19 Adaar 6754
Volume XI

Issue 10

9 March 2005


Fax 1-415-358-4778

Why Not Minas al-Yousifi?

Freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena is helped out of the plane at Ciampino airport in Rome. The Chaldean Catholic Church negotiated her release in secret talks.

This Week in Zinda
  The Persecution of the Christians Cecilia Wikström
Good Morning Assyria
  Chaldean Church Helped Release Italian Journalist
Buttiglione to Testify in Support of Tariq Aziz
Jesuits: Iraq War An Error that Caused Anti-Christianity
News Digest
  Karl Suleman Leaves Prison, Faces New Charges
Iraqi Election Was A Bittersweet
Linda George Survives Serious Auto Accident in Sweden
Four New Metropolitans To Malankara Church Consecrated
Bishops in Lebanon Call for Elections
San Diego Chaldeans Nominate Sistani for Noble Prize
Surfs Up!

It's Too Late, Bishop!
The Dream of an Assyrian School in U.S. is Born
Read My Father's Book Again!

Eric Saban
Fred Aprim
Eddie S. G. Beth Benyamin


Chicago Lecture: Ivories from the Northwest Palace at Nimrud
Film in Berkeley: "About Baghdad"


  A Nation without Representation
I Beg of You My Brothers and Sisters!
EU-Turkey: Why Simply Say "No"?
Dr. George Habash
Fred Aprim
Antoni Yalap
  French Archaeologist Solves Mystery of Mari  

The Lighthouse
Feature Article(s)


The Persecution of the Christians

Cecilia Wikström

Every day we hear about suicide bombings and kidnappings in Iraq. Most people are probably not aware, however, that the continued existence of one of the country's oldest minorities, the Christian community, is also threatened.
These Christians, nearly one million strong and known as the Chaldo-Assyrians, are in urgent need of the world's forceful assistance. A wave of anti-Christian violence began in earnest last year on Aug. 1 with a bombing campaign against six churches in Mosul that left several people dead. After a series of explosions on Oct. 16, against five churches in Baghdad, some 40,000 Iraqi Christians fled to neighboring countries out of fear of further extremist attacks.

Cecilia Wikström

Before January's elections, insurgents intensified their persecution by linking the Christians to the occupying forces. Assassination is one terror tactic used; another is the abduction of Christian businessmen who are held for ransom and often murdered. Christian girls who walk in the streets unveiled have been attacked with acid. Nina Shea of Freedom House has reported how Kurdish administrators have withheld U.S. reconstruction funds from Chaldo-Assyrian areas and confiscated Christian farms and villages. Tens of thousands of Christians were prevented from voting in the January elections.
Many Christians feel they have no option but to consider leaving their ancient homeland en masse. This would be a terrible setback for the vision of a pluralistic, secular and democratic Iraq. The Chaldo-Assyrians still speak the ancient Aramaic language, but they constitute one of the most modern, skilled and educated communities in Iraq.
And a serious long-term policy for Mideast democracy must prioritize the fair treatment of ethnic and religious minorities.
In order to prevent an exodus, Europe must act in concert with the United States, and it needs to be done urgently. Though many Europeans rightfully had qualms about the invasion of Iraq, it is now time for all European states, including my Sweden, to abandon the position of nonengagement. A successful reconstruction of Iraq requires trained soldiers to protect civilian contractors, civil servants, plumbers, electricians, teachers, clergymen and ordinary civilians in their daily lives. Soldiers, police officers and reliable courts are required to safeguard equal rights for various minority ethnic and religious groups.
But so far, Sweden, for one, has done disgracefully little to preserve such rights. It refuses to reopen its embassy in Baghdad or to train military forces inside or outside Iraq. The policy of nonengagement is of course not exclusively Swedish, but it is particularly irresponsible, since a Swedish citizen, Minas Ibrahim al-Yousifi, remains kidnapped and under a death threat in Iraq. He is a prominent member of the Chaldo-Assyrian minority. The need for Sweden at the very least to establish a diplomatic presence in the country is obvious.
The Chaldo-Assyrians are gradually being driven out of their ancestral homeland. Can Western Europeans afford to look away from a safe distance as this forced ethnic cleansing takes place in the very cradle of civilization?
[Zinda:  Cecilia Wikström is the Swedish Liberal Party’s spokeswoman on Middle East affairs.]


Good Morning Assyria
News from Homeland


Chaldean Church Helped Release Italian Journalist

In Baghdad, Bishop Mar Shlemon Warduni, a Chaldean Catholic auxiliary, said that Church leaders had been involved in secret talks that helped to produce Giuliana Sgrena, an Italian journalist's release. He asked journalists, however, to remember the other hostages still being held in Iraq.

Another Italian, Nicola Calipari, was shot and killed by US troops, apparently accidentally, while driving the Italian hostage to freedom.

Mr. Minas al-Yousifi, head of the Christian Democratic Party and a Swedish Iraqi, remains in captivity as officials of the Swedish government continue to negotiate his release.  It is not known if the Chaldean Church in Baghdad has made contact with his captors since the arrival of the Swedish officials in Jordan last week.

Buttiglione to Testify in Support of Tariq Aziz

Rocco Buttiglione, Italy's minister for Europe, has said he is ready to go to Baghdad to testify as a character witness in the trial of Saddam Hussein's former right-hand man, Tariq Aziz.

As a senior Christian Democrat and friend of Pope John Paul II, Buttiglione is unlikely to have agreed without the Vatican's approval.

His offer again focuses attention on the Roman Catholic hierarchy's controversially sympathetic attitude towards Aziz, who was baptized into the Chaldean Catholic Church, which is in communion with Rome.

Last year Buttiglione was forced to withdraw as Italy's nominee for the European commission over his alleged views on homosexuality. Though he would not go to Baghdad in his capacity as minister, it creates a problem for Silvio Berlusconi, whose government stood four-square behind the Bush administration's policy of regime change in Iraq.

Mr Buttiglione would "testify to the moderating role played by Tariq Aziz in respect of Saddam Hussein and the efforts made by him to avoid the two wars in Iraq in 1991 and 2003".

Shortly before the invasion, in February 2003, the Pope received Mr Aziz at the Vatican, a move that horrified Washington. Last December, it was reported that Catholic prelates had helped provide the former Iraqi minister with legal advice and assistance.

While in power, Mr Aziz is often credited in the Vatican with playing an important behind-the-scenes role in protecting Iraq's Christian population, whose situation has become far more precarious since the fall of Saddam.

Jesuits:  Iraq War An Error that Caused Anti-Christianity

Courtesy of the AGI Online
3 March 2005

Assyrian Continuity from Fall of Nineveh to Modern Times / 309 pages

Hard Cover $30
Paperback (Soft Cover) $20
Price includes shipping and handling.

Send money orders (preferred) or personal checks to:

Fred Aprim
P.O. Box 446
Hayward, CA. 94543  USA

Click Here For More Info

(ZNDA: Vatican City)  "The war on terror has contributed to the emergence of Christianophobia which did not exist before, or it was intensified in areas where it was scarcely present." This was the severe opinion of the Jesuits, who pointed their finger at the "war on terror" as a factor that accelerated anti-Christianity within the Islamic world, just like "September 11, 2001, caused an increase in Islamphobia. All Iraqis, Muslim as well as Christian, suffered because of the war, the revolt, and terrorism. They are victims of terrorist actions against the policies of the United States and the American occupation."

However, some gestures, for example "attacks on churches" were directed "explicitly towards Christians." In the article in Civilta' Cattolica, the Jesuits emphasise that "following the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, the entire local Christian community was subjected to dreadful pressure," so much so that 80 percent of refugees are Christian.

Hostilities towards Christians and the West in general is a cause for worry in the immediate post-election future. "While the provisional Constitution tries to guarantee religious freedom, there is worry on the fact that these conditions are not kept when a definitive Constitution is adopted."

According to the Jesuits, the US Administration has also "increased the prospects of a battle, and has undermined efforts aimed at calming differences peacefully." The Church's opinion on the international arms trade is also quite harsh. This problem will be confronted in the next editorial of Civilta' Cattolica, which denounces the scarce attention paid to the question, which should be discussed because "it feeds the innumerable wars that rage in many countries, especially in the Third World." In the article, the Jesuits highlight to main reasons that cause the production and trade of arms. "The first is political, since the possession of arms allows the political domination of other states or the entire world, while the second is economic, since the arms industry is one of the most profitable."


News Digest
News from Around the World


Karl Suleman Leaves Prison, Faces New Charges

Courtesy of the Daily Telegraph & Sydney Morning Herald
5 March 2005
By Vera Devai, Nicole Azzopardi & Anne Lampe
Photo by Tamara Voninski

(ZNDA: Sydney)  Failed dotcom entrepreneur Karl Suleman left prison last Friday after 12 months behind bars for fraud, but the Froggy group founder still faces 26 fresh charges brought against him just two days before his release.

Wearing dark clothing and carrying a box of his belongings, Suleman was released on parole from Silverwater prison about 10:30 am last Friday and picked up by a car load of young men.

"His wife was meant to collect him but that didn't appear to happen,'' a prison source said.

Suleman served his minimum 12-month sentence at several low-security facilities, including Bathurst and Junee prisons.

The 43-year-old was jailed for a maximum 21 months by a District Court last April after being convicted on four fraud offences in March. He's now subject to bail conditions relating to the new charges.

Suleman appeared in Central Local Court via videolink from Junee jail on Wednesday but did not enter a plea to 15 counts of making false statements to obtain money and 11 counts of using false documents.

Karl Suleman
Karl Suleman sits quietly as he is charged with 15 counts of inducing investors to enter into agreements to invest $3.185 million in Karl Suleman Enterprises' supermarket trolley collection business. Each charge carries a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.

The charges follow an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Suleman allegedly sought public investment in a supermarket trolley collection businesses.

Karl Suleman Enterprizes fleeced 2062 investors - who committed $130.7 million between them - by inviting them to invest in a trolley collection business that promised investors returns of 100 per cent a year.

But instead of their money going into that business, the money was used to fund Suleman's extravagant lifestyle.

Suleman and his wife Vivienne bought properties, luxury cars, boats and planes, sponsored charity events and gave lavish gifts.

Some of the money was used to service a $13 million loan taken out to finance a range of IT and mobile phone ventures under the Froggy Group banner.

He allegedly made 15 false statements to obtain investment worth $3.185 million and used 11 false documents to induce one party to invest $1 million.

He is due to appear in Downing Centre local court on April 12 to answer the charges.

Documents filed with the court by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission showed that investors, mostly from Sydney's Assyrian community, were induced to put between $50,000 and $150,000 into the trolley business on the promise that they would receive fortnightly returns of between $4000 and $25,000.

Investors were asked to sign a contract entitled "Financial Investment Agreement" with Karl Suleman Enterprizes, a $2 company jointly owned by Suleman and his wife. Suleman was the company's sole director.

While investors received some fortnightly payments as promised, the money earned by the trolley collection business fell well short of being sufficient to sustain the promised payments.

The company's liquidators said in their report that between July 2000 and November 2001 the business made a net profit of $275,096 but was paying out $2 million a week to investors seeking high returns.

The second set of 11charges relate to Suleman claiming he had contracts for trolley collection in various parts of Queensland when they either did not exist, could not be found or were not serviced.

Suleman allegedly used the contracts to entice Wendy Billington to invest $1 million, into the company, thinking she was investing in a sound business with many contracts.

Liquidators Neil Cussen and Paul Weston concluded that the revenue generated by the trolley collection business was never sufficient to fund the returns promised, and that repayments to existing investors were paid out of new investors' funds under a pyramid-style scheme.

Suleman started the trolley business in 1993, providing trolley collections from supermarkets stretching from Cairns to Adelaide. Supermarkets paid Suleman an agreed fee out of which he paid subcontractors to do the work.

Under his bail conditions, Suleman will have to report daily to police, cannot leave Sydney without court approval, cannot apply for a passport and must not approach any points of departure for traveling overseas.

[Zinda: For a full update on the rise and fall of Froggy see Zinda’s investigative report: "The Hood, the Bad and the Holy."]

Iraqi Election Was A Bittersweet

Courtesy of the Fairfield Champion
9 March 2005

(ZNDA: Sydney)  The recent Iraqi election has been a bittersweet one for local Assyrians. The Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) nominated Islamic Al-Da'wah leader Ibrahim al-Ja'fari as its candidate for the position of prime minister in the transitional government.

The Assyrian American Association of Southern California invites you to join us at the Annual Kha B’Nissan Dinner and Dance at the
Hilton Universal City on March 19th. 2005 555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, CA (818) 506-2500

Entertainment for the evening is being provided by Edmond and the Haroot band.   Doors will open at 7 pm and the buffet dinner will be served between 9 PM and 11 PM.

Tickets for the event are $70.00 each and are being sold on Saturdays and Sundays between 2 and 6pm, beginning on February 26, 2005 at the association on a non-refundable, first-come, first-serve basis.  Visa/Mastercard and checks are accepted if purchasing at the Association.

For more information, or to purchase tickets
call (818) 506-7577. Seating is limited, so buy early.

The Secretary of the Assyrian Universal Alliance Australia chapter, Hermiz Shahen of Bonnyrigg, said his organization believed the January 30 elections in Iraq were a historic breakthrough in the development of Iraq as a free and democratic society, but was tainted by the number of people denied the right to vote.

``Never before had Iraq had free, fair and transparent elections,” he said. ``Never before had the Christian Assyrians been allowed to participate in elections with their own parties.''

But Mr Shahen said although Assyrians supported US policy in Iraq, they feel they were deliberately locked out of the process when about 300,000 Assyrians, Yezidis and Turkmen in north Iraq were denied access to voting.

``In their eyes this is not an auspicious beginning to Iraqi democracy but a continuation of 1400 years of discrimination and marginalisation of their community,'' he said.

Mr Shahen said the official reply from the International Organisation for Migration was that the staff were not sent to the Nineveh Plain because of lack of security.

``But they never explained how the voting boxes were stolen and brought back completed with voting ballots,'' he said.`` Given the inequitable access to voting, Assyrians should be guaranteed a minimum number of seats in the Iraqi National Assembly. This should be between 22 and 27 seats, proportional to the Assyrian population in and out of Iraq, estimated to be between 8 and 10 per cent.

"Without representation, Assyrians will not be able to fight for their rights when the legislative assembly draws up Iraq's new constitution."

Mr Shahen said that once transitional National Assembly convenes, it must elect by a two-thirds majority Presidency Council consisting of a president and two deputy presidents.

That council will then nominate a prime minister, who will then be put to a confidence vote within the transitional National Assembly.

The UIA, which won 140 seats in the January 30 national election, had started negotiations with Iraq's Kurdish Alliance, which amassed 77 seats in the vote.

Linda George Survives Serious Auto Accident in Sweden

Ms. Linda George, survives a serious automobile accident in Sweden.  She and the famed European journalist, Nuri Kino, were driving to Sodertalje when the accident occurred last week.

(ZNDA: Stockholm)   Last week on a very cold and icy day in Stockholm, Sweden, Assyrian entertainment artist, Linda George and the Assyrian journalist, Mr. Nuri Kino, on their way to Sodertalje, were involved in a serious automobile accident which has rendered their vehicle useless. 

Neither George nor Kino were seriously hurt.

Earlier that day Ms. George and Mr. Kino had spend a day working at a local television station on a documentary about Assyrians.  As Mr. Kino was making a left turn, another car crashed into their automobile. 

"I remember clearly the path was clear, then as Nuri turned I saw the beam of the other vehicle coming from his side," comments Ms. George in a phone interview with Zinda Magazine shortly after the accident.  "I thought we were going to be instantly dead, a piece of glass almost slash his throat, then the bumper of the other vehicle and its engine which crashed our door almost penetrated our bodies," tells Ms. Linda George.

Both vehicles were about the same size.

The passenger next to the other driver sustained serious injuries; she was pulled out of the trunk, all framed in metal bars after few hours on the scene.  Mr. Kino was placing snow on her wounds and assisting her to breathe normally, until the ambulance arrived.

Nuri Kino, Assyrian journalist, was driving when the other driver crashed into his convertible.

"I believe and so does Nuri, that there was a Guardian Angel holding the path of the car that hit our vehicle's door, which then turned to the right.  There was a big dent on the door, but not even a single crack on the frameless window of our convertible Mercedes. It must have been those angelic children that I had touched in north of Iraq back in 2002, or it could be one of the angels at a local shelter that I visited before Christmas. Somebody's prayers were with me, especially my Mom's family."

Ms. George returned to California on Saturday to nurse her mother in Modesto.  Ms. George is in a good health and will return to Europe in two weeks to work on her musical and documentary projects. 

Mr. Kino, who has authored several articles published in Zinda Magazine, was doing fine as well.

Mr. Nuri Kino is one of the most prominent European journalists and nominated for the 2005 Golden Spade Award - Sweden's equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize in journalism. Mr. Kino has been the recipient of this award for three consecutive years. 


Four New Metropolitans To Malankara Church Consecrated

Courtesy of the IOH News Service
5 March 2005
By George Thazhakara

(ZNDA: India)  Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church was blessed with four more Metropolitans on 5 March as they were consecrated as their new shepherds.

H. G. Dr. Gabriel Mar Gregorios, H. G. Dr. Zachariah Mar Theophilos, H. G. Augen Mar Dionysius and H. G.
Dr. Yoohanon Mar Chrisostom are the four consecrated as Metropolitans at Parumala Seminary Church on Saturday March 5 2005.

The holy consecration ceremony was led the supreme head of the Church, His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Mathews II, Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan and assisted by the Catholicos elect H. B. Thomas Mar Thimothios, in the presence of 18 other Metropolitans, hundreds of clergies, tens of thousands of faithful at home and all over the world.

The Catholicos and other Metropolitans of the church first led the four Bishop-elects into the 'Madbaha' during the morning prayers.

Augen Dionysius
Yoohanon Chrisostom
Gabriel Gregorios
Zachariah Theophilos

After being initiated into the new ecclesiastic status by the Catholicos, the four Rambans knelt down in mediation facing the Holy Altar. In middle of the holy Eucharist, celebrated by His Holiness, the consecration ceremony began.

During the first phase, all the four Rambans sealed their divine contract affixing the signatures before the Chief celebrant His Holiness the Catholicos. The second phase saw them declared as new Metropolitans of the church. Then they were given the shepherd staff, seated in thrones attired in Metropolitan's vestments and raised three times as per custom by saying 'Oxios'.

After 'Bas'malko', H. G. Thomas Mar Athanasius, the Metropolitan of Kandanadu diocese delivered the Word of God regarding the 'good shepherd'. At 2pm the consecration ceremony came to an end.

Later, in a public meeting to felicitate the newly ordained shepherds, Chief Minister of Kerala Mr. Oommen Chandy hoped the newly ordained bishops would serve the church and society alike positively. He said this while on inaugurating the public meeting held at the Church premises immediately after the consecration ceremony.

His Holiness the Catholicos Baselius Marthoma Mathews II presided over the public meeting. Among those who offered felicitations were Dr Marthoma Metropolitan H. G. Philipose Mar Chrisostom , Catholicos-Elect of Malankara Orthodox Church H. B. Thomas Mar Thimothios, H. G. Thomas Mar Athanasios, H. G. Dr Thomas Mar Makarios, and Sabha Secretary Dr Alexander Karackal.

The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (also known as Indian Orthodox Church or Orthodox Syrian Church of the East), is a prominent member of the Oriental Orthodox Church family. The Church traces its origins to St. Thomas the Apostle, who came to India in AD 52.

The head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan H.H. Mar Baselius Mar Thoma Mathews II whose seat is at Kottayam, Kerala, India. The Church has dioceses and churches in most parts of India as well as in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Western Europe, Persian Gulf nations, Australia and New Zealand. The official title of the head of the Church is "the Catholicos of the East, Catholicos of the Apostolic throne of St. Thomas and the Malankara Metropolitan".

Bishops in Lebanon Call for Elections

Courtesy of Zenit News Agency
2 March 2005

(ZNDA: Beirut)   Following the resignation of the Lebanon's leaders, the Maronite Bishops' Higher Council appealed for the formation of an interim government and the holding of elections this spring.

The prelates on 2 March urged that Christian President Emile Lahoud consult with Shiite Nabih Berri, president of Parliament, and the country's political forces, to find a substitute for pro-Syrian Sunni Prime Minister Omar Karame, who resigned.

Karame's resignation has not resolved the crisis that began Feb. 14 with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

"We exhort the Executive and Parliament to rapidly form a neutral, interim government in charge of organizing legislative elections for the coming spring," said the bishops, after meeting under the presidency of Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir.

"It is unacceptable to allow things to drag on and create a constitutional vacuum, as it would be a leap into the unknown which could lead to economic collapse," they warned in a statement.

Around 40% of Lebanon's 3.7 million are Christians, mostly Maronite-rite Catholics. The majority of the population is Muslim.

Yesterday, the Hezbollah militia rallied hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Beirut to thank Syria for its role in stabilizing their country.   The pro-Syria crowd in Beirut was far larger than earlier student-led demonstrations calling on Syria to pull out of Lebanon.

Today, Lebanese legislators ignored weeks of anti-government protests and moved to reinstall the pro-Syrian prime minister, Omar Karami, forced out last week. The move ensured the Syrian government will continue its dominance in Lebanon but risked domestic and international condemnation.

San Diego Chaldeans Nominate Sistani for Noble Prize

Courtesy of the Associated Press
7 March 2005
By Rawya Rageh

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  A group of Iraqi Chaldeans in San Diego County has launched a petition nominating Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for the Nobel Peace Prize, drawing more than 7,000 signatures from around the world.

Ayatollah Sistani, 75, is Iraq's most-revered Shiite cleric and a symbol of Shiite political power. The group said Sunday he repeatedly has opposed anti-American violence, including a bloody summer uprising by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

Sistani "gave Muslims all around the globe a good example how to follow peaceful ways to resolve complex social (and) political challenges that face them, condemning terror and emphasizing ... rule of law," the petition said.

"We are forwarding the petition for the 2005 prize by Tuesday, March 8. If they accept it for this year, it will be great, if not, we will still apply next year," said Dr. Labib Sultan, one of the petition writers.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee makes its choice based on nominations submitted by Feb. 1 every year. Petitions submitted later are considered for the following year.

The petition, posted on the Internet on Feb. 27, was initiated by members of the Iraqi Chaldean community in El Cajon, Calif., a suburb east of San Diego, who belong to one of Iraq's tiny Christian minorities.

Shiites have been targets of dozens of mass suicide bombings and attacks blamed on Sunni insurgents that are widely seen as efforts to spark a sectarian civil war. Al-Sistani is believed to be a major force preventing an all-out confrontation between the two sects, with his repeated calls on Shiites to refrain from retaliating.

Shiites, who make up 60 percent of Iraq's 26 million people, are poised to take power for the first time after decades of Sunni domination. Christians are believed to make up just 3 percent of the population.

The frail, white-bearded cleric has millions of followers, who decorate their homes, stores and offices with his picture in a black robe and turban. He is seen as a spiritual figure who guides Shiites from his home in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad.

Surfs Up!
Letters to the Editor


It's Too Late, Bishop!

Eric Saban

In response to His Grace Mar Sarhad Jammo's rally in San Diego

I read in our beautiful Ainkawa Newsletter about the "political" speach by His Grace Mar Sarhad Jammo in San Diego, California.

As I was growing up, my late grandfather used to say, some people they use their talent hence education in a very constructive way. Therefore benefiting themselves or those around them. While others use their talent in a very destructive way, hurting themselves or others. Here again we see the sword of Jengiz Khan being used against the hopes and aspiration of this nation.

His Grace contributed to pre-occupy our people with a false topic of the naming convention. The whole nation engaged in this nonbenevolent dialog for the last five years. During the election period His Grace like many other clergy turned fully silent.

Now again His Grace has resurfaced. What for? We lost. Our fate is in the hands of a "single person" ruler/dictator (Mr. Kanna).

I remember a statement by Mr. Aprim at this periodical in which I quote:  "Shame on the clergy that did not support the election.  Shame on the clergy that contributed to schism in this nation".

I am sorry to say but the two cases apply to our beloved bishop perfectly.

Too late bishop!  Arranging for a lecture where majority of attendees are senior or women that have nothing to do in El Cajon. Too bad dear bishop analyzing the results of election in a pretended intellectual way does not help much. At the end it is the same results that are discussed in coffee shops. So the intellect is not paying off or it does not mean much how talented the speaker is since the results are fruitless.

I see a difference here Dear Bishop! A real leader like Mr. al-Sistani. A leader that led his flock and gathered 140+ seats. Had our clergy acted like Mr. al-Sistani we would have easily become the third group in Iraq. Hence acquiring 10-30 seats. But unfortunately the clergy contributed to the fall and demise of this opportunity. This nation should arise and punish all those that contributed to its demise.

Too late Dear Bishop! Unfortunately His Grace's research books do not teach love and caring that his Lord preached. His Grace should learn from examples around himself. Learning from Mr. al-Sistani who does not have a Ph.D. from Rome and is not a bishop in the US.

I am not sure what His Grace is thinking but if I were in his position I would have not even come out after a shameful loss. Unless if he is covering up for his guilty feeling.

If His Grace had become the Assyriani (like Sistani) the whole nation would have been united behind him.  Has he tried to bring all parties together and lead a committee to promote the election in our nation?. His Grace would have been the leader of all of us Christians.



The Dream of an Assyrian School in U.S. is Born

Fred Aprim

The St. Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School in Sydney, Australia, was the first Assyrian school to open in the Diaspora in 2002 in order to preserve and, or, promote Assyrian culture, history, Christian religion and most of all Syriac (Assyrian) language. The St. Hurmizd School encouraged many Assyrians in other places around the world to begin addressing this vital step as well. Today, the first Assyrian school in the United States is becoming a reality.

Fellow Assyrians, here comes the Assyrian American Christian School of Los Angeles. The school is situated on the same compound of the St. Mary’s Assyrian Church of the East in Los Angeles. Everything is set to start the first day of school on August 22, 2005.

We must invest in the Assyrian schools in the Diaspora because the benefits of such schools are greater than anybody could describe. Imagine what we might reap and harvest with the success of this school in few years. The seed is sown and the Assyrian tree of life is alive. Tomorrow we will see other schools in Modesto, Turlock, San Jose, Chicago, Arizona, San Diego, Detroit, and other places, as we will learn from this experience.

Please, let us support meaningful projects. Let us invest in meaningful programs. This is the best legacy that this generation could leave behind to our future generations.

The Assyrian American Christian School of Los Angeles is not asking for much. It is asking for your membership in the school. All it takes is $10 a month. There is no excuse not to support such projects when the organizers have already set up everything and all what they are asking for is to back up this school until it stands on its own feet in a year or two.

For more info, please call 818-996-5173.

Read My Father’s Book Again

Eddie Shamasha Gewargis Beth Benyamin

This is a brief response to Mr. Filham Yacub Isaac's letter in Zinda Magazine's February 26th issue titled “Exploring another History Bush.”

What he falsely reported about my late father, Shamasha Gewargis Beth Benyamin, prompted me to respond.

I read his article regarding my late father's accounts about Malik Khoshaba: I am absolutely positive whatever my father wrote were accurate. Whatever he witnessed and heard from reliable sources about Malik Khoshaba were the truth. In his book, he praised Khoshaba, but he also denounced his deeds; he was fair. The book contradicts what Mr. Filham wrote discussing the church built in Dawassa. From where and how did Mr. Filham get this baseless information? Is his claim documented anywhere? If so, please post or send me a copy.

I would like to refer you to page 55 of the book "Assyrian Leaders of 20th Century," then compare that to what Mr. Filham wrote in Zinda Magazine. This is a close translation from Syriac to English about the event in question that I was able to provide:

“Malik Khoshaba interfered in a business that was not his, because of his hatred to the leaders of our Church. It was suggested that a church be built for our parishioner’s spiritual needs in Mosul, by the suggestion of Reverend Yousip Beth Qallayta and Archbishop Mar Yousip Khnanesho. They both suggested for this place to be built. We collected the money for this purpose. However, Malik Khoshaba interfered in this business and did not let the church to be built in that suggested location. The organizing committee for building the church was dissolved and I (Shamasha) was one of the committee members.  It was taken by those people who adhered to Malik Khoshaba. The money that was collected until that time was not enough to build the whole church. The work was ordered to start building it on credit on the lot that Malik Khoshaba suggested; which was in the middle of Muslim houses. Thus, the credit had to be paid; the case was dragged until it was taken to a municipal court. The entire problem was due to Malik Khoshaba. Oh Malik, is it your business to interfere in our church’s affairs? Malik Khoshaba only wanted the church (parishioners) to do everything according his desire, and whatever he ordered. Yet he was a member of the Chaldean Church (a prangaya) who hated our church”.

This is the fact and it is what my father wrote; he did not invent the events.

The author, Eddie Shamasha Gewargis Beth Benyamin in Babylon, Iraq.

The second issue I would like to discuss with Mr. Filham is about his writings regarding the leaders of our church. His writings clearly indicates that he has a great deal of animosity towards them. Mr.Youkhana Odisho of Chicago translated a small portion of my father’s book about Malik Khoshaba, to which he responded. The part he translated was about Malik Khoshaba’s marriage to a young girl of his daughter’s age. Why did Mr. Filham add to his paragraph “but so did the late Patriarch.” Does he really believe that the two cases were the same to ask his questions that way?

Mr. Filham is obviously leaning towards the teachings of “The Ancient Church of the East.” That is fine and I have nothing against that. Let us go back to the year 1964 when the late Mar Shimon as a leader of the one church that was Mr. Filham's and mine, suggested and decided to change the church calendar and to celebrate Christmas on December 25 like the rest of the Western world. Mr. Filham and I were young at that time; the Church was split into two because of that, apparently his family were against Mar Shimon’s decision and kept their faith with the Old Calendar and so he did so upto this moment. I do not object to that and that is fine too.

Now why in the world would Mr. Filham interfere with the teachings of the Church that he does not belong to? Is it his business to write about the marriage of the late Patriarch if he is not his Patriarch? Did he recognize the late Patriarch as the leader of his Church after 1972? If the answer is no, then please stay away and compare the situation regarding the interference into another church’s affairs to that of Khoshaba. Is Mr. Filham trying to step in the same shoes that Malik Khoshaba did?

Mr. Filham, we, the parishioners, living in the greater Chicagoland area are united in faith. The doors of our churches are wide open for all faithful parishioners; we have the freedom to attend any church of our choosing, come here and see for yourself.

I suggest to Mr. Filham to acknowledge all the facts. Read my father’s book again. Do not attempt to blemish his reputation.

By the way, I will repeat the lecture that I gave about my late father’s writings this coming June, here in Illinois and of course Mr. Filham is invited.


Surfer's Corner
Community Events

Chicago Lecture:  Ivories from the Northwest Palace at Nimrud

Clemens Reichel, PH.D.
Research Associate
Oriental Institute

Dr. Georgina Herrmann
Institute of Archaeology (London)
British School of Archaeology in Iraq

Dr. Herrmann is among the leading experts on ivories from the Neo-Assyrian period and editor of the Nimrud Ivories Project. She has authored and co-authored three volumes on ivory furniture and fixtures from Fort Shalmaneser in the series "Ivories from Nimrud" and published numerous articles on ivory styles and "schools," trying to delineate the geographic and cultural origins of these artifacts. In this workshop she will introduce and discuss the ivories from the Northwest Palace of Assunasirpal II at Nimrud, which to present day have largely remained unpublished.

Friday 1 April , 2005 at 2 p.m.

LaSalle Room
Oriental Institute
1155 E 58th St.
Chicago IL 60637

Film in Berkeley:  "About Baghdad"

University of California in Berkeley's Center for Middle Eastern Studies presents a special film event:

"About Baghdad"  with Director Sinan Antoon (Documentary, 2004, 90 minutes)

In 2003, director Sinan Antoon, an exiled Iraqi writer and poet, returned to Baghdad to see what had become of his city after wars, sanctions, decades of oppression, violence, and now occupation. Antoon takes us on a journey exploring what Iraqis think and feel about the current situation and the complex relationship between the U.S. and Iraq.

Thursday, 10 March, 2005 at 6:30 PM
Wurster Auditorium, UC-Berkeley


A Nation without Representation

Dr George Habash
United Kindgom

Two things are important for any ethnic people to exist on the political map of the world today the first is the notion of a nation and the second is a state.

Yasser Arafat Alhussainy for example formed a nation but failed to establish a state; his successor is fighting seriously to reach that aim in which Arafat had failed. It is achievable but success is not guaranteed.

In the last 100 years we the Assyrian people came out of a national slumber and embarked in a rebirth mission to reclaim our national existence and that was indeed a success but this is still short of our ultimate aim of statehood. Statehood here is not a by-product secessionist movement but it is our right to exist and to stand on our feet and if Israel, Persia, Arabia and Egypt are still extant in our present time so Assyria must complete the biblical geography of past-cum-present.

In all the brouhaha over the elections that occurred on 30 January 2005 in our homeland the minority groups were the only losers while the expected results confirmed the outcome.

The Assyrians of the land did not lose the elections in its full meaning because the Assyrians or in a bigger frame the Christians did not participate in the elections. A minority only voted and there is an ample of reasons why Assyrians or Christians in general did not vote. In my view also a few non-Christians or even Muslims voted for the Assyrian or Christian lists.

A nation within a nation and under siege has no desire or appetite for trivial things like the elections. This nation is pre-occupied with individual survival and the shortening of everyday so that the next day might be brighter.

A nation pre-occupied with daily suffering of all sorts does not feel the sense of belonging and the elections phenomenon is just a mere extravagant and unwanted necessity. If you cannot attend a church service for fear or you flee to another country to save your family the elections are meaningless. Since the liberation in 2003 an estimated 10% of our people left the country.

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In my view we are not yet in a position to ask for a constitution to be written in our favour under the current leaders. Elected or not our situations will be the same.

Three lists represented the Assyrians and the Christians, list 139, list l48 and list 204. According to Ankawa website the total count of the three lists was 47,515 votes and that includes our people at home and Diaspora. Surely our people did not vote for the three lists and did not vote for the remaining lists. Generally a fraction of our people voted.

The overall turn out for the elections was 58% of registered votes ie 8.5m and if most of the south and north east voted this meant the rest did not vote but only partially including our Assyrian/Christian people.

These are some points:

1-The adherents of the Madinha Church, Syriac Churches and Chaldean Church including the small reformed Churches are Assyrian by nationality. Apart from the Madinha Church adherents who openly profess Assyrianism the remaining are not fully persuaded yet about that. Here we have a long struggle to convince our brothers that they belong to us. We have to engage the Church to adopt such line until fully persuaded. The difficult conversion is for those who have been speaking Arabic for decades or even a century or more especially the affluent Christian families of Mosul and Baghdad who have been marginalised with the rise of Assyrian nationalism and new Assyrian/Christian politics.

2-The Assyrian heartland is not fully Assyrian therefore we have to include Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Shabaks and most importantly the Yezidis in our lists to diversify the ethnic colour and enhance the demographic magnitude. The Assyrian heartland is currently a geographic mix entity subtended by the Tigris and Upper Zab. The land is not purely Assyrian.

3-Irregularties accompanied the elections for example where our people power is in the Nineveh plain only 90 out of 330 polling stations did open on elections’ day. And our people in the towns and villages did not vote at all due to un-delivered ballot boxes and even reported intimidation. Others reported shorts of ballot boxes, ballot papers and ink.

4-Few centres were opened outside the country and in limited countries. Here an obvious biased policy against the Assyrians and Christians and in favour for the south and north east of the homeland.

Earlier I said about our people in the homeland but why should the ones who fled to neighbouring countries dare to vote after they left everything behind? These people do not feel the sense of belonging and what matters to them is the daily bread.

And our people who have settled for decades in the west or in the distant countries it seems to them a bizarre to go and vote let alone travel a long distance to cast a vote for the country that had kicked them out.

What appeal is it for someone who lived in exile for decades shunned from the society he left to travel a long distance to a polling stations (adorned with anti-Christian Allah Akbar flags) to be met by bearded men and veiled women, the sitcom he rejected and left behind? Do you think the underdog will go and ask for pardon from the oppressor?

We need a new politics and those who managed to come to the fore on January 30 by any sort of bandwagon are not our saviours and have nothing to achieve and are distant to us. We need a new politics of defiance to ask for our rights equitable with others.

First we need a province for us and from that we go for autonomy and if hard pressed we go for independence. Our people will not vote and our people will not return until we govern ourselves by ourselves and if you have a will no one will ever pass over you.

The recent outstanding protest shown by our people worldwide was moving and let us bank on that and continue to show the world that we are a nation on the way to statehood and together ie our people at home and abroad we can shake the earth under anyone who rules until our aspiration of statehood is guaranteed and fulfilled. This is our new hinge doctrine.


I Beg of You My Brothers and Sisters !

Fred Aprim

While we argue among ourselves about petty things and the name issue, the Kurds are using economy to gobble up Assyrian (ChaldoAssyrian) lands, inch by inch. One of the Kurdish demands, besides controlling Kirkuk and making it part of the Kurdish regional government, and preserving the peshmerga (Kurdish irregular armed forces), is a share of Iraqi oil wealth. We are talking about billions of dollars here. With this huge wealth at their disposal, the Kurds will begin to buy lands throughout north of Iraq and pay double, triple, or even quadruple of their market value just to acquire them. The moment that process is completed, the Assyrian claim in north of Iraq is but over.

To fellow Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans, Syriacs, Suryanis, ChaldoAssyrians)

The quick turn of events in Iraq guarantees that we will live to see our ancestral lands officially being lost in a decade or two and not in a century or two as predicted earlier. The Kurds will use legal ways to do so, mainly economic, by investing in the Assyrian regions to Kurdify Assyrian lands. According to reliable sources from north of Iraq, the Kurds are pouring millions of dollars in the Nineveh Plain Assyrian towns and villages by building projects, opening offices for the Kurdish groups, and even luring clergymen with money. Christianity as we know is not the Kurds' main problem, rather Assyrian ethnic and national rights in north of Iraq.

With very few minor exceptions, the world's most powerful nations are those with powerful economies. In layman terms, money talks. The Kurds are destined to become a powerhouse in the region. Most importantly, they have learned how important it is to put their differences aside and work together only after years from those days when they were literally killing each other. Whether this was imposed on them by their American allies or not is beside the point.

The outcome of the Iraqi January 30, 2005 elections must teach us a thing or two. Assyrians in Iraq are desperate, poor, unorganized, disunited; thus, all elements for their easy defeat and extinction are present. The first priority of a poor family is to find food to put on the table in order to survive. When the Kurds begin to offer large amounts of money to poor Assyrian families in exchange for their lands, it is only natural that these Assyrians would be tempted; it would be hard to resist, especially when they are being oppressed and harassed always.

I plea to you fellow brothers and sisters, enough arguments.  It is time to face the common threat of the Kurds in north of Iraq, now that the threat of the Ba'ath Arab nationalism is gone forever. This is as real as it gets, not even Arab nationalism was this effective in such a short time. We must end our divisions and focus on our unity; the voices of exclusion must be repelled, the voices of the "I" must be squashed, and the voices of cheap personal attacks must be put down. We must seek inclusion, work towards the "we" instead the "I", and promote dialogue and cooperation among all the Syriac-speaking Christians. Let us build up on this common denominator.

We are one people, our origin is one; unfortunately, our forefathers used different names for different reasons. This must not divide us. The Kurds will not favor a Chaldean over an Assyrian because they really care for the Chaldeans, or vise-versa.  Lets face it!  They will finish our presence in north of Iraq one group at a time if we opt to remain divided. For them it is Kurdistan for Kurds. Yes, they say everybody can live in the Kurdish region, but we cannot take that to the bank. Fact is that on the ground there is no difference between the real policies of Barazani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the so-called Kurdistan and those policies of Kamal Ataturk and the Young Turks when it was declared that Turkey was for Turks. It is after all the claims of Kurdish intelligentsia that Assyrians are Christian Kurds. So lets not let certain empty declarations fool us.

Let me assert in conclusion that if we do not reach out for our people in north of Iraq and assist them today, we will lose them forever.

Be a true patriotic, say no to division and yes to unity.
Be a true patriotic, say no to exclusion and isolationism and yes to inclusion.
Be a true patriotic, say no to I and yes to we.
Be a true patriotic, say no to insolence and yes to cooperation.
Be a true patriotic, say no to self-glorification and yes to humbleness.
Be a true patriotic, say no to attacking a brother or a sister and yes to understanding and forgiveness.
Be a true patriotic, look around you, and see how other people have gained their aspirations and promise to be that shinning star and if we cannot, then lets not be that dark cloud.

I beg of you to consider this in the name of the hundreds of thousands of souls that perished so you and I could be here today. I beg of you to consider the above so decades from now we will still of Assyrians in Iraq.


A 13th-century manuscript illustration from a monastery near Mosul showing Christ's entry into Jerusalem before His Crucifixion.

One-Day Seminar on the Churches of Iraq
Saturday, 9 April, 2005

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EU-Turkey: Why Simply Say "No"?

Antoni Yalap

"Democracy is not a goal but a mean". These remarks could shock you, especially when it is known that they emanate from the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an old soccer impassioned converted to "moderated" Islamism, an ex-disciple of Necmettin Erbakan. Whereas the European Union makes democracy and human rights two principal criteria of adhesion, the strong man of Turkey reminds to us that the democracy is only a tool used on the way of the ultimate goal: the Shari ‘at which exceeds all the human rights (and especially rights of women).

But, they are saying that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has changed; he would not be any more the old radical Islamist but a democratic Moslem as one knows in Europe the Christian equivalent. Turkey also has changed, like its Prime Minister! No day without someone speaking to us about the Turkish reforms and the benefits of the adhesion of this country (geographically in Asia to 95%) to the European Union. Is there, nevertheless, a serious and coherent comparison between the benefits and the misdeeds, advantages and disadvantages of the Turkish accession to EU?

All is done. The entry of Turkey can only be beneficial to our European citizens or to the citizens of the world: Europe will have respected its commitments towards Turkey - of course, meanwhile, they forgot the conditions imposed to this country in 1987 after the deposition of the official candidature, in particular the recognition of the 1915’s genocide and the withdrawal of the Turkish troops of the northern part of Cyprus - and especially proven to this laic country that EU is not a "Christian club". However, logic would like that it precisely returns to Turkey to prove that it is not a "Moslem club", after the elimination of the Christians by various methods judiciously chosen and practiced during the 20th century. The past does not matter! The EU will have obtained a big economic and commercial partner impossible to circumvent but especially a plug country plug against the Islamism and the shock of civilizations.

Irony of the History, it is true that Turkey has a certain experience of the shock of civilizations. Let us remember the 1.5 million Armenians and the 250000 Assyro-Chaldeans massacred on the way of the “deportation” in 1915. Let us remember, also, Greeks - more than one million exchanged against a few hundreds of thousands of Turks at the beginning of the 1920’s. Turkey was built on the blood of Christians. If this country is today to 99% Moslem, it is because Turkey never regarded the non-Moslem minorities as a richness but rather as a factor of danger. However, the Turkish Prime Minister does not stop affirming that Turkey is a laic country. Remind Turgut Özal, the former colleague of Recep Tayyip Erdogan: "Turkey is laic, but I am Moslem".

Let us come to the misdeeds and disadvantages of the Turkey’s accession to the European Union: Europe will be culturally and politically weakened. It will be nothing any more but one block of trade and not a “Powerful Europe”. Dominated by the Turkish force, discreetly carried out by the Americans, it will be nothing any more but the shade of a Union based on a common cultural and civilizations referents. Which is the degree of Europeanism of an inhabitant of the Turkish extreme south-east?

Nevertheless, the big danger is that the European Union will have betrayed its own history based on the reconciliation and the recognition of the errors of the past. However, the modern Turkey is founded on the negation of a historical fact: the genocide of 1915 learnedly orchestrated by the tenors of an empire and carried out by those who will participate, a few years later, in the first governments of the young democratic and laic Turkish Republic.

Unfortunately, the negation of the passed crimes is only one part of the play. The children and the young people must learn, within the schools, to deny the genocide. It is the Minister for the national Education who requires it from children. And the Armenian and Assyro-Chaldean kids do not escape from this rule. They educate, to some extent, the revisionists of tomorrow. Europe should not leave free the passage to a country which does not have cure of its democratic values. Turkey has too many issues to solve before claiming to integrate the European Union. And the first of the things to be made is a duty of memory and recognition. It is only by the recognition of its errors, and not by the purchase of some “Airbus” planes, that Turkey will have proven that it endorses the democratic values of Europe.




French Archaeologist Solves Mystery of Ancient Mesopotamian City of Mari

Courtesy of Agence France Press
2 March 2005

(ZNDA: France)  The mystery of an ancient Mesopotamian city has finally been lifted after 25 years of meticulous work by a French archaeologist who has revealed it was one of the first "modern cities," purpose-built in the desert for the manufacture of copper arms and tools.

In a new book entitled "Mari, the Metropolis of the Euphrates," Jean-Claude Margueron said the third millennium BC city, in modern day Syria, was "one of the first modern cities of humanity. Created from scratch in one phase of construction with the specific goal of becoming this (metallurgical) centre."

French archaeologist Jean-Claude Margueron (AFP/Stephane de Sakutin)

This was an astounding concept for the period when cities developed from villages or trading posts and showed that the Mesopotamians were way ahead of their time in terms of urban design and development.

"How could a city develop in the third millennium BC in the middle of the desert, in a region devoid of copper and in a valley devastated by the floods of the Euphrates making any agriculture very risky?"

In an interview with AFP, Margueron, 70, repeated the question which haunted him during the decades of excavations of Mari, discovered in 1933 by his predecessor Andre Parrot.

In 1935, the temple of Ishtar, the statue of King Lamgi Mari, then the Grand Palace of the second millennium, and other temples and fabulous sculptures were discovered, followed by the living areas and a part of the third millennium palace.

When Margueron took over as director of excavations in 1979, most of the spectacular pieces had already been discovered. But the question remained: Why had they built Mari?

To rediscover the city, Margueron spent thousands of hours examining the basements, the terraces, the living quarters, traces of streets, and the surrounding areas - the former river bed of the Euphrates and other waterways.

"So they were discoveries, not always spectacular, rarely immediately important, but very significant for the overall understanding of the site and its integration in the geographical, historical and economic context," said Margueron.

"The" revelation of Mari -- spread over a dozen years but unpublished until now -- was the existence of a major centre of metallurgy, dating from 2,900 BC.

"In fact the metallurgy was everywhere in the city. It was the existence of this lucrative activity -- Mari produced arms and tools -- which justified everything which we had found previously," said Margueron.

A major navigable canal was discovered which followed the Euphrates river for 120 kilometres (75 miles) and allowed the transport of copper and wood from the Tauras mountains of modern Turkey to support the metallurgical activities of Mari.

They also discovered an irrigation channel which allowed agricultural production in an area which otherwise did not receive sufficient rainfall to grow crops. A third canal protected the city from flooding and allowed large boats to enter the city which was also protected by a levy bank and double ramparts.

"The builders of Mari knew the profits they could make from a economic hub between the south of Mesopotamia and the north, between the east and the Mediterranean.

"The innumerable riches of the archaeological discoveries made during these excavations shows they were right."


Thank You
The following individuals contributed in the preparation of this week's issue:

Fred Aprim (California)
David Chibo (Australia)
Mazin Enwiya (Chicago)
Youkie.Khaninia (Arizona)
Anobel Odisho (California)


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