24 Shvadt 6754
12 February 2005
Z I N D A M A G A Z I N E
The Struggle of the Christian Assyrians
|The Struggle of Iraq's Christian Assyrians||Guest Editorial: Nuri Kino|
|The Coming Clash Over Kirkuk||Sandra Mackey|
|Chaldean Patriarch Meets Jordanian King in Amman|
Loss of a Great Man (Sargon David 1933-2005)
New Issue of Hugoye in Out Now
|Assyrian Christians Denied Vote In Iraq!
Were Assyrians, Turkmen, Yezidis Intentionally Locked Out...?
Outside view: Truth in Iraq
Flags, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Tobacco, Olives and Civilization
|Rev. Ken Joseph Jr.
|Get Out & Demonstrate!|
The Struggle of Iraq's Christian Assyrians
By Nuri Kino
One day last October a small parcel was left at Sait Yildiz's home in Södertälje, Sweden. Sait, who is the Chairman of the Assyrian Democratic Association of Sweden, realized that something was amiss when he saw that there was no return address and that the CD that it contained was unlabelled.
When he, despite his misgivings, played the CD he realized that it was a video. It begins with men chanting Islamic fundamentalist slogans, accompanied by a mixture of soft pop with Arabic folk music. Shortly someone can be heard shouting “Traitors! Betrayers! The unfaithful degenerates who have allied themselves with the evil representatives of
Across the screen are shown pictures of Iraq from before and during the current war. Five minutes of this, and then there is silence. The camera pans closer to a man sitting by a wall and focuses on face of 23 year-old Raymond Shamoun. He tries to smile at the camera as he is asked by a man off screen to defend himself against the accusations that he has betrayed Iraq, his nation, where he, “the Christian swine,” has cooperated with the Americans.
Raymond replies that it isn’t true that he has betrayed anyone and that he is only working as a watchman at the US military base in Mosul. But his kidnappers are relentless and press him to admit his treason. A sound is heard off camera, and suddenly Raymond’s expression changes. He is told to read something written in Arabic. He swallows, hesitates but is ordered to continue. He reads the names of three other Assyrians who have also been labeled as traitors. He will not know that just three days after reading their names on this video, the three will be assassinated in Mosul.
When Raymond has finished reading we hear the sounds of a door opening. He turns in the direction of the sound and suddenly there is terror in his eyes. The men in the room begin to chant in Arabic saying Allah is the only god and Mohammed is his only prophet and that their actions are in their name, and hence not a sin.
The video cuts to a close-up of Raymond’s torso. A knife flashes past the screen and pierces his throat. But it is dull and his head is sawed rather than cut off. He is hung upside down to empty the body of blood, much like in the Muslim ritual slaughter of animals.
Raymond was an Assyrian. The man who received the CD, Sait Yildiz is also an Assyrian. The video has been mailed to Assyrians all over the world as a way to frighten the community in Iraq and abroad. The Islamist group that carried out these executions and the production of the video calls itself the Salaheddin Al-Eyobe Brigade and has been
Practically every week there are reports from across Iraq of the murder or kidnapping of Assyrians, the desecration of Christian religious sites and symbols, and the rape of women. Churches have been bombed, Christian shop owners murdered or forced to close down, students prevented from attending university and women forced to wear the veil.
He searches through the corpses and finds a body without a head. He opens the sheet in which the body is been wrapped and recognizes, by the clothes, that is his only son. He embraces the headless corpse screams in despair. Something rolls out from under the sheet. It is the head. He picks it up, kisses the forehead and closes the eyelids.
Tearing off a piece of the sheet he carefully binds the head to the breast of the corpse and carries it to a waiting car. Many look on. No one helps. It is known that those who help someone murdered by the Islamists may themselves be considered as collaborators. We met Farouk in early January. He and his wife have fled to the city of Dohuk in
It is an empty flat with just a few mattresses laid out on the floor. Farouk’s eyes are equally empty. This is the first time he has agreed to talk to journalists. We can see that it will still not be easy for him. After several minutes of silence he tries to say something.
All that emerges is the first syllable of his son’s name. His face is expressionless. When he finally manages to speak, his voice is like a rasping whisper. “We have no future in Iraq. Now even our neighbors have turned against us. Sunni and Shia Muslims in the south and the Kurds in the north have become our enemies.”
Assyrians are amongst the earliest converts to Christianity and Aramaic, the native language of Jesus Christ, can still be heard in Assyrian villages and cities. Descendents of the great Mesopotamian civilization, they still celebrate through art and memory their roots in what is commonly referred to as the cradle of civilization. Today there are little under 1 million Assyrians left in Iraq. Fifteen years ago there were over one and half million. Hundreds of thousands have fled to neighboring countries like Syria and Jordan to escape the persecution and seek a better life, any life, elsewhere. The Assyrian political and community leadership is desperate to keep the rest from following suit.
Under Saddam Hussein’s regime the Assyrians could practice their religion freely but were forced to assimilate with the Arab population and were not permitted to call themselves Assyrians. They were either Christian Arabs or Christian Kurds. Hundreds of Assyrian villages were destroyed and thousands lost their lives as Saddam tried to eliminate any trace of them as a distinct community and people. Those who submitted to the whims of the regime were allowed to remain in relative peace, though constantly under observation. Those who resisted and attempted to celebrate their Assyrian roots and traditions were accused of treason and threatened with death. In the 1990s, soon after the conclusion of the first Gulf War, the Assyrians found themselves in alliance with the Kurds as they attempted to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Today, however, things are very different.
Estimates on the number of recent Assyrian refugees range from 40,000 to 150,000. It is amongst the refugees that the discontent with the American occupation is greatest. They had welcomed the arrival of the US troops as it rid them of Saddam’s terror, but the handling of the post-Saddam Iraq has filled them with deep misgivings about America’s
Assyrian political leaders are very forthcoming with their frustrations with the Americans and the interim government. “We are disappointed in the United States,” says Sait Yildiz as I sit with him in his Södertälje flat watching the video of Raymond’s beheading, “They have made us into the targets for Islamists in southern Iraq. It did not help that American
And for the Assyrians in the north of the country, in what is now commonly referred to Kurdistan of Yildiz points out that the persecution manifests itself in different ways. Kurds are being relocated into Assyrian towns and villages to shift the demographic balance. Assyrian villages remain in disrepair while new housing developments are cropping up across most all Kurdish towns. Even the roads to Assyrian towns remain unpaved. “Our pleas to the US administration in the US fall on deaf ears” he laments Rumors pervade the air in Iraq. Our guide, Wisam, who drove us around Iraq for three
At a restaurant in Zakho a Kurdish waiter asks what we are doing here. When we tell him that we are here to report about the situation of the Assyrians, he blurts out “I don’t know why they are not satisfied. They should be glad that we don’t kill them as Saddam and be satisfied…” Wisam, confronted with such attitudes before, stares at him coldly
[Zinda: Mr. Nuri Kino, an Assyrian, is one the most prominent journalists in Europe. His investigative reports have earned him many accolades. To view Mr. Kino's previous article in Zinda click here.]
As the Iraqis turn their focus from holding elections to writing a constitution, the make-or-break issue for their nation may be the city of Kirkuk. Situated next to Iraq's northern oil fields, Kirkuk is a setting for all the ethnic-sectarian conflicts that are the historic reality of Iraq - Muslim against Christian, Sunni against Shiite, Kurd against Arab. It is also home to the Turkmens, who are the ethnic cousins of the Turks and look to a willing Turkey as their protector. In their fierce competition for the right to claim Kirkuk, the Turkmens and the Kurds threaten to turn Iraqi internal politics into a regional conflict.
On a visit to Kirkuk last fall, I talked to both Turkmens and Kurds, and it was immediately obvious that both groups have a passion and feeling of possession toward the city, with its impressive citadel built on an ancient tell. . Kirkuk is the center of the Turkmen population in Iraq, while for Kurds, the city is a touchstone of their identity.
Each group employs demographics to back up its claim to the city. The last official Iraqi census, in 1957, listed 40 percent of Kirkuk's population as Turkmen and 35 percent as Kurdish; the rest were Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians and others. Today, the population is roughly 850,000; based on unofficial estimates, the number of Arabs has significantly increased, and the percentages of the Turkmens and Kurds are probably reversed.
When the American invasion of Iraq began in March 2003, Kurdish militias advanced southward from the Kurdish autonomous zone established in the northern third of Iraq in 1991 and entered Kirkuk. Since then the Kurds have used their position as American allies to bring in Kurdish families and thus bolster their demand that Kirkuk be incorporated in the Kurds' autonomous zone.
Their reason is emotional but also economic: Kirkuk is the key to oil fields that represent 40 percent of Iraq's proven petroleum reserves. At the least, those fields constitute an enormous bargaining chip in the negotiations over the future Iraqi government; at most they provide the economic base for a future Kurdish state.
The Kurds' numbers, and their determination to lay claim to Kirkuk, have stoked the already intense hostilities between the Kurds and Arabs that date to the late 1980's, when Saddam Hussein pushed many Kurds out of the city and replaced them with Arabs. But it is the contest for Kirkuk being waged between the Kurds and Turkmens that is the far more serious problem for the United States because the only card the Turkmens of Kirkuk have to play against the Kurds is Turkey. It is a card Ankara is willing to allow them to put on the table.
Turkey holds its own claim to Kirkuk. Unlike the Ottoman territories that were ceded to Iraq in the agreements that came at the end of World War I, Kirkuk was taken from Turkey as a result of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty. Turkish nationalists still regard it as historically part of Turkey. Ankara also asserts guardianship over the Turkmen ethnic minority in northern Iraq. But those are more emotional than political issues. What is mainly driving Turkey's interest in Kirkuk is the long-term problem of Turkey's own rebellious Kurdish minority, which is 20 percent of its population.
But more ominous for American efforts to stabilize Iraq are Turkish fears that Baghdad will be forced to allow the Kurds to make Kirkuk part of their autonomous zone. For Ankara, this would constitute excessive Kurdish autonomy, its red line in Iraq.
The Turkish military has repeatedly warned Iraqi Kurds against changing Kirkuk's demographics. Although it acknowledges that the future of Kirkuk is an internal issue for Iraq, the military insists that the inclusion of the city into the Kurdish autonomous zone is a question in which it intends to play a part. To underline the point, the military makes no effort to hide its plans to send troops if needed to thwart the Kurds' claim to Kirkuk.
Military intervention in northern Iraq is diplomatically risky for Turkey. Having just secured Europe's agreement to open talks on membership in the European Union, Ankara will move with caution. Yet Turkey may well see preventing the emergence of a potentially oil-rich Kurdish political entity on its borders as worth the risk. And Europe may regard keeping the Iraqi Kurds within the boundaries of Iraq, thus promoting stability in the Persian Gulf and in oil markets, as more important than keeping Turkey out of Iraq.
Although publicly circumspect, Washington sees Turkish military involvement as a looming possibility on the complex political landscape of Iraq. Washington has quietly said that the Kurds will not be allowed to take control of Kirkuk. American military bases in northern Iraq are discreetly being reinforced. And the First Infantry Division that has been in charge of Kirkuk for the last year has balanced the rights of the Turkmens and Arabs against those of the Kurds.
So Washington recognizes that the Kurds, further emboldened by their anticipated numbers in the new Iraqi Parliament, could precipitate a crisis over Kirkuk. The question is whether the United States or the non-Kurdish members of the new Iraqi government can hold the Kurds in check - a difficult task considering the fervor, especially among younger Kurds, for an eventual Kurdish state.
This is one of the complications of the Iraqi election that the Bush administration has hailed as such a success. If the Kurds try to change the status of Kirkuk, the United States may find itself forced to turn its military power on them. But if America does nothing to hold Kirkuk, it may well find itself in another crisis. Only this one would not be confined to Iraq.
[Zinda: Sandra Mackey is the author of "The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein." Modern Kirkuk was an important point of contact for the ancient Mesopotamian merchants in the first millennium B.C. Its original name was Arrapha. In a royal letter of assignment, King Sargon II (721-705 BC) asserts his mediation between his two governors of the cities of Arrapha and Kalah on the issue of sharing a territory. Later Arrapha was renamed "Kirkha d'Bet Slookh" as it maintained its importance in trade and as a Christian center. With the appearance of the Ottoman Turks in Mesopotamia an increasing number of Turks and other Moslem groups began inhabiting this ancient Assyrian and Christian center.]
Chaldean Patriarch Meets Jordanian King in Amman
His Beatitude Mar Emanuel Delli, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, met with King Abdullah II of Jordan on 9 February in Amman, Jordan. The Patriarch thanked His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein for his country's assistance for the Iraqis living in Jordan and His Majesty's efforts in establishing peace and stability in the region.
Born in Amman on January 30th, 1962, King Abdullah II is the eldest son of His Majesty the late King Hussein and Her Royal Highness Princess Muna Al Hussein.
Mar Delli is the spiritual father of over one million Chaldean-Assyrians in Iraq, Europe, North America, and Australia. Chaldean-Assyrians comprise the largest number of Christians in Iraq. His Beatitude resides in Baghdad.
Mar Delli also requested that a piece of land for the building of a church for the Chaldean Catholic Church members living in Amman be granted. His Majesty swiftly ordered the facilitation of this request.
Loss of a Great Man
The Assyrian community in Australia is in mourning the tragic loss of our dear friend, Sargon David. Sargon was a loyal and committed member of the Assyrian Universal Alliance. He was one of the founders of this organization in Australia from 1971. He held consecutive responsibilities in the leadership of this chapter including special advisor on Iraq to the Secretary General Senator John Nimrod. Born in 1933 in Iraq , Sargon passed away on 1 February 2005 in Sydney.
I believe that all those who knew him feel the pain of the loss of a charming, warm, caring and bright person. He was a gifted communicator, kind, and thoughtful and inspirational, equally open and lively to intellectual and political debate.
He won the respect and love of all those who were fortunate to meet him and work with him. I lack the words with which to express how great this loss is to the Assyrian Universal Alliance. For us he was what I would call a true human being, a colleague, teacher and a truly great man.
On Wednesday, 2 February 2005 , a memorial service, officiated by His Grace Mar Meelis Zaia, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East in Australia and New Zealand was conducted at St Hurmized Cathedral. His Grace gave a lengthy speech about Mr. David and his contribution and dedication for his community and love for the Assyrian nation. A crowd of two thousands people came to pay their final respects before his coffin wrapped in the Assyrian flag carried by members of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and closer relatives.
Sargon was a man who always advocated peace, human rights, democracy and justice for all Iraqis and his oppressed nation in particular. He was overwhelmed with the liberation of Iraq and was very optimistic that the new system will be democratic and will respect the rights of the indigenous Assyrians in this country.
We thank God for the blessing of having Sargon among us for so many years, his contributions to the Assyrian nation and particularly his community in Australia. He will be remembered for ever.
The Assyrian Universal Alliance in Australia together with Sargon David’s family extend their appreciation to all those who offered their condolences and kind thoughts on his loss. The pleasant memories of Sargon will remain in the hearts of his family and friends who loved him dearly, as well as those he came to know.
May God grant him His eternal love and may he rest in peace.
Don't Drop the Name 'Assyrian'
I have a very important request from the Zinda editorial staff: Please, please treat the name Assyrian with great care. Assyrian is our national name; it is not the name of a Christian denomination within our nation. It is a set back to our national movements and a desecration of the legacy of the nationalists from all of the different Christian denominations among us who have worked so hard to create a unifying, national identity for us, to use the name Assyrian to refer exclusively to the followers of a certain Eastern Church.
I understand that certain segments of our people might not want to use the Assyrian name, and might prefer to use other denominational names to identify themselves. This is perfectly fine, and can be remedied through education. What is not acceptable are certain efforts to reduce our national name into an ecclesiastical one, to take away our national identity and to reduce us to just a bunch of disparate Christian denominations.
Let us not fall into this trap. Like it or not, the fact of the matter is that amongst all of the names used by our people, only “Assyrian” is a national name. All of the other names are those of Christian denominations and cannot unify us as one nation. Only the name Assyrian, by itself or in compound variation, can represent our national identity, and shows our commonality as Assyrians, i.e. Eastern Assyrian, Western Assyrian, Nestorian Assyrian, Chaldean Assyrian, ChaldoAssyrian, Suryoyo Assyrian, Syriac Assyrian, Aramean Assyrian, etc.
The Assyro-Chaldean Social and Cultural Centre of France
The Assyro-Chaldean community of France has come a long way, finally feeling welcomed. The Association of the Assyro-Chaldeans of France in taking an important role in this process has helped its members to become settled, find work, preserve their culture, their identity, their language and their history. For nearly 18 years this association has worked without diminishing its service to the Assyro-Chaldean community of France ... nevertheless, it was missing a stable building of national, European and international importance.
Thanks to the donations from the community, the Association was able to purchase a 2500 m² parcel of land in 1998, on which the first Assyro-Chaldean Social and Cultural Centre in the Country of Lights is being built, to the glory of Hammurabi, of Ishtar and to the memory of the 250,000 Assyro-Chaldean martyrs of 1915. The construction began in the mid-2004 and is almost complete!
The Centre, built in Villiers-le-Bel in the district of Val d’Oise near Paris, will include a large hall with the capacity for 900 guests for all the occasions, a library devoted to the Assyro-Chaldean civilization, a media library, rooms devoted to the Aramaic language teaching, offices for meetings, as well as an 'information room' for the young people (an office which will help them with their school, social and professional life). The Assyro-Chaldean Social and Cultural Centre is going to be inaugurated sometimes around mid-2005. All readers of Zinda Magazine, as all Assyro-Chaldeans from around the world are invited to join us at this great event in France and Europe.
The pictures taken by Samuel Yalap will show you the current inventory of the Centre; you can view them here.
Viruses & Trojan Horses
No, we're not talking about the Assyrians working inside the Kurdish political parties in north Iraq. We're really mindful of the viruses that attack something even closer to you - your computer.
By now all of us spending a big piece of our day on the Internet have either heard or felt the wrath of the invasive viruses and trojan horses. A virus is a very small piece of software program that when activated can place itself inside your computer's brain without your knowledge or consent.
Most viruses cause no damage other than annoying the PC owners. The true misfits can even destroy a computer, erase your files or disk drives, and even send your information to outsiders without your knowledge.
To avoid any type of spreading from our end we scan our servers for viruses on a daily basis and no email leaves our zServer6750 without a final scan. Most importantly, we DO NOT send any attachments with our emails.
Sadly some of our readers are not taking these warnings seriously.
Please ignore all suspicious emails that arrive in your email box disguised as Zinda technical or editorial teams. Especially do not open the attachments to these or any other suspicious emails.
If you wish to forward our notifications to friends or family members, please include your own email in the TO: field and place everyone else's in BCC: so that their email addresses will be hidden from the view.
Lastly, avoid placing your personal email address on any Assyrian website which can be easily scanned by the hackers and placed in their distribution lists.
For more information on how to protect yourself from hackers and viruses click here.
Thank you and enjoy the rest of this issue.
zCrew Technical Team
New Issue of Hugoye in Out Now
Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute
Methods of Instructing Syriac-Speaking Christians to Care for the Poor. Nancy A. Khalek, Princeton University Abstract. This essay is a brief comparison of the renunciation of material possessions in the eighth mēmrā of the fourth-century Book of Steps (Liber
Graduum) and the sixth-century Story of the Man of God of Edessa. The figures of the Upright and the Perfect in the anonymous Book of Steps exhibit striking correlations with the characters presented in the Story of the Man of God. Analysis of this homily and hagiography provide insight as to the pedagogical mechanisms within, and instructional usefulness of each text. The Colloquy of
Moses on Mount Sinai: Where Syriac Christianity Meets Islamic Spain and Africa between the 16th and 19th Centuries. Karla R. Suomala, Luther College Abstract. In 1891, Isaac Hall published a Syriac dialogue that blends elements of Exod 19-34 in which Moses ascends Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah, and spends 40 days and nights with God. This dialogue between God and Moses incorporates legal and ethical issues, as well as explores issues of God's origin and nature. The text seems to have no other counterparts in Syriac literature, but has parallels in four other manuscript traditions:
This paper will explore those parallels, and investigate the possibility of a common source.. Jacob of Edessa's version of Exodus 1 and 28. Alison Salvesan, Oxford University Abstract. At the end of the seventh century and into the beginning of the eighth, the Syriac Orthodox scholar Jacob of Edessa produced his own Syriac version of the Old Testament. According to the colophons of the extant manuscripts, this was explicitly a combination of the Syriac and Greek textual traditions. This is in fact borne out by a close study of Jacob's versions of Samuel, Genesis and Exodus. However, it is less obvious what criteria Jacob used for the inclusion or exclusion of the different strands available to him, including the Peshitta, the Syrohexapla, and different recensions of the Septuagint. This paper examines two very different passages in the book of Exodus from the unpublished manuscript of Jacob's version of the Pentateuch
Publications and Book Reviews
Symbols of Church and Kingdom Syriac Studies Workshop, Princeton University, May 4-6, 2005. Beth Mardutho and Dorushe to organize trip to Tur Abdin, August 5-18, 2005.
Publishers interested in advertising in future issues of Hugoye may contact the General Editor at email@example.com.
Rev. Ken Joseph Jr.
I will never forget standing at the bedside and praying with the dying Shah of Iran in Cairo, Egypt. His dear friend, President Anwar Sadat had provided him with one of his palaces in Cairo.
Clearly weakening he spoke of all things he wished he had done differently, but I will never forget two things.
First, he said "All I wanted was to bring my people into the 20th century and see them enjoy the fruits of the modern world. I wanted to do it in my lifetime and did it too fast."
Second he continued "My biggest regret is what will happen now! If it were even the communists taking over after me I would not be so worried - at least they would be progressive - it is the mullahas! They will turn my country back 500 years!"
As I watched the election results coming out of Iraq I remembered his words from July of 1980. How prophetic they were, not only for Iran but for Iraq as well.
In a meeting recently with the President of Iraq he confirmed that up to one million Iranians had come across the border into Iraq. More recent figures - all unconfirmed of course put the number up to 4 million.
It is believed that these were provided with false registration and provide much of the basis for the unusually high voting percentages.
Having been in Iraq since before the war I, along with all other Iraqis saw firsthand the process of the "Iranization" of Iraq.
We begged the CPA Administrators to close the border and stop the Iranian Television Station which still beams vicious propaganda into Iraqi homes.
While I along with others rejoiced at the purported high voting figures for Iraq a I saw them come in and compared them to the reports of massive voter suppression in the non-shia areas of Iraq I remembered the Shahs words
As an Assyrian Christian, the original people of Iraq we experienced the exact opposite.
I warned our people over and over to oppose the election as the voting process was not being done correctly.
First, the voting of overseas Iraqis was opposed by the United Nations until the very end. I spoke with Mr. Carlos Valenzuela in charge of the election as late as November and he adamantly said "there will be no voting for overseas Iraqis."
It was under great duress that they were held and they were purposely designed to suppress the voting of overseas Iraqi for a very simple reason - in the US for example approximately 85% of all Iraqis are in fact not moslem
It is worse in Iraq! Just as I expected voting in the Assyrian Christian area of Iraq was supressed. The Iraqi Independent Electoral High Commission's publicly acknowledged that out of 330 voting stations in the Assyrian Administrative Area only 93 were opened denying the vote to nearly 300,000 Assyrian Christians.
Voting materials were not delivered to the districts of Al-Hamdaniya (Qaraqosh-Baghdeda), Karamlesh, Bartilla County, Bashiqa, Bahzani, and the district of Al-Shikhan (Ain-Safni), which have a population of 300,000.
While on one hand Iran sent in between one and four million people to fraudulently vote to turn Iraq into the Islamic Republic of Iraq on the other hand up to 800,000 Assyrian Christians both in and outside of Iraq were denied the vote.
I ask the simple question I have asked now for nearly two years - did 1400 young men and women die to create the Islamic Republic of Iraq?
The fault lies squarely in one court - the United Nation. The United Nations has done all in it power to assist the transformation of Iraq into an islamic republic.
The initial plan of the United States as it did in Japan and Germany to have a constitution written, elections based on that constitutionand then a government in place and then the handover were stopped due to the pressure
The ultimate irony would be for Iraq to turn into another Iran and be worse off than it ever was.
The Assyrian Christians, the indigenous people of Iraq are the "canary in the mine". If the International Community and the United States in particularly do not immediately demand the right for this precious minority - one of the last Christian groups in the Middle East to be able vote and to have their Assyrian Administrative Area as provided for in the current Iraqi Constitution the future of freedom, democracy and the rule of law in the Middle East is for all practical purposes over.
Having paid in blood for the liberation of Iraq the United States has the right to demand that the government of Iraq be democratic and free, the Assyrian Administrative Region for the Assyrian Christians and article 7, which says "Islam is the religion of the nation" be removed. If not than 1400 young men and women will have died in vain!
Were Assyrians, Turkmen, Yezidis Intentionally Locked Out of the Iraq Election?
Courtesy of Assyrian International News Agency
The January 30 elections in Iraq were a historic breakthrough in the development of Iraq as a free and democratic society. Never before had Iraq had free, fair and transparent elections, with thousands of candidates and hundreds of political parties. Never before had the Christian Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) been allowed to participate in elections with their own independent parties.
Outside view: Truth in Iraq
By Ed Hogan-Bassey
It worked in South Africa after the demise of Apartheid, preventing bloody civil war and enabling forgiveness, reconciliation and peace to exist between white and black South Africans. It worked in Lebanon bringing different religious groups together to unite and live in peace. It also worked in Bosnia, allowing Muslims, Christians and others to reconcile and live together in peace. Iraq is not an exception. The Iraqi people, young and old, Shiite or Sunni, Kurdish and others, must come to terms with each other to reconcile, forgive, and move on as one nation.
The Jan. 30 Iraqi election and the vote for democracy was a remarkable success and victory for Iraqis. But the next 90 to 120 days will be critical for Iraq's future as well as for the future of U.S. policy in the Arab-Islamic world.
In the face of a successful election that has created a road map for democracy, Iraqi people can now start to smell the sweet scent of freedom. Thomas Friedman in his New York Times Op-Ed column of Feb. 3 said it best: "Whatever you thought about this war, it's not about Mr. (George W.) Bush any more. It's about the aspirations of the Iraqi majority to build an alternative to Saddamism. By voting the way they did, in the face of real danger, the Iraqis have earned the right to ask everyone now to put aside their squabbles and focus on what is no longer just a pipe dream but a real opportunity to implant decent, consensual government in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world".
But how will the Iraqi majority be able to build an alternative to Saddamism and implant decent, consensual government without real unity, forgiveness and reconciliation amongst its divided ethnic and religious groups? How will the United States claim real success for bringing democracy to the Iraqi people without a stable and unified Iraqi government?
The basic, but most strategic, question that inspired the call for Iraq unification summit was what can the United States do after the successful election to save Iraq from disintegration and bloody civil war? Implicit in this question is the ability to define what such disintegration and bloody civil war would mean in the whole region and the implication for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
The rising tide of tribal and religious disunity amongst the Iraqis, including the Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis, and other groups, threatens to destabilize and it signals a future social disintegration of Iraq and a grim possibility that a civil war may be looming. If Iraq is allowed to plunge into a civil conflict, it will be a devastating blow to the Iraqi people and to America's reputation in the world arena.
Fundamental reconciliation of Iraq's ethnic and religious groups is critical to building democracy in that country and to establishing a road map for spreading democracy in the Arab-Islamic world. This is the reason for holding a high-level Iraq reconciliation summit. It is designed to create a network and an infrastructure that facilitate communication and implementation of both short and long-term goals of reconciliation, forgiveness and unification that will bind the different tribes, religious factions and ethnic groups in a new Iraq democratic society.
If we are to take a realistic and honest view of establishing a successful, stable, functioning, peaceful and democratic government in Iraq, we must first address the following three essential factors: reconciliation, forgiveness and unification among the Iraqi ethnic and religious groups. These groups include: the Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis, Assyrian Christians, Turkoman, Marsh Arabs and others. Neither the United States nor the United Nations can bypass these three essential factors to obtain a real, stable, peaceful and democratic government in Iraq.
The United States must act now. Unless it act very soon, it faces a dilemma where all its accomplishments and contributions to rebuilding Iraq and bring democracy to that volatile part of the world will be lost. The opportunities that it has for winning hearts and minds, establishing democratic institutions and creating economic and political stability in that region may well be washed away.
The immediate aim of the summit is to bring together the Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkoman, Assyrian Christians, Armenians, Marsh Arabs, and others, including various religious factions in Iraq, for a 30-day reconciliation, forgiveness and unification summit. It would be patterned, organized and similar in nature to that conducted by the state of South Africa following the demise of Apartheid. The summit would consciously revitalize the spirit of nationalism, brotherhood, patriotism, forgiveness and reconciliation among the various tribes and religious groups.
[Zinda: Ed Hogan-Bassey is a 22-year veteran of the United States Information Agency. He is a fellow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Study and the author of the soon to be published volume: "United States Foreign Policy and the Rising Tide of Global Anti-Americanism"]
The Big Defeat of AssyriaSat, Bet-Nahrain Inc., Bet Nahrain Democratic Party, and the Assyrian National Congress
By Fred Aprim
AssyriaSat just never gives up. It continues spreading cheap propaganda against the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) on its airwaves. Despite the disappointing results for our people, AssyriaSat continues to try to cover up for the big defeat of slate # 139 that the station supported and campaigned for so hard. This cover up continues through the usual lies and unfounded claims it airs relentlessly.
Before the Iraqi elections of January 30, 2005, AssyriaSat claimed that there were plans to pay the Assyrians of Chicago monies in order to bribe and make them vote for slate # 204 (al-Rafidayn National Coalition of ADM and ChaldoAssyrian Syriac National Congress). The station asked the viewers foolishly to take the money when offered to them, claim that they will vote for # 204, but then turn around and vote for another slate (hinting obviously for # 139). Many of my relatives in Chicago are jokingly asking who was paying these bribe monies since they voted for # 204 and want to collect as well. I call for the masses that collected a single penny from the ADM to come forward and describe for the rest of us who exactly gave them the claimed monies.
During the last few days, embarrassed by the show of its Assyrian National Assembly slate # 139, hosts of AssyriaSat stated that their poor showing in the Iraqi elections was natural since the Assyrians of Nineveh Plain were prevented from voting.
Wow, this is amazing! It is the most ludicrous claim I have heard in a while. Does AssyriaSat and its volunteers really believe that the ChaldoAssyrians of the Nineveh Plain were going to vote for slate # 139? What justifies such claims by AssyriaSat? Is it the results of slate 139 in Baghdad, or is it its results in Dohuk? Lets use some logic here and ask a simple question, in what district did slate 139 win? Would AssyriaSat kindly show its viewers just one district where slate 139 won reasonable votes and surpassed slate # 204 or yet came even close?
Here are the figures published by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI):
Slate # 139 won 665 votes so far.
Slate # 148 won 769 votes so far.
Slate # 204 won 4367 votes so far (almost 7 times more than slate # 139)
Slate # 139 won 154 votes so far.
Slate # 148 won 133 votes so far.
Slate # 204 won 4123 votes so far (almost 27 times more than slate # 139).
If this is the case, what makes Nineveh Plain any different if elections were to be held there and the Nineveh Governorate, Kurds officials and militias, and the IECI did not intentionally prevent the Assyrian Christians (ChaldoAssyrians) from voting?
I say to AssyriaSat and Bet Nahrain, enough please, stop your wicked ways of presenting the news, and admit gracefully to your defeat, which is supported by plain figures. Of course, thanks to you and others, we all lost as you divided our votes and wasted many votes when you knew very well that you have no chance whatsoever.
I hate to be involved in such arguments, especially when we lost great opportunity; however, the lies of AssyriaSat must be addressed, the facts reported, and the people given a chance to listen to the other side of the story.
Flags, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Tobacco, Olives and Civilization
By Ivan Kakovitch
The Olive Branches
These conquests result in what is known as civilization, and, the absence of which, would perhaps see us still dwelling in the caves and the caverns.
The vanquished handed all they had to the victors. Gold, jewelry, stockade, cattle, horses, carriages, wives, daughters, and sons, were confiscated. Practically anything that was valuable, negotiable, mobile and nutritiously edible was taken away from the victims, most of the times, and they would be dealt with their lives, at others.
The subjugated people would ask even to offer their fruits and vegetables.
One of the most valuable crops was olive. Orchards of olives were desecrated and inhabitants were forced to transform them into oil, as a main nutrient for the marching armies.
One wonders, why did waving olive branches become a symbol of love and peace?
Well, obviously the idea cornered around the stepping-stone that waving olive branches at the conquering armies, the victims were surrendering and subjecting themselves to their whims.
The idea of waving flags does not lag far behind the same purpose of the olive branches. As a matter of fact, it even fortifies the surrender by ten-folds. By hoisting the flags of the victors, the masses enslave themselves to the point of non-existence.
Leaving the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans behind, history books denote that the Spanish and Portuguese Conquistadors, after denuding the New World inhabitants of their valuables, opted for trivialities such as corn, tobacco, potatoes and tomatoes. Perhaps, we should be thankful that the Aztecs and the Incas had ran out of high caliber commodities, such as gold, silver and jewelry, otherwise we would never wet our appetites for delectable and rather nutritious delicacies such as corn, potato and tomato, as well as mesmerizing the aphrodisiac fumes of tobacco.
Did the New World natives march on, waving tobacco, corn, tomatoes and potatoes?
They were not given the chance. They were annihilated in their sleep.
One is easily fathomed by the pre-eminent troth of patriotic ostentation to adorn such demonstrations with the flag of Iraq, never mind that it symbolizes Islam above all else. But there is a certain sense of uneasiness witnessing the Assyrian young men and women marching under the banners of Iraq, in the streets of Stockholm, Copenhagen, Aarhus, Amsterdam, London, Toronto, and Chicago.
Would that gesture be par with waving the olive branches?
There are only two replies: (1) Positive, (2) Negative.
POSITIVE: -- By virtue of general consensus the promoters of the protests neglected the main issue, and the pre-eminent motive of the march. They zealously, and with fervor, jumped at the idea of a demonstration at a spur of the moment, without prior deliberation.
That trait, their rush to act without a preconceived notion and without slightest of judgment, cost dearly not only them, but, all the Assyrians of the world.
By hoisting and brandishing the Iraq flag above their heads for the news services string correspondents, they made themselves appear as the citizens of Iraq, residing in the host countries of their permanent residence. In other words, in the eyes of their host citizens, they were Arabs. The parable that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck, aptly fortifies the idea.
NEGATIVE: -- The assumption that hoisting and brandishing the Iraq flag was ostensibly designed as to protect the Assyrians in Iraq, was a fracas, if not a flaw. And, if, on the other hand, the burst of the Iraq flags among the protesters was to display their loyalty and their patriotism to Iraq, a country most of their parents and grandparents were fleeing for past eight decades, ever since its creation by the British Colonial Empire, was a sham of highest proportion.
The marchers in Europe, Australia, Canada and USA have chosen their habitat. They would never contemplate to return and to take up residence in Iraq. Hence, their potent display of an alien flag to that of the country of their choice was ill conceived and a fallible notion.
In most parts of the world, including Sweden, Holland, Germany, France, Italy, U.S.A., and to a lesser degree in England, Canada and Australia, the Assyrians have never lived in Iraq, nor did they develop an affinity for the culture, arts, language, literature or culinary of Iraq. Most of these Assyrians are closer related to Russian, Persian, Swedish, German, Dutch, French, Italian and American ways of life.
Botching up the Noble Cause
The noble intent was to fill the exiguity of the scope of the news media as to the cognizance of the nation of Assyria, and the specifically perpetrated ills against it. The correspondents covering such demonstrations have no affinity for disembodiment or classification of nationalistic roots in a nation such as Iraq, where, in their studies, only Arabs -- subdivided into Sunni and Shi'a -- the Kurds, and the Christians reside. Even if there were some journalists that were versed in the genealogy of Iraq inhabitants, they would be averse to advocate it publicly.
Effect and Ramifications
Some marchers had declared themselves as Syriacs, some others as Aramaeans, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Chaldoassyrians, Jacobites, and perhaps even some other nomenclatures that are alien to us, at press time. This was a blatant disservice to all those honest participants that did not have the faintest idea of the core of the ramifications that such a portrayal could engulf. Obviously, there were some that inherently favored using the dictum of their invented nationalities, to specify their political affiliations. That is not acceptable. That is not nationalism. That is sheer anti-nationalism. That is cannibalism at its worst.
Therefore, the newsmen, instead of gesticulating themselves in front of the camera lenses, with no specifically deep-rooted knowledge, chose to eschew the ethnicity of the participants in the demonstrations, and just saved their skin by merely espousing, and advocating the ethereal names of Christians and Arabs only, instead of Assyrians of Iraq in general, and Assyrians, in particular.
Therefore, covering the marches with amplitude of flags of Iraq was to exacerbate all aims, and all efforts, by directing and delineating the agenda astray, and exactly in the opposite direction of the intended and principled groundwork.
Assyrians did not get recognition. Iraq and the Arabs did. But, the marchers didn't seem to carry the yellow flags of Kurdistan, not yet, at least, however, definitely in the future, they might do just that, as well. Had they done so, they would have rendered a great service not only to the Arabs, but also to the Kurds.
o Abandon the bravura of hoisting the Iraq flag for all those residing in Iraq.
o Do not repulse the non-Iraq Assyrians from the important gatherings that might send a message, once in a while, to certain authorities on the world arena.
o Select a committee of spokespersons to respond to the media.
The Iraq authorities of today and tomorrow are not and, will not be concerned with the vitality of seeing their flags hoisted during the street marches in the world capitals. They have other priorities, and more important agenda. They will not denigrate our brethren in Iraq for not resorting to inflammatory and derogatory verbal and web assaults against their brethren overseas for not carrying the flag of their country, Iraq.
The Iraq bread and butter, is to derive from the same world capitals, where the demonstrators gather and protest. The Iraq authorities shall not try to do away with a goose that lays golden eggs.
Get Out & Demonstrate!
To protest the voting irregularities in Iraq an impressive number of the Diaspora Assyrians joined their countrymen and women in Iraq and organized several successful demonstrations in Europe, Canada, & the United States. The television coverage of these demonstrations, the newspaper editorials in major publications across the United States and Europe finally led to the election officials' delay in announcing the results. This week, officials conceded that discrepancies were found in Mosul and they plan to recount votes from 300 ballot boxes across the country.
According to Mr. Johnny Michael, a spokesman for the Assyrian Democratic Movement in London: "Such a deliberate discriminatory act has cost our people between 4-6 seats in the new Iraqi Parliament which will be tasked with writing the permanent Iraqi constitution."
Click on the links below to view images of courage and bravery displayed by hundreds of Assyrians around the world. Zinda Magazine urges its readers to increase pressure on the Iraqi and UN officials by organizing more demonstrations in the coming days.
Contact us at Zinda Magazine and we will gladly inform our readers in your community or country of any planned demonstrations against the injustice displayed on 30 January in Iraq.
Photos are courtesy of Ms. Susan Patto in Iraq, the ADO World, Mr. Johny Michael in London, Sargon Publishing House, Mr. Alan Mansour and Mr. Joseph Kassab in Detroit, Michigan.
The following individuals contributed in the preparation of this week's issue:
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