (including women, children, and old men) in north of Iraq by the Iraqi army and the looting of Assyrian villages by Arab and Kurdish tribes crippled this movement and forced the Assyrians into cultural and political isolation. The massacre was the work of Iraqi army with the approval of Iraq's Minister of Interior . Assyrian nationals realized that the Iraqi authorities would not hesitate to use ruthless force against innocent and unarmed civilians on any pretext.
Others argue that aside from the Simmel massacre, acts of oppression and persecution against Assyrian Christians (also known as Chaldeans, Nestorains, Jacobites, and Suryan) in Iraq were isolated cases, occurring at certain times or locations, until the coming of the Ba'ath regime in 1968.
Ba'athist Ethnic Assault on Assyrian Identity
After 1968, Ba'athis policy turned toward the repression of ethnic groups in Iraq. Three events directed at the Assyrians profoundly effected the position of the Assyrian Christians:
1. Consider the followings:
2. When these attempts, meaning pitting Assyrians against Kurds, showed signs of failure, simultaneously the Iraqi government began a carefully planned Arabization policy of the Assyrians. The government continued a zealous policy of dividing the Assyrians along denominational lines, something previous government practiced but to a much lesser degree.
3. The third threat to Assyrians rose from the ascent of the fundamental Islamic reaction in Iraq in the aftermath of the Gulf War, even among the Kurds, represented by Ansar al-Islam group. Saddam's Ba'athist regime began to institute measures to placate Muslim extremists. These measures were detrimental to secular and moderate Muslims but most damaging to Assyrians, Yezidis, and other non-Muslims.
The Effects of Ba'athist Ideology on Assyrians
The ideology of the Ba'ath regime is manifested from its two most popular mottos: a) Umma 'Arabbiyah wahidah dhat risalah khalidah (One Arab Nation with Eternal Mission), and b) wahhdah, hurriyyah, ishtirakiyyah (Union, Freedom, Socialism). In the Ba'ath ideology, there are only Arabs (whether Moslems or Christians) in the Greater united Arab region that extends from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Arabization policy articulated by the Ba'ath regime included the implementation of policies that were to slowly but surely Arabize the younger Assyrian generations. Some of these policies included, only for example, forcing Assyrian teens into Arab youth groups and into certain Ba'ath youth camps for indoctrination. Other policies included prohibiting parents from giving their newborns Assyrian names and forcing these parents to give these newborns Arab names.
The Iraqi government went on to nationalize private Assyrian schools where Syriac (Assyrian) language was taught, and in certain cases abolished the right to teach the language. Furthermore, the government tricked youngsters into talking about what their parents discussed at home, a policy that built psychological and communicational barriers between many parents and their young children. Parents became terrified to discuss political matters in front of their children at home. Last, and quite significantly, but not least, the Iraqi government began to force Christian students to attend Islamic religious classes that taught the Koran.
Despite the presence of the freedom of worship that existed during the first twenty years of the Ba'ath rule, the situation changed later. After the Gulf War and during the embargo, the Ba'ath regime became increasingly isolated, especially after the establishment of the No-Fly Zones in the north and the south. The Ba'ath regime had to find a powerful and effective denominator that will help it to gain much needed support. The Ba'ath government found the answer in the use of Islam through the following steps:
The Effect of Islam
Before I proceed, it is necessary to define the use of the two words: Moslems and Islamists. Few make the mistake of using the two words analogously; however, that is not necessarily the case. A Moslem and a Christian could live side by side, as many argue; however, it is impossible for a Christian to live in peace with an Islamist (fanatic Moslem) because of many fundamental differences and issues, which some of them are addressed in this article.
It is a well-known fact that the East has been always a spiritual place with clerics who play a major role in society. If we look around us, whether in Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, India, Pakistan, Philippines, or Indonesia, we could learn many lessons about the Islamists/Christians modern conflicts. In fact, this conflict is wider than many think; it exists in African countries as well, countries like Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, and others. Even Europe could not escape the hatred; one can never forget the atrocities committed by extremists in the Balkans under the name of Islam and Christianity.
The fundamentalists are behind this much hatred, especially when they emphasize on certain verses in the Koran to legitimize their propaganda. The Koran states in the Dinner Table chapter (5:51): "O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people." This is popularized despite being told for example that Hind, the daughter of al-Nu‛man, expressed her wish to Khalid Ibn al-Walid, a great Moslem army leader during Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia and Syria, that he protects the Christian community. He responded by saying, "This is our obligation, and our Prophet has asked us to do so" . When the Islamists argue that a Christian cannot rule over a Moslem; the essence of democracy is challenged and threatened. If a Christian cannot nominate himself/herself for a high position in the Moslem world, without living the risk of losing his/her life, the fundamentals of democracy are lost. Now that Kurdish Ansar al-Islam and the Wahabi Bin Laden's al-Qaida are inside Iraq, the future for Christians is gloomier than ever.
Other chapters in the Koran include sayings that are discomforting to Christians. The Koran, for example, denies the Christian's concept of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ. The Koran in the Women chapter (4:171) says: "O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God; far be It from His glory that He should have a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His, and Allah is sufficient for a Protector." Of course, by followers of the Book it is a reference to Christians and Jews; Allah is God; Isa is Jesus; and Marium is Mary. The Koran's general position is that Jesus was just another prophet and basically a good man. In fact, the Koran looks at the core of the Christian belief, i.e. the crucifixion of Christ and his glorious rise, as a lie. The Koran (4:157) says: "And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure."
The Islamists promote feelings that destabilize any society that include diverse ethnic and religious groups. In my opinion, nothing on paper (including a constitution) could stop the oppression and persecution of a Christian in Iraq as long as the Shari'aa is made officially "the source" or "a source" of the constitution. I believe that liberal interpretation of the Shari'aa enjoys far more acceptance among moderate Moslems than that of the Islamists' dovish interpretations. This becomes extremely crucial when interpretations of certain somehow vague Surah or Surat (chapter in the Koran) or Hadith (narrative relating deeds and utterance of Mohammed and his companions) are left in the hands of fundamentalists to interpret the way they see suitable without strong or loud opposition. There is potential for great danger represented in any cleric who could cause chaos, destruction, and wholesale massacre with one simple fatwa (religious edict).
In Iraq and Afghanistan, the Islamists would not hesitate to cause damage to their own mosques and use propaganda to blame the "Christians" (represented here in the United States) in order to arouse passion and hatred against both the helpless indigenous Christian population and the occupying "Christian Crusaders." The hatred mounts despite the fact that the indigenous Christian population in Iraq is more Iraqi than it is American. Many Iraqis look up to America because of its laws of personal liberty, justice, and freedom that are offered to all its citizens. The April 27, 2001 issue of the Detroit News (www.DetNews.com) reported about the largest and most comprehensive survey of mosques in America that was released at the time. "The Mosque in America: A National Project" had reported that there were 1,209 mosques in America in 2001. Additionally, the Constitution of the United States does not declare Christianity as its official religion. Still, Islamists will refer to the United States as the "devil state."
Despite the fact that Article (7-A) of the Iraqi Fundamental Law grants the freedom of religion to non-Moslems; however, that same article declares Islam as the official religion of Iraq. Therefore, the law allows certain rights for Christians to exist, however, they are never equal to the rights of Moslems. Christians therefore will remain as second-class citizens with reduced legal rights that are subject to the Islamic State and the interpretation of certain individuals of the Shari'aa. The loophole in the Iraqi Fundamental Law is in article (7-A), where it states that Islam is "a source" of drafting legislations. It did not need to say that it was "the source," because Islamists could always argue based on certain specific interpretation of the Koran to win their arguments about any unfair issue that could be raised by Christians. This in itself defines the limits of the Christians' religious freedoms very strictly, including for example building of churches; ringing the churches' bells; or as simple matters as related to women's dress. This is possible because article (7-A) is clear that: "No law that contradicts the universally agreed tenets of Islam … may be enacted during the transitional period." It is obvious that there are fundamental issues in Islam that contradict with Christianity. If that is the case, how can Christians of the Middle East, the Cradle of Christianity, survive under such provisions?
Government's policies in connection with construction of sanctuaries that belong to different religions are unfair in many countries. This includes necessary permits and government grants or assistance to erect mosques and churches. This unfair practice is very old and a simple look at one set of data explains it all. According to Ottoman documents, there were 32 mosques and 13 churches in Mosul's urban area during 1892-1893. By 1894-1895, the mosques have increased by 97 to 129, meanwhile the churches increased by only 4 to 17 . This happened despite the fact that the Christian population in Mosul region was still significant in the latter parts of the nineteenth century.
We have many warning signs for the rise of Islamists threat in Iraq:
Many Moslem countries today continue to impose heavy penalties and fines on top of prison terms for proselytizing a Moslem to another religion. In fact, repudiation of Islam is considered a crime worthy of death, whereas the Moslem has the right to proselytize Christians. The Koran states in the Family of the Imran chapter (3:118): "O you who believe! do not take for intimate friends from among others than your own people; they do not fall short of inflicting loss upon you; they love what distresses you; vehement hatred has already appeared from out of their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater still; indeed, We have made the communications clear to you, if you will understand." This scares many Christians who have to live, or are living, among Moslems (Muslims).
To understand the fears of Christians from living in an official Islamic state, we must understand a very important principle of Islamists, which is Jihad (holy war against non-Moslems). The aim of jihad, writes Ye'or, is to subjugate the peoples of the world to the law of Allah, decreed by his prophet Muhammad. Mankind is divided into two groups, Muslims and non-Muslims. The former compose the Islamic community, the umma, who own the territories of the dar al-Islam governed by Islamic law. Non-Muslims are harbis, inhabitants of the dar al-harb, the lands of war, so called because they are destined to come under Islamic jurisdiction, either by war (harb), or by the conversion of their inhabitants. According to the jurisconsult Ibn Taimiya (fourteenth century), the property of non-Muslims must revert legitimately to the sole followers of the true religion (Islam) . The message is clear.
Despite the call of the Koran to protect the People of the Book (meaning Christians and Jews), still, there are realities of life in many Middle East and other countries in Asia and Africa. It is almost impossible to change 1300 years laws and practices by simply issuing passive constitutions that sound impressive on paper. The state has to set example by issuing strict and unbiased penal codes in its laws and implement such laws against all those who transgress on the liberties of others. This seldom happens in the Moslem world, as Christians and Moslems are not treated equally in courts of law. Furthermore, the testimony of a Christian is never considered in the same level to that of a Moslem. If a court case came down to the word of a Christian against that of a Moslem, chances are the Christian will lose. Indeed, many countries in the Moslem world promise personal rights, almost a copycat of those granted under the constitution of the United States. However, how many countries prepare the healthy atmosphere to allow people to practice those rights freely and without fear? Words on paper cannot change the mentality of people. Iraq needs time; at least two generations to rehabilitate the society that has been brain washed, if, that is, all conditions on the ground were accommodating. Meanwhile, Assyrian Christians cannot sit idle, an easy prey for the fundamentalists' frame of mind.
Assyrian National Perspective in Twentieth Century
During World War I and the ensuing years, Ottoman Turkey massacred some 2,500,000 of its Christian population (1,500,000 Armenians; 750,000 Assyrians; and 300,000 Greeks) and committed the first genocide of twentieth century. The members of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in their October 1911 Congress had already defined their policy towards the Assyrians, Armenians, and Greeks. According to renowned historian Arnold Toynbee, the congress declared:
When the Kingdom of Iraq was established in 1921, many of its government officials were of Turkish and Kurdish background. On top of that, many of these officials were previously employed in the Ottoman Turkish civil and military services. These same officials took part in the Christian genocide in Turkey during and after WWI. The massacre of Assyrians in Iraq in 1933 was therefore coming; it was only a matter of time. These officials, and subsequent officials, continued practicing earlier policies by attempting to Arabize, Turkify, and Kurdify the Assyrian population. Some world leaders and international groups envisioned this reality. They lobbied throughout the first quarter of the twentieth century for the Assyrian cause and a small Assyrian administrative region: The "Assyrian Triangle" or "Little Assyria" (defined as the triangular region with the following boundaries: the Tigris River to the west; Upper Zab River to the East; and the Iraqi-Turkish borders to the north).
The settlement of Assyrians in a homogenous enclave has been an unresolved issue since the conclusion of World War I; meanwhile the promise itself of the Allied Forces predates the state of Iraq. Nisan writes that in 1918, the Anglo-French Declaration referred to indigenous government for the Assyrians as part of postwar principles of settlement . The official United States government report by the Inter-allied Commission on Mandates in Turkey, American Section, also known as the King-Crane Commission Report, issued August 28, 1919, guaranteed special considerations not only for Kurds but for Assyrians as well .
The Assyrians threw in their lot with the Allied Forces during WWI. Later, Great Britain, a significant member of the Allied Forces, represented the mandatory power over Iraq. The Assyrians took this step because they were given guarantees for future safeguarding. One of these assurances is quoted by Sir Henry Dobbs, His Britannic Majesty's Government representative in Iraq or High Commissioner (1923 – 1929) at the time of the Iraqi-Turkish frontier dispute and Assyrian settlement were being negotiated. According to Gertrude Bell, who had great influence in the shaping of present Iraq, Dobbs had stated that in order to assure the Assyrians their future, assurances were to be made by Iraqi government. Dobbs added that these assurances were present as two successive Iraqi cabinets (of Ja'far Pasha and Yasin Pasha) officially pledged to provide lands for Assyrians and to establish a system of administration for them that will ensure their utmost possible freedom from interference .
"Since the disputed territory will in any case be under the sovereignty of a Moslem State, it is essential in order to satisfy the aspirations of the minorities—notably the Christians, but also the Jews and Yezidis—that measures should be taken for their protection. It is not within our competence to enumerate all the conditions which would have to be imposed on the Sovereign State for the protection of these minorities. We feel it our duty, however, to point out that the Assyrians should be guaranteed the re-establishment of the ancient privileges which they possessed in practice, if not officially, before the war. Whichever may be the Sovereign State, it ought to grant these Assyrians a certain local autonomy, recognizing their right to appoint their own officials …" 
These recommendations were ignored because Great Britain did not want to disturb its relations with the Arabs and the new Iraq Kingdom. It sacrificed the Assyrian Christians for its own oil interests in Iraq. The Assyrians, meanwhile, and despite betrayal by the British and massacre by the Iraqi Army, remained loyalists to the legitimate Iraqi throne. In April and May 1941, during World War II, it was the predominantly Assyrian Levy force in Habbaniya (west of Baghdad) that saved Iraq from falling into the hands of Nazi Germany . History has taught us that no matter how hard the Assyrians tried; how loyal they remain; and how peaceful and law abiding they behave in their ancestral lands in the Middle East, they will always be oppressed and persecuted simply because they are ethnically and religiously different from those around them.
Therefore, if the United Nations was to be involved in Iraq, it must finds the ways and means to protect the helpless and smaller religious and ethnic groups in Iraq, like the Assyrian and Armenian Christians, Yezidis, and Mandeans, until that time arrives when Iraqis prove worthy to rule themselves under a fair and just law. The United States must not leave Iraq before securing the future of these non-Moslem indigenous groups and minorities. The United States must not repeat the 1932 mistake of the British as the latter helped Iraq enter the League as a sovereign state without securing the future of the already troubled Assyrians. It took only months after Iraq became completely independent and member of the League of Nations when the 1933 Assyrian massacres, wholesale looting, and lost of Assyrian lands and villages took place. It is outrageous to realize today that it was a matter of expenditures and economical pressure on Her Majesty's government that the British sacrificed the fate of the Assyrian race in Iraq. Dodge hopes that Ambassador Paul Bremer would not succumb to the temptations of cutting corners in Iraq while facing congressional worries about expenditure and public concerns about casualties .
Assyrians have survived constant and unremitting attacks on their very existence in Iraq, from the beginning of the establishment of the state in 1921. The pressure increased after the power seizure by the Ba'athist regime in 1968. Nor do the years of surviving in a state of intimidation and coercion in northern Iraq persuade most that a Kurdish government in its initial stages of formation would have the experience, foresight or respect for the rights of anyone who does not proclaim himself or herself 100 percent Kurdish . For many Assyrians the record of the past twenty years (or perhaps going back to the murder of Assyrian freedom fighter Margaret George on April 26, 1969) of trying to work with Kurds has shown amply that the immaturity of the Kurdish polity is such that, unchecked by international standards, it would be incapable of treating Assyrians fairly.
There are big problems facing the Christians in Iraq. The indigenous Assyrian Christians have no chance to survive in Iraq under a constitution that declares Islam as the official religion of the State and the Shari'aa as a source for its laws. They have no chance to survive in a country ruled with the influence of Islamists, pan-Arabs, and Kurdish separatists' dreams. The Assyrians cannot survive under a constitution that suggests that Iraq is made of two "major" ethnic groups Arabs and Kurds in addition to other "minor" ethnic groups like Assyrians (Chaldo-Assyrians) and Turkomen. All ethnic groups of Iraq must be treated equal.
The indigenous Assyrian Christians must be granted safe haven within a federal Iraqi state, in which they can administer themselves and live in peace as proud Iraqi citizens. Kurds should not be the only favorite group to have the privilege of self rule in Arbil, Sulaymania, and Dohuk. Assyrians too must enjoy that special consideration in the Nineveh plain (Mosul region, in north of Iraq), the holy land of their forefathers, Assyria.
 Dodge, Toby. Inventing Iraq: The Failure of Nation Building and a History Denied. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. P. 31.
I am Tiglath-Ramsin, and here in the chambers of the palace at Harran, we sit in wait of word from Nineveh of the developments after the takeover by the enemy forces. We have sent missions to all of the major world leaders to see where they stand whether they are with us or against us, as we try to recapture Nineveh. The initial reports are grim. Only Egypt, the Phoenicians, and the barbarian Scythians wish to stand with us. Our army is scattered. It’s no surprise that there was little loyalty left in the ranks. A thousand years ago, maybe even 500 years, ago, the Assyrian military consisted of the pureblooded Assyrians who were ferocious and fearless, who loved God, King, and County. But Assyria had grown into a huge empire, and the army had changed along with it. The Royal Assyrian Army was now a combination of international conscripts and volunteers from all parts of the world. By the time of Ashurbanipal’s death – may Assur rest his soul – the soldiers cared not for the nation but only for their salaries and their safety. Ashurbanipal became so proud of the size of his army – it was the largest it had ever been – that he forgot to question its true prowess and its loyalty. However, as long as the soldiers’ pockets were dilled with shekels and opposing armies stayed away from our lands, this new model army could remain loyal. But when the massive unrest began in the south of the empire, the army could no longer be counted upon to deal with it. It could not respond with the requisite intensity of retribution. In fact, in every bloody battle prior to the Great Siege of Nineveh, in those epic battles where we repelled the invaders prior to Nineveh’s fall, it was the pureblood Assyrian generals and foot soldiers that fashioned all sorts of victories! In the end, as the fickle fled, and the vastness of our enemy numbers overwhelmed us.
So here we find ourselves in Harran, at the corner of our country. We are several thousand pureblood strong. These are the most fervent of Assyrians, ones who will never surrender. We are the dying lions and dying lionesses of Assyria. Wounded, even paralyzed, we will strike with our very last breath because we are God’s chosen race, the work of God’s hands and his blessed inheritance. We have a contingency plan to take back our capital city, but our leaders at this very minute develop a plan to retreat to the safest place in the world, the Hakkiar Mountains. At the very least, we will hide our royal house there for the time being. That means that the princes and princesses that retain Sargonid and pre-Sargonid blood lineage may go and live there indefinitely. Also, the Phoenicians may take some of us across to the small islands of the Lebanon Sea.
To preoccupy our time the generals, princes, and princesses have organized a large event in the Temple of the Moon. There, the royal family would present one of their ‘Winged White Horses’ from the Royal Akkadian Stable. We would each pick the story that we felt would become the greatest story to come from Assyria in generations to come. Princess Adrinanna, a favorite of the patron god of Harran, Sin, a few days ago asked us to submit our vote. The nominations were as follows:
1. The Creation of Advanced Engineering under Sennacherib.
We all voted, and Adrinanna announced the winning event, and those who had chosen the most popular event, were subsequently drawn into a raffle where the winner was to keep one of the Akkadian horses. What a prize that was – a horse that belonged to the King’s private stable was perhaps the most coveted thing in the land. What splendid creatures. Each seemed to embody thousands of years of our glorious history.
So, which event won? Well, it was the rise to power of Esarhaddon. Over 60% of the people there including myself chose this as the most inspiring story.
If there is one story that each Assyrian should know, it is how Esarhaddon became king of Assyria. Esarhaddon's rise to power is nostalgic because it is the classic story of legendary hero: a prince-regent (Esarhaddon) falls into disfavor with the king, his father, (Sennacherib) as a consequence of the slander of three wicked brothers (ArdaMulissi, AssurSumausabsi, and AssurMuballitsu). Esarhaddon, the youngest of all the brothers, is banished but returns to Assyria with his small following of fiercely loyal troops after his brothers disgracefully murder their father. Against all odds, Esarhaddon then wins the day in battle and triumphantly assumes his rightful place on the throne. This is the legend of Esarhaddon. The King himself in his royal inscriptions attests to the account of his rise to power:
King Esarhaddon says:..“I was still a youth, when at the command of Assur, Shamash, Bêl and Nabû, Ishtar of Nineveh and Ishtar of Arbela, the father who begot me [Sennacherib] ... solemnly lifted up my head and concerning my right to succession to rulership, he inquired of Shamash and Adad. A positive answer they gave him, saying: "He is your successor." He honored their weighty word and gathered together the people of Assyria ... my brothers ... before ... the gods of Assyria ... [and] he made them take solemn oath, in their name, to guard my accession to power.” But later “a firm determination fell upon my brothers and they forsook the gods and turned their deeds to violence, plotting evil. Evil words and deeds, contrary to the will of God, they perpetrated against me. They planned and conspired behind my back. Then to gain the kingship they killed Sennacherib, our own father. But Assur, and all the other patron gods – Sin, Shamash, Marduk, and Nabu, Ishtar of Nineveh and Ishtar of Arbela, looked with disfavor upon the deed of the villains … The People of Assyria who had taken an oath to God through water and oil rites to accept my crown-princeship, went to their side, and they all opposed me. But when in Armenia, I received word of their murder of my father, I dressed in my war costume, I raised the cry of lamentation, I roared like a lion, and my passion was aroused. I raised my hands in prayer to God, and I was told, “Go, Esarhaddon, do not give up. We will go by thy side and we will slay thy foes.” So I did not delay, not one day, not two. I did not even wait for my armies to gather. I did not look back. I did not harness the horses, I did not gather my battle equipment, and I did not gather provisions for my journey. I did not fear the bitter snow and cold of January, but like a swooping bird of prey, I made my way towards Nineveh. Before me in the Great Plains, all of my brothers’ mighty warriors blocked my path. But the terror of God overcame them when we met, and they became as insane men. Ishtar, queen of war and battle, stood by my side broke their bows and shattered their battle line. The soldiers on their side then spoke up shouting” Esarhaddon is our King!” They then came over to my side. They followed me like lambs, and the people of Assyria who had sworn allegiance to me as a youth, came into my presence and kissed my feet. As for the villains, my brothers they fled like cowards! At the word of Sin and Shamash, I then marched to the city, my armies scrambling over the dykes of the Tigris. In the month of March, I entered the city of Nineveh, and took my seat upon the throne of my father in safety. The south wind blew, the wind whose blowing is favorable for exercising kingship. As to those who rebelled against me, I spared their lives but I imposed upon them the harshest punishment … I destroyed their ability to create offspring. I am Esarhaddon, I am King of Assyria, king of the universe, mighty warrior. I am the Son of Sennacherib, grandson of Sargon, a Creature of Assur, and the object of Queen Ishtar’s affection. I am the great restorer of Babylon. I have no rival in the world.
So spoke Esarhaddon. His was the greatest story ever told. As to the Winged Akkadian Horse, well I didn’t win that prize. The lucky winner was a priestess from the Temple of Ishtar at Arbela, NinervaSharishta. Lucky woman, and she cannot even ride a horse, let alone this winged animal of the heavens! Perhaps I will speak with her tomorrow to see if she will trade with me …
Zinda Magazine thanks the following individuals for their contribution in the preparation of this week's issue.
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