Hannibal P.Odisho, Assyrian from Califonria, was a production coordinator on the set of the highest-grossing animation film, Shrek II, released late last month.
Many things inspired me to write my thesis when the Iraq war started. One of the most important reasons was my family living in Iraq as well as the Assyrian community living in horrific conditions when Bush declared war on Iraq.
Being Assyrian myself and having parents who come from Iraq, I believed it was important to research an issue everyone questions. When the war started, my parents purchased a satellite dish because they wanted to see what the Middle East countries were reporting about the war.
As I flipped between Al-Jazeera, which had become very popular around the world, and CNN, I noticed the different stories being told. It was as though two different wars were being fought in one country. Each medium portrayed the war very differently, which caused me to do more research and to understand why each country had different versions of the war.
The Iraq war, on American television, was alternately "War in Iraq," or "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Yet, the war broadcast by the media in the Arab or Muslim world, is called, "The invasion."
There are definitely two perspectives in this war: One is the American version, the other the Middle East version.
According to my research, in the American war, the mighty but merciful allies target bombs carefully and tend to the enemy's wounded; Iraq is postponing certain defeat by cheating, killing civilians and using human shields. In the Iraqi war, the allies blow up women and children; a weak nation is steadfastly defending itself using the only effective means available.
The purpose of my study was to compare the American medium (CNN) and the Middle East medium (Al-Jazeera) during the Iraq war in two different events that occurred during the war. Through content analysis, I examined the following unit of analysis to determine the difference in the each medium: Content, length of video and length of individual segments, symbolism, political slant and violent images. The events chosen to be studied were:
• The capturing of former Iraq President Saddam Hussein.
• Prisoners of War (POW) coverage.
In order to verify these findings, transcripts and videotapes from CNN and Al-Jazeera were used to determine accuracy for each event.
The significance of this study was to look at agenda-setting hypothesis, which means that each network makes judgments about news coverage and these judgments make news values and are later portrayed to the audience, in each culture. The study shows the difference between two cultures and how the media in each culture influences people's realities of war.
Many false reports were made by the American media, and journalist Raymond Schroth in an article in the National Catholic Reporter, came up with a list of some of the false reports:
• An embedded CNN reporter said Saddam had sent out his tanks from Baghdad to attack "coalition" forces for a pivotal battle of the war. It didn't happen.
• The fall of Umm Qsar was reported six days before it fell.
• When the pictures of dead American and British prisoners appeared on Arab and American TV, the pro-war press said some of the dead had been executed. A victim's sister emphatically denied he had been executed; he had died instantly in an ambush.
"CNN doesn't tell us what to report on, they want us to use our judgment," said Kevin Sites, who is a CNN freelance correspondent in Iraq.
Sites was in Iraq last year covering the war for CNN and in the beginning of April 2004 returned to Iraq to cover parts of the war for CNN and NBC.
"Never in my career at CNN has a story been slanted politically," said Sites.
"Maybe, there has been messaging at a higher level that I don't know about. But I have never met a colleague who would slant a story."
[Zinda: Ms. Adrenna Benjamin is a Zinda Crew staff writer and recently graduated with a Master's Degree in communication from the University of the Pacific in California.]
Hannibal P. Odisho
A Zinda Magazine Special
“You need to know someone if you want to break into movies.”
“If you don’t live in L.A., you can forget about it.”
“You’ll be competing with thousands of others who want what you want…forget it kid.”
Ask any movie industry professional if they have received these words of advice and a knowing smirk will slyly appear on their face. Of course they have and more times than not it came from their parents. True, their advice is not altogether misleading, but with enough perseverance and luck, many who have dreamed of making movies have accomplished just that…despite the odds and the discouragement.
One such person is Hannibal Paul Odisho, a San Jose-raised Californian and Assyrian who dreamed of nothing more than to someday be his generation’s Steven Spielberg. Lofty? Perhaps. Naïve? Maybe. But he never stopped dreaming…nor scheming on how to break into this notoriously difficult to enter profession.
It began innocently enough. At the innocent age of 12 and with a phone in one hand and a list of the major movie studios in the other, he began to call the studios’ main numbers provided by courtesy of his local friendly operator. “Warner Bros.,” answered the front security desk. “Oh hello. Can you tell me where I can go to become a movie star…er, I mean an actor?” “Very funny kid. Now get lost before I tell your parents.” And on it went. After contacting every major studio and racking up a good-sized long-distance bill, Hannibal eventually realized that this was not the most ideal approach to breaking into the business. Besides, getting past the security guard was a monumental feat unto itself.
In time, Hannibal began to learn how the film industry operated. Starting with popular film magazines he would find at the bookstore, he then moved on to the trade publications that are widely read by every film industry professional. Through these publications and watching hundreds and hundreds of movies, Hannibal began to learn the important players in the industry. He memorized the names of producers, directors, writers, and studio heads. From there, he began to read textbooks on how to light a set, operate a camera, write a screenplay, and edit a movie.
Of course, there still remained the small problem of how does one get a job in the movies? Landing a job in the film industry is unlike most careers in that it is not as straightforward as simply getting a film degree and applying for a job. Hollywood is a small community where everyone knows each other and a wary eye is cast towards those it does not know. To a large extent, luck and who you know play a major part in getting your foot in the door. Unfortunately, luck was not on Hannibal’s side nor did he know anyone to get him in.
As a result, Hannibal decided to pursue a different career with the hopes of someday and somehow finding a way to realize his dream. In 1997, Hannibal graduated from UC Berkeley with a honors degree in political science. Soon thereafter, he enrolled in Santa Clara University’s School of Law. It was in law school that Hannibal realized that once he earned his law degree that would be it…his career decision would be made. Is this what he really wanted to do? Would he be willing to go down this path without ever having tried his hand in breaking into the film industry?
After much thought (and risking his parents never speaking to him again), Hannibal decided to drop out of law school and go for the movies. It was now or never. But there still remained the question of how…how would he get into the small and exclusive Hollywood community? He didn’t know, but there was one thing he could definitely take a part in…the Great Dot-Com Boom! Everyone was becoming into a millionaire from the seemingly endless number of dot-coms that dotted the Bay Area. Hannibal’s first job out of law school was for one such San Francisco dot-com by the name of Bigstep.com.
Life is rarely what you expect it to be. Opportunities arise from the most unlikeliest of places and for Hannibal never more so was there a better example. While working for Bigstep, Hannibal had the fortunate opportunity to meet his now best friend and future screenwriting partner. Furthermore, an employee he worked with happened to be partners with someone who happened to work for…DreamWorks Studio.
DreamWorks Studio. The privately-owned studio run by David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Hannibal’s childhood idol, Steven Spielberg. These three principal figures are among the most powerful and influential people in Hollywood. In just under a decade, DreamWorks has released such major blockbusters as Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan, American Beauty, Minority Report, and the upcoming Anchorman. Opportunity finally came knocking on Hannibal’s door and he did not hesitate to open it. In the summer of 2000, through the generous efforts of their friends, he and his friend began their employ at PDI/DreamWorks, the CG Feature Animation division of DreamWorks Studio. Pacific Data Image (PDI) was founded in 1980 and in the most recently contributed to the breakthrough special effects displayed in A.I., Minority Report, and Mission Impossible 2. In 1998, PDI’s Antz introduced the company’s visionary state-of-the-art computer-generated (CG) animation technology.
In 2001, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences approved a new Oscar category for Best Animated Feature Film. Shrek won the award. Since then, Shrek has been released to over 51 countries.
In 2003, Hannibal was promoted to the title of Production Coordinator in the Lighting and Matte Painting Departments for the CG animated blockbuster sequel, Shrek 2. In this role, Hannibal helped manage the group of lighters who were responsible for the rich photo-realistic look they gave to the film. The film is Hannibal’s first on-screen credit and it has to date become the 6th highest-grossing movie of all time.
Technically, the making of Shrek 2 has been an enormous challenge. There are over 30 unique locations, and a multitude of characters (or creatures) that had to be created in detail. There were, for example, some one thousand characters in Shrek’s swamp scene alone.
To give Shrek its rich look, the team of animators, lighters, and special effects utilized the works of the American painters, Grant Wood and N.C. Wyeth and the Impressionists. The use of warm lighting, cool shadows, and the complementary colors is what gives Shrek its unique refined reality in such unforgettable scenes as the bubbling lava surrounding the Dragon’s Lair and the mud shower scene in Shrek 2.
Currently, Hannibal has started work on DreamWorks’ next CG animated feature film, Madagascar (release date: 27 May 2005), which is scheduled for release in the summer of 2005 and features the talents of Ben Stiller and Chris Rock. In collaboration with his best friend, Hannibal is also at work on a live-action feature length screenplay and developing a number of ideas for future scripts.
Shrek 2 features the familiar cast: “the mean, green fighting machine” Oger- Shrek; his wife, Princess Fiona; Donkey, and the new recruits that include: King, Queen, Puss in Boots, Prince Charming, and the Fairy Godmother.
Enjoy Shrek 2 with your family this week and look for the rising Assyrian star, Hannibal Odisho’s name, under the Credits at the end.
[Zinda: Interestingly, another young and talented Assyrian, Mr. Kenneth Ibrahim, worked as an animator in the making of Shrek (2001) and Final Fantasy. Mr. Ibrahim was responsible for Shrek's "clothes effects" and Final Fantasy's "explosions and fires" in the animation department at PDI. Zinda Magazine will bring Mr. Ibrahim's story in a future issue.]
Courtesy of Reuters
(ZNDA: Baghdad ) Two Assyrian sisters, Janet and Shatha Audishow, working for Bechtel, were killed in a drive-by shooting last Tuesday near their home in the southern city of Basra.
Their father, Sadah Audishow, said he had been waiting at the window for his daughters to return from work when he heard gunshots and saw a white pick-up truck speeding past.
"I picked one of them up and she was dead. I went to pick up the other but found her dead too," Sadah said Wednesday, his shirt still stained with blood from the night before.
Neighbors said men in the truck had opened fire on the girls' car.
Grenade Attack on Holy Spirit Church in Mosul
(ZNDA: Mosul) On Saturday, 26 June, two unidentified persons, driving a silver Opel, throw a hand grenade into the Holy Spirit Church (al-Rooh al-Qudos) building in the Akha' quarters in Mosul. The explosion caused injury to a women who is the sister of Rev. Ragheed, the church priest. She was taken to a hospital.
On the Occasion of Transfer of Power Chaldean Patriarch Skips Assyrians
Courtesy of the AsiaNews
(ZNDA: Baghdad) “It is a day of celebration and a day that will not be easily forgotten. The government of Iraq is back in the hands of Iraqis”, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholics Mar Emmanuel Delly, told Italy's AsiaNews this week. He explained that he is pleased that the transfer of power to the provisional government of Iraq has taken place. In his message, Mor Emmanuel Delly was expected to remember the entire Christian population of Iraq, including the Chaldeans, Churches of the East, and the Syriac churches - both Catholic and Orthodox. Instead His Beatitude recalled the Chaldeans only and made reference to the smallest existing Iraqi religious group, the Zoroastrians who predominantly live in Iran: “We still need the support of the international community, the UN, and your prayers. Iraqis are one single family: Chaldeans, Shiites, Sunnis, Zoroastrians, etc. But we need you to build the peace in Iraq.” Thanking “all those who cooperated in this task,” Mar Delly added that “of all those who helped, Iraqis will never forget the Pope for what he has done for Iraq.”
Reached by telephone in Baghdad, Monsignor Delly said “We are pleased that power has been transferred to its rightful owners, that is to say to the citizens of Iraq. They want to govern themselves and are capable of doing it. We thank the Lord that this day has arrived without incidents, two days ahead of time. It is an unforgettable day . . . All Iraqis are happy. Of course, there are some who are violent and who will create difficulties, but we hope that sooner or later they will realise that all this is for the greater good of the Iraqi people. We still do not know whether the security situation will improve, but we are optimistic.
I want to thank all those who have lent a helping hand in reaching this goal, a goal that Iraqis wanted so much. We thank each and everyone for what they have done and are doing. Rebuilding a country like ours, devastated after so many years of conflict, still requires the support of all countries in the world and of the United Nations."
In the past few weeks, the failed policy cheered by the Assyrian Democratic Movement to unite the various Christian churches within the Assyrian population in Iraq under one name - Chaldo-Assyrian - has prompted a stronger recognition for the Assyrian identity in the permanent constitution of Iraq. Assyrian groups in Iraq and abroad are calling for an autonomous region similar to the Kurdish territories within a federal system of government that will protect the Christians against Moslem extremists and provide the Assyrians of all Christian factions a safe heaven.
Yet, our priority must be in rebuilding the soul and spirit of those who have suffered and suffer still. For this reason, my main thoughts are not only that we must have the material aid and the support of the world community but also that we pray that God give us the peace, serenity and security that have eluded us so far. For this, we beseech the Lord and plead with those He has touched.
I ask you to pray for Iraq and the Iraqi people. I ask you wholeheartedly that the Lord accompany us. God loves Iraq; He loves this great people since the times of Abraham. Just yesterday, we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. She helped us in the past and she will help us face our future difficulties. We hope that all the prayers in the world will help us. Of all those who helped, Iraqis will never forget the Pope and what he did for us.
I also want to thank our dear Italian friends, who are so open to the world. We need everyone’s help, including that of the military, each one with his responsibilities. The Iraqi people form one family: Chaldeans, Shiites, Sunnis, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, etc. But we need you to build the peace in Iraq. And we must not forget that peace must be brought not only to Iraq but also to the rest of the world, to Palestine, to Africa . . . We are one family, and God is our Father, and the Church is our mother."
5 Chaldo-Assyrians Appointed to Iraqi Elections Commission
Courtesy of al-Nahrain
(ZNDA: Baghdad )The names of ninety nine Iraqis, representing every major ethnicity and religious faction, who were appointed to the special Electoral Commission was released on Monday.
The Commission will organize the upcoming Iraqi National Conference in July 2004. The National Conference will then select an Iraqi Interim National Assembly.
Among the nine-nine names released there are 5 Chaldo-Assyrians representing the Assyrians and their respective City Councils. These are:
1. Mr. Yonadam Kanna (Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement
Bush Meets with Religious Leaders in Turkey, Calls Turkey a Model Democracy
Courtesy of Reuters and Zamman Newspaper
(ZNDA: Istanbul) President Bush reassured Turkey this week that it was once again a friend in good standing, despite its refusal to support American troops in the invasion of Iraq last year. He advised the members of the European Union to admit Turkey.
"We are going to work together to help make sure that NATO is configured militarily to meet the threats of the 21st century," he said before a meeting with the NATO secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
The meeting of 26 heads of state will began on Monday at a conference center in central Istanbul.
Mr. Bush also took pains to praise Turkey for building a secular democracy that could serve as an example to other predominantly Muslim nations.
Meeting with local Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders, he also described Turkey as a country that has fostered tolerance between its Islamic majority and its minority religious groups.
"They represent the very best of Turkey, which is a country that is secular in politics and strong in its faith," he said. He ended his remarks by thanking the assembled Turkish religious figures "for being so faithful to the Almighty God."
Turkey's government and its powerful military establishment had been anxiously waiting for such a resounding American endorsement after more than a year of strained relations between the two old allies.
The tensions stemmed from the Turkish Parliament's refusal to allow American troops to pass through its territory for the invasion of Iraq.
The vote was an embarrassment for the powerful Turkish military, which had been eager to take an active part in the war. It also undermined the efforts of the newly elected government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to court favor with Washington.
President Bush was said to have declared that all was forgiven.
Bush met with Turkey's head of Religious Affairs, Ali Bardakoglu; Istanbul's Mufti Mustafa Cagrici; Greek Patriarch Bartholomeos, Armenian Patriarch Meshrob Mutafyan, Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yusuf Cetin.
Greek Patriarch Bartholomeos indicated that they discussed the role of religion and Turkey's religious mosaic.
Armenian Patriarch Meshrob Mutafyan agreed that the meeting went well. He said that they talked about the place of religion in peace projects and added that Bush delivered messages of peace and dialogue.
Mutafyan disclosed that the religious leaders conveyed their concerns to Bush about the violent incidents they witness every time they turn on the television. Bush reportedly responded, "Believe me, these do not reflect our real face. Justice will deal with some of the incidents you see on television, particularly those in the prison in Baghdad."
White House National Security Adviser Condolezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and the US Ankara Ambassador Eric Edelman also attended Bush's meeting with religious leaders.
Turkey, in an effort to reconcile with its past atrocities against the Christian population, is inviting its Assyrian citizens to return to their homes in the Tur-Abdin region, that were abandoned during Turkey's skirmishes with the Kurdish groups. Assyrian nationalists in Europe and the U.S. continue to demand Turkey's recognition of its genocide of 750,000 Assyrians during World War I as a condition to being admitted into the European Union.
President Jacques Chirac of France commented on Tuesday that the President of the United States has no right telling Europe how to manage its relations with Turkey.
Courtesy of the Modesto Bee
Is Iraq ready to govern itself?
That was the question on the minds of some local immigrants from Iraq on Monday.
Shauki S. Karaman, 47, said he is both "very happy," and "worried … a lot."
"It's up to them, now, whether they want to have a really Iraqi democratic country, or whether they want to take it back 200, 300 years and make it worse than it used to be."
Karaman, a Modesto resident who works as a systems analyst, was born in northern Iraq, a member of the nation's tiny Assyrian Christian minority.
He left Iraq in 1977, but has cousins who still live there.
"This should be the turning point from dictatorship and anarchy to a democratic country where everybody is equal under the law," Karaman said.
But he is worried for his relatives. He is also concerned, he said, that the majority's resentment against the Western occupiers could spill over into resentment against the Assyrian Christian minority.
Batta Younan, who fled Iraq in 1980, is also worried.
"Iraq cannot do it by itself," said the Modesto woman, 57, who taught school in Basra, Iraq, for seven years in the 1970s. She and her husband, Andy Younan, are also Assyrian Christians.
"They cannot stand on their feet for now," Younan said of the newly appointed interim government, which took power Monday.
There is still too much violence, she said -- and "the sad thing is that it's not getting better. It's getting worse, after one year."
She fled Iraq in 1980 with her husband and daughters to escape political pressure to either join Saddam Hussein's Baath Party or be treated as disloyal, "like spies."
Andy Younan, 62, called the early transfer of power "a good step" because a
June 30 ceremony could have been a target for attacks.
He said he hoped the new Iraqi interim government would get tough on insurgents.
"The Americans, they did not do that great a job, frankly, (because) they were too nice," Younan said.
"But now, believe me, I think the government, they will put martial law,"he said.
Batta Younan said, "From the bottom of my heart, I thank America … (The U.S.-led forces) saved 24 million people from Saddam Hussein."
But she is "very concerned" about the future.
"The Iraqi people, they deserve something good, because they suffered so much for 35 years," she said.
"I wish Iraq will stay in one piece," she said, instead of fracturing along ethnic and religious lines.
"I'm happy, but I don't want America to leave," she said. "(The new Iraqi authorities) are still weak."
Tepid Response from Mideastern Groups in San Francisco Bay Area
Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle
Local Middle Eastern groups reacted cautiously yesterday to the announcement that the United States had handed sovereignty in Iraq back to the Iraqi people.
Coalition forces gave authority over the country to an interim Iraqi government Monday. But the sight of daily acts of violence in the streets and the continued presence of thousands of U.S. troops prevents many people from viewing the earlier-than-expected turnover as a major event, community leaders said.
"We don't have any plans for celebration," said Carlo Ganjeh, secretary for United States and Canada of the Assyrian Universal Alliance. "What we have is a major problem in Iraq."
There are about 2 million Assyrians living in Iraq. Many have been the victims of brutal attacks by the insurgency, in part because they are Christian, said Ganjeh and other Assyrian representatives.
Groups like the Iraqi Community Association and Al Bait Al Arabi, which both have offices in San Francisco, said they have made no plans to mark the handover.
Al Bait Al Arabi, which means the Arab House, is a grassroots organization that helps newcomers learn about living in American society and dealing with immigration issues. Word of the handover prompted no major reaction among its membership, said group spokesman Ab Hubeishi.
"Maybe the next year there will be a commemoration," said Hubeishi. "But this time I think people are just going to see what's going to happen.
Wilfred Bet-Alkhas, editor of Zinda Magazine, a weekly online journal serving the Assyrian population in and outside Iraq, said some Iraqis in the expatriate community may be feeling uncertain about how they will fit into a new power structure dominated by a civilian government.
The handover, they say, could affect things like multimillion-dollar reconstruction contracts being handled by major U.S. corporations and their Arab American subcontractors.
Iraqi exiles could also find themselves sidelined by a government whose leaders may resent their sudden presence in the country.
"There is not excitement among the Iraqi masses, among the Arab masses in the diaspora," said Bet-Alkhas, who is based in the Bay Area.
He also cited the extreme violence taking place within the country as a factor in the subdued response to the handover. Hundreds of Iraqis have been killed or wounded in suicide and car-bomb attacks in cities throughout the country in recent weeks. Kurds in the north have also had conflicts with Arabs over homes and villages sitting atop rich oil reserves.
Bet-Alkhas said minority groups like the Assyrians have been attacked by insurgents.
"This is happening on a daily basis," he said. "They see (the handover) as a game or show. They truly believe that the United States is still in charge."
A Delegation from ADO Concludes its Tour of Duty in Europe
A committee commissioned by the Assyrian Democratic Organization’s Political Bureau, headed by Mr. Bachir Saadi, chairman of the Political Bureau; and Mr. Gabriel Moshee, a Bureau member, concluded a general tour of Europe. The visit of the ADO branches and the Assyrian communities in Europe which began on 11 January 2004 included Germany, Belgium and Sweden . Regular meetings were held with various ADO committees and branches, and ADO comrades were kept informed of the political developments and changes in the homeland on all domestic and national levels. Further, the Assyrian Democratic Organization (Takasta) ’s vision concerning theses developments, as well as the programs and the Political Bureau's recent activities were reviewed. These activities came to confirm Organization’s Tenth Conference’s directives on openness and publicity.
The delegation met at the City Hall of Hengelo, the Netherlands, with the Christian Democratic Party's Parliamentary Member, Mr.Bart Von Vencin. During this meeting Comrade Bachir Saadi, outlined the objective of the delegation’s tour in Europe and highlighted the Organizations’ efforts, together with other patriotic forces, to help establish a secular democratic society that would acknowledge minorities and human rights in Syria. He further praised the relaxation of political tensions in Syria and demanded the European Union to do more in putting an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict through implementing the United Nation's resolutions. Comrade Bachir then thanked the government of Netherlands for its care for our people. Mr. Von Vencin, in turn, assured that the ADO's worries would be taken into consideration and would be passed on to competent committees in the European Parliament .
The delegation later met with the leadership of the Shooraya Party in Wiesbaden, Germany. The comrades in this meeting stressed the importance of the Chaldeo-Syriac-Assyrian Convention held in Baghdad the year before, where great number of religious and political organizations and parties from homeland and the Diaspora took part, and was considered a great national achievement. It was decided that the Conference had to be encouraged and supported. The leadership of the Shooraya Party expressed their complete readiness to support and promote the national efforts in cooperation with the basic forces and factions operating in the homeland through their participation in the general secretariat that originated from the convention.
• Interview with La Libre Belgique newspapers, one of the largest dailies in Belgium
Comrade Saadi then called for backing Syria in its bid to join the EU partnership, as this would have positive effects on the Syrian people and would consequently strengthen the stability in the region. Finally he expressed his thanks to the Leftist Party for its support concerning the issue of the Genocide perpetrated against our people by Turkey.
Mr. Longstrom confirmed that both sides shared common views concerning supporting the democratic and secular lines, recognizing the rights of the ethnic minorities, especially the rights of the Assyrian people which is one of the oldest indigenous people in the area. He further noted that his Party has constantly criticized both Turkey and Israel. The former for not calling its past to account and for its denial of the Genocide perpetrated against the Assyrian and the Armenian people, the latter for its building the protective wall and not complying with the UN resolutions, which definitely meant that Israel did not want peace. He further added that this policy was condemned to failure, as was the Apartheid in South Africa .
Concerning Iraq, he stressed the fact that greater role should be given to the UN, and that what US and Britain did was a violation of the international law . This of course did not mean that his Party supported Saddam Hussein's regime. On the contrary, it desired to strengthen the UN's role in Iraq . Concerning the presence of our people in its homeland, he noted that democracy was the guarantee for every kind of stability in the area. Nevertheless, he stressed the right of every individual to immigrate to Sweden or elsewhere, and further supported the idea of integration into the new communities, but it was important, he added, that the newcomers preserve their culture and tradition.
Meeting with Swedish-Assyrian Friendship Committee
On February 11 the delegation met with the Swedish Assyrian Friendship Committee (an independent committee) headed by the former Swedish MP from the Democratic Christian Party, Mrs. Margarita Ficklond, who warmly welcomed the ADO delegation and explained that her Committee’s activities involved humanitarian aid to the Middle East . She added that what made her side with the Assyrian people was the atrocities committed against them throughout hundreds of years, when there was no one to stand by them. Then she moved to review the programs her Committee carried out to help and support our people. Comrade Saadi thanked her for the efforts she exerted in the past and the present in the Parliament and in other international forums to support the cause of our people, especially the issue of the Genocide (Seyfo), and furthermore, confirmed the Organization’s absolute readiness to back and support her committee’s programs , and called her an honorary member of the Organization and said “we will not forget what you have done for our people, similarly we will not forget what Mr. Murad Artin and others have done.“ Comrade Bachir concluded in his statement that “contacts should continue between the Committee and the Organization and these should broaden to include all Swedish parties”.
Meeting with Representatives of Roreign Relations Committee in the Swedish Parliament from the Governing Socialist Democratic Party
On 12 February the ADO ’s delegation met in the Swedish Parliament building in Stockholm with a delegation representing the Foreign Relations Committee in the Swedish Parliament, as well as the European Parliament. The delegation consisted of Yelmas Kerimo (an Assyrian MP who arranged the meeting ), Karina Heigh, Brita Lion, and Brigit Alkefist. Following the introduction and the greetings, the Political Bureau’s chairman explained that the objective of the visit to Sweden was to become familiar with the conditions of our people in Sweden and to further strengthen ties between the homeland and Diaspora, in addition to holding political meetings with our people’s organizations as well as with the representatives of the Syrian government. Then he praised the role the Socialist Democratic Party has played in transforming Sweden to a model country in the world .
After that he proceeded to review the conditions of our people in Syria, Turkey and Iraq and talked about the Organization and its goals that aimed at obtaining recognition of the rights of the Chaldean, Assyrian and the Syriac people as indigenous people in the area, within the framework of the national unity and sovereignty of the countries they live in. Moreover, he demanded that pressure be exerted on Turkey in order to force her to recognize the Genocide she committed against our people which resulted in the killing of half of them and the displacement of the other half. As far as Iraq was concerned, he demanded that the Swedish government and the European Union show more interest in the cause of our people there to prevent the repeat of what happened in 1933. Then he expressed his belief that Sweden and the European Union could play greater role in supporting the issues of democracy and minority rights, including the rights of our people. After that he wished that Sweden and the European Union would pressure Israel into accepting a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in accordance to the UN resolutions. After that he called for backing Syria in its bid to join EU partnership. Finally he thanked the Swedish government for its help toward our people and stressed that our people would keep the same allegiance to Sweden as they did to their homeland.
MP Karina Heigh spoke on behalf of the Swedish delegation. She said she was pleased to meet the Organization's delegation and to know the truth about the Assyrian people, and added that one of the principles of the Swedish foreign policy was the interest shown in the issues of democracy, human rights, minorities, and women. She was concerned with the condition of our people in the homeland. While admitting that the Christians in the East were living during difficult times, she added that Assyrian communities in Sweden as well as the Muslim communities constituted bridges between our two countries and consequently would help deepen the cultural and human interaction between us. She inquired about the ADO's attitude toward the changes in Iraq and Turkey and whether the pressure exerted by the US paved the way to democratic changes or it was an excuse for silencing the minorities, and finally, whether it was good, holding elections in Iraq at this time . "Freedom of Worship in Syria", comrade Saadi answered," is safeguarded for everybody, our people and Christians in general enjoy a religious freedom that one could hardly find in the other countries of the Middle East ". Then he pointed out that the way US was handling issues in the region pushed people to more extremism and fanaticism and inflamed animosity towards the West in general, because of America's partiality and siding with Israel, adding that the EU's approach to the Middle East issues was more feasible but was lacking vitality. Concerning the elections in Iraq he indicated that it was very difficult to hold elections because of the unstable security condition there and marginalization of the UN role.
Meeting with the Ambassador of Syria in Stockholm on 26 February
The delegation paid a visit to the Syrian Embassy in Stockholm and was received, as Syrian citizens, by the Syrian Ambasador to Sweden, Mr.Sameer alKasser and the general counsel, Mr.Abed alGhafar. Comrade Saadi explained the purpose behind their visit to Europe and reviewed the meetings and the activities carried out with the Swedish officials. Then he called for dealing with all members of the Syrian community equally, irrespective of their religious, political or national affiliations, and further requested them to facilitate the expatriates’ visit to the homeland . He also added that the Organization was very much concerned with building bridges between the homeland and the expatriates. Another point raised with the ambassador was the issue of the arable lands leased by some expatriate families as per usufruct law, and the attempts by some circles in Syria to annul these contracts, and consequently to deprive these expatriates from their legitimate lands. He called attention to the seriousness of these attempts, which might forever end the relations between the expatriates and their homeland, and he further called on the Embassy to act as intermediary in reclaiming the rights of these people.
The Ambassador was pleased with the meeting and confirmed that the Syrian embassy belonged to all Syrian citizens, its door was always open to all without distinction. The services offered were free of charge, and the staff was doing its best to facilitate all such problems. Concerning the issue of the arable lands, the Ambassador pointed out that the Embassy was concerned with diplomatic affairs. Nevertheless, it could hand over any application from those concerned to the authorities for consideration. He further denied that the Embassy was seeking to affiliate people into alBath Party, on the contrary he said they urged them to join Swedish Parties because that would hold greater benefit for Syria. The speech of the Ambassador showed he was very well acquainted with the affairs of the Syrian community there. He noted that the division of the community was a sign of weakness, consequently it would not serve its aspirations and would weaken its ability to influence the Swedish arena.
Mother Drowns Her Two Children in a Bathtub
(ZNDA: Chicago) Bond was denied last week for a 23-year-old woman accused of drowning her two young children in a bathtub in Chicago. Abby Grason was held without bond during an appearance at the criminal courthouse. She was charged last Tuesday with first-degree murder and aggravated arson. She told the investigators that she killed the children because she thought they would not have a good life with her.
Firefighters found the children, 2-year-old Isaac Younan and 3-year-old Sandra Younan, unresponsive in a bathroom last Monday after they extinguished a fire in the family's home. The children were pronounced dead.
As her mother placed her in a bathtub, 3-year-old Sandra Younan said: "Mommy, I don't want to die today."
But Abby Grason (pictured on the right), a woman with a history of mental illness, wanted to send her two small children to a "better place," she reportedly has told investigators.
Her attorney, Kathy Lisco, told Myles her client is "seriously mentally ill" and in need of medication.
Grason drowned Sandra and Isaac Younan, in a foot of bath water, the mother reportedly admitted in a 14-page handwritten statement. Grason said she pressed a cross to the forehead of one of her dead children.
Grason allegedly started the fire by putting aerosol cans in a microwave, then went upstairs to the bathroom and drowned the children while the fire started to burn, authorities said.
Police and firefighters were called to the townhouse, in the 5600 block of West Carmen Avenue, about 5:05 a.m. Monday morning. The building has four residential units, two on each side, with the main entrances to the east and west and two center units with main entrances facing the street. The only visible sign outside that a fire had occurred was a patch of soot on the wall above the back door.
When they arrived the mother was standing outside. Police reported that the fire, in the kitchen, appeared to be of suspicious origin. A neighbor told rescue personnel that there were two children who were still upstairs.
One of the neighbors said he had heard the children playing in the bedroom about 8:30 p.m. June 20.
That night, Grason was sleeping on the couch with Sandra, who awoke and told her mother she was cold. Grason ran a bath for the child, and that's when Sandra become frightened and said she didn't want to die. Grason took her out of the tub and put her to bed, Snow said.
Then the mother decided to burn down the house, placing two aerosol cans in a kitchen microwave oven and turning it on, she allegedly told investigators. Grason took Isaac from his crib, put him in the bathtub and held him underwater until she believed he had drowned, Snow said. Before putting Sandra back into the same tub and drowning her, Grason checked on the fire in the kitchen, prosecutors said. With smoke filling the kitchen, she walked out of the house and calmly went to a neighbor and reported the fire.
A friend, who lives next door to the family, tried to get inside with a fire extinguisher. He saw flames coming out of the window and tried to get to the second floor. There was too much smoke and he was forced to turn back.
By about 10 a.m. Monday, someone had left a small pair of hugging teddy bears on the front porch. The family car, a red Saturn, was parked in front. Two child seats were in the back seat, one blue and one beige.
The children's bodies were found in the bathtub on the second floor.
The woman and her two children had moved in about three months ago from Arizona. The mother, who was raising the children by herself, had just enrolled Sandra in preschool at Prussing School. In Arizona, an individual had contacted a State agency to allege that the children were experiencing "burns by neglect, substantial medical neglect, and substantial risk of physical harm,".
A subsequent investigation, however, "did not find enough evidence to support those allegations,".
After the investigation was declared unfounded, the child welfare officials in Arizona were contacted for follow-up, but the agency did not keep tabs on the family and was in fact unaware that the family had since moved to Chicago.
A neighbor said the mother "appeared to be a loving, caring, interactive mother. Just the other day she was outside and she had a bucket of water. She was out there splashing the kids." N neighbors on either side of the family's residence reported loud screaming coming from the townhouse at night, but that when the neighbors confronted her, the mother "just got mad and went into the house."
One neighbor described Grason as "talkative and very outgoing. I don't think she did anything to them. I can't see her hurting anybody."
The children's father, Henry Younan, and his family were making funeral arrangements and struggling to understand what happened. Linda Rasho, Henry's sister, said the Younan family has been aware of Grason's illness since June 2002, and they did what they could to help her. Rasho and Henry Younan were planning to spend time with the children last weekend.
"We talked to her all the time,'' Rasho said. "We were supposed to be here three days ago to pick up the kids. She agreed to give the kids to us. This is where it shocks us.... We talked to [her] on Saturday.... There's absolutely nothing to do. Tomorrow's the burial. And they're gone.''
Rev. Fr. Genard Lazar
I was extremely displeased by Wilson Youkhana’s article, misleading Zinda’s readers and our people regarding His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia’s tireless efforts to extend an arm of assistance to the Assyrian refugees who have been stranded in Jordan and other countries for a period of 10 to 15 years.
Firstly, there has never been a meeting called by His Grace for the encouragement of our people to leave Iraq. In one of his recent Tuesday Bible Exposition nights, His Grace mentioned that he was working on assistance being extended to Assyrian refugees who have been outside of Iraq for over 10 years. His Grace did not at any time give any sort of assurance that these people will be permitted to enter Australia, nor did he recommended the departure of our people from Iraq.
As I am the presenter of the Church Religious Radio Program, I was specifically instructed by his Grace to reiterate the fact that no assurance has been or will be given for the acceptance of these people living as refugees outside of Iraq. Such an assurances can only come from the Australian Government and it has not been given.
Secondly, the hopeful motivation behind the efforts of his Grace has been for those children who have left Iraq at a young age. These children have been deprived of basic life opportunities that settled people take for granted, such as education. Quite a number of children have had no schooling due to their refugee status or family financial situation. One perfect example is of a child leaving Iraq with his parents at the age of four. This child had been living in Jordan for a period of fifteen years without having received any formal education. This case and many others should oblige any Assyrian to assist in any way deemed hopeful.
Thirdly, his Grace receives a large number of telephone calls from various people living overseas, pleading for assistance. As much as he would like to successfully assist each and every caller, unfortunately he is unable to do so. There is not one instance where His Grace has failed to attempt to offer his assistance. His Grace is also particularly careful to not give any assurance to any person as to the outcome of their application for refugees and other status.
His Grace understands the concerns and strong feelings people have for their loved ones stranded in dire circumstances - that such strong emotions can lead to unrealistic hopes and expectations, which when disappointed, raise unwarranted claims about his efforts.
We pray for His Grace and any other person, Church or organization working to assist our people living as refugees outside of Iraq. We ask that you continue to pray with us for our Assyrian Nation and for the various Governments whom we engage for support. May the perfect will of our Lord Jesus Christ be fulfilled for our nation.
Can't Read My Zinda on the Treadmill
I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but when you print the magazine some words are clipped at the end. I guess it's a margin thing. Of course this doesn't occur in all the articles, only certain ones. In the past, I used to copy, paste and edit in MS-Word or Acrobat in order to print and read. This gets really annoying to deal with on a weekly basis however, I can NOT be without my Zinda, especially when I am at the gym. Please help! Keep up the good work and God bless…
[Zinda: All tables and configurations were reformatted this week to make sure our readers can print an entire issue in "portrait" or "landscape" orientation without copying and pasting our magazine to other applications. We welcome our readers' comments for improving your reading enjoyment of Zinda Magazine.]
The Assyrian International News Agency (www.aina.org) website has undergone a complete overhaul, and now sports a clean, new look. With this face lift AINA also expands its service by adding two new sections: News and Guest Editorials. The News section delivers daily news relevant to Assyrians, in a short-feature format. The Guest Editorials section features opinions and editorials by Assyrians worldwide (see the guest editorial policy for more information).
AINA News, Releases and Guest Editorials are now delivered through an RSS
feed (Really Simple Syndication), and several syndication sites, such as
syndic8.com, now carry the AINA news feed. Persons with RSS viewers can get
the AINA feed directly by going to http://www.aina.org/contentfeed.rss.
SuryoyoTV to Broadcast via Satellite
Babylon Media Föreningen
After many years of activities, investigations and efforts regarding the opening of your TV-Channel SuroyoTV, we are now in a position to start broadcasting its first test programs. After negotiations with the satellite firm we signed a two-year contract.
According to our contract we start broadcasting on Sunday, 4 July 2004 at 7 pm (CET). During the test phase we will broadcast for one hour every day.
The transmission signals are broadcast according to the following schedule:
YEAR I -
During the Test Phase:......................................Daily from 7 to 9 pm central European times (CET)
........................................................................Monday to Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. (CET)
SuroyoTV can be heard using the following frequencies:
On Sunday, 4 July 2004 at 7 p.m. (CET) watch SuroyoTV on your screen.
Muhammad Abu Nasr
Informed sources in the Iraqi puppet “ministry of culture” have told Quds Press that an attempt is under way to move ancient Iraqi Assyrian treasures to America. The sources say that there have been bilateral meetings between US and Iraqi representatives in the “ministry” on the matter of moving the treasures to the United States, where the items are regarded as some of the most valuable ancient treasures and artifacts in Iraq.
Meanwhile feverish attempts are underway by US companies to buy the al-Qishlah and Suq as-Saray areas on the banks of the Tigris River. They aim to erect residences and commercial buildings in place of the buildings presently on the site. Al-Qishlah, which overlooks the Tigris River, was the seat of government in Iraq during the Ottoman times. It was formerly restored and renovated in accordance with the architectural norms of that period during the rule of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
These American attempts to rape Iraq’s heritage are likely to raise a storm of controversy among Iraqis, in particular the intellectuals who have long feared US attempts to steal Iraq’s antiquities and to obliterate Iraqi historical monuments.
Time For A Reality Check in Iraq
Mundus vult decipi
Islam is a religion of peace, but millions of its adherents practice a form of Islam that western civilizations find repugnant. Two hallmarks of this form are the subjugation of women and wonton disregard for human rights.
Let’s pick on our friends the Saudis for a moment. Amnesty International (www.amanestyusa.org) cites Saudi Arabia as having one of the highest rates of executions in the world in both absolute numbers and per capita. The Saudis include as capital offenses a wide range of so-called crimes, including apostasy, drug dealing, sodomy, and witchcraft. Execution is by public beheading or by firing squad after summary trials with no opportunity for the accused to put on a defense.
Prisons and detention centers in Saudi Arabia make Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib look like a resort: cruel or degrading treatment or punishment; floggings; overcrowding; lack of hygiene; and dehumanizing conditions.
The Middle East Media Research Institute keeps track of state-controlled Arab television stations and their programming, particularly statements by leading officials and clerics. Understanding the Arab Muslim mind regarding Christianity and the West is imperative to understanding the regional and global crisis we face.
During a May 24 interview on Saudi channel TV1, Sheik Ahmad Abd Al-Latif, a professor at Um Al-Qura University, called Christians “oppressors” because of their “cruel aggression against Islamic countries.” This is why, he said, all Muslims must curse the oppressive and plundering Christians and pray that Allah will annihilate them.
Muslim thugs have already murdered Christians in Iraq, with little notice by the Western media. Assyrian and Mandaean Christians have received letters threatening torture, bombings, and death if they do not convert to Islam, according to a report carried by the Assist News Service. On March 22, someone beat to death an elderly woman and slit the throat of her husband in the Assyrian district of Baghdad. On June 7, masked men killed four Christians and wounded several others in the Dora district of Baghdad. That afternoon, drive-by shooters killed three Assyrian women as they returned home from working with the Coalition.
The Coalition Provisional Authority transfers power to a shaky Iraqi government even as murderers, thugs, and Muslim madmen prime their weapons and whet their swords. Maybe such dire warnings are the ranting of a lone voice in the wilderness. But, then again, what if they are not?
Assyria, Iraqi Turkoman, Kurdistan: US hands over sovereignty in Iraq
Sargon J. David
The US has formally handed over power in Iraq, two days ahead of schedule.
At a low-key ceremony in Baghdad, US administrator Paul Bremer gave legal documents to an Iraqi judge. He later left the country by plane.
But the BBC's Dan Damon in Baghdad says the handover will mean little to ordinary Iraqis.
Our correspondent says it is not clear how real the transfer of power will seem to the many Iraqis whose backing is needed to defeat insurgents.
During the ceremony, Mr Bremer, describing himself as "ex-administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority", said the US-led coalition had come to liberate Iraq - as anyone who saw the mass graves left by Saddam Hussein could attest.
"I leave Iraq confident in the future and confident in the ability of the government to meet the challenges of the future," he said.
Coalition officials later said Mr Bremer had left Iraq by plane.
Mr Allawi said: "This is a historic day, a happy day, a day that all Iraqis have been looking forward to."
He said the Iraqi government was committed to holding elections in January 2005, despite earlier suggestions that the poll might be delayed if security did not improve.
The surprise move to bring forward the handover of sovereignty was first disclosed by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, speaking after talks with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at a Nato summit in Istanbul.
Mr Zebari told journalists that the transfer of power was taking place early and welcomed the commitment of Nato countries to help train the Iraqi forces struggling to put down insurgency.
"We are very pleased here, we are confident and we are ready to take up our responsibility - even before 30 June," he said.
"I believe today we will challenge those elements in Iraq - the terrorists, the criminals, the Saddamists, the anti-democratic forces - by bringing the date of the handover of sovereignty even before 30 June, as a sign that we are ready for the job."
The BBC's political editor Andrew Marr in Istanbul says the early transfer of power was originally due to be announced in Baghdad - and that Mr Zebari visibly startled Mr Blair by publicly revealing the plan.
Another BBC correspondent in Istanbul, Johnny Dymond, says it appears that the date was brought forward to pre-empt further attacks by militants to coincide with the handover.
He says recent violence in Iraq in the run-up to the transfer of power has forced the hand of the authorities.
The Iraqi foreign minister's disclosure came as Nato leaders were arriving for the summit in Istanbul, where they are expected to endorse a plan to help train Iraqi security forces.
Nato's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says the alliance must take action to ensure security is maintained in Iraq after the handover of power.
"There is a broad agreement that a stable Iraq is in the interest of all allies," he said.
Nato ambassadors, who gathered in Istanbul for talks before the arrival of the heads of government, hammered out a draft agreement to provide training and equipment for Iraq's armed forces.
The move followed an urgent request from interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.
It is not yet clear when the training operation will begin, nor how many personnel will be involved.
The 26-member alliance also looks likely to agree to the expansion of its operations in Afghanistan.
The Application of Autonomy to the Assyrian Territory in the New Democratic Iraq
Dr. Khoshaba Jasim
Socially and Culturally, the Assyrians
Historically, the Assyrians
General Autonomy Structure
Particular Issues And Powers
Policy and Security Arrangements
Culture and Religion
Filham (Fil) Isaac
There are many afflictions that are known to man and over time science has made great inroads in curing or treating most of these diseases. The brain remains a region where very little is known about it. Yet, it is the source of all thoughts that flow from an individual which defines and reveals a great deal about his/her nature and nurture. From the very first moment of birth, we engage this magnificent organ storing recallable snapshots of sights, sounds and signs. This is the child’s mode of learning until gradually language is developed and he/she is able to communicate by receiving and transmitting information.
For a child not wanting to communicate the damage is not as grave as in the case of an adult. As adults, communication is important and should not be easily abandoned.
Such is the case amongst our national doers. By refusing to even open a dialogue over national issues (and what could be more important?) we are then constricting the thinking cycle and relying mostly on emotions. At times, some national issues build up into such volcanic eruptions that burn anything in its path leaving absolutely no room for growth. Such rigid process is not worthy of our support. We must be flexible and willing to communicate and, more importantly, cooperate so that we can grow together and strengthen the causes that benefit our nation. Currently, we are too isolated, too extreme, and too abrupt and bent on creating huge divides that grow more difficult to bridge.
Needless to say, such thoughts are a poor basis for us to lend support to our national leaders and allow them to manipulate and override our nation’s right to work for common solutions as well as earn the right to be called “National Leaders”. Together and in any medium we can exchange ideas by engaging in discussions that are supposed to bring us closer to the issues. Issues, those that are common to us. Instead, we tend not to be as flexible as we ought to and quite often we manage to mangle and twist our debates into endless angry discussions that do nothing useful other than raising our blood pressure as well as alienating and disgusting the silent majority.
I have been actively reading this magazine for awhile and participating on the Assyrian forum for one full year. There is cause for concern and it would seem that most of what is posted is emotional in nature. To a point, I personally stand accused of being pulled into such debates.
The next time you read an article or hear from a leader and/or an influential person, I would urge you, as a reader, to analyze this trait and see if:
• The person’s intention is genuinely designed to reach and benefit the majority of the Assyrian people or just a certain segment. We can ultimately single out the demagogues in our midst.
• You can assess what kind of an answer is warranted from you. If it is going to be an emotional answer I would suggest you opt for the other kind. The kind that would leave the door slightly ajar to let some light in.
We are in dire need of what will unite us and we should not allow a few to manipulate our thoughts to fuel their agendas. The silent Assyrian majority should make it clear to all that want to work on behalf of this nation that our unity comes at the top of everyone’s agenda. The angriest exchanges occur when the loyalty of the individuals engaged in a discussion are to two different Assyrian parties. When rationally explored, you will find that these individuals have quite a bit of commonality which may amount to 95%. That is a huge percentage to ignore and it should form a solid base upon which a great deal can be accomplished. For the time being, let us ignore the 5% of disagreement. The message to our friends and respective parties ought to be that we refuse to support anyone that ignores our common goals. The message is clear and it is:
All parties alleging to represent Assyrians must dedicate a good deal of their energy to promoting our ‘NATIONAL GOALS’ and together they can find ways to plan, draw, amend and elect to work on the top 10 items on the Assyrian National Agenda. We demand an annual national meeting. Assyrian parties that do not participate in these meetings should be totally ignored.
As for the rest of us that call ourselves the “silent majority” and specifically those of us living outside our homelands, it is high time that we become involved. We have been passive way too long. Our involvement should come in the form of making it clear that we are willing to acquire Party Memberships and pay dues. Dues, that support our individual party as well as dues that contribute to the National Party. We have to take action and curb the lip service. We have been talking to one another for a long time. The time has come for us to direct our words outwards towards the rest of the world. Talking “Assyrianism” to one another is no different than one brother saying to another “Come let me tell who our parents are”. We all know who our parents are. It is the rest of the world that needs to know.
Now take a mind-laxative, be positive and lighten up a wee bit. Assyrian politicians, please take two.
Legacy of Control and Domination
The Assyrians are the indigenous people of what is presently known as Iraq or ancient Mesopotamia. Their heartland encompasses Northern Iraq, Southeast Turkey, Western Iran and Eastern Syria.
As a result of that displacement, the Assyrians, who now number about 4 million have dissipated around the world while others have been forced by circumstances to assimilate into either Arabs or Kurdish societies.
Shamiran Mako is an Assyrian and breathtakingly intelligent politics and philosophy student at York University in Canada. She feels the effects of being countryless. Her stark choices entail returning to her homeland of Assyria and rejecting the Kurdification and Arabisation policies that have been forced upon her nation. Another tragedy is that her country is now also under the occupation of the most tyrannical modern states, President George W Bush’s United States and Britain under Prime Minister Tony Blair occupying Iraq for the second time again in history.
Shamiran’s story reflects two critical issues. First the importance of having a country that one can call their own and secondly the importance of having an identity.
But that is too simplistic a generalisation because some of our brothers and sisters are easily shading off their identities that Shamiran so much longs for allowing their minds to be colonised again by the whites.
But to some extent this is the work of some white supremacists who still think that they could do what they did in the past to kill our various aspects of life as a people, like our culture as well as make us feel bad for being Black. They do this so that they could be able to dominate and control us. Such acts are not limited to past centuries.
Shamiran says that they still keep coming back again in the same manner. For instance in her native Iraq, after the British invaded and moved out, America has followed suit, eager to get control and exploit the second biggest oil fields in the world.
In our Racism and Colonialism class we had the opportunity to analyse how the British colonised Egypt. Arthur James Balfour, also known as (aka) “Bloody Balfour”, the Conservative Party British Prime Minister (1902-1905), described how it is possible to disorient non westerners to make them believe that the west has a moral duty to rule over them. In his assertion, he uses French philosopher Michel Foucault’s knowledge/power principle which postulates that knowledge translates to power. Quoted by Edward Said in his book titled Orientalism, Balfour said, “We know the civilization of Egypt better than we know the civilisation of any other country...we know it more intimately; we know more about it”. Said explains that to have such knowledge of such a thing is to dominate it, to have authority over it. Said further highlights the distinction the westerners make of “them” and “us”. The “them” is that group of people that has been intimately studied, dominated and subsequently controlled while the “us” are the westerners who control and dominate.
The tragedy accompanying this dominate and control mindset is that it has since been internalised and subsequently normalised by some of our Black African people.And unbelievably, some Black scholars are assisting in sanitising this mentality. They have been graduated into the “wonderful and civilised” western trappings, which have enabled them to be used against their own people.
Said further says that lurking behind the pacification of the subject race is imperial might. Against this background, it is strange that some Blacks and Black scholars have the temerity to say that people like me are seeing shadows everywhere thinking that the world wants to get us. Yes, Said proves that the world wants to get us and Balfour confirms it.
As Shamiran said, this keeps coming back again and again. Apparently, the only difference are the words they use, which are determined by the prevailing times and circumstances. And in this communication era, the westerners have perfected their skill of communicating that they could tell you to go to hell and make you actually look forward to the trip.
Yes, lets cultivate relations with the west but not at any moment should they want to exploit us. This is the very reason why we see Britain and Blair so fixated on Zimbabwe. They have that mentality that as a superior race (“us”) they could never be stopped from pursuing their interests by a Black person (“them”). As the British House of Commons debates the Zimbabwean issue (as if they have any sort of authority vested in them) in July they must keep in mind that whatever tricks they learnt from Balfour and company of dominating and controlling they are never going to work again.This is how imperial administrator, Lord Cromer characterised “them”, “ His explanation will generally be lengthy and wanting in lucidity. He will probably contradict himself half-a-dozen times before he has finished his story. He will often break down under the mildest process of cross-examination”.
This, according to Said is in contrast to the “clarity, directness and nobility of the Anglo-Saxon Race”.
[Zinda: Mr. Matshazi's article appeared on 25 June in Zimbabwe's Daily Mirror newspaper.]
I am Tiglath-Ramsin, son of many great scribes of Assyria. Today, we still find ourselves with King Ashuruballit in Harran at the corner of the empire. This is the city of the patron god of the moon, Sin. This city is filled with mementos that speak to the reigns of 2 great kings, Sargon and Sennacherib. Last week, I explained to my Egyptian brother, Tarkan, why Sargon was so popular here and in his country, Egypt. This week I want to pay tribute to the other famous Assyrian who is revered in this city. This is King Sennacherib, the younger son of Sargon. Harran was a special vacation spot for King Sennacherib of Assyria, who was named after the god of the city King. Sargon himself gave Sennacherib his name. Sin-ahhe-eriba, means “the god Sin has compensated (the death of) the brothers.” Anyway, today I want to give tribute to the Great Engineer-King by speaking about his amazing Hanging Gardens.
Today, my Egyptian friend Tarkan and I were discussing the 5 great wonders of the modern world. Two of them are Egyptian and three of them are Assyrian. Everyone agrees that they are:
1) The Pyramid of Khufu at Memphis in Egypt (Egyptian)
I have myself never seen the pyramids on the plains of Gizu in Egypt, nor have I seen the Khorsabad Ziggurat, but I know the Wall of Nineveh, and the Hanging Gardens.
My Chariot Ride on the Wall of Nineveh
With respect to the wall, I am one of few people who has had the luxury of riding a four-horse war chariot on the Great Wall of Nineveh. The perimeter wall is built of large limestone blocks, and stretches for almost 10 miles. The inner wall is also pretty impressive with its 15 gates, but it isn’t considered a wonder of the world. I actually rode with Tukulti-Ashur, the famous chariot-warrior of the King’s Royal Guard. Annually, at the Festival of the Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld, the 3-Four Horse Chariot ride happens. 3 chariots canter next to each other on the wall of Nineveh. They begin from the top of the Main Gate and proceed all the way around. The whole ride takes about an hour. The horses are always white and the chariots are decorated in blue and gold. This event is watched by almost all of the citizens of Nineveh although it always seems like 90% of the crowd is young women. I think this is because the Goddess Ishtar is at hand. When I rode that day, I basically waved the entire time as I rode with Tukulti-Ashur, and I tried my best to capture the attention of some of the beautiful young women, but let’s face it, they were really interested in that demi-god, Tukulti. Well, a man can dream can’t he? From where we were, they could have been ogling either one of us.
The Greatest Wonder
But Tarkan and I agree that of all the great wonders of the modern world, none of these pyramids, ziggurats, or super-wide walls compares to the sheer wonder that is the Hanging Gardens of Nineveh. The walls of Nineveh were reinforced and extended by Sennacherib, but the Hanging Gardens were entirely the work of his hands. He wanted gardens built in honor of his wife, the mother of Esarhaddon, her highness Naqia Zukutu. Sennacherib, always the great engineer was told that such gardens could not be built on account of the irrigation that would be required. But he did it! What an engineer!
The gardens are truly unique. My sister described them as an artificial mountain with rooftop gardens! In reality, the gorgeous Nineveh gardens are about 500 feet wide by 500 feet long and more than 400 feet high. The Gardens don’t really "hang" in the sense of being suspended from ropes or cables. The gardens are 'hanging' in the sense of being supported by arches, but when you look at them they seem to overhang. Millions of plants of a staggering variety, color, and length are "overhanging," as in the case of a terrace or balcony. Although I am no expert on plants, the Gardens contain each of the following: cedar, cypress, myrtle, juniper, almond, date palm, ebony, olive, oak, terebinth, nuts, ash, firs, nightshade, willow, pomegranate, plum, pear, quince, fig, and grapevine. Plants and trees suspend over the heads of observers on terraces, and they drape over the terraced walls. Arches are underneath these terraces. The brilliantly colored trees and flowers that dangle from the walls create a lush and magical environment. The fountains of water throughout the gardens create a humidity that helps keep the area moist and the shade from the trees also helps keep the gardens cool. The gardens consist of vaulted terraces that rise one above another, and they rest upon cube-shaped pillars. These are hollow and filled with earth to allow trees of the largest size to be planted. The pillars, the vaults, and terraces are constructed of baked brick and asphalt. The foundation on which the garden stands consists of huge slabs of stone covered with layers of reed, asphalt and tiles. Since the gardens are continually exposed to water runoff, the foundation had to be protected. So on the floor of the garden, Sennacherib put a covering with sheets of lead so that the wetness that drenched through the earth would not rot the foundation. Upon all these was laid soil of a convenient depth, sufficient for the growth of the greatest plants and trees.
Getting Water to the Gardens
Since Assyria received little if any rain, for the garden to survive it had to be irrigated by using water from the nearby Tigris River. Water supply came from a 10-mile aqueduct that flowed down from the Tigris River. Once it reached the gardens, it had to be lifted far into the air so it could flow down through the terraces, watering the plants at each level. At the side of the stairs (by which you can climb to the top of the gardens) was a new form of water engine powered by a new form of mechanical screw. Hundreds of palm trees were carved open on the inside and hollowed out. Huge bronze screws were then placed in the core, and these screws when they were set in motion essentially lifted the water from one level to the next, until it reached the upper pool. Once it reached that pool it overflowed and watered the entire garden. Since Egyptian irrigation technology cannot raise water to a high level, this makes the garden at Nineveh unique and a marvel of the modern world.
The Official Description of the Gardens at Nineveh
The official explanation of the gardens comes from my grandfather, who was Royal Scribe to Sennacherib. He wrote the following of the Hanging Gardens of Nineveh:
“The Hanging Garden has plants cultivated above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than in the earth. The whole mass is supported on stone columns ... Streams of water emerging from elevated sources flow down sloping channels ... These waters irrigate the whole garden saturating the roots of plants and keeping the whole area moist. Hence the grass is permanently green and the leaves of trees grow firmly attached to supple branches ... This is a work of art of royal luxury and its most striking feature is that the labor of cultivation is suspended above the heads of the spectators.”
[Zinda: The 'Hanging Gardens of Babylon' – famed as one of the world’s Seven Wonders – are now thought to have been in Nineveh. * Oxford Professor Stephanie Dalley is the most famous scholar who argues that the gardens were in fact in Nineveh, not Babylon. She believes that the ancient chroniclers made an error in locating the gardens and identifying the builder. She has consistently asserted, and most scholars now agree, that the gardens were not at Babylon at all, rather they were built centuries earlier by King Sennacherib of Nineveh and pictures of them survive at the British Museum. In fact, in 1993, they were identified as the subject of a West Asian relief in London’s British Museum (Exhibit No WA124939, displayed in British Museum, Room 89). The British Museum relief shows these gardens with an aqueduct, a columned pavilion, a royal statue, and an alter. Dalley has also proven that Sennacherib employed bronze screws mounted within tubes to lift water. If that is true, then Sennacherib's engineers invented the Archimedes Screw centuries before Archimedes was born. 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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