"My Native Land"
In the A.D. Second Century a Roman citizen of the city of Samasota (Aramaic Shimsheta or Of the Sun) in southeastern Turkey, wrote satires about the lives of his contemporaries and the politics of his day. He was called Lucian and often referred to himself as the Assyrian. Although he spoke Aramaic, Lucian wrote mainly in Greek and his Trips to the Moon are said to be the earliest writings on space travel and science fiction. Lucian lived between A.D. 120 and A.D. 192 - eight hundred years after the Fall of Nineveh - and miraculously more than 80 pieces of his works have survived to this day.
Rome was in those days much like today's United States, a hegemon, at times irritated and even defeated by the Persian rulers. During Lucian's life, Emperors like Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius expanded Roman dominance over far reaches of Europe, into Britain, and north Africa. As the power of Rome grew, so did the discontent of its colonized subjects. When Lucian was a young boy, Jews in Palestine rose against the Romans under Bar Khokhva. When he died, Romans had been defeated in Scotland. Not long after his death Persians took his city from the Romans.
Lucian wrote "My Native Land" 1800 years ago about his homeland of Assyria, as the Romans and the Persians took turn in plundering its towns and metropolises. The raids and pillages of Assyria have never stopped and yet every day we "yearn and pray to end our life" on the banks of its twin rivers. It is this yearning that compels us to survive, adapt, and excel everywhere and in everything we do.
"My Native Land" by Lucian the Assyrian
"Nothing sweeter than one's native land" is already a commonplace. If nothing is sweeter, then is anything more holy or divine? Truly of all that men count holy and divine their native land is cause and teacher, in that she bears, nurtures and educates them. To be sure, many admire cities for their size, their splendour and the magnificence of their public works, but everyone loves his own country; and even among men completely overmastered by the lust of the eye, no one is so misguided as to be forgetful of it because of the greater of the number of wonders in other countries. Therefore a man who prides himself on being citizen of a prosperous state does not know, it seems to me, what sort of honour one should pay his native land, and such an one would clearly take it ill if his lot had fallen in a less pretentious place. For my part I prefer to honour the mere name of native land. In attempting to compare states, it is proper, of course, to investigate their size and beauty and the abundance of their supplies; but when it is a question of choosing between them, nobody would choose the more splendid and give up her own. He would pray that it too might be as prosperous as any, but would choose it, no matter what it was. Upright children and good fathers do just the same thing. A lad of birth and breeding would not honour anyone else above his father, and a father would not neglect his son and cherish some other lad. In fact, fathers, influenced by their affection, give their sons so much more than their due that they think them the best-looking, the tallest and the most accomplished in every way. One who does not judge his son in this spirit does not seem to me to have a father's eyes.
In the first place, then, the name of fatherland is closer to one's heart than all else, for there is nothing closer than a father. If one pays his father proper honour, as law and nature direct, then one should honour his fatherland still more, for his father himself belonged to it and his father's father and all their forebears, and the name of father goes back until it reaches the father-gods. Even the gods have countries that they rejoice in, and although they watch over all the abodes of man, deeming that every land and every sea is theirs, nevertheless each honours the place in which he was born above all other states. Cities are holier when they are homes of the gods, and islands are more divine if legends are toldof the birth of gods in them. Indeed, sacrifices are accounted pleasing to the gods when one goes to their native places to perform the ceremony. If, then, the name of native land is in honour with the gods, should it not be far more so with mankind? Each of us had his first sight of the sun from his native land, and so that god, universal though he be, is nevertheless accounted by everyone a home-god, because of the place from which he saw him first. Moreover, each of us began to speak there, learning first to talk his native dialect, and came to know the gods there. If a man's lot has been cast in such a land that he required another for his higher education, he should still be thankful for these early teachings, for he would not have known even the meaning of "state" if his country had not taught him that there was such a thing.
The reason, I take it, for which men amass education and learning is that they may thereby make themselves more useful to their native land, and they likewise acquire riches out of ambition to contribute to its common funds. With reason, I think: for men should not be ungrateful when they have received the greatest favours. On the contrary, if a man returns thanks to individuals, as is right, when he has been well treated by them, much more should he requite his country with its due. To wrong one's parents is against the law of different states; but counting our native land the common mother of us all, we should give her thank-offerings for our nurture and for our knowledge of the law itself.
No one was ever known to be so forgetful of his country as to care nothing for it when he was in another state. No, those who get on badly in foreign parts continually cry out that one's own country is the greatest of all blessings, while those who get on well, however successful they may be in all else, think that they lack one thing at least, a thing of the greatest importance, in that they do not live in their own country but sojourn in a strange land; for thus to sojourn is a reproach! And men who during their years abroad have become illustrious through acquirement of wealth, through renown from office-holding, through testimony to their culture, or through praise of their bravery, can be seen hurrying one and all to their native land, as if they thought they could not anywhere else find better people before whom to display the evidences of their success. The more a man is esteemed elsewhere, the more eager is he to regain his own country.
Even the young love their native land; but aged men, being wiser, love it more. In fact, every aged man yearns and prays to end his life in it, that there in the place where he began to live he may deposit his body in the earth which nurtured him and may share the graves of his fathers. He thinks it a calamity to be guilty of being an alien even after death, through lying buried in a strange land.
How much affection real, true citizens have for their native land can be learned only among a people sprung from the soil. Newcomers, being brut bastard children, as it were, transfer their allegiance easily, since they neither know nor love the name of native land, but expect to be well provided with the necessities of life wherever they may be, measuring happiness by their appetites! On the other hand, those who have a real mother-country love the soil on which they were born and bred, even if they own but little of it, and that be rough and thin. Though they be hard put to it to praise the soil, they will not lack words to extol their country. Indeed, when they see others priding themselves on their open plains and prairies diversified with all manner of growing things, they themselves do not forget the merits of their own country, and pass over its fitness for breeding horses to praise its fitness for breeding men. One hastens to his native land though he be an islander, and though he could lead a life of ease elsewhere. If immortality be offered him he will not accept it, preferring a grave in his native land, and the smoke thereof is brighter to his eyes than fire elsewhere.
To such an extent do all men seem to prize their own country that lawgivers everywhere, as one may note, have prescribed exile as the severest penalty for the greatest transgressions. And it cannot be said that in this view lawgivers differ from commanders. On the contrary, in battle no other exhortation of the marshalled men is so effective as "You are fighting for your native land!" No man who hears this is willing to be a coward, for the name of native land makes even the dastard brave.
Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq’s minority communities since 2003
Report of the Minorities Rights Group International
The following are excerpts from the report published by the
Minority Rights Group International (MRG). The excerpts selected pertain to Assyrians in Iraq. The author,
Preti Taneja, is a journalist specializing in human rights. She is
a regular contributor to a range of international print, web-based
and audio media. As a filmmaker she has produced
and directed a number of human rights documentaries. She
holds a degree in Theology and Religious Studies from the
University of Cambridge.
Evidence of violence against minorities: Christians
The Chaldo-Assyrian and Syriac Christians see Iraq as
their ‘mother country’, ‘the centre of their historical cultural
and demographic weight’. They live mainly in
Kirkuk, Basra, Baghdad, Mosul and on the plains of Nineveh.
Both communities speak Syriac, which is derived
from Aramaic, the language of the New Testament, one of
the oldest continually written and spoken languages in the
Attacks against businesses
Attacks against Christian business owners have taken place systematically over the last three years. Because Christianity does not prohibit drinking alcohol, and under Saddam Hussein’s government only Christians and Yazidis were permitted to sell liquor, off-licence owners in Iraq are easily identified as being from minority groups.
Shops selling alcohol in Baghdad, Mosul and Basra have been bombed, looted and defaced. According to the Christian and Other Religions Endowment Bureau in Iraq, approximately 95 per cent of alcohol shops have closed following threats by Islamic extremists. Traditionally, the Christian minority also own businesses such as gymnasiums, beauty parlours, CD and DVD shops and recording studios, again making them obvious targets.
In May 2003, Sheikh Mohammed al Fartousi, a member of al-Sadr, issued a fatwa banning alcohol, commanding women to wear the veil and ordering cinemas to close. In a sermon at Muslim weekly prayers at Al-Mohsen mosque in Baghdad’s Shia suburbs of Sadr City, he told ‘several thousand’ Muslims:
According to another report, al Fartousi also said: ‘Our
fatwa is for all the people. Alcohol is banned under every
religion’. He claimed to have up to 1,000 armed former
soldiers under his control. Several alcohol factories were
attacked just hours after the fatwa was issued.
This is not a unique occurrence. In June, armed
intruders broke into Sami Tammu’s off-licence in Baghdad
and shot him when he tried to escape. In August
2004, reports told of masked gunmen shooting Sabah
Macardige in Baghdad in broad daylight. According to
witnesses, Macardige had received warnings to stop selling
A pattern of churches and Christian-owned buildings
such as schools being targeted has also been noted
throughout this period. Reports of casualties show that
the attacks are planned for maximum impact when ser-vices
are taking place. 2003 saw a rocket attack on a
convent in Mosul, explosions in two Christian schools in
Baghdad and Mosul, and an explosion in a church in
Baghdad on Christmas Eve. A bomb was found and
defused in a monastery in Mosul.
In October 2004, more attacks on churches across Baghdad
left at least one person dead and nine injured. Some
of the churches were severely damaged and the Roman
Catholic Church of St George, which was constructed of
wood, burned down. The attacks occurred on the second
day of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.
Christian areas and associations with MNF-I
People have been abducted or killed in attacks simply
because they are in targeted Christian areas, work for foreign
companies, or hold official or professional positions.
These include civil servants, medical personnel and civic
and religious leaders. Such attacks strike directly at the
social infrastructure of communities, leaving a void of fear
and disabling those who are left from carrying on their
everyday lives. On 7 June 2004, four masked men drove
into the Christian Assyrian quarter of Hay Al-Athuryee in
the Dora district of Baghdad and opened fire on Assyrians
on their way to work. Three men and one woman were
The Assyrian internet magazine Zinda reported that on 19
August 2003, Nadan Yonadam was killed in an ambush
while working with the US Army as a civilian translator.
World events in the ‘war on terror’ and reports of abuse of
(often Muslim) detainees in American jails in Guantanamo
Bay and elsewhere fuel the violence against the
Christian minority in Iraq. In September 2006, Pope
Benedict made a speech referring to the 14th-century
Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Palaeologos: ‘The Emperor
comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war,’ the
In the days following the Pope’s speech, militant Islamist websites reportedly posted messages threatening reprisals against ‘worshippers of the cross’.
Sunni and Shia clerics in Iraq united in condemnation
of the Pope’s comments, calling them an insult to Islam
and the Prophet Mohammed. After the speech, the New
York Times reported that in Baghdad, many churches had
cancelled their services and have not opened since. Reverend
Zayya Edward Khoshaba, pastor of the Church of
the Virgin Mary in Baghdad, said, ‘The actions of fanatics
have increased against Christians.’ The same article
reported that a Christian teenage girl had been kid-napped,
and her captors had initially demanded a ransom.
Later, they said the Pope was the only one who could
release her, and she was eventually killed.
Intimidation and threats
Christians have also reported receiving threats of violence
at the neighbourhood level through leafleting, text messages
to mobile phones and one-on-one intimidation.
Minorities in disputed territories in northern Iraq
Many minority rights violations perpetrated in Iraq today
form part of an ongoing cycle of violence and injustice
that goes back to the government of Saddam Hussein.
From the western city of Sinjar on the Syria/Iraq border to Khanaquin on the Iran/Iraq border in the east, including Mosul, Erbil, Kirkuk, Diyala, Dohuk and Suleymaniyah, hundreds of thousands of Kurds, Faili Kurds, Shabaks, Turkomans, Mandaeans, Assyrians and Yazidis were affected by Saddam Hussein’s genocide or Anfal campaign.
Launched in 1988, the campaign resulted in the death or forced disappearance of some 100 000 people – mostly Kurds, but including many thousands of people from different minorities – and the policy of ‘Arabisation’ that continued until 2003.
The right to return and how this is effected has therefore
become a crucial issue since 2003, one which, given
the competing tensions in this traumatised area of the
country, has been fraught with difficulties. The question
of just redress for the Kurds, who now wield significant
political and military power and who seek to ensure that
they will not be vulnerable in the future, as well as what
As well as disappearances and murder, the Arabisation
policy officially forced minorities to change their ethnic
identity. The 1987 and 1997 national censuses obliged all
Assyrians to choose between an Arab or Kurdish nationality;
those who insisted on identifying as Assyrian were struck off
the list or arbitrarily registered as Arab or Kurd.
Under considerable pressure from the US, the Kurdish authorities have consented not to press by immediate force their claims for restitution of Kurdish land and property in the Kirkuk area. The Kurdish policy is now to promote ‘normalisation’, or the return of communities displaced from Kirkuk and the restitution of their property, followed by a census of the population and the referendum on the status of the city, due to take place in 2007 (see below).
But statements from various minority representatives
interviewed by MRG emphasise the direct violence and
intimidation they are experiencing at the hands of the
Kurds, particularly on the Nineveh plains and in Kirkuk.
There are reports that minorities are being pressured to
support Kurdish political parties or to state their identity
as Kurdish, which will strengthen Kurdish claims to the
land. In return they are offered protection.
Like all Iraqi citizens, minorities in northern Iraq are caught up in sectarian violence between majority groups. But if the prospect of a political settlement over Kirkuk continues to recede, the threat of renewed inter-ethnic violence and forced displacements perpetrated by different factions or militias will increase. Minority communities will be among the most vulnerable should this occur.
Chaldo-Assyrians in Kirkuk are caught up in violence between larger ethnic groups. Their numbers, however, are much smaller – an estimated 12,000 in 2006.
The Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration
has reported on the serious difficulties Christians face as
they attempt to reclaim their properties in northern
Speaking in 2004 in the House of Commons,
Stephen Pound MP said: ‘At least 58 Chaldo-Assyrian
villages have been partially or fully occupied by Kurds:
eight are completely occupied and 50 partly occupied.
All are in Dohuk province and in areas controlled by the KDP.’
He added: ‘Instead of returning the land to its
rightful Chaldo-Assyrian owners, the current Minister of
Defence, Hazim al-Shaalan, has sent a letter to the Minister
The lands in question are in the following Chaldo-Assyrian districts of the Nineveh plains: Telkepeh,
The Washington-based Assyrian organisation the Iraq Sustainable Development Project (ISDP) conducted a field trip to northern Iraq in early 2006. It reported extensive land seizure by the KDP with no recompense for minorities, and threats and coercion for minorities to assimilate. (However, church leaders who become members receive reconstruction funds for their churches and homes). One priest has been identified as informing the Kurdish authorities of Assyrians who oppose KDP control of the Nineveh plains. ISDP also reported that in order to get and keep jobs, minorities are forced to become members of the KDP. ISDP alleges that all Chaldo-Assyrians applying to work at the Sheraton hotel in Erbil were required to become members of the KDP; those who refused had their job offers withdrawn.
Where territory is disputed, minorities can also experience
violations to their right to participation and political representation.
The fierce fight for control of Kirkuk and the
border areas around the KRG has a specific political
impact on minority communities where votes will make a
difference to the outcome of elections. In the January
2005 elections, non-Muslim minorities (and non-Kurds)
After the elections, the UN news agency IRIN reported
that a crowd of mostly Turkomans and Christians numbering
approximately ‘300 ... protested outside the fortified
Green Zone in Baghdad, unhappy about alleged irregularities
on election day, especially in Kirkuk, where witnesses
accused Kurdish parties of entering polling stations, breaking
ballot boxes open and stealing ballot papers.’
Whether the last assertion is true or not, it demonstrates the level of suspicion between the groups that flared almost immediately in 2003.
To read the entire report in PDF format and view the sources and bibliographies please click here.
A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet
“The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.”
G.K. Chesterton, English author
When I was very young, I reviled Assyrian parties. Being a little girl, the music was always too loud for my small ears, the dance lines that snaked around the ballroom always got in my way when I wanted to run around and play, and the food was never appetizing. The best part of the night was when the clock rolled past my bedtime hour, and my mother sat me on her lap so I could sleep. Amongst the ruckus and the laughter and the celebration around me, I had one ear pressed against my mother's perfumed chest, where her heartbeat rocked me to sleep. The other ear was turned outward, and the sound of the Assyrian language being spoken and sung was a familiar sound. Falling asleep was never a problem then.
I have faith in Assyrians left in the Homeland – they seem to grasp what is happening around them at an alarmingly more efficient rate than us “Westernized” Assyrians. It is us, in the Diaspora – those who have left and either never been, or haven’t been in decades – that worry me.
The Assyrian nation is so unique, we find it difficult to search for answers to our various problems in comparative studies, history, sociology, or any other social science – we have a collective identity, while refusing to use a singular name. We have several groups which come from the same geographic area, speak the same language, identify with each other as one (“soorayeh”) yet differentiate from each other according to which Patriarch rules over their denomination. We cling to the same millennia-old history, yet look at each other and say “we are different from each other now”. I invite sociologists to study the Assyrian nation – we were the first civilization, we were pioneers on this earth in every way – and we are re-defining identity and nationalism as we live and breathe. Our religious institutions have both saved us and condemned us to “different-ness”.
It is an interesting concept Assyrians must learn to grasp – as right as 2 and 2 are 4, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Aramaens, and all other Assyrian-speaking folk are, indeed, Assyrians. To divide these people into a dozen different ethnic groups is an exercise in politics, not historical integrity. But as right as the name Assyrian is, I cannot call anyone by a name they do not choose. Anyone who thinks otherwise is illogical or stubborn. Anyone who says “who cares and to hell with them” is not a nationalist – he is exclusionary, and a nationalist does not exclude portions of his people. Being right, but being a stubborn bully, does not make a righteous guardian of an identity. We must, must, must accept it: Assyrian is the right name, but not all Assyrian people are ready for it. One cannot force a square peg into a round hole. If Assyrian nationalism will be borne into Syrian Orthodox and Chaldean Catholics, it must start with the people of the Syrian Orthodox and Chaldean Catholic Church. Not by political parties who believe the “other” identities are inferior. Much like the U.S. cannot force democracy on Iraq – so must identity be homegrown.
The question becomes, do we, who use the name Assyrian proudly, believe that those who call themselves by our Christian denominations are also Assyrians? I do. I believe they are all, every last one of them, Assyrians from the very center of what was Assyria. I cannot say “to hell with them”, because they refuse the name Assyrian. I cannot – not because it is cruel or wrong, but because regardless of their sentiments, I still believe we are one people. And I cannot tell my people they don’t matter. And no nationalist could.
There is a difference, a deep difference, between accepting Chaldean, “Syriani”, (and even the very recently invented “Aramaen”), and accepting “Arab” or “Kurdish” Christian. Arab and Kurdish are not our names. Those are distinct ethnic identities, a people with a different tongue, ancestry, history (although the Kurdish one is mostly unknown, a seeming conglomerate of Persian, Turkish, and some tribes, even Assyrian). Chaldean is our name. Syriani is our name. Whether true or false, they belong to us and no other. I don’t think the conversation regarding our national identity should stop – in fact, it needs to continue. It is difficult to have a nation torn. But the course of the conversation needs to change. In the U.S., the largest Assyrian and Chaldean Catholic organizations have united to work towards the goal of the Nineveh Plains for Assyrians in Iraq. Regardless of what they think of the Assyrian name, identity, and our churches, they are working together for a common goal.
This whole concept takes discipline, modesty, and true nationalism. Many of us love the Assyrian name and everything it means and is, and anger at the fact that we have to constantly fight for it. And it’s unfortunate. But it’s our reality as Assyrians. It won’t last forever – nothing does. In the meantime, let’s stop the arguments, so we can continue in our discussions.
Australia's MP Delivers Speech on Behalf of Assyrians
(ZNDA: Sydney) The following is the complete speech by the Member of Australia's Parliament, the Honorable Chris Bowen, delivered on 26 February in the House of Representatives with reference to the untenable position of the Assyrian people.
The Labor MP., Mr. Chris Bowen is the Chairman of the Assyrian Parliamentary Friendship Group together with Liberal MP. the Hon. Bruice Baird:
Return to Anatolia Conference Report
Report by Dean Kalimniou from Australia
(ZNDA: Melbourne) The inaugural “Return to Anatolia” Conference held on 3 March 2007 at the Cyprus Community of Melbourne and Victoria was a great success. The conference marks the first effort of the Greek and Assyrian communities to hold joint functions that celebrate their joint heritage and commemorate and showcase their history. The importance of this ground-breaking conference as a landmark in the history of multiculturalism was underlain by the attendance, not only by the Consul-General of Greece in Melbourne Christos Salamanis and the High Commissioner of Cyprus Mr Achilleas Antoniadis but also by members of the Victorian Parliament including Judy Maddigan MP, Lili D’ Ambrosio MP, Nazih Elasmar MLC and Jenny Mikakos MLC, all of who expressed profound interest in the cultures and histories of the Christian peoples of Anatolia. The presence of Assyrian and Greek community presidents and representatives notable Assyrian Universal Alliance Australian Chapter President, Hermiz Shahin, and Assyrian Australian Arts and Literature Foundation Chairperson, Jacob Haweil, was also noteworthy.
Lectures to a packed auditorium by Aziz Mourad and Dean Kalimniou on historical perspectives of the Assyrian and Pontian sojourns in Anatolia respectively were both informative and entertaining, as was National Centre for Hellenic Studies at Latrobe University member Stavros Stavridis’ overview of the Assyrian and Armenian genocides. Dr Panayiotis Diamandis’ presentation of his research on Australian efforts to aid Armenian, Greek and Assyrian victims of the Christian Genocide, as well as his examination of the Genocide through contemporary accounts by Australian Prisoners of War enthralled the audience. As an epilogue to the conference, Neos Kosmos senior journalist Kostas Nikolopoulos provided a sophisticated analysis of the role of ethnic media in assisting the placing of ‘national issues’ in their proper perspective, coining the unforgettable phrase: “To lobby is not a hobby.”
The presentation of Assyrian and Pontian folkloric costumes, songs, poems and musical instruments did much to augment the participants’ conception of the Christian peoples of Anatolia as partakers of a unique cultural synthesis. Conference Orgnaising Committee Chairperson, Ms Sofia Kotanidis, echoed the sentiments expressed by Cyprus High Commissioner Mr Antioniadis, by announcing to enthusiastic acclaim, her committee’s intention to convene this historic event on an annual basis, in order to bring the peoples of Anatolia closer together.
Mass-grave in Mardin, Turkey
Prof David Gaunt
Two weeks ago Prof. Dr. Yusuf Halaçoglu, head of the Turkish Historical Society, challenged me in Turkish media to give him an answer about a joint investigation of the mass-grave found last October in Mardin province. I answered him immediately proposing the period of 23-25 April as a possible date for a preliminary meeting and first site inspection. This was not intended as a provocation, but I made this time slot by canceling some lecture invitations to which I had already agreed.
Since then, I have not heard a word from Prof. Halaçoglu. I have written to him privately, faxed and e-mailed, but with no result. This unnatural silence leads to the conclusion that he no longer is interested in making a truly scientific investigation of the mass-grave find. What could be the reason?
In order to give this investigation some scientific legitimacy, I had suggested that an impartial international group of crime scene investigators be the first to inspect the cave in order to ascertain whether the bodies had been manipulated in any way and whether the site was intact. Only if and when they would give a clear signal would any other investigators enter. Are we forced to conclude that the site has indeed already been prepared, and that trained persons would easily discover the manipulation? In that case it would be reasonable for Prof. Halaçoglu to want to forget his invitation. At present there are few alternative interpretations to his behaviour other than that he regrets the publicity he has given this matter.
Prof. Gaunt is the author of the highly acclaimed work on the Seyfo Genocide: "Massacres, Resistance, Protectors: Muslim-Christian Relations in Eastern Anatolia During World War I" published by Gorgias Press (click here).
European Parliament Conference: Assyrian Seyfo
We are happy to announce that the GUE/NGL, European United Left/Nordic Green Left together with the SEYFO CENTER are hosting a conference about the Assyrian Genocide of 1915.
We will be discussing various topics including the perspective of Turkey joining the EU.
We would like to cordially invite you and the representatives of your organization to attend our conference in the European Parliament at Rue Wiertz in Brussels, room P7C050 on Monday 26 March 2007 at 15:00 until 17:00.
We have a limited place in the conference room and would appreciate your response to our invitation no later than three weeks before the event. We require the participants full names for booking and security requirements.
At the conference, three languages, English, German and France will be used and with the stimulant method you will chose the language you want. We don’t promise but we try to arrange Assyrian as well.
We wait with anticipation to your early response. For more information write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. Yosip Qelaita's Assyrian School of Mosul Project
Rev. Yosip Qelaita's Assyrian school in Mosul operated from 1920-1945; it was a remarkable school that produced the next generation of Assyrian leaders and intellectuals.
The following information was obtained from Shamasha Yosip Zia (#42), who attended the school from 1920-1923.
The school year began on November 1st and ended on May 30th. The school was co-ed, with boys and girls attending classes (in the photograph there is only one girl shown, #132); Shamasha Zia says there were many many girls in the school, but few made it to the advanced classes.
In 1921 a disagreement between Benyamin Arsanis and Qasha Yosip Qelaita arose, regarding the curriculum. Benyamin Arsanis wanted to stress history and science, particularly Assyrian history, and wanted a more secular curriculum, while Qasha Qelaita wanted a more religious curriculum. The Mar Shimoun sided with Qasha Qelaita and Benyamin Arsanis was forced to leave the school.
This photograph was taken in 1922 and shows 129 students and 5 instructors. Rev. Qelaita, a deacon (Shamasha) at the time, is the white-bearded man seated in the middle (#114).
Some of the names of these students are known, others are not. We wish to identify each student in this photograph. We also would like to compile a list of all the students that attended the Assyrian School of Mosul. If you recognize anyone in this photograph or know of anyone who attended this school, click below to send us this information.
click here to identify or add a person. At press time 16 teachers and students have been identified.
Zinda Magazine asks its readers in Southern California, eligible to vote for candidates running for the Los Angeles Community College District's Board of Trustee, to show their support for two Assyrian candidates who are running for two different seats: Number Three and Number Five. The candidates are Mr. Jozef Essavi and Mr. Hanna Hajjar, both endorsed by Zinda Magazine for their professionalism and community services rendered in the last few years, as Assyrian activists and community leaders. Please do not forget to vote tomorrow.
Jozef Essavi : Candidate for the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustee, Seat # 3
Jozef Thomas Essavi was elected to the Winnetka Neighborhood Council in 2005. He serves as Winnetka Senator to Los Angeles Congress of Neighborhood Councils. Jozef is a product of Los Angeles Valley College and was elected and re-elected as the ASB Union Treasurer in the 90's and was unanimously nominated from LAVC to become LACCD Student Trustee. He was able to keep student learning center open even after all the funds had been exhausted. Jozef knows the inner workings of LACCD, its flaws and positive aspects and has worked with faculty, staff and administrators in a fair and balanced fashion. He went on to receive his BA from UCR and MA from Cal State Northridge and currently is working on his PhD. He is committed to the district's taxpayers and Proposition 13 and to accountability and responsibility. He is committed to full student access to education, lower unit fees, and expanded scholarship programs. He is committed to teacher tenure rather than shuttling between campuses. He is committed to giving independence to each of the nine campuses and their administrators.
Jozef Thomas Essavi will be “a Trustee for all of us”. Please help by voting or donating to his campaign and by visiting his website (click here).
To view Mr. Essavi's Campaign Video click here.
Hanna Hajjar: Candidate for the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustee, Seat # 5
It is my pleasure to introduce myself as one of the candidates running for the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), Board of Trustee, Seat #5. Please view LA's certified candidates list, page #2 at the following link: click here.
I take this opportunity to invite you to visit my website (click here), as my approach to campaigning is completely different. In my website you will find something different, unique, and creative. I am an engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, artist, and the president of my Alumni, a very rare combination.
I am pioneering in a new type of online election campaigning, thought the use of online video clips; I believe that this new idea would be of interest to you. You can view my clips at www.YouTube.com at the following links:
Looking forward to hearing from you soon. I can be reached at: email@example.com or by phone at: 818-300-4734.
International Women's Day
We - a network of Iraqi women’s rights organisations based in Iraq and the UK – want to draw attention to the plight of Iraqi women. We the London based, Marem Reshakh: Assyrian Women’s Human Rights are one of the catalysts behind this event, which will of course highlight the suffering of the Assyrian women along with the Iraqi women in general.
We have come together to organise an event to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, 8th March 2007. In the context of what Iraqi women are experiencing in their everyday life in Iraq, we hope that this celebration of universal rights, freedom and equality, for which Iraqi women is continuing to struggle to voice their opinion courageously will be a historic event.
Since the invasion and beginning of the occupation of Iraq in 2003, our society has been driven into a state of instability, chaos and anarchy. At times like this, everyone suffers, but it is the women who are the first victims. Lack of adequate health care, clean water and electricity, unemployment, abductions, rape, sex trafficking, rise of politicized, religion, ethic, honour killings, violence at the hands of occupation forces, Islamist militias and insurgents, criminal gangs and families, as well as sectarian killings and targeted assassinations terrorise the lives of thousands of women.
In mounting this event, we want to draw attention to the outrageous situation in which Iraqi women are having to live, work and raise their families, and we also want to celebrate their extraordinary resilience and ability to go on fighting for their rights. We want to say ‘no’ to being divided along sectarian and ethnic lines and ‘no’ to the violation of women’s rights in Iraq under occupation.
Lamassu Productions Launches "Assyrian Identity – Sponsorship Tour"
André N. Anton
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DETROIT, MI, Feb 14, 2007 /Lamassu Productions/ -- On Saturday, February 10th, 2007, Lamassu Productions kicked off their "Assyrian Identity – Sponsorship Tour," in Connecticut. The tour marks a significant date in the progress for the upcoming film, Assyrian – The Struggle for Identity. This process marks the transition from conceptualization to the pre-production phase. The film deals with the struggles of the Assyrian people, a people that have been subjected to various forms of discrimination and persecution since the fall of the Assyrian Empire approximately 2600 years ago, linking the cultural, historical, and political aspects of the Assyrian identity in a way to preserve and uphold an ancient civilization on the brink of extinction.
During their visit to Connecticut, producers André N. Anton and Feras Majid Shammami attended the Assyrian-American National Federation's (AANF) national meeting to promote the film project. This particular visit stands as a powerful message in regards to its symbolic nature. The AANF was founded in the early 1930s in Connecticut in response to atrocities and slaughters committed against Assyrian communities in Iraq. As being one of the first Assyrian groups founded in America, the launching of the tour at the AANF's national meeting serves as a representation of a new beginning, the formidable spirit of Assyrian perseverance and will to survive. According to Shammami, the presentation was a success:
“André and I launched our tour with tempered expectations and they were more than exceeded. The presentation led to a discussion and a truly humbling show of support. This is more evidence of the hunger that Assyrians have for exactly this type of project. Assyrian – The Struggle For Identity is truly more than a movie and we are starting to witness that in the reactions we are receiving. I believe a young man at the meeting, Ninos, put it best: 'This movie is our movement.'"
The next stop on the tour travels to the Detroit area, as the tour meets with several community organizations and media outlets. In addition to sponsorship for the movie, Lamassu Productions is reaching out to unite the Chaldean, Syriac, and Assyrian communities and to bridge the gap between the young and the old. But no matter what ethnic or religious backgrounds reside in a person, compassion and humanity must prevail to help those that are suffering.
To schedule a tour of the presentation and/or receive a sponsorship package, contact Lamassu Productions via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call for Architectural Sketches for Assyrian Genocide Monument in Yerevan, Armenia
The Assyrian Organization of Armenia
The Assyrians of Armenia have been provided with an opportunity to erect a monument in Yerevan (the capital city of Armenia) commemorating the victims of the 1915 Assyrian Genocide. The proposed site is the lower corner of the Chamber Music Hall Park (intersection of Nalbandian and Moskovian).
Assyrian architects, artists, and other talented individuals are requested to submit ideas and concepts in the form of architectural sketches for the subject monument. The space allocated for this monument is 3 meters in width, 4 meters in length, and 3 meters in height.
All efforts have been made to create this 17-page self explanatory document to clearly
define the environment where the monument will erected. If any further clarification is
required, please contact us.
NOC Iraq is Looking for Athletes
National Olympic Committee of Iraq
The National Olympic Committee of Iraq is calling all Iraqi athletes residing outside Iraq or who are citizens of said countries to send a resume of their performance as listed bellow.
The NOC of Iraq is looking for high performance athletes to represent Iraqi National Teams in International championships and be a part of the Iraqi teams taking part in Arab, Asian, and Olympic Games.
At the moment, one male swimmer and one female swimmer are needed to represent Iraq in the World Swimming Championship and then the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008. Athletes with competition experience in the winter games are also needed.
1- Must have competitive experience in his/her sport and still in training.
To read more about Mr. Tiras Odisho Anwaya click here.
What drew my attention was his beautiful fountain pen: black, sleek, a gold band on the cap. As we waited for our individual flights at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, I felt a kindred spirit with him because of my great love for fountain pens.
He was well dressed, in a distinct European way, and sitting across from him, occasionally I got a whiff of English lavender. It looked to me he was writing a letter. From time to time he stopped and gazed into the distance. I saw longing in his eyes.
He wrote many pages. Time passed. My flight was delayed. I stayed glued to my seat. Finally he capped the fountain pen and studied what he had written. Then he straightened the pages together and ripped them into strips, methodically, as if in slow motion. I saw dew in his eyes, but I could have been wrong.
He sat there for a long time afterward and stared into space, until his flight was called. Then he was gone, leaving me to ponder my failure to begin a conversation with him. Why didn’t I do it? I would have liked to know about him. Even found out about the letter. To whom was he writing? What was he writing? And why tear it up in the end? That picture still haunts me.
Life is a stream of missed opportunities that, unlike a roll of dice, will never again create the same combination. I think of another missed opportunity, perhaps the most profound in my life. It was not getting to know my great uncle, the writer and historian Binyamin Arsanis. We called him Mom Yameh. When I was a little boy, he was a giant. Looking back now, I wish I had been old enough to know him better. To converse with him as a mature person. Assyrian to Assyrian. Artist to artist. He could have told me so much about being an Assyrian. About being a writer.
I remember Uncle Binyamin was always hunched over a manuscript at his writing table under a big tree in his yard, fountain pen in hand. This is in Tehran, Iran, where I lived my early years. I grew up learning to read and write Farsi, whereas he wrote in our own language: Assyrian. Perhaps he could also have taught me to try my hand at writing in Assyrian. What a gift that would have been for me.
Unable to read or write Assyrian, although I speak it, I have never read what he wrote, though I remember as a youngster being taken to a performance of one of his plays. I don’t recall the play, but an image plays in my head of the curtain falling and the theatre exploding with cheers and applause as the audience shot to its feet. It must have been a good play. I want to think it was a great play.
My Uncle Binyamin was a towering figure, with a swagger reminiscent of a French Legionnaire. Yet he spoke in an easy manner, with a ready smile that softened the air around him. I think of him as the gentle warrior who rejected the sword and instead lived his life through the power of his pen. I find that to be noble.
He smelled of tarragon and basil, and of the yard where he spent so much of his time on warm days, writing, always writing. Most of all, he smelled of ink, the ink from the fountain pen that spotted his hands. Now every time I refill my fountain pen from the bottle, I can’t help but long for those times I spent with him.
Sometimes I would sit on his knee, hearing clusters of words float through him. I also heard the warm breezes that played through the flowers and the tree in the yard that he loved so much.
He would ask me things, and he would listen to what I said, nodding, as if what he heard was important. That much I do remember, especially the smile in his eyes as he regarded everything I said. Looking back, that smile told me what people say is important. What I said was important – to him. Since then I have always listened to what people say with interest and curiosity. With respect. A writer must also be a good listener. What a profound lesson to learn from Mom Yameh so early in my life.
I wonder what Uncle Binyamin and I would have talked about had I been much older at the time? Had I been a writer back then. I know I would have asked him why he suggested my name to my parents. I was named after the Assyrian king Ashur Uballit I (1354-1326 B.C.), during whose reign Assyria emerged as a powerful empire.
I am honored, of course, but I still would like to have known why name me after Ashur Uballit I? I like my name. Always have. But then why not name me after, say, Sargon II,or Shalmanaser I,or Ashurbanipal, or maybe even Tiglath Pileser? Well, on second thought, maybe not Tiglath Pileser. With America’s penchant for shortening names, I can just hear people calling me Tig for short. I’d sound like a bug. Obelit (from Uballit) was already a nightmare to pronounce for my high school teachers and classmates in Chicago, so much so that they started calling me Obie.
I know my Uncle Binyamin and I would have talked about the writer’s life, the joys and the sorrows, the dedication, the discipline, the tenacity, but most of all, the passion of putting words on paper and watching them bloom into stories.
We would have also talked about books. I don’t know what he read. Did he read Shakespeare and Goethe? Firdausi and Balzac? Rumi and Saadi? Cervantes and Dante? Did he read Flaubert, Rimbaud, and Henry James? He spoke several languages, so perhaps he did read them. My Uncle Binyamin could have told me so much more about these great writers. And about many of our own Assyrian writers.
And so it is, this lost opportunity in my life. Every time I think of it now, I also see the image of the man with the fountain pen walking away.
Frederick P. Isaac
The Stump is the biblical term for Assyria. The Stump represents the Assyrian Nation. Assyria shall remain standing, holding fast to its original roots, awaiting rejuvenation, according to God’s will.
Creation of the compound name was brought about by imposition rather than choice. It has widened the gap of disunity, hampering the progress of our march as one Assyrian people of different segments. As when the tree is felled, the (derivatives of the compound name) branches wither and die out.
Those who foster Assyria as the name of their fatherland, cherish it as the national name of their nation. They proudly identify themselves with the Assyrian name as their national identity, and shall continue to do so, as I do. So, help me God. You cannot serve two masters, let alone three.
Genuine derivative names come about and grow as branches from the Stump itself. As the Stump revives and grows, branches will steadily sprout and flourish. Yet, for such a Stump to rejuvenate itself and become a healthy tree, it needs the combined efforts of all the segments to bring the thriving tree to fruition. Assyria would be the fruit of all our labour, and its branches the pride of the whole tree – Stump, trunk, branches and all.
Whether on the ground, in north of Iraq,or in diaspora, the fact remains that Assyrian representatives in any government are bound, by pledge, to observe government rules and guidelines. They are required to act in accordance with the prescribed protocol of their status. On their part, helping the Assyrians is limited to the Iraqi constitution, which when compared to our natural rights, is negligible. Outside the constitution, promise of help and support by such Assyrian representatives is no more than lip service. It is rhetorical, without any substance, failing to produce any meaningful results.
Such representatives are restricted in expressing their personal views freely. Being Assyrian, does not entitle such officials to publicly supporter promote aspirations of the Assyrian populace, be it at home or abroad. This has been the case for generations. It is a fact we should accept. Other new avenues and more effective methods should be sought to improve rapprochement and unity of our move and solidarity of our combined action.
Because of the above restrictive procedures, efforts to revive the stump seem to continue to bog down, due to some hapless infantile and pretenders. They are shackled by foreign elements and influenced by their masters’ distorted teachings. Such antiquated and fabricated names of non-existent nation- status are no more than a facade or a mere medium at best.
Launching Consolidated campaigns under the historical name, give the Assyrian movement impetus and a better chance of achieving a more favorable outcome than acting under different specious names.
Brethren, wake up and sober up. You identify your nationalities with derivatives relating to Assyria, knowingly or not. Yet, when the crunch comes, you distance yourselves from the Stump – the primal name of Assyria. Such unpatriotic behaviour of withdrawal are carried out by the derivative groups, at the behest of your sectarian leaders, causing confusion, deliberately hampering the progress of the Assyrian struggle. Notwithstanding, it was on you persistent demand and willingness that you joined in, considering the Assyrian as (Akhounwathan Athurnayi) your brothers.
All Assyrians that cherish the name of Assyria as the name of their fatherland are sincere in their arduous quest for restoration of Assyria. Although their approach and method of regaining their traditional rights may vary, their ultimate objective never changes. It remains the same – i.e., restoration of Assyria to its former political status, on its soil, as it had been in the past, until Post WWI. Though under the Islamic millet provision of the Dhimmitude, the Assyrians were internally independent and recognized as such by the Ottoman Turkish Rule.
It is traditional and common knowledge to demand your rights from your usurper. In recent times, more venues have become available through which Assyrians could engage in dialogue to reach resolution of their case. No matter which method the above Assyrian organizations and parties (Shutasi and Gabbi) they pursue, or whom they negotiate with, they shall remain loyal to their main goal, as they have always been and continue to be.
They will not sway from their Assyrian objective. They will not compromise their Assyrian national name for any other unwarranted and fictitious substitutes. Assyrian we are and Assyrian we shall remain in nationality and national identity
The prominent Assyrian Universal Alliance Organization (AUA), Bet Nahrain Political Party, and the rest of the Assyrian establishments (Gabbi W-Shutasi Athurayi) of whatever persuasion they might be, are intrinsically sincere Assyrians. They are dedicated to the promotion of the Assyrian cause.
Any individual or quarter that accuses them of treachery and betrayal is a loser. He goads himself to blame his own failure on others. By behaving in this manner, the accuser is only goading himself. (Mkhaita D-Gucha Al-Urutkha Khaz-dakta Dgana eila) Goading one’s hand causes self-harm.). Nothing good comes out of inflicting undue pain, except perhaps regret for making false accusation and misbehavior.
The Assyrian organizations and national parties have been serving the Assyrian nation for the last three to four decades with sincerity, dedication and fortitude. They have served the Assyrians of all segments, irrespective of their ethnic background. They continue to do so, considering them as one people of the same ancestry of Mesopotamia. In our books, they are Assyrians.
Just because such Assyrian organizations and political parties do not support the compound name, proponents of the compound name should not look at the Assyrians as their enemy and accuse their leaders of betrayal and treachery.
The Assyrian stance of the genuine Assyrian Organizations and political parties stand firm in their stand in protecting the unitary name of Assyria. There is no need for those in disagreement to be so irritable, unless they have convincingly accepted the compound name and changed sides, for their own ambiguous reasons. We wish them luck.
Affinity to Assyria Remains at its Paramount. Assyrians welcome and support any other Assyrian segment or section that believes in the concept of Assyria as his/her national identity. If you accept being genetically, historically, by heredity, and by phratry part of Assyria, then remember that when the stump is watered and tended with care, it will revive, sprout, grow branches and thrive. To regenerate itself, the stump needs to be brought back to life. Thus, by feeding it and nourishing it, the stump would come to life again, grow and the tree flourishes. The stump - Assyria - of which you claim it to be no more than a mere branch, is a deliberate act of treachery, on your part, in a desperate attempt to relegate the primal name of Assyria to an epithet.
The stump needs your contribution; in alliance with the Primal name Assyria. By so doing, you are assisting in brining the Assyrian nation to reality. Without the stump, there would be no branches. The whole lot would be gone and lost in the fold of history – stump, branches and all. It would be your end too.
Compounding the Assyrian name will not change the fact that Assyria is a nation in its own right. I have also recently noticed the name of Assyria demoted to a third place, attaching it to the end of the compound name. By doing so, supporters of the compound name try to delude others that Assyrians proper are a mere small minority. They understate Assyria’s growing population, describing it as insignificant and unworthy of the recognition it deserves as a distinct nation.
Look at the nomad Kurds; they are in millions, made up of various ethnic groups. They do not have a script and language of their own. They speak four different dialects, foreign and incomprehensible to one another. They never had national state-status. Yet, for fear of disintegration, they obligingly, out of necessity, cluster together, calling themselves, collectively, Kurds. They continue arrogating other peoples’ land under the fictitious name “ Kurdistan” to give their fraudulent name the impression of legitimacy in order to survive their ordeal. Their unity under one name has saved them from disintegration. It is one of the highest acts of deception that needs to be exposed and addressed, internationally.
Our brethren Catholics, on the other hand, similar to the Kurds, continue living a pretentious life, a life based on deception of being direct descendants of the ancient Chaldean rulers of old. They find it hard to swallow their pride and admit that distortion does not help and faking it does not sell.
“Chaldean?” Only recently, all the Catholic Churches, whose congregations are of the Middle East origin, existing overseas, were instructed (in about 2004 AD), to add “Chaldean” to their Church name. Was it a slip,or just a minor inadvertent mistake of memory lapse, waking up to it after centuries of neglect and carelessness? Or was it a deliberate act, of a slow process of a prolonged term of fusing all the Christians of the Middle East into the Roman Catholic crucible melting pot? In either case, our Catholic brethren, concentrated in North of Iraq, that were labeled “Chaldean” by Rome in about mid-16 th century, are genuine Assyrian in national identity. Assyrians are blood brothers and sisters of the Catholics branded “Chaldean” by the Catholic Church of Rome.
Assyrians recognize and respect all Christian denominations without exception. Yet, as Christian, Assyrians have the right to disagree with certain denominations on national identity and doctrinal grounds. To excommunicate them, as Rome has done, and deny their Catholic brethren their Assyrian national identity, is unchristian and sinful.
Both of the above mentioned fraudulent nations may try to turn the hands of the clock backwards, but they would surely bounce back.
To help resolve the outstanding name issue, cut yourselves away from old foreign entanglements, and discard them. Though hard, accept the truth and join in, in support of the primal name Assyria. Your “Chaldeans” are our blood brothers and sisters. We would love to see you all return to the fold in celebration of the unity of the Assyrian Nation in all sincerity.
Assyria is our name; Assyria is part of us; Assyria is with us in body and soul. A branch or a derivative does not have bearing to claim preeminence. Assyria's enemies will fail and be crushed under its voluminous history.
Solution to our problem is accepting & recognizing our Assyrian national name as the preeminent. The problem with the Assyrians is that they are embroiled in factionalism, causing disunity. In addition, Assyria lacks official recognition by the big powers and the world body of the United Nations. Recognizing our national Assyrian Identity is the solution to our outstanding problem.
The sad thing about Assyria’s misfortune is that both sides of the warring nations of World War I colluded with the Turks and Arabs, against the then non-Moslem colonized nations of Israel, Assyria and Christian Lebanon and other Christians (known as Syrianis) of the Middle East and Christian Copts of Egypt.
Deportation, nullification, deracination, were enforced on them, considering the native inhabitants of the above states as extinct, nonexistent Arab. They used the League of Nations as an authoritative and effective instrument in wiping them off the map and deracinating their native inhabitants. In the process, the warring nations changed the names of the four non-Moslem states and denied them their traditional rights.
The Allies, being members of the League of Nations and the Ottoman Turks and Arabs later joining in, schemed on annulling the existence of all the above four non-Moslem nationalities. The two sides of the warring nations concluded treaties, through the League of Nations, agreeing to uproot the non-Moslem surviving nations from their native land. Through the League, they described them as remnants of ancient kingdoms that had long been vanquished. The whole lot was handed back to the Moslems.
They were forcibly ejected from their homeland and dispersed, with a view to their gradual assimilation with the Turkish and Arab Moslem invaders and occupiers. Meanwhile, the roaming Kurds were allowed to seize Assyrian land and settle on them with the intention of urbanizing them as Moslem settlers in place of the Assyrian Christians. The Kurds being Moslem in religion, the neighbouring countries considered them as an asset.
The main objective of the two warring sides was to rob the Assyrians of their native land. They dispersed them and created new Islamic states, with a view to the gradual assimilation of the ousted Assyrians with the Islamic majority of their crucible melting pot.
Islamic governments of the newly created countries, in the Middle East, described the internally displaced Christian indigenous people that had survived WWI, as Arab Christians. They were given specious names of denominational description such as Nestorian, Moroni, and ‘Chaldean’, Arab Orthodox etc., to minimize their number. In the process, Islamic states, in agreement with the League, annulled the national identity of the Assyrians. The Assyrians were hence described as a diminishing minority, heading towards total extinction.
Thus, newly created Arab/Islamic kingdoms and states absorbed the indigenous and original dwellers of the Middle East colonized countries. The Warring Nations established Syria (Name derived from Assyria); Iraq (from Uruk - South of Mesopotamia); and ‘Arab Palestine’, (segmented from the Biblical Land of Israel Proper).
Modern Turkey, was supposed to have been reduced to its initial size of the 1300 AD. Its original landmass was not much larger than the present State of Kuwait. It ended up being the winner, by retaining extensive territories at the expense of the non-Moslem colonized states.
The Assyrians were denied the right to their native land. They were deported with humiliation and left to fend on their own, without food, shelter or protection. They were left in a hostile environment, at the mercy of their traditional enemies.
The Assyrian tragedy of the early 20th century, perpetrated by the warring nations of Islam and so-called “Christian” Europe, was no more than a sinister ploy to eradicate the non-Moslem colonized states in the Middle East. Their objective was to destroy Israel and its Judaic religion, wipe Assyria off the map, destroy the Assyrian Church of the East, and derogate its surviving people to a diminishing minority. As for the Christian Lebanese, Syrians and Copts, they already had been categorised as Arab by adopting the Arabic language in their liturgy, custom and apparel.
Now it is the turn of the Kurds, who have swarmed the Middle East, the Near East ( Turkey), Syria and several other neighbouring countries. Alternatively, it is too late to rein in 30 to 40 million roving Kurds, some of whom are well trained and heavily armed. The world had let loose the Kurds, while the Turks and Arabs were busy enjoying the loot, celebrating their triumph over the infidel (Kafir) Christian. Similarly, Europe was busy, heavily engaged in rebuilding its ruined economy and replenishing its empty coffers, because of the prolonged war. In addition, more concernedly was the growing danger from communism, causing political instability and threat to world democracy.
Now matters have come to a head. It is over. The honeymoon of the Turks and Arabs has now ended. Wow to the looter, be it Turk, Arab or Kurd. Everything has its price. If we have to observe the old saying: "What goes up, comes down”, then it is obvious that someone has to pay for the mess caused by the culprits.
People’s rights cannot be denied forever. There comes a time when the circle makes its full round turn and closes on those who had been acting as god and be brought to justice, whether in person or their succeeding governments.
Many aggrieved nations have been living under constant suppression and denial of their basic human rights. It has become habitual for oppressive governments to look at world’s dire condition, violence and unhappy events as normal. Humans are behaving like brute animals. They are losing their noble attributes, turning into savage, cruel and merciless species. I have seen animals that have more feelings for their kind than humans towards their own species do.
Deception, manipulation and bigotry seem to have taken hold of human behaviour, replacing the old noble attributes of honesty and good manners. How could a democratic country as Belgium, with its famous capital city Brussels, accept to put its name on an evil political borderline and name it - The Brussels Borderline? During ejection from their native land, the Assyrians were treated worse than cattle. It must have been a miracle than human effort to survive their ordeal. Their loss in human life was very high. Their material losses were in toto! They were left in a miserable state, with nothing except the clothes on their back.
The Allies ridiculed democracy and made a mockery of it. They decimated a nation that had lived on its soil, in present-day northern Iraq and neighbouring states of Iran, Turkey and Syria, for over seven millennia - since the dawn of history. Yet, Europe still brags of its exemplary leadership of democracy. “Amazing Grace How Great Thou Art…” for holding Your wrath against such injustices.
Assyrians often thought that Europe, mainly France and England, were the birthplace and upbringing of democracy, and as its hub, the West. I had always been of the opinion that Europe would reconsider and reach out for the aggrieved natives of the Middle East, in general and the Assyrians, in particular. My trust in the European justice has now diminished and so has my faith in their philanthropy. I have lost complete faith in European leadership, beginning with the Vatican Papacy in Rome to the last scoundrel leader of the European borders of Russia.
When it comes to the Assyrian issue, they duck, bury their heads in the sand, pretending not to hear or see, about the atrocities committed against the non-Moslem nations of the Middle East.
They are still feigning ignorance of the crimes against humanity. Uprooting a whole nation from their native land of the Hakkari and Urmia regions of Assyria is an ugly crime that will remain an indelible black mark on the forehead of Europe for bringing such a tragedy on the Assyrians.
It seems that Cain is still on the loose, running away from himself after he committed the crime of killing his brother. In the case of Cain, it was of jealousy. In the case of the side of the Warring Nations, it was purely greed.
Let us hope that the international community will reconsider our dire situation and come to our rescue. Otherwise, the whole Middle East will turn into an inferno should conditions not improve, and very soon, and remain on this scale of madness.
Europe and Islam seem to be gripped with Assyro-phobia. They have been so cruel in their treatment of the Assyrians that they shy away, and like the ostrich bury their heads in the sand. It is time they stood up and faced the reality of the situation, accepting responsibilities, and acting as responsible leaders.
Solution to the Assyrian problem is simple and straightforward. To resolve the outstanding problem, the United Nations Organization, needs to recognize the Assyrian national identity as the only historical name of the builders, owners and survivors of the capital city Nineveh of the land of Assyria.
To distort history and paly god to satisfy their ego is manifesting itself in several parts of the Globe. North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East and in certain newly emerging states in Europe and South America are nearing the passing point-of-no-return to open confrontation. Some of these belligerent states are already showing symptoms of hostility, by displaying their arsenal in a show of defiance.
All Assyrians of the Middle East are historically Mesopotamian. Invaders and occupiers have turned the Middle East, in particular Assyria, as cross road to consolidate their strategic position and hold. Such intruders come to destroy rather than build. They are parasites and spongers. Since their early occupation of the Middle East in the early past century, and earlier times, they have not contributed anything noteworthy to the Middle East civilization to be worthy of praise.
Their intention was and still is to destroy Assyria rather than restore it. Labeling Assyria with obnoxious foreign names such as “ Kurdistan”or so-called “ Chaldea” with its capital Hawlair or (Baghdeide) Qaraqosh is an insult to human dignity and world historians.
Assyrians, in their various capacities have the right to negotiate with any of their adversaries to reach a resolution to the satisfaction of their outstanding issue. Other segments are more than welcome to enter negotiations and do likewise – on the principle and understanding that, being part of the Assyrian populace, their negotiations should be in consultation and agreement with the Assyrian objective. Assyria being the primal name should remain as the pre-eminent and at the paramount of all other derivatives, regardless of their place of residence location.
Assyria with its capital name Nineveh shall stand and remain so. For thus it has been written and mentioned by its Heavenly Creator in the Holy Books of our Judeo-Christian faith. Our Assyrian name is our salvation. Assyria is the crown of those who cherish the national name of Assyria.
All other segments of the Assyrian compound name are welcome to accept Assyria as the name of their fatherland. In other words, the stump remains; branches do not. Identifying one’s self with the fatherland guarantees continuance of his/her survival and existence.
Heed the Mongol Turks; they are everywhere, and no one can sway or stray them from their Mongol base root.
Assyrians, return to your root, cluster together and unite under the coalition of the Assyrian leadership. It is the way to salvation and triumph. The Kurds have done it. The Mongol Turks have also done it. Could the Assyrians do it – unite and live under one name too?
News Too Grievous: The Assassination of Mar Shimun Catholicos of the East 
Translated from Assyrian by Nineb Lamassu
The harsh war that has been brought on to the entire world by the offspring of iniquity brings us bitter and sad news everyday. All of American newspapers write and report on the assassination of Mar Shimun Catholicos of the East and the Patriarch of the Assyrians in Persia, by the savage Kurds whose hands are weltered in innocent Assyrian blood.
He, his late Grace was assassinated whilst struggling like a brave warrior against the Kurds. The telegram of this account that is full of grief which came from the American Dr. Wineman  informs us the following:
“There is no news from Urmi and Salamas for a few weeks now: and other accounts that we received inform us that there is a great famine in Urmi. It is not possible to send food relief. Mar Shimun has been assassinated, and the Assyrians are still, until now, in war”.
This news which reached our ears truly distresses us because his grace Mar Shimun was the hope for all of Assyrianity. Mr. Poulos Shimun, the representative of Mar Shimun  , copied us on the telegram and called us to a remembrance which took place in Yonkers city.
Together with our Chorepiscopus reverend Youkhanan, we went and organised a remembrance for him according to the rights of our church. This service took place in ( St. Johns) the big Episcopal Church in Yonkers. There were more than two hundred Assyrian people from different places present, and the service commenced by a song from the people. After that Fr. Iskhaq Youkhanan rose and presented his speech, and spoke on the assassination of Mar Shimun. And then our priest, Chorepiscopus Yuhanin, together with the editor (Naum Faik), conducted a service in the Old Language  and after the conclusion of the service, Chorepiscopus Yuhanin gave a sad speech on the life of Mar Shimun and he based his speech on the words of the holy bible, and then the editor read a short and mournful lamentation  on the Assassination of Mar Shimun.
After we finished this service, Dr. Youkhanin Abraham rose and read a sorrowful and well articulated speech on the life of the late Patriarch. Then Poulos Shimun rose and spoke on the conducts of the deceased in well composed words. After that Prof. Jackson, that friend of the Assyrians, spoke words of consolation and shared this sadness with us. Thereafter the people were released and the hearts of all were full of lament and grief over this great strike that has smitten the Assyrian people.
Also on that same day there was another good remembrance on the soul of the Patriarch Mar Shimun in the Hungarian Presbytery church of Yonkers by Mr. Abraham Shlimon, and he spoke sufficiently and lengthily on the life of the deceased.
We ask God to rest the soul of Mar Shimun, that good shepherd who entrusted his life as a sacrifice for the liberation of his people. And we ask God to replace him with a very wise leader, like Solomon, to lead his people in these hard times of war. And grant peace to the world and speed the liberation of our people from the hands of their merciless plunderers, murderers, and oppressors.
The editor of Beth Nahrain issue number 6, March 1918  .
Lamentation on the Assassination of Mar Shimun the Patriarch.
Read during the service organised on the soul of Mar Shimun in Yonkers city. Naum Faik, the editor wrote this poem on the departed soul of Mar Shimun and read it himself in the church.
Today a mighty worrier fell among the Assyrians
What is this grievous news that has fallen upon our ears?
Yes we read in the Newspapers that the Kurds assassinated Mar Shimun
The Shepherd was smitten the flock too was scattered
A valiant man, a warrior and a good shepherd
For his country he offered himself as a perfect sacrifice
Lament and cry O Assyrians for our leader has fallen
O Assyrians shed tears for our crown has fallen
Grief prevails over the world today due to the news of your death
Because of your death Assyrianity is covered in mourning
To learn more about this matter read: Lamassu, N. “The Martyrdom of Mar Shimun and other Matters” (click here).
The Dementia of Our Kurdish Neighbours
Dr George Habash
During my secondary school years and up to university years the Assyrians and the Kurds seemed to have a sort of undeclared empathy resulting from inner feeling that we both are the underdogs in a society that is devoid of justice, abhors equality and shuns citizenship.
The Assyrian uprising of 1933 that demanded our national rights was brutally crushed by Arab zealots still fresh in power and resulted in the massacre of thousands of Assyrians in the Simele region in August 1933. The rout of peaceful Assyrians lasted nearly one week causing destruction and exodus for no reason other than demanding our rights. With no outside assistance or even sympathy the uprising had no chance to succeed.
The Kurds launched their revolt against Republican Baghdad on first of September 1961 demanding the Kurdish national rights based on autonomy in Kurdish-populated areas. The Kurds fought the central regimes and made packs with them in cyclic pattern from 1963 until the liberation and fall of Baghdad in April 2003.
With the formation of the ‘no-fly zone’ in the north in April 1991 and the facilitation of the safe haven in Dohuk, Arbil and Sulaimaniya the Kurds assumed a sort of unrecognized autonomy that would turn into self-run region after 9 April 2003.
I would remind the reader that the districts of Dohuk, Zakho and Amadiya were parts of the province of Mosul (later renamed Nineveh) until 1969 when the crawling Baghdadi regime sliced them and bestowed to the Kurds as a new province of Dohuk in a bid to ease the Kurdish dissent and win their hearts at least tactically.
The current Dohuk province forms a geographic continuation from the plain of Nineveh and with the two combined they make the heartland of the present time Assyrian nationhood. Many people said it before and I said it myself and recently was declared by the Stockholm Conference that the present Assyrian nationhood lies between the Tigris and Upper Zab rivers and up to the Syrian and Turkish borders. No one can bargain on that and no one can change and no can utter otherwise. The Assyrian Universal Alliance in more than one statement pledged their support and approval for such a territorial demand.
Between 1992 and up to April 2003 our Kurdish neighbours seemed to have matured by the experience of their long struggle against the central regimes and have offered recognition and participation of other ethnic and ethno-religious groups in the strata of the day to day running of the affairs of the protected zone but all that illusion and decoy started to unravel once the central regime change had taken place on 9 April 2003.
All of the sudden the Kurdish ego rose miles high and the other ethnic groups in the north started to fear the sweeping Kurdish onslaught with slogans such as the southern Kurdistan running from the Syrian borders up to the Iranian borders and down to Diyala province. This is deemed a political fallacy and nothing is deemed as a Real Politick.
Moreover talks are unabated elsewhere by the proponents of a further northern, eastern and western Kurdistan which meant carving out four giant states to create a Kurdish super state from nowhere and from no historical birthrights.
Recently there appeared a debate of never existence of a Kurdish history which meant the never existence of Kurdish museums and Kurdish historical artefacts.
To start my thesis I would go to Tuesday 16 January 2007 when hundreds of Shabaks defined as ‘Shabak Kurds’ demonstrated in Arbil in front of the ‘Kurdish Parliament’ demanding to include their regions into the existing Kurdish region. The speaker of the Parliament told the rallying Shabaks that ‘the Shabaks are a principal part of Kurdistan’s people, historically, and from thousands of years and will remain so.’ This is a Kurdish political dementia.
The Shabaks are of a Persian descent who settled in the Assyrian heartland some 150-250 years ago as followers of more than one invading Shah Bek and the word Shabak never existed before and it is a new combination. The Kurds themselves appeared as mobile tribes from the time of the early Crusades. Remember the Muslim Arabs who conquered and occupied our land have only a history of 1370 years; they conquered southern Mesopotamia in 636 AD and the Holy Land in 638 AD and Egypt in 641 AD. Further examples are Arbil which fell in 1310 and Constantinople in 1453.
Prior to that demo in Arbil some Shabaks affiliated with the Kurds met Mansoor the Kurdish puppet showing their will to be part of the Kurdish region. Some Yezidis affiliated with Kurds also approve the Kurdish region and have disapproved the Nineveh plain project for the Assyrians.
Some Assyrians like Aghajan, Hariri, Hariri, Baito, Hakkari, Mansoor, Afram, Hadaya and recently Bashir Ishaq Saadi appear to be more Kurd than the Kurds themselves and advocate merger with the Kurdish region in quid pro quo, in return the Kurds will grant them government posts and lavish life styles. All these schemes are done behind the back door in order to assail the Assyrian national aspiration for our autonomous rule in the land between the Tigris and Upper Zab.
There are three types of Assyrians, genuine, enemy within or the fifth column and the apostate. The genuine Assyrians are those like you and me, the majority, who advocate the Assyrian national rights with autonomous rule in the land between the Tigris and Upper Zab rivers. The enemy within or the fifth column Assyrians are those who threw themselves on the laps of the Kurdish masters in return for posts in the Kurdish administration like Aghajan and company supported by the political theorists like Qasha and Potrous. They advocate a union with the Kurds.
The dilemma is with the third type of Assyrians, the apostates who despite being the largest group on the ground and holding an official office they simply remain ambiguous about our rights and the suffering of our people in the last four years. They speak about the ‘Administrative’ unit or area and this they argue is only two districts and one borough which meant a chunk of land from Alqosh to Bakhdida and this they suggest be tied to current Nineveh Province of Mosul run by central Baghdad. This stand is a treachery one because it denies our towns and villages in the Dohuk province and nearly means the status quo as most our towns now are run by ourselves.
This type of Assyrians is keen on 7 August every year to praise our martyrs and is ready to give more martyrs but does nothing to preserve those who are alive this generation and the generations to come.
Recently there appeared a debate about the difference in our demands whether meant Administrative Area, Province or Autonomous region. The Administrative Area does not match the Assyrian aspiration because it represents the status quo with a spin. The province should be adopted as a first stage then transformed into autonomous region in a couple of years and the central government has to alter its books to make such thing to be implemented. Why all grab but we just look, we are the indigenous people of the land
We opt for this because the development in the country in the last four years and the Middle East in the last 2-3 decades urge that. The intolerance, marginalisation and the Islamisation of the society reached alarming level that we have to administer our affairs ourselves according to our culture.
Recent development in Shaykhan (a district in Nineveh plain) in February 2007 is a reminder when Islamist Kurds went rampaging Yezides for a trivial reason of romance between a Muslim girl and a Yezidi.
Ashurnasirpal II Describes Fighting & Feasting of His Days
The proud and sonorous words of an ancient king, echoing across 3,000 years of time from the inscribed surface of a sandstone slab, have given archaeologists a vivid, detailed picture of life in the once-great Assyrian empire. Written by King Ashur-nasir-pal II in the Ninth Century B.C., this document in stone is a priceless legacy to scholars accustomed to piece together the pattern of the past from lifeless relics. Here, in boastful phrases that might have been spoken by a modern-day king, great events are described by the man who made them happen.
The city of Nimrud ( the Biblical Calah), where the inscription lay buried, is a low mound near the Tigris River
In Bet-Nahrain (today’s Iraq). For many years diggers have
Probed its ruins to learn of the high civilization that once flourished there. But many fascinating details of that civilization remained unknown until early 1950s, when an expedition from Iraq’s British School of Archaeology and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art found the stone
inscription. Translated by D. J. Wiseman of the British Museum, it proved to be a narrative by Ashur-nasir-pal himself of how he triumphed in the field, rebuild his city and summoned guests to a fabulous feast in his honour.
“I Am Fearless In Battle” he wrote.
This is the Palace of Ashur-nasir-pal, the high priest of Ashur and King of Assyria, favourite of high Ashur and beloved by him.
My father and my grandfather were Kings of Assyria before me and were powerful in their time. I trust in Ashur my god, there is no prince that can match me in strength and wisdom. I am the shepherded of my people, Fearless in battle, faire in judgment and generous in wealth. In Battle I am like unto a great flood that none can withstand.
With the help of my god Ashur, I established my power in the plains and in the hills. I received tribute, took hostages and established my authority from the river Tigris to the mountains of Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea. The north countries as far as Armenia is submitted to me, I control the eastern passes as far as their horizons, I control my southern frontier I annexed a number of Babylonian fortresses. Wisdom has been granted me in good measure no less than the glory of power, for the god Ea who is lord of the waters that flow under the earth, has endowed me with understanding. Thus it came to pass that I changed the face of the ancient mound of Nimrud and gave it a new lease on life. I dug down to water level and laid the foundations for my new buildings, which I set up on a solid platform 120 courses of brickwork in depth.
To establish a dwelling in which my royalty might take pleasure, I built an eight-winged palace and adorned it with various kind of costly wood: box, cedar, cypress, pistachio, tamarisk and other varieties….I covered the woodwork with bronze and fitted bronze bolts and hinges on the doors. Over the doors I set sky-blue glazed bricks which depicted the mountain and seas that I had crossed, and the booty I had won in war by the glorious might of my arms.
I took a multitude of persons whom I had captured during my campaigns in the mountains to east and north of Assyria, and together with a host of men from Hittite country west of the Euphrates I settled them in Nimrud.
I dug a canal which ran from the banks of the river Zab into my city, and to do this I had to cut through sheer rock.
I named it ‘Canal of Abundance.’ I planted gardens in the meadows which I had irrigated between it and the river Tigris. I dedicated the city to my god Ashur, in the temples made offerings of all kinds of fruits and vines. From the strange lands in which I had traveled, up hill and down dale, I gathered trees and seeds wherever I saw them. Here is the list thereof: cedar, cypress, box, pine, physician’s ointment, juniper, several kinds of oak and willow, date palm, tamarisk, laurel, polar, Amongst the fruit trees: date palm, mulberry, bitter almond, pistachio, pomegranate, loquat, pear, quince, plum and vines. There was lilac, aloe, castor-oil plant and frankincense of the southern deserts. The flowers were like the stars of heaven in a garden of delight. In Nimrud, my royal capital, I not only endowed the gods with temples where none had been before, but also redounded and Re-established many others…. And set up gleaming bronze statues at the gates, and decorated them with red gold and precious stones.
I inlaid the shrine of my lord god Ninurta with gold, and to right left of it set up Lapis Lazuli tablets beneath which were golden images of terrible snakes. I appointed festivals in honour of the god during the months of February and September , for these occasions I ordained brilliant pageants, plenteous offerings, libation and incense.
In this temple I dedicated to the god a statue was fashioned of red gold and precious stones. I restored the neglected cities which had fallen into decay….and resettled them with many peoples. I built massive storehouses at the borders of my empire. I ordered provisions to be kept in them to meet military and civil needs. Ninurta and palil, gods of the chase to whom I am endeared because I am their priest, gave me authority over the beasts of the field and urged me the hunt. I slew 450 mighty lions and in my hunting chariots ran down 390 wild bulls and 200 ostriches as easily as if they had been caged. Amongst the animals that I succeeded in capturing alive were 30 noble elephants. 50 wild bulls, 140 ostriches and 20 lions. From two of my governors in Syria I received five wild elephants as tribute and took them along with me as I marched. I collected herds of bulls, lions ostriches and apes, male and female of the species, in order that they multiply in the land of Assyria and yield increase like unto the people that I had gathered there.
When I declared open the palace of Nimrud, I invited into it Ashur, god of gods, and all the gods in the land. The palace with its adornments was the joy of my heart, for embodied within it was all the skill of Nimrud.
1,000 head of barely-fed oxen, 1,000 young cattle and home-grown sheep, 14,000 head of common-stock sheep, 200 head of oxen and 1,000 fat sheep from the herds of the goddess Ishtar, and 1,000 lambs. 500 head of deer and 500 gazelles. 500 geese, 500 fowls and two other varieties of game in quantities of 1,000 apiece. 10,000 pigeons, quail and sand grouse. 10,000 fishes. 10,000 eggs. 10,000 loaves of bread. 10,000 measures of best quality mixed beer, pomegranate juice and grapes.
(After this comes a list of garden produce, fruits and condiments. There then follows of census of the city and the number of men and women invited to the feast.)
47,074 able-bodied men and women. 5,000 high officials from abroad including men from Syria and Ethiopia. Also Hittites, Armenians, men of Tyre, Sidon and others. 16,000 slaves from Nimrud. 1,500 high officials engaged in the administration of my palaces.
For 10 days I feasted these happy peoples of all the lands together with the people of Nimrud. I wined, bathed, anointed and honoured them and thereafter sped them to their homes in peace and joy.
In Search of Gilgamesh
Book Review: "The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh" By David Damrosc
Courtesy of the Wahshington Post
In The Buried Book, David Damrosch, a Columbia professor of comparative literature, organizes his text as an archaeological dig, opening with a prefatory account of Austen Henry Layard's discovery and excavation of the ruins of Nineveh in the 1840s, then gradually working his way back from the Victorian era into ancient times. His first and second chapters describe the career of George Smith, a self-taught Assyriologist, who one momentous afternoon in 1872 was working at the British Museum, going through a pile of Layard's clay tablets. Suddenly, Smith realized that he was reading about "a flood storm, a ship caught on a mountain, and a bird sent out in search of dry land."
The discovery of this "Chaldean account of the Deluge" so electrified the young scholar that he danced around the museum and actually began to "undress himself." (No one is quite sure if that meant anything more than loosening his collar.) Smith had stumbled across an episode (in Akkadian) from Gilgamesh, becoming the first person to read a portion of the epic in more than 2,000 years. But stumbled is hardly the word, for Smith was nothing less than a linguistic genius, the unexpected man in the right place. As Damrosch writes:
"He became the world's leading expert in the ancient Akkadian language and its fiendishly difficult script, wrote the first true history of the long-lost Assyrian Empire, and published pathbreaking translations of the major Babylonian literary texts, in between expeditions to find more tablets in Iraq. Though this would have been the lifework of an eminent scholar at Oxford or the Sorbonne, Smith's active career instead lasted barely ten years, from his mid-twenties to his mid-thirties. Far from holding a distinguished professorship, he had never been to high school, much less college. His formal education had ended at age fourteen."
Smith's career -- cut short by his death in the Middle East from dysentery -- was heroic, but so was that of his older colleague Henry Rawlinson (to whom Smith dedicated his 1875 book The Chaldean Account of Genesis). Rawlinson was a figure in the classic Victorian mold -- a military officer in India and Persia with a flair for languages, possessed of exceptional courage and stamina, both physical (he once rode 750 miles on horseback in 150 consecutive hours) and scholarly: He spent 15 years patiently working out the meaning of Akkadian cuneiform, then later produced one of those daunting monuments of Victorian scholarship, the five-volume Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia.
The third great figure in Damrosch's story of the rediscovery of Gilgamesh is Hormuzd Rassam, a Chaldean Christian who served as Layard's second-in-command, attended Oxford and later headed up archaeological expeditions for the British Museum. According to Andrew George, a leading modern figure in Babylonian studies, Rassam is "an unsung hero of Assyriology." Why unsung? Damrosch -- no doubt rightly, if somewhat tendentiously -- points to racial, i.e. "Orientalist," prejudice as the reason for his neglect. Rassam wasn't really, you know, quite the right sort, even though he grew to be more English than the English, serving in the diplomatic corps and living long enough to see his daughter become a star of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. But Damrosch makes clear that the man's wide-ranging archaeological discoveries were consistently undervalued or callously ascribed to others. At the end of his life, Rassam was even compelled to bring a suit against the Egyptologist E.A. Wallis Budge, who falsely accused him of selling artifacts.
At this point in his book, Damrosch turns to the excavation of the library of Ashurbanipal, an Assyrian king of the 7th century B.C. who valued poetry as well as power. Here, we are introduced to the court life of ancient Mesopotamia, in particular the priests, sorcerers and secret agents who formed the inner circle of such rulers as Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal himself. Damrosch neatly conveys the immense antiquity of the Gilgamesh epic by noting that the poem "was already ancient in Ashurbanipal's day, copied and recopied for more than a thousand years before the young crown prince studied it in the Temple of Nabu."
In the last third of The Buried Book, Damrosch zeroes in on the poem itself, noting that " Gilgamesh is often read today as an existential tale of the fear of death and the quest for immortality, but the epic is equally a tale of tyranny and its consequences." It also reflects on "the limits of culture . . . presented in contrast to the world of nature." This is its plot:
The young Gilgamesh is a "wild bull" of a man, restless of heart, full of unfocused energy. He conducts his life with seigniorial abandon, abusing his subjects and even flagrantly exercising his right to sleep with girls on their wedding nights. The women of his capital city of Uruk complain to the gods, who decide to fashion Enkidu, a true wild man, to defeat Gilgamesh in combat. At first the hairy Enkidu lives in a state of nature, literally running with the gazelles, until he is sexually initiated by a temple prostitute, after which the animals of the forest will have nothing to do with him. When he eventually confronts Gilgamesh, en route to deflower another virgin, the pair wrestle and nearly demolish the surrounding buildings, before becoming fast friends (and even perhaps lovers).
In due course, accompanied by his new buddy, the restless Gilgamesh goes adventuring, defeats an ogre who guards a sacred cedar wood, spurns the sexual invitations of the goddess Ishtar and kills the monstrous bull she then sends to avenge her honor. But Gilgamesh and Enkidu have now deeply angered the gods, and one of them must pay with his life. After Enkidu suffers a series of dream visions of the nether world, he finally dies, as Gilgamesh is racked with both grief and the fearful knowledge that the same end waits for him. Can nothing be done? He resolves to journey to the ends of the earth to confront Uta-napishtim, a Noah-like figure who alone of mankind survived the great Deluge and has been given the gift of immortality. In due course, Gilgamesh crosses the Ocean of Death but learns that no one can alter his mortal destiny. Nonetheless, a fragment -- outside the so-called "standard" version of the epic -- informs us that Gilgamesh is ultimately allowed to become the godlike judge of the underworld.
In his last chapter, Damrosch discusses some later uses of the Gilgamesh story, focusing on Philip Roth's The Great American Novel (in which a major character is a baseball pitcher named Gil Gamesh) and Saddam Hussein's novel Zabibah wal-Malik, a kind of love story-cum-allegory of the first Gulf War. In particular, the comparatist Damrosch urges his readers to understand that they are part of an "Islamo-Christian civilization." " Gilgamesh and The Iliad, the Bible and the Qur'an were not products of isolated, eternally opposed civilizations; they are mutually related outgrowths of the rich cultural matrix of western Asia and the eastern Mediterranean world. Isaac and Ishmael are half brothers, and Uta-napishtiM and Noah are closer still: they are two versions of one and the same character."
Though useful, entertaining and informative, The Buried Book may bother some readers with its lack of a strong narrative line, its tendency to overemphasize irrelevant details (why include so many pages on Rassam's diplomatic mission in Abyssinia?) and its well-meaning political correctness: Damrosch can sometimes seem as condescending to the narrow-minded Victorians as they so often were to "Orientals." Despite these blemishes, The Buried Book should help introduce new readers to an ancient classic that has really come into its own in the 21st century. Whether enjoyed in the brilliant (but very loose) version of David Ferry or the scholarly transcription of Andrew George, this Babylonian epic remains a very human story about wisdom painfully acquired. Appropriately, its hero is called, in the memorable first line, "He who saw the Deep." And what does Gilgamesh learn? Before the end that awaits each of us -- "a man's life is snapped off like a reed in a canebrake" -- we should perform good deeds, love our families and enjoy simple pleasures. As Uta-napishtim says, in Andrew George's translation:
But you, Gilgamesh, let your belly be full,
Enjoy yourself always by day and by night!
Make merry each day,
Dance and play day and night!
Let your clothes be clean,
Let your head be washed, may you bathe in water!
Gaze on the child who holds your hand,
Let your wife enjoy your repeated embrace!
For such is the destiny [of mortal men].
Zinda Reporter Awarded Excellence in Multicultural Affairs
(ZNDA: Sydney) The Bracks Government has recognised over 160 individuals and organisations from across metropolitan and regional Victoria [Australia] for outstanding service to the state’s multicultural community at Government House.
The event, hosted by Professor David de Kretser, Governor of Victoria, was attended by more than 500 members of Victoria’s multicultural and multifaith community.
George Lekakis, VMC Chairperson was once again pleased to welcome all of the recipients and their guests to the ceremony.
“I commend the recipients here tonight. They have shown dedication and worked hard to welcome newcomers to our community that strengthens our reputation for being a harmonious, inclusive and tolerant society,” Mr Lekakis said.
The VMC established the Excellence Awards in 2002 to recognise and reward the contributions of individuals and organisations that promote the social, political, economic and cultural benefits of Victoria's multicultural community.
Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs, Mr Telmo Languiller , Minister for Local Government, Richard Wynne, and Victorian Chief Commissioner of Police, Christine Nixon joined Mr Andrews and the Governor in presenting awards.
Zinda Magazine reporter, David Chibo, was presented the ‘Award for Meritorious Service in the Community’ which recognises the outstanding achievement of an individual or community group that have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the service of Victoria's multicultural community. The award was for his 4 month of volunteer work conducted in Iraq as well as exemplary journalism for Assyrian publications including Zinda Magazine.
Further information about the awards can be found on the VMC’s website (click here) or by phone at (03) 9208 3184.
|Broula Adde||New Jersey|
|Dr. Matay Beth Arsan||Holland|
|Ramsen Odisho||United Kingdom|
|Stan Shabaz||Washington, DC|
|Benyamin E. Yalda||Chicago|
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