28 Khzeeran, 6756
Volume XII

Issue 12

18 June 2006

1- 8 6 6 - M Y  Z I N D A

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Hundreds of Assyrians gather in front of the U.S. Capitol building to protest the treatment of the Assyrians in Iraq.

Zinda SayZinda Says
  Toward the Sun Wilfred Bet-Alkhas
  Academic Book on Sayfo Draws Researchers Attention
               -Special Offer brought to you by Zinda and Gorgias Press
Afram Barryakoub
  Assyrian Beauty Supplies Store Owner Killed in Mosul
Gym Owner Murdered in Mosul
Church in Baghdad Attacked with Rocket Bomb
Christian Engineer Killed in Basra
Assyrian University Students Beaten by Iraqi Police
Explosion in Baghdad Kills Young Assyrian Student
Final Statement of Expanded Meeting of ADM
Statement of the Assyrian General Conference
Priceless Assyrian Relics Used for Target Practice
  Assyrians: The Middle East’s Natural Democrats Mariam S. Shimoun
  Assyrian Reps Meet First Lady, US Sen. Jon Kyl
Assyrian Object to Exclusion in Iraq Homeland
Welsh Members of UK Parliament Recognize 1915 Genocide
Parliament Debate in Australia Focuses on Plight of Assyrians
ADO Statement on the Recent Arrests in Syria
ADO Calls for the Release of Michel Kilo and His Friends
ADO Holds Political Meetings in Paris
ANA Announces Support for AUA
Want to know when the next issue comes out? Register for your free Zinda notification by entering your email address in the field above and click 'Sign Up'.
  Historic March in Washington
One Nation Under God, Indivisible with Liberty and Justice...
Mar Delly: "ChaldoAssyrian People Do Not Exist"
Use of Hyphens or Dashes in the Compound Name
Nuri al-Maliki at the Crossroad of Shaping World History
Why Not Approve of Assyrians in Kurdish Parliament
True Christianity

Click to Learn More :

  Adjournment Debate on the Genocide of the Assyrians
The Road to Assyrian Autonomy in Iraq
An Open Letter to the Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac in Aust & NZ
Andrew Michael
Sargon Sapper
Bishop Mar Bawai Soro
  Mar Narsai Assyrian College in Sydney Philimon G Darmo

Zinda Says
An Editorial by Wilfred Bet-Alkhas


Toward the Sun

After three years of euphoria, suddenly a general feeling of loss and despair has overcome the Assyrians world over. Skeptical about their future in Iraq, they are gripped with pessimism toward their internal religious affairs, strength of their political leadership, and the future of their existence in the Middle East. In a time when other Iraqi ethnic and religious populations are overjoyed with opportunities offered them on an undeserved golden plate, we remain skeptical with much angst amidst so much opportunity. But there is a simple way out: we must now move toward the Sun.

Assyrians (also known as Chaldean and Syriac) share four common values which distinguish them from every other ethnicity in the Middle East: we speak a form of Aramaic language (sometimes called Syriac or Neo-Aramaic), we profess the teachings of Jesus Christ, and we share a collective space-time historic identity anchored in our 7,000 years of existence in Mesopotamia (Bet-Nahrain). Our language, religion, history, and sense of continuity are the four corners of our cultural nationalism and our political and religious leaders in the past 150 years have worked hard to regenerate our historic community. These four attributes of our culture, which incidentally are shared by all of us who call ourselves Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syriac, are beautifully represented by the four points of the Star in the middle of the beautiful flag which represents are remarkable uniqueness.

Observe the Assyrian flag! The most peculiar image in the four-cornered Assyrian Star is a golden circle in the center. It is the same color as the color of the Assyrian deity, Ashur. Gold was the color of another deity, Shamash, the one who “lights up Heaven and Earth.” In Akkadian (ancient Assyrian language) Shamash meant Sun – a word we use today as shimsha, shimshu, and in Arabic shams.

Shamash was the god who shed law and justice throughout the land of Ashur, from Anatolia (today’s Turkey) to the shores of Dilmun (today’s Bahrain), the forests of cedar trees (Lebanon) to the salty waters of the City by the Water or Ur-mia (today’s Urmie in Iran). In the famous tablet of Hammurabi, the Babylonian king is seen receiving his Code of Law from Shamash, the provider of justice and light – he who saw everyone in the land of Ashur as equal.

The significance of the Assyrian Star is its astonishingly animated shape. It shows the four-cornered Star in blue – the color of pride – reaching for the center, where the four attributes of our culture become one with Shamash. We become one, no matter how internally varied our unique cultural, linguistic, historic differences in the past 7,000 years have become. In the meantime, our common values reach out from the center toward the four corners of the Assyrian Star in opposite but equal directions. This continuous flow is brilliantly represented by the flowing water of Tigris and Euphrates colored in red, white, and dark blue – endlessly streaming away and toward the center.

When this streaming balance comes to a standstill and something obstructs our movement toward the center, a prolonged dwelling in the four corners gives rise to isolation, low trust, and lack of shared vision. In contrast, when we spend a longer than needed time in the center we find ourselves uninspiring and ordinary, slowly assimilating with others around us.

In politics there are several forces that move a people in either direction. The most commanding of these is political nationalism. Ours for the last 150 years has been cultural nationalism in which we praise and value our four cultural attributes only. Among us have been those who raised the flag of Assyria many times and demanded of us to move to the Sun, away from our isolationist mindset. We followed them briefly, but afraid of what we may find inside the golden rays of Shamash we quietly returned to our revered patriarchs, writings, and stories of past glories. Today, many of us do not wish to share a common name or identity. The “blueness” of our common pride has given rise to the blue pride of our gradually-thinning isolationist existence.

These are not desperate times, rather days of disorder and uncertainty, the symptoms of a great nation’s quest for reaching for the Sun and the heart of its historic identity. While a few among us edify the greatness of one or the other corners of the Star of our identity, we must begin the more difficult journey of dancing in unison toward the center. First, we must allow ourselves to be led by those who are willing to sacrifice their lives so that we can make the great shift from cultural to political nationalism, one in which we are represented within an area recognized by geographical boundaries that will give our people our cultural and human rights.  We must never forget that the center lies only in the land of Ashur with its heart in the city of Nineveh, where Shamash reigns splendidly.

Indeed the journey has already begun and some of feel the warmth of the rays of Shamash. The fear bedeviling the unbelievers hanging from the four-points of the Assyrian Star is what creates this feeling of loss and despair. The believers, on the other hand, will never surrender and seeing great opportunities in the near future will take the internal and external challenges head on until they reach order and equality - the promises of political nationalism and living in the light and under the law.


The Lighthouse
Feature Article


Academic Book on Sayfo Draws Researchers Attention

Afram Barryakoub, reporting from Sweden

Prof. David Gaunt at his office browsing through the Sayfo documents.  Gaunt's  book is one of the most anticipated academic work on the 1915 genocide of the Christians in the Ottoman Empire.

(ZNDA:  Stockholm)  The days of the Armenian lead in research revolving around the events of 1915 in Ottoman Turkey might have come to an end due to a new book. Featuring close to 500 pages of documents, maps, survivor accounts and other crucial information, the book “ Massacres, Resistance, Protectors : Muslim-Christian Relations in Eastern Anatolia During World War I“ by professor David Gaunt has caught the attention of schoolars even before going to print.  The stir began some weeks ago when Prof. Gaunt attended a forum in New York for scholars interested in the events in Ottoman Turkey during WWI.

The Turkish and Armenian scholars were surprised by the richness of material in the book and asked for excerpts at once. The book has caught attention because it is the first time such an extensive account of the events of 1915 has been compiled. Armenian scholars have often, according to Prof. Gaunt, been going round in circles concentraing on the same material. Many of them have been occupied with search for one single document that supposedly contains the official order for the genocide of the Christians by the Ottoman leaders.  Most Armenian scholars, according to Prof Gaunt, had their education during the Soviet era, making their research fall short of the standards put up for research in the west.

Copy of an document from the Ottoman Archives that appears in Gaunt's book.

The book cover only the period between 1915 and 1916, and all research is based on primary sources from official Russian, Turkish, and west European archives, as well as hitherto unused manuscript sources and narratives from survivors. The sizeable book, facilitating efforts for Sayfo recognition, could bring a new paradigm to the political battle currently in stalemate, between Armenia and Turkey over the issue of the 1915 Genocide. Turkey’s claim that the Armenians were merely affected by events resulting from a civil war in which Armenians were fighting against the central government is expected to lose credibility due to the extensive documentation of the Assyrian genocide. The claim that the Turks did not only punish some Armenians for their relations with Soviet, but rather organized the annihilation of all Christians within their borders is strengthened by the documentation of the Assyrian genocide. Many Armenian researchers who have remained silent or even reluctant towards mentioning the Assyrian genocide because of their desire to maintain an Armenian monopoly on the events of 1915 may find themselves, paradoxicaly, in need of the strong evidence for the Assyrian genocide put forth in David Gaunt's book.

The printing of the book scheduled for August 2005 was delayed until now due to the influx of new material, piling up before Prof. Gaunt and his Assyrian assistant Jan Beth-Sawoce. According to Beth-Sawoce new information obtained indicates that the genocide was perpetuated as far away as the city of Kirkuk. There are also strong indicators that the number of Sayfo victims may rise as the puzzle of the Genocide slowly falls into places. The destiny of Assyrians of the Yezidi and Melkite (Greek or Rum Orthodox and Catholic) faiths are for example yet to be examined. The book contains detalied descriptions of the events in different villages and many Assyrian readers will learn what happened in their specific village, for example. “Where we find survivors we have found narratives of what happened, but in villages whose population was totally wiped out we haven’t found any accounts”, says Prof. Gaunt.

The material found in Gaunt's book, similar to one seen here, is expected to breathe new life into the genocide research surrounding the 1915 Sayfo.

Prof. Guant hopes that the book will push people who have information and documents in their possesion to come forth. According to Professor Gaunt there are groups in countries like Iran and Lebanon who have documents and information about the genocide. Assyrian magazines printed shortly after Sayfo and the Assyrian public in general are also thought to have important material in their possession. He urges Assyrians to write down what they know about the fate of their families during Sayfo and forward it to him. The narratives are of importance even if the elderly who told them have passed away. This is because they might help scholars in putting the pieces of the Sayfo puzzle together and develop a full picture of what took place in 1915.

When the issue of Sayfo was discussed in the Swedish Parliament some years ago the politicians' main argument for not recognizing the Assyrian Genocide was the lack of reliable sources. “Such arguments will be passé after this book is published”, says David Gaunt.  He continous: “No sane person who reads this book can still claim that nothing happened in 1915, but we expect many Turkish researchers to continue denying facts, because they have made a career out of denial and it is difficult for them to give up their careers”.

Prof Gaunt's book is published by Gorgias Press and will be distributed later this summer.  Zinda Magazine as a major sponsor of this historic book  through a special arrangment with Gorgias Press is making this book available to its readers at 30% discount only through the end of this month.  See the ad below for more information and to obtain your copy today.

The survivor narratives included in David Gaunts book will be published in a separate publication in the forthcoming days, and it will be in the Neo West Syriac or Turoyo dialect written with Latin letters by Nsibin Publishing House.   To purchase a copy of the narratives from Beth-Froso Nsibin and/or to forward Sayfo related information contact Jan Beth-Sawoce at betsawoce@hotmail.com.

Special Offer brought to you by Zinda and Gorgias Press

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Gorgias Press is proud to bring you Gaunt's ground breaking research on Sayfo compiled from official documents, concentrating on the Assyrians of Urmia and Hakkari and on the Syrians of Diyarbakir province, particularly in Tur Abdin. This is the first historical investigation into the situations of the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syrian Christian minorities during World War I. A must read for members of these communities as well as scholars.

Zinda is bringing this title to you at a 30% off the list price when you shop online and use the coupon code DGJ06-zindasayfo-GP during check out. Discount cannot be combined with other offers and expires June 31, 2006. Hurry and pre-order a copy today (click here).

Massacres, Resistance, Protectors: Muslim-Christian Relations in Eastern Anatolia during World War I

By David Gaunt
ISBN 1-59333-301-3, Hardback $45.50 Zinda price

This is the first major historical investigation of the genocide of the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syrian Christians of Upper Mesopotamia during World War I.  It uses primary sources of Turkish, Russian, German, French, and Arabic origin.

Good Morning Assyria
News From the Homeland


Assyrian Beauty Supplies Store Owner Killed in Mosul

(ZNDA: Mosul)  On 3 June, the residents of the Assyrian town of Karamles bid farewell to a Rahima Elias Isha'ya, 33, originally from Karamles who was murdered by a group of armed men in the crowded commercial neighborhood of Dargazliyya in Mosul.

Ms. Isha'ya owned a small business where she sold perfumes and beauty supplies. The fanatic murderers fired their guns at Rahima while she was inside her shop and fled, said the police.

Gym Owner Murdered in Mosul

(ZNDA: Mosul)  On 30 May, Ra'aad Yousif, 30, was found murdered in the "industrial" quarters of Mosul. Yousif, from Bartella, was married with one child.

Yousif owned a bodybuilding gym. Reports from Mosul indicate that the murder was an act of revenge over the ownership of his gym.  He was threatened by certain Kurds to withdraw his, bid but he refused.  A financial offer of 4 million Iraqi Dinars was made by the competing Kurds days before the attack.

Church in Baghdad Attacked with Rocket Bomb

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  On the evening of June 1, Kaneesat al-Si'aood (the Church of Ascension) was attacked by a rocket bomb. The bomb caused damage to the church building and a punctured hole in the church dome. No injuries were reported.

Christian Engineer Killed in Basra

(ZNDA: Basra)  On 2 June, armed men murdered a Christian engineer in front of his residence in Basra.  The Christian engineer, whose name was not released at Zinda Magazine press time, was employed at the al-Najeebiyya Electrical Circuit in al-Ma'aqal.

The murder took place in the evening and is suspected to be a hate crime against Christians of Basra, a city in the south with majority Shi'ai population.

Assyrian University Students Beaten by Iraqi Police

Courtesy of the Assyrian International News Agency
Reported by the ChaldoAssyrian Student Union, Nineveh Branch

(ZNDA: Mosul)   On 14 June at approx 11:30 am Iraqi policemen approached a group of Assyrian students leaving the University of Mosul after completing their final exams, with the order of the police team leader, began severely beating and harassing the students.

In addition to the physical and verbal abuse, the police held the students down and shaved their heads as a form of public embarrassment and forced them to walk down the street to further display their 'shame' to the public.

The victims are natives of the Nineveh Plain town of Qaraqosh (Bakhdeda) and were waiting for their bus to take them back from the troubled city of Mosul to the relatively safe yet vulnerable Assyrian Christian area known as the Nineveh Plain.

The University of Mosul branch of the ChaldoAssyrian Student Union released a public condemnation of this act.

Explosion in Baghdad Kills Young Assyrian Student

Story revised on 19 June 2006

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  An explosion on 11 June in Baghdad killed Ninos Adam Shmuel, an Assyrian university student, 21, four days before reciving his university diploma from Bet-Nahrain University (formerly Saddam University) of Baghdad.  Ninos completed a degree in computer engineering with an average of 98 points.

According to his aunt in Toronto, Victoria Yonadam, many questions remain unanswered surrounding the murder of Ninos, who according to his family in Baghdad seldom left his home or school to attend social events.

On the day of his killing a few friends asked Ninos to join them for shopping for clothes for the coming graduation ceremony.   Ninos and his friends were somehow led to a location where the bomb was planted.  The bomb killed 5 friends and injured another who remains in critical condition.  Some family members believe that Ninos was the target of anti-Christian and anti-academia hatred that runs rampant in major universities of Iraq.  Hundreds of professors and top students in Iraq have already been murdered in the last 3 years and many Christian students continue to sustain injuries and maltreatment from fellow students and Islamist groups.

Family members in Iraq and Sweden held funeral services for Ninos Adam last week.

Ninos was planning to complete his university studies in U.S. or Canada. His aunt Victoria and her husband Jacob were preparing for his arrival to Canada this year.  Mrs. Jacob tells Zinda Magazine that her nephew was to study abroad having received full scholarships for the next academic year.

Final Statement of Expanded Meeting of ADM

Expanded Meeting of the Central Committee
Assyrian Democratic Movement
21 May 2006

The Central Committee of the Assyrian Democratic Movement held an extensive meeting in mid May to discuss the internal affairs of our people, and the movement. Further, the overall political situation and process in Iraq as reflected by the formation of the central and Kurdistan regional governments were examined.

On the national level, the suffering of our people along with the growing distress of all Iraqis, as a result of the repercussions of the political process and the deteriorating security and economic situation and their direct implications on the lives of the citizen was thoroughly discussed. These implications have directly caused tens of thousands of our people to move from their insecure homes and head either to the villages and safer areas, or emigrate to Syria and Jordan. In these new locations our people are living in difficult conditions and losing hope in the improvement of their circumstances. This adds to the suffering of the principal of the Iraqi component. The Central Committee appeals to the competent authorities and humanitarian organizations, in particular the National Organization of the United Nations to assume its responsibilities and take concern for the homeless and displaced, and attempt to rescue them from these squalid conditions.

Regarding our national and religious institutions the meeting stopped at the internal fragmentation situation fed by external parties for particular political interests. That are exploiting the absence of awareness, demographic dispersion and economic conditions to continue the sectarian intolerance that dominates the manner and practice of some clergies. This paves the chance for others to secondment the natural right of our people to exercise their will, according to their independent decision.

In evaluation of the political process’ development in Kurdistan Iraq, the meeting assessed the Kurdish leadership’s decision in consolidating the two departments in the government, displaying a positive reflection on the general situation and consolidating peace and progress. However, despite the fact that our Movement has made dramatic efforts in the peace process during the bloody conflicts in the region, on the basis of faith in national sisterhood and the partnership in citizenship, and its approach to the building and consolidation of these relations since its founding days, and its struggle against the dictatorship for over two decades and a half, the method used in the formation of the government in Kurdistan didn’t take into regard our previous relations and the common history of struggle.

Moreover no attention was paid to the will of our people as expressed in the last parliamentary elections towards the slate that received the overwhelming majority of the ChaldoAssyrian Syriac’s votes, within religious and nationalistic characteristics. That attitude came as a reaction to the understanding and on the pretext that the Assyrian Democratic Movement stands behind abroad campaigns aiming to bring to light and remove the current limitations and boundaries imposed on our people in our territories and villages. Consequently, certain symbols in the Kurdistan Democratic Party alleged that our movement is racist and it stands against the rights and aspirations of the Kurdish people and that it exaggerates its national propounds. Here, the meeting confirmed that the movement was born to defend the rights of the ChaldoAssyrian Syriac people and their free will within a progressive and democratic principles, notion and way. In this context, the meeting addressed the Kurdish people and its political, cultural, social organizations and indicated that although these policies do not serve the common interests, we will continue to support the rights of the Kurdish people, in rightful issues. It also appealed to our people the, ChaldoAssyrians to keep away from negative reactions while legitimately defending its national democratic rights, in the interest of national relations of brotherhood between the two peoples.

At the national level, the Meeting examined the evolution of the political process and the obstacles encountered by the enemies of the new Iraq and international terrorism. This adds to the fuelling sectarian strife and complicates the security situation. Also the manifestations of administrative corruption, authoritative monopolization, low level of services and finally sectarian displacements are continued.

The formation of a new government in Baghdad that was extended for a period of five months, as a result of the conflicting approaches to the sectarian quotas and the construction of a government with a national unity. The meeting analysed that the bargaining formula on which there was an agreement across, was the Turkmen’s representation as a share of the Coalition and the "Christian’s" as they were named be the influential political groups, as a share of the Kurdistan Alliance. The imposition of trusteeship of the main bloc of small nationalities such as the ChaldoAssyrian Syriacs and Turkmen is to be rejected. This is a significant abridgement to the right of a genuine Iraqi component. At the same time, it is a direct violation of the constitutional rights of these components that is not compatible with the concepts of democracy in the new Iraq. The meeting called on officials to revise this policy, to honour justice, and to eliminate the historical inequity caused by the policies of ethnic and religious racisms.

However, the meeting emphasized that this phase, which marks the end of the transitional phases and, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolution, is a new stage on the path to full sovereignty. The Assyrian Democratic Movement’s Central committee congratulated the Iraqi people and asked them to continue their support of the political process, and Iraqi national factions. Their support of the people must also be forwarded to the government's programme for the consolidation of security and stability and to impose the rule of law and strengthening the sovereignty, independence and prosperity to the Iraqis. The meeting also underlined that these negative attitudes towards us will not move us from our belief in the principles aimed at achieving equity between components of the Iraqi people and the consolidation of democracy and national and religious brotherhood. To translate the principle of partnership, and to continue the struggle and determination to remove inequity and the historic injustices and remove any abuses directed on the rights and property of our people previously or presently. There is no place of injustice, exclusion and marginalization in the new Iraq.

The meeting appealed to the masses of our people to together and collaborate and contribute to their historic responsibility towards our national issues and country, at this delicate stage in the history of the nation. The Central Committee promises our people that neither the attempts made to isolate the elected faction that represents our people, nor will trying to unload our nation from the political content be useful. Further, the militant movement will continue to strive on the path of our martyrs to achieve the just aspirations of our people and to live in security, freedom, and dignity in the land of our ancestors. The meeting also discussed other aspects of the movement’s internal affairs and took on a series of resolutions and recommendations.

Translation from Arabic by Sennacherib Sada & Alda Benjamin in Toronto, Canada.

Statement of the Assyrian General Conference

21 May 2006

To Download & View "Khoba Khaya" Trailer Click Here (10 MB)

Living in the shadows of acute crises at different levels, the Iraqis waited for a long time until the announcement of forming the Iraqi government even if incomplete but it became a glimpse of hope to improve the living and security conditions for the persevering Iraqi people with all their ethnic and religious affiliations. However, the governmental formation came about with new practices on the Iraqi political arena unsuitable to the Iraqis hopes for a democratic Iraq built on equality between its sons/daughters as per the constitution which the Iraqis had adopted despite its pitfalls and lapses particularly in what concerns us as Assyrians.

Representing some factions of the Iraqi people in the government through ministers who were nominated through the larger slates in the parliament is a promulgation of past attempts which used to take place in a covert manner in order to impose guardianship on Iraq's sons/daughters by the powers enjoying political and armed influence in today's Iraq.

We declare as Assyrians our explicit protest against the confiscation of the Assyrian decision and we hold onto the constitutional right which guarantees our representation in the Iraqi government because passing over this representation and giving it a Christian religious form, even though we're extremely proud of our religious belonging, but conferring the ministry to the Kurdish slate is a clear violation of our political rights and doesn't suit the democratic bases which our new Iraq is supposed to be built upon away from the fictitious democracy or to be more accurate away from the majority's dictatorship which marginalizes and alienates the opinions of inveterate Iraqi factions who strived and continue to strife for this beloved homeland in order for it to be properly built according to the notions of equality, justice, and rights for all its sons/daughters, but what's happening today is a confiscation of the striving Iraqi people, imposing guardianship on their decision, and confirming the faulty principles in the political process, which is made very obvious through the alienation of the less numbered Iraqi factions by those in control, and this can't in any way lead to building a safe and stable homeland.

History is showing us what happens when the present feeble and fragile political regime excludes the country's sons/daughters from the political process. However, this isn't the image which we wish for the new Iraq.

Submitted by Mr Namrood Shiba, an executive committee member of the Assyrian General Conference.

Priceless Assyrian Relics Used for Target Practice

Courtesy of the Inter-Press Service
13 June 2006
By Lisa Söderlindh

(ZNDA: United Nations)   Home to some of the most significant standing monuments of ancient Assyria, the Khinnis site in northern Iraq is a historical and cultural hallmark in desperate need of protection, warn Mesopotamian archaeologists and Assyriologists.

A recent expedition to northern Iraq to assess the social, economic and cultural rights of the Assyrian people and other minority groups in Iraq, led by the Washington-based Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project (ISDP), found that the ancient Khinnis site has been thrown open to unfettered tourism and its accompanying ravages.

"When we arrived at the site, there were people and picnickers climbing all over the area, as if it was a jungle gym," ISDP Project Director Michael Youash told IPS. "For us, this is not just a world heritage site -- it tells us who we are, reminds us of where we are from, and what our place in history has been."

Located northeast of ancient Nineveh on the eastern bank of the Tigris River in modern-day Mosul, the almost 2,700-year-old Khinnis site, also known as the Bavian site, highlights the geographical start of a impressive engineering feat of ancient Assyrian culture. It remains important to the Assyrian Christian people of Iraq, historically traceable to the Mesopotamian cradle of civilisation.

Click Book Cover For More Info

Khinnis was part of a large-scale construction work initiated by King Sennacherib, who founded Nineveh as the new capital of the Assyrian Empire in 705 BC. It comprised an aqueduct system by which water could be brought down to the fields and the city of Nineveh.

A gigantic rock relief of King Sennacherib overlooks the Gomel River and the cliff faces are carved with numerous ancient symbols and cuneiform inscriptions that depict the life and events that went on in relation to the water supply.

During the recent trip by ISDP -- a special project launched by the Chicago-based Assyrians Academic Society, with members worldwide -- the delegation not only observed the damage caused by tourism, including visitors having chipped off pieces from the rock carvings, but also noted bullet holes, indicating that the reliefs have been used for target practice.

ISDP further reported that the site faces the threat of dynamiting. According to Firas Jatou, a member of the delegation, Kurdish authorities have ordered a small construction company to use dynamite to carve out caves in the sun-spotted rocks to create shade for the picnickers.

Jatou said the work has been sanctioned by Jarjis Hasan Khinnis, a member of the central committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by the president of the Autonomous Kurdish Government in Iraq, Massoud Barzani.

"One of the workers told us that he was simply doing his job -- that he was contracted to blow out the side of the cliff to create shade," Youash said. "For the workers, it is just a public works project rather than an act of cultural genocide."

"This is just another example of us being treated as second-class citizens. Destroying the site would be a nail in the coffin of the ethnic cleansing of Assyrians in northern Iraq -- our ancestral home," he added.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the Assyrian Christian population of Iraq, mostly living in the north, has increasingly become the target of ethnic and religious attacks. According to various sources, they were estimated at around one million before the recent exodus of Assyrians seeking refuge outside the country.

"The Khinnis is a beautiful area and we want all people to be able to come and enjoy the site, but it is worthy of utmost respect," said Yoush. "It is unthinkable in terms of world heritage that it would not be protected and preserved."

McGuire Gibson, an authority on Mesopotamian archaeology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, also stressed the importance of the site. "The reliefs are of great historical and cultural value, in terms of how the Assyrians saw themselves in relation to God and to nature, and they also tell about the relationship of mankind and water," he told IPS.

Before the war, Iraq was one of the best places in the world in terms of preservation and protection of antiquities, Gibson said. And until now, the north has been relatively safe from looters, although a great deal of damage was done to sites in the south, particularly since the U.S. invasion, he said.

"Hundreds of archaeological sites have virtually been destroyed by illegal digging, and if these reliefs at the Khinnis, which have lasted for thousands of years, are finally going to be damaged in the name of tourism, or for whatever reason this is being done, it would be a great tragedy," Gibson said.

The protection of all archaeological sites in Iraq is under the control of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), so they should have been consulted before anything was done at the Khinnis. It is now primary their task to handle the issue and hopefully get on top of the situation, he added.

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Last week, Muzahim Mahmud and his team from the SBAH's office in Mosul went to Khinnis to check up on the situation. The delegation reported that while there has been some dynamiting at the site, the sculptures themselves have not been harmed, and the construction work has been confined to the building of a road nearby rather than creating shade for the picnickers, the chairman of SBAH and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Donny George, told IPS.

However, "according to my knowledge, and what I have seen in pictures, there must have been some new shooting, because there has been new chipping on the sculpture," George added, agreeing that Kurdish authorities must take protective measures.

According to the new Iraqi constitution and the Law of Antiquities and Heritage of 2002, the archaeological sites and antiquities of Iraq are the wealth of the country, and they should be handled by the central government in collaboration with the provinces.

"It is our duty to protect the cultural heritage of the people of Iraq, which is also the cultural heritage of mankind, and to preserve it for the coming generations," said George. "But the cooperation with Kurdish authorities controlling the northern region is not functioning, they are not responding to our concerns, which is why we want to rearrange the connection between us -- the central government and the north."

The best way to protect the Khinnis site and the sculptures from further harm is to post guards there, he said. And to ensure this, "We will need to have a bigger delegation going up to the north, to stop any unnecessary acts against antiquities at the Khinnis and at other sites in the region."

But because of the delicate security situation, it is hard to plan things in Baghdad right now -- as it is to protect any sites either in the north or in the south, from looting, attacking, or any other harm, continued George.

"The special patrolling police force that belongs to the SBAH has also had difficulties doing its duties because it lacks cars and communication systems," he said. "It is very important that the international community support Iraq, at least by providing cars and helping us improve the petroleum and the communication systems throughout the country."

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The Assyria Advocate
with Mariam S. Shimoun


Assyrians: The Middle East’s Natural Democrats

The protest in DC last week by hundreds of Assyrians was a true testament to the nature of the minds of Assyrians: Assyrians from age 5 – 85 went en masse by bus, barely sleeping, so they could carry not only Assyrian and American, but also Iraqi flags to show their determination for democracy.

You will likely never, ever see a Kurd carry an Iraqi flag at a demonstration – only one that represents the Kurdish north of Iraq (the Kurdish flag).

The Middle East has a long history, and a long memory. Arabs, Persians, Jews, Armenians, Turks, have all fought endless battles, waged massacres and genocides, been subject to their own vicious rulers, and lost massive amounts of their population. Assyrians, in general, have been the victim in all of the above. No group in the Middle/Near East has been abused and massacred like the Assyrians, considering the small size of their population.

Assyrians in the Diaspora are generally split three ways regarding the possible future of Assyria and Assyrians – those who are calling for equal rights under the central Iraqi government; those demanding nothing short of an independent autonomous region (eventually becoming Assyria); and those who believe an alliance with Kurds will help Assyrians in the long-run. With the exception of the last group (which is relatively small), Assyrians are aware of their current status, and that this is a critical time to move on what it is we want achieved for Assyrians in Iraq. Assyrians are the first to call for true democracy in Iraq, mainly because their small population size requires it for their survival.

Imagine a country where Assyrians maintained the political infrastructure, managed the military, and was charged with the economic development. Imagine this ally to the West, in the Middle East, that never had a threat of Islamism within its borders.

Not even an iota.

The truth is, no Muslim group in Iraq, whether Kurd or Arab, are going to “allow” Middle East Christians thrive on their own land, much less help the Assyrians achieve it. Land has almost always been won through bloodshed, and it is truly the fool who believes the Kurds have Assyrian interests in mind at all. Each are out for their own interests – Iraq will go one of two ways: split into different countries (Shia, Sunni, and Kurd) or unified under one flag. No one is a friend of the Assyrians. Frankly, no one is a friend of anyone – Kurds, Arabs, Turks – all of these groups that surround the Assyrians have learned something the Assyrians haven’t – do not take “friendships” and “alliances” too seriously – these are temporary relationship to gain long term power over the other. Are we, as Assyrians, thinking long-term in this context? Or are we placing all of our trust in the fact that “Kurdistan” will exist, and hopefully, they will be our “protectors”, on our very own land? Are we ensuring that, regardless of what may happen to the Kurds, or the Arabs, that Assyrians will not be subject to Muslim authorities, making us susceptible again, to massacre and genocide?

Try as they may, Arabs and Kurds can never guarantee that portions of their population are not anti-democratic religious Islamist zealots. No Islamic society can guarantee that. Frankly, in many “democratic” elections held in Muslim countries (Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, etc.) the Islamist parties win (fairly in squarely!!), and begin unraveling the democratic progress that was made. The fact that Assyrians are all of the Christian faith, be they Jacobite, Orthodox, Eastern Catholic or Chaldean Catholic, makes them unique in the Near East – they do not identify with the Arab culture like other Middle Eastern Christians, (for example, the Lebanese or Palestinian Christians). Their language, culture, and history are distinct – and much, much older.

A strong, western backed Assyrian presence in the Near East is a natural democratic ally (if, of course, the U.S. and E.U. are actually serious about bringing democracy to the Arab world). The society will be stable, the government will be democratic in nature, and businesses can operate and run smoothly, without the threat of anti-Western, Islamist-like hatred of the foreign companies operating there. Dealing with Assyrian Christians rather than, say, Kurds in the north, is just smarter long-term investment practice – in terms of both economic and political investment.

The problem, however, is clear. Assyrians are not speaking with a unified voice, and this gives Western coalition forces developing Iraq the idea that we are not ideal to work with, even though they likely know all of the above. Assyrian political entities are engaged in verbal-warfare, and for some strange reason, there are even some who prefer working with – or rather for – the KDP.

Assyrian autonomy is certainly a feasible idea, especially if the Kurds of Iraq have managed to put forth the illusion of a “stable government” in the north. The “illusion” of a democratic “Kurdistan” translates into their relationships – their “friendship” with these Assyrians is also an illusion, and temporary. It frightens me to think what will become of the Assyrians once the coalition forces leave, and the Kurds are left to deal with dissent as they see fit…the Assyrians have felt this wrath before.

However, regardless of a marginal part of the population, which believe the KRG have Assyrian interests in mind, Assyrians in Diaspora have tasted democracy, and the future is in the hands of the youth that will eventually take the place of the older generation. They know nationalism in a different way – diplomacy where it’s necessary, and tough political shrewdness when it’s necessary. Reverand Joseph Naayem once asked, “Shall This Nation Die?” While some are actively working to ensure this (whether they realize it or not), the majority of Assyrians have survived too long to allow it to happen now.

News Digest
News From Around the World


Assyrian Reps Meet First Lady, US Sen. Jon Kyl

By Joseph V. Danavi, reporting from Chicago

(ZNDA: Phoenix)  On the morning of Friday, 16 June, a ChaldoAssyrian Syriac delegation from Chicago and Phoenix ascended to the Hilton in Scottsdale, Arizona as invited guests to a lunch in honor of United States Senator Jon Kyl. 

First Lady Laura Bush was also present to support the candidacy of Honorable Jon Kyl as the keynote speaker.

The ChaldoAssyrian Syriac delegation's mission was to congratulate Senator Kyl as well as the First Lady on their rightful stances on Iraqi democracy, and to voice and elaborate the alarming crossroads at which the ChaldoAssyrian Syriac nation stands.

The ChaldoAssyrian Syriac delegation was comprised of prominent and active members. In attendance were the North American head of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), Dr. Adam Benjamin; ADM Public Relations Director, Dr. Agnes Merza; ADM Phoenix Chapter Directors, Mr. Noel Kando and Mr. Sargon Zomaya; Chairman of Public Relations of the Assyrian American National Federation, Mr. Sam Darmo and his wife; Secretary of the Assyrian American Association of Arizona, Mr. Steve Younan and his wife; as well as the Chairman of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Student Movement, Mr. Joseph Danavi.

The delegation checked in at the Hilton hotel at 11:00 am to participate in a cocktail hour with prominent members of the United States Government as well as other beneficiaries.

As a member of the elite Host of Committees for Honorable Jon Kyl, Mr. Sam Darmo was invited to a private reception with both Senator Jon Kyl and First Lady Laura Bush. At this exclusive function, Mr. Darmo privately expressed the distress of the ChaldoAssyrian Syriac nation in regards to human, civic, religious, geographical, and political rights.

On behalf of the entire delegation, Mr. Sam Darmo presented the First Lady with a detailed compilation of the CAS rights and voice infringements in Iraq. Within the compilation, a transcript of the 6 June 2006 press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., following the demonstration led by the Assyrian Democratic Movement, as well as the official memoranda the Assyrian Democratic Movement presented to U.S. Government leaders and to the Iraqi Ambassador to the United States during these demonstrations.

The First Lady was ecstatic, yet alarmed by the report presented to her regarding the deplorable conditions of the ChaldoAssyrian Syriac and Christian populous in Iraq as well as the impoverished refugees scattered in neighboring countries. She assured and guaranteed the delegation that the report would be hand delivered to President George W. Bush that same night.

Mr. Sam Darmo of the Assyrian American National Federation said he believed “this was a historic event due to the fact that some of the most important and active organizations representing our unified nation were present to hand deliver the anguished message of our nation to President George Bush through the First Lady."

Following the private reception between Mr. Sam Darmo, Honorable Jon Kyl, and First Lady Laura Bush, the main event resumed with lunch being served. During the luncheon, both Honorable Jon Kyl and keynote speaker Laura Bush spoke about the prospects and tribulations affecting the United States of America. They both reaffirmed their stance to root out the evil and terrorism that is infuriating Iraq and their promise to stay the course for a democratic and secure Iraq.

Following the speeches and luncheon, members of the ChaldoAssyrian Syriac delegation were given an opportunity to greet and meet with the First Lady, US Senator Jon Kyl, and other statesmen and diplomats.

Dr. Adam Benjamin of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, along with the delegation, amplified the prospects and concerns about the status of the Christian ChaldoAssyrian Syriac nation in Iraq and its surrounding areas in this meeting session. In his discussion with both First Lady Laura Bush and US Senator Jon Kyl, he stressed that ADM has been the only ChaldoAssyrian Syriac and Christian organization that not only was a part of President Bush's Liberation Act, but has been a part of the Iraqi Opposition Parties (those against Saddam Hussein) since its inception. He avowed that one of the missions of ADM is directly aligned with that of the United States: the establishment and promotion of a free, democratic, united, secular, and secure Iraq with protected human and civic rights bestowed to all her citizens. He then informed both dignitaries of the extensive oppression afflicting the ChaldoAssyrian Syriac nation in Iraq, not only in the areas of physical harm and ethnic cleansing, but also in the political arena. He relayed the discontent arising from the sidelined and trampled voice of the ChaldoAssyrian Syriac nation through the appointment of nondependent, Kurdish-affiliated, and unelected ChaldoAssyrian Syriacs in place of the popularly and democratically elected independent Assyrian Democratic Movement.

Dr. Benjamin concluded the conversation with US Senator and the First Lady by cautiously alerting them "that the only means to preserve and secure our culture, faith, historical and geographical identity is through the establishment of an administrative unit in Iraq for the Christian ChaldoAssyrian Syriac peoples in the ancestral homeland."

After the salutations and photo shots, both the First Lady Laura Bush and Honorable Jon Kyl personally thanked the delegation for their participation and for voicing their concerns.

The US Senator from Arizona concluded the delegation’s attendance and visit by stressing that "the fate of the Assyrians in Iraq is certainly in my mind as well as the President's."

Mr. Joseph Danavi is a senior in Molecular & Cellular Biology and an Illinois Student Senator at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The author of this report is also the current chairman of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Student Movement organized in Chicago.  

Assyrian Object to Exclusion in Iraq Homeland

Courtesy of the Arizona Republic
By Daniel González
7 June 2006

(ZNDA: Phoenix)  Mona Oshana sells real estate for a living, but the topic of conversation doesn't have to be the Valley's cooling market to get the Glendale resident going.

Bring up the plight of Assyrian Christians in Iraq and she can go on for hours.

The Assyrian Christians are the indigenous people of Iraq, Oshana says, comparable to Native Americans in the United States.

After years of being persecuted by Saddam Hussein's tyrannical regime, they were hoping to have their voices heard under Iraq's new democratic government, the one the United States helped create.

But so far, that hasn't really happened, says Oshana, an Assyrian Christian whose family fled Iraq in 1977, when she was 8. Assyrian Christians continue to be politically marginalized and persecuted, she said.

"It's almost like we lost one oppressor to get another one," Oshana says.

That's why Assyrian Christians in the Valley are determined to help their countrymen back home, she said.

Today about 30 will join others from California, New York, Illinois and Michigan in Washington, D.C. They plan to demonstrate in front of the Iraqi Embassy and the U.S. Capitol to call attention to the continued challenges facing Iraq's Assyrian Christian population.

"We want the U.S. to take action," said Glendale resident Sargon Zomaya, 57, one of those traveling to Washington.

With about 15,000 Assyrians Christians, the Phoenix area has the fastest-growing Assyrian Christian community in the country. Most have relocated here over the past 10 to 15 years from the Chicago and Detroit areas.

In helping Iraq establish a democratic government, the United States has focused most of its efforts on striking a political balance between Iraq's three largest ethnic groups, the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds, overshadowing the Assyrians, said Steven Cook, an expert on Arab politics at the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

He doubts today's protests will make much difference.

"The United States' policymakers have larger issues to worry about than to what's happening to a relatively small community," Cook said.

With a population of about 800,000 people, Assyrian Christians make up just 3 percent of Iraq's 27 million population.

Because of a rise in Islamic extremism and political persecution, roughly 100,000 Iraqi Christians have fled the country or have been displaced since the start of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, according to Michael Youash, project director for the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project in Washington, D.C.

"The straw that broke the camel's back," Youash said, was the recent appointment of Iraq's cabinet ministers. None was a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, even though the political party garnered 79 percent of the votes cast from Assyrians both inside and outside Iraq during Iraq's parliamentary elections in 2005, he said.

The only Christian appointed to a minister's post came from the Kurdish Democratic Party. Most Assyrian Christians consider that unacceptable, accusing the Kurdish Democratic Party of being responsible for driving Christians from their homelands in northern Iraq and discriminating against them, Youash said.

Though Assyrian Christians are a small minority in Iraq, they make up the largest proportion of Iraq's exile community, numbering between 250,00 and 400,000, Youash said.

By organizing demonstrations, Youash said, the community hopes to push the U.S. government to use its "diplomatic muscle to indicate its dissatisfaction with the political marginalization of the Assyrians."

Welsh Members of UK Parliament Recognize 1915 Genocide

Courtesy of Yerkir
6 June 2006

(ZNDA: Yerevan)  Over half the eligible Welsh Representatives of the UK Parliament have signed a motion recognizing the Armenian and Assyrian Genocide of 1915.

“This is a historic day for Wales. "There can no longer be any doubt that Wales has recognized the Armenian and Assyrian Genocides. We will continue to expose this government denial of the genocide in order to protect British investment in Turkey and to further Britain's strategic interests in the region. Our priority will be to put the issue of restitution and reparations for the genocide on the political agenda.

The reunification of Armenia must no longer be a taboo subject during Turkey's accession talks. We in Wales can raise our voice to insist that Turkey should yield back land to the Armenian nation if she is to accede to the European Union,” said a spokesman for Wales-Armenia Solidarity.

Parliamentary Debate in Australia Focuses on
Plight of Assyrians

For immediate release

Hermiz Shahen
Assyrian Universal Alliance-Australian Chapter
31 May 2006

In a private members business session on Monday, 29 May 2006, in the house of representative of the Australian Federal Parliament and under the title of religious minorities Mr Allen Cadman MP., member for Mitchel raised a motion with reference to the Republic of Turkey and its relations with the different Christian minorities in the area. Mr Cadman commended the Australian of Greek and Turkish origin for the peaceful and harmonious relationship they have established in Australia which is an example to all communities coming from older cultures, he requested the Turkish government as it moves towards joining the European Union as a full member to return private property to minority groups of all religious backgrounds, to permit r-opening of the Greek Orthodox Theological College on the island of Halke and to permit Christian denominations to operate seminaries of their own, wether Greek, Armenian or Syriac.

June 10 Augsburg, Germany
June 17 San Jose, California
June 30 Phoenix, Arizona

Mr. Chris Bowen MP, member for prospect who raised the Assyrian Universal Alliance petition in the Australian Federal Parliament on May last year, calling on the Australian Government to urge the Iraqi Government to create a ‘protected administrative region for the Assyrians‘, seconded the above motion and added his concerns about the rights of Christians in Iraq which he have spoken about previously in the house. Mr Bowen said, ” It is hard to conceive that the position of Christians in Iraq has actually deteriorated since the fall of Saddam Hussein. As a member of the coalition of the willing, this government has an obligation to speak up for Christians in Iraq. I am sorry to say that the government’s response has been less than adequate, and I used the forum of this motion to again call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to make representations at the highest possible level to insure the protection of Assyrians, Chaldeans and Mandians in Iraq. The government also needs to be doing more in relation to providing save heaven for Christians who have left Iraq. I again call on the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs to review the way her department handles applications for refugee status from Christians and Mandeans who have fled Iraq”.

On the Turkish issue Mr Bowen added, “ It is also important for the future that the wrongs of the past are acknowledged. I believe the Assyrian people, among others, have a legitimate concern to insure that the terrible event of 1915 are properly acknowledged and commemorated. The Turkish people and the Assyrian people could then join together in the acknowledgement that we must all work together to insure that such event can never happen again-just as the Turkish and Australian people joined together in friendship after Gallipoli,…”

To read the whole motion please click here. In the House of Representatives Hansard page click here and then go to page 23 for “Private Members Business” / Religious Minorities.

On behalf of the Assyrian Universal Alliance-Australia Chapter and the Assyrian Australian community we would like to thank Mr. Chris Bowen MP, member for prospect for raising the Assyrian issue with the Australian Government, for his great determination, sincerity and outstanding effort to support the indigenous Assyrian rights in Iraq and for his dedication in serving the people of his electorate, which give us as Assyrians the citizens of this country; despite being citizen of many countries of the Middle East the pride to be known as Australians.

ADO Statement on the Recent Arrests in Syria

ADO Politial Bureau
Damascus, Syria
19 May 2006

In the past few days the security forces in Syria have cracked down hard on the nationalist democratic opposition forces in Syria through fresh and organized arrests considered the biggest in years. The campaign started with the arrest of Fateh Jamous, the leading member in the Syrian Communist Labor Party and Damascus Declaration (D.D), then Michel Kilo, the opposition democratic writer, activist and member of D.D., reaching up to the following human right campaigners and national democratic opposition activists:

  • Anwar Buni, the leading lawyer and activist and spokesperson of al-Huriat center
  • Suleiman al-Shamari leading member in the Revolutionary Labor Party and member of D.D.
  • Ghaleb Amer, member of Arab Organization for Huamn Rights.
  • Khalil Husein, leading member of Kurdish Future Party
  • Abbas Abbas, journalist and activist
  • Eng.Muhamad Mahfouz, activist
  • Kamal Sheikh, activist
  • Mahmud Isa, ex-detainee and activist
  • Dr. Safwan Thaifour, activist

No doubt these arbitrary arrests, which came on the backdrop of the signing of the Damascus–Beirut Statement, have no legal or political grounds.  It is a flagrant violation of Syrian constitution and all other agreements and conventions signed by Syria, particularly those related to human rights, civil and political liberties. As a matter of fact, this campaign is aiming at extending the "reign of terror", spreading the culture of fear through terrorizing and silencing the Syrian people which is aspiring to build a state of law and institutions and a democratic society free from injustice and discrimination.

We, in the Assyrian Democratic Organization, condemn these arbitrary arrests and express our full solidarity with the recent victims of political detention and all prisoners of conscience in Syria, and further, affirm our complete support for their stance in introducing peaceful democratic changes and consolidating democracy and human rights in Syria.

Moreover, we call upon the Syrian authorities to set them, as well as the other political prisoners, immediately free and close once and for all the file of political detention in Syria, and furthermore to give up the old policy of solving national issues by security means, as these policies, over the years, have only brought about destruction and damage to the country.

Freedom for Aref Dalila, Ali al-Abdalla and his son, Riad Darar, Fateh Jamous, Michel Kilo, Anwar al-Buni, Suleiman al-Shamari, Nidal Darwish, Mahmoud Murei, Khalid Husein, Mahmus Isa, Abbas Abbas, Ghaleb A’amer, Safuan Tayfour, Yacoub Shamoun, Kamal Shekho, Mahmoud Issa Muhamd Mahfouz and for all prisoners of conscience in Syria.

Long live Syria, a free country for all its people.

T h e   H a l l u c i n a t i o n s   o f   a n   A r t i s t

ADO Calls for the Release of Michel Kilo and His Friends

ADO Politial Bureau
Europe Branch
19 May 2006

In this very delicate period of the Syrian history, as the country is facing tremendous challenges and pressures from outside, and while the Syrian people are looking forward to real democratic reforms and political relaxation, a precondition for building a true national unity, the country is shocked once again by a new wave of crackdowns by the regime on political opposition activists and intellectuals -- on top of them Michel Kilo and others.

This new futile campaign is stifling the liberties and free expression of those who do not possess the power of word and intellect as a weapon for introducing freedom, progress and prosperity in the society, in a long process of struggle for the sake of establishing a democratic society based on justice, freedom, respect for human rights as well as the right of citizenship for all its constituents .

The new wave of arrests this time has started with Michel Kilo who was arrested last Sunday in Damascus and it is still ongoing among the members of opposition forces, activists and intellectuals who signed the "Damascus–Beirut Declaration" .

These arbitrary arrests, would not make these freedom fighters back down, on the contrary, it would provide them with new determination, impetus and broader popularity. Nor would it intimidate the signatories of D.D. –among them the Assyrian Democratic Organization – into changing their course of bringing about peaceful democratic changes for the Syrian society, whatever the costs.

While we, in the Assyrian Democratic Organization – Europe Branch– strongly condemns these unnecessary repressive measures as well as the polices of stifling the freedoms which still the regime is practicing against its free thinking critics and opposition forces of various political, national, religious or ideological orientation.  We, at the same time, express our deepest solidarity with the stance of Michel Kilo the leading fighter for his country's freedom as well with the stance of his other colleagues and the peaceful course for democratic changes they are following in Syria, demanding the authorities to speed up the release of Damascus – the "Beirut-Damascus Declaration" signatories and of all the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in the Syrian prisons, reassuring in the meantime, that the security option would not solve any of the country's countless problems; but on the contrary it would help further deepen and complicate them.

ADO Holds Political Meetings in Paris with
Syrian Opposition Forces

ADO Politial Bureau
Europe Branch
19 May 2006

Within the framework of political activities of ADO in Europe, the Political Bureau and the Europe Branch, represented by comrade Abe al-Ahad Stefan and Sa’aid Lahdo, met on Sunday May 14th, 2006 in Paris with Mr. Hasan Abed al-Azim the official spokesperson of the National Democracy during his visit to France following his participation in the Arab National Congress in Morocco.

The meeting was attended by Mr. Anas al-Abed and Musa’af Helefawi, representatives of the newly founded Justice and Building Party in Britain and other members of the opposition forces amongst them members of Arab Committee for Human Rights. During the meeting they were introduced to the activities of ADO in the diasporas as well as the contribution it could offer to the democratic changes in Syria .

Mr. Hasan Abed al-Azim briefed attendees on the policies of the Syrian regime as well as his opinion and those of Damascus Declaration forces’ regarding the fulfillment of Damascus Declaration’s aims.

Before this meeting on the same day, the Political Bureau - Europe Branch had held a special meeting with Dr. Haytham Mana’a, president of the Arab Committee for Human Rights, and exchanged opinions about activities of the Committee regarding human rights especially in Syria .

Further, an agreement was reached in principle with him to cooperate in conducting special human rights training courses for those interested from Assyrian Syriac communities in the diasporas.

ANA Announces Support for AUA

Press Release

Assyrian National Assembly (ANA)
16 June 2006

We at Assyria National Assembly (ANA) fully support and stand by the Assyrian universal Alliance (AUA) and its effort to unify the Assyrian decision through the second conference of the Assyrian parties in order to form an Assyrian front gather under one umbrella.

Today, ee care in urgent need of the unified Assyrian effort far from narrow individual stand whether the initiative came from any other Assyrian group. The Assyrian universal Alliance (AUA) is known through out its history for its remarkable achievements and is consider as umbrella to those who truly believe in their Assyrian Nation.

To all Assyrian parties:

We as brothers in National act, request your support for Assyrian Universal Alliance’s project in unifying and serving our Assyrian Nation

God bless you all and bless our Assyrian nation.

  • The official E-mail of Assyria National Assembly (ANA) Iraq - Nineveh is:   Info@ninweh.com
  • The official E-mail of Assyria National Assembly (ANA) Diaspora is:   Assyria@rogers.com
  • The official Web Site of Assyria National Assembly (ANA) is:  www.ninweh.com

Please disregard any other E-mail / Web Site claims representing Assyrian National Assembly.

Surfs Up!
Your Letters to the Editor


Historic March in Washington

William Aprim

On Wednesday, June 7th, 2006 a large crowd over 400 people marched in Washington D.C., in protest for our violated Voting Rights in Iraq, particularly, the North Kurdish Region. The crowd came from different states in the US, representing the ChaldoAssyrianSyriac people. The event was sponsored by three most powerful entities of this nation: Assyrian American National Federation – Assyrian National Council Of Illinois – and Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) .

After two hours of demonstration in front of the Iraqi Embassy, The Ambassador came out smiling, waving his arms as he greeted the crowd. It was a mixed emotional moment of joy, sadness and tears, when he exchanged traditional hand shake, and as a noble Iraqi gesture, he embraced the leaders of the group, kissing them on both cheek. A selected people were allowed inside the Embassy, for a brief meeting, they included: Dr. Adam Benjamin, Zowaa Representative ( US/Canada) - Mr. Sheeba Mando, Chairman, ANCI (Illinois)- Mr. Alaiden Khamis, President, AANF – Rev. Awiqam Petyo – Church Of The East, Chicago – Mr. Alah Mansour, Zowaa Representative (Detroit) – Mr. David, ChaldoAssyrian Organization, Detroit. Accompanying the delegation was Mr. Michael Youash, from Washington.

During the meeting, the Ambassador reflected the appreciation of the Iraqi Government for the peaceful and democratic nature of the crowd movement outside. He promised to convey the petition to the Central Government, through the Foreign Ministry in Iraq.

Also during the meeting, a direct discussion took place between a Kurdish (KDP) Representative, with both Dr. Adam Benjamin and Mr. Sheeba Mando. The subject raised was the violation of our Voting Rights in Iraq, especially, in the Kurdish Region. The KDP representative, indicated that the Christians under the Regional Administration have their own representative, and are well treated. Our side of the story indicated the contrary. He was told that the right thing to do for the Kurdish Administration is to respect the rights of our ChaldoAssyrianSyriac people, without interfering into our political/religious affairs. We have an officially elected representative, currently a member in the Iraqi Parliament, Mr. Younadam Kanna. He is the only person who carried the mandate of the ChaldoAssyrianSyriac people, and won the election in December, 2005. We shall never accept to be called Kurdish Christians, we are one nation, with different religious faith. We reject to be recognized as a religious denomination. We also reject any nominated, or imposed public representative. We strongly believe in the existing new Iraq democratic system currently in operation.

The Washington March must be considered as the beginning of a Historic Event in the life of our ChaldoAssyrianSyriac people. It created new principle incentives of political and national awareness; since it carried the will, courage and dedication of a united people, never seen before. There were people of all ages, including our educated very active nationalistic youths, the energetic Guardian Angels ( Joseph Danavi and his brave team members ). Also a number of small children. The writer of this article is proud to be part of this worthy national service – accompanied by two married daughters and a brilliant 12 year old grandchild (Ninos). Also my two nieces with their children, ( Paul, Rita and Mary) The event was very special, its memories will be treasured for life. The March further consolidated our National feelings to each other, as we came in contact with some wonderful, compassionate, concerned people, who are united, both in spirit and action, and understandingly determine to continue supporting Zowaa’s struggle in leading the “History Train” to its destination.

God bless our Nation, with all its colors, and sacred faith.

A group of Assyrian youth who participated at the March in Washington earlier this month hold Assyrian, Iraqi, and ADM flags for the cars passing by.  The protest was held across from the Iraqi embassy in Washington.

One Nation Under God, Indivisible with
Liberty and Justice for All

Helen TaliA

Rev. Awiqam Pithyou and Assyrian singer Ashur Bet-Sargis (holding loudspeaker) at last week's demonstration in Washington, DC.

A united ChaldoAssyrian Suryani front confronted the Iraqi government on its latest resolution to eliminate what the Assyrian Democratic Movement has worked for more than 27 years to establish, which is to be recognized as equal citizens, among other minorities in Iraq. Reminder... 'Al Rafidain' - Slate #740 won two consequtive elections in Iraq's primary election, electing Mr. Younadam Kanna, Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, as their representative in Iraq's National Parliamant. Today, by dismissing the word Assyrian, Chaldean, and even Syriac, the Iraqi government has moved to recognize these minorities as Christians only, by extension stripping them from their national identity and eliminating their legislation powers from the Iraqi parliamant, hence their ability to play an integral role in Iraq's law making processes.

An approximate 600 believers marched the streets of Washington, D.C. on June 7th, as busses unloaded from primarily Chicago, followed by Detroit, Arizona, Nevada, California, and Canada, and from the East Coast states. The marchers, carrying everything from flags of United States, Iraq, Assyria, Assyrian Democratic Movement, to bearing their hearts and souls, chanted slogans and national anthems in Assyrian, English, and Arabic, displaying strong emotions that prompted Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Samir al-Sumaidai, to leave his post and address the public, who at the time was chanting the famous Iraqi slogan "Bil Rouh, Bil Dam, Nahdelak Ya Iraq," translates: with soul, with blood, we give to you Iraq, giving a rise to the occasion which left many attendees in tears.

The message was simple, 'Treat Minorities in Iraq As Iraqi National Citizens.' Evidentally, this message was strong enough to be carried into the Iraqi embassy as Mr. al-Sumaidai personally welcomed several Assyrian digniteries: Dr. Adam Benjamin - Assyrian Democratic Movement, Reverend Aweqam Pithyou - Assyrian Church of The East, Mr. Aladin Khamis - President, Assyrian American National Federation, Mr. Michael Youash - Project Director for the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project in Washington, D.C., Mr. Sheba Mando - President, Assyrian National Council of Illinois, along with Ashur TV Satellite, Assyrians Around the World, and TV Shrara - California. The results were favorable and sources confirmed that Iraq's ambassador was moved by the demonstrating crowd as he welcomed Iraq's minorities to both, voice their demands, and submit an official proposal to move the Iraqi government to un-do its last resolution, removing nationalistic representation of the ChaldoAssyrians Suryani people.

Assyrian youth demonstrating in Washington D.C.

Next, the crowd was moved from the Iraqi Embassy to the U.S. Capitol to send President George Bush and his administration a message about his foreign policies and the treatment of minorities in Iraq, or lack of. Supposedly the United States went to rescue the Iraqi people (as a whole) from persecution under Saddam Hussein's tyrranical regime and to establish democracy in Iraq. But in the process, and in addition to the collateral damage inflicted on the land and the country's infrastructure, some people went under, going from a sub-culture to no-existent within Iraq. The United States's foreign policy in anything but neutral, backing up one people, and isolating another; publicly opening the gate wide enough for the Kurds in the north to destroy human and animal life alike, forcing villagers to abandon their homes and flee the country... downsizing minorities in Northern Iraq. "Obviously, the United States policymakers have larger issues to worry about than to what's happening to a relatively small community," said one demonstrator Slewo Oshana. This was evident when a representative from the Kurdistan Democratic Party who was visiting the Iraqi embassy in Washington, D.C. on this day, resented the allegations made by the ChaldoAssyrian Suryanis, denying their claims against the KDP, who in recent events have flexed their muscles far enough to impose on the villagers in the Nineveh, Mosul region to join the Kurdistan Democrataic Party in order to employ in any government or municipality offices. Isn't it ironic that the Kurds have cried wolf for years to the world about Saddam's treatment of their people, who in turn have done, if not the same, worse to another people.

The Assyrians are a dominant race, whose culture and literacy has spanned for more than five thousand years, and the world has not heard the last from us. We defy all conditions that limit us recognition as people of origins in Iraq. We reject subjectivity to the Kurdistan Democratic Party. We demand representation as people of national origins by our elected representatives.

Mar Delly: "ChaldoAssyrian People Do Not Exist"

Antoni Yalap

After Mar Sarhad Jammo, the Chaldean Bishop from the U.S., who did everything to divide Assyro-Chaldeans with absurd arguments at various conferences in the United States, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Mar Emmanuel III Delly, is beginning to do his share of the “Chaldean” nationalist activism.

Mar Delly, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, in an interview on Ishtar TV states:  "Any Chaldean who says he's an Assyrian or any Assyrian who says he is Chaldean is a traitor”

The attempts to divide our people are increasing. The consequences have been disastrous because Assyro-Chaldeans of Iraq do not have only one representative in the Iraqi National Assembly. The representative structures of Assyro-Chaldeans of France and of the world cannot remain dumb to these attempts of division. If need be, they should organize visits to Iraq.

On Friday May 19th, 2006, a meeting between the young Assyro-Chaldean people of Paris area and the Chaldean Patriarch, Mar Emmanuel III Delly, took place at St Thomas Apostle Chaldean Church, in presence of the priests of the community and of two Chaldean bishops, Mar Louis Sako and Mar Jacques Ishak as well as Father Benyamin Yadgar from Georgia.

The meeting announced for 8:30 PM started at 9:30 PM in the presence of very few young people (the church was unusually empty for such a meeting with the supreme head of the Chaldean Church). The evening was divided into three parts, as usual, around “Oeuvre d´Orient” (society which invited the Orient Church’s Patriarchs to Paris), the “Chaldeans” of Iraq and the “Chaldeans” of Europe.

Many young people left this conference, dissatisfied. Indeed, answers brought to the various questions about the situation of our community in Iraq were not satisfactory. “Light-hearted” answers were given to the young people and guests were asked to be Christians of Iraq. Statements such as “Violence does not touch only Christians, but the whole of the Iraqis”, as few months ago, were continuously repeated. However, the young people knew that violence against the Assyro-Chaldean Christians is clearly an attempt to make them leave.

The part devoted to “Oeuvre d´Orient” was not of great interest considering the importance of the two other topics. As for the part on the situation in Iraq, it was prolonged more than necessary (this situation recalled to some the attitude of Jean-Louis Debré which had prolonged, the day before, the discussions around various topics preceeding the question of the penalization of the negation of the Armenian genocide to the French National Assembly).

Finally, it was not possible to ask questions about the situation in Europe: a part of much interest for those who attended the meeting. The patriarch was satisfied to ask the young people to ask for and answer the call of God and to become priests and nuns. However, certain participants knew that many things occur in our church without the community being informed. It was requested of the representatives of the community not to ask any question from the Patriarch during the offering of the meal to the persons in charge for the villages the evening of the arrival of the Patriarch in Paris. One hour and half were certainly not enough to tackle all the subjects the young people wanted to speak about: identity, vocations, problems, our life in Europe, etc.

A young person who attended the press conference of all patriarchs, on Monday May 15th, summarized for Mar Delly what he had heard as answer to the question about the situation of the Christians: “Every patriarch says that all is well.  What do you say? ”.  Mar Delly's answer was of a doubtful humor: “I too will answer you the same that all is well”. If all were well, why these patriarchs ask visas from President Chirac for the Christians who want to leave the area? Is all ok or not for those Christians of the East?

There were remarks even more shocking that these! A young person asked the Patriarch why our people were divided by the Iraqi constitution and certain religious persons in charge into “Chaldeans” and “Assyrians” and why nothing was done to ask for a representation of our people in the Iraqi National Assembly. Indeed, Turcoman or Yézidis had their representatives whereas Assyro-Chaldeans, artificially divided into three do not have any representative. However, in 2003, an Assyro-Chaldean conference held in Baghdad had stressed that our people “Chaldo-Assyrian” (Assyro-Chaldean) were only one and single people speaking the language of Syriac.

The answer given by the Patriarch to the young person was the following: “Can you affirm that there is a ChaldoAssyrian (Assyro-Chaldean) people? There is no ChaldoAssyrian people. There are Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs. And the name of each one of these people is blessed”. Did the Patriarch implicitly ask the young people to choose between the Chaldean or Assyrian terms? He did say that there are no people by the name of ChaldoAssyrian (Assyro-Chaldean). Therefore, should we choose between Assyrian and Chaldean? And why thus such a choice would have to be made?

The Patriarch himself which ratified the final declaration of the conference held in Baghdad between 22 and 24, 2003, in which it is expressly indicated that the people’s name is ChaldoAssyrian (Assyro-Chaldean) and that the language of this people is Syriac. Why such a change on the principles, since that date? In the Iraqi constitution, this nation is divided into two, because of such remarks, for finally have no representation.

What is the legitimte stand of the patriarch regarding the denomination of our people? Was he not elected patriarch by the bishops and officiated by Pope John-Paul II, as patriarch in transition for three years, in December 2003? How can this same patriarch, constant in his allegations by certain historians during the conference held at St Thomas Chaldean Church, could declare on Ishtar TV on May 6th: “Any Chaldean who says he's an Assyrian or any Assyrian who says he is Chaldean is a traitor”?

How can Mar Emmanuel III Delly who served for 40 years under his two predecessors before first retiring and then returning as a patriarch, can contradict the remarks of Mar Raphaël I Bidawid, who affirmed: “I am Assyrian of nationality, but Chaldean of confession”.

The Assyro-Chaldean term has not and does not pose any problem in France. And here our patriarch is sowing discord, just like some of his assistants who succeeded in Iraq. The Assyro-Chaldean term was officially used and recognized at the time of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.   Since then this term was and is used in France to indicate our community! Is it not written on our residence permits that we are “Assyro-Chaldean Refugees from Turkey” and not Chaldean only?  We will remain Assyro-Chaldeans and we will not yield before such handling.

Our associations and political parties should not let such absurd ideas be propegated emanating from political or religious personalities like the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church or his bishops like Sarhad Jammo, who did not succeed in becoming Patriarch of Babylon of Catholic Chaldeans.

The young Assyro-Chaldean people must be vigilant before such remarks. They should not believe the words of some religious person, preserved by a certain immunity, sowing discord in their spirits.

Extracts from the conference of Mar Emmanuel III Delly will be available on the weekly program of the Assyro-Chaldean Voice.  Photo are available now:  click here

Use of Hyphens or Dashes in the Compound Name

Fred Aprim

In an earlier article posted in Zinda magazine, I questioned why did Dr. Sargon Dadesho promote the title Assyro-Chaldean (which is the French for the English ChaldoAssyrian) in his book "The Assyrian National Question." I asked if a writer had to list historical events as they were used exactly and uncorrupted, I asked why didn't Dr. Dadesho at least somewhere in his book attack or criticize Agha Potrus, malik Qambar, and the Treaty of Sevres for using that title over 80 years ago, but he continuously attacks the ADM (ZOWAA) and other Assyrian writers who do today? Not a single supporter of Bet Nahrain Inc. and AssyriaSat dared to respond on the various forums.

Today, I want to ask a different question but in the same line. If Dr. Dadesho was always for the Assyrian name ONLY and if he really had always rejected any compound name or the use of dashes and slashes, why did he promote or initiate the use of the dashes when he on page 30 of his same 1987 book "The Assyrian National Question" wrote and I quote: "The Succession in the Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church"? He used this title "Assyrian-Chaldean" with the dash personally without any reference to any other writer. One could conclude that he in fact promoted the use of such title with the dash for the Chaldean Catholic Church in 1987 because I for one have not heard any other writer before him referring to any of our churches as such.

Why did he promote/initiate the use of the dashes (i.e., Assyrian-Chaldean) in his book? Why is it okay for Dadesho to use the term "Assyrian-Chaldean" but when others use it they are considered as traitors?

Nuri al-Maliki at the Crossroad of Shaping World History

Alfred Dooman

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In process of democratization, the conduct and the culture of primeval, sectarianism, ethicism and warlordship, has derailed Iraq towards perilous situation:

  • Setting examples for activation of vicious forces.
  • Pushing under the rug the worlds greatest treaury and most prestigious feature of the country, the Assyian heritage.
  • Downplaying of Syriac language, the mother of languages in alphabet and especially as a cross-reference for Arabic language as the latine language is for European ones
  • Denying the indegenous Christian Assyrians' status, their Heartland of the Assyrian Triangle and their only Homeland in Iraq, who academically are considered the asset of civilization because of their contribution to civilization and their invaluble characteristics- transparency, responsiblity, industriousness and realilibility- the proven traits in favorable and unfavorable conditions of millennia.  Even Saddam Hussain could only trust them when it came to his kitchen.
  • and eventually leading Iraq to a disasterous fate.

There are great potentials for al-Maliki to change the trend.

  • The praise of public to enjoy the posperity that the renewal of Bet-Nahrain civilization will lead to.
  • The praise of world civilised body for turning around the vicious trend to present day civilised conduct.
  • The pragmatic brains of Iraq, unlike the ones that caused the Palestinian turmoil to present.
  • And as well the world's greatest cultural treasury plus one of the world greatest energy resources

No doubt that al-Maliki to secure the task will need the assistance of an advisory board of Iraq's pragmatic think-tanks besides the Council of the Ministers selected on political considerations.

Is Nuri going to pass on one of world's greatest tests and to imprint his name as one of the shapers of history ? Better to hope...

Why Not Approve of Assyrians in Kurdish Parliament

David Youkhana

This is regarding the article issued by the Reuters on May 6, 2006 about the three Assyrians elected to the Kurdish Parliament.

As Assyrians, being the minority in our Homeland, we must take advantage of any opportunity we have or we gain when it comes to electing Assyrians to any Parliament whether it's within the new Iraqi Parliament or the Kurdish Parliament.

It is very sad to hear that the three Assyrians who were elected to the Kurdish Parliament were approved by everybody EXCEPT their own Assyrian brothers from ADM.  This was a perfect opportunity for ADM and for Mr.Yonadam Kanna in particular to extend his blessings and support and to offer his congratulations to the three newly elected Assyrians as the first step towards peace and harmony among our organizations.

It seems to me that the ADM wants to have it all.   I don't think this is going to work in Iraq in this kind of situation, because no matter how large or small the Assyrian organizations are in Iraq at this point, they are a drop in the bucket within the political situation in Iraq.  It's time for ADM to drop the attitude of "you are either with me or against me ".  As I see, the ADM support among the Assyrians is diminishing and it's time for them to rethink and be in peace with every Assyrian organization whether it's within the country or outside of the country.

We can't afford to see our organizations disappearing within the new political system in the new Iraq. We rather see them getting stronger and closer to each other; this is the only solution for their existence and for our existence as Assyrians in Bet Nahrain.  God bless them all.

True Christianity

Janet Kenna

I would like to comment on what is happening in our church today. I am extremely disappointed at the condition that our church is in. The Lord has enlightened me to know the difference between being religious (ie obligated to follow tradition) and being spiritual. The things that are happening show exactly this difference. To be just religious means that one has to comply with the church manual and follow tradition, but to be spiritually guided by the Lord would contradict church manual, as our allegiance would be to the Lord and not the church leaders.

Jesus said "in the last days I will pour out my Spirit and they shall prophesy" (Acts 2:18). Today not only I but many others have received the Spirit of God and that is why they do not follow church leaders and traditions set out by the church manuals. You can quite clearly see that church leaders do not have the same light depicted in the Apostles. I can recall from my early childhood that there have always been problems in our church. For example, the split in the Ancient Church of the East into two parts " the old and new calendars, sandwiched in between the murders of two Patriarchs, Mar Benjamin Shimon and Mar Eshai Shimon. In Australia, during the 1980s the problem between the old and new calendar was resurrected again. Now we have the current problem that surpasses in many respects all the previous ones.

It is written that:

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. (Hebrews 4:12).

"Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things come and through whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:6).
"Now I want you to realize, that the head of every man is Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:3). Therefore, the head of the church is also Christ.

We are always told that priests/bishops know more than their congregation. The congregation is ignorant and the priests/bishops are the only ones who can interpret the Bible. But as we noticed in, (Hebrews 4:12). For the word of God is powerful and sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit. "I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and slave to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:18).

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30). We need to repent of our sins and follows God’s Word. If the priests/bishops are the leaders of our church, Jesus said, "feed my sheep" (John 21:17). When we go to church, tradition covers the whole service, and only a short time is allocated to the Word of God…..quite of few don’t even know how to preach, and when they attempt to preach, because they do not have the Spirit of God, their preaching has no influence on the congregation. Congregation feels they have done their duty to God by attending church for a few hours.

It saddens me to see my people following like sheep. "God so loved the world, that he gave his one only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life John 3:16. Why don’t the priests/bishop become more diligent in doing their duty toward the people? Why they do not show the way of salvation?

Jesus said: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men’s faces, yourselves, do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to." (Matthew 23:13). Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in the flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the highest seat in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. (Luke 20:46). "Having a form of godliness, but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:5).

The priests/bishops have turned against each other. They do not practice what they preach. They tell the congregation that they should love each other, yet they do not follow their own counsel. "I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers? (1 Corinthians 6:5-6).

Perhaps we need to preach to our priests/bishops. Jesus said, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. "(Matthew 5:20).

Our priests/bishop say that they are not the teachers and Pharisees depicted in the Bible. But everything the Rabbi and Pharisees did in the old times, our priests/bishops are doing now – they wear the same clothes, they talk the same way and have beards – even though some do not have beards because it is not fashionable. They also speak with authority, demanding to the point where they tell the congregation where to go and who to speak to… for example, even from the pulpit it is preached not to follow Bishop Mar Bawai Soro…should people do that, there will be consequences. With this attitude they are sowing seeds of hatred amongst their own people. Paul said "who ever does not love does not knows God, because God is love. " 1 John 4:8. Because of their long robes, they demand respect and worship. Paul said "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever" Hebrews 13:8 and "I am Alpha and Omega, (Alp Tao) the first and the last"( Revelation 1:11). "He humbled Himself" (Philippians 2:8 ) because He loved us to death.

The leaders of the church always say that they are only doing God’s work and that they are not involved in politics. However, the head of bishops has always been and still is involved in politics and we are quite aware of his letters to the Kurdish leaders where he is supporting them where he even says that Assyrians and the Kurds have lived together in peace and harmony. We all know that Assyrians and Kurds have never lived in harmony with each other. Jesus separated the state from the church. And He said to them give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s." (Luke 20:25).

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone; the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17). "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you of darkness into his wonderful light."(1 Peter 2:9).

"You however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the spirit, if the spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness." (Romans 8:9,10).

If this article is make someone think. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2). And now these are three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love. ’’ ( 1 Corinthians 13:13).   Amen

Editor's Pick



Adjournment Debate on the Genocide of
the Assyrians & Armenians

Andrew Michael
United Kingdom

I would like to confirm that the adjournment debate on the Recognition of the Genocide of Assyrians & Armenians took place on Wednesday, 7th June at Westminster, London.

Steve Pound, MP for Ealing North, initiated the debate and representing the government was the Rt. Hon. Geoff Hoon, Minister of State for Europe.

The purpose of this adjournment debate was to seek the British government’s acceptance that genocide took place in 1915 in the Ottoman Empire. It was the systematic and brutal regime of the ‘Young Turks’ who strived to make all inhabitants of the country ‘Turks’ and this included wiping out the Christian population living in the empire through the centralisation policy of the Ottoman Empire. The Assyrians, Armenians Greeks were the targeted minorities, and in a space of several years, had killed over two million of them.

There are some who claim that the genocide never took place, and the death of so many people was part of unavoidable tragedies of war. On April 24, 2001, Governor of the US state of New York, George Pataki, proclaimed "killings of civilians and food and water deprivation during forced marches across harsh, arid terrain proved successful for the perpetrators of genocide, who harboured a prejudice against Assyrian Christians.”[1] At the time, former President Theodore Roosevelt said the Armenian genocide was "the greatest crime" of World War I [2].

In late 1915, Djeudet Bey, Military Governor of Van Province, upon entering Sairt with 8,000 soldiers whom he himself called the "The Butchers' Battalion" (Kassab Tabouri), gave orders for the massacre of almost 20,000 Assyrian civilians in at least 30 villages [3].

In light of this and other numerous accounts of what took place in 1915-1918, it is incomprehensible that people refuse to acknowledge that genocide took place.

Steve Pound, MP, makes note of the fact that there was a “planned, calculated genocide of the Christian community of Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks.” He went on to say that “ time had come for the British government to join other communities in recognizing this genocide.”

For many Assyrians, who have lost their loved ones in this atrocious period in our history, this massacre is seen as a double death. Their relatives were killed, but by denying the event of 1915 ever took place makes it seem like a double killing. This is the pain you see when you look into the eyes of these people, the sense that they can’t move on and gain peace of mind and heart.

Mr. Pound also highlighted the fact that so many governments around the world had accepted that the events of 1915 were in fact genocide. Here is a list of some them:  Uruguay, Cyprus, Argentina, Russia, Greece, US House of Representatives, Belgium, Sweden, Lebanon, EU, Italy, France, Switzerland, Canada, Holland, Poland, Venezuela, and Germany [4].

A respected and well known leader, Winston Churchill, was quoted by Mr. Pound as saying in 1929, “In 1915, the Turkish government began and ruthlessly carried out the infamous general massacre and deportation of Armenians in Asia Minor. There is no reasonable doubt, that this crime was planned & executed for political reasons.” We believe that ‘Churchill’ was right then and he is right now. Why when the British government has known for decades the real reasons behind the massacres of that time, do they find it beyond them to concede that genocide took place, as according to the UN Convention of 1948 (Genocide Convention).

They can’t say they knew nothing of it, or of the appalling nature of the slaughter of millions of people, as the British government at the time issued a joint declaration with France and Russia, dated 25th May 1915, asserting that ‘in the presence of these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the allied governments publicly inform the Sublime Porte that they will hold personally responsible for the said crimes all members of the Ottoman government as well as those of its agents who are found to be involved in such massacres.’[5]

It was also noted at the debate of the contribution made by Lord Avebury to the cause of recognition of the Genocide.


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In response to the questions and points made by MP Steve Pound, the Rt. Hon. Geoff Hoon responded on behalf of the government. He recognizes that the massacres were condemned at the time, and he extended the government’s sympathies to the families affected by that slaughter. The British government would rather not put importance on what we call these events, but to encourage the Armenian and Turkish governments to seek improved relations, and try to ensure a peaceful and secure future for everyone living in that region. Furthermore, he commented on the legality of the genocide of 1915. He does not feel it is possible ‘at the time of these events to label the 1915-1916 massacres as legally genocide within the terms of the convention. While we can intellectually today try to apply the definition of genocide from the convention to these appalling tragedies which occurred some 30 years before 1948. The common practice in law is not to apply such judgement retrospectively.’ What he is saying is that because the genocide took place before 1948, (when the genocide convention was put into place), it’s not possible for us to label the event genocide, not least the issue of who would be charged with the offence in these circumstances. This argument loses a lot of strength when we look at the outcomes of the Nuremberg trials and the judgement of the Supreme Court of Israel in Eichmann v Attorney General of the Government of Israel (1962). The International Military Tribunal (IMT) saw it as a ‘principle of justice’ and stated that it would be unjust to let the perpetrators go unpunished since ‘the attacker must know that he is doing wrong’[6].

It’s not surprising then that Mr. Hoon would add that there are ‘arguments by historians that question each others accounts of what took place.’ At this point Mr. Pound looked to his Rt. Hon. friend, the MP for Hendon, Andrew Dismore, and smiled. A smile that told us he was expecting such claims from the government in order to diminish the campaign for recognition. In addition, it is sad to hear from the government that ‘evidence is sufficiently unequivocal to persuade them that these events could be categorised as genocide.’ We have many historical records that claim otherwise, not to mention the ‘Blue Book’ and its verifiable authenticity in terms of witness accounts and description - with due recognition to the scholarship of Arnold Toynbee and Viscount Bryce, and the recent publication of the uncensored version of this book by Mr Ara Sarafian of the Gomidas Institute.

It was pertinent that at the end Mr. Dismore concluded that the infamous ‘Adolf Hitler’ once said ‘who now remembers the Armenians’, before going about the genocide of the Jews.

For us UK Assyrians it is not exactly what we wanted to hear from our government. Having a long relationship with the British, which dates back to the World Wars, and our role within the British society, we feel that the government should do more to support our demands to receive an apology from Turkey, and the first step towards this just path is having the British government officially recognising the genocide. There is no better time than now to gain this support, especially since Turkey wishes to join the European Union, and the thought that the Turkish government is not persuaded to acknowledge its past crimes against humanity is perplexing. We can only carry on, and liaise with other co-victims of this genocide (Armenians and Greeks), and with the hard work of people like Steve Pound, MP, it is not too distant a dream that eventually our people can put this pain behind them. We as a nation must go forward, it’s the only way, but in order to finally have peace within our hearts, Turkey must admit to the atrocities of 1915.


  1. Click here
  2. Click here
  3. Click here
  4. CRAG
  5. Warda, N., Seyfo; The Assyrian Genocide in International Law (Firodil Publishing House, 2005), p. 67
  6. Warda, N., Seyfo; The Assyrian Genocide in International Law (Firodil Publishing House, 2005), p. 67

Watch the full debate:  click here.  You could also purchase a copy of Mr. Ninos Warda’s book, “Seyfo: The Assyrian Genocide in International Law" which is refered to in the debate and all throughout this article, and deals with the legal aspects of recognising Seyfo: click here.

The Road to Assyrian Autonomy in Iraq

Part II

Sargon Sapper

Throughout the world, there are too many powerful rulers; dictators who solely decide the fate of a people, while ignoring the very citizens whose interests they should serve. Instead, people should be recognized, their ideas solicited and respected, so that they too may feel the satisfaction that arises through empowerment and the democratic process. But what happens when a democratic society is ruled by self interest and not representative of an entire population? Can a true democracy ignore the needs and desires of an entire sect of individuals? Often times, even in a so-called democracy, the voices of an oppressed ethnic minority in a multi-national country, like that of Assyrian Christians in Iraq, are disregarded as secondary and irrelevant. I believe Assyrians in Iraq should, too, be given the right to share a voice in the new government, to be heard like the rest of the ethnicities in Iraq, and empowered to determine our own future destiny.

In Part I of this manuscript (Zinda Magazine, May 13th 2006; Vol. XII- Issue 10), I suggested three possibilities addressing the need for a plan to address the unfair treatment of Assyrian Christians in Iraq:

  1. Safe Haven. Providing a safe haven for Assyrians and Christians in Iraq is nothing more than a temporary fix to a big problem. The turmoil that exists as a result of feuding sectarian and ethnic factions and U.S. occupation will eventually end. When it does, so too will the short-term protection of an Assyrian Christian safe haven. Such a plan is definitely not the answer.
  2. Assyrian self administration of the region. Self administration could, in fact, work. However, it is only possible if the region is sufficiently protected, and if the regional administration is linked directly to the central government of Iraq. Unfortunately, this answer lacks long-term feasibility. It can too easily be abolished without warning or provocation. Some have suggested a Christian self administration. It is my opinion that there is simply too much uncertainty regarding the emotional uprising such an action could incite, and no one can accurately predict the future consequences of a decision of this magnitude.
  3. Assyrian Autonomy. Giving Assyrians sole authority, in accordance with the Iraqi constitution, to govern and protect their own region is, in my opinion, the everlasting solution to this complicated problem for Assyrian people residing in Iraq. In 1971, I actually originated the idea. Demands were made of the Iraqi government to declare Assyrian autonomy in our region. On September 13th of the following year, the Decree 677 granted administrative rights to all ethnic minorities in Iraq. The decree was the end result of tireless negotiations conducted in good faith between the Assyrian National Committee and Iraqi authority of the time. Unfortunately, the decree was never implemented, nor its intended purpose ever achieved.

I take full responsibility for what is written on these pages, but there are others deserving of credit as well. I honor and value the collective efforts and struggles made by all branches of our Assyrian nation, their parties, organizations, churches, and by those distinguished individuals who have worked so hard to help overcome the perceived differences between us. However, despite these differences, I truly believe the branches of our Assyrian nation can and will accomplish the objective at hand. First, we all believe in the unity of the Assyrian nation. Divided, we diminish our strength and lessen our voice. United, we cannot be ignored and we can create miracles for our people. Second, we share a common dream, one we all hope to be reality; autonomy for Assyrian people in Iraq. Lastly, as we share one common history, let us too share one common destiny. I hope my message will be heard, that justice will be served, and that a united Assyrian people can have extraordinary affects for our children’s futures and the legacy of our forefathers in our homeland Assyria.

So, I would like to offer a few suggestions on how we can together begin the wheels of freedom in motion, and hope that they will identify some crucial issues in structuring the path to autonomy.

  1. A preparatory committee should be established to initiate consultation between the various branches of the Assyrian nation. These activities should be primarily focused on the formulation of a carefully planned agenda which will define our goals and objectives. It can be called the Action and Destiny Agenda.
  2. A national conference should soon thereafter convene to select a United College Leadership, or UCL. This body should act as representatives of the Assyrian people until which time the legislation of Assyrian autonomy formally takes place in the Nineveh region. Such leaders should have supreme authority to plan and command the general policy of the Assyrian nation in Iraq. Additionally, the UCL should be responsible for the following specific duties:
    • Focus on Assyrian autonomy and strategies that must be executed to achieve this cardinal desire.
    • Resolving main differences between the branches of the Assyrian nation. Particularly, opinions regarding the fundamental issues of national interest should be reconciled in a reasonable and timely manner.
    • The UCL should nominate delegates to represent our people at meetings and conferences inside of Iraq, and abroad.
    • Pursuit of any and all legal ways to find the required financial resources to support the national cause.
    • Publish a monthly report of UCL activities, including successes and challenges, as well as the outlook for the future. Such a publication should be available nation-wide, and would effectively be an optimal way of keeping the general public informed and enhance awareness of the masses.

I am confident a United College Leadership can lead the campaign for all Assyrians, regardless of branch, as equal members unified by similar beliefs and a singular goal. And throughout the region, once deprived Assyrian people can feel true happiness as they now become a part of, and share a voice in, a new community of hope. I too am optimistic that all members of our Assyrian nation will choose to stand unified in support of this noble and legitimate cause in our region. We certainly owe it to our great nation to try to live in peace and harmony in what now remains of the land we inherited so long ago from our proud ancestry. We must act now! If not, the rich and fertile land we once called home will most certainly fall prey to those around us who covet it.

An Open Letter to the Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac Community in Australia & New Zealand

Bishop Mar Bawai Soro
Sydney, Australia

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

In November 2005, the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East “suspended” me as the Bishop of Diocese of Western California. This suspension was an unjust act and contrary to the canons of our beloved Church.

Many of you know how this decision brought unfortunate events among our people and caused rumors, false claims and unfounded accusations. But, at the same time, it also brought closer a growing number of our faithful supporters in the United States and elsewhere. These people have expressed to us their feelings of aspiration for a brighter future for our beloved Church. My trip to Sydney and Melbourne was to enhance this fraternal bond and express to all of you my prayerful wishes and personal gratitude. Indeed, I was delighted to meet so many of my Chaldean and Assyrian brothers and sisters. I thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity to become aware of the strength of their Christian faith and be moved by their passion for the truth. There were, however, many other members of our communities whom I did not get a chance to meet nor did I communicate with. So, I have prepared this letter to state the vision and mission of our movement.

In order to show you the importance of our goals, let me first share with you how do I understand the problems that we presently have in our midst. Our predicaments are the following. (1) The Word of God is not taught to everyone. (2) The sacred canons of our churches are not clear to our faithful. (3) Certain clergy and hierarchs of our Churches suffer from moral and financial scandals. (4) Division among our people and their Churches is weakening our spirituality and threatening our ethnic existence. (5) The moral fabric of our Church is inflicted by threats of internal strive, tribalism and unhealthy competitions. (6) The faithful do not fully understand Church liturgy therefore they are unable to genuinely participate in the act of public worship as the People of God and the Body of Christ.

Based on the above, let me now share with you my solution to correct this present reality and to establish a new Christian order whose preferences are the principles of reform, accountability and unity. (1) We seek to insure that all of our people sufficiently know of, and become close to, the Word of God, as revealed in the Sacred Scripture and the Sacred Tradition so that they can obtain eternal salvation in Jesus Christ. (2) As adherents of the Church of the East Tradition, we shall keep our fidelity to our Christian tradition and never abandon the Church of our forefathers. On the the contrary we shall preserve what we have received from the previous generations and beseech God’s Spirit to help us preserve our Apostolic Faith, holy liturgy, theological expression, church governance and sacred canons. (3) Despite the present challenging circumstances, we as a community of faith should avoid the creation of new permanent ecclesiastical splits. Our ultimate goal must remain the promotion of Christian unity among all of Churches, especially the three branches of our Church of the East, namely, Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East and Chaldean Catholic Church. (4) We wish to also see a national unity among the Assyrian and Chaldean people so that all walls of meaningless divisions are removed and our Mesopotamian cultural identity and Aramaic Language can survive into the next generations.

I invite you to think about what is stated above and see for yourself whether you can join our movement by ultimately seeking to satisfy God Almighty. I ask you to foster and promote the bonds of service and unity between our various communities and Churches. Despite our various nomenclatures (Assyrian, Chaldean & Syriac) we are one and the same nation. We belong to the ancient Mesopotamian culture and our present day names belong to our venerable tradition. Together, they make us culturally richer and historically stronger.

May God bless you all and increase His everlasting peace and love among you.


Assyrians at Their Best


Mar Narsai Assyrian College in Sydney

Philimon G Darmo

A Historical Achievement

One of the many achievements of the Assyrian Church of the East, Diocese of Australia and New Zealand under the leadership and guidance of His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia has been the establishment of the Mar Narsai Assyrian College in Sydney. It is the first accredited Assyrian high school ever established outside the Assyrian traditional homelands in Beth Nahrain.

The school, which had its first intake of students at the start of 2006 school year, has received a Certificate of Registration from the New South Wales Minister of Education as well as accreditation from the President of New South Board of Studies. The bulk of its students will come from the St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School, which was the first government accredited Assyrian public school ever established outside our traditional homelands and which commenced full-time teaching at the start of the school year in 2002.

A Good Start

I was privileged to visit the school recently where I met the Principal Rabi John (Youkanya) Haskal, Rabi Anwar Atto (the Coordinator for teaching of Assyrian language and culture), Rev Genard Lazar (College Chaplain and Coordinator of religious studies) and a number of other staff.

The school has close to 100 students in this its first year, a significant proportion of whom came from outside the St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School. As soon as Assyrian parents heard that the Mar Narsai Assyrian College was taking enrolments for the year 2006, many whose children were attending other primary schools rushed and enrolled their children in the first full-time Assyrian high school not only in Australia but anywhere in the world.

The intake for the 2007 school year is expected to double to 200 students.

The school is currently occupying classrooms in the St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School building complex which is situated at the back of the Rabban Hurmizd Cathedral of the Assyrian Church of the East in Greenfield Park. It will continue to share the present facilities for the next two or three years until the facilities on the separate site (see below) are complete and ready for use.


Mar Narsai Assyrian College will follow the curriculum set by the New South Board of Studies delivering all Key Learning Areas (KLAs) which are mandatory. In addition to complying with the official curriculum, all students will also receive 7 periods per week tuition in the Assyrian language and culture as well as traditional Assyrian Christian values.

The Principal Rabi John Haskal told me that he has applied for a new registration and accreditation for the year 2007 for a middle school from Years 5 to 8 and will continue with fresh applications each year until Year 12.

Assyrian Language, Culture and Traditional Assyrian Christian Values

The teaching of the Assyrian language and cultural studies are coordinated by Rabi Anwar Atto (BA Languages from the University of Aleppo in Syria, and Diploma in Education from the University of Western Sydney). The first two years of his BA Languages degree course included tuition in Classical Syriac language. His duties include the development of suitable teaching materials and resources that will suit each age group.

Rev Father Genard Lazar, in his capacity as the Mar Narsai College Chaplain, is responsible for the Religious Education Program in the College. He organizes all school masses (Qurbana) and counsels children, parents and staff when the need arises.

Future Site

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The future site of the Mar Narsai Assyrian College is a massive 9.5 acres site in Horsley Park Road, Horsley Park, about 15 minutes drive from the St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School site.

The plans for the future Mar Narsai College are truly remarkable and a natural and logical extension of the vision of His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia for the progress and advancement of our Assyrian culture. The great man after whom the college is named, Mar Narsai the Harp of the Spirit, who built and managed the University of N’siwin (see below) for fifty years in the late fifth century, will be truly proud of what his descendents are doing in the land Down Under in the twenty first century.

The future plans include:

• Number of classrooms – at the completion of the project we will have 40 classrooms for theory, 2 industrial arts rooms, a music theatre, a visual arts room and a large library
• St Peter and St Paul Chapel
• A gymnasium
• An assembly hall
• A sports oval
• Tennis courts
• Basket ball courts
• Car parking spaces for 124 cars


The Assyrian Church of the East will be the main source of funds for the acquisition of land and construction of buildings and other facilities. A portion of the interest paid on borrowed funds is subsidized by the government.
The funds for the day to day operation of the School, the major component of which will be staff salaries, will come from three main sources:
• Federal Government grants
• State Government grants
• School fees paid by parents.


The Assyrian Church of the East sponsors a number of students from families who have recently arrived in Australia. The sponsorship continues until such families establish themselves in their new environment and are in a position to meet the required tuition fees.

Sponsorship through scholarships is also open to anyone anywhere in the world. I understand that the St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School already has one such sponsor who lives in Canada. People can nominate to sponsor one or more students for the whole period of the student’s studies or part thereof. Those of Zinda’s readers who wish to participate in this worthy cause can communicate with the Principal Rabi John Haskal (see email address below).

His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia

His Grace has a BA in Ancient History and Philosophy from Macquarie University in Sydney. He is currently working on his MA and PhD in Early Christian History from the same university.

Mar Meelis Zaia

His Grace has been and continues to be the main motivating force and source of inspiration for the establishment of St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School and now Mar Narsai Assyrian College in Sydney Australia. Nevertheless, His Grace has at all times said that the credit for these and other developments within the Diocese must go to the Assyrian community in the Assyrian Church of the East Diocese of Australia and New Zealand. His Grace told me that the St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School building complex cost close to $4.0m (Australian Dollars). Of this amount, close to $0.6m came from Government grants. The balance of $3.4m was contributed by the Church. Without the full support of the Assyrian community, the Church could not have made such a valuable commitment.
The cost of the development of the Mar Narsai Assyrian College site will be many times more than the cost of St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School. His Grace is fully confident that Assyrian community will support this project as it has done with previous projects.

The Principal, John Haskal

John (Youkanya) was born in a small village in Northern Iraq named Darbandokeh, which is located some 15 kilometers to the west of the village of Harir in the North of Iraq. While John was in High School the family moved to Baghdad where he received a Science Degree (Geology) from Baghdad University.

He migrated to Sydney Australia in December 1969 and lived in Fairfield. In 1970 he took up a temporary position as a Secondary School Teacher at Canley Vale High School for 12 months. At this time John was involved in the Assyrian community and was the first secretary of the first Assyrian Church Council which was established after the arrival of the Rev Younan Kiwarkis from Lebanon in May 1970.

Principal John Haskal

John moved into the Catholic Education System in 1971. His first appointment was at St Mary’s in Wellington (NSW). In 1975 he accepted a position in Kempsey and taught at the Christian Brothers St Paul’s College for 9 years. While in Kempsey he enrolled in the University of New England where he obtained a Graduate Diploma in Education. He continued working within the Catholic Education system until his resignation in late 2005 to take up his new duties as the Principal of Mar Narsai Assyrian College. His last stint within the Catholic Education system lasted nine years as Principal of St Pius X High School Adamstown (Newcastle), a high school with a student population of 1000 and 91 staff (62 of whom were teachers). Prior to taking up this challenging appointment, he was the Principal at St Lawrence’s Central School Coonabarabran for four years. During this time he took religious studies through the Bathurst Catholic Church Diocese and gained a certificate of religious education.

From 1996 John has been a member of the first Assyrian School Committee which was set up by His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia to look into the feasibility and viability of establishing an Assyrian public school. He continues to be on the Assyrian School Board.

John has extensive experience in the teaching of science, mathematics and religious studies. He is committed to education and to the preservation of the Assyrian identity and cultural in our new country Australia. His vision is for Assyrians to be good citizens who will respect their own culture, the culture of their new community and enjoy the freedom to practice their faith.

When the opportunity came to establish the first Assyrian High School in the Western World, John left his position as Principal in Adamstown (Newcastle) to accept the position of the inaugural Principal of Mar Narsai Assyrian College.

Anyone wishing to contact Rabi John Haskal can do so at: johnhaskal@shaps.nsw.edu.au.

Mar Narsai College Emblem

The motto of the Mar Narsai College is: Excellence, Christian Values, Commitment. The designer of the emblem has incorporated these and other features in his beautiful design.


The pioneering staff in the following photo are committed to meet the challenges of taking the Mar Narsai Assyrian College into the future under the guidance of the experienced Principal Rabi John Haskal.

Who Was Mar Narsai

His Holiness the late Mar Eshai Shimon XXIII, Catholicos Patriarch of the East, published eighty eight Memreh (homilies) of Mar Narsai in 1970 in two volumes totaling 1400 pages. At the time of this historical publication, His Holiness’ Patriarchal See was based in San Francisco, California USA. Only 200 copies of the publication were printed. A fifty-two page scholarly introduction in English by the late Mar Eshai Shimon, which deals with the history and theology of the Church of the East as well as the life and works of Mar Narsai, adorns each of the two volumes.

Mar Narsai was born about the year 420 AD in the village of Ain Dulbe, in the district of Nuhadra, diocese of Khdawai or Khadyaw, close to present day Dohuk in the district of Mosul in Northern Iraq. He studied and taught in the College of Urhai for over twenty years. When this school was closed by the order of the Byzantine Emperor Zeno the Isaurian in the year 457, Narsai along with other professors and scholars, moved to the city of N’siwin (Nisibin) which was then under the Persian rule.

The Metropolitan of N’siwin at the time was Mar Bar Sauma who had studied at the College of Urhai with Mar Narsai. At the invitation and persistence of Mar Bar Sauma, Mar Narsai established the University of N’siwin which he headed for fifty years until his death in the year 507. This date of Mar Narsai’s death quoted here is taken from page 208 of volume one of Mar Ogen Manna’s Margeh Peghyanayeh (the refreshing pastures) re-printed by the Syriac Academy in Baghdad in1977, whereas Mar Eshai Shimon’s introduction referred to above quotes the year 496. Elsewhere in the introduction, the year 502 is mentioned.

Mar Narsai was called by his contemporaries by various names. Some called him “The Harp of the Spirit” (Kinnara D’Rukha). Others called him “The Tongue of the East” (Lishana D’Madinkha). Theodolos the disciple of Mar Deodoros also called him “Future of Christianity”. In addition to his scholarly work at the universities of Urhai and N’siwin, he was also a prolific writer. His writings covered many areas such as: commentaries on the Bible, theology, liturgy and discipline. His philosophy was Aristotelian and the source of his theology was Theodore of Mopsuestia. However, most of his writings during the period he spent at the University of Urhai were destroyed. As mentioned above, eighty eight of his homilies were re-printed by the Patriarchal Press in San Francisco, USA in 1970. Other segments of Mar Narsai’s writings have been preserved for us in the Khudra, the three volume “cycle book” which contains the annual church services as practiced by the Church of the East.

In the following lines taken from the homily on Mary and the Magis (see page 99 of volume one of Mar Eshai Shimon’s publication and page 217 of volume 2 of Margeh Peghyanayeh), Mar Narsai reveals his Assyrian background (the simple translation is mine):

When the great Atour became aware, she called the Magis and told them
Take offerings, go and honour the King that has risen in the land of the Jews

The University of N’siwin continued to function for a long time after the death of its famous founder. According to Mar Eshai Shimon’s scholarly introduction, Mar Narsai’s successors included:

• Elisha Bar-Quzbaye
• Mar Auraham
• Mar Yaukhanan D’beth Rabban
• Mar Auraham of N’siwin
• Mar Khnana Khdayawaya and others.

The last dean mentioned in Mar Eshai Shimon’s introduction was called Khazquiell which happens to be the family name of the present Principal of Mar Narsai Assyrian College in Sydney, Australia.

Thank You
The following individuals contributed to the publication of this issue:

Fred Aprim California
Abdulmesih BarAbrahem Germany
Dr. Matay Beth Arsan Holland
David Chibo Australia
James Daniel Canada
Sargon David Canada
Joseph V. Danavi Chicago
Mazin Enwiya Chicago
Nahrain E. Kamber California
Nineb Lamassu United Kingdom
Fred Rustam Arizona

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