18 Kanoon II 6756
Volume XII

Issue 25

8 January 2007

1- 8 6 6 - M Y  Z I N D A

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Assyrian Facing
in the Year 2007


"Lost in Arabian Desert",
by Paul Batou, California

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
  Farewell, My Friend! Wilfred Bet-Alkhas
  The Testimony of the Center for Religious Freedom Nina Shea
  Turkish Historian Says Assyrian Genocide Claims are Bogus
Turkish Municipality of Sur Goes Multilingual
Chaldean Patriarchate Transfers Seminary, Univ to North Iraq
Arbil's Ancient Fortress to be Rehabilitated
President Assad Participates in Christmas Celebrations
  Ripped Apart, Patched Together Mariam S. Shimoun
  General Boris Ivanov Released from Georgian Prison
Ivan Kakovitch, Author of "Mount Semel" Passed Away
Gaunt's Lecture Promotes Dialogue b. Armenians & Assyrians
Valodia (Vova) Pirayou
Evelyn M. (Belezarian) Chavoor
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  Trelawny's Book on Assyrians
Enduring Ashurayeh Nationalism

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  Canadian Society For Syriac Studies - Sixth Symposium  
  The Assyrian Manifesto VII
Origins of Christmas
Ivan Kakovitch
Ann-Margret “Maggie” Yonan
  Rosie Malek-Yonan Joins Cast of 2007 Hollywood Hit "Rendition" Zinda

Zinda Says
An Editorial by Wilfred Bet-Alkhas


Farewell, My Friend!

In late December, I lost a long-time friend, my harshest critic, a noble writer, and an admirable opponent, Ivan Kakovitch.

Ivan Kakovitch

I first met Ivan in a meeting organized by the Assyrian American Association of San Jose, back in the mid-1980s.  In that meeting, then a university student, I was introduced to ICAN, the International Confederation of the Assyrian Nation.  This was the Chartered Constitution of the Assyrian Provisional Government which Ivan had published some 10 years earlier.  Years later, in my Assyrian history classes I taught about his "Assyrian Manifesto" which he published on 15 December 1974.  This was Ivan's plan of action for the formation of an autonomous Assyrian state in North Iraq, the Mosul Vilayat or today's Nineveh Plains.  He had predicted then that during his life-time we will be facing our most difficult challenge:  the prospect of demanding an autonomous state for Assyrians in their homeland of Bet-Nahrain.

Those who venture into the world of Assyrian cyberspace commentaries and lavishly wet their minds swimming in the cold waters of the Assyrian forums often witnessed Ivan's acerbic commentaries on my editorials.  He was always kind enough to send me a personal copy of his criticisms of my writing, sometimes quite insulting.  That was my queue for calling him back and smilingly asking him how he was doing at home in Southern California and when was he planning to come and visit me in Washington.  Ivan would then remind me of his years in Washington and how he had planned to build his ICAN from his office in the downtown area.  He did pay a visit finally last year and brought a copy of his book "Mount Semel" which had just been published in Farsi.

When asked why I always remained so calm despite his caustic condemnations of my opinions, I would simply smile and say: "Ivan, koolan goo kha nahra bikhnaqawakh. (We are all drowning in the same river.)

Ivan became an even more bitter opponent when I asked him to stop writing for Zinda Magazine.  I no longer could comprehend his essays infused with sundry of Latin, French, and Russian phrases and inexplicable statements.  I was merely reflecting the views of our readers of course.  Ivan did not like that; he lashed back with greater ferocity, further ridiculing my editorials and television interviews in public.  At the same time, he and I continued our friendship discussing his book, articles, and the events shaping our lives.  He did not wish for the public to see the softer side of Ivan and I respected that.  Our last conversation, not too long ago, was about the Farsi version of his book "Mount Semel".  I commented to him that I enjoyed reading his book in Farsi more so than in its original English.  The imagery was so much more compelling in Farsi, I told him.  He understood what I was referring to.  We knew our place in the current circumstances which have befallen our nation.

With the passing on of Ivan Kakovitch, Assyria (Ivan liked that term very much) lost a faithful son.  He was unable to compromise any attribute of his beloved Assyria - whether it was her name, her history, her traditions, or religion.  With Ivan, everything was either "khwara" or "kooma"; the gray stuff in between was  the monetary gains of the usurpers among us.  He had no qualm in revealing the names of those whom he named the enemies of Assyria.  My name often appeared in that list.

Almost a month ago I arrived late to one of my weekly Assyrian language and history classes in Washington, where I teach a group of Assyrian university students and young professionals.  On that day, I noticed a new face among my pupils.  She somehow looked familiar.  "Do I know you from somewhere?" I asked.  She mentioned her name.  I immediately asked: "Are you related to Ivan?" She answered, "Yes, he's my uncle."

Today I'm pleased that I can thank Ivan, for ICAN, the Manifesto, his writings, Mount Semel, and the hours of eclectic conversations we shared in the past, by telling his niece and everyone else willing to listen everything her uncle would have wanted us to know about Assyria - the beautiful maiden of dreams.  Farewell, my friend !

The Lighthouse
Feature Article


The Testimony of the Center for Religious Freedom

Before the Committee on International Relations Subcommittee
on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Operations

December 21, 2006

Nina Shea
Center for Religious Freedom
Washington, DC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, for allowing me to testify today on behalf of the Center for Religious Freedom.

Nina Shea, Director of Center for Religious Freedom, Washington

Chairman Chris Smith has been a dedicated and passionate leader on human rights for many years, and I wish to commend him for all the important hearings held under his chairmanship in this subcommittee. They have held governments around the world accountable, including our own, and given hope and relief to millions of the world’s oppressed. This hearing today is no exception.

Egregious religious persecution occurs in North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, Eritrea, Iran, Sudan and several other countries officially designated by the State Department as “Countries of Particular Concern,” and is being addressed by the other witnesses today. There is an additional country where religious groups of various faiths face some of the bloodiest persecution in the world today, a country that is not listed among the CPC’s. It is Iraq, and it is on this country, and particularly on the persecution faced by Iraq’s smallest, most vulnerable minorities, that I will direct my testimony.

We should view Iraq’s smallest religious minorities – the Christians, Yizidis, Mandeans, Baha’is, Kaka’i and Jews – as we once did Soviet Jews. The persecution these small minorities face stands out against even the horrific violence now wracking the rest of the population. This is demonstrated by the stark statistic that an estimated half of the members of the small minorities have been driven from their homes in the past two or three years, either to other parts of the country or abroad. Their very survival as communities within Iraq is now threatened by what amounts to ethnic, or rather cultural, cleansing. The State Department’s Religious Freedom Reports accurately depicts a defenseless non-Muslim population that is being pounded by all other factions. Al Qaeda terrorists, Sunni insurgents, Shiite militias, Kurdish militants, and criminal gangs all persecute and prey on these small religious minorities.

Their situation is unique: Their religion and culture identifies them with the “infidel occupiers” in the minds of the extremists, and lacking the militias, tribal structures and foreign champions of Iraq’s other groups, they are singularly defenseless against the mayhem that has followed the occupation. Because they do not govern any department, they are at the tender mercies of those dominant groups who aim to take their property, businesses and villages. The United States has a great moral responsibility to address their plight, and specific policy actions are required to help them. These policies will differ from the efforts we once took on behalf of Soviet Jews. Most of these small minority people do not wish to leave Iraq. We must expeditiously take actions that will maximize their security within Iraq, and will draw back some of those who have taken temporary shelter in other surrounding countries. For the most desperate among them, we must begin to resettle them here, where many, if not most, already have relatives who are well established.

While Shiites and Sunnis, who comprise Iraq’s religious majority, also face appalling levels of extremist violence, sectarian strife, and official discrimination on account of their religions, it is the plight of Iraq’s small religious minorities on which I will focus today both because the situation confronting these peoples threatens their very survival, and because their situation is not being sufficiently addressed by U.S. policy and was all but ignored in the recent Iraq Study Group Report. The very fact of their defenselessness – they are persecuted and killed, but do not themselves persecute and kill -- contributes to the inverse relationship between their suffering and the world apathy at their situation.

Iraq’s small religious groups -- Christians (Chaldean, who are Eastern rite Catholics Assyrian, including the Church of the East, Syriac, who are Eastern Orthodox, Armenians, both Roman Catholic and Orthodox, and Protestants, who are Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, evangelical and others), Mandeans (followers of John the Baptist), Yizidis (an ancient angel religion), Bahais, Kaka’i (a syncretic group around Kirkuk) and Jews, together number an estimated one million of Iraq’s population of 26 million at the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The largest group of these is Christian, the next largest is the Yizidis with about 70,000-500,000 and the Mandeans with about 6,000-10,000, and the smallest, the Jewish community, whose numbers had dwindled to the double-digits by 2003. Under escalating persecution and violence, these groups are fleeing their homeland en masse. Though they constitute some 3 or 4 per cent of Iraq’s population, according to the UNHCR, they represent about 40 per cent of the refugee population. This disproportionate exodus attests to the intolerable treatment and conditions they face inside Iraq. We have also received reports that an estimated half of the Christians who remain in Iraq are internally displaced, with those from the south moving to the north of the country for relative security.

The UNHCR has determined that they are being targeted for their religion by militants determined to establish an extreme sharia ruled state. Because they speak Western languages and have cultural ties to the West, they have also been targeted for perceived or real cooperation with the US embassy and the Coalition.

In 2004 a dozen churches were attacked in coordinated bombings and other similar incidents have followed. Since July 2006 alone, seven clergymen have been kidnapped and two of them, both from Mosul, murdered. As the State Department notes, these religious groups can no longer gather in safety and many have stopped holding worship services altogether. My friend, the Chaldean Archbishop of Basra, who says his prayers in the language of Jesus, Aramaic, as is the Chaldean tradition, has been transferred apparently for security reasons to the diocese of Australia and New Zealand, and his Basra diocese now has only a couple of hundred families remaining. These churches are not just lying low, they are being eradicated.

Christian, Mandean and other women in some areas are being violently pressured to conform to supposed Islamic conduct and dress, with some killed or maimed, while men who operate liquor stores and cinemas have also been violently attacked by extremists. Flyers were posted at Mosul University this month declaring: “in cases where non-Muslims do not conform to wearing the Hijab (woman’s head cover) and are not conservative with their attire in accordance with the Islamic way, the violators will have the Sharia and the Islamic law applied to them.” It was in Mosul that some female students were murdered for wearing Western clothes and having a picnic with men in 2005 and where Orthodox priest Fr. Paulis Iskander was beheaded and dismembered on October 11.

Some of the death threats against non-Muslim minorities have been personal and some of these have been collected and translated, such as the samples that follow that were provided to the Center for Religious Freedom by the Chaldean Federation of America.:

“To the traitor, apostate Amir XX, after we warned you more than once to quit working with the American occupiers, but you did not learn from what happened to others, and you continued, you and your infidel wife XXX by opening a women hair cutting place and this is among the forbidden things for us, and therefore we are telling you and your wife to quit these deeds and to pay the amount of (20,000) thousand dollars in protective tax for your violation and within only one week or we will kill you and your family, member by member, and those who have warned are excused.
Al-Mujahideen Battalions.

You traitor, Amjad,

We can behead the traitor and we are ready for that.

We can chase the infidels and renegades and everybody who deals with them and with the occupiers and punish them according to Islam law, ‘The unjust have no supporters’ Allah is the most honest,

The Islamic Army in Iraq.”

“This is the last warning… to the American nasty crusader agent (James). Our battalion will execute you by cutting your head and blowing up your house. Allah willing. Our battalions will pursue the snakehead your brother (Talia). We will arrest him wherever he is – God willing.

Copy to the battalion Commander the Mudjahed

Abu Sayyaf and the Commander Abu Therr”

There are many other such examples -- and many cases of targeted killings backing them up. Grisly reports of kidnapped Christian children being crucified and mutilated after ransoms were not paid have emerged this fall from the ChaldoAssyrian community. Numerous cases are also reported by the Assyrian International News Agency on its website, www.aina.org.

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This week, I received a letter from the Sabean Mandean Association in Australia that detailed the cases of Mandeans kidnapped and assassinated for their religion this past year. Some of the kidnap-for-ransom victims were reportedly circumcised before being released, a detail that indicates religion played a role in the crime.

Listed among the cases was the murder on December 2 of the Rev. Taleb Salman Araby, the deacon who assisted His Holiness Ganzevra Sattar Jabbar Hilo al-Zahrony, the worldwide head of the Mandean Community. He was easily recognizable because he wore the white rasta robes of the Mandean clergy. His family was prevented from holding a funeral service for him by extremists who threatened to blow up their house and the bereaved family was forced to bury him without any religious ceremony.

Furthermore, such violence against Christians and members of the smallest minorities is conducted with impunity. In northern Iraq and in the Nineveh Plains region where up to a third of the small minorities live, there have been no local police forces established unlike other areas in Iraq, and the few forces that are provided to Christian and minority areas from elsewhere have been known to harass and prey on these small minorities. There are reports that the judiciary discriminates against Christians and other small minorities. The Washington-based Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project, for example, reports that courts in the Kurdish area discriminate against Assyrians who contest land and property confiscated by Kurdish militants.

The Project also reports that in the Kurdish areas, Christian and other small minority towns have not benefited equally from U.S. reconstruction and development aid; their villages have been excluded by provincial-level officials from benefiting from water and electrical systems and denied their fair share of other utilities and services, such as schools and medical facilities, provided by U.S. aid. Apparently the US has no safeguards or checks in place to prevent this. As an Assyrian mayor of one of these towns, Telhaif, told me in November, such discrimination and marginalization is making minority towns and neighborhoods uninhabitable and forcing their residents out. According to detailed reports, once abandoned, Christian, Yizidi and Mandean properties have been seized by Kurdish authorities. Such treatment has given rise to charges that Kurdish authorities are carrying out ethnic cleansing against Christians and smaller minorities, including other ethnic minorities, such as the Shabaks and Turkomen.

Government leaders in Iraq have been largely indifferent to the victimization of the small minorities. The Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, was quoted earlier this year urging kidnappers to target Christian women instead of Muslims. After addressing the kidnapping of his own sister, Thayseer, the Speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly was broadcast by al-Iraqiya Satellite Television as stating: “Why kidnap this Muslim woman; instead of Thayseer, why not kidnap Margaret or Jean?” The latter are Christian names, thus implying that it would have been better for a Christian woman to have been kidnapped, raped and killed.

The United States Government urgently needs to take effective measures to help the most vulnerable of Iraq’s religious groups. The US owes a special obligation to these peoples because their non-Muslim status associates them with the American occupation in the minds of Islamist extremists. Furthermore, they alone are defenseless, lacking militias, social structures and governing authority. Such measures should include actions that would help these peoples, who have maintained a presence in Iraq for thousands of years, to survive inside Iraq, as well as actions that would help the most desperate among them find sanctuary abroad. All such measures should be expeditiously implemented. They are:

  • Appoint a Special Aid Coordinator for Iraq as recommended by the Iraq Study Group. This post could prove to be very helpful in sustaining Christian and small minority communities, particularly those in northern Iraq that are being now marginalized.
  • Provide emergency relief for Internally Displaced Persons inside Iraq. Ensure that this aid reaches the needy Christians, and other small minorities now amassing in northern areas of Iraq.
  • Ensure that US reconstruction aid and development assistance is equitably distributed to Christian, Yizidi, Mandean and other small minority communities, including the ethnic minorities, the Shabaks and Turkomen, particularly in northern Kurdish areas where many are now fleeing from other parts of Iraq and where the US carries much influence. Legitimate, independent, local leadership of these minority communities should be consulted about the reconstruction priorities of their communities. Kurdish authorities must not be allowed to use US aid to ethnically cleanse northern Iraq.
  • Support the establishment of a new autonomous district that would be jointly governed by ChaldoAssyrian Christians, Shabaks (an ethnic minority with Shiite roots), Yizidis and other small minorities in the Nineveh Plains, an initiative provided for under article 125 of Iraq’s Constitution.
  • Support the formation of police forces drawn from the local minority populations for Christian and small minority areas in the Nineveh Plains, as consistent with a decision of the Iraqi National Assembly and implemented elsewhere in Iraq.
  • Use more effective diplomacy with Iraqi leaders, particularly Kurdish leaders, to insist on the protection and equitable treatment of small religious minorities.
  • Resettle in the United States the most vulnerable members of the Christian and other smallest minorities. This group includes those orphaned, widowed, and maimed by targeted violence. There are over thousands of such refugees who seek to join relatives already in the US. Last year the US admitted a mere 198 refugees from Iraq, and is already authorized to admit up to 20,000. The US must provide funding to the UNHCR for the processing of such people and admit greater numbers.

Many other steps could be taken as well. While no group is spared suffering in Iraq, the smallest minorities are defenseless and the most vulnerable. In addition, they are viewed as collaborators of American occupiers by extremists. Today these Iraqi Christian ChaldoAssyrians, Yizidis, Mandeans, and others are comparable to yesteryear’s Soviet Jews. They need our help to survive egregious and pervasive religious persecution and discrimination. The State Department’s Religious Freedom Reports describes much of their suffering, but U.S. policy in their regard has been lacking.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This concludes my testimony.

Good Morning Assyria
News From the Homeland


Turkish Historian Says Assyrian Genocide Claims are Bogus

Courtesy of the New Anatolian
27 December 2006

(ZNDA: Ankara)  Bulent Ozdemir, head of the Turkish Historical Society's (TTK) Assyrian Studies Section, responded yesterday to a draft report by Dutch Christian Democrat parliamentarian Camiel Eurlings, in which she asserted that Turkey should accept Pontic Greek and Assyrian genocide claims, in addition to those by Armenians.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Ozdemir said that claims regarding an Assyrian genocide during World War I are groundless and branded them "bogus" along with the Armenian claims.

Ozdemir said that they had prepared a book on the issue and during its preparation process they mostly used foreign archive documents rather than the Ottoman archives to make it more reliable and exact. "After four months of research at the British National Archives from November 2004, we made a detailed study at the U.S. National Archives in May last year," he said. "The results of our meticulous research show that neither the Ottoman Empire nor today's Turkish Republic can be accused of genocide during World War I. Foreign archive documents strengthen the arguments of Turkey on this issue. Compared to the Armenian genocide claims these untrue statements about Assyrians can not trouble Turkey."

Pointing out that Assyrians declared war on the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the conflict and fought against the Ottomans along with Russian and the British soldiers, Ozdemir said that these statements were expressed in a petition presented by Assyrians at the Paris Peace Conference.

"They chose a side in the war and combat occurred under the rules of war. At this point the title of Wigram's book clearly expresses the situation: 'Our Smallest Ally'," Ozdemir said. "At the end of the Ottoman reign, Assyrians were considered a 'Trojan horse' by Russia, France and the Britain. It's obvious that they were used by some nations."

Ozdemir underlined assertions by some historians that the real culprit for the pain and suffering the Assyrians faced during World War I were the policies of Russia and the Allies in the region, and their not fulfilling promises given to Assyrians.

"Today accusations regarding an Assyrian Genocide are addressed just for the sake of political interests and these accusations twist the truth," Ozdemir said. "Migrating to the U.S., Australia and Western European countries after the war for various reasons, Assyrians are organized and they have formed a diaspora. They use genocide claims as a means of identity."

Attending a conference on the Assyrian Genocide held at Erciyes University's History and Culture Club, Ozdemir answered questions from students.

The assertion that Turkey should accept the Pontic Greek Genocide in addition to the Armenian Genocide was in Eurlings' draft Turkey Report, which was presented to the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Turkish Municipality of Sur Goes Multilingual

Courtesy of the Turkish Daily News
6 January 2007

(ZNDA: Ankara)  A decision has been made by the southeastern municipality of Sur to provide services in languages other than Turkish.  This has sparked a controversy, prompting the Interior Ministry to appoint an inspector to assess the matter.

Sur Mayor Abdullah Demirbaş said municipal services would become multilingual from now on as per the decision. “Turkish is not the only language spoken in Turkey. It doesn't have a single religion. It doesn't have a single identity.”

He said their services would now be based on the principles of democracy in the region and the country, hoping this would become an example for the rest of the country.

He said they were already using Turkish and Kurdish for providing services to the public and would expand it to include English, Armenian and Syriac. He said Armenian and Syriac services would depend on finding language instructors.

Sociologist Aslan Özdemir told the Anatolia news agency that the municipality had hired them to conduct a survey of the region. “According to our studies, 24 percent speak Turkish, 72 percent speak Kurdish, 4 percent speak Arabic and 3 percent speak Armenian and Syriac.”

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that they would investigate the matter.

Reports say that Turkish and Kurdish information signs will be hung in the municipality building and that phones will be answered both in Turkish and Kurdish.

Demirbaş is from pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP). He was previously tired for an article he had written, calling for street names and internet sites to be done in Kurdish. He was found not guilty.

The assembly decision will be first approved by the Diyarbakır Greater Municipality before being forwarded to the Diyarbakır Governor's Office. If the office objects to the assembly decision, it has the right to lodge an appeal within 15 days.

Chaldean Patriarchate Transfers Seminary, Univ to North Iraq

Courtesy of the Catholic News Service
Carol Glatz

(ZNDA: Rome)  Continued violence against Catholic priests and church property in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad has prompted the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Baghdad to move the city's theological university and seminary to northern Iraq.

Iraq's only Christian theological university, the Pontifical Babel College for Philosophy and Theology, and the patriarchal major seminary, Simon Peter, were to be transferred to Arbil, said a January 4th report.

The two institutions had been closed for several months because of a lack of security and increasing violence in Baghdad.

The seminary's rector and vice rector had been kidnapped in September and December, respectively; the two men eventually were released unharmed.

The Baghdad-based seminary and a nearby church suffered damage after a car bomb had been detonated August 1, 2004, killing 15 people. That same day three other churches were targeted in simultaneous car-bomb attacks in the capital.

Iraqi Bishop Rabban al Qas said that he was hosting students until the newly located college and seminary were ready to open.

Arbil is located in Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan. Administered by a Kurdish regional government but still part of a federal Iraq, Kurdistan has attracted many Christians as the area has so far seemed to be relatively safer than other parts of the country.

Arbil's Ancient Fortress to be Rehabilitated

Courtesy of the Kuwaiti News Agency
By Mukhles Kheshnaw

(ZNDA: Arbil)  The fortress of the ancient Assyrian city of Arbil stretches over 110 square kilometers and is about 10 meters high over the level of the rest of Arbil.

Legend has it that the fortress was mentioned some 4,000 years ago and was used as a temple for worshiping the Assyrian goddess, Ishtar.

Famous Assyrian king Sennacherib built water canals to provide water to Arbil and its fortress.

Arbil authorities are making preparations to declare the fortress as an archeological site, to be listed as an international tourist landmark and open several parts of the fortress for visit by tourists, deputy governor of Arbil, Taher Abdallah said.

He added that an international conference was held in 2004 to revive the cultural character of the Arbil fortress. Several experts attended the conference and made suggestions in this connection, including turning the fortress into a permanent history museum.

One of Arbil residents, Qassem Lolan, who studied anthropology at the University of Maine in the US, is now in charge of the project.

Fortress of Arbil, the ancient Assyrian city in north Iraq.  The name Arbil is derived from the Assyrian "Arb'a Eil" or the Four Gods, referring to the four gates of the city named after four Assyrian deities.  Much effort is now underway to replace the past history of this Assyrian city with Kurdish identity.

President Assad Participates in Christmas Celebrations

Courtesy of the Syrian Arab News Agency
25 December 2006

(ZNDA: Damascus)  President Bashar al-Assad participated in Christmas celebrations and exchanged congratulations with Christian clergymen and people at the Patriarchate of Syriac Orthodox in old Damascus.

Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim of Antioch and All the East for Roman catholic, Patriarch Zakka I Iwas of Syriac Orthodox, Minister of Islamic Endowments Ziad al-Din al-Ayyobi and Syria's Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun welcomed President Assad upon arrival at the Patriarchate.

Patriarch Hazim expressed gratitude for President Assad's participation in celebrations, saying "this proves that presidency is not a rule presidency, but it is a paternity presidency."

The Patriarch presented a brief on the importance of Christmas as it is an occasion for the whole world, particularly in this region, the cradle of Christ and religions.

For his part, Syria's Grand Mufti Sheikh Hassoun underlined that Syria will remain an example of amity and wisdom, reminding of the role of churches and Christian clergymen in Syria and the region in defending and preserving religious sanctities.

He added "the aim of religions is to spread peace and dismiss extremism… our land is the land of peace and our home is the home of love and amity."

President Assad congratulated the attendants of Christmas Day, stressing that "Arabism is not a race; it is a strong belonging to Christianity, Islam, Judaism and to all races that existed in the region".

"Either Christianity or Islam has emerged from Syria," The President said, underlining Syria's historic and civilized role across history.

"There is a developed world but unfortunately this world is not civilized … it talks about the clash of civilizations … through this meeting I hope that we can transfer a civilized message to it," the President noted, pointing out to Syria's strength which is represented by her national unity.

"Let us destroy the extremism wall and protect the whole world from extremism and fanaticism," President Assad said. He concluded that Islamic-Christian fraternity has become a self-evidence fact in Syria long time ago, "let us transfer this message to the whole world … so after hundreds of years some-one may say: let us join Syria's generations and protect Islam and Christianity as well".

The Assyria Advocate
with Mariam S. Shimoun


Ripped Apart, Patched Together

“Why [does] every Indian wanna be the chief?”
-Lauren Hill, singer/songwriter

As I sit and write this first editorial of the year, I find it difficult to think back over the last months that I have been writing about Assyrian politics. I have steered clear from many subjects that I find to be unimportant, I have tried to understand the “Assyrian Argument”. I have friends who swear by the Assyrian Democratic Movement, and those who believe the fate of our people should be in the hands of the KDP’s Sarkis Aghajan. I have had people sit in my home and call me names for my political opinions – and some who have come in peace to show like-mindedness. Through it all, I have made no enemies, made some new friends, seen families torn apart, friends turn against each other, and stubborn alliances made to satisfy egos.

It is no longer a matter of opinion, as to what Assyrians in the Diaspora should be supporting in Iraq – and indeed the surrounding countries. Varying opinions at this point should focus on the details, not the big picture. It is not up to the Assyrians in Diaspora – no matter who they are – to decide the fate of Assyrians in Iraq.

We have only ONE duty: Listen to what they – those who still live there - want, and help them achieve it. Their lives are not ours to gamble with.

So I would like to take the opportunity of writing this last editorial of the year 2006 to air some grievances – all my grievances – to the people I have had some interesting conversations with this year, to the varying opinions, to the stubborn and to the flexible.

I have heard some of you sternly call for an independent Assyria, under one name, one flag, and one nation – crying “Khaya Atour!*” and waxing lyrical about the strength of the Ancient Assyrians, flaunting the beauty of Lamassu and the power of Allaha Ashur, complaining about useless political parties who have sold out, and churches who interfere in national destinies. You are truly the conscience of the Assyrian nation. Everything you speak is everything we – all – feel deep down. The picture you paint of an Assyrian country free of violence and foreign invasions and persecution is a lovely one – one that Assyrians dream of, sing of, write poems about, and yearn for. But, as politicians, you are risky and ineffective – your nationalism is unbending, something politicians need to be. But don’t disappear, without you, our collective conscience would be lost. I only ask one thing: Know that any political party that adopts these views publicly also ceases to be effective. Don’t judge them according to your standards – it won’t work. Your sphere of influence is strictly nationalism.

Many have argued to me that Patriarchs should be heads of state. To these dear friends, I would like to remind something: once a church becomes politically active, it is the beginning of its end. It breaks my heart to watch the Assyrian Church of the East, the Syrian Orthodox, and the Chaldean Catholic Church playing favorites, politically, in Iraq. The Roman Catholic Church, at its peak, controlled an entire empire – even Kings feared the power of the Pope. They eventually unraveled because of their position as politicians. Churches have played this game for centuries. They have always lost; they have always been pushed back into their proper sphere of influence. Always. Churches are not nationalist entities just because they call themselves Assyrian, or because they have preserved a language or a culture. Churches become diluted as Christian and spiritual entities when they spread themselves thin and move into politics and nationalism – it is wonderful to see a priest, a bishop, a patriarch or a pope who is proud of his heritage - indeed the former Roman Catholic Pope was a proud Polish man - but he did not turn the Roman Catholic church into a Polish nationalist entity. He left that to Lech Walesa.

To those who believe that political parties pose a threat to the authority of the churches – well, they are absolutely right. They do. Our religious figures have been the authorities for two thousand years. It is time to relinquish them of this duty and hand it to civilians who have the freedom not to “turn the other cheek”, to raise armies, to put aside the desire to enter heaven and rather seek the Assyrian Kingdom here on earth, to “hate thy enemy” – and fight back, be it with words, politics, economics, or otherwise. Patriarchs can’t do this. Bishops can’t do this. And rather than relinquish authority to the political parties that can do these things – they are trying to “transfer” authority to the Kurds, who keep them as the overseers, the representatives, of the Assyrian people. It is an understandable reaction to the realization that their position as national leaders is ending – and it is – but we will not let it go on forever.

There are many who blindly support the Assyrian Democratic Movement and Mar Bawai in one breath – and this needs to end. If one truly loves Mar Bawai, then they should not attach him to politics. If one truly loves Zowaa, do not link them to church issues – this does more harm than good. There are political parties who very publicly stand with Patriarchs and Bishops, and outwardly show support for the religious authorities – the Assyrian Democratic Movement steers clear, and some supporters force them together. As a matter of fact, since the birth of the ADM in 1979, they have strictly followed their rule of not getting involved with church issues. As an added protection, Mr. Yonadam Kanna and Mr. Ninos Bithyou, in their recent public speeches in the United States, have both said the same thing about those who put the former Bishop on the same platform as the Party - the supporters are not wanted.

To my dear friends who insist on their “anyone but the ADM” policy – the arguments are wearing thin. It is normal and understandable that during the transition between old traditions and the 21 st century, many will fight and resist the idea that Assyrian “people”, instead of “Maliks” and “Patriarchs”, can represent and lobby for Assyrian rights. The Islamist Turks fought against it too in the time of Ataturk – but it is a necessary transition, unless Assyrians want to continue the millet system, forever known by our religious denominations rather than ethnicity. Stop jumping every time the Kurds throw Assyrians a bone in Iraq, and know that without our own political representation, our own definition of who we are, and our own self-reliance on our own political destiny, “Assyrianism” will not flourish in “ Kurdistan”.

One thing I have been hearing and discussing for at least a year is the idea that somehow, the Assyrian Democratic Movement has an agenda to maintain their power in Iraq. Let’s face it – they have the support of Assyrians there – no matter what those Assyrians call themselves – they have a strong youth movement, run their own television station and are in the process of submitting their official proposal for the Nineveh Plains Administrative Unit. What I don’t understand is why this is a bad idea. They are politicians. That’s what politicians do. If someone doesn’t like it – raise another party and run against them. But don’t send the KDP and churches after them.

There is a hotel in Arbil called the “Sheraton”. Much of the workers are Assyrians. All were required to become members of the KDP to keep their employment. There is a second airport being built in Arbil – the United States was involved in the land seizures – mostly from Assyrians – to build this airport. They paid the Kurdish Regional Government money to be distributed to the property owners. The KDP kept the money. Job offers for University graduates are being denied unless those Assyrian students join the KDP. Massoud Barzani learned well from Saddam Hussein. We should learn not to make the same mistake twice. And there is one thing that Assyrians in Diaspora should know: Should the APP, BNDP, ALP, ANA, etc etc. become as large and powerful as the ADM – the KDP will do to them exactly what they do now to Zowaa: marginalize them, spread propaganda, and keep them out of “Kurdistan”. And they will, again, find their own “Kurdistani Assyrians”.

Lastly, to the Kurdish authorities – more of us than you like know what your plans are. Your nervousness shows every time Nechirvan Barzani comes out to promise “protection” for Assyrians in “ Kurdistan”. Most of us understand that Sarkis Aghajan would not have a job if the Assyrian Democratic Movement did not exist. The promises of “security” and “autonomy” give us a peak at the knowledge that you must win the hearts and minds of Assyrians in Diaspora – you have lost those in Iraq. And it seems as though it actually matters to you that Assyrians join Kurdistan so we do not cut off your eventual expansion. To you, Kurdish authorities, I say this: Assyrians are fair people: we will support your rights for independence and claims to your lands (wherever they may be), when you support our claims to our lands, and our claims to our independence.

To all of the Assyrians reading this first issue of Zinda Magazine for the year 2007– I do not pray for unity anymore. I pray for quiet – quiet from the Diaspora so we can listen to the cries coming from the Homeland – to listen and to look at what is happening, and to react to their needs, instead of react to our egos and to each other. I pray that 2007 brings in further separation from our tradition of complacency and obedience, and ushers in accountability and angry action – outside of chatrooms and forums – against those who wish to separate us instead of help us. I pray that Assyrian children in Diaspora grow up to be better than us, and learn to work with those they disagree with because we are few in number but big in love for the future of our nation, and most of all, I pray that Assyrian children in Iraq never see another day of violence, never feel another day of hunger or fear, never miss a Christmas, and never suffer another day, because those who have more will give more, listen more, help more, and love more.

* “Long Live Atour!”


News Digest
News From Around the World


General Boris Ivanov Released from Georgian Prison

(ZNDA: Washington)  According to the Assyrian International Congress of Georgia, General Boris Ivanov was released from prison in Tbilisi, Georgia on 30 December 2006.   He was released on bail and is at home in Tbilisi.

General Ivanov was arrested on 27 July 2006 in Tbilisi and was wrongfully accused of possessing narcotics.

General Boris Ivanov at home in Tbilisi, Georgia shortly after his release from prison.

Ivan Kakovitch, Author of "Mount Semel" Passed Away

(ZNDA: Washington)  Ivan Kakovitch, a former professor of history, editor, journalist, translator, abstractor and recently an author of a highly-acclaimed novel - Mount Semel - passed away last month in Paris, France.  Mr. Kakovitch was 62.

His latest, 'Mount Semele', is a novel depicting the creation of the State of Iraq, and the hardships, struggles and movements of Assyrians to remain as an identifiable force in their native country, Iraq. The plot covers the years of 1915, culminating on the infamous day of The Semele Massacre, of August 8, 1933.

Ivan Kakovitch held degrees from the University of Paris, New York University and The American University. He has written several manifestations on issues bearing importance on the causes of the Assyrians.  Many of his essays appear in the archives of Zinda Magazine.  In 2004, Mr. Kakovitch ran a regular column in Zinda Magazine.

The funeral services will take place on Tuesday January 9, 2007 at the Assyrian Church of the East in Los Angeles: 

Assyrian Church of the East
5955 Lindley Avenue
Tarzana, CA 91356

Gaunt's Lecture Promotes Dialogue between Armenians & Assyrians with Shared Experience

Courtesy of the Armenian Weekly
16 December 2006

(ZNDA: Boston)  On 7 November Dr. David Gaunt, professor of history at Södertörn University-Sweden, gave a lecture at NAASR titled “New Evidence Concerning the Genocide of Armenians and Assyrians.” The lecture was jointly presented by NAASR and the United Assyrian Association of Massachusetts. Introductions were presented by Marc A. Mamigonian of NAASR and George Stifo of the UAAM.

Gaunt’s most recent publication is Massacres, Resistance, and Protectors: Muslim-Christian Relations in Eastern Anatolia during World War I (Georgia Press, 2006). He spoke of how he became involved in the research during his previous communication with the Swedish government and the Hague, presenting Holocaust and crimes against humanity research at various international community conferences. He mentioned that whenever the Armenian Genocide was referenced, there would be hecklers among the representatives of the Turkish government. He paused, and noted, “This was most uncommon at a function presented by the Swedish government.”

Sweden has one of the largest expatriate Assyrian populations in the world, and over time, many of Gaunt’s Assyrian students peaked his interest in doing archival research on the Armenian and Assyrian genocides. “I was curious about the assertion of many Turkish government officials that there were no documents that could prove a genocide.” In fact, he stated, “The evidence, especially on the local level, was overwhelming.”

“We [historians] are trying to vacuum clean history for documents anywhere in the world that can help piece together parts of this narrative,” he said, explaining the wide scope of his investigations. To that end, he has examined a variety of sources, from Russian, Italian, French and German sources to. He clarified that his area of expertise is Iran, with a focus on the history of the Assyrians there.

Speaking about his use of archival material and primary source documentation, Gaunt said, “I am one of the few scholars to have had access to archive materials in Ankara and Istanbul.” When asked why he was granted such unprecedented access to materials so often a subject of harassment to other scholars, he said, “At one of these international gatherings, a European parliamentarian said [to Turkish officials], ‘You say the archives are open, show us it’s true.’” As a result, negotiations between the Turkish and Swedish governments allowed Gaunt access to peruse the materials he asked permission about.



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“There were many Armenians that did not consider themselves Armenian as much as they did Catholic,” he said. “But during the Genocide they were killed not so much because they were Catholic, but because they were Armenian.” Gaunt read the reports left by missionaries. “They are very full and very sensitive. But it is the military archives that are often most useful because they are usually the first people to come across victims of genocide.”

Gaunt spoke of the atrocities committed. “Many were hung upside down over a well and had their bodies dropped into the well, one by one. Others were decapitated after sticking their head through a ladder, or having walls pushed on top of them. Almost every conceivable method of death was used except shooting, because the Turkish army was low on ammunition supplies.”

He made a point of addressing the Assyrian contribution to the resistance efforts led by the Armenian national hero, General Andranik, by saying, “Many are not aware that there were Assyrian volunteer fighters in Andranik’s forces. They were given arms as well, but Andranik’s forces did not have any cannons, machine guns or the like.”

Of particular significance to his book was a discussion of the Battle of Dilman in 1915, in which Armenian and Assyrian partisans severely routed the Turkish army with the aid of Bolshevik forces, shaming Turkish general Halil Bey, uncle of Enver Pasha. Gaunt said of the battle, “Andranik managed to defeat the Turkish army using really crack troops. They had a super-human motivation to defeat the Turks.” He explained the battle’s consequences as well; the defeat of the Turks led to the creation of the newly formed “butcher battalions” in the Ottoman ranks. “The battle represented the turning point when regular army soldiers were informed that they could turn their weapons upon and kill civilians. Which totally went against their training.”

He quoted Rafael De Nogales, a Venezuelan mercenary in the employ of the Ottoman Empire at the time: “Halil did as he pleased with the Christians after that, for their role in helping the Russian army.”

Gaunt then exhibited a telegram he considered very crucial to his work; he discovered it in the Istanbul archives. It was written in Osmanli script, from the Ministry of the Interior under Talaat Pasha’s authority, and concerned the deportations and removal of the Assyrian communities in Eastern Anatolia. The date on the telegram was October 26, 1914. This was weeks before Turkey was “provoked” by Russia into joining the war on the side of the Central Powers against the Tsar. It rationalized the Assyrian deportations by stating that “They are too susceptible to influence from foreign powers.”

The “foreign powers” in question included the Russians and possibly the British in Persia, Gaunt said. The telegram culminated by saying, “[The Assyrians] masses are not to exceed 20 dwellings.” and “The government is to lend them no assistance while they are in transit."

He then talked about the inhumanities committed by general Reshid Bey, a doctor and the Turkish authority in command in 1915 over the city of Diyarbakir. Bey was “a psychopath,” said Gaunt, who when subjected to interrogations—even by the Young Turks—over the excess of his killings, replied in defense, “The Armenians were like bacteria, and isn’t it the job of a doctor to rid the body of bacteria?”

Regarding the historical context of the genocides in international law, Gaunt maintained, “Even at that time it was a crime against humanity to kill innocent civilians—even soldiers—if they were unarmed.”

He ended his lecture on a positive note of cooperation and unity. He said, “I hope that my contribution tonight has shown that the experience of the Armenians and Assyrians is interlocked and that even when they defended themselves, valiantly, there still have been dire consequences for their communities.”

To purchase a copy of Dr. Guant's book click here.

Valodia (Vova) Pirayou
(23 March 1927 - 29 October 2006)

Valodia Pirayou was born on March 23, 1927, in Berdyansk, Ukraine, to Ilia and Olga Pirayou, the youngest of 5 children.

Valodia Pirayou

In 1938, after his father was imprisoned at the Gulags in Siberia, Valodia, his mother and 4 siblings relocated to Hamadan, Iran.

At 16, in 1943, Valodia began working as an English translator at the United States military camp at Hamadan, serving the Allies in World War II.

After WW II, in 1945, Valodia was reunited with his Father and the family relocated to Tehran, Iran.

Over the next 30 years, Valodia established a successful transportation company in Tehran.

On November 30, 1967, he married Mabel Odisho Crisby in Tehran.

On March 6, 1969, his daughter, Belina, was born and on May 20, 1970, his son, Ashurbel (Ash) Pirayou was born.

On September 10, 1978, Valodia relocated his family to the United States ultimately settling in Turlock, California, where he took great pride in serving on the Board of Directors of the Assyrian Evangelical Church of Turlock.

Beginning in June 2001, Valodia was diagnosed with a number of rare lung diseases, which he battled for the next 5 years.

On March 1, 2006, he was blessed by the birth of his granddaughter, Siena Pignataro.

On October 29, 2006, after a courageous battle against multiple diseases, he passed to Eternal Life at home in Santa Clara surrounded by his family.

He leaves his wife, daughter, son-in-law, Frank Pignataro, son, daughter-in-law, Bianca Pirayou, his grand-daughter, and his 4 older siblings, Alexandra Khoshabe (Chicago, Illinois), Anna Atanous (Turlock), Alexander Pirayo (Northridge), and Nikolia Pirayou (San Jose).

Funeral Services were held on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at the Assyrian Evangelical Church in Turlock, followed by the Interment at the Turlock Memorial Park in Turlock.

Condolences may be sent to the Pirayou Family by contacting Ashur Pirayou (ash@pirayoulaw.com)

Evelyn M. (Belezarian) Chavoor

Evelyn Chavoor

Evelyn M. (Belezarian) Chavoor, 80, of Worcester died Saturday, December 23rd at the home of her daughter. She leaves her loving husband of 63 years, Afrem "Al" Chavoor; 2 sons, Rodney A. Chavoor of Southwick and Randy A. Chavoor and his wife Gail of Worcester; a daughter, Sharyn L. Eaton and her husband James of Worcester; a sister, Nina N. Ansbigian of Winchester; 4 grandchildren, Eric A. Eaton and his wife Alexis of Albany, NY; Jason A. Chavoor and his wife Natasha and Kyle A. Chavoor both of Worcester; Corey A. Chavoor of Southwick; 2 twin great grandsons, Evan J. and Owen N. Eaton and many nephews and nieces. A brother, Harry Belezarian predeceased her.

She was born in Worcester the daughter of the late Harry and Natalie (Saffer) Belezarian. Mrs. Chavoor was raised by her aunt and uncle, Elsie and Adam Donoian. She was an office manager for over 25 years for Stop & Shop retiring in 1991. She later worked as an office aide for the Worcester Public Schools. Mrs. Chavoor was a devoted wife, mother, sister, grandmother, great grandmother and aunt who enjoyed being with her family and will be missed by those who loved her.

The funeral was Wednesday, December 27th with a service at 11:00 AM in O'Connor Brothers Funeral Home, 592 Park Avenue. Burial was held in Hope Cemetery. Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, 30 Speen Street, Framingham, MA 01701.

Surfs Up!
Your Letters to the Editor


Trelawny's Book on Assyrians

Mikhael K. Pius
HUSCA [Habbaniya Union School & Community Association] Magazine

I was sorry to read in your issue of December 11 of the passing away of Mr. John Trelawny, B.Sc., DDL, a former Captain in the Royal Air Force Iraq Levies, and I offer my condolences to his wife and other family members.

I understand that Mr. Trelawny was one of the few British who were sympathetic to the Assyrian national cause and he had formed close association with a number of Assyrians during recent years. Having read some of my work on Habbaniya in Nineveh Magazine, he visited me at my home in Modesto more than ten years ago, accompanied by his wife, soliciting material for a book he said he was going to write on the history of Assyrians. I furnished him with some pictures and documented information on the Levies and other subjects.

I don’t think I am the only Assyrian who is anxious to know what happened to the book he was supposed to be writing. Among others are Francis Sarguis, the retired lawyer, and the late Julius Shabbas, former editor of Nineveh Magazine, had been eagerly waiting to see it in print. If he has already published it, I am sure we would have heard about it. Evidently, it was meant to be a book of substance and such product needed years of research and work, but I should think that ten years were more than enough for the work, unless he had problems that created obstacles to his progress.

Perhaps his family, or others, can shed some light on the subject.

Enduring Ashurayeh Nationalism

Sargon Levi Gabriel

Relinquishing our identity and dignity as Proud Ashurayeh, and loosing our claims to our country Ashur is what hurts our Nation most. Ellu created us in His own image and gave us His DNA. He also gave us the most beautiful and fertile land of Ashur, and called us A Shurayeh meaning “The Beginning”. As intelligent people we were the first created, that is why we were called Ashurayeh.

From the powerbrokers of United Nations to the European Union spinmeisters, including Canada, and Tony Blair’s government, and the self-proclaimed Ashurayeh leaders there is a full-pledged campaign to play down the atrocities of Masoud Barzani’s barbaric and ruthless thugs against The Noble Ashurayeh. The self-proclaimed leaders who have sold their souls and are supported by phony followers are focusing on its kinder and gentler political and social activities.

We hear on the news every now and then about Halabja, but nothing about the atrocities of Jundi Al-Islam, Jalal Talabani’s PUK, Masoud Barzani’s KDP thugs, and PKK committed against The Ashurayeh Christian population in Iraq, and other ruthless Muslim fanatics.

When Jalal Talabani secured military and financial assistance from Iran on one condition that he would let Jundi Al Islami flourish in North of Iraq, in Halabja, Chiwarta and Towaila. Halabja became the den of Jundi Al-Islam, assassinating our bold, daring and courageous Ashurayeh men and raping our beautiful and noble daughters, sisters and mothers. All Europeans countries, USA, UK and Canada, uttered no condemnations.

Once Iranians promised assistance to Jalal Talabani, he provoked a way out of Saddam’s predicament. He launched a large-scale offensive against Masoud Barzani. Hard pressed Barzani by Jalal Talabani’s PUK turned to Saddam Hussain to save his party KDP. Saddam consented; elements of Iraqi Republican Guards attacked Erbil and smashed Jalal Talaban’s PUK. Thousands of our noble Ashurayeh suffered during that period when Jundi Al-Islam was roaming North of Iraq freely.

Sheikh Khalid Uncle of Masoud Barzani was the leader of Kurdish Militia (Peshmarga) working side by side with Republican Guards of Khomayni. He was paid and took orders from Iranians.

Many are claiming nationhood for the Ashurayeh in North of Iraq, which they call Kurdistan. How can they claim nationhood for us in a country that they call Kurdistan? Kurdistan is not our country, but yes The Land of Ashur is our country. Claiming a country for Ashurayeh in Kurdistan? Whom they are fooling? Wake up Ashurayeh. How can we trust Kurds, the same people that were killing each other not long ago for the control of North of Iraq? They are claiming not only North of Iraq, but also down to Kut. They are also claiming part of Syria, Turkey and Iran.

It’s always easier to blame others for any misfortune that befalls on our Nation. We are seldom willing to accept the responsibility for our misfortunes. In examining the behaviour carefully and honestly of the division creators and the adroit propagandists on TV and Radio stations, I found that through their indifference, weakness and ignorance, they have performed the unforgivable. They have relinquished control of themselves to someone else. They have given up the most vital component “The Unity of The Ashurayeh Nation” (Ashurayeh Chaldeans and Syrians). Is it any wonder then, that they feel empty and dead? Overwhelmed by flattering followers and cowered, they have become a no-thing. But worst of all we Patriot Ashurayeh have permitted it to happen. We have relinquished our dignity and our right as indigenous people of Ashur to complain.

People of Ashur who despite centuries of alien subjugation, conquests, massacres and sacrifices have prevailed and are still the direct descendants of the same Ashurayeh who gave the world the civilization of today, but today we are denying our beautiful name Ashurayeh and our cherished land of Ashur.

The self-proclaimed petit leaders have a mystic’s typical self-importance, a conviction that they are singled out for a divine mission. It is this conviction that has made them relish their own aloofness and the deference of others. All such failures and quirks have made their austerity less sincere.

It is true that God created us to play the role assigned to us, but we have to perform it with honesty, integrity and sincerity. We Ashurayeh are resting on tradition that is thousand of years old. We are influenced by a simpler political faith, the submissiveness of Christianity that demands to divine will, the resignation before fatalism, which is characteristic of our Christian faith.

We must be constantly awake against the insidious wiles that are influencing our National demands, and policy, against self-serving persons that are reaping the benefits that come in the form of financial gains and positions of power.

The incipient crumbling of our political and religious systems is shown in nothing more than the growing opposition in groups among the Ashurayeh intelligentsia who had formerly been their most loyal supports, because frivolous Machiavellians are in full control.

All Ashurayeh have to make a new resolution for the coming year 2007. We have to pray and ask Jesus Christ our saviour to create in all of us a clean heart, and put a new and right spirit within us. A true Spirit of Nationalism. This is the duty of our Clergies and our Bishop and adroit propagandists on radio and TV stations. In all our Churches we must have Patriot Clergies to preach faith inspired Nationalism every Sunday after the sermons. Such message must be conveyed to our parishioners boldly and clearly. No more Church excuses that we will not be involve in politics.

With the New Year comes a fresh start. We must set goals through Jesus Christ. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old one has passed away, behold the new one has come”.

Thank you and God Bless The Land of Ashur, and all true Ashurayeh.

The Most Talked About Book of the Year has Arrived !

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

Surfer's Corner
Community Events

Canadian Society For Syriac Studies - Sixth Symposium

A Report by Sargon J. David
ACSSU – Public Relations

Saturday November 25 th, 2006, marked the Sixth Annual Symposium of the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies (CSSS). This year it was held at its traditional “home base” of the University of Toronto. The Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Student Union (ACSSU), assisted as it has in the past with the symposium with a great sense of enthusiasm and pride. As the descendants of such a unique and important cultural, historical and religious background, we feel it is paramount to support and embrace this academic venture. As the annual journal of CSSS states: “The aim of the CSSS is to promote the study of the Syriac Culture which is rooted in the same soil from which the ancient Mesopotamian and biblical literatures sprung.” Being present at such an event serves to amplify this knowledge and provide everyone the privilege to be enlightened with the latest scholarly research.

Representatives of ACSSU assisting at the Symposium’s registration table: (Standing) Ann Petros, Alda Benjamen, Lema Yousif, Ashorina Shamoun, Alhan Oraha & (Seated) Sargon J. David.
Representatives of Gorgias Press: Christine & George Kiraz

This year’s symposium had the following as its theme: “Era of the Christological Councils: Syriac Writings and Greek Theologians”. The President and Chair (Dr. Amir Harrak) of the University of Toronto, graciously welcomed the speakers and attendees to this year’s symposium. The professors who lectured were the Rev. Prof. Fred McLeod of St. Louis University, whose talk was entitled “Narsai’s Dependence on Theodore of Mopsuestia”. Following him was Prof. Patrick T. A. Gray of York University, who spoke on “Fighting with History: Severus, his Opponents, and the Historical Cyril”. Additionally, Dr. George Bevan of the University of Toronto, spoke about “The Last Days of Nestorius in the Syriac Sources”. The attendees were then given the opportunity to ask questions that arose from the various lectures.

Additionally, both the President George Anton Kiraz, Ph.D. and the Vice President Christine Kiraz, Ph.D. of Gorgias Press were also present at the Symposium. They had a wide array of scholarly books and DVD’s available for purchase. This pair not only directs Gorgias Press, but they also manage the Beth Mardutho Syriac Institute.

A special thank you to Dr. Amir Harrak, for his dedication and continued service to the Society, its members, the students and to the greater community at large. ACSSU looks forward to next year’s symposium with much zeal.


For more information about CSSS please visit http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~csss

For more information about ACSSU please visit http://www.acssu.ca

For more information about Gorgias Press please visit http://www.gorgiaspress.com

For more information about Beth Mardutho Syriac Institute please visit http://www.bethmardutho.org


Editor's Pick


The Assyrian Manifesto VII

Ivan Kakovitch

The Prince of Kurdistan

'The Prince of Kurdistan' was how the late Patriarch of Assyria, Mar-Shimon, Mar Benyamin was referred to by the non-Assyrian, Moslem inhabitants of Mesopotamia.

The word 'Kurdistan' was not by any means an inference as to the demeanor of His Holiness, but a sign of respect not only for His Beatitude, but also for his leadership of the nation of Assyria.

The Murder of the Patriarch

True, he was murdered by a barrage of bullets from the rooftops in a Kurdish Village of Kohne Shahr near the city of Salamas, on February 25, 1918, and worse, he was ultimately degraded when his body was stripped, publicly displayed, and then thrown out on the street by the followers of a Shekak Kurdish Warlord, surnamed 'Simko' (The Red) [bloody], however, most of the inhabitants were appalled by this event, although realizing that it was an internationally motivated political mayhem, perpetrated against Assyria, as a whole. Mount Semele. (1st Ed. Alexandria, VA - USA 2004.) By Ivan Kakovitch.

Succession of National Power

Thus, Assyria, as a non-secular nationality, passed the baton of power of its nation into the hands of a young successor, Mar-Shimon, Mar Ishaya XXIII, via Regency headed by Lady Surma, the Late Mar-Shimon Mar Benyamin's sister.

And, thus, following the non-descript politico-ecclesiastic patterns, the nation of Assyria continued to be governed, as well as being represented by Mar Shimon, Mar Ishaya XXIII, until his assassination in San Jose, California, almost exactly twenty nine years ago, in November 1975.

The Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV

The ecclesiastic selection of the new Patriarch, namely Mar Dinkha IV was in conformity with the previous centuries-old ordinance in the nation and the Church of Assyria, and it is thus at the behest of Assyria that His Holiness Mar Dinkha remains at the helm of his nation, as well as at the helm of the Church of Assyria.

Decrepit Political Movement

In the last fourteen months, there has been a movement to demean the functions and the title of the non-secular hierarchy of Assyria, and to place the national leadership into the hands of a political party that has entrenched itself in the annals of the Kurdish Parliament in northern Iraq. This movement, and its sycophants, including at least one high-ranking Church of Assyria Archbishop, namely, Mar Bawai Suro, with a few adherents among the lesser Church of Assyria laity in the ranks of Priests, are hard at work enunciating to portray the Church of Assyria, and its titular head, Mar Dinkha, as lackadaisical and obtrusive on the path of the political arena of Assyria.

Media Propaganda

This misappropriation by one of the political parties of Assyria and its followers seems to have become more aggressive in its format, and in its plebeian pantheon of absolute authority. Its postings, its essays, its innuendos, and its diatribe in continuously abounding articles articulating the idea of having The Patriarch Mar Dinkha 'pack up and move to Iraq' have even been published on the only reputable Assyrian web magazine, 'Zinda', of San Jose, along with its Russian language web for Russia, as well as on the 'Assyrian Forum', of Chicago, operated by AINA.

Manifestation of Assyria

Assyrians worldwide although silent for the time being, are being asked therefore, to magnanimously rise up and become more vociferous by stamping out such anti-thematic outcries, once and for all.

This voice shall be focusing the manifestations of the Assyrians worldwide in advocating that as long as there is no Government of Assyria, this nation shall not under any aspect, nor under any promise befall into the hands of a single political party.

To surrender the future of a nation into the hands of one party is synonymous with desecrating the walls of democracy in favor of autocracy and eventual dictatorship.


In conclusion, our manifestation shall remain to continuously and irreversibly respect the non-secular ecclesiastic authority of Assyria until such a time when an authority of a government of Assyria has taken up roots.

HENCEFORTH; All Assyrians, from all over the world, whether as political party members or independents, ought to foment such a Government, if not on political arena, at least on an Administrative Format, so that its functions and its attributes benefit the socio-political life of Assyrians as an International Lobby.

Origins of Christmas

Ann-Margret “Maggie” Yonan
A large body of materials provided by David Gavary

The ancient Assyrians celebrated three major festivals as part of the ritual of the changing seasonal cycles. One of these festivals was the Assyrian New Year, the Akitu, celebrated in Assyria on March 21 st, the Vernal Equinox. The second was the Autumn Akitu Festival, celebrated on September 21 st, which signified the end of the harvest. The third major festival was the Winter Solstice, which signified the birth of the sun. These three major celebrations in Assyria were inspired by the Assyrian religious belief system, and each one of them had their roots in the Mother-Goddess worship.

Going all the way back to the Paleolithic era, we find that Neanderthalensis as well as Homo Sapien Sapien worshiped the Mother-Goddess in exactly the same manner, no matter where they lived geographically. To these early men and women, she represented fertility, fecundity, and fruitfulness. She also became associated with the caves in which they dwelt, and the cave symbolized the womb of the Goddess which bore them. Every cave excavated from France to Siberia to Shanidar in Bet-Nahrain, the 130 Goddess figurines found outside of the caves proved the ritual of worship would be conducted outside, while the inside of the cave was the holy temple in which fantastic drawings of animals were found, depicting the various life forms born out of the womb of the Mother-Goddess. Among the various life forms drawn on the cave walls, the Bull/Bison was more common than any other life form. To these early cave dwellers, the Bull/Bison horns resembled the crescent moon, which is why the Mother-Goddess was always sculpted wearing a crown of Bull horns, or holding the Bull horn in her hand, while looking at the moon. In this manner, the Mother-Goddess became closely associated with the moon worship in Mesopotamia.

In Sumer, the Mother-Goddess was Inanna. In Ashur, Calha, and Nineveh she was Ishtar. In Arbella, (modern Arbil) she was referred to as Ishtar Arbella. All the first temples of worship in ancient Assyria were erected for the Mother-Goddess worship, and most of the old temples were associated with the worship of the moon, which was later called Sin. To look at the early sculptures found in Nineveh by Archaeologist Sir Henry Layard, the Mother-Goddess is nearly always depicted wearing a crown of horns. In the ancient Assyrian language, the Bison or “Bull” was called Tur, as in A Tur, (The Bull). It also meant “ruler” as in descending from the holy royal family of rulers or “Gods”. Tur in the sense of the “Bull,” becomes Taurus in Latin, and in the sense of “ruler,” it becomes Tauranus. The same word in Assyria for bull was also for ruler, or prince. Hence the horned bull signified the “Mighty Prince”, thereby pointing back to the first of those “mighty ones”, who under the name of Guebres, Gabara, or Cabiri, “mighty,” occupied so conspicuous a place in the ancient world, and to whom the deified Assyrian monarchs covertly traced back the origin of their greatness and might.

In every ancient culture, we find the horn symbol used to deify rulers and monarchs. The founder of Babylon, Pelus, or sometimes referred to as Belus, or Pel, or Bel, or even Baal, “the confounder of language”, and the “scatterer abroad” who was no other than Cush, the father of Nimrod, was actually deified and given a crown of Horns. His son, Nimrod, also known as Queen Shamiram’s husband, and later is reincarnated as Ninos, sometimes referred to as Tammuz, was said to have been the actual father of the Gods, and we see him as being the first of deified mortals wearing the horned crown reserved for rulers of divine nature. Nimrod was called, the “mighty one” and his name means “mighty hunter of Lions.” Kronos, was also called the “Horned One” and depicted wearing a crown of horns. Similarly, the Greek God, Bacchus, was also depicted wearing a crown of horns and his epithet reads “Bull-horned.” The King of Seljukian Turks, who originally came from the Euphrates region, was in a similar manner represented with three horns on his head. Similarly, Zernebogus, (Zer-nebo-gus) the “Black” malevolent, ill-omened divinity of the Anglo-Saxons, was depicted wearing horns. The Abyssinian chiefs adorned their heads with horns. The Hindu God Vishnu wears a crown of the open circle or band, with three horns standing erect from it. The Red Indian chiefs also have their heads arrayed with horns during the Buffalo Dance. The Hebrews wrote that Moses was to have come away from the burning bush with horns on his head, which in fact is how Michael Angelo depicts him. The Assyrian Bull of heaven, Lamasu, wears a crown of the tri-horn, representing divine authority. Even today, the Assyrian patriarchal hat, (kirikhta) carries that very symbol, of the tri-horn, which has been modified to look like a three-tiered fez or hat.

The tradition of deification of ancient rulers was based on the Sumerian concept of reincarnation, where the holy “husband king” dies and is reincarnated as the “son” via a virgin birth, as in the case of Enlil. In this manner, the son and the mother become holy, and are both deified. The most familiar example of deification of the mother and son, is the virgin mother Mary and her holy son, Jesus, (the reincarnated God). Such was the case of Queen Shamiram and her deified son, the Babylonian messiah, long before the Christian era. The story was described on clay tablets found By Henry Layard in Nineveh, as well as Greek and Roman Classical literature. The scriptural accounts of Nimrod and the Armenian version of the “Chronicles of Eusebius” confirm the identity and the time period in which Ninos is made the son of Belus, or Bel, and where the historical Bel is Cush, and this is further confirmation of Ninos being Nimrod.

When we look at what is written about Semiramis, (Queen Shamiram) the wife of Ninos, the evidence receives full development. In Daniel xi 38, we read of a God called Ala Mahozine, (i.e. the God of fortifications). In the records of antiquity, there is no such a God, but ample evidence of a goddess of fortification does exist. That goddess is Cybele, who is universally represented with a turreted crown, or with a fortification on her head. Ovid asks “Why was Rhea or Cybele thus represented?” Ovid answers his own question by stating that the reason why the statue of Cybele wore a crown of towers is, “because she first erected them in cities.” The first city in the world after the flood, that had towers and encompassing walls, was Babylon. Ovid himself tells us that it was Semiramis, the first queen of that city, who was believed to have “surrounded Babylon with a wall of brick.” Semiramis, the first deified queen of that city must have been the prototype of the goddess who “first made towers in cities.” When we look at the Ephesian Diana, we find evidence to the very same effect. In general, Diana was depicted as a virgin, and the patroness of virginity; and she was the mother of the gods, who wore a turreted crown, such as the one that can be contemplated without being forcibly reminded of the tower of Babel. This tower-bearing Diana is by ancient scholars expressly identified with Semiramis. When, therefore, we remember that Rhea or Cybele, the tower-bearing goddess, was, in fact, a Babylonian goddess, and that Semiramis, when deified, was worshipped under the name of Rhea.

There is no reason to believe that Semiramis alone built the battlements of Babylon. We have the express testimony of the ancient historian, Megasthenes, as preserved by Abydenus, that” it was “Belus” who “surrounded Babylon with a wall.” As Bel, the “confounder,” who began the city and tower of Babel, left both unfinished. Who finished them? This could only have been his son Ninos, who inherited his father’s title, and who was the first actual king of Babylon, and consequently Nimrod. The real reason that Semiramis, the wife of Ninos, gained the glory of finishing the fortification of Babylon, was, that she became esteemed to the ancient people to hold a prepondering position, and to have attributed to her all the different characters that belonged to her husband. Having ascertained, then, one of the characters in which the deified wife was worshipped as the mother-goddess, we may form the conclusion what was the corresponding character of the deified husband. Layard distinctly indicates his belief that Rhea or Cybele, the “tower-crown” goddess, was the female counterpart of the “deity presiding over the bulwarks or fortresses; and that this deity was Ninos or Nimrod”. We have more evidence, still, from all the scattered notes of antiquity, which all indicate that the first deified king of Babylon, under a name that identifies him as the husband of Rhea, the “tower-bearing” goddess. That name is Kronos or Saturn. It is well known that Kronos, or Saturn, was Rhea’s husband; but it is not well known who was Kronos himself.

Traced back to his original, that “divinity” is proved to have been the first king of Babylon. Theophilus of Antioch shows that Kronos in the east was worshipped under the names of Bel and Baal; and from Eusebius we learn that the first of the Assyrian kings, whose name was Belus, was also by the Assyrians called Kronos. Kronos signifies the “horned-one.” As a horn is a well-known symbol in the Middle East for power or might, which applied to the scriptural Nimrod, the Geber, or (gabbara in modern terms) “the mighty one,” (Genesis x. 8). “He began to be great on earth.” The name Kronos, as the classical reader is well aware, is applied to Saturn as the “Father of the gods”. Nimrod was known as the “Father of the Gods.” as being the first of deified mortals.

The meaning of the name Kronos, “the Horned One” as applied to Nimrod, fully explains the origin of the remarkable symbol, so frequently occurring among the Nineveh sculptures, the gigantic horned man-bull, (Lamasu) as representing the great divinities in Assyria. The word Zar-Nebo-Gus is the ancient Assyrian phrase and means the “seed of the prophet Cush,” (in modern dialect, “zara d’Nabo Cush”). Most Biblical and antiquity scholars believe that, under the name Bel, as distinguished from Baal, Cush was the great sooth-sayer or “prophet”, worshipped in Babylon. But some scholars have written that Bel and Nebo were two different titles for the name God, and that is a “prophetic” God. Kitto comments on the words written in Isiah xlvi 1, “: Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth”and writes, “The word seems to come from the ancient Assyrian word “nibba,” to deliver an oracle” or to prophesy, and hence would mean to prophesy. Thus, Nimrod inherited the title, “Zer-Nebo-Gus,” the “great seed of Cush.”

Turning to Layard for a moment, we first find “the Assyrian Hercules,” that is Nimrod, the giant, as he is called in the Septuagint version of Genesis, without club, spear, or weapons of any kind, attacking a bull. Having overcome it, he sets the bull’s horns on his head, as a trophy of victory, and a symbol of power. Hence, the hero is not only represented with horns and hoofs above, but from the middle downwards, with the legs and cloven feet of the bull, like the Lamasu.

In many countries, horns became the symbols of sovereign power, as Babylon became the “center of the world.” As sovereignty in Nimrod’s case was founded on physical force, so too were the symbols of the horns of the bull were the symbols of that physical force. In accordance with this, we read in “Sanchuniathon” that, “Astarte put on her own head the head of a bull as the ensign of royalty.” In Assyria, the three-horned cap was one of the “sacred emblems. The power connected with it was of “celestial” origin, as it represented the Assyrian trinity. To this mode of representing the mighty kings of Babylon and Assyria, who imitated Nimrod as his successors, there is manifest allusion in Isiah viii. 6-8: “For as much as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son; now therefore, behold the Lord bringeth upon them the waters of the river, strong and mighty, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory; and he shall come up over all his banks. And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over; he shall reach even unto the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.” This attests to the position of Nimrod as the first “mighty one.”

Nin, or Ninos, which means “the son” in ancient Assyrian language, held the same position in Babylon as Cupid, the son of Venus, as she becomes the mother of gods, and her son becomes the “boy God.” Thus, when Nimrod dies, he is reincarnated as his son, the “boy god” the son of Shamiram. In this manner, the woman that bore him of virgin birth, Shamiram queen of Assyria, becomes the deified mother. The historian Apollodorus states that, “Ninos is Nimrod.” And then in conformity with the identity of Ninos and Nimrod, we find, in one of the most celebrated sculptures of ancient Babylon, Ninos and his wife Semiramis represented as actively engaged in the pursuits of the chase, “the quiver bearing Semiramis” being a fit companion for the “mighty Hunter before the Lord”.

When we compare the Egyptian Khonso, the “Huntsman” with the Latin Consus, the God of horse races, who “produced the horse,” and the Centaur of Babylon, to whom was attributed the honor of being the author of horsemanship, we see all the roads leading to Babylon. Khonso, the son of the great goddess-mother, Isis, seems to have been generally represented as a full-grown God. The Babylonian divinity was also represented very frequently in Egypt in the same way as in the land of his nativity, (i.e. as a child in his mother’s arms). This way, Osiris, “the son, the husband of his mother,” was often exhibited, and what we learn of this God, equally as in the case of Khonso, shows in his original, was none other than Nimrod. The connection is that Nimrod, as the child of the Babylonian mother-goddess, Shamriam, was worshipped in the character of Ala mahozine, “the God of fortifications.” Osiris, in like manner, the child of the Egyptian Modonna, was equally celebrated as “the strong chief of the buildings.” He was worshipped in Egypt with every physical characteristic of Nimrod.

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Semiramis, (queen Shamiram) gained glory from her dead and deified husband, Nimrod, and in the course of time both of them, under the names of Rhea and Nin, or “Goddess-Mother and son” were worshipped with enthusiasm that was incredible, and their images were set-up everywhere and adored. According to the ancient Assyrian doctrine of transmigration of souls, all that was needful was just to teach that Ninos had appeared in the person of a posthumous son, of a fair complexion, supernaturally borne by his widowed wife after the father had gone to glory. The same concept was used to deify Osiris in Egypt, and was depicted as a baby in the arms of his mother-goddess. In Babylon, the posthumous child, as identified with his father, and inheriting all of his father’s glory, yet possessing more of his mother’s looks, came to be the favorite type of the Madonna’s son.

The son, thus worshipped in his mother’s arms, was looked upon as vested with all the attributes of his father, and called by almost all the names of the promised messiah. As Christ is called in the Hebrew Old Testament, Adoni, (the Lord) so was the reincarnated infant, Ninos called Adon or Adonis. In Babylon as in Egypt, the “boy God” was held as the great object of love and adoration, as the God through whom “goodness and truth were revealed to mankind.” He was regarded as the predestined heir of all things, and on the day of his birth, it was believed that a voice was heard to proclaim, “The Lord of all the earth is born.” In this character, he was styled “King of kings and Lord of lords.” He was regarded as Lord of the invisible world, and “judge of the dead,” and it was taught that, in the world of spirits, all must appear before his dreaded tribunal, to have their destiny assigned them. As the true messiah, he was prophesized under the title of the “Man whose name was the branch.”

Ninos was not only celebrated as the “branch of Cush,” but as the “Branch of God”, graciously given to earth to “free mankind from the “fear” of God” so that mankind can go about their business of building the earth, which is what the Akitu is all about, and it means “building life on earth”. The Assyrian messiah was worshipped in Babylon under the name El-Bar, or “Son of God.” Under this very name, he is introduced by Berosus, as the second of Babylonian sovereigns. Under this name he has been found in the sculptures of Nineveh, as testified by Layard, the name Bar, “the son”, having the sign denoting El or “God “prefixed to it. Under the same name, El Bar was found by Sir Henry Rawlinson, the names Beltis and the “Shining Bar” being in immediate juxtaposition. Under the name Bar, he was worshipped in Egypt, as well. In Rome he was worshipped under the name the “Eternal Boy”.

Diodorus Siculus tells us that, “there stood three images of the great divinities of Assyria, and one of these was of a woman grasping a serpent’s head”. The same image was transferred to the Greek tradition is of Diana grasping the head of a snake, for Diana and Semiramis were one and the same. As time wore away, and the facts of Semiramis’s history became obscured, her son’s birth was boldly declared to be, “miraculous.” That the birth of the Great Deliverer was to be miraculous was widely known long before the Christian era. Similarly, in the Buddhist tradition it was foretold that a virgin was to bring forth a child to bless the world.

In Assyria as in Egypt, Greece, India, or Rome, the ancient mother-goddesses were referred to as the “queen of heaven.” Every quality of beauty, mercy, and gentleness was regarded as centered in her; and when death was upon her, she was fabled to have been deified and changed into a dove, “D’Iune” in ancient Assyrian, or “yona” in modern Assyrian dialect. In Babylon, the queen of heaven became known as “Z’emir-amit” meaning “the branch bearer,” and in this way her image was immortalized as the olive branch bearing dove, which is also an epithet for the “first queen” after the flood. In the sculptures found in Nineveh, this tradition also represents the third member of the Assyrian trinity. In confirmation of this view, the Assyrian “Juno” or the “virgin Venus” was identified with air. Thus, Julius Firmicus, in “De Error” writes, “The Assyrian and part of the Africans wish the air to have the supremacy of the elements, for they have consecrated this same element under the name Juno, whose symbol was that of the third person of the Assyrian Trinity. Why? Because the same word in the ancient Assyrian, which signifies air, signifies also the “Holy Ghost,” thus Semiramis was the holy ghost in the Assyrian trinity.

The Assyrian holy trinity comprised of the dead but deified Nimrod/Ninos, who was slain but was then reincarnated as the “Nin” the holy child, born of virgin birth, through the virgin mother-Goddess, Queen Shamiram, queen of Assyria. This holy trinity was carried into Egypt, where Nimrod was renamed Osiris, who also died and was reincarnated as the holy child Osiris, born of virgin birth through the “virgin” mother-goddess, Queen Isis. This tradition became part of the entire orient, including the Indus Valley, and later the Roman Empire, which gave birth to the Roman Catholic tradition of the Papacy at Vatican.

Without exception, all the Deified mortals or “Gods” of the ancient world were said to have been conceived during the Spring Equinox and born on December 25 th, (the Winter Solstice). If we count from March 21 st to December 25 th we would conceive the traditional 9 months of gestation.

The son of the Babylonian queen of heaven, Shamiram was said to have been conceived during the Assyrian New Year, the Akitu, and born on December 25 th, the Winter Solstice. “Yule” in ancient Assyrian is the name for “infant” or “little child” as the 25 th of December was called “Yule day” or child’s day. Since it was Nimrod that is reincarnated as the “Yule” or in modern dialect, yala or yaluda, and the child in Assyria was first known as the unconquerable sun, which is why he must be born during the Winter Solstice. He is reincarnated as “Tammuz,” but also as the “branch of the tree,” (as in the tradition of the Assyrian Tree of Life). The divine child born at the winter solstice was born as a new incarnation of the great God, (after that God, Nimrod, had been cut down to pieces by the enemy). Thus, the great God, cut-off in the midst of his power and glory, was symbolized as a huge tree, stripped of all its branches, and cut down almost to the ground. But the great serpent, the symbol of life restoring, wraps itself around the dead stock of the tree, and lo, at its side, up sprouts a young tree, of an entirely different kind, that is destined never to be cut down by hostile power, and which is Ninos. This tree was most often a palm tree in southern Mesopotamia, which is why the messiah was called Baal-Tamar, but in the Nineveh plains it was a cedar, or as it is called today, “an evergreen,” which is why in northern Mesopotamia, the messiah was known as Baal-Berith. To the Assyrians, the tree symbolized the new-born God, Baal-Berith, (Lord of the covenant) and thus shadowed forth the perpetual and ever-lasting nature of his power, now that after having fallen before his enemies, he had risen triumphant over them all. Therefore, the 25 th of December, the day of the birth of the unconquered sun/son, represented the death of the slain Nimrod, deified as the Sun-God. Now the Yule log, or the Christmas Tree is Nimrod redivivus, the slain God come to life again, but this time as Ninos.

We see two key figures in the origin of Christmas are Nimrod, a great grandson of Utnapishtim,(Noah) and his mother and wife, Semiramis, also known as Ishtar and Isis. Nimrod, known in Egypt as Osiris, was the founder of the first world empire at Babel, later known as Babylon, Genesis: (10: 8-12, 11: 1-9). From ancient sources such as the "Epic of Gilgamesh" and records unearthed by archeologists from long-ruined Mesopotamian and Egyptian cities, scholars have been able to reconstruct subsequent events.

As we have shown, after Nimrod's death (c. 2167 BC), Semiramis promoted the belief that he was a god. She claimed that she saw a full-grown evergreen tree spring out of the roots of a dead tree stump, symbolizing the springing forth of new life for Nimrod. She said, “On the anniversary of his birth, Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts under it.

A few years after Nimrod’s death, Semiramis bore a son, Ninos who sometimes called Gilgamesh. She declared that she had been visited by the spirit of Nimrod, who left her pregnant with the boy. “Nin” child or Ninos, which she maintained was Nimrod reincarnated. With a father, mother, and son deified, a trinity was formed in Assyria.

Semiramis and Ninos were worshipped as "Madonna and child" in ancient Assyria. As the generations passed, they were worshipped under other names in different countries and languages, as mentioned. Many of these are recognizable to this day: Fortuna and Jupiter in Rome; Aphrodite and Adonis in Greece; and Ashtoreth/Astarte and Molech/Baal in Canaan.

Writers of the Old Testament have left us further proof that Pre-Christian Assyrians did decorate an evergreen in honor and memory of the birth of their Messiah, as written in Jeremiah 10:2-4: " Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

In ancient Assyria, the night before the birth of the messiah was known as Mother-Night. Twelve candles were ordered by Queen Shamiram to be lit on the evergreen tree, representing the 12 holy and celebratory days of the birth of her son and the reincarnation of the sun, as he was called “the light of the world.” The day of the birth, December 25 th, was known as Lady-Day, as Shamiram gives birth to the “savior of the world” and becomes the Mother-Goddess. For 12 days, the ancient Assyrians celebrated the birth of their sun and the son of the virgin mother-goddess, and gifts were exchanged among the citizens. A goose was served on Lady-Day, representing the “child” and Nimrod/Ninos’ favorite food, and nur-cakes, meaning birth-cakes( sometimes called Yule-cakes) were also served. These traditions were carried into Europe, and to this day, the Scotts call these nur cakes.

Roman Christianity was based entirely on the Assyrian system, and the Assyrian traditions of sun/son worship were implemented, changing the Assyrian Messiah’s name to Jesus Christ. All the Assyrian traditions of Lady-Night and Lady-Day, were incorporated into Christianity, including the present Christmas traditions, and can be found at the Vatican.

At approximately the same time as the Assyrians, the Hindus celebrate the Winter Solstice as the day Surya, or “sun” is born, and Surya is Ashur whose light lit the world and inspired the Assyrians to build the earth, which is why the Hindus to this day call the Assyrians Asurayas, “The Builders.” The Zoroastrians, called in Mesopotamia Zardasht, (meaning the seed of the woman) still celebrate the birth of light or “fire” in Iran, and this tradition is traced back to the times when they celebrated the birth of Ninos, the seed of Queen Shamiram. The Muslims celebrate the Winter Solstice as Eid Al Athha, (Ath ha) meaning “light” or sun. The Jews celebrate Hannukha, which is literally the festival of “light” or sun, and Shamash is the candle that lights all the other Hannuka candles. In Rome, the Romans celebrated the Winter Solstice as Saturnalia, (the birth of the Sun/Son) and the tradition goes all the way back to the ancient Assyrian celebration of the birth of the sun/son and the messiah, Ninos. These traditions of the religions of the world all have their roots in the Assyrian religious belief system of Ashurism.


Note-All the books listed in Bibliography are according to their original publication date, to provide Assyrians with a glimpse of who is the custodian of our history, culture, and religion.

1-Adam’s Roman Antiquities London, 1835
2-Apocalypse, Original Interpretation London, 1857
3-Asiatic Journal London, 1816
4-Augustine’s City of God, with Lud Vive’s Comment London, 1620
5-Barker’s Hebrew Lexicon London, 1811
6-Begg’s Handbook of Popery Edinburgh, 1856
7-Berosus Leipzig, 1825
8-Bilne’s British Reformers London, S. D.
9-Blakeney’s Popery in its Social Aspect Edinburgh, S. D.
10-Bryant’s Mythology London, 1807
11-Bunsen’s Egypt London, 1848
12-Chesney’s Euphrates Expedition London, 1850
13-Coleman’s Hindoo Mythology London 1832
14-Corey’s Fragments London, 1732
15-Crabb’s Mythology London, 1854
16-Didron’s Christian Iconography London, 1851
17-Dryden’s Virgil London, 1709
18-Dymock’s Classical Dictionary London, 1833
19-Fuss’ Roman Antiquities Oxford, 1840
20-Gibbons’ Decline and Fall Dublin, 1781
21-Gieseler’s Ecclesiastical History Edinburgh, 1846
22-Guizot’s European Civilization London, 1846
23-Knox’s History of Reformation Edinburgh, 1846-48
24-Layard’s Nineveh and its Remains London, 1846-1849
25-Layard’s Babylon and Nineveh London, 1853
26-Mallet’s Northern Antiquities London, 1770
27-Milton’s Paradise Lost London, 1695
28-Niehbuhrs Roman History London, 1855
29-Ouvaroff’s Eleusinian Mysteries London, 1817
30-Pococke’s India in Greece London, 1852
31-Potter’s Greek Antiquities Oxford, 1697
32-Quarterly Journal of Prophecy London, 1852
33-Russel’s Egypt Edinburgh, 1831
34-Stanley’s History of Philosophy London, 1687
35-Vans Kennedy, Colonel Sanskrit Researches
36-Vaux’s Nineveh-Antiquities of the British Museum London, 1851
37-Wilkinson’s Egyptians London, 1837-41
38-Wilson’s India 3000 Years Ago Bombay, 1858
39-Wylies’ Great Exodus London, 1862

The translated works of:

-Ovid’s classical fable: Metamorphoses
-Kitto’s Illustrated Commentary
-Eusebius’ Preparatio Evangelii

The translated quotes of Apollodorus, Berosus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Megasthenes, Julius Firmicus, Nonnus, Theophilus, (Patriarch of Alexandria).
The Old Testament
The Mahabharata

The Torah

C. H. Oldfather’s translations of Diodorus' history, Bibliotheca historia.

Assyrians at Their Best


Malek-Yonan Joins Cast of 2007 Hollywood Hit "Rendition"

Rosie Malek-Yonan plays opposite Witherspoon and Streep in the upcoming thriller, "Rendition".

The beautiful and multi-talented Assyrian actress and author of the historic novel, The Crimson Field, Rosie Malek-Yonan has joined the already high-profile cast lineup of "Rendition", a New Line Cinema's political thriller directed by Oscar-winning director of Tsotsi, Gavin Hood. 

The "Rendition" cast include Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Alan Arkin, and Omar Metwally.

When Egyptian born chemical engineer, Anwar El-Ibrahim (Omar Metwalley) disappears on a flight from South Africa to Washington DC, his American wife, Isabella (Reese Witherspoon) travels to Washington to try and learn the reason for his disappearance. Meanwhile, at a secret detention facility somewhere outside the US, CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is forced to question his assignment as he becomes a party to the unorthodox interrogation of El-Ibrahim. 

Ms. Malek-Yonan plays the role of Anwar's Egyptian mother, Nuru El-Ibrahim.

According to FilmJerk.com production began in late November, with shooting scheduled for Los Angeles, Washington DC, Morocco and Cape Town until the early part of 2007. One can expect "Rendition" to be one of New Line's major Oscar bait films of next year, most likely to be released in November or December 2007.

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

Fred Aprim California
Abdulmesih BarAbrahem California
Jacklin Bejan California
Dr. Matay Beth Arsan Holland
Alda Benjamen Canada
George Donabed Massachusetts
Mazin Enwiya Chicago
Peter Ibrahim California
Tomas Isik Sweden
Nahrain E. Kamber California
Petr Kubalek Czech Republic
Prof. Anahit Khosroyeva Armenia
Maryam Pirayou California

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