21 Shvadt 6754
9 February 2005
Z I N D A M A G A Z I N E
Diaspora Assyrians Protest
|Assyrians Protest Against Voting Irregularities
ADM Followers Protest Voting Irregularities
Protest Letters from Nineveh Plains to IECI
Statement of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq
War Exposes History
A Handful of Educators Testing Iraqi Private Schools
|Provisional Results of the Iraq Out-of-Country Voting
Demonstrators in Toronto Demand Justice
AUA Appeals to World Governments to Restore Voting Rights
Chaldean Man in Australia Stabs Wife 20 times in Honor Killing
MESA Call for Papers: Middle Eastern Refugees
|Iraqi National Elections: A Look Back and Ahead
An Appeal to Assyria Youth
Assyrians Protest Against Voting Irregularities
Courtesy of the Christian Today
It has already been one week since the Iraqi national election. The unexpectedly tranquil election has been highly appreciated by world leaders and religious parties, symbolising a major step towards a stable government and a victory over terrorism. However, complaints about voting irregularities have emerged and tension is rising over the current period of vote count.
The complaints have mainly come from the violence-plagued areas or those with mixed religious and ethnic groups. Especially in the regions with concentrated Assyrian Christians populations, such as Mosul (ancient Nineveh) the tension has been stirring up.
Previous reports from the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) said that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) deprived thousands of Assyrian Christians in northern Iraq of voting. KDP blocked the delivery of ballot boxes to six major Assyrian towns and villages around Mosul including Baghdeda, Bartilla, Karemlesh, Shekhan, Ain Sifne and Bahzan.
A spokesman for Chaldean and Assyrian parties, William Warda, said the irregularities prevented 200,000 people from voting.
In addition, Associated Press reported that with the insurgents threatening to disrupt the balloting, many of Mosul's election workers quit their jobs.
Electoral commission officials in Baghdad have acknowledged that many polling sites never opened on 30th January or opened late because of what they said were security concerns. Some sites that opened could not be supplied with ballots and other election materials, officials have said.
"There are centres that opened and yet did not get enough ballots, which proves there were bad intentions," said Meshaan al-Jubouri, a Sunni Arab politician.
Yesterday, hundreds of Iraqis shouted slogans and waved Iraqi flags Sunday outside Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone to protest alleged irregularities. The demonstrators were mainly Assyrian Christians, Turkomen and Yazidis members of a small religion in the north.
Banners held aloft read, "Assyrians, Turkomens, Yazidis have the right to enjoy the essence of freedom," and "We demand our democratic rights and we reject marginalisation."
"We are protesting because we have been deprived of our right to participate in the elections," said Shameil Benjamin, a member of a Christian party called the Democratic Assyrian Movement. "There were irregularities and we felt that the in justice was inflicted on us."
Green Zone, where the campaign was held, houses the offices of the interim Iraqi government as well as the U.S. and British embassies. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq also is based inside the compound.
Al-Lami, the Iraq Electoral Commission official, said to Associated Press, the vote's credibility could not be judged before complaints were investigated. Currently, a team of independent lawyers is investigating the complaints in the city and will report back to the electoral commission.
However, he added, "The vast majority thinks the elections were a success."
ADM Followers Protest Voting Irregularities
Courtesy of The Associated Press
Hundreds of Iraqis shouted slogans and waved Iraqi flags Sunday outside Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone to protest alleged irregularities they say prevented tens of thousands of people in Mosul from voting in last weekend's landmark elections.
The demonstrators were mainly Iraqi Christians, Turkomen and Yazidis - members of a small religion in the north - who say polling centers never opened in their neighborhoods in the turbulent northern city and surrounding Ninevah province.
Electoral commission officials in Baghdad have acknowledged that many polling sites never opened Jan. 30 or opened late because of what they said were security concerns. Some sites that opened could not be supplied with ballots and other election materials, officials have said.
A team of independent lawyers is investigating those and other complaints in the city and will report back to the electoral commission.
"We are protesting because we have been deprived of our right to participate in the elections," said Shameil Benjamin, a member of a Christian party called the Democratic Assyrian Movement. "There were irregularities and we felt that the injustice was inflicted on us."
A spokesman for Chaldean and Assyrian parties, William Warda, said the irregularities prevented 200,000 people from voting.
The demonstrators gathered outside the Green Zone, which houses the offices of the interim Iraqi government as well as the U.S. and British embassies. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq also is based inside the compound.
Banners held aloft read, "Assyrians, Turkomens, Yazidis have the right to enjoy the essence of freedom," and "We demand our democratic rights and we reject marginalization."
Mosul has become a flashpoint for insurgents battling U.S. and Iraqi security forces in recent weeks. In November, rebels launched an uprising there that forced nearly the entire police force to desert their posts.
Protest Letters from Nineveh Plains to IECI
Nisan Karoumi Razouqi
cc: Office of the President of the Republic of Iraq – Please read and act as you see necessary
Ashor Radio – Nineveh
Killing an individual or Mass killings do not terminate a nation …
Assyrian Democratic Movement
cc: The National and International Organizations for Human Rights
Statement of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq on Election Violations in the Nineveh Governorate
The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) issued its report about the January 30, 2005 Nineveh Governorate during the Iraqi national assembly. The report stated that the elections in Nineveh went in position environment and the turnout was considerable taking into consideration the security situation, terrorists' threats, and refusal of the local administrative authorities in Mosul in assisting in the elections.
The IECI assured that its preparations and readiness for the elections did not exclude any town or village, including those in the Nineveh Plain. Since the IECI could not use the local authorities in the election process, it brought in 1,200 Iraqi electoral volunteers from other Iraqi regions to assist in the elections in the Nineveh Governorate. Thus, and due to lack of electoral volunteers, the electoral centers in Nineveh were reduced from 330 to 83. Out of these 83 centers, 43 were inside the city of Mosul and 40 outside the city and the latter 40 centers included centers in Hamdaniya (Qara Qosh), Ba'ashiqa, Sinjar, Shekhan, Karamlesh, Bahzani, Bartella, Tel Kaif, Talle'sfar, Rabee'aa, AlQosh, al-Ba'aaj, Makhmoor, Fai'da, Kalak, and other regions inhabited by Iraqis including Christians, Yezidis, Turkoman, Kurds, Arab, Shabak, Kaka'is and others.
In mid-election day of January 30, 2005, the IECI received news from its employees in Nineveh and from several political groups that necessary materials for the elections either arrived late to the polling centers or did not arrive all together, such as the case in al-Hamdaniya (Qara Qosh) District. The IECI stated that it tried hard, and to certain success, to make sure that such material did reach their destinations. In addition, the IECI decided to expand the poling time to give everybody a chance to vote since most of those places are within regions that are secured and safe.
However, certain rumors and press releases accused the IECI that it intentionally neglected certain towns that have a Christian and Yezidi majority or others from voting by the non-deliverance of voting material to them. This prompted the IECI to send a special high-level envoy to Mosul (Nineveh) in an urgent mission to address and investigate the matter since commission employees in Nineveh have reported attacks and immense violations during the January 30 election process. The envoy included IECI Chairman Dr. Hussein al-Hindawi, Executive General Manager 'Aadel al-Lami, and the head of operations.
The special envoy met with the head of the commission office in Nineveh, the United Nations experts in charged to watch the election process, officials and notables in the governorate, representatives of the towns involved, and with certain political groups. The special envoy concluded in brief the followings:
The IECI finally stated that it has been impartial in its procedures and that it respects all Iraqis irrespective to their ethnic, religious, sectarian, or civic background. It expressed its sorrow for the forced difficulties that deprived a great number of Iraqis in the Nineveh Governorate from voting. The IECI expressed its regrets that the few have given such security-logistical problem political dimensions, which does not relate to reality.
War Exposes History
Courtesy of Post-Tribune
(ZNDA: Mosul) A neglected monastery lies next to a graveyard of rusting Russian tanks on Forward Operating Base Marez, the home for some of the Indiana National Guard’s 113th Battalion.
Capt. James Gazaway, the chaplain for the 113th Engineers, has visited the site at least twice. He’s an amateur archeologist, trained in Biblical history.
“You can see the difference in the stonework. You can see they made additions by the changes in the stone,” he said on a recent trip to the site.
The area around Mosul is steeped in religious history of both Islam and Christianity. Several early Christian sects still survive in the area that was once ancient Nineveh, including the Assyrian Orthodox Church.
The Chaldean Rite of the Catholic Church is the largest Christian sect in Iraq.
Local Chaldean leaders place its history back to the fourth century, Gazaway said. Most of the chaplain’s information comes secondhand, from units that had been in Mosul early last year.
At the time, American troops were going into the city — without helmets and body armor — to start a dialog with the community.
There has been almost no contact with residents in recent weeks, except for a few merchants and translators who still work at the base.
Looking at the monastery’s construction, Gazaway is skeptical about the age.
He believes it’s more likely that the stone and mortar building is more recent, perhaps 16th century or as recent as the 18th century.
“There is no telling what’s underneath all of this. If it is of fourth-century origin, it’s underground,” he said.
There are plenty of tantalizing signs that more of the compound lies buried nearby.
Marez was an Iraqi base before the Americans arrived.
At one point, someone cut a road through the hillside, exposing another set of stone walls.
Outside the existing walls, a beehive stone dome a set in the ground, with a tiny doorway at the bottom.
The monastery’s recent past has been well-documented in the damage around the monastery.
A crumbling portion of the east wall shows where Americans fired a missile to dislodge Iraqi forces.
Gazaway pointed to the outer stone and plaster, which fell away in the blast. The inner wall, the oldest part of the building, was still relatively intact.
“Those people were the ones who knew what they were doing,” he said, of the original builders.
Later work is more haphazard, using local mud.
Buildings in the outer part of the city still use the same techniques. But the inner walls are finely sifted, creating a mortar more like concrete, he said.
Inside the courtyard, the 101st Airborne Division left its mark. Commanders used the fortress-like compound as a headquarters in 2003, shortly after the unit arrived in Mosul.
Someone has since tried to scrub and spray paint away the Screaming Eagle logo they painted over the entrance to the chapel.
Underground chambers are stuffed with empty 1.5-liter plastic water bottles and other trash from two armies.
Even as Black Hawk helicopters fly overhead, the place still seems distant from the tension in Mosul.
The west wall is a row of 10-foot-by-10-foot cells, which seem the perfect size for a monk. Each room has a small vaulted ceiling and a tiny alcove that could have housed a crucifix or statue.
Very little decoration remains. Some of the doorways are encased in 10-inch-wide marble. The ceiling of the chapel rises two stories.
Gazaway spotted a single alcove, 14 feet up the wall, which has an elaborate clay inlay.
The clamshell style is Islamic, but after examining a few digital photographs, the chaplain sees a faint stylized cross traced into the clay.
In the inner chapel, Sgt. Joe Collins of Gary used his flashlight to find the dim outline of one corner of a painting, hidden beneath layers of whitewash.
“You see, it’s right, there,” he said.
Where a missile hit the chapel, the outer wall has bowed as much as a foot, cracking the plaster. Stone and mortar cover the floor.
In the courtyard, some of the stairs are crumbling.
Gazaway hopes eventually to attract American interest in excavating the site, from a university, church or some other private group. Its location inside an American military base makes the site perhaps the only ancient religious site in Mosul potentially open to Westerners.
For the moment, he said, the expedition will have to wait.
A Handful of Educators Testing Iraqi Private Schools
Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times
(ZNDA: Baghdad) Down a side street in the busy Yarmouk district, midterm exams are underway at Al Mamoon Scientific Secondary School.
Principal Sabah Masraf unlocks a cabinet, takes out a stack of sealed brown envelopes, slits them with a razor blade, then hands out tests to rows of anxious teenage boys.
Al Mamoon itself is a test. It is among 13 new private schools that opened here in the fall, the first of their kind since Saddam Hussein nationalized the education system three decades ago.
The private schools are a half-measure by Western standards, bound to the core curriculum taught at state schools and answerable to the Ministry of Education. It is too soon to tell whether they will widen the education gap between the rich and poor or deepen sectarian divisions. But many here say they offer choice and hope to people who haven't had much of either for decades.
"After the fall of the regime, people wanted these kinds of schools," said Majeed Allaq, the interim government's director of general education. "This is one of the freedoms people should have."
Before the 1968 coup by Hussein's Baath Party, Iraq had many private educational institutions, including secular prep schools, and others operated by Assyrians, Jesuits and the country's small Jewish community. Nuns oversaw a Baghdad high school for girls called Al Aqeeda, Arabic for "faith."
Hussein nationalized all schools in 1973, except those for children of diplomats and kindergartens attended by a fraction of Iraq's children. Under the central government, schools were ordered to conform to certain standards and the content of some classes became politicized.
Though Shiite Muslims compose at least 60% of Iraq's population, schools taught only a Sunni interpretation of the Koran, reflecting the background of the Baathist elite. Only non-Muslims were exempt from such instruction.
Still, Iraq's schools — free to all and equally accessible to girls — ranked among the best in the Arab world. Literacy rates reached 80%.
That changed after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Public schools deteriorated as the country's economy shriveled under United Nations sanctions. Funds to maintain schools and add new facilities evaporated. In Baghdad high schools, as many as 60 students were packed into a single classroom, with only fans to circulate the baking heat.
Teachers' salaries fell to about $5 a month. Some made extra money by charging so-called tutoring fees, then giving preferential treatment to students whose parents paid up.
"Teachers had to search for illegal incomes," said Ali Sabour, an investor in Al Mamoon. "Students were passing courses by money."
Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, officials have focused on revamping public schools, which are attended by 6 million children nationwide.
After Hussein's ouster, 80% of Iraqi schools did not meet basic sanitary conditions, U.S. education advisors said. More than $200 million in international aid has been budgeted for upgrading school sites, providing new books and retraining teachers.
Certifying private schools is a way to add classrooms without tapping public coffers, Allaq said. After years of surviving on subsidies, "the citizen is realizing that not everything can be provided by the government," he said.
Private schools also received a boost because some of the American advisors sent to work with Iraq's transitional government had ties to the U.S. charter school movement and supported more local control of Iraqi schools. The first private start-ups have surfaced in more prosperous parts of Baghdad and the southern city of Basra, where conditions have been more stable.
Most try to keep a low profile because kidnappings have become more common after the 2003 invasion.
Sindbad Primary School in Baghdad's wealthy Mansour neighborhood doesn't even have a sign. Four armed guards lurk around its entry and small, enclosed playground.
So far, countrywide there are nine coed private primary schools and four boys-only secondary schools, with a total enrollment of about 2,000.
Tuitions vary widely. Sindbad Primary charges a little more than $1,200 a year, equal to tuition fees in neighboring Jordan. Al Mamoon asks for $300 a year but offers discounts to top students and to families with more than one child enrolled in the school.
"This is not our aim, to be only for the rich people," said Masraf, the principal at Al Mamoon. "Even the government workers can afford this sum of money."
Midway through its inaugural year, the school is clearly a work in progress. As students hunched over their exams last month, construction workers toiled over their heads, adding second stories to the school's two small buildings.
The new space will house labs, one element of a plan to augment the state curriculum with advanced studies in biology, physics and chemistry. Built with U.S. and Jordanian academies in mind, the improved facilities are intended to prepare students for the rigors of foreign universities.
Eighth-grader Haky Wisam, 15, said he liked the school's whitewashed, air-conditioned classrooms and smaller classes. With 166 students, Al Mamoon limits class size to 25.
"I was in a bad school," said Haky, who wants to pursue a career in engineering. "The teachers used to take money for tutoring all the time. This is better in everything."
Large parts of Al Mamoon's program remain unrealized. The school is still working to add facilities for sports. This year, the students dress casually, many of them in jeans. Next year, they will wear uniforms.
Most of the school's 23 teachers and administrators retired from state schools. They see in Al Mamoon not only a better income than in public schools, where teachers now earn about $300 a month, but a chance to teach in a more interactive way.
"During Saddam's time, we were thirsty for liberation and democracy," Assistant Principal Majeed Hamad Thir said. "He isolated us from the world."
There is already an undercurrent of debate about how much freedom private schools should have.
There have been grumblings that the Ministry of Education was withholding its stamp of approval from a school proposed by an Assyrian group. Allaq, the director of general education, insisted that was not the case, saying the government had approved schools backed by both Christian and Islamic organizations.
Some Iraqis would prefer private schools to be nonsectarian.
"We don't want to introduce segregation along sectarian lines," Thir said.
Allaq said he was not concerned with doubters. The Ministry of Education has set up offices in every province to supervise private schools, and he anticipated that another wave of schools would open in October.
"We're not afraid," he said. "We want these schools to succeed."
Provisional Results of the Iraq Out-of-Country Voting
Slates which carried ChaldoAssyrian Candidates
For a complete listing of all candidates within each slate click here
Demonstrators in Toronto Demand Justice for ChaldoAssyrian Voters in Iraq
(ZNDA: Toronto) In solidarity with the ChaldoAssyrian people in the Nineveh Plains, Iraq, and in recognition of their deliberate exclusion from participation in the historical Iraqi Elections on 30 January 2005, public demonstrations were organized in Toronto, Canada by various organizations opposing the injustices committed against the ChaldoAssyrians.
On Saturday 5 February, hundreds of enthusiastic demonstrators marched the streets of Toronto while chanting and proudly raising their banners and flags, ensuring that people’s voices, chants, and cries from the Nineveh plains were heard by the international community, and their rights claimed.
“Give ChaldoAssyrians the right to vote”, “Elections fail in Nineveh Plains” and “We demand true democracy” were some of the chants demonstrators recited in unification while Torontonians observed in awe.
As demonstrations ended in front of the United States Embassy, various local media sources broadcasting the news were informed about the unacceptable methods used to prevent the indigenous people of Iraq, the ChladoAssyrians from casting their votes and exercising their first democratic rights in the New Iraq. Some 200,000 eligible ChaldoAssyrians, Yezidi and Shabak were intentionally shut out of the election process in Nineveh Plains and ballots and ballot boxes withheld from them. In effect 400,000 Iraqi minorities will not be represented in the Provincial and National Assembly of Iraq.
Demonstrators demanded that the United Nations and the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq protect the integrity of the electoral process and implement a fully operative and administrative election poles in the Nineveh Plains, including the towns of Qarqosh, Baghdeda, Karemlesh, Bartilla, Ba’shiqa, Bahzan and Ain-Sifne.
Moreover a petition for Fair Iraqi Elections was signed by hundreds of demonstrators urging the United Nations and the IECI to put an end to these atrocities and allow the ChaldoAssyrians, Yezidi and Shabak people to exercise their full rights as Iraqi citizens.
This event was sponsored by the following organizations:
AUA Appeals to World Governments to Restore Voting Rights to Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs and Yazidis
The Assyrian Universal Alliance on behalf of its officers, Executive Board and Affiliates throughout the world has taken a very strong position condemning the denial of Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs and other minorities of the right to vote in the Iraqi General Election where 275 members are to be elected to the National Parliament and election of Officers to the district councils in the 18 provinces of Iraq.
The Secretary General of the AUA Sen. John J. Nimrod called attention to the fact that the people in the Haamsaniya and Shaikham districts in the Nineveh Province were denied the right to vote. No ballot boxes were received until late in the afternoon on Election Day. The persons delivering the ballot boxes by helicopter could not give any information as to why they were not delivered in a timely manner. The ballots were of no use since there were no election personnel at the polling places to man the polls. No one had been there all day long.
Some 250,000 Assyrians, Turkman, Yazidis and Shabaks heavily populate these districts. Each of these four groups represents about twenty five percent of the population. There is also a small group of Mandeans.
The AUA Secretary General contacted Iraq on Sunday, January 30 2005 election night where he learned about these gross election abuses denying Assyrian Iraq citizens and others the right to vote. The next morning the State Department and United Nations were called and a letter was sent to the Pentagon about these violations of human rights. They were asked to extend the voting by one day so those denied the right to vote could participate in the democratic process of electing their representatives to the National Parliament and the District Province Offices.
In addition letters on behalf of the AUA appeal were sent to United States President George W. Bush, Iraq Prime Minister Ayad Alawi and Fared Awar, Chairman of Iraq Election Commission. Personal telephone call was also made to Iraq to learn what the local representatives were doing about the situation. No stone has been left unturned in attempting to rectify this gross election abuse against our Assyrian brothers and sisters.
The thousands of Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs who fled from Baghdad to the Dohuk area because of the recent Church bombings have also been denied the right to vote. In the North the ballot boxes were under the control of the Iraqi National Guard who consist mainly of Kurdish forces. It was reported that in some of the northern election centers a number of Assyrians, because of fear for the safety of their families they signed a referendum requesting the separation of Kurdistan from Iraq. This Kurdish attempt to divide and control the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs and Yazidis and other minorities of the region is a serious problem and needs to be addressed.
The AUA Chapter Secretaries in the four regions of Americas, Australia, Asia and Europe have also filed their objections to these election violations. We will continue to cooperate and work with our people in Iraq to bring justice to our people and others who were denied their right to vote as citizens of Iraq.
Chaldean Man in Australia Stabs Wife 20 times in Honor Killing
A man who stabbed his estranged wife 20 times claims he was provoked into killing her when she refused to hand over her mobile phone and spat at him during a confrontation at a shopping centre.
According to the strictures of the Chaldean Church, to which Mazin Yasso belongs, his belief that his wife had formed a relationship with another man meant that she was prostituting herself and Yasso could be seen as her pimp, Yasso's lawyer, Bill Stuart, told a Supreme Court jury yesterday.
The Chaldean Church did not recognise divorce and believed marriage was for ever. "Not only is it great shame for a husband to have his wife go off with another man, but to be spat upon as she did was of utmost shame to Mr Yasso and any man of his background," Mr Stuart said.
Yasso, 47, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Eman Hermiz, 32, claiming he did not intend to kill her when he met her at a Meadow Heights shopping centre on May 8, 2001. Prosecutor Sue Pullen, SC, said Yasso's trial was about his wife deciding to leave her marriage.
Yasso did not accept this, Ms Pullen said. It led to his "ferocious and vicious attack" when he breached an intervention order to confront her.
She said Yasso had previously threatened Ms Hermiz and members of her extended family. "The accused was angry with Ms Hermiz leaving him. The anger continued to her death," Ms Pullen said.
He told police he had demanded Ms Hermiz's phone and handbag as a guarantee she would meet him the next day. She had agreed to surrender her bag but would not give up the mobile.
"I repeatedly told her to give me the mobile phone. She spat at me and I hit her with the knife," Yasso told police.
He married Ms Hermiz in Iraq in 1990. After an unsuccessful attempt to migrate to England, where Yasso spent the first four years of his life, Ms Hermiz moved to Australia in 1999 and Yasso followed. In the weeks before her death Ms Hermiz withdrew her offer to sponsor him in Australia. The Immigration Department had told him he would have to leave the country.
Ms Pullen asked the jury to consider Yasso's demeanour in his videotaped police interview. "He is cold, emotionless, no tears, no evidence of distress, nothing, despite having stabbed his estranged wife to death only hours before," said Ms Pullen.
Mr Stuart urged the jury to find Yasso guilty of manslaughter. Yasso had told police he had not intended to kill his wife when he went to meet her and described the defendant as being in a "hysterical situation" when he attacked her.
Mr Stuart said that in the Chaldean Church community "a husband whose wife has a relationship with another man, the wife is a prostitute, and if the husband does not stop it, he is her pimp".
Telephone records would indicate constant contact between Ms Hermiz's mobile phone and that of a male friend, Nasir Haba.
Mr Stuart suggested Yasso had become an embarrassment to Ms Hermiz's family once she had begun another relationship, and her family had tried to isolate him.
The trial continues.
It makes me very happy to bring to your attention the news of a recent and small victory.
Immediately following the Iraqi elections, CNN published a story that reported “three Kurdish men” participating in the Iraqi Elections, Out-of-Country voting program in Sydney, at the Fairfield Office. I noticed these men wearing our traditional national dress, or “julet khoomala” and became very troubled that on a very rare occasion where Assyrians had made the media they were erroneously reported to be Kurdish.
Thankfully after a number of people sent a somewhat strongly worded email, informing CNN of this mistake and kindly asking for it to be corrected as soon as possible, common sense and justice prevailed. CNN has changed the caption from “thee Kurdish men” to “three Assyrian men”. The article can be read in full by clicking here.
Lessons From The Near Past To Better Plan The Near Future
I will intentionally try not to mention any specific name here in order to avoid further futile discussions and also to prove that this would make more sense and be a true call for all parties that I meant to be involved!
It is shameful and painful though more troubling that we reached such situation in which we suddenly don’t know for sure whether we are really one nation with different nominations as we have been taught and known for long decades, if not centuries, or do we go with the most recent invented theory that we are three distinct (or may be more) separate nations as some new ‘nationalists’ claim!
Regardless of what we agreed or disagreed upon during the past four years or so, it seems quite obvious that we (with all our denominations) did not achieve the minimal expectations for that period. The political results of our national movement, lead by our various political parties and organizations, were discouraging by all measures to some shocking and upsetting extent. Unless, of course, these same parties, mistakenly, consider the shameful elections’ results otherwise successful, which would be much more disturbing and make it even harder to analyze such lack of national mentality.
However and to be objective in this analysis, I must also mention here that on the contrary, there was great progress in our people’s national sense and appreciation for critical national issues and I must admit that this progress represents, by itself, a distinguished achievement on the national level. The increasing national sense can be easily attributed to the intelligence of our people and their interest acquired in expressing their national responsibility by participating effectively in various hot national issues and debates by demonstrating all types of involvement in national issues. Our people have the credit also being able to demonstrate valuable exercise of conducting and maintaining bitter debates despite all the conflicting views and disagreements that our ‘leaders’ unfortunately failed to maintain such debates and negotiations on many occasions.
Any objective observer would easily diagnose the problem we faced during the last four years and identify it without any doubts being the serious ‘lack’ of our ‘leaders’ in dealing with our national issues. I would like to emphasize here that by ‘leaders’ I mean all types of them and without exceptions. We have noticed this unexplained ‘lack’ of leadership while our people, in general, was asking and even begging for our national unity (except for few odd calls from each faction), while the main serious and cumbersome problem our nation ever faced was the absence of objectiveness, bright vision and wisdom in these ‘leaders’ to address this crucial issue.
We all know and might agree in general that there would be no ‘full’ agreement on each aspect and every tiny issue when handling such serious project like the national cause of any nation. We shouldn’t be surprised also to see this amount and wide spectrum of different views, plans and agendas emerging from all parties involved in our national struggle in Iraq. These national debates and disagreements were supposed to be healthy and encouraging being the case that all other nations lived when facing similar struggles and debates. But we also know that other nations have invested in such bitter and painful debates to find better solutions. As a matter of fact, while other leaders proved to have the wisdom, the expertise and tactical maneuvers to lead their people to their goals while maintaining national objectives intact, unfortunately it was not the case with our ‘leaders’.
Unfortunately, our ‘leaders’ suffer from many deterrent factors such as egoism, personal interests, narrow spectrum of views and lack in ability of teamwork. As a matter of fact and to be realistic, we should expect and accept to some extent part or even all of these deficiencies at these early stages of democracy because the evolution of any political accord in any nation is long, complex and painful process of healing that extends to all parties involved. The bitterness in this issue is that all partiers are unable to show any trend for change and no one party is better than the others unless proven otherwise and we did not observe such proof yet!
It might be very painful to admit these negative aspects that are attached to our ‘leaders’ but these are the facts that we are facing and must deal with them until we witness the change that we all dwell on and are awaiting to emerge from these ‘leaders’, i.e. the ability to forgive others’ mistakes, to forget or put aside past bitter conflicts, accept and respect other views and ideas and most important to precede all is our all times demand, to consider our nation’s best interests their first priority.
Alas predicted, we must admit that we have just missed another historic opportunity, as we did in earlier times, and everyone who claims otherwise and trying in vain to convince others being victorious is naïve. This is painful by itself because it proves with no doubts that we are still unable to understand the actual realities and the complex situation and circumstances surrounding us. We are still unable to sit on one table and negotiate our national priorities in healthy and productive dialogue. We are still unable to create our national work plan and involve each and every resource available in this nation who can provide help that would turn this national project into reality.
The real lesson from all of what we have ‘achieved’ so far must be to arrange for a national conference of accord and reconciliation. We must have an open honest and objective dialogue to review the shocking and disappointing outcome from our experience for the past four years. We must bravely identify our mistakes and wrongdoings not to blame or point fingers or discredit or accuse or blame others but to pinpoint, diagnose, learn, fix and avoid all such mistakes in the next important and crucial phase.
The second lesson is that we must all have learned by now and proved without doubts that any single hand can’t and will never be able to clap and naïve is who thinks otherwise even if his single hand may seem to him clapping! We must have learned by now that we need our national unity to thrive as same as we need air and water to survive.
The third lesson is that we must have known by now that we can’t disfranchise any other views or efforts and we must realize that this attitude is wrong, unpatriotic and undemocratic before even thinking of conducting such horrible act! The simple relevant fact that can be mentioned here is the poor participation of diaspora (and may be at home as well) in the past elections that could be largely attributed to the low confidence of our people in their ‘leaders’ and the confusion that was created by the conflicting messages from the rival parties and the vicious attacks during what they considered their ‘victorious’ elections’ campaigns.
Our most important lesson must be to learn how to work diligently and proactively to bring all these rival parties to the negotiations table once again and make them accountable of this nation’s fate because we can’t afford another failure and we must realize that we may not have this door of opportunity open for long.
Finally, we must also realize that we are facing now more complicated situation than we have had before the elections and we must have some tangible plans as to how to deal with the Kurds’ increasing demands for separation and their public open calls for an independent country should their certain critical conditions are not met. We must have national plans that would be able to deal with the consequences of having such scenario in reality and its direct impact on our people living in those Kurdish controlled territories and its indirect impact on our people living elsewhere.
Let who cares show his good work and let us keep remembering one important:
It is always much better to keep silent if you don’t have any thing good to say.
U.S. Assyrians Failed Us All
After reading Ivan Kakovitch of California's article regarding the break up of Assyrians and Chaldeans I followed his comments at the bottom of the article, "For me to assess, for you to judge" ... and judge I will ...
The number of Assyrians and Chaldeans in the United States is in comparison to other minority groups around the world, HUGE! And ashamedly it seems that utter lack of interest and perhaps laziness abetted their decision not to vote.
When looking at Australia we (at this point) are aware of the fact that the majority of voters in Australia were Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac voters and their effort is to be commemorated, yet with an Assyrian population of approximately 30.000 in Sydney and much more in Melbourne the effort is not acceptable (!).
It is a shame to see that Assyrians around the world did not take the time and did not have the interest to voice the democratic right that has been handed to them on a silver platter. For shame!!
Poll Question: Do you believe that preventing Assyrians in North Iraq from voting on Sunday was a premeditated act?
94% Yes 3% No 3% Don't Know
By virtue of blocking the Assyrians in the plains of Nineveh from voting the Kurds have out maneuvered us and this should be seen by the rest of the world as "virtual genocide" because by denying the 400,000 Assyrains/Chaldean/Suyanis the right to vote the Kurds have demographically erased 30% of our population.
I belive the number of Assyrians could have enough if the oponents do not hide them behind the tall wall. Another word the cohabitants in Iraq should always give right to Assyrians because they are the first nation in that part of the world. I beleive, if my people were not let to vote we have to see how much they are free and not herrassed by others in the same land. I am optimist my nation soon will establish its identity and become landowners again. This is the God
I think we should promote a large demonstration here in us to show that our people were prevented from voting at this historical time of our life in iraq.
MESA Call for Papers: Middle Eastern Refugees
2005 Annual Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA) Conference (Submission Deadline: February 9, 2005).
We are organizing a panel for the 2005 annual Middle Eastern Studies Association conference, to be held in November 19-22, 2005 in Washington, D.C., and are soliciting abstracts for participation in this panel.
As a follow up to two MESA panels we organized last year on refugees, we would again like to issue a Call For Papers for the MESA 2005 conference on the subject of refugees. There are no limitations on the topics that participants might cover, but the topics should focus on refugees whose point of origin is from among the geographical areas that MESA papers generally address. We have decided to pursue editing a volume on Middle Eastern refugees and hope that panelists would be eventually prepared to submit their papers for publication.
Panelists may focus on the many ways in which refugees are represented-politically, socially, culturally, nationally-as well address the issue of refugees in international relations, conflict resolution, local economies/global economy, or in other political processes.
Please send a short abstract describing the topic to both Rochelle Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org and Kimberly Katz at email@example.com by Wednesday, February 9, 2005. We will respond to you by Friday, February 11, 2005. Abstracts and complete on-line submission is due on February 14, 2005.
San Francisco Lecture: "The Iraqi Elections"
Speaker: Abbas Kadhim
11 February 11, 2005
Abbas Kadhim, a native of Iraq, is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at U.C. Berkeley in Islamic Studies. He is a frequent lecturer and panelist on the current situation in Iraq. He has appeared on many media outlets and community forums in the Bay Area. He is also sought as an advisor on Iraqi and Middle Eastern issues.
Question/ Answer session to follow
$10 donation for non-members
I am going to take this opportunity and try to bring some sense from what took place in last week's Iraqi elections, the preliminary statistics being published by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI), and the various candidate's positions.
It seems to me and to many who participated in www.zindamagazine.com and www.ankawa.com polls, about the elections in north of Iraq Nineveh Governorate, that depriving Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) was a political and premeditated act. Out of 530 polled at Zinda, 94% agreed and out of 1600 polled at ankawa, 67% believed that this was a politically motivated act and that it was not an honest mistake. To call this act a conspiracy by the Kurdish groups or the Civic Authorities in Mosul is an understatement. It is safe to state as well that the United States is part of this conspiracy, since it is ruling Iraq indirectly and it is in position to rectify the injustice; however, it is not going to do so, as reports from Iraq are indicating as of the time of the writing of this article. The United States is not going to tangle herself in additional problems with a bunch of divided Christians. The U.S. is making its plans in Iraq with complete considerations to the Kurds in the north. The U.S. wants to deal with three groups: Shi'aa Arabs in the south, Sunni Arabs in the Center, and Kurds in the north. Sadly, and I hate to admit it, Assyrians are nobody in Iraqi affairs. As far as Kurds are concerned, the Nineveh Plain must be carved away from Nineveh Governorate and attached to the so-called Kurdistan. Therefore, the true Assyrian voice in Iraqi parliament must be suppressed and eliminated and what a better way to do so than preventing the eligible voters from a population of 250,000 to 300,000 ChaldoAssyrians (estimated at 150,000 voters) in Nineveh Plain from voting.
Certain intellectual Assyrians believe that the U.S. policy could have been supportive earlier; however, as the U.S. observed from a close range the Assyrian internal affairs and realized that it is just not worth the efforts. This especially makes more sense with the many troubles facing the Americans in Iraq.
Assyrians (ChaldoAssyrians) brought it upon themselves
Looking at the available figures, one just gets depressed. The final statistics of the IECI for outside Iraq shows the following figures for three Iraqi Christian populated regions in the U.S. out of the total five of the polling centers:
Of course, many of these registered could be Arabs; especially in their stronghold in Detroit and many were Arabs and Kurds in Irvine, and I say this from my personal observation during my registration and voting trips. If we blame the Irvine location as the reason for the low Assyrian turn out as many of them from the heavily populated Modesto/Turlock Stanislaus County and San Francisco/San Jose Greater Bay Area did not challenge themselves to drive 400 miles one way (6 hours) to register, what is the excuse of those 20,000 ChaldoAssyrians in San Diego, who were an hour and a half away? What hurts the most is the anemic turn out in the Iraqi Christians' strong hold in Chicago and Detroit. Out of 80,000 in Chicago and 100,000 in Detroit, only 16,000 Assyrians registered. Why? Because we in the United States simply do not give a damn, it is the painful fact that we must admit. I tip my hat for those in Australia, Canada, Sweden and other European countries who proved to us many things that I would love to address sometime in the future.
The Christians Vote in Iraq
Many Assyrian nationalists were counting on the ChaldoAssyrians in Iraq. That did not happen either. As votes are tallied (45% counted in Baghdad) the ChaldoAssyrians (slates # 204, #148, and #139) gained around 5,800 votes only as follows:
Of course, some Christian votes have gone to the Communist slate # 324.
Think about it, with almost half of the votes (45%) tallied in Baghdad (with a population of 500,000 Christians) only some 6,000 voted for the Christian slates.
What is wrong with us? Well, it is the security situation, few claim. For God's sake, why is security only affecting us? Why is security not affecting the 13,804 Kurds (so far) who voted in Baghdad for the Kurdish United slate # 130?
On the other hand, it seems that the Nineveh Plain situation and the potential of some 150,000 votes from the ChaldoAssyrian population of 250,000 to 300,000 is not going to be remedied. Meaning, if slate # 204 could not get another 5,000 votes (besides the 27,404 it has won so far) from Arbil and Kirkuk voting centers (which are not published yet), there is a chance that even Mr. Younadam Kanna (on the top slot of slate # 204) will not be elected to Iraqi parliament. I am considering slate # 204 only here since slates # 148 and # 139 have no chance of winning whatsoever.
Who is or will be Voted to the Parliament?
As we have shown in the past few weeks, the Christians associated with the Kurdish political groups will get in the Iraqi parliament courtesy of the Kurdish vote. They got a free ride. The Kurdish United slate # 130 won big. The Kurds played all cards, even bringing thousands of Kurds from Iran and giving them houses and settling them in Dohuk. Therefore, individuals, including Goriel M. Khamis (in slot # 41), Salim Potros Elias (in slot # 43, withdrew non-officially), Abd al-Ahad Afram (in slot # 44), and Jacklin Q. Zomaya (in slot # 45) will dictate the Assyrians' future in parliament. God help us all.
Our people on the Communist slate (People's Union, slate 324) are facing many difficulties. Shamiran Marogil (in slot # 6) and Dr. Hikmat Hakim (in slot # 7) have small chance of getting in since slate # 324 has won 43,840 votes up to February 7 and about 50% of the votes counted. For these two individuals to make it into Iraqi parliament, slate # 324 must win additional 180,000 votes (or another 150,000 for Marogil to get in alone).
Meanwhile, Wijdan Michael (in slot # 6 on Prime Minister Ayad Alawi's slate) has guaranteed her spot in parliament.
The North of Iraq Kurdish Regional Parliament
The united Kurds are winning in a landslide in their three governorates of Arbil, Sulaimaniya, and Dohuk regional elections for north of Iraq regional parliament. Here again, Christians associated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), such as Romeo Hakkari, Nimrod Baito, and others have guaranteed their place in north of Iraq Kurdish regional parliament, another free ride courtesy of the Kurdish votes. It is safe to say that these candidates will not work for Assyrian benefit; they are on Kurdish list and they will work for Kurdish benefit, lets face it.
A Black Day for Assyrians
Unless a miracle happens and the Nineveh Plain is given a chance to vote, or scores of ChaldoAssyrians turn out to vote in Baghdad, Arbil, and Kirkuk, Assyrian political question is rested in the hands of associates of Kurdish groups (with one exception perhaps) who will do basically nothing for ChaldoAssyrians. It is 1920s all over again with malik Khoshaba and then the black years during the authority period of Khoshaba's son Yousip Khoshaba (1960 – 2000), and their likes, who worked for the Iraqi government and cared less for the Assyrian welfare and rights.
Looking Forward to a Year Ahead
This parliament is going to write the Iraqi Permanent Constitution. According to this constitution, a second permanent election is to take place within a year. How the Iraqi constitution will be worded is yet to be seen. According to the above figures, it is safe to state that the Kurds will be able to dictate how the Syriac-speaking Christians of Iraq be labeled. The Kurds want the Assyrian demise and division; they want the control of Assyria. With their people in parliament, no one will object to their demands. The Kurds will make the Christians in parliament jump on each other and finally give Abd al-Ahad Afram and the rest what they want. We will end up with Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) being divided officially into four or five groups: Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, ChaldoAssyrians, and Christians with no power to any group whatsoever. By the time of next elections, the constitution will be written and even if any legitimate Assyrian group reached that second parliament, it would be too late to work for the unity of the Syriac-speaking Christians of Iraq.
Do we have hope? With these faces in parliament, I doubt it, unless a miracle drops from heaven.
Shame on every Assyrian nationalist (also known as Chaldean and Syriac) who stood in the path of unity!
I will make sure of it.
May you not live a day in peace.
An Appeal to Assyria Youth
Author's note to the readers : The Assyrians world over, are docile, peaceful, family oriented, devoted, hardworking, honorable, humble, and civil people. Undue references in this article pertaining to behavior and attitudes of the Assyrians do not reflect the nation, but only upon a few activists -- this writer included -- that tend to usurp the titles of authority. This nation had no leadership for millennia, and the only substantiated hierarchy was the ordained Patriarchs of the Church of the East. Since no legitimate and eligible element has cemented itself for such a rule, therefore the old hierarchy is still in place, until placated by an elected, on international suffrage, governing body. This is one man's opinion.
APRÉS MOI LE DÉLUGE!
Attributed to Louis XIV, known as the Sun King of France, was in response that his grandiose projects would deplete the French treasury in less than a decade or two.
Louis XIV was a King, and a great one. Also, there was the Kingdom of France.
We are not Kings. There is not a square inch of land or sea on this globe called Assyria, much less a Kingdom. There is of course a Province of Ninewa, capitalizing on the name of the Assyria City State, which became the Capital of the Assyrian Empire of yore. That portion of real estate is in Northern Iraq, and Transitional Administration Law (TAL) which was brandished into the air in front of the international news camera lenses, with a broad and animated smile of the only Assyrian Representatives in the Iraqi National Council, was handed on the golden platter to the Kurds. Yet, we walk parallel line with that of Louis XIV. We have abandoned the idea that tomorrow is forthcoming. We seem to have bestowed the label of Monarchs upon ourselves, since our political behavior is purely egocentric, leading our nation to doom. We seem to troth that prominence is whilst we last, and, that tomorrow does not matter.
We act as children during the class breaks. Each one of us runs aimlessly, only to dispense our energy after a boring lesson in trigonometry. We scream and yell at no one in particular, and at all that there is around us, and, all in unison, at the same time. We do not respect the paths of others, nor their rights, while grinding the schoolyards with Adidas or Reebok snickers. We alarmingly snicker with refrain, for no purpose, whatsoever.
We are pompous and arrogant in our dealings with every channel of communications and almost every government, as well as with the immediate neighbors of our brethren that are condemned to live among them, perhaps the rest of their, and their children's lives, under the direst conditions that any nation can endure.
As by-products of a never-evasive complex of Middle Eastern mentality, we espouse the esoteric rhetoric over reality. We tarnish the truth with sham. Our perception of cultural ties to our ancestors is entombed with alarmingly prolonged regional dances. We pray and eulogize in agonizingly long processions instead of dexterity. We converge at Conventions to be entertained rather than to participate in the undertakings. Our entertaining industry is stagnant because we do not defy the centuries-old stigma of perpetuity in our artists' compositions and procreations.
Each individual, each puny gathering that calls itself as an association or an organization, prompts ejecting infantile and inflammatory leaflets into the governmental pouches and the websites. Obviously we are taking advantage of the democratic paths that preempt all risks. However, we are risking all by abusing the same democratic ideals that facilitate our neophyte political behavior.
We react rather than act. We deplore rather than implore. We desist rather than resist. We despise rather than prize. We are despondent rather than respondent. We blame rather than attain. We are vindictive rather than indicative. Finally, we chastise rather than mobilize.
That last sentence, mobilization or centrism, the most eminent element, is what is escaping us, just as it has been for the past twenty-five centuries.
We have just witnessed a fairly democratic -- as much as it was feasible -- election in a geographical area, and in a country that never had one. Obviously, cognizant of the fact that it was a coerced and a forged election preconditioned for ulterior political motives. We have witnessed the same level of elections in Russia and recently in Ukraine, where such an idea would have been taboo less than two decades ago.
The new era imbeds our youth with the enterprising mentality, and with mobility of centralized organization we could acquire the most powerful weapon in any arsenal in the universe, and that is the respect and the obedience of the young generation, and consequently, the core of our nation.
HENCEFORTH, let us lend a hand in enacting a dogma of emancipation from extant and defunct organizations by reaching out to implement an international suffrage election among all our people spread in the world -- Iraq included -- so that we can all meet the demands of the new era by orchestrating our vocal cords harmoniously.
That is when, and only then, that the world may want to listen to us.
Let each organization and each interested individual, prepare an agenda for presentation and summation. Let us study all such presentations. And, finally, let us arrive to a definite resolution to recommend one single dogma -- constitution -- to be derived and adopted from among all such recommendations.
Does it appear that there is an invitation in place? Obviously there is. Any listeners? There could be some among the younger non-alienated generation. Whereas the activists of yesteryear may still be debating their place in history, which may never materialize if we continue facing the world and its affairs nonchalantly and without a united voice, press, and action.
Discord, is a phenomena that occurs on all fronts and in all the wars, that consequently end up with peace. It is a political tact. However, in the case of the Assyrians, it is personal one. Not being totally pessimistic, it is regretful to note that ironing out personal dissent is much more difficult than a political one. So then, let us remain, as we are, in two or more, aloof and independent camps of action.
Let us allow our brothers and sisters in Iraq to govern our masses in Iraq as they see fit. They are there. It is their prerogative. It is their right and their obligation.
Our tasks are not to their detriment, but rather to complement their work. Our efforts are not to preempt their national and patriotic obligations but rather to reinvigorate their, and our destiny.
However, we must be allowed to practice our own perceptive nationally cumulative acts, since we are not divorced from our nationalism. We wholeheartedly sympathize and realize that their tasks border on Iraq and the Assyrians. And, despite the fact that our goal is Assyria, there is a common denominator in both functions. There is ample evidence that one day we will be working hand in hand, even if we will be seen as alienating them for the time being. This separation is not forced upon us. It is a natural human process, and no matter how much energy and commotion we will allocate to it, it shall be all in vain at this junction.
There are tens of thousands of Assyrian College and University graduates in this world. Some of them are starving for cohesive implementation of our national resources for national identity. Some others are keeping themselves abreast, since we don't seem to have accomplished what they expect from us. Yet, some don't even know much about our movements, our culture, and our aspirations.
But, they are all there. They are waiting even for a faint of a light to sparkle, indicating the temerity of being a national with no nation. They will understand. They will become more compassioned. They will try to exercise their philosophy, and definitely, they will dedicate a certain amount of their valuable time to perfect the road to recognition, perhaps even better than we have been trying for years.
We only have that one choice. We must try to reach out to our young generation and the core of our nation all over the world.
THEREFORE, I am asking Zinda Magazine to keep reprinting this article as long as it is feasible, so that Assyrians all over the world will have a chance to articulate the contents and to respond properly with their zeal and interest. Perhaps, then we can come up with recommendations of the ways and means to man what we are aspiring to accomplish.
In due time, you shall be contacted and will be asked if you are eager to partake in the reconstruction.
For the time being, analyze and publicize these and other contents, so that when we meet to mobilize, we will be knowledgeable of each other and be alert of the impending priorities.
[Zinda: You may correspond with Mr. Kakovitch by sending your email to Appeal2Youth@zindamagazine.com.]
The following individuals contributed in the preparation of this week's issue:
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