There is something in the air at this year's high school and university graduation ceremonies. One hears the usual words of wisdom from the teachers, the same kind of school band music plays on, and there are carnations and smiling parents everywhere. The energy is still pulsing, graduates are "totally pumped" and eager to take on the world. But there this year the world outside of the reception halls looks a lot more erratic, confusing, and unreachable.
We can only imagine how difficult this all may appear to the Assyrian graduates who must overcome the same challenges that their peers face in addition to the ones they encounter as non-natives, immigrants, refugees, and aliens.
Surprisingly, one look at this year's Zinda Magazine Class of 2004 Graduates List tells a very different story. If you were fortunate to attend a graduation ceremony of a loved one, you may have already noticed something quite peculiar about the Assyrian graduates. They appear much more confident and calm than their peers. Most of them already have plans for the near future and many plan to pursue greater academic accomplishments.
Let us face it: our generation has learned to blame others for our downfall, from Kurds to Christianity, the British to the Baathists; and we continue to fail to understand the reality of our existence, that we have not learned the rules of the games we wish to be engaged in: to develop from a surviving to a contributing nation, to act as a nation-state, rather than a tribal assembly, and so on. We do not respect our artists, because most of us do not understand art. We duplicate our entertainers' CDs, because we do not value the impact of music on our cultural identity. We abandon our churches, because we do not wish to confront our clergy on our inability to understand the services and even the theology of our revered religious institutions. We do the same with our political leaders, heads of our social organizations, and even our media. At the same time, we remain devoid of practical solutions, and make everyone else around us feel insecure and hopeless. But before running to the next therapy session, be informed that there exists one very vital resource among us that can effectively change the path of despair we have built for ourselves: our top high school and university graduates.
The short list of students below is an incredible reminder for all of us that the next generation of leaders can transform our sense of fear, distrust and insecurity into strength, pride and honor. This is the generation that will teach us how we can and should be the best that we can - in the West and the Middle East. This is also the generation that looks for solutions, rather than blaming this ethnicity or that historic event.
Zinda Magazine congratulates the generation of "Can Do", the solution seekers, and the embracers of the notion of peace and brotherly love among the nations of the world. The future belongs to them because they will not stand on the sidelines and evaluate the world through the eyes of a single political party, a television commentator, or even the author of this editorial. They will passionately seek varied opinions and rationally evaluate their information, and then take assertive action to achieve the impossible.
Whatever their individual paths, there is little doubt that the class of 2004 will go boldly into a confusing world that they inherit from our generation. Let us not advise them with our moribund racist, traibal, sexist, ethno-religious ideas on how to survive in the 21st century. Just let them be, to think for themselves and find the solutions on their own terms. They are already one step ahead of most of us, for they have learned to respect the rules of the game, and are learning to enjoy the game.
Zinda Magazine's Class of 2004 Assyrian Graduates
[Zinda: Be sure to re-visit this column as we will enter new names of this year's Assyrian graduates in the coming weeks.]
Syriac Christian Church & Monastery Site Flooded by Khabur River
The site is in Mesopotamia; situated Northeastern Syria near the town of
Hasake, called by its modern name of Tell Tuneinir. Early Archaeological
evidence at the site has demonstrated a strong Christian presence.
Other artifacts which most had Syriac inscriptions on them were various (domestic pottery jars) belonging to the priests, a fired brick, and Eucharist boxes. Area 9 - The Monastery, consists of a sanctuary measuring 10.5 x 8.4 meters, haikala measuring 6.2 x 4.0 meters, baptistery measuring 4.4 x 2.6 meters (W. Syriac Beth Ma'muditha; E. Syriac, Beth el Mather, literally House of giving the name), refectory measuring 9.9 x 4.4 meters (W. Syriac Beth Hsamita; E. Syriac, Beth Shametha), and a mortuary chapel measuring 5.9 x 7.3 meters (Syriac, Beth Kadeshy).
The refectory is large
enough to have accommodated approximately 30 monks; directly attached to the
refectory is the kitchen and winepress. The Christian community thrived in
the city until it's destruction by the Mongolian troops during Tamerlane's
invasion of Syria in AD 1401. Among the finest artifacts discovered at the
site are beautiful carved and decorated marble panels depicting crosses many
with Syriac Estrangelo scripts, also Painted cross fragments, pottery, clay
But the professor has
confirmed that "I trust the information on the telephone and I suspect that
our ability to work at the site has come to an end". So it seems another
chapter has ended abruptly on a great discovery, which brought back memories
of our great Assyrian church heritage that flourished in these lands. Rarely
We should of course thank the Syrian Government for allowing excavations to
take place at the site for many years. Especially when we know that the see
The Area 3 church at Tuneinir was constructed in four distinct architectural phases.
[Zinda: Similarly, a very alarming situation threatens the Assyrian churches in Turkey. According to Turkish sources in 2001, a dam is being built a dam is being built which will
completely inundate the area around the town of Qudshanis, and 9 ancient
churches belonging to the Church of the East and several `palaces/castles´ plus an old Assyrian cemetery that contains 16 gravestones. According to Mr. Paul Younan of Chicago, among these is mentioned the historic Church of Mar Shalita, the Patriarchal
seat of the Mar Shimun family which houses the tombs of several
Patriarchs. These churches are also home to many precious artifacts either within the buildings of the
churches and/or monasteries, or hidden in the general vicinity.]
(ZNDA: Baghdad) On the morning of 7 June, in the Assyrian quarters of Dora in Baghdad, a group of Assyrians waiting for their daily ride to work became victims of a drive-by shooting. Four masked gunmen, riding a 1996 Toyota, drove by and opened fire at the group. Three men and a woman were killed and many were injured whose condition at press time remains critical. There were four Assyrians among the victims whose names according to the Assyrian Democratic Movement's Information Bureau in Baghdad are:
Ramiz and Rami Muwafaq were severely injured.
Again at five O'clock in the afternoon, a group of masked and unidentified individuals riding a non-licensed red Opel, attacked and killed a group of women returning from work in the quarters of Ghadeer in Baghdad.
1. Alice Aramayis (40, mother of a boy and a girl)
All victims were working for the Coalition Provisional Authority and U.S.-based companies in Baghdad.
Sargon Lazar, Kirkuk's Official Representative to the Special Committee
(ZNDA: Kirkuk) Mr. Sargon Lazar, a member of the city of Kirkuk's Council will be that city's representative at the Electoral Commission. The Commission was named last Friday. As an an independent committee it will help organise an Iraqi National Conference next month. The Conference will then coordinate the elections, due to take place by 31 January 2005 if security permits.
The National Conference will select the Iraqi Interim National Assembly (majlis watani mu'aqqat). The Electoral Commission was to comprise of all the dissolved members of the Iraqi Governing Council who were not assigned ministerial position, including the Hon. Yonadam Kanna, in addition to the different representatives from the eighteen Iraqi governorates and other notables. To date, Mr. Yonadam Kanna has not been appointed to any election-related organizing body, a move that has raised much concern among the Assyrian activities within and outside of Iraq.
During the 12 June City Council of Kirkuk meeting, presided over by Governor Abdul Rahman Mustafa, the issue of Kirkuk representation to the Electoral Commission was discussed. After long deliberation, two candidates emerged as Kirkuk's representatives: Firyad Omar, a City Council member from the Turkoman coalition and Sargon Lazar, a City Council member from the Chaldo-Assyrian coalition.
A secret ballet then took place to pick Kirkuk's official representative to the electoral commission. Mr. Sargon Lazar won by 19 votes against 15. It is unclear from the information received by Zinda Magazine the Kurdish and Arab Council members disinterest in running for this position.
Carina Perelli, a United Nations elections expert sent to Iraq to oversee the process, named a seven-member Independent Electoral Commission and a chief elections officer who will lay the groundwork for the ballot over the coming seven months. The eight are:
Mr. Mohammed Allami was appointed as the Chief Election Officer. No Chaldo-Assyrian person was appointed to the IEC.
The Independent Electoral Commission was named three days after the appointment of an interim Iraqi government, drawn up in collaboration with the United Nations and Washington, which will take back sovereignty from U.S.-led authorities on June 30.
U.S. authorities have assigned $260 million to organise the elections.
Following a popular European model, Iraq's elections will be held on the basis of proportional representation, a method that favors small parties and should make the ballot more inclusive.
Parties will be able to present a list of candidates, as few as 12 or as many as 275 -- the number of national assembly seats to be filled via the poll -- and seats will be assigned on the basis of the number of votes received, going down the list.
Perelli said that looking at Iraq's population of around 26 million and normal voter participation, a party or person would have to win some 26-27,000 votes to earn a seat in the assembly.
As well as political parties, special interest groups will be allowed to present lists, or candidates can run on an individual ticket. To stand for election, a candidate must file a 500-signature petition with the electoral commission.
On any list, every third name must be a woman to ensure that at least 25 percent of seats in the assembly go to women, a stipulation made in Iraq's interim constitution, agreed earlier this year.
Voter rolls have yet to be drawn up, but Perelli said the commission would build them by auditing Iraq's ration-card system, a comprehensive database used to distribute food while Iraq was under sanctions.
Troops from the 150,000-strong U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi security forces will provide security for the poll, a huge task as up to 30,000 voting stations will have to be set up to enable everyone to vote.
The U.N. has named Carlos Valenzuela, a former U.N. chief elections officer in East Timor, as its adviser to Iraq's electoral commission over the coming seven months.
Photo by Tina Hager for the Associated Press
The United States First lady Laura Bush, center rear, was the host to a roundtable discussion on global women's issues at the G8 Summit on Sea Island, Georgia., last Wednesday. Pictured clockwise are Laura Bush, Dr. Habiba Sarabi, Afghanistan's Minister of Women's Affairs; Cherie Blair, wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Dalia Qahraman Kaikhasraw, Iraqi Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Paula Dobriansky, America's Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Paula Nirschel, of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women, Bernadette Chirac, wife of French President Jacques Chirac, and Ms. Pascale Ishoo Warda (sitting on Mrs Bush's right hand side), Iraq 's new Minister of Displacement and Migration.
Ms. Warda is the only Chaldo-Assyrian member of the new interim Iraqi government.
Born to an Assyrian family affiliated with the Chaldean Catholic Church in Duhok - Dawidya in 1961, Pascale Warda (aka Suriya Isho) has quickly become one of the best known Iraqi women in opposition to Saddam Hussein. Ms. Warda received her early education in her hometown. In France she received the Diplôme d'Etudes Approfondies (equivalent to a Masters Degree in the U.S.) in the Human Rights Studies at the Catholic University of Lyon.
She taught Assyrian and cathecism, worked to settle refugees, and worked as an interpreter for those seeking asylum in France, while maintaining close ties with events in Northern Iraq. She served as the representative of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) in France and the director of the ADM Diplomatic Relations Office in Damascus, Syria.
In 2001, she returned to Northern Iraq and began serving as the head of the Assyrian Women's Union in Iraq. Ms. Warda is also the external affairs manager for the Assyrian Aid Society.
Mrs. Warda was unable to meet Zinda Magazine's requests for an interview in Washington D.C. last week.
Fire Threatened Bet-Nahrain Cultural Center in Ceres, California
Courtesy of the Modesto Bee
It was a close call for the Assyrian Cultural Center of Bet-Nahrain in Ceres last Thursday afternoon.
A fast-moving grass fire threatened the complex on Central Avenue until Ceres Emergency Services crews got the upper hand.
Thanks to the quick work of firefighters like George Marouda, top left photo, the blaze was driven back.
In the top right photo, Assyrian Cultural Center of Bet-Nahrain President Sargon Dadesho pitches in, holding a hose for firefighters.
Dr. Habash's hurling insults and accusations and making grandiose proclamations from a very safe distance is cheap and easy, but will not get us anywhere. It is the blood, sweat and tears of those of our brothers and sisters who, unlike us, chose to stay in our Homeland and are now manning the front lines of the fight for our rights, at a great sacrifice to themselves and to their loved ones, which is advancing our national cause and creating a better future for our nation.
They need the support of capable people like Dr Habash.. Now is the time for us to go to Iraq, to join their ranks and help them do better and achieve more. Otherwise we and Dr. Habash included are no nationalist, just hypocrites who are quick to condemn, yet never willing to sacrifice for a second the comforts and luxuries of the West to serve our nation.
The Gathering at St. Mary's Started it All
We might be fooled, but we not stupid. Mar Meelis has only himself to blame. He is the one who called Assyrians in Sydney to attend a St Mary's Church gathering and asked them to provide details of their relatives who are in Jordan, Greece and else where. Didn't he know that such a gathering will result in such propaganda? Didn't he know every time one Assyrian is accepted 10 of his relatives move out of Iraq?
I blame Zinda Magazine also for not telling the truth. It was Mar meelis who called for the community to come to St Mary's Church and fill their relatives' forms. This poor community! What do you expect? This Bishop will get away with anything and everything and thanks to our media which do not feel responsible to write the facts people did not come up with propaganda if it was not his propaganda.
Please make more enquires about this, then put his statement on your magazine, and stop letting this Bishop get away with mistakes after mistakes. Let him feel and understand that this nation is not and will not be fooled by him.
I will appreciated if your magazine follow this matter and see for yourself where it did came from. Only him, no one else. So let him feel his mistake and stop once and for all every year new idea of destroying this nation and church.
Just Mention the Assyrians in Iraq
Why do you always bring up issues about Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Turkey on this site? Bring only those about Iraq. These countries hated Iraq from long time and have created problems for the Iraqis. These countries are bad, so why are you so interested in these countries. Assyrians are from Iraq only not from those
Please also talk about the Sumerians and the Akkadians and Babylonians and not just the Assyrians. Talk also about other ethnicities in Iraq and talk about the Iraqis of the south. Why you never talk about them as part of the Mesopotamians, and do not talk about these I have mentioned? Because they always create problems for the Iraqis, from the historical times they have created problems for the Iraqis.
That was a Direct Insult to All Our Women
As an Assyrian woman and as a small part of this great nation I just want to congratulate our people especially our women on the appointment of an Assyrian woman to the position of Minister of Immigration and Refugees in the newly formed cabinet in Iraq.
This is a great victory and a milestone for our people. The appointment of an Assyrian woman shows that our women are not only able to achieve the highest educational degrees - Dr. Soriya(Pascal) Ishoo has a PhD from France - but also they are deemed more qualified and capable than their male counterparts for critical leadership positions (she was selected over the other candidates for this ministry who were most probably all men).
This particular ministry contrary to what some might think is of a great significance to our people as it can help our displaced and dispersed people within the country and abroad to reclaim their properties and related rights in our homeland.
The phrase "half member" used by a so called "Assyrian nationalist" in the previous issue of Zinda to represent this Assyrian lady was a chauvinistic statement and a direct insult to all of our women and intended to degrade this achievement.
Those who are undermining these achievements or our leadership at this critical time in our history are either knowingly or unknowingly helping our enemies or in my opinion are far away from realism and are living in a dream and fantasy.
To Become Real Assyrians
Reading, Rev. Kenneth Joseph Jr's article in the last issue of Zinda broke my heart. I was sickened to read about the utter disregard for Assyrians and our religion. Why is this happening? Is it a lack of leadership; is it the separation of all the Assyrian Churches? Or is it a hatred of the Assyrians by Arabs?
Well all I am able to fathom is that we are a people that are slowly drifting towards a title, "The once mighty race of Assyrians". Our culture, religion and identity is disappearing. Yes, people argue that in America, or Australia or Sweden Assyrians are known and have a recognised culture. But I put this question to every Assyrian on the face of the Earth: "What is having a culture if we don't have one in our native homeland"?
Think about it, what are we? Who are we without our nation? How will we ever be recognised on a global scale if we aren't even respected or recognised in our own country?
We need to stop fighting with each other about petty things. If we can't live in harmony together and love thy neighbour; how will we be able to live together in an Assyrian nation?
The first step is to become real Assyrians, one Assyrian nation, one people, one church and one identity. The rest will fall into place!
I am not sure if my response to Dr. Habash will suffice your publication rules even though I think that you should not have posted his article in the first place as it violates your own rules of not posting personal attacks. I hope you can consider my reply as another view to the same topics and would truly appreciate your decision whichever you take.
Dr. Habash writes: "Yonadam Kanna showed us his true face as a Kurdish puppet and the price for this is the loss of our second struggle in advancing our cause for the Assyrian nationhood in the land of ours.”
Did we already lose this struggle?
Dr. Habash writes: "I had viewed before a video clip of Yonadam Kanna’s speech at a meeting held in the Kurdish enclave in which Yonadam Kanna’s speech was interrupted by warlord Talabani. My interpretation for that interruption by warlord Talabani was to discipline Yonadam Kanna because the latter went too far and was seriously talking about democracy, secularism and multipartyism in the coming state. Warlord Talabani after interrupting Yonadam Kanna turned round and told the audience that Yonadam Kanna is a minister and a parliamentarian in the Kurdish ‘region’. In other words he is a Kurd.”
This is really a twisted logic! He is condemned no matter he keeps silent or he speaks out!
Dr. Habash writes: ”When the body of 25 was formed to run the country many Assyrians questioned the under-representation of our people but were told that they will be fairly represented in the coming administration.”
The National assembly is yet to be elected and only then we may talk about our true representation.
Dr. Habash writes: “Yonadam Kanna’s charisma, religion and fluency in English made him liked by the body of 25 as long as he served his Islamic masters. He traveled overseas widely with others as a showcase for the host countries moving from one photo opportunity to another and from one TV channel to another and from one banquet to another-a Christian working for the propagation of Islam. He duped his Assyrian people especially in the west who saw him as an embodiment of Sargon of Akkad. Even once he went so deep that he described himself as the first Assyrian Prime Minister after the fall (he meant 612BC).”
Why is Dr. Habash so offended? Mr. Yonadam Kanna is the first Assyrian to assume such official and high-ranking position. We aught to be proud of this achievement and the doors are open for any other Assyrian to improve!
Dr. Habash writes: “In Tishrin last year and to quell the Assyrian masses’ demand for a national autonomy he invented the definition of the Assyrian ‘administrative region’ in the desert of Sinjar and Tell Affar something the Kurds will not object as long as he does not touch Zakho, Sarsink, Duhok, Aqra and Arbil the area cleansed following the Kurdish insurgency in 1961.”
There is no desert in the North. Let us rule our cities and villages in those districts first and the door is open to annex other districts as democracy prevail.
Dr. Habash writes: “Recently he was among the body of 25 who agreed for a new Islamic flag for the nation-the first flag ever to symbolise Islam. This happened when we have representation (Yonadam Kanna) but did not happen before when we did not have representation.”
Even though this is a false statement because that flag was never officially announced. Yet one may ask you, what are the current Iraqi flag symbols?
Dr. Habash writes: “All the world waited for the shape of the new interim administration and the Assyrians had high hopes of better representation following what was leaked to them but we ended worse than before without representation at all.”
Another false statement, because we have one minister in the government and Mr. Yonadam Kanna is a member in the (65) committee.
Dr. Habash writes: “Following different sources the new administration in Baghdad have 34-36 members ie from porter to the Head of the Department but only one Christian woman appears as a member of this cabinet. The Kurds include her among the Kurdish list.”
That is another false statement. She is Assyrian from ADM and the Kurds are free to say what they wish. Neither what the Kurds say nor your false statements will change the facts.
Dr. Habash writes: “In Christianity, the true faith, the male and female are equal (Galatians 3) but as the state is embarked to become a Muslim state so this means that the female is a half of the male and accordingly the Christians have a half member representation. Forget if it is a Christian or ‘Kurdistani Christian’.”
This is another stupid interpretation of the women representation and Dr. Habash should have thought twice before posting such rubbish because it applies to all the women who are members in the cabinet.
Dr. Habash writes: “Where is the fruit of the hard struggle of the last decades and how can we accept to be deprived from the gain the most have gained?”
If Dr. Habash is talking about his struggle, then he should ask himself and if he is talking about others then leave that to them.
Dr. Habash writes: “As an Assyrian nationalist concerned with the matters of my nation I ask Yonadam Kanna to resign or at least to cease to be the Assyrian representative. In this regard I also blame all the other Assyrian parties for achieving nothing and the remaining Assyrian organisations which aided and collaborated with Yonadam Kanna.”
So, who is going to replace him if all these were supporting him?
Dr. Habash writes: ”I condemn the followers of Chaldeanism (as nationality) and the newly made brand of Syriacism. All these contributed to our downfall and the very well advance of our enemy.”
Did Dr. Habash miss any one else or may be he should also condemn the Armenians, Turks, Arabs, Kurds, Americans, etc… for not working on his agenda?
Finally, I have one advise to Dr. Habash, and he is totally free to ignore. He cannot reach his goals from any discussion by cursing people and posting such disrespectful articles. There are much more civilized ways to address his disagreements and if he is angry of something or if he disagrees on some issues he can convey his message so that it can be heard and your opinion be respected.
[Zinda: Several letters were submitted to our office on the acerbic tone of Dr. Habash's article posted last week in Zinda Magazine. As suggested by our reader, the inclusion of such letters and articles is contrary to the publication policies of Zinda Magazine. We also regret the statement made by the author about the role and status of the women. Zinda Magazine apologizes to our readers, in particular to the women readers of our publication for our editorial oversight.]
Edward I. Baba
...regarding Mr. Joseph Bet-Shmuel’s article called, "What Did the Armenians Do For Us?"
Well, I’ll tell you what the Armenians did for the Assyrian community. For your information, Armenians fought alongside the Assyrians against the Turks in 1915. Antranik Pasha and Sebo sided with Agha Petros against the Ottoman Empire for the same cause—the survival of Christianity. In addition, last April 24th, while you were cackling at your festival, Armenians recognized the Assyrians as part of the victims of the genocide. They permitted the Assyrians to speak out about the genocide and had them on Armenian television.
The Assyrian, Armenian, and Hellenic (Greek) genocide of 1915 was by the Turkish Government. It was not just an Armenian genocide; it was also that of the Assyrians and Greeks. April 24, 1915, is a significant date in our history because that’s when the most brutal slaying began. The importance of this date for remembrance is as immense to the Assyrians as the importance of the dates of the Final Solution for remembrance is to the Jews.
I deem that you are a very strong believer in Christianity, and this should be all the more for you to commemorate it. The reason the Turkish Government killed the Assyrians, Armenians, and Greeks was not because of racial reasons, but because of their religion. They were persecuted! Also, August 7 has nothing to do with the aforementioned genocide. August 7, 1933, was the date in which the Iraqi Government began the slaying of Assyrians.
In the issue published before the one with your annotations, an article in the Literatus section entitled, "Ashamed of What My Country Did to Assyrians" had quoted Mr. Kemal Yalcin of saying, “the Genocide was against all Christians - Assyrians, Armenians and the Greek.” Thus, it was not solely against the Armenians and concludes that ALL Christian minorities in Turkey were slaughtered viciously.
Apparently, you got the idea that Assyrians were “accepted and respected” in Turkey. I don’t know where that came from, but it sure was not according to facts. In the documentary entitled, Mar Shaleeta Metropolitan of the Ancient Church of the East (Assyrian) in Turkey 1991, Mar Shaleeta works alongside the United Nations in order to negotiate terms with Turkey. They were accepted, but they were not respected. 5,000 Assyrians were left hungry in small tents. It was not until Mar Shaleeta’s presence and talks with the Turkish Government that they moved into small apartments in a building. The UN and Mar Shaleeta worked together to get the Turkish Government to approve of the move into housing.
Regarding Turkey and the EU, the EU has legitimate reasons to block Turkey from entering because of its various violations. First off, Turkey has political issues that it must deal with immediately. Second, they have economical problems that are continuously skyrocketing. Third, Turkey keeps adding more to their vast history of social and humanitarian violations. Let us forget about the economical issues facing Turkey, which I must say are horrible after seeing that one American dollar (USD) is worth 1,568,616 Turkish Lira (TRL), and let us begin to review Turkey’s political, social, and humanitarian problems.
Turkey is currently violating the basic freedoms of press, assembly, and religion as well as expression. In regards to humanitarian and social issues, Turkey has colossal problems with torture, minority rights, and repression of certain rights, specifically expression and religion. People within the EU and those outside of it are aware of these happenings, including the Human Rights Watch. The Human Rights Watch stated, “restrictions on...free expression remain[s]…[and] torture and ill-treatment remain[s] widespread in police stations” in the 2003 World Report. The report also stated that there are laws that inhibit freedom of expression and Turkish “courts still imprisoned those who insulted state institutions or addressed sensitive questions”, for example, Kurdish rights.
So, why should Assyrians go to Turkey and not Iraq? I mean, yes, it was a part of our country; however, Iraq is the vital constituent of our nation in order to preserve our culture.
Also, Turks NEVER assisted Assyrians in anything! Remember in 1991, when Assyrians were trying to flee from Turkey through the sea to Greece and how 21 Assyrian citizens drowned because of the misleading information by a Turkish boatman? What happened was that the boatman stated that his minuscule boat was made for the maximum occupancy of over 21 people, but the boat sunk in the middle of the sea because of the weight. He stated that he would not steer the boat and handed it to the Assyrians. Is that considered assistance?
You talk about how the Turks helped the Assyrians during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Do you really want to know who assisted the Assyrians in need in Turkey? In the abovementioned documentary, information is exposed regarding the assistance of Assyrians. Its name should say it all.
I would now like to address your annotation of “The festival started by praying and honoring all the Assyrian Martyrs.” That’s like having Lollapalooza on Memorial Day. I mean, come on, that’s such a contradiction.
Let me break it down for you, brother. Here it goes: Put your self in the position of those who died for you and your precious religion. Would you want your relatives partying, eating shish kabobs like there’s no tomorrow and getting totally buzzed on the day of your remembrance? Or how about this: Would you party and play some hopscotch while rocking out to “I feel good” by James Brown on the day that a member of the immediate family passed only to help you subsist and prosper? If so, that’s pretty sad.
So are you telling me that all the events done by the church just so happen to be on the same days of events for the Assyrian club? It was just a miraculous coincidence or a sign from God that wants to cease all Assyrian club activities, thus, making Him prejudiced?
You’ve got to realize that church is not all that it’s set out to be. It’s like 3-day-old milk left on a counter while it’s reeking and pouring it into your Fruit Loops, then acting like nothing’s wrong with it. Your body is a temple for the Lord, not the church. The church is just a means of allowing people to unite under Christ’s name for a 3-hour mass and then allowing people to be free while they gossip and chit-chat about asinine subject matters that don’t even make a difference in the world. Next time you go to church, check behind the curtain, I’m sure Harry Potter is bound to pop out.
You said that our culture has been perfectly preserved by THE Church. It has? Seriously? How come I didn’t know about this? Wait, so a bishop rocking it on the love boat with a Pakistanian paper shaker and having it publicly revealed in the Chicago Tribune like a bad reality TV show is perfectly preserving our culture?
Moreover, it is not the church’s responsibility to unite the Assyrian community, but its responsibility is to unite everyone, no matter what their ethnicity may be, in the name of Christ. The unity of the Assyrian community is a task for the association, so why are they jacking all the events like it’s a five-finger discount?
[Zinda: According to the Radio Free Europe last week, the Armenian parliament ratified on 8 June an intergovernmental agreement with Kuwait signed in February that regulates the status of Armenian servicemen in Kuwait en route for service with the international peacekeeping force in Iraq. Armenia plans to send up to 50 doctors, de-mining experts, and drivers to Iraq, but Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant General Artur Aghabekian told Noyan Tapan on 19 May that no date for their departure has been set.]
The Assyrian Syriac scholar at Leiden University, Ms. Naures Atto, will be performing this Friday as a voice soloist at Ron Ford's Salome's Fast in Paris.
Salome Fast, for small ensemble and reciting voice, premiered in Amsterdam in 1996. The music is composed by Ron Ford. It is an interpretation of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's libretto for Richard Strauss's opera, Salome, with Aramaic text aken from the Bible – and with Salome as the work's narrator.
The short work is fast-paced and includes a virtuosic percussion part for vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, two roto-toms, and güiro. The reciting voice is amplified and, with loudspeakers placed near the performer, becomes gradually distorted. When the work premiered at the Concertgebouw's Klein Zaal in 1999, Der Telegraaf wrote that Salome Fast is a "virtuoso piece which carries an excitingly direct musical charge". The character of Salome "is embodied in rapid figures, while John the Baptist, her opposite role in the opera, holds his own with resounding wind chorales." Salome begins her narration halfway through Ford's piece and by the end has "become a screaming witch who succumbs in a theatrical percussive explosion."
Miss Naures Atto was born in Tur Abdin, southeastern Turkey. She has been involved with Salome Fast because of both her interest for the artistic field and her knowledge of the Syriac language (classical Aramaic), which is her mother tongue. In the Syriac churches, the liturgy both in the homelands and in diaspora is in Syriac. Besides, it is taught and used for research at several universiteis worldwide. The language that is used in daily life in the Suryoyo/Assyrian community is called Turoyo, which is a dialect of the Syriac language. Naures Atto taught Syriac to a group of children for about one year, and sung several years in the Syrian Orthodox church choir of Mor Ephrem. She is proud in being able to perform the text of Ron Ford's composition in syriac (classical Aramaic). Naures Atto studied Human Resource Management and Culture, Organization and Management at the Free University in Amsterdam. In 1999 she joined Isis Transcultural Leadership as researcher and consultant. Today, Ms. Atto is a PhD student at the Syriac Christianity Program at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Ms. Atto is also a valuable contributor on the cultural and scholarly news and information from the Assyrian communities in Europe to the pages of Zinda Magazine.
Program:------------------------------- Friday, 18 June 2004
-------------------------------------------------Ensemble Intercontemporain, Synergy Vocals
Cité de la musique 221, avenue Jean-jaurès 75019 PARIS
10th Annual Graduation Ceremony (2003-2004)
Under the edict of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, the Mootwa Executive Committee of Illinois is hosting a Students’ Graduation Ceremony. This year’s theme is “Today’s Graduates, Tomorrows Leaders”.
On this occasion, Assyrian graduates from high schools, colleges, and universities are honored in a special event to receive the blessings of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV. In the last nine years, hundreds of graduates have participated in this ceremony and the number has increased year after year
The ceremony will be held in Chicago, Illinois on June 27th, 2004, at the Hanging Gardens Banquet Hall, located on 8301 Belmont Avenue in River Grove. The underlying purpose of the ceremony is to embrace and encourage the young generation in our community to learn about their faith, language and culture. In fact, since its inception in 1995 under the patronage of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, the annual graduation ceremony has functioned as a way to acknowledge our youth’s academic achievements and encourage their educational aspirations while nurturing their sense of cultural and religious awareness.
This year, we are pleased to extend an invitation to all our graduates across the nation. Therefore, if there are graduates within your area who are interested in being honored at the ceremony are required to call 847-322-7770 or 773-275-2688 and speak with Miss Angel Kindo, Chairwoman Students’ Graduation Ceremony, or Mrs. Mary Yonan: 773-463-7920, Mr. Misha Talya: 847-903-4506, or Mr. Ramsen Kasha: 847-373-9186. on or before June 22nd, 2004. They will provide them with all the information needed.
We sincerely hope all our beloved Assyrian graduates will be able to join us for this unique event, which will be commemorated by His Holiness’ blessings and gifts.
Assyrian Language Class in Turlock
It is with great pleasure I inform you that the Assyrian community of Stanislaus County, California, USA, through the Assyrian National Council of
The ANCS encourages the Assyrian high school and university student population to take advantage of this opportunity to take for credit the Assyrian
Should you wish to communicate with the ANCS for information on this or other subjects, please contact us at the following address:
Assyrian National Council of Stanislaus (ANCS)
Assyrian National Council of Stanislaus (ANCS)
The Assyrian National Council of Stanislaus (ANCS) County in California, USA, is comprised of representatives from various local Assyrian organizations. It aims to serve the needs of the Assyrian community in the areas of Elderly Care, Immigration and Education.
The ANCS is a non-profit 501c3 corporation registered in the State of California, USA. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by the U.S. tax law and the IRS regulations.
[Zinda: The ANCS opened doors to its new office in Turlock on Sunday, 13 June. The office is located on the 2nd floor of the office strip located between the
The Ever-Popular AACF Website
The Association of the Assyro-Chaldeans of France launched its website more than two years ago in April 2002. This website, the webmaster of which is Ziver Em, has a huge success. About 150,000 visits in two years with peaks of consultation reaching 116 simultaneous visitors, what makes it one of the best Assyro-Chaldean sites in audience and in contents after Zinda Magazine.
The website, which is divided into three columns, (Association of the Assyro-Chaldeans of France, Assyro-Chaldean Youth and Assyro-Chaldean Voice) includes a discussion forum which allows the visitors to discuss on general subjects, as well as concerning the life of the community in France, in Turkey, in Iraq or in the world. A live dialogue permits them to exchange their points of view. The messaging, which it is possible to join, allows the accustomed Internet users to send messages or to keep informed about new information. If you enjoy the site, you can leave a message of sympathy in the visitor’s book.
The third version of the website of the Association of the Assyro-Chaldeans of France, which has been enriched and increased, is henceforth on-line. It is an improved version (both at the graphic level and the aesthetics), which allows the visitors to reach new features, new services.The readers of Zinda Magazine will be very satisfied, we hope for it, to see hundreds of audio archives, dozens videos and thousand photos.
Here is a brief outline of what you will find in the three columns of this new version put at your disposal:
The Association of the Assyro-Chaldeans of France : in this column, you will know everything about this association funded in 1988 and which has been in the service of the community of France for more than 15 years.Various articles will permit you to know the legal and administrative statutes of the AACF, its board of directors, its organization chart and its staff. An article very rich in contents presents the Assyro-Chaldean people and the exodus towards France. Besides, in this column, you will find a bibliography with about five hundred titles concerning the history and the identity of the Assyro-Chaldeans in several languages and historic and political articles about our people published in the Hammurabi review.The menus at the top present the various activities of the AACF as well as the project of the Assyro-Chaldean sociocultural centre, which will open its doors at the beginning of the new year of 6755 (see our article on the laying of first stone).
The Assyro-Chaldean Youth : it is the column of the youth association founded in 1996. Articles listed in this column concern the legal and administrative statutes of the JAC as well as its activities, its board of directors and its organization chart.It is also possible to subscribe on-line in the monthly bulletin of information of the Assyro-Chaldean Youth, Aryee d' Babel (The Lions of Babylon). The 15 numbers already appeared are available for on-line consultation in the pdf size.
The Assyro-Chaldean Voice : it is the column which contains most novelties. Except the classic listening of the weekly radio program which the readers of Zinda Magazine know well. Indeed, the Internet users can henceforth put a face on the voices they hear on the radio, go to other radios channels and Assyro-Chaldean televisions.It will notably be possible to listen to 300 archives (interviews, reports, conversations, analyses, comments, information, radio programs) which will be more and more numerous.
Except these three columns, some services are common. So, we can see Photo and Video Galleries (about 2 000 photos concerning the various activities of our association and around thirty videos - all in all, a dozen hours of visionnage - prepared by the Assyro-Chaldean Voice). Thanks to the News column, it is possible to keep posted about last news concerning the Assyro-Chaldeans.
The Internet users can download Aramaic fonts (western and oriental) and find two links (an English-speaking an French-speaking) for the on-line learning of the mother tongue of our people. Finally, hundred of links refer to other Assyro-Chaldean or historic sites. It aims at giving to the visitors the possibility of having a complete approach of the various aspects of the Assyro-Chaldean everyday life. The site is translatable in English and German. Thus make fast a tour on www.aacf.asso.fr and do not forget to leave your comments and propositions in the visitor’s book.
Got to Say Something Right Now?
Rev. Kenneth Joseph Jr.
With shock and disbelief Christians in Iraq reacted to the news that the Interim Government contained no Christians in the seven man Executive Council and only one in the Cabinet of 32 members.
What particularly got the anger of the community that according to the previous regieme numbers nearly 2.5 million out of a population of 23 million and up to 6 million worldwide was the one ministry they were given.
The position given to Ms. Pascale Isho Warda, an Assyrian Christian was the position of Minister of Displacement and Migration, known in Iraq as the `Minister of Emigration`.
For those not acquainted with the plight of all non-muslims in the Middle East where the non-muslim population has gone from nearly 18% to under 2% due to a sustained, and region wide policy of `ethnic cleansing` and the plight of the Assyrian Christians in Iraq in particular it might not mean anything. For the Assyrian Christians, though it was an act that perpetuated the twofold persecution that they continue to face - racist and religious.
As they are not Arabs, and the indigenous people of Iraq - remember Jonah and the Whale? Nineveh is Mosul and the people of Nineveh are the Assyrians!
Added to the fact that they face constant racial discrimination in spite of the fact that they are the indigenous or original people of Iraq, they face further abuse because they are Christians in a sea of moslems.
What particularly galled the Assyrian Christians was the fact that during Sadaams regieme he did all he could to force the Assyrians to leave the country - wanting to `ethnically cleanse` the country of all non-arabs and non-moslems.
The meaning to the Assyrian Christians of being given the `Ministry of Emigration` was a clear message - intended or not that they are not wanted, that they should leave - that the policy of `Ethnic Cleansing` continues.
`I am very, very angry` commented 43 year old Tarik, an Assyrian Christian from Baghdad. `We are the original people of Iraq. It is not us who should leave Iraq, it is the Arabs that have abused us for centuries that should. We are angry that they insulted us like this. We are sick and tired of being abused, taken advantage of and intimidated. We will not take it anymore! We demand our homeland in Assyria just like the Kurds and we will no longer be nice. We demand our land back.`
21 year old Anmar agreed. `Most of all I am very, very sad. It is our country. We do all we can to live in peace with the Arabs who took our land, our homes and killed 2/3 of our people. We love them because God teaches us to do so, but they constantly abuse us and this was the final abuse. To give us the ministry of Emigration is completely unacceptable. I feel like giving up, but we must demand our land and our freedom as the Americans promised. We can no longer live with the Arabs if they continue to abuse us. Like the Kurds we demand our indigenous lands in Autonomy.
26 year old Duraid, though expressed the view that is worrying many. `I have had enough. I am going to leave Iraq and move to the United States. I know I should stay, but I am getting married and want to start a family and there is no future for us in Iraq. We believe the Americans were going to make Iraq a Democracy but when the Constitution says `Islam is the official Religion of the State` and we are given only one ministry and that the Ministry of Emigration there is no longer any future for me - I am leaving.`
If that was the intent of the appointment, it worked for one young Assyrian Christians.
Efforts are being made by the Assyrian Community to set up a nationwide `Assyrian 911` to provide 24 hour emergency assistance to the suffering Assyrian Christian Community.
Unfortunately, no funds exist in current programs to support such a venture - probably the only thing that can give the community some measure of assurance that they will be protected.
43 year old Father Y (Names protected as they face direct risk), said `I just got back from handling a case where an Assyrian Christian was falsely accused by a neighbor and threatened with arrest. I got there just in time to mediate the situation with the Police.
It is this kind of daily harassment and abuse that ranges from such petty cases to actual intimidation, killing of family members and burning of homes and businesses that we see on a daily basis. We feel the only solution is twofold - a central place where we can go for help for our community and an Assyrian Autonomous Area where we, like the Kurds can be protected.
We will no longer tolerate this constant harassment and intimidation. We need our land where we can be safe - otherwise we will have no choice but to join the exodus of non-moslems from the Middle East.`
The view shifts to Congress over the next few days as the 25 Billion Dollar appropriations bill for Iraq is being considered.
One major Assyrian Christian Political Leader put it more succinctly `We can do nothing here in Iraq for ourselves. We truly fear for our lives if we speak out. The only hope for our people is if the United States demands for us a homeland like the Kurds and protection in a zone in our original homeland. If not the ethnic cleansing begun under Saddam will continue and we will all be decimated either through death or emigration.`
One week ago Christians throughout the world declared a `Day of Prayer For the Christians of Iraq` and various efforts are ongoing on Capitol Hill and with the US Administration in Washington to attach a rider to the 25 Billion Dollar bill for Iraq demanding protection for the Christians of Iraq.
`All we can do is hope and pray that the Americans will do the right thing` said Philip, an Assyrian Christian. `If they can help us with autonomy for our area there will at least be one area in Iraq that will not descend into chaos and civil war as we all expect will happen on July 1 - The Assyrian Administrative Region, our homeland can be the one `success story` in Iraq that will be the example to the rest of the Middle East.`
Will his prayer and the prayers of the other 2.5 million Assyrian Christina's living in Iraq and the 3.5 living overseas be answered? The answer apparently lies not in Iraq but in Washington.
[Zinda: Last week, Rev. Ken Joseph who lives among the Assyrians in Baghdad, outside of the Green Zone, was forced out of his car by unidentified attackers. An Assyrian man, holding a guy, arrived at the scene and rescued Rev. Joseph, an outspoken critic of the injustice being committed against the Assyrians in Iraq.]
Iraq's Darkest Days are Yet to Come
According to the United Nations, the presence of the United States in Iraq is considered as an occupying force. Therefore, legally, any law that the United States, and as an occupying power, puts in place does not remain effective beyond the end of occupation. The only circumstance in which any such law is somehow legal is when and if the United Nations mandates or ratifies such law. The Iraqi Interim Constitution (also known as TAL) issued March 8, 2004, shall therefore be void immediately after the transfer of power to Iraqis takes place, which is planned on June 30, 2004. This materialized when the United States deliberately excluded TAL from being part of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546 at Security Council meeting 4987 on 8 June 2004.
The United States had to make a quick decision. Ayatollah al-Sistani sent a letter to the Iraqi Interim Government in which he declared that serious consequences were to take place if TAL was included in any UN resolution. On the other hand, Kurdish Hoshyar Zibari (Foreign Minister) asked the United States specifically to include TAL in the upcoming resolution. The United States accommodated al-Sistani. One might ask: Did the United States Administration lower its expectations towards democracy in Iraq by the exclusion of TAL from the Security Council resolution?
TAL and all the provisions about the guarantee of the so-called Chaldo-Assyrians' rights will be worthless in couple of weeks. Legally and as far as the United Nations is concerned, the Iraqi Interim Government could run Iraq in accordance to TAL but for publicity use only since TAL will be void for all practical purposes on July 1, 2004. Prime Minister, Ayad Alawi, did indeed declare that he will respect and follow TAL for now until national elections in January 2005 are held. However, can Assyrians for example rely on the words of any single man in a lawless country, without solid guarantees through the law of the land?
The final say is going to be the Iraqi people and the results of the national elections in January 2005. Through those elections, the Permanent Iraqi National Assembly (majlis watani Da'im) will be selected. The Permanent Iraqi National Assembly will then write the Iraqi Permanent Constitution. In a simple elections, the national assembly is going to be controlled by Shi'aa naturally since they make the majority and any elections without any special consideration to the Assyrian Christian minority will spell a disaster. The United States is not going to jeopardize its relations with the majority of Iraqis at the expense of a powerless minority when its own economical interest in Iraq is at stake. That is obvious since the United States had just turned down the demands of the powerful Kurds to include TAL in the resolution just to satisfy al-Sistani. If it turned down powerful Kurds, why would it care about powerless Assyrians? In 1932, Great Britain did the same exact thing as it helped Iraq to enter the League of Nations to satisfy the Iraqi Arab government and betrayed the Assyrians and few months later Iraqi Army massacred 3000 innocent and armless Assyrians.
A dark cloud sits on the future of the Assyrian Christians in Iraq. TAL is dead already and Iraq after January 2005 is a completely new ball game, new rules, and new constitution to be written. What if the majority of Iraqis demanded that Iraq be declared a Moslem state? What if the majority demanded that the Shari'aa be the main source of legislation in Iraq? Who would veto such demands? Democracy does not mean that the majority rules only, as some clerics in Iraq are demanding. Such limited definition is so incomplete. True democracy means that majority rules indeed, however, the minority rights are protected at the same time. This fundamental understanding seems to be alien to many powerful groups in Iraq, whether Arabs or Kurds. A disaster is in the making in Iraq, unless provisions are taken to protect the minority Assyrian Christians who are not armed and well equipped to protect themselves as the Kurds are.
Dr. Kiraz' Lecture at University of Leiden
Dr. George Kiraz of the Syriac Institute was invited by the University of Leiden to give a lecture at the Eastern Christianity Seminar. Dr. Kiraz spoke about the "Suryoye and Suryoyutho: Syriac Orthodox Identity in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries".
At the introduction Dr. Bas ter Haar Romeny said that George Kiraq discovered that the Syriac fonts which his Institute have developed, are known by different names in different countries. In the Netherlands they are called 'Aramees', which is the Dutch word for Aramaic. During another visit in Germany he noticed that his Syriac fonts are called 'Assyrer', the German word for 'Assyrian'. And in America they are defined as 'Syriac'. Surprised about these different names for the same fonts that he developed, he found the humor and the symbolism of this coming back in the general discussions about the identity of his people.
Kiraz discussed the early 20th century when our intellectuals developed a first national awareness. The names that could be mentioned here are Ashur Yosef, Naum Faiq and Dolabani. Althgouh they stressed a national idenity, they did not use designations for our people in a dichotomic way. Dr. Kiraz explained that they referred to our people by different names at the same time, such as Syriac, Assyrian, Chaldo-Assyrian and Aramaean. Although we can not conclude that these designations were used as synonyms, we could at least say that they were seen as part of their identity.
Kiraz then went on discussing what names were used by the first Suryoye immigrants that went to America. He showed how the designation 'Assyrian' was dominant in its usage and how it was challenged by other designations such as Syrian, and later on Aramaean. The main difference with the first period of the 20th century in the 'athro' (homeland) was that these designations as used in diaspora competed with each other, whereas in the past they were used and accepted as inherited names of our people.
Dr. George Kiraz will continue concluded that he will continue studying the research material he has collected on the identity expressions of our people.
Another European Parliament Member Questions Lack of Aid to Assyrians in Iraq
The fall of Saddam's regime and the construction of a democratic Iraq seemed to offer new opportunities for the fate of Iraqi Christians, particularly the Assyrians. Unfortunately, international aid seldom reaches them and there are still problems about the restitution of property and particularly of church buildings. The European Commission has recently decided that 160 million EUR can be devoted to the reconstruction of Iraq. Christian Democrat MEP Albert Jan Maat has asked the European Commission questions about the distribution of these funds.
The fall of Saddam's regime and the construction of a democratic Iraq seemed to offer new opportunities. Unfortunately, the practice is different. Albert Jan Maat: "From talks that I had with representatives of the Assyrian community in the US and in Iraq, it seemed that the danger has not disappeared. International aid is mainly distributed through regional, and therefore Muslim, leaders and seldom or never reaches the Assyrians. There are also ongoing problems about the restitution of property and, for example, of church buildings. Now that the European Union has decided to grant aid for an amount of 160 million EUR to the Iraqi people, there are new opportunities to do justice to the Christian minority. In this regard, on behalf of the European Christian Democrats I have contacted the European Commission and asked them with insistence to supervise the distribution of help.
Maat sees a second danger. In the first draft of the new constitution for Iraq, the Assyrians are not named as minority. A good reason for taking up the issue with US senator McCain as well in Europe as in the US. Its importance goes well beyond Iraq. Assyrian minorities also live in neighboring countries (Iran, Turkey, Syria, Central Asia). A recognition in Iraq can improve their situation there too. Otherwise, the exodus will go on. Nowadays, three times more Assyrian Christians already live outside Iraq than in Iraq itself. Europe and the US would better keep a more vigilant eye on Assyrian Christians. More supervision over the distribution of aid and a targeted contribution to the constitutional discussions in Iraq can bring some improvement. For the European Union as a guardian of democracy and human rights, this is a unique opportunity to replace the divisions over the Iraqi policy by supporting Iraqi Christians.
Question posed by AJ Maat to the European Commission
Could It Be That Jesus Was a Greek Born in Athens?
The peninsula off the cost of Greece ends in the ' Mount of Athos' is well known for its monasteries, about twenty of them. These monasteries, though affiliated to the Greek Orthodox Church, are practically independent. They are also places for 'Spiritual Retreat' visited by many people from different parts of the world. One such visitor, recently, was Prince Charles; I believe it wasn't his first visit. Therefore, two weeks ago all the British Media were curiously talking/writing about this so-called important News. Television and Radio Stations and also the News-Papers were conducting interviews (interviewing the "experts") in order to find out what is so special about the Mount of Athos that the Heir To The Throne, Prince Charles, finds 'Spiritually' so fascinating. Some of them were
in part relating it to the fact that his father is a Greek(Prince Phillip is Greek) and also his grandmother (presumably his paternal grandmother) had a close affinity with the Greek Orthodox Church.
Before letting my 'Assyrian blood' boil in me I reached the telephone, and asked that radio station to give me, if possible,
the telephone number of that man (the interviewee) or to supply me with his name and address, but they refused to do so.
Even there is some evidence that the philosophy and the spiritual concept of reincarnation (transmigration of
the souls) was taught by the Assyrians to the ancient Indians.
And let us remember that at that time (4500 years ago) Greeks
and Greece hardly existed----they were non-entities. Now we can see why my blood started 'to boil' when the Greek monk, on the BBC radio, began to claim 'ancient spirituality' as their monopoly just
as they have cunningly monopolized the New Testament----claiming that originally it was written in Greek; and the West sheepishly, as usual, have taken it for granted. However, there is ample evidence today (thanks to the Aramaic Primacists) that the whole New Testament was written in Leeshana Aramaya (the Aramaic language). The late Doctor George Lamsa, a most eminent Aramaic scholar of the 20th century in the Forword to one of his books says: "Most of the prominent scholars who maintained,
some years ago[this was in the 60s], that certain
portions of the four Gospels were first written in
Aramaic, now say that the whole of the New Testament was written in Aramaic. Aramaic is indeed the
key to the Scriptures and an answer to the New Testament problem." And then Lamsa goes on to say,
"Not a word of the Scriptures was written in
However, before the zealously over-ambitious Greeks indulge in their outrageously fanciful claims, they should
listen to the great scholar of Bible and Aramaic, the late George
Lamsa. He says: "Jesus and His Disciples not only could not speak
Greek, but they never heard it spoken."
In other words, the Greek language was alien to them as it was to the New Testament which they later translated (clumsily, with plenty of errors and mistranslations) from Aramaic (the language of the Assyrians) into Greek.
Assyrians Simply Hate Taxes.
I am Tiglath-Ramsin Malik, senior Akkadian scribe to Ashuruballit II, the King of Assyria, who himself is the mighty warrior, king of the four corners of the earth, beloved of the patron god, Sin of Harran.
Now, today I want to talk about taxes, and especially property taxes and tariffs. There is probably no more ghastly word to an Assyrian than the word, tax. If Assyria could be defined by one constant feature throughout its long existence as the most civilized nation to grace earth, it is the fact that most Assyrians loathe direct and burdensome, unnecessary government taxation. Nowhere is this truer than in the cities of Ashur and the city of Harran where we find ourselves today.
International Tax ‘Freedom’ – the Freedom of the Akkadians
Trade is a key attribute of any civilized society, and the Assyrians (more than any other nation of the world) have had a distinct history of promoting free trade. In our nation’s formative years international trade became an important feature of the international political economy. Assyrians prefer that their trade be tax and tariff-free. Illushuma, an early King of Ashur, was one of the very first Assyrian kings who spoke strongly against both protectionist tariffs and domestic property taxes. He is credited with having established the "freedom of the Akkadians." One of my great Malik grandfathers (who like me wrote in Akkadian on clay for kings) inscribed these words of King Illushuma:
"The freedom of the Akkadians and their children I established ... I established their freedom from the border of the marshes and Ur and Nippur, Awal, and Kismar ... as far as the City (Ashur)."
"Freedom" of course to all of us Assyrians always means 'exemption from taxation.' Illushuma unilaterally brought ‘freedom’ to business people when he established the right of Babylonia to engage in unfettered trade with Ashur. Erishum, son of Illushuma, and ruler of Ashur circa 1900 BC, went so far as to completely exempt the trading of commodities such as silver, gold, copper, tin, barley, wool, bran and chaff from taxation. Although many other nations – our Egyptian allies for example – think of this development in Assyrian history as inconsequential, we believe that the achievement of Assyria in being the standard-bearer for tax ‘freedom’ is of paramount significance. In the past, national interests have been sacrificed in deference to local biases, and world trade sacrificed to national interest. This is the scourge of free countries and free societies.
Assyrians have always fought for the ideal of freedom from taxation. Assyrians are the great capitalists. Assyrian trade occurs at an alarming rate throughout the modern world. Our Phoenician naval allies carry our trade across the great seas to the corners of the earth. With their help, we extend Assyrian civilized culture to parts unknown. Assyrian merchant colonies have settled all over the globe. In the Cappadocian region of Turkey, we have left tablets that have recorded the business activities of our retained representatives in Cappadocia. The representatives organized, amongst other things, the export of tin and textiles to Cappadocia from Ashur. We do not do this in a spirit of selflessness. Of course not! Free trade has always been in our best interest. Assyria lacks vital raw materials such as timber and metals, and so we are smart enough to realize the importance of international trade, and we’ve continued to nurture voluntary economic ties with other states throughout the years. We also realized a long time ago that when our businesses move to parts of the empire, we also extend our culture and influence there. Assyria placed great value on its trade routes throughout Mesopotamia, and consistently sought to protect those arteries of international commerce from bandits. The namesake of our current King, Ashuruballit I, for example, assured the Egyptians thousands of years ago that the Suteans, who were harrying trade between the two kings, "were taken" and "restrained."
Government Interventionism and the Taxing of Foreign Nations
Modern Assyrian kings are always keen to monitor economic developments; they value free trade and are reluctant to intervene in the domestic economy. They never institute price controls. They always try to maintain a pure free-market economy. Assyrian business contracts frequently make reference to the amount repayable to the creditor to be set at whatever happens to be "the current price in Nineveh." The Assyrian government only interferes with foreign trade when there is a serious threat to imperial security. It is also important to point out that in the interest of fairness though, the tax levied on those people is the same amount as is levied on natives of Assyria. Tiglath-Pileser III, for example, himself once famously said, "God decrees that a tribute like that of the Assyrians should we lay upon the foes of Assyria when vanquished.” An exception to this was when a serious revolt had taken place and the King wishes to make an example of the rebel city or state by imposing a particularly burdensome level of tribute.
The Great Civil War of Assyria
How important has this issue of taxation been? Well, think on this: the Great Civil War of Assyria between Shalmaneser V and Sharukkin (Sargon, Governor of Nineveh) was fought over this principle. The cities of Arbela, Nimrud, Araphka and others (that were loyal to King Shalmaneser and his tax and spend policies) stood against the tax-free cities of Ashur, Nineveh, and Harran—those bastions of Akkadian freedom. No Taxation without a Popular Vote were the words inscribed across the banner of Governor Sargon’s National Army as it routed King Shalmaneser after his shocking, and excessive taxation on the holy (tax-free) city of Ashur. The issue united a nation (led by Sargon) against their king. Sargon and his heirs would all be kings who were defined by their defense of free trade, since Sargonid kings ascended the throne of Assyria on this very issue.
I am Tiglath-Ramsin, and I ask that Shamash and Adad (the lords of the oracle) may bring good fortune to you, Assyrian friend, as you read my diaries.
The archaeological evidence, the accounts of the Assyrian kings, and the legal documents of both the First and Second Millennia BC, demonstrate that the Assyrians were neither primitive nor isolationist in their understanding of economics. Inasmuch as we today accept international trade as an essential element of life, so did they. The Assyrians were the first known proponents of an international, free market system. Their heavy emphasis on trading never stopped, and it comes as no surprise when a prophet of the Bible declares (as a reason for the ultimate fall of Assyria), "you increased your merchants more than the stars of the heavens." Looking at the economic and military activities in Assyria, it was not until the Seventh Century BC that military affairs began to supersede economic activity, although the two were always interrelated and coexistent.
The Chariot is a representation of historical facts about Assyria, presented in a likely historical context that has been created by the author.]
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