23 Tishrin II 6756
Volume XII

Issue 22

14 November 2006

1- 8 6 6 - M Y  Z I N D A

1-866-699-4632 | Fax 1-415-358-4778 | zcrew@zindamagazine.com
1700 Pennsylvania Avenue. NW Suite 400  Washington, DC  20006  U.S.A.

Are We Preparing For What May Happen After U.S. Soldiers Leave Iraq?

Click on Blue Links in the left column to jump to that section within this issue.  Most blue links are hyperlinked to other sections or URLs.
Zinda SayZinda Says
  When They Return Home Wilfred Bet-Alkhas
  Geopolitical Significance and Advantages of An Assyrian Region AUA Letter to Iraq Study Group
  Mass Burial of 1915 Genocide Victims Discovered in Turkey
Four Assyrians Killed in Mosul and Baghdad
Concern Expressed about Iraqi Minority Religious Groups
Kanna Joins Baghdad Delegation for Reconciliation Conf.
  Choosing the Right Policy for Assyrian National Rights in Iraq  II Mariam S. Shimoun
  Bishops, Commission Plead for help for Iraqi Christians
Turlock Elects An Assyrian Mayor
AUA on Recent UNPO Meeting in Taiwan
Assyriska No Longer in Superettan League
Australian Fugitive Wants to go to Iraq
105-year-old Assyrian Realizes Dream of Citizenship
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'.
  Fortune Favors the Brave
The Legitimate Representative of All Assyrians Worldwide
Assyrians For an Expanded Conference in Sweden
The Annual Glamour and Thunder of AANF Convention
Welcome Back Mar Dinkha!

Click to Learn More :

  A Candid Talk by Dr. Donny George in London
It's All Babylonian to Me
  It Is Time to Arm Iraq's Christians
This was Genocide, but Armenians were not its Only Victims
Peter BetBasoo
Thea Halo
  Professor Shabo Talay  

Zinda Says
An Editorial by Wilfred Bet-Alkhas


When They Return Home

Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
~Benjamin Franklin

Recently, a package arrived at our office in Washington D.C.  It contained an American flag, a letter, and the certificate shown above.   The letter was from Chicago.  It read: "Please find an American Flag that my brother, Lt. Colonel Dan P. Dagher, flew over Iraq on Flag Day, June 14th.  As the mission ended well after midnight, they printed the certificate the next morning.  My brother wanted to make sure Zinda Magazine receives this.  Keep spreading the truth."

Pfc. Christopher T. Riviere,21, killed 9/26/06, while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Anbar Province.

The text of the certificate shown above reads:  "This is to certify that on 15 June 2006, this American flag was flown on a C-130 Hercules combat missions over Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom to all of these locations:  Balad, Qayarrah West, Tall Afar and Al Taqaddum, Iraq.  This flag represents our dedication and steadfast devotion to duty in the fight against Global Terrorism.  This flag is presented to Zinda Magazine by Lt. Col Dan P. Dagher, Commander, 777 EAS, Dueling Dragons.  LSA Anaconda, Balad Air Base, Iraq.  In Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pfc. Nathan J. Frigo, 23, Killed when a makeshift bomb exploded near his vehicle in Baqubah.

The certificate is signed by Major Jeffrey A. Grimes, USAF (Aircraft Commander); Senior Sergeant Darrell R. Forbes, USAF (Loadmaster); Major James D. Pederson, USAF (Co-Pilot); Master Sergeant Philip M. McQuade, USAF (Flight Engineer); First Lt Brian J. Robinson, USAF (Navigator); and SrA Joshua P. Thompson, USAF (Loadmaster).

Both the American Flag and the Certificate adorn a wall of an interior Zinda office in Washington.  Next to these are an Assyrian flag, a calligraphic depiction of the word "Zinda" in Assyrian by Master Essa Benyamin, and several ancient and modern maps of Assyria.  They all point to a single moment in future when the truth, courage, and vision of the early fathers of Mesopotamia and the liberators of Iraq align in the time-space continuum of history and materialize into a new reality called "Assyria", born of dreams and determination.

To date some 50,000 American servicemen have been killed or injured serving in the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Over 2830 of them were killed in Iraq.  How many of us would be willing to volunteer to be flown to a foreign land and sacrifice our lives, the lives of our loved ones at home, so that a people of another faith and creed are saved from the fangs of their dictators?  Most of us will not.  But many in America and dozens of other countries did.  They are still serving in Iraq and every day many of them are killed in the line of duty.  Then how much more should we be wiling to sacrifice knowing that this land and these people are what we left behind.  We, too, must act!

Chief Warrant Officer John R. Priestner, 42, killed on 11/6/06 as this editorial was beging prepared; of injuries suffered when an AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed.

The time to dream has come to an end.  With every minute of our indifference 14-year-old sons of Assyria are kidnapped and beheaded and school girls are snatched away from their mothers, cruelly raped and then their beaten bodies thrown in front of their fathers' stores.  This is the result of our apathy and our silence.  When we could speak and write, we kept quiet.  Damn these editorials a thousand times if none of my readers are moved to action.  What then I ask is the purpose of a television program, a newspaper, and an Internet magazine if they cannot galvanize a nation to unite in a single voice and fly the banner of Assyrian nationalism?

Many of our Zinda readers are American soldiers in Iraq.  They have lived among the Assyrian people, know of "Christian Iraqis", and have come in contact with "the Ashouries".  They send us photographs of themselves eating at Assyrian events, praying in Assyrian churches, playing baseball with the Assyrian boys, and my favorite - dancing our circle dances.  They ask questions about our history, how to say "I love you" in Assyrian, the significance of our rituals, and even about our desire to have photos of themselves taken with Assyrians.

What will happen after these soldiers leave Iraq and the American pilots no longer fly over Balad, Baghdad, and Baquba?

The package we received one October afternoon was a precious gift from an Assyrian-American soldier who believes in his purpose in Iraq and in the future of his people.   The American flag was flown over Bet-Nahrain.  The flag that will not be permanently flown over the homeland of Assyrians. 

The package was more than a gift.  It was also a forecast of future, a prognostication most of us continue to ignore.  Because of this, many of our Assyrian sisters and brothers will continue to pay dearly with their lives in Iraq.  Unless we act now!

The Lighthouse
Feature Article

Geopolitical Significance and Advantages of An Assyrian Region in North And Northwestern Iraq

A Letter Presented by AUA to the Iraq Study Group

This map provided courtesy of Newsweek Magazine shows the "Assyrian Areas" painted in red, surrounded by the Kurdish (yellow & gray" and Sunni Arab (blue).  The Assyrian areas rest between the Iraqi governorates of Ninwa and Dohuk.

Led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, a bipartisan group in Washington, called the Iraq Study Group (ISG) expects by year's end to recommend a different course for peace and stability in Iraq.  President Bush met with this group yesterday (Monday, 13 November) in Washington welcoming new ideas about the unpopular war in Iraq, even from Democrats he had branded as soft on terrorism.  As the result of last week's mid-term elections the Democrats gained a majority in both chambers of the U.S. Congress - the Senate and the House.  President Bush sacked one of his chief architects of the war in Iraq - Donald Rumsfeld and is expected to make bigger changes to his "Stay the Course" strategy.

The appointment of Robert Gates as secretary of defense is of particular significance because he was a member of the Iraq Study Group (ISG).   The other panel members include former House Foreign Relations Committee chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, who co-chairs the group with Baker; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican; former Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan; Leon Panetta, who served as White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration; former Clinton administration Defense Secretary William Perry; former Sen. Chuck Robb, a Democrat; Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming; and Edwin Meese, who served as attorney general under the Reagan administration.

The following is the full text of the letter submitted from the Assyrian Universal Alliance's America's office in California to Mr. James Baker on 17 October.

October 17, 2006

Mr. James A. Baker III
Mr. Lee H. Hamilton
United States Institute of Peace
1200 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036


The liberation of Iraq has manifested conflicting aspects of this ancient land that were not readily apparent to the western world in the pre-liberation phase. Today, the country’s multi-ethnic and multi-faith social structure, prevalence of fundamental differences, differing origins, historic conflicts, antagonisms and un-reconciling beliefs are the prime determinants of how the country may prevail in the future. Any solution for the Iraq dilemma, moreover, is an integral and inseparable part of the global war of civilization against barbarism that despises every element of liberty, modernity, civility, democracy and diplomacy.

In formulating a socio-politically stable and geo-politically friendly Iraq, it is important that the tapestry of the Iraq people, their faiths and ethnicities be considered closely and coherently, in all its colorful details. The focus shall not inadvertently be limited only to the three major concentrations of power, namely the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds. Indeed there is much more depth and potential in this ancient land than the fanaticism of the Islamists, being either Shiites or Sunnis or the expansionism of Kurdish nationalism.

In order to meet the two above mentioned objectives in formulating a feasible solution for a stable Iraq, it is imperative for the federalism of Iraq to award full recognition and distinct participation to the country’s most indigenous people, the Assyrians and the Assyrians’ other minority allies, that are neither Arab nor Kurd.

The success and stability of a new formula for Iraq is directly dependent on the realization of a “fourth element” that is an Assyrian Administratively Autonomous Region (“Assyria”),consisting parts of Dahuk and Ninawa provinces in north and northwestern Iraq.

The constituents of Assyria, itself an integral part of the Federal Iraq, are as follows:

  • All inhabitants of Dahuk and Ninawa provinces (aggregating to about 2.5 million, with the indigenous Assyrians, that predominantly are Christian, numbering 500,000+, and the balance consists of diverse groups, namely Shabaks, Yazidies, Mandeans, Kurds, Sunnis and some Shiites);
  • Return of the recently displaced Assyrians, currently living as refugees in Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, with estimated number of 250,000+: and
  • Diaspora Assyrians of about three (3) million with unyielding territorial claims to their ancestral homeland in northern Iraq. The Diaspora population benefits from tremendous socio-economic advantages, including access to and accumulation of knowledge and capital, when compared to the local constituents. The Diaspora has unparalleled potential to contribute all means necessary towards an economically prosperous and socio-politically progressive Assyria.

The fourth element when self governed by an Assyrian Regional Government (“ARG”) has the potential to address all and every concern that otherwise will persist in a Federal Iraq consisting merely of the three largest groups. An Iraq without the fourth element effectively ignores all and every other ethnicity and minority that do not fit within the larger alliances. The Autonomous Assyria, as an integral part of the Federal Iraq would provide for both internal and external stability of the country, as follows:

  • Internally, the fourth element – Assyria will allow “all” ethnicities (irrespective of being either Christians, Muslims, Shabaks, Yazidies, Jews or others) to be able to adhere to their own distinct faiths, without any one group having a legitimate reason or urge to infringe into another group’s rights and beliefs.

For instance, the Shiite of the southern provinces will have all the rights and abilities to fully adhere to the Islamic Laws (Shariieh) in their distinct region, without having any reason, urge and right to enforce the same Islamic Laws upon the Christians, Shabaks, Sunni, seculars and others in Assyria.

Similarly, the Kurds would rule upon the Kurdish people autonomously and yet would not enforce their ruling authorities upon the other minorities, such as Assyrians, particularly because the Assyrians and the Kurds have distinctly different ethnicities, cultures, faiths and in the recent past have experienced vicious conflicts and animosities against one another.

  • Internally, the fourth element – Assyria will cause the federation of Iraq not to ignore the rights and claims of the “indigenous minorities” with ancient claims and historic existence in the present day Iraq.
  • The fourth element – Assyria dilutes concentration of power at the regional governorates from three to four and inherently provides external assurances of non-interference into the neighboring countries internal affairs. Specifically, it dilutes the prospect for the Kurdish expansionism to the north, west and east that otherwise results in major concerns and repercussions by the neighboring Turkey, Syria and Iran, respectively.
  • The fourth element and ARG are committed to enactment of “inclusive” socio-political agenda, as applicable to the Assyria’s constitutional law, administrative laws, and ministerial rules and regulations. The governing elements will include and cause full and free participation of all constituents of Assyria irrespective of their ethnicities and beliefs. Assyria is a materially progressive proposition when compared with the declared and the intended agenda of the Kurds, the Sunnis or the Shiites in their respective regions.

The principal considerations in constitutional laws, administrative laws, governance and ministerial rules and regulation of the fourth element - Assyria are as follows:

  • Function as a Representative Democracy.
  • Govern Assyria as Free Markets Economy.
  • Enact Progressive Public Policies.
  • Achieving a fair and equitable multi-party Revenue Sharing Agreement as for the energy resources of Iraq, to be entered into by and between ARG, the Iraqi Central Government (ICG) and the three other regional governorates.
  • Achieving a Mutual Security Agreement to be entered by and between ARG, ICG and the three regional governorates.
  • Maintaining a Policy based on honoring Human Rights, Rights for Mutual Co-Existence of all citizens of Assyria.
  • Respecting and enforcing all Agreements reached by and between ARG, ICG, the three regional governorates of Iraq, as well as the neighboring countries.
  • Respecting Freedom of migration to and from the Assyria subject to the migrating parties’ intend, claims, obligations and their historic rights in Assyria.
  • ARG shall secure “safe haven” protections for all Assyrians that are not residing within the geographic boundaries of Assyria but are in any of the three other governorates of the Federal Iraq.

In anticipation of the “forth element – Assyria”, in 1968 Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) was established as a worldwide collective representative body of the Assyrians to organize social, economic and political institutions necessary for the governing of Assyria. Through its affiliated political parties and non-political social and civic organizations, AUA has

ongoing relationship with other minorities in Iraq, as well as regional powers relevant to the Assyrian cause. AUA is the prime institution with global network for channeling the Diaspora resources (whether knowledge, talent or financial) to the Assyrian cause and an autonomous Assyria.

From a historical perspective, following the fall of the Ottoman Empire, in the formation of Iraq British Mandate and the related proceedings in the League of Nations had egregiously denied the Assyrians’ rights for self determination (the fourth element). This was in spite of the Assyrians’ repeated services as reliable ally to the western powers in the course of two world wars. Also, this incomprehensible denial was despite of the Assyrian nation’s demonstrated and continues capacity for self-governance. At this juncture of history, therefore, it is important for the Iraq policy of the United States of America to recognize the full genesis of the present day paradoxes in Iraq and the direct consequence of wrongful denial of the Assyrians’ rights at the time. The Assyrians unresolved question in their ancestral homeland remains a prime contributing factor to the prevalence of limited options for the United States of America in Iraq. In formulating a new alternative, it is therefore important not to repeat the same short sightedness and mistakes of the British past policies in Iraq.

In reiteration, the fourth element - Assyria is the only reliable entity that may serve as a geo-political ally to the America’s political and commercial interests in Iraq and the larger Middle East. The fourth element is proposed as an inclusive and not all-Assyrian regional government. This embraces all diversities and rejects the prevalence of divisive antagonisms. It is therefore, strongly recommended that the Iraq Study Group pays due consideration for the US Iraq Policy to extend all the necessary assistance for the realization of an Autonomous Assyria as part of the Federal Iraq.

We wish you all the success in meeting your crucial role in providing a practical and feasible resolution for the Iraq dilemma and the US interests in the Middle East. In case of any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.


Carlo Ganjeh
Secretary of Americas
Assyrian Universal Alliance
Americas Chapter

CC: George W. Bush, President of the United States of America
Joshua Bolton, White House Chief of Staff
National Security Council
U.S. Senate - Foreign Relations Committee
U.S. House of representatives - Foreign Relations Committee
U.S. Department of State

The Most Talked About Book of the Year has Arrived !

Frederick A. Aprim's
Assyrians: From Bedr Khan to Saddam Hussein

Good Morning Assyria
News From the Homeland


Mass Burial of 1915 Genocide Victims Discovered in Turkey

Courtesy of the PanArmenian News
4 November 2006

(ZNDA: Mardin)  Turkish Gendarmerie (police) has instructed local villagers of a southeastern town to keep silence about a mass grave, discovered on October 17, that might contain remains of the 1915 genocide.

According to a Kurdish newspaper, Ulkede Ozgur Gundem, published in Turkish, villagers from Xirabebaba (Kuru) were digging a grave for one of their relatives when they came across a cave full of skulls and bones of reportedly 40 people.

The Xirabebaba residents assumed they had uncovered a mass grave of 300 Armenian villagers massacred during the Genocide of 1915. They informed Akarsu Gendarmerie headquarters, the local military unit.

Turkish army officers, according to the Kurdish newspaper, instructed the villagers to block the cave entrance and make no mention of the remains buried in it. The officers said an investigation would take place. The newspaper reported on the developments and the Turkish military's attempt to hide the news. Journalists, who had arrived to obtain more information, were denied access to the cave.

As the mass burial made news, local Gendarmerie made another visit to the villagers. The latter were pressed to report the name of the person who leaked the mass burial discovery to the press.

The villagers were warned not to show anyone directions to the cave.

The victims of the mass grave, according to Sodertorn University History Professor David Gaunt, most likely consist of 150 Armenian and 120 Assyrian males from the nearby town of Dara (now Oguz) killed on 14 June 1915, reports Asbarez.

Four Assyrians Killed in Mosul and Baghdad

14-Year Old Boy Beheaded for Carrying a Christian ID

As reported on Ankawa.com

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  On 29 October, Mr. Marvin Emmanuel Khazmi, 22, was kidnapped in Baghdad and his body was found the next day at the mortuary with a bullet in the head.

Mr. Khazmi was a third year student at the University of Baghdad, College of Agriculture.

On the same day in Mosul another Christian, Ziyad Abdulla Ajaj, also 22, was murdered in the Christian quarters of al Sa'aa by a group of armed men as he left home on his way to work.

Ayad Tariq, 14. was the sole provider for his family.  His father was too old and weak to work for his family of 6 sons and two daughters.  Ayad was forced to quit school, and instead to work and provide for his family.  He had a simple job.  All he had to do was to turn on and off an electric generator and attend to it while on his 12 hours shift.

On Saturday 21 October, around 6:00 a.m., while Ayad was just about to enter the premises of his fenced work area, a group of Islamist extremists confronted him and asked for his ID. When they discovered that he was a Christian, they began to scream "kafir, kafir" (Arabic infidel). They push him to the ground, holding each of his arms and legs and a fifth man held his head, put the knife to his neck and cut Ayad's throat while screaming "Allah Akbar. Allah Akbar" (God is Great).

Concern Expressed about Iraqi Minority Religious Groups

Courtesy of Ekklesia
10 November 2006

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan, independent federal agency, has written to Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky to express concern about the dire situation of members of Iraqi religious minority groups that have fled their country, particularly ChaldoAssyrians and Sabean Mandaeans.

"The Commission urges Under Secretary Dobriansky to create new or expand existing options for allowing members of Iraq's ChaldoAssyrian and Sabean Mandaean religious minority communities to access the US refugee programme, and to urge UNHCR to resume full refugee status determinations for all Iraqi asylum seekers and assess all claims without delay," said USCIRF Chair Felice D. Gaer.

"The United States has not made direct access to the US Refugee Programme available to Iraqi religious minorities, taking the position that ChaldoAssyrians and Sabean Mandaeans are subject to generalized violence in Iraq. This position is not supported by the facts."

Iraqi ChaldoAssyrians and Sabean Mandaeans represent approximately 40% of the refugees who have fled Iraq over the past three years, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), although they constitute less than 3% of the Iraqi population. Numbering approximately 500,000, these refugees are dispersed through Jordan, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.

USCIRF noted in its 2006 Annual Report that "minority communities, including Christian Iraqis, are forced to fend for themselves in an atmosphere of impunity, and lack any tribal or militia structure to provide for their security.

The result is that members of these communities continue to flee the country in the face of violence, in an exodus that may mean the end of the presence in Iraq of ancient Christian and other religious minority communities that have lived on those same lands for 2,000 years."

Kanna Joins Baghdad Delegation for Reconciliation Conf.

Members of the Iraqi National reconciliation delegation, Iraqi Parliamentary Yonadam Kanna, left, and Faleh Fayyad head of the delegation, second left, Iraqi Ambassador to Jordan Saad Al-Hayany, second right, and Nasser Al-Ani, right, sit together during their meeting with representatives of the Iraqi insurgents at the Iraqi Embassy in Amman, Jordan, Monday, Oct. 30, 2006. (AP Photo/Nader Daoud).

(ZNDA: Amman)  On 30 October a delegation of Iraqi parliamentarians which included Mr. Yonadam Kanna, met with a newly formed group of Iraqi political activists in the Jordanian capital and agreed to hold a national reconciliation conference in November.

The conference will take place on November 15 in Baghdad under the auspices of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

The movement was formed by both Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and includes Iraqi politicians, former military officers, former leaders of Saddam's Baath party, intellectuals and tribal chiefs representing most of Iraq's ethnic and religious factions.

Created in Amman in August, it is headed by prominent tribal leader Hamid al-Gaoud of Anbar province — where many insurgents are based — and aims at helping maintain Iraq's unity and ending the bloodshed.

The Assyria Advocate
with Mariam S. Shimoun


Choosing the Right Policy for Assyrian National Rights in Iraq

Part II

“Sometimes I wonder whether Assyrians deserve a political party. They are happier with their churches keeping them separate, singing songs of the Umta and the Eta, happy having to sing Saddam Hussein’s name one day, the next day, for Sarkis Aghajan, and forever dancing and celebrating that Kurds have half our land, the Arabs the other half, and we go on, kha reesha’d khigga,[1]celebrating our separateness while the Patriarchs retain their seats of power. And if a political party DARE come along to ruin this order of things…”[2]

The policy idea and background

The Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) began in Iraq 1979. The budding political party began underground activities to create a nationalist movement among Assyrians in the then Ba’athist Iraq – risking their lives. They made many alliances, many partnerships, many enemies, and many decisions – many of them wrong in hindsight, some of them mismanaged. Regardless of their internal fighting and problems, the ADM maintained its identity and now they have managed – with the help of Diaspora Assyrians – to put a representative, Yonadam Kanna, in the Iraqi Parliament. In Baghdad in October 2003, a conference was sponsored by the ADM and the Assyrian Democratic Organization of Syria. Present were; Chaldean Bishops, the Assyrian Patriotic Party, Representatives of the Maronite Patriarch, Assyrian and Chaldean-Assyrian Delegations from Europe, Canada, San Jose, Detroit, Chicago, the Assyrian Liberation Movement, Assyrian delegations from Syria, Australia and Iran. They met to discuss the future of the Assyrians in Iraq after the “liberation” – of all denominations. For reference, here are some of the resolutions that came from the “Chaldean Assyrian Syriac” conference:

  • The conference stressed unity of Iraq
  • The conference stressed: “Unity of our people regardless of all the appellations currently in circulation as ‘Chaldean Assyrian Syriac’ since they are the names of one entity that we revere and are proud of”
  • “The Conference highlighted the importance of concurrence on one unified national appellation that is consistent with our situation in Iraq. The participants agreed on the appellation ‘ChaldoAssyrian’ to designate our people and the appellation ‘Syriac’ to designate our language and culture.
  • The Conference stressed the need for “an Administrative Region for our people in the Nineveh Plain with the participation of other ethnic and religious groups, where a special law will be established for self-administration…”

This sums up some of the policies of the ADM agreed upon by major players of Assyrians from all denomination backgrounds.

What is the ADM (Zowaa) doing now?

Seemingly, the ADM has been working toward the goal of the administrative unit since the resolution in 2003. In reality, they have not offered a public platform on the issue. They tried and succeeded in getting approval from the Iraqi Minister of the Interior to create a police force in the Nineveh Plains made up of Assyrians and Shabaks, replacing KDP police forces from outside of the area. The Kurds managed to block the effort.

The Assyrian Democratic Movement is, apparently, working “behind the scenes” for the Nineveh Plains, careful of their “timing” in the unstable region, not wanting to – apparently – incur the wrath of the Kurds who have their eye on the region and want to annex it to Kurdistan.

The Policy Strengths

It is difficult to discuss the policies of the ADM since they are unclear. Rather, I would like to discuss the actual party itself.

Mobilization of the youth:

One of the strengths of Zowaa is its ability to mobilize the youth - in this they have spent their time and money very wisely.  They have rallied young Assyrians to be either pro-Zowaa or anti-Zowaa - not a single other party, person, or Patriarch has managed to mobilize the youth and get them excited and interested in events in the homeland the way that Zowaa has.  In my brief observations, it seems that much of the youth - at least in North America, leans in favor of the party, while the ones that do not either place their religious identity over their ethnic one (therefore making them more involved in what Patriarchs are doing) or simply have family that lean towards one side so they go with the trend.  However, there is one trend that is undeniable: I have met plenty of youth who dissent with their anti-Zowaa families and support the ADM:  I have yet to meet youth who dissent with their pro-Zowaa families and work vehemently against the ADM.  There may be some, but they are outnumbered the other way. The future, it seems, will belong to Zowaa, and they invested wisely.

The best idea for the Nineveh Plains Administrative Unit…we think...

Since the declaration of an autonomous administrative region for Assyrians in 2003, ADM has made little public relations effort to show just exactly how they plan to achieve this goal. In the last two weeks, Assyrians around the world heard from two ADM members; Galawesh Hanna, one of the ADM representatives in the KRG, and Pascale Warda, respond to recent announcements by Kurdish Government Ministers (specifically Sarkis Aghajan) that the Nineveh Plains should go to Assyrians, but be tied to Arbil – an interesting declaration since the Nineveh Plains does not belong to the Kurds, and it is strange and suspicious that a regional government believe it can negotiate sovereign Iraqi land into their territory over and above the heads of the central government…strange and suspicious indeed.

Ms. Hanna and Ms. Warda both proclaimed the desire of the Assyrians in Iraq to have an autonomous unit tied to Baghdad, not the KRG. Ms. Hanna made clear in her short interview on ankawa.com that while the ADM respect their neighbors, Assyrians have every right for an autonomous state within Iraq – not within “ Kurdistan”.

Ms. Warda said similar things in an interview with Jackie Bejan on Ashur T.V. – in the words of Jackie Bejan, “why be a piece of a piece, when we can be a piece of the WHOLE?” I would like to underscore that the most vocal of the ADM in recent weeks, it seems, are female representatives.

So, it seems, the ADM is still adamant about the Nineveh Plains as an Autonomous Administrative Unit, although the absence of the Secretary General’s opinions is suspicious and politically un-savvy.

Critical presence in Iraq with dedicated members, regardless of disagreements with the current General Secretary:

Put quite simply, the support of the Diaspora and the sheer number of ADM members and supporters in Iraq were enough to help them win a seat in the Iraqi Parliament. None of the other Assyrian Parties (Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party, Assyrian Patriotic Party, Assyrian Liberation Party, etc.) have any type of real presence or support in Iraq. As a matter of fact, the BNDP, one of the larger Diaspora parties, was started outside of Iraq, in the U.S., with the intent of creating a “Diaspora Government” that would one day be transplanted to govern the Mosul Region. How, when, and with what army they were planning on achieving this goal is unknown to this author.

The ADM is a working political party with internal problems – such as bad PR and discontent with the current Secretary General – but Secretary Generals come and go. The ADM is determined to stay, and they by far are the most recognized Assyrian party among non-Assyrians in the world (to the Iraqis and Western Media, mainly).

The Policy and Party Weaknesses and Criticism

Zowaa’s silence is their biggest weakness. Their policy – if it is to gain the Nineveh Plains, is a good one – if we knew that’s what it was. It is understandable that Assyrians are trying to negotiate without anything in their corner, and understandable that the ADM does not want to disclose all of their strategy, which is perfectly legitimate. This silence, however, on taking ANY sort of public stand, is hurting the ADM more than they may think.  When the other side is talking, and the ADM stays silent, people will start to listen with those with the loudest voice - even if that voice speaks rubbish.


It seems that the ADM doesn’t have any. What separates the ADM from Sarkis Aghajan (and other Kurdish appointed Assyrians) and the clergy of the churches is a pivotal difference:  Assyrians can voice their opinions to the ADM on what they do wrong, and we can demand accountability.  The others must be followed blindly, as Patriarchs are believed to be infallible and Sarkis Aghajan works for Barzani, not Assyrians.  The ADM has a distinct quality - the ability to be independent and proactive according to the needs of Assyrians, and the people have the right to react to the ADM. Give and you shall receive - stay silent and secretive and eventually you will fade away.  Answering critics isn't hard - to the contrary, being open about your plans and platform will begin making critics look spiteful and jealous rather than right.  It's fairly easy to do.

The ADM in Diaspora:

The ADM in North America has caused much damage to the reputation of the ADM in Iraq, and unfortunately they cannot be separated. They have the reputation of being closed, unresponsive to criticism, and being involved with church issues – something the leadership may not represent, but did little to diffuse the situation. In the interest of the ADM, a major criticism is to reign in ADM representatives in the Diaspora and get them on message.

The “name”:

It is the fault of the ADM for the complete failure to make clear what the use of the name "ChaldoAssyrian" was, and for allowing thoughtless and irresponsible Diaspora organizations adopt the name with the ADM’s (seeming) blessing. The ADM and others at the 2003 Baghdad Conference came up with ChaldoAssyrian, with the full support of Assyrians and Chaldean-Assyrians present, including Bishops, for the purpose of legal jargon and census taking, so that while we continued the name issue internally, external factors, like Kurds and Arabs, would not be able to split us up and claim Assyrians "Made a majority nowhere" and therefore could not have their own state.  It has happened before.

Failure to make the name issue clear to the Diaspora - the fact that we would never change our name from "Assyrian" anymore than Chaldeans would change their name to Assyrian - led people to believe the ADM was bowing to the Catholics, rather than learning from the mistakes of our ancestors and nipping the "name" problem in the bud.  But again, those who did not know better attacked, claiming the ADM was changing the Assyrian identity.  And now, the Iraqi Constitution now says "Assyrian, Chaldean. Syriac".  In a last ditch effort, many organizations have realized that "oh, right, I suppose it is necessary that we include Chaldeans and Syriacs when discussing land rights...I guess we can just say 'AssyrianChaldeanSyriac' to nip the name problem in the bud".  Foolish, and too late.  But the fact that no one understood what the ADM was doing was 50% the fault of Assyrians for not having the foresight to see its necessity, and 50% of the ADM for not launching an aggressive campaign to educate the Assyrian public this was no threat to their identity: it was a "free" weapon against those external forces that would love to separate us by religion and therefore not grant us land.

Policy Suggestions – Countering the weaknesses

Increase visibility and PR.  Much of the opposing political parties are trying to "change the subject" from the Nineveh Plains because they have a fear that the ADM will someday be given credit for gaining an Assyrian area.  It is a mistake Assyrians have made continuously in the last century - "Either I am the one who does it, or no one else can".  It has landed us in the position we are in today - scattered around the world, fighting with each other, and vying for political power not for the good of the nation, but for the good of ourselves.  I would say the same about the ADM, did I now know that employees of the ADM work for almost nothing, refuse to be bought by their former Kurdish allies, and live each day risking their lives and the livelihood of their families to do what they can for the Assyrians of Iraq.  Members of the ADM have nothing to gain and everything to lose - even their reputations to hard-hearted Assyrians in the West, and they stay, and they work, and they refuse to stop.  The Assyrians in Iraq, fortunately, support the ADM more than some Diaspora Assyrians like to admit, but there are many others who have fed into the "spin cycle" of bastardizing and discrediting more than 30 years of work.

Since the conference in 2003 brought about the resolution of the Nineveh Plains Administrative Unit (and hence the rhetoric began in the West) the ADM has made even some of their staunchest supporters incredibly angry and disappointed.  Reason and logic in the Diaspora Assyrians has been replaced by hatred and spitefulness.  And the ADM has allowed it to happen.  It is the fault of the ADM.

It does not matter how difficult it is to maneuver politically in Iraq.  Some information regarding ADM plans MUST come out, and they must start answering the babble.  It is a wonderful start that Galawesh Hanna, the ADM rep in the KRG said in an interview last week that while it was lovely that Sarkis Aghajan is asking for an Assyrian state, the disclaimer that it be in Kurdistan is not acceptable.  This should have been the Secretary General's speech the very following day.

It is wonderful that Pascale Warda met with US officials and openly discussed a Kurd-separate Assyrian autonomous region in Iraq, and came to speak to American Assyrians to promote investment in their native land to help them in their (quest) for the Nineveh Plains. It should have been followed with a Press Release from the General Secretary.

It is clear, as it has always been with the Assyrian nation, that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, to parties/people/Patriarchs actions.  The ADM is not doing a good enough job of making it very clear to Assyrians - everywhere - that this is not a game of "who gets bragging rights for saving the Assyrian nation".  This is a civil war in Iraq, a chaotic Iraq, an Iraq with the world's focus on it, an Iraq who has opened herself to opportunity for Assyrians in the first real way since the 1915 genocide - as a matter of fact, even more now.  This is Assyrians vs. Kurds vs. Arabs - not in a warlike manner - but in a "we need to survive among each other" manner.  Assyrians have nothing and they are asking for something. The ADM would not have a seat in the Iraqi Parliament were it not for Diaspora Assyrians – our support matters. You need our help. We need your silence to be broken.


1  An Assyrian dance
2  From a conversation this author overheard between two Assyrian men

Click Image to Enter

A Lamassu Productions Project

News Digest
News From Around the World


Bishops, Commission Plead for help for Iraqi Christians

Say half a million have fled their homes because of Muslim attacks

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent federal agency, has asked government officials to address the "dire situation" facing members of Iraqi religious minorities who have fled their country, especially the Chaldo Assyrians and the Sabean Mandaeans.

Officials said the letter went to Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, and followed by just a few days an earlier expression of concern over the same issue by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Policy, whose members wrote Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

The Iraqi Christians are facing, officials said, beheadings, rapes, crucifixions, and other torture.

"The Commission urges Under Secretary Dobriansky to create new or expand existing options for allowing members of Iraq's Chaldo Assyrian and Sabean Mandaean religious minority communities to access the U.S. refugee programme, and to urge (the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) to resume full refugee status determinations for all Iraqi asylum seekers and assess all claims without delay," said Felice D. Gaer, the chairwoman of the USCIRF.

The United States has not made direct access to the U.S. Refugee Programme available to Iraqi religious minorities, taking the position that ChaldoAssyrians and Sabean Mandaeans are subject to generalized violence in Iraq. This position is not supported by the facts," she wrote.

Iraqi ChaldoAssyrians and Sabean Mandaeans represent approximately 40 percent of the refugees who have fled Iraq over the past three years, according to the UNHCR, even though they make up less than three percent of the Iraqi population. Half a million have gone into Jordan, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.

USCIRF said in its 2006 annual report that "minority communities, including Christian Iraqis, are forced to fend for themselves in an atmosphere of impunity, and lack any tribal or militia structure to provide for their security."

The result is that members of these communities continue to flee the country in the face of violence, in an exodus that may mean the end of the presence in Iraq of ancient Christian and other religious minority communities that have lived on those same lands for 2,000 years.

A car bombing with a dozen fatalities, a priest beheaded and a teenager crucified – all recent attacks against the historically Christian Assyrians in Iraq – also recently prompted the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Policy to seek help from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

"We deplore the sectarian violence engulfing the Shi'ai and Sunni communities in Iraq," that letter said. "We are especially and acutely aware of the deliberate violence perpetrated against Christians and other vulnerable minorities."

The attacks have left the Christian population there, estimated at about 1.2 million before the war, in the range of about 600,000 now, officials said.

"The growing and deliberate targeting of Christians is an ominous sign of the breakdown in Iraqi society of civil order and inter-religious respect and represents a grave violation of human rights and religious liberty."

The bishops committee noted a recent beheading of a Syriac Orthodox priest in Mosul, the crucifixion of a Christian teenager in Basra, the frequent kidnappings for ransom of Christians including four priests – one of whom was the secretary of Patriarch Delly, the rape of Christian women and teenage girls, and the bombings of churches.

All those attacks are "indicators" that the situation has reached a crisis point, the committee said, which said it would like to see a new "administrative region" in the Nineveh Plain Area that would "provide Christians and other minorities with greater safety and offer more opportunity to control their own affairs with assistance from the Central government."

A review of the economic reconstruction aid as well as the refugee policies also could ease some of the problems, the bishops said in a letter signed by Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla.

The Assyrian International News Agency said the attacks "escalated explosively" during the recent Muslim Ramadan events, with the contending parties Shia-Muslims, Sunni-Muslims and Kurds.

"In the middle of the chaos … there is another war, or to be correct a hunt, going on. The ones that are being hunted are the defenseless Christians," the report said.

Such instances:

On Oct. 4, 2006, a car bomb detonated in a Christian area and killed nine people. Among the killed was Georges Zara, member of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac National Council.

Father Paulos Eskandar, of Mor Afrem Syriac Orthodox Church, was kidnapped on Oct. 9, 2006, by fanatic Muslims. Two days later the Muslims had decapitated the priest. They did this although the Christians fulfilled their demands by posting a text on the church doors that condemned the pope's statement about Islam.

A 14-year-old boy was murdered in a barbaric manner in Albasra. He was crucified and after that the barbarians stabbed the boy in the stomach, just as it was done to Jesus.

On Oct. 21, 2006, in Baquba a group of veiled Muslims attacked a workplace where a 14-year-old boy named Ayad Tariq worked. The men asked the boy for his identity card. After seeing in his identity card that he was Christian the men asked Ayad whether he was a "dirty Christian sinner." Ayad answered: "Yes, I am Christian, but I am not a sinner." The rebels yelled that he was a dirty Christian sinner and continued to grab him and to scream "Allahu, Akbar! Allahu, Akbar!" After this Muslim ritual they decapitated him in the most brutal and disgusting way, the report said.
The news agency said the Christians in the region speaking Aramaic, profess Christ and are the only indigenous people of Iraq, having lived in their ancestral lands in North Iraq since 5000 B.C.

The report said they've lived for centuries under severe persecution by Muslims, and since 630 A.D. there have been about 30 recorded episodes of genocide against Assyrians by Muslims.

Today, it continues, the report said:

Sept. 25, 2006: Two Assyrian churches attacked in North Iraq in response to Pope's speech

Sept. 24, 2006: St. Mary's Cathedral in Baghdad, home of the Patriarch, is bombed

Jan. 29, 2006: Four Assyrian churches bombed in Baghdad

Nov. 29, 2005: Joseph Nabil Ishmael and George Brikha Youkhana are shot and killed in North Iraq

Sept. 23, 2005: 4 Assyrians Killed in Assassination Attempt on Former Iraq Assyrian Minister

Sept. 13, 2005: Anita Tyadors is brutally murdered by Muslim extremists in North Iraq

Aug. 27, 2005: Nabil Akram Amona murdered By Kurdish militia in North Iraq

March 24, 2005: Zahra Ashour (female student) is beaten to death by Mehdi army personnel in Basra

Dec. 21, 2004: Three Assyrian churches bombed in North Iraq

Dec. 7, 2004: Two Assyrian churches bombed in Baghdad

Nov. 8, 2004: Two Assyrian churches attacked in Baghdad

Oct. 16, 2004: Five Assyrian churches bombed in Baghdad

Aug. 26, 2004: Nabil Akram Ammona is gunned down by Kurds

Oct. 16, 2004: Five Assyrian churches are bombed

June 7, 2004: Four Assyrians murdered in a drive by shooting in Baghdad
An organization called AssyrianChristians.com is working to help the Assyrians.

"The Assyrian Christians are one of the last remaining Christian communities in the Middle East," said Rev. Ken Joseph Jr., of the Assyrian Christians organization.

Text of the Letter written by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops'
Committee on International Policy

Department of Social Development and World Peace
3211 Fourth Street
Washington, DC 20017-1194

October 26, 2006

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C. Street, N.W.
Room 7327
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madame Secretary:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I am writing to you to express our deep concern and growing alarm at the rapidly deteriorating situation of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.

We deplore the sectarian violence engulfing the Shia and Sunni communities in Iraq. We are especially and acutely aware of the deliberate violence perpetrated against Christians and other vulnerable minorities. Christians continue to decline from a pre-war population of over 1.2 million to a current estimate of about 600,000. The growing and deliberate targeting of Christians is an ominous sign of the breakdown in Iraqi society of civil order and interreligious respect and represents a grave violation of human rights and religious liberty.

The recent beheading of a Syriac Orthodox priest in Mosul, the crucifixtion of a Christian teenager in Albasra, the frequent kidnappings for ransom of Christians including four priests-- one of whom was the secretary of Patriarch Delly, the rape of Christian women and teenage girls, and the bombings of churches are all indicators that the situation has reached a crisis point. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that approximately 44% of Iraqi refugees are Christian, even though they represent only about 4% of the total population of Iraq.

While thousands have fled to Syria, Jordan and Turkey, the remainder in Iraq are increasingly
leading lives of desperation. Many no longer feel safe gathering in churches and Christian
institutions, resulting in the closing of parishes, seminaries and convents. Others are fleeing to
the north of Iraq in search of some measure of safety and sanctuary.

The vulnerability of Christians and other religious minorities is dramatic evidence of the serious and growing security challenges facing the entire nation of Iraq. Efforts must continue to end all sectarian violence and to make Iraq secure for everyone. At the same time, we also urge you to take several specific measures to improve the particular security situation of Christians and other minorities in Iraq. First, we hope that the U.S. government will consider the creation of a new “Administrative Region” in the Nineveh Plain Area that would be directly related to the central government in Baghdad. This could provide Christians and other minorities with greater safety and offer more opportunity to control their own affairs with assistance from the central government. Since the Kurds are key to any real efforts to stabilize Iraq and many Christians and other minorities are fleeing to the north of Iraq, we ask that the U.S. government work with Kurdish authorities to ensure the safety of Christians in the Plain of Nineveh and to provide adequate protection and assistance for religious minorities in areas controlled directly by the

We also believe that an urgent review of economic reconstruction aid programs is needed to make sure that the aid is distributed fairly so that all elements of Iraqi society are able to rebuild their communities. Finally, we urge the U.S. government to adopt a more generous refugee and asylum policy, including the possible resettlement of at-risk cases to the United States, and to work with the governments of Turkey, Jordan and Syria to grant visas to allow Iraqi Christians and others compelled to leave Iraq access to economic, health and other necessary assistance and help until they are able to stabilize their own situation, return to Iraq or make other plans for their future.

Thank you for your attention to this important concern. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss this urgent and dangerous situation further.

Sincerely yours,

Bishop Thomas G. Wenski
Bishop of Orlando
Chairman, Committee on International Policy

Turlock Elects An Assyrian Mayor

John Lazar, newly elected Mayor of Turlock

(ZNDA: Turlock)  Last Tuesday nearly sixty percent of the voters in the city of Turlock elected John Lazar to the office of the Mayor.   Mr. Lazar is the first Assyrian to be elected to the office of Mayor of any U.S. cities.

All other Assyrian candidates were defeated in the remaining elections involving an Assyrian candidate. 

Here's a quick review of last week's election results. 

Zinda Magazine endorses all Assyrian candidates.  In 2006 our technical staff developed election websites for two candidates:  Mr. Kanno and Mr. Elias as our contribution to their candidacy.

Ben Elias
Union City - City Council
John Kanno
Congressional Representative - 18th District
John Lazar
Mayor of Turlock
Ashur S. Odishoo
State Senate Representative - 11th District

AUA on Recent UNPO Meeting in Taiwan

For Immediate Release

Taipei, Taiwan
31 October 2006

As part of its intensive campaign to promote the Assyrian cause on the international level, a delegation of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) attended the General Assembly of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in Taipei, Taiwan from 27 to 29 October 2006. Assyria's delegates were Mary Younan (Canada), Hermiz Shahen (Australia), and Youra Tarverdi (United States).

During the 3-day meeting, the Assyrian Universal Alliance delegates presented the critical conditions of the Assyrian people in the Middle-East, with particular focus on Iraq.

The Assyrian Universal Alliance introduced a resolution (included below) that calls the UNPO General Assembly to support an autonomous status (self-administered region) for the Assyrians in Iraq. The resolution triggered a comprehensive debate on the issues it was presenting and was adopted unanimously by the UNPO General Assembly.

Also, the General Assembly received overwhelmingly the World Peace Network (WPN) project as introduced by the delegation. Established in 1997, the WPN is a communication system that would enable different ethnic and indigenous groups to share and preserve their culture and working as a social and economic platform to UNPO's 65 members.

The AUA would like to take this opportunity to thank the previous UNPO Steering Committee and wishes the newly elected Presidency all the success in its forthcoming mandate to foster the knowledge, cause and struggle of unrepresented and oppressed member nations.

Lastly, the AUA wishes to thank the Government of Taiwan for the hospitality and in particular the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy for supporting and sponsoring this successful UNPO VIII General Assembly.


Whereas, in recognition of the needs of the Assyrian people in their historical homeland (Assyria), expresses its concern about the political, national and human rights situation of the Assyrian people,

Recalling the beheadings, kidnappings, assassinations, exodus, and internal displacement of the Assyrian people in Iraq,

Recalling the bombings of Assyrian churches, kidnappings and killing of religious figures,

Recalling that Assyrian national rights are not constitutionally recognized in Iraq,

Expressing concern of Iraq’s new constitution because of the absence of secularism, rights and freedom of the Assyrian people as per international declarations and covenants,

Recalling that Iraq’s constitution fails to assign a quota of seats in the national assembly for the Assyrian people nor the right and guarantee of having self-chosen representation in the government,

Recalling the prevention to vote in recent elections in certain Assyrian populated cities,

Reaffirming the Assyrian people are the indigenous people of Iraq,

Reaffirming the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Iraq,

Expressing our strong condemnation of acts of terrorism,

We hereby resolve that international support should be granted for:

  1. An autonomous status (self-administrated region) to the Assyrians on the land of their ancestors “Assyria” in the north of Iraq (the territory located between the greater Zab and the Tigris River), under the jurisdiction of the central government of Iraq and the protection of the United Nations.
  2. Specific attention to Assyrian human rights abuses, specifically in Iraq and generally in the Middle East.
  3. Monitoring the upcoming census in Iraq by international and human rights organizations to safeguard the rights of the Assyrian people.
  4. Specific measures to ensure the restoration of Assyrians villages and churches.
  5. The Assyrian rights to return to their homes and villages in Iraq.
  6. The guarantee of the right of autonomy and self-determination for the Assyrian people as per international declarations and covenants.
  7. The establishment of a unified, democratic, secular, pluralistic and parliamentarian government in Iraq that will guarantee human rights and equality for all citizens, which is multi-ethnic and based on the rule of law and free from all militias.
  8. The allowance, practice and preservation of the Assyrian language, culture and customs, without any form of persecution.

Assyriska No Longer in Superettan League

By Afram Barryakoub, reporting from Sweden

(ZNDA: Stockholm)  The Assyrian football (soccer) team Assyriska FF lost its premier standing in the Superettan League last Sunday, Sweden's second national football league.

The final blow came during last Sundays game against Bunkeflo IF, a game Assyriska failed to win. An individual in the last minute of the game entered the arena and tried to knock down the referee.  The incident was soon followed by the arrival of the police and halting of the game for thirty minutes.

According to the Assyrians in the audience the referee had been acting unprofessionally and has been known for making fatal misjudgments against Assyriska in the past, thus provoking the Assyrians in the audience.

The incident has made big headlines in the Swedish media and rendered a blow to Assyriska's otherwise good reputation in Sweden.

In the next season Assyriska will play in Sweden's Third League in the First Division. The team has thus stepped down two years in a row, first from Allsvenskan (First League) and now from Superettan.

The turbulence and bad performance of the team is now backlashing on Assyriska's board of directors. In a long letter on svenskafans.se the board is criticized heavily by prominent fans who accuse the board members of bad management and lack of genuine interest for the club, demanding the resignation of the entire board.

Australian Fugitive Wants to go to Iraq

Courtesy of Fairfax Digital
10 November 2006

(ZNDA: Sydney)  Accused murderer Raphael Joseph, wanted for an execution-style killing in Australia almost four years ago, asked to be deported to Iraq, US authorities say.

It was a request that made officers from America's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency curious.

Accused Murderer, Raphael Joseph

At the time of his arrest in San Diego, ICE officers were unaware Joseph, 30, was the focus of a worldwide manhunt for the December, 2002, killing of a man outside Sydney's Sefton Playhouse hotel.

The gangland murder of Dimitri Debaz led to a spate of retaliatory crimes in Sydney's south-west, including drive-by shootings, kidnappings and attempted murders.

At first, ICE thought Joseph was only an illegal immigrant in the US.

"When we first arrested him, he was given his deportation options," ICE spokesperson Lauren Mack told AAP.

Joseph, she said, was keen to leave the US with little fuss.

"He wanted to be expedited, in lieu of court, to be deported to Iraq," Mack said.

"He was eager to get out of our country.

"It was kind of curious."

When US authorities examined Joseph's fingerprints and checked with Interpol it was revealed he was wanted on suspicion of murder in Australia, and was one of the most wanted men in NSW.

Joseph's arrest came after America's Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) tipped off ICE that he could be an illegal immigrant.

ICE, which is the US Department of Homeland Security's investigative arm, raided the San Diego coffee shop on October 20 and took Joseph, who allegedly told officers his name was Tony Toma, into custody.

Toma, 33, is currently on remand at Sydney's Long Bay Jail after his arrest by Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad detectives for drug offences in June.

When contacted in Sydney, surprised police said Toma had spent the past four months in jail and asked US authorities to email a photograph of their prisoner.

That photograph and subsequent fingerprints confirmed Joseph's identity.

Joseph was charged with immigration violations after admitting he was in the US illegally, Mack said.

"He told the agents he had been smuggled from Iraq to Mexico and from Mexico to the US border.

"He said the pipeline he came through was from Iraq, to Turkey, to Greece to Thailand and Mexico."

Joseph also allegedly told US authorities he paid a Mexican smuggling organisation $US3,000 ($A3,910) to get him across the US border.

It is believed Joseph had been working in his brother's San Diego liquor store.

Joseph is being held at the ICE Detention Facility in San Diego and is expected to appear in a US Immigration Court next week.

The US plans to deport him to Australia, although Joseph could choose to fight his deportation.

"He has been placed in deportation proceedings," Mack said.

"He does get due process here in this country to contest any deportation charges."

If Joseph agrees to be deported, he could be escorted back to Australia by Australian authorities in "three to four weeks".

"Once an order is granted, we are planning to turn him over to Australian authorities," Mack said.

Joseph and a co-accused, Ramon Youmaran, were named in 2004 as being the subjects of arrest warrants for the alleged murder of Mr Debaz.

Youmaran, 28, of Mount Pritchard, was arrested in June this year in a drug raid in Sydney, and charged with Mr Debaz's murder. He has been remanded in custody.

Joseph has been linked to a Sydney Assyrian crime syndicate known as the "dlasthr" (the last hour) gang.

105-year-old Assyrian Realizes Dream of Citizenship

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times
26 October 2006
By Teresa Watanabe

(ZNDA: Los Angeles)  Sona Babai counts good health, a loving mother-in-law and 10 children as the biggest blessings of a long and fruitful life.

But there was one more thing she wanted: American citizenship.

Sona Babai and her son, Antoine.  Sona was 14 years old when the Assyrian Genocide took place in Iran (then Persia) and Turkey.

So the native of Iran placed her hand over her heart, pledged allegiance to the flag and Wednesday became one of the nation's newest citizens to be sworn in.

At 105 years old, she is also one of the oldest.

Before a stage festooned with American flags, Babai joined 7,000 others from 132 countries who became American citizens at naturalization ceremonies Wednesday at the Pomona Fairplex. But the petite woman with clear brown eyes and snowy white hair cut a distinctive figure as several news cameras recorded her slow walk to the front of the cavernous hall, stooped but steady, unassisted except for a cane.

When a ceremony official announced, "Excuse me, we have a lady that's 105 years old — and she's walking!" the crowd erupted in claps and cheers.

Babai said she wanted to naturalize as a sign of gratitude to America for embracing her children, four of whom live here, and allowing their families to thrive as restaurateurs, business consultants, architects, engineers, dentists and other professionals.

"America is a big umbrella that lets a lot of people underneath to be safe," Babai said in her native Azari language, which was translated by her son, Antoine Babai. "Because of the good hearts of American people, I want to be part of them."

Marie Sebrechts, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, said research indicated that Babai was the fourth oldest person ever to naturalize. The oldest, she said, was a 117-year-old Armenian immigrant who became a citizen in Los Angeles district ceremonies in 1997.

Antoine Babai said his mother still threads needles, has 20/20 vision and needs no hearing aid. Her mind is still so sharp she can tell her daughter in Tehran in exactly which cabinet in which room to find a particular household item, he added.

Both nature and good nurturing account for her longevity, the family said. Her eldest brother lived to age 117, and her younger siblings range in age from 95 to 101.

Growing up in the unpolluted environment of a rural farming village in northwest Iran also helped, Antoine Babai said. In her native Gharahbagh, a 400-person village of vineyards and almond trees, Babai's family grew their own food, slaughtered their own livestock for meat, churned their own butter and heated their ovens with patties of animal dung.

"There were no preservatives, no chemicals, nothing," Antoine Babai said. "I believe one reason she's lived this long is that the foundation of her life was natural."

Babai herself says as much when asked the secret of her longevity. "Clean air, fresh food and good family," she said.

But Babai also endured hardships. She lived through three major political upheavals in Iran, including the Islamic Revolution that she criticizes for using religion to justify such acts as seizing private property. Many of her relatives were killed in the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, she said.

As a child, she used to hide in water wells to escape murderous tribes who would ravage her village.

She was even kidnapped at age 12 as a bride for a distant relative smitten by her beauty, according to her son. But the adventure had a happy ending. She produced 10 children over an 84-year marriage and grew to love her mother-in-law so much that she still kisses her picture every night at bedtime.

Her link to America began as it has for so many immigrants: through a desire to give her children a first-class education and unlimited opportunities.

Neither Babai nor her husband Mokhtar, who died in 1991 at age 103, ever learned to read or write. But they knew the value of an American education, so Antoine and another son came to the U.S. to study advertising design and engineering, respectively, at Louisiana State University.

The two brothers eventually settled in Palm Desert and opened a French restaurant. Two sisters followed and settled in Irvine. Today, Babai boasts six children, 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The children obtained a green card for their mother and brought her to Palm Desert six years ago, after their father died in Tehran.

Her request to become a citizen surprised Karan Kler, executive director of Coachella Valley Immigration Service and Assistance Inc.

But he said Babai told him: "By becoming a citizen, I can show to the world that it is never too late to give back."

Because of his client's medical conditions, Kler managed to obtain waivers excusing her from the English and civic tests required of most prospective citizens. But Babai sailed through her interview with immigration officials — telling them, among other things, that she would bear arms to defend the United States.

War was not on her mind Wednesday. Asked what she would do as a new citizen, Babai replied:

"I'm an American. I'm going to vote."

Surfs Up!
Your Letters to the Editor


Fortune Favors the Brave

Raabi Sarkis Aghajan calls for An Autonomous Region for the
“Assyrian Chaldean Syrian” People in Nineveh Plains

Yosip Sada Yosip

The call for an “Autonomous Region” for Assyrians Chaldeans and Syrians was overdue. The leading Assyrian, Chaldean and Syrian political parties had been hesitant to initiate a request for an autonomous region for the Assyrian-Chaldean-Syrian people. Now that call has been sounded. The next step will be to resolve the issue of what to call this region – what name to give it. This old argument might continue for decades. After all, we have become accustomed to our differences on this question. The name issue has been on the political agenda for years, yet no one paid much attention to it until the fall of Saddam’s regime in 2003.

One would have thought that the call would have come from one of our political parties, but everyone was stunned that the call came from none other than Rabi Sarkis Agajan, the finance minister in the Kurdistan Regional Government. Rabi Sarkis is not new to the Assyrian political arena. He is an experienced person who has shown great ability by the rapid and efficient rebuilding of our villages in Nineveh Plains, Erbil and Duhok provinces, which were destroyed by Saddam Hussein’s effort to destabilize the northern region of Iraq.

The call by Rabi Sarkis is to unite under a name that includes the Assyrian-Chaldean-Syrian people in an autonomous region. We hope a name is agreed upon quickly.

While all agree with the call, some are questioning the caller. Those who question do not know the caller. To meet Sarkis Agajan is to find a patriotic Assyrian who cares about his nation, his people and their rights, and who works in extraordinary circumstances.

Rabi Sarkis is the highest ranking Assyrian politician in the Kurdistan Parliament, currently serving as Finance and Economic Minister. Previously he was the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. He is overseeing the reconstruction of our villages and repatriation of our people to their homes, which were destroyed by Saddam Hussien and his brutal regime. He has created a safe haven for all Christians who wish to live in the enclave.

Rabi Sarkis established a reputable television station, Ishtar Sat, which broadcasts to every corner of the globe. Employing the most talented of our people and making Ishtar Sat the cream of the crop. Ishtar Sat is the home for many talented presenters, singers, writers and athletes. Through Ishtar’s programs one can see the homeland being reconstructed. Ishtar is new but growing rapidly and is the pride of the Assyrian Chaldean Syrian community.

Rabi Sarkis has received the highest accolades and medals from our various church leaders. To mention a few, he was awarded a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, receiving the medal from His Holiness Mar Emanuel Delly, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church. He was awarded the highest medal (Commander) by his holiness Mar Zaka Iwas, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church. On October 13, 2006 the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church, His Holiness Mar Dinkha VI, awarded Rabi Sarkis with the Church Medal and a medal for his contribution as engineer in reconstruction projects completed since 2005.

The time has come for our political parties, all patriotic, to act in accord with the idea that we, whether Assyrian, Chaldean or Syrian, are one people and deserve to live under our own administration in our own geographically bound land. We believe that our people are ready for unity. Now, our political parties must strive for an autonomous region for our people in Nineveh Plains. Yes, we have differences. But at this crucial historical moment, we must put them aside and seize this golden opportunity for our people.

We cannot let this chance pass by. Remember: “Fortune favors the brave.”

Now let us be brave.

The Legitimate Representative of All Assyrians Worldwide

Edward Beitashour
Press Secretary
Assyrian Universal Alliance
Americas Chapter

In Zinda Magazine dated October 6, 2006, there are two articles by Messrs. Emanuel Kelaita (Dubai) and Albert Michael (England). The articles have repeatedly made false and negative references to the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA).

Accordingly, this Press Release is to inform the Assyrian nation that unlike the defamatory and accusatory connotations of the referenced articles, AUA, as the legitimate representative of all Assyrians worldwide, is most actively engaged in the unyielding struggle to protect and secure the Assyrians’ rights; and for the establishment of an Assyrian Region in north and northwestern Iraq, as a fundamental measure to address the Assyrians’ problems permanently.

In meeting this national mission, AUA has and will continue to engage with all relevant governments, governorates, entities and parties, in multiple spheres of relationships, may that be political, economical or social, etc. in order to accomplish the stated national objectives.

For the purpose of national solidarity, in the past AUA has repeatedly invited the relevant Assyrian organizations, political parties, groups and prominent individuals to participate in the AUA sponsored forums to provide their respective plans, perspectives and priorities concerning the Assyrian national aspiration. As a result, AUA has benefited from active participation of many organizations, as wells as, the perspectives provided by some organizations either in private or bilateral meetings.

However, it is unfortunate and yet necessary to inform the Assyrian nation that a few political movements and organizations have repeatedly decided not to participate in the AUA sponsored forums, and instead, to pursue their respective political party agendas rather unilaterally. AUA and the Assyrian nation have strongly objected to any unilateral approach to the Assyrian national matters by any one organization or person. Indeed, the Assyrian nation at this juncture of its struggle will materially suffer by any unilateral approach or a dictatorial mandate.

As a dynamic worldwide organization, since its inception in 1968, AUA has continuously evolved and transformed itself to best serve the nation in light of ever changing political landscape in the homeland and the world. Accordingly, AUA strongly urges the Assyrian political organizations to set aside all elements of isolationism within their organs and evolve themselves towards national solidarity, to proceed collectively, irrespective of each political party’s differing perspectives.

In the past, AUA has extended its strongest support to Assyrian political movements and organizations when hardship required AUA’s unequivocal support. Indeed, AUA will re-establish its close working relationships with any and all Assyrian political parties should such institutions demonstrate their democratic, pluralistic and inclusive policies.

In reference to the two articles’ certain false presumptions concerning the nature and role of the Assyrian American National Federation (AANF), for the purpose of clarification AANF is only a non-political affiliate of AUA. In its incorporation, AANF is a charitable not-for-profit entity, established pursuant to laws and regulations pertaining to the 501C3 corporations. In fact, contrary to the wrong presumptions and the resulting false conclusions in the above referenced articles, AANF is not a common good 501C4 corporation and as a charitable not-for-profit it is expressly prohibited by law from engaging in any (i) religious and/or (ii) political matter, either directly or indirectly, whether domestically or internationally.

Irrespective of all hard feelings resulted from irregularities evident in the AANF recent election proceedings, for the sake of national solidarity AUA welcomes the opportunity of having a close working relationship with the President and other administrators of AANF as far as charitable and non-political functions of AUA and the needs of Assyrian nation either in homeland or Diaspora.

Lastly, this is to reiterate that AUA is a secular global organization and expressly extends its utmost respects to all religious denominations of the Assyrian people. AUA, however, expressly discourages and prohibits any and all separatist or isolationist movements disguised under the religious banners for ulterior motives.

Assyrians For an Expanded Conference in Sweden

Ashur Giwargis
Media Spokesperson
Conference Preparatory Committee

Due to the serious developments on the Iraqi arena affecting the homeland as a whole and the bereaved Assyrian nation in particular, and because of the great increase in the Assyrian migration, many have noticed that the Assyrian political path which has been followed so far didn’t bring about the desired results after the demise of the former regime, due to several reasons with the most important being the divisions in the Assyrian speech in what concerns the two main factors to the Assyrian Cause: The identity and fate.

Thus it becomes obvious that the active Assyrian institutions in Iraq must increase their ties with the Diaspora Assyrians to the advantage of both Iraq and the Assyrian nationality, on the basis of equality in rights amongst the different factions of the Iraqi people, religiously and ethnically.

Hence, several meetings were held attended by activists and Assyrian factions from Iraq, the Middle East, and Diaspora which resulted in forming a committee representing the following parties:

1- The Assyrian General conference which includes the following:
      • The Assyrian Democratic Movement- Patriotic Stream.
      • The Yizidi Movement for Reform and Progress.
      • Assyria Liberation Party.
      • Assyrian Democratic Party.
      • Assyrian National Organization.
2- Assyrian Universal Independent Activists Forum
3- A Committee of Assyrian Intellectuals.

It has been decided that this group shall act as a preparatory committee for an Assyrian conference under the motto: “Assyria the pride of Iraq, Iraq homeland of the Assyrians”.

The meeting shall be held in Sweden soon to discuss the Assyrian situation in Iraq in order to bring about an Assyrian Front which will include all the institutions active in the national field, and the priorities of this front will be to ensure a secure future for the Assyrian people in their historic homeland, Iraq, by demanding equality in what concerns establishing regions and working on establishing an Assyrian region within the federal Iraq equally with other suggested regions and not within any of them, because the Assyrians are not second class citizens in Iraq and they are not any one’s subjects. This front has also amongst its goals, the recognition of the Assyrian identity in Iraq as an inclusive identity for the sons and daughters of the Assyrian nationality. These demands shall be followed up with both the Iraqi government and the international organizations.

The preparatory committee considers every Assyrian institution and individual responsible before the Assyrian people concerning its fate and the fate of its inveterate culture, and eternal identity, therefore, the committee shall invite all the Assyrian political parties regardless of their political programs to attend this conference as it invites every Assyrian to support this conference and participate in exercising his/her Assyrian nationalism boldly and freely.

Note: The details of the conference (place, time, and discussion points) will be mentioned in the special invitations which will be sent to the guests by November 12, 2006 as maximum delay.

The Annual Glamour and Thunder of AANF Convention

Mikhael K. Pius

Zinda hasn’t been so regular during recent months. It was supposed to come out weekly, but sometimes it went past two weeks.   Some days I would google Zinda several times a day to see if a new issue was uploaded. And I would always be disappointed to see still the same picture on the homepage! I know there is a lot to be done before you get each issue together. And sometimes technical snags bog you down. But Zinda doesn’t have to be as “volumey” as the October 6 issue.   49 items! Boy, that’s huge—and perhaps too big a dose for one-issue reading. And sometimes plowing through some of the long and monotonous items is like plodding through an unending sodden field. If you can manage to put it out weekly it would be great, even if it is only a dozen stories, because the news would be fresher too. Otherwise, if feasible please make it regular semi-monthly so that we’d know when to expect the new issue. And, incidentally, some stories could stand some editing!

That was some fire Mr. Wilfred Bet-Alkhas took for his anti-antics editorial on the recent AANF elections! However, it must’ve been comforting too to hear the couple of shots fired for him. That’s what’s great about you, Mr. Bet-Alkhas: You are producing this impressive work through your own efforts and financial resources and keeping tens of thousands of readers informed about our today’s topsy-turvy Assyrian world. You are expressing the truth as you see it, without fear or favor. Even more amazing, you are allowing some kooks who oppose you to explode their firecrackers in your face as well as letting the trigger-happy cowboys to take pot shots at you! I wish some loudmouths in our media who speak from both side of their mouths had been as open-minded as you. I’ll bet they would have been riddled to pieces by machine guns!

I recently watched on Turlock Club TV a taped two-hour show of AAW satellite TV on the last AANF Convention. For those of us who had missed the great event, the small colored screen show was quite an impressive production. The “story” sounded soooo…glamorous, with all the eloquent interviews and our exquisitely-dressed sinuous “Hollywood” ladies as they swayed and shimmied to the romantic songs in Ashur Bet-Sargis’ mellow voice and the accompaniment of inspiring khigga tempo. Supplemented by the eloquent introduction of Turlock Club’s Janey Joseph, in her silky, oily tongue and her unending superlatives of “raaba! raaba! raaba!” to every description, made it sound even very, very, very… But of course, we didn’t know what was really going on behind the scenes. We can only judge from the salvo fired by Zinda and its defenders and the many replying explosions from the other side. Perhaps the most credible voice was that of Nuri Kino, the renown Assyrian investigative journalist. Actually he didn’t say much in so many words, but his subtle frustration and pain were so eloquent that the reader could almost experience his feelings precariously.

The loss of the editorship of Assyrian Star by Andrew Bet-Shlimoon was a shame! I’m a Zowaa supporter. But political view aside, I think Andrew did a great job during the six years of his tenure and built the magazine to its highest pinnacle ever. I don’t know how qualified for the job is our thundering Sam, grandson of Darmo. But I believe he will have to prove himself by trying to fit his large feet into Andrew’s well-fitting polished shoes. Good luck, Sam!

There are so many good (and some bad) things coming out of the Convention. Our vibrant, fun-loving young men and women are a national encouragement and it is always a pleasure seeing them enjoying khigga as well as participating in various sports and other activities, including well-intentioned romantic connections. And our multiplying highly educated professionals are a source of pride and hope, provided they steer their patriotic efforts into the right channels.

Now that the new Administration has been installed, let’s wish all the officials success during the coming two years to accomplish worthwhile results for the whole Assyrian nation.

We are seeing the need for bonding together and uniting our people who are going through a severe labour at a crucial stage within the current changes and important developments taking place within our ancient land of Bet-Nahrain (Iraq). Thus it is necessary to cling together all the sections of our people with all their historical designations, Chaldean Assyrian Syriac, that we are proud of.

It is the belief of all those participating in the establishment of this council, that gathering and organising the capacities and capabilities of our people, in addition to the unity of ranks and word; is the most useful and exemplary way to achieve the benefits for our people and to raise their level in order to make their word audible and carry some weight befitting our people and their ancient heritage before the Australian society, which is made up of different people and cultures.

Welcome Back Mar Dinkha!

Ashor Chamoun

I would like to welcome back His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV from a constructive trip to Bet-Nahrain, Iraq. Although this trip was long over due, it brought great elation for all our fellow Assyrian brothers and sisters across the globe. His presentations to these villages not only uplifted our people, but inflicted a sense of faith in their hearts. As we all know, the circumstances in which many of our people exist are not always desirable, yet His Holiness has the ability to disperse his blessings amongst these people to increase their wealth in his love and God’s love. In many respects, his trip to our homeland remains to be one of the many historic moments we have had as both an ASSYRIAN CHURCH and NATION. Through the support of all of our bishops, priests, deacons, and church committees, this trip will remain a remarkable mission that will not go overlooked however will be praised.

Mar Dinkha, thank you for keeping our faith and hope alive. We will continue to support your vision for our people. May God Bless you!

Nov 26 & 27 in New Britain, Connecticut. Click Image to Learn More.
Surfer's Corner
Community Events

A Candid Talk by Dr. Donny George in London

Topic:  "The Christians in Iraq Today"
Speaker: Dr. Donny George (former Chairman, State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, Iraq)
Place: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS
Dept for the Study of Religions, School of Oriental & African Studies
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1HoXG (click here for map)
Time: Monday, November 13, 7:00 PM
Dr. Donny George holding a Sumerian artefact.

The Christian communities in Iraq are facing an escalation in violence that is realised daily in kidnap, rape and murder. It is estimated that approximately 40% of refugees in Syria and Jordan are from the Iraqi Christian communities. There are real fears that these ancient communities are being targeted and will be extinguished.

Email your enquiries to:  Dr. Erica C.D. HUNTER, Dept. of Religions, SOAS (eh9@soas.ac.uk) at EasternChristianity.com (click here).Pascale Dionnet, Arts and Humanities Office, SOAS: tel. 0207-8984012

Supported by the Firodil Institute


It's All Babylonian to Me

Museums at night can be spooky places. Did that statue of an Assyrian man-beast stir? Was that a creaking noise coming from the shriveled mummy in the Egyptian sarcophagus? Hoping to exploit this unsettling atmosphere, Diverse Production has hooked up with the British Museum to produce Codex, an archaeological game show, combining arcane scripts, coded clues and riddles with ancient history-lite.

The museum, and particularly the rotunda of the Reading Room, look fabulous in the weird blue glow, though the effect is more chic wine-bar than a place where you might get bushwhacked by a winged bull. The contestants hurtle around looking for clues, but it’s so well lit that their explorers’ torches are redundant.

The show is presented by Tony Robinson, England's Channel 4 "Mr Archaeology", but there’s an irony in that too. He recently presented a superb documentary debunking all that spooky nonsense in The Da Vinci Code. When museum staff give me a private evening tour of the relevant galleries, hitting me with some of the Codex questions, it is fascinatingly atmospheric, but for rather different reasons.

Like the show, we start in the Arched Room, a huge gallery that houses the museum’s collection of about 130,000 clay tablets of cuneiform writing from Ancient Mesopotamia. The curator, Irving Finkel, explains that most tablets have yet to be translated. They include histories, dictionaries, grammars, financial records and incredibly detailed and accurate astronomical observations that have allowed scholars to date historical events exactly. Irving belongs to a tiny community of international experts who can read cuneiform, though the wicked thought crosses my mind that few would know if he was making it all up. The script, with its tiny wedge-shaped markings, was used to write all-important Middle Eastern languages for thousands of years. Scholars don’t know how far back it stretches, as all the examples dug up so far are in a fully formed version. Apparently there are mounds of debris all over Iraq still waiting to be excavated, and being ruthlessly pillaged by thieves during the current occupation. Irving’s box of samples includes a large chunk of an incredibly tough decorative clay nail that would have been driven into the side of a temple. The sides are covered in an early pictographic form of the script. Then he hands me a disc used for teaching boy scribes. On one side are the teachers’ perfect models of the words for five different species of reed. On the other side, the pupil’s touchingly inept attempts to copy them. The pupils had to learn to write in Ancient Babylonian and Ancient Sumerian. Babylonian was related to modern Hebrew and Arabic, but Sumerian, says Irving, “might have come from the Moon”. Other tablets reveal that teachers used to keep pupils amused during grammar classes by getting them to conjugate the verb “to fart”. Then he shows me a slab from a magician’s manual. If you burn certain herbs, it seems, and get your clients to inhale the smoke, the solution to whatever problem they came with will reveal itself to them in a dream. I’ll take five kilos of that, please. Then it’s on to the winged bulls and violent Assyrian friezes. To be honest, my tour of the museum with Irving seems more fun than the show, but don’t let me put you off. Mesopotamia is followed by episodes on Rome, China, the Anglo-Saxons and Egypt. You can play along at home — and you’ll see the British Museum in a whole new (blue) light.

Codex, Sundays, Channel 4, 6:40 pm

Editor's Pick


It Is Time to Arm Iraq's Christians

Peter BetBasoo

The sectarian violence in Iraq has a nameless victim: the Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs). Possessing a unique cultural, religious and linguistic identity, being ethnically distinct from others, speaking Aramaic, professing Christ, looking to Nineveh in the north -- the Assyrians are the only indigenous people of Iraq, having lived in their ancestral lands in North Iraq since 5000 B.C.

Because of their uniqueness, and of their faith, Assyrians have lived under severe discrimination and persecution at the hands of Muslims for 14 centuries. Since 630 A.D. 33 genocides against Assyrians have been committed by Muslims -- that's one every 50 years on average. The latest and most significant one was in World War One, when Turks and their henchmen the Kurds slaughtered 750,000 Assyrians -- 75% of the population.

Assyrians today commemorate their Memorial day on August 7 of every year, because on that day in 1933 the Iraqi army, under the leadership of Bakir Sidqi, a Kurd, killed 3000 men, women and children in the village of Simmele and its surroundings. This was one of the first acts of the new Iraq, having gained its independence from the British in 1932.

It continues in Iraq today:

October 21, 2006: Ayad Tariq, a 14 year old Assyrian boy, is decapitated at his place of work
October 12, 2006: Paul Alexander, an Assyrian priest, is decapitated in north Iraq
October 9, 2006: a 14 year Assyrian old boy is crucified in his neighborhood in North Iraq
September 25, 2006: Two Assyrian churches attacked in North Iraq in response to Pope's speech
September 24, 2006: St. Mary's Cathedral in Baghdad, home of the Patriarch, is bombed
January 29, 2006: Four Assyrian churches bombed in Baghdad
November 29, 2005: Joseph Nabil Ishmael and George Brikha Youkhana are shot and killed in North Iraq
September 23, 2005: 4 Assyrians Killed in Assassination Attempt on Former Iraq Assyrian Minister
September 13, 2005: Anita Tyadors is brutally murdered by muslim extremists in North Iraq
August 27, 2005: Nabil Akram Amona murdered By Kurdish militia in North Iraq
March 24, 2005: Zahra Ashour (female student) is beaten to death by Mehdi army personnel in Basra
December 21, 2004: Three Assyrian churches bombed in North Iraq
December 7, 2004: Two Assyrian churches bombed in Baghdad
November 8, 2004: Two Assyrian churches attacked in Baghdad
October 16, 2004: Five Assyrian churches bombed in Baghdad
October 16, 2004: Five Assyrian churches are bombed
June 7, 2004: Four Assyrians murdered in a drive by shooting in Baghdad

The Assyrians are defenseless against this violence. They are outnumbered and outgunned, but it was not always so. In previous times, when Assyrians were armed and controlled their own regions, they would stand up to Muslim aggression, even when outnumbered. The famed -- or infamous -- fighting prowess of the Assyrians is not exaggerated. Historically, Assyrians have held their own in battle even at ten-to-one odds.

A case in point is the Battle of Habbaniyya in May of 1941. An Assyrian contingent of 1200, part of the British Assyrian Levies of Iraq, engages a force of 12,000 regular and 5000 irregular Arab soldiers in Habbaniyya, 60 miles south of Baghdad. The Arabs were attempting to overthrow the King of Iraq, Faisal, and ally with Germany. The battle is a complete route, lasting only 30 minutes, and the Arab army is pursued by the Assyrians for 50 miles until it reaches 10 miles south of Baghdad (the present location of Baghdad International Airport). There the British Air Officer Commander, the famous General Glubb Pashah, commands the Assyrians to stop. They obey. Perhaps they should have continued and taken Baghdad then.

Click Photo For More Information
Auto | Homeowners | Business | Health | Life

The present situation for the Assyrians in Iraq is precarious; it is a powder keg ready to explode into full scale genocide. The Arabs and Kurds know the Assyrians cannot effectively defend themselves. They are the only unsupported group in Iraq. The Kurds have the Americans behind them, the Shiite's have the Iranians, the Sunni's have Syria, The Turkomen have Turkey. Whom do the Assyrians have? Is the West supporting them? Is any Christian country supporting them?

Assyrians are now targeted with impunity, by Kurds, by Sunnis, by Shiites. These groups know the Assyrians cannot respond for fear unleashing a genocide which they would not be able to stop because they are unarmed. As Iraq appears ready to fall into the precipice of a civil war, if not already in one, the danger to the Assyrians reaches an alarming level. Who will defend the Assyrians in the chaos of a civil war? Is the US ready to accept the moral responsibility for genocide of Assyrians because it failed to adequately equip them to defend themselves?

It is time to arm the Assyrians.

But arming is not enough, it is also necessary to establish an Assyrian self-administered area, a safe-haven to which Assyrians from all parts of Iraq may seek refuge. This area will be under the rule of an Assyrian regional parliament, with an Assyrian militia protecting it. It can and should be a federal state within Iraq -- what's good for Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis is just as good for Assyrians.

When speaking of partitioning Iraq, it is not enough to suggest a tri-partite Iraq -- where would that leave the Assyrians? If Iraq is partitioned, a fourth area must be set aside for Assyrians, and even a fifth for Turkomen, but they are not in the same danger as Assyrians, for they have Turkey as their protector.

Unless the US can absolutely guarantee the safety of Assyrians in case of a civil war or a break-up of Iraq, which is not likely or even possible given the dispersed Assyrian population, the US must undertake a program to establish an Assyrian administered area and to train and arm an Assyrian militia. If the US cannot defend Assyrians, then it should train and equip Assyrians to defend themselves. That is the least the US should do.

This was Genocide, but Armenians were not its Only Victims

Thea Halo
Tuesday October 31, 2006
The Guardian

Forgetting the Christians who were slaughtered is nearly as bad as denying it happened.

Timothy Garton Ash mockingly suggests bills to criminalise the denial of genocides committed by other countries, including France (This is the moment for Europe to dismantle taboos, not erect them, October 19). And he's right. Let's mention the absurdity of enforcing the bill except against the powerless. Would France jail the prime minister of Turkey?

But the double standard Garton Ash mentions should include the mind-boggling omissions by the Armenian drafters of the bill, who make no mention of the co-victims of the Armenian genocide: the Pontic Greeks, who lost 353,000 out of their population of 700,000 in Turkey; and the Assyrians, who lost three-quarters of their population - some put the figure at 750,000.

Ms. Thea Halo is the president of the Sano Themia Halo Pontian Heritage Foundation.  he The three doves in the Foundation logo represent the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians who lost their lives, their homes and their country during the Genocide in Turkey between 1914-23.  For more information click here.

There is also the matter of the other Asia Minor Greeks. At the Lausanne conference in 1923, Lord Curzon stated that 1 million Greeks had been slaughtered and 1 million more were exiled. These genocides took place at the same time and place as that of the Armenians: in Turkey between 1914 and 1923. The genocide was of the Christians of Ottoman and Kemalist Turkey. By age 10, my Pontic Greek mother had lost everyone and everything she had ever loved, including her name, on her own death-march to exile from Turkey in 1920. My father was Assyrian.The precursor to the Nazi Holocaust was not just the Armenian genocide of 1915-16, but the pogroms, or early stages of what would become a genocide, against the indigenous Greeks of Asia Minor in 1914. According to US Consul General George Horton, Greek businesses were boycotted and Turks were encouraged to kill Greeks and drive them out, reminiscent of Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany 24 years later. Thousands were slaughtered or sent to islands in the Aegean Sea. According to the US ambassador to the Ottoman empire, Henry Morgenthau Sr, the Young Turks were so successful in their campaign that they decided to target the other Christian "races" as well. Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) picked up where the Young Turks left off.The Armenian people are part of my extended family. My aunt was Armenian, as was the family who rescued my mother in Turkey. In Armenia, all victims of the genocide are honoured: Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians. But the framers of the French bill, along with numerous Armenian-descended historians in the US and elsewhere, prefer exclusivity.Thus, if the bill passes the upper house of the French parliament, perhaps we should first jail its Armenian drafters, as well as those who actively deny the other genocides.These co-victims had inhabited the territory of what became Turkey for three millennia. One must ask which is worse: genocidal denial, or being invisible as if one never existed? At least with denial, there is the possibility of debate. The expropriation by a single group of such a monumental evil serves to strip the other, "nameless" victims of that same evil of their rightful place in history - thereby assuring that their genocide is complete.

Thea Halo is the author of Not Even My Name, a memoir of her Pontic Greek mother, and has lectured for the International Association of Genocide Scholars.  For more information click here.



Assyrians at Their Best

Professor Shabo Talay

Professor Shabo Talay in traditional Assyrian custom

Recently Dr Shabo Talay received the title of "Professor" in Semitic and Arabic studies in Germany.  The PhD thesis he defended dealt with the Aramaic dialects of the Assyrians of northern Syria.  Dr. Talay was born in 1968 in Turkey. He emigrated to Germany when he was 10.   He entered Heidelberg University in Germany to undertake Semitic Studies, Assyriology and Islamic sciences. In 1994 he began his dissertation studies on the subject of the Arabic dialect of Khatuniya in northeast Syria.  Dr. Talay studies Assyriology under Professor Deller, who recommended a concentration in the Semitic studies instead. Dr. Talay married Riem Hanna in 1993 and have two children. In April 1997 Dr. Talay delivered his thesis and began studying the Assyrians of the Khabour River region in Syria. 

Since February 2001, Dr. Talay has been working as an associate professor with Professor Dr. Otto Jastrow.  Together they have begun planning the Toroyo Language Dictionary Project at Heidelberg.  If approved by the German Research Council this five-year project will result in the most comprehensive study of the Western Assyrian language, both literary (leshana saapraya OR kthobonoyo) and dialectic.

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

Fred Aprim California
Alda Benjamen Canada
Dr. Matay Beth Arsan Holland
George Donabed Massachusetts
Carlo Ganjeh California
Mazin Enwiya Chicago
Joseph Haweil Australia
Tomas Isik Sweden
Nahrain E. Kamber California
Prof. Anahit Khosroeva Chicago

ZINDA Magazine is published on Mondays. Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarily represent those of the ZINDA editors, or any of our associated staff. This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals. ZINDA reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium. All letters and messages require the name(s) of sender and/or author. All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 words or less and bear the name of the author(s). Distribution of material featured in ZINDA is not restricted, but permission from ZINDA is required. This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news. Any material published in Zinda Magazine will not be removed later at the request of the sender. For free subscription to Zinda Magazine, send e-mail with your name, address, telephone number to: zcrew@zindamagazine.com.

ZINDA means "Spark of Fire" in modern Syriac (Assyrian); Zinda's Red Swoosh is a rendering of the seventh letter in the Assyrian alphabet, letter ZEN, and the first letter in the word "Zinda". For more information about the Assyrian culture and heritage write to Zinda Magazine.

Zinda Magazine™ Copyright © Zinda Inc., 1994-2006 - All Rights Reserved - www.zindamagazine.com