30 Tishrin I 6757
Volume XIII

Issue 16

23 October 2007

1- 8 6 6 - M Y  Z I N D A

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A photo of crucified Christ on the wall of an abandoned Christian home in Baghdad.

Empty Christian Homes in Baghdad

Kidnapped Priests & Beheaded Boys in Mosul

800,00 Refugees in Syria and Jordan

Behold the Genocide of 2007

Click on Blue Links in the left column to jump to that section within this issue.  Most blue links are hyperlinked to other sections or URLs.
Zinda SayZinda Says
  Grave-Diggers for the Assyrian Nation Prof. Sergei Osipov
  The Assyrian Economy Ninus Kanna
  Syrian Catholic Priests Released On Sunday
Facing New Terror as Turkey Targets Kurdish Rebels
Mar Delly Appointed Cardinal
  AUA Americas Press Release on AANF
Save Assyria Front Report of the Moscow Meeting
Assyrians & Armenians in UK Join for Genocide Recognition
Viklund Responds to Baito's Accusations
Christian Couple Flogged in Iran for Worshiping in Secret
Plight of Christians of Iraq Raised at UNHCR’s Annual Consultation
Assyrians in Finland Establish New Association
In Moscow Assyrian Cobblers Face the Boot
Sweden's Fashion Police Picks Nuri Kino as Most Stylish
Rosie Malek-Yonan in Latest Role in "Rendition"
Rising Assyrian Stars Appear in "The Kingdom"
Rabat Tepe Cuneiform Inscriptions Confirm King Sargon’s Invasion of Northwest Iran
  Believing in God's Miracles
Disregard for the Voices of the Youth
Suryoyo Pride in Seattle
Heroes of our Times
Was the Reunion held in Canada really a HUS Reunion?
Remember Smyrna!
Our Message in the Bottle

Click to Learn More :

  The Roomtah Obelit Yadgar
  6th Annual Narsai's Taste of Taste of the Mediterranean
2008 Conference in Illinois: Contested Cultural Heritage
Devastating Last Thoughts on Iraq
Middle Eastern Americans Exhibit at UCLA
New Zinda Recommendations from Gorgias Press
  Assyrian References in Modern Near Eastern Literature (1 of 3)
Assyrians Under the Islamic Dictatorship
Assyrian Suffering Overlooked in Iraq
Save the Gnostics
Stan Shabaz
Dr. George Habbash
Charles Rice
Nathaniel Deutsch
  Milwaukee Talks: DJ & Author Obie Yadgar Bobby Tanzilo

Zinda Says
An Editorial by Wilfred Bet-Alkhas

A Guest Opinion

Grave-Diggers for the Assyrian Nation

Prof. Sergei Osipov, MD, PhD

In his 1994 book titled ‘Diplomacy’, the former US Secretary of State Henry Alfred Kissinger writes that collaboration with victorious invaders tends to confuse the minds of the conquered people and thereby saps the morale in them. The following deals with a vivid example of this.

The war in Iraq has turned the spotlight on many things that we habitually ignored. I believe the most horrible of them are tragic and outright suicidal schisms between factions of Iraq’s Assyrians. These schisms, most often tribal and confessional, are maintained and fanned by the ambition and self-interest of a batch of quasi-patriots in the Assyrian community. And it is nothing short of amazing how successfully the leadership of the Iraqi Kurds uses this ambition and self-interest to political gain. At that, its propaganda efforts to assert Kurdish greatness sometimes take it too far and verge on farce.

One instance of this is the book by Salavat Gallyamov “The Ancient Aryans and Eternal Kurdistan” (Moscow, Veche Publishers, 2007, 560 pp.). Anyone with at least a superficial knowledge of the Mesopotamian and Southwest Asian history finds reading it a challenge to common sense. Only a professional psychiatrist can take serious interest in it. As for me, I’m dumbfounded by the fact that this rubbish is off the press with the blessing and help of the top leaders of the Iraqi Kurds. On its title sheet, the author extends thanks to “President of the Federal (Iraqi) Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechervan Barzani”. The foreword is by the “plenipotentiary envoy of the Regional Government of Kurdistan to Russia” Mr. Hoshavi Babakr. This man uses the opportunity for demonstrating what he apparently wants to pass for vast knowledge of history.  One extract from his book:

“In 1916, Russia empowered the commander of its Caucasus Front Grand Duke Nicholas to encourage the Kurdish General Simko to establish a separate Kurdish homeland named Kurdistan”.

Or this:

“Unlike the Sumerians, the Kurds were fully autochthonous to Mesopotamia and Zagros and they gave rise to civilization in these areas”.

At his best, Mr. Babakr plays music to the ears of his backers in Israel:

“The Jews are looking to Kurdistan to find the ten tribes of Israel that were lost to the Exile. Similarly, the Kurds have been looking to Russia to find the descendants of the Medes who sometime in the 1st millennium BC migrated north from their original home country in the Zagros Mountains and close to the upper reaches of the River Tigris.”

Tributes to you for your diligence, Mr. Babakr. Nothing to wonder at. Self-praise is always in direct proportion to the propensity to it.

As for the rest of the book, suffice it to run through the titles of the chapters in it. This exercise immediately leads the reader to conclude that he is dealing with a vicious travesty rather than bona fide historical research. The texts under the titles are even worse. For instance, the chapter titled “The Pre-History of Sumer” closely follows Genesis – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was Kurd. The author goes on to inform us that “the Roman rulers Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus were both of the Dard line which traced its ancestry to the Kurdish tribe of Zarzi in Zagros.” In the chapter titled “The Kurds as Initiators of European Art”, the author is at pains to convince us that ‘drama’, ‘tragedy’ and ‘comedy’ are words of Kurdish origin. His argumentation for this is based on simple similarity in pronunciation. ‘Comedy’, for example, is derived by him from the Kurdish words ‘gome’, which means ‘sheepshed’, and ‘medha’, which means ‘wine’. At the same time, in an epigraph to the chapter, the author quotes Theodor Noldeke as writing that “Kurd has always been synonymous with all things uncultured”. Now, the titles of two of the other chapters: “The Kurds as the Founders of the Legal System of the Indo-Germanic Nations”, “The Kurds and the Jews”. The latter chapter contains a subchapter titled “The Jews as the Next of Kin of the Kurds”.  I rest my case.

These texts amount to a political insinuation aimed at canceling the entire history of the Assyrian Empire and the Assyrian people. This said, questions arise about the reasoning of the Assyrian politicians and clergymen who would have their nation incorporated in Kurdistan as a subjugated autonomy. Very probably, politicians like Mr. Sargis Aghajan cum henchmen, most hierarchs of the Assyrian Churches and the managers of media outlets such as “Ishtar TV” and “Bet Nahrain” (Assyria-Set) have put up with the notion that Mesopotamia rightfully belongs to the Kurds and the Assyrians are minor trencherfolk of them. Accordingly, the Kurds are not invaders in Assyria. Rather, ancient Assyrian kings brazenly moved forces to invade Kurdish-owned Mesopotamia.

Given this, all Assyrians still in their senses should expediently understand that the Assyrian struggle in Iraq is not ‘the Assyrians vs the Kurds’, ‘the Assyrians vs the Arabs’ or ‘the Assyrians vs the Turks’. It is actually internal and is best described as ‘the Assyrian nation-builders vs the Grave-diggers for the Assyrian nation’. It’s time we all understood that anyone who denies the Assyrians their ancestral right to their historical homeland of the Nineveh Plain or lays claim to this Assyrian land  is an invader. Collaboration with invaders amounts to high treason and collaborators are grave-diggers for their nation. Throughout history, people who rejected collaboration with invading powers had to flee, even in the face of the hardship this brought on them. Handfuls that stayed put consisted of individuals capable of putting up resistance and retaining their ethnic identity, despite pressure from the invaders.

These days, the Assyrians have to save their nation from slave-like humiliation. The relentless march of the nation’s grave-diggers towards subjugation at the hands of the Kurds  must be immediately stopped. The choice before the Assyrians is as stark as it is simple: to push these grave-diggers into their prepared pits or forever expire as a nation in charge of its ancestral homeland.

Prof. Osipov, despite his incredibly busy schedule of traveling around the world as Russia's renown health educator and policy-maker, finds time to involve himself in the issues dealing with his people.  Prof. Osipov's voice is familiar to Assyrian-Russians who enjoyed his weekly radio program, Qala Atouraya, broadcast from Moscow.  Zinda Magazine highly recommends reading the old issues of "Melta", a publication compiled and edited by Prof. Osipov.   Prof. Osipov's past essays in Zinda can be found using the Search and Archives links from the home page.

The Lighthouse
Feature Article


Desk of Zinda Editor:   In follow-up to the hugely popular article presented by a bright, young Assyrian, Mr. Ramsin Canon, in the previous issue of Zinda Magazine, Zinda presents another attention-grabbing article by another Assyrian youth with profound insight into enhacing the current condition of the Assyrians around the world.  Since the publication of Mr. Cannon's perceptive article, Toward A New Organizing Model, Mr. Canon has been contacted by several Assyrian organizations in the U.S. for his advice and consultation.  Zinda Magazine believes that unless our resourceful youth are not directly engaged in the social, economic, and political affairs of the Assyrian nation, no solemn progress can be expected in these grim and critical days of ours.  Zinda encourages other Assyrian youth to present their thoughts in the coming issues of this publication. 

The Assyrian Economy

Ninus Kanna

So what makes an economy? Does it need to involve a Sovereign (government) ?

At its very core, an economy is simply a system whereby entities (whether individuals, households businesses, or even states) are producing, exchanging and consuming.  Then could there be an Assyrian economy? The answer is a definitive, YES!

Although there is no explicit Assyrian sovereign state or legitimate representation for every Assyrian around the world, there is an Assyrian community, despite being scattered around the world, and this Assyrian community is being driven closer daily thanks primarily to new communication technology.

Out of curiosity, I sought to find the size and extent of the Assyrian economy, hopefully recommending ways in which the Assyrian economy can strengthen and benefit the community as a whole.



Assyrian GDP share ($US)















































New Zealand







Total ($US)

$39.23 bn

Source: AINA, International Monetary Fund

An economy consists of stocks and flows.  Stocks, accumulation of wealth and flows, are the transfers of wealth. Wealth includes goods, services, basically anything of value. Despite Assyrians living in many different countries, the Assyrian economy is substantial. Although most nations do not have detailed financial data on Assyrians, we can make a fair assumption that the income distribution amongst Assyrians in each country is representative of the income dispersion of the country itself. For instance, the average income for Assyrians in the United States is equal to the average income for all Americans, with the same proportion of poor and rich people in the Assyrian community in the U.S. as with all of the U.S.   This assumption is the key to my analysis.  I must admit if this is not the case in reality then my analysis will not have much validity at all.

Having taken the estimated world Assyrian population split into each country and multiplying those numbers with the US dollar GDP per capita, we arrive at the information presented in the opposite table.

Not surprising; just less than 45% of the Assyrian economy is located in the US, and still about 11% remains in Iraq (though at this time most would have left Iraq). If you look at the size of the Assyrian economy compared with other nations, we would be ranked 67 th, in between Ecuador and Sudan, according to the 2006 International Monetary Fund tables.

If you are to take my assumption that Assyrians in their respective countries have identical income distribution characteristics to that of their countries, then this is an interesting finding.

Consequently, we have an economy spread all over the world, roughly the same size as Ecuador. It would be wrong to think the challenges and solutions facing Ecuador or Sudan are the same as Assyrians.  The Assyrian economy has distinct benefits; the biggest one is that we have people on the ground in the wealthiest nations in the world, which drives Assyrian GDP upward. Also, continued refugee flows into the west will vastly improve Assyrian per capita GDP, hence increasing the size of the Assyrian economy.


So how can we use our collective asset, the Assyrian economy, to good use? Well this is where flows come in:

Just like any economy, the Assyrian economy has injections (income and profits that Assyrians and their businesses earn) and leakages (goods and services that Assyrians and their businesses consume).

To further expand the Assyrian economy, the answer quite simply is to maximise the injections and minimise the leakages within the Assyrian economy.

That is, for Assyrians in the countries they reside in to maximise their earnings and profits from non-Assyrian sources, and at the same time minimise their expenditure from non-Assyrian sources. Besides increasing Assyrian populations in high per-capita GDP nations, Assyrians living in the west can:

  1. improve their skills base and education
  2. encourage Assyrian enterprise
  3. prefer to deal with Assyrian business

This is the same model used by other Diaspora around the world, most notably the Jewish and Armenian populations, to increase communal wealth and direct it at benefiting their motherland. We have the capacity to do the same. By increasing Assyrian GDP, we will eventually be in a better capacity to achieve our communal vision.

With a stronger Assyrian economy, we can then gradually funnel our increased wealth into projects and donations to establish a presence in the motherland. At the moment, if every Assyrian individual and business donated 1% of their income to Assyrian charities or projects, so for an average Assyrian-American earning $43,000 a year donating $430 annually to an Assyrian cause, this would represent a flow of US$ 392.2 million per annum which would benefit our status and (hopefully) inch us closer to nationhood.

Sealing the patches (the economic khutama…hopefully)

I can already hear readers wonder…”You can't expect everyone to donate!”, “Where will our donations go if this guy thinks we don’t need a government to run it!”

The whole point of this article and the recommendations are to realize our resources and muster them to form a territory for our people. This does not need a government, but it needs efficient organization. Natural market forces can provide efficient organization, how this can happen I will discuss below.

In relation to economic management, by way of default, we have “outsourced” if you like, the Assyrian economy’s macroeconomic management to Central Banks around the world, where Assyrian GDP lies! If you like, the Assyrian economy has a “free ride”, being managed partially by so many Central Bankers, although at a price – Assyrians, just like any other citizen of a country, do pay the local Government taxation; this is the leakage we legally cannot and should not avoid. To this extent, the role of an Assyrian Government is not needed in managing the economy unless we were to have our own sovereign territory in which the Government has mandate to tax and issue currency. The core point of my proposed 1% donation is to provide it to an organization of your choice – as long as it is Assyrian and as long as you know the donation you make will not become a leakage away from the Assyrian economy.  The second point is of the most significant importance, as this will allow market forces to most efficiently allocate our donations by introducing accountability to donation recipients – in other words, if you suspect that by giving your donation to the X organization will not benefit Assyrians, then you will simply not donate your money there. The reduction in donations to the X organization will force them to become accountable to donors or they will dry up. Information (or misinformation for that matter) then becomes pivotal, as it always is in economics. Increased accountability will attract more Assyrian donors (and non-Assyrian donors, which is the ultimate injection), as the donor feels their contribution is more valuable.

So this is the key that for now doesn’t require us a single Assyrian economic ‘controller’ or ‘manager’ – accountability.

Accountability in Assyrian institutions and charitable organizations also needs to improve in order to increase donations as well as more effectively reach community aims. But in my final comments, accountability isn’t implemented by its institutions; it is implemented by those who donate to it - you and I.

Our discretion forces Assyrian institutions to be held accountable to us.

Ninus Kanna, 23, lives in Sydney.  He received a bachelors degree in Economics from Macquarie University in 2005.

Good Morning Assyria
News From the Homeland


Syrian Catholic Priests Released On Sunday

Courtesy of the Christian Post
17 October 2007
By Ethan Cole

(ZNDA: Mosul)  Father Pius Affas, 60+, and Father Mazen Ishoa, 30+, were abducted at 5 PM on 13 October in the Hay Al-Thawra neighborhood west of the city of Mosul.  Both priests were released this past Sunday, 21 October.

Father Affas has been a priest for over 40 years and is the rector of Mosul's Biblical Center.  Father Ishoa was ordained last month.

The kidnappers of these two Syrian Catholic priests were said to have reached an agreement to release the priests, but backed out and demanded more ransom money.  Syrian Catholic Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa was involved in negotiations to free the two priests.

Pope Benedict XVI personally appealed for the priests’ release when the ransom was said to be $1 million.

“I appeal to the kidnappers to release these two priests quickly and I underline once again that violence cannot bring relief to this tense situation,” he said.

The Rev. Canon Andrew White, vicar of one of the largest churches in Iraq, said 36 of his own congregants were kidnapped in July alone when he testified before the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on the situation in Iraq.

Before the 2003 U.S.-lead offensive, an estimated 1.2 million Christians lived in Iraq. Now only about 600,000 remain. According to church leaders, an estimated 30 percent of the country's Christian population lives in the north, with the largest Christian communities located in Mosul, Arbil, Dohuk, and Kirkuk.

USCIRF, a bipartisan government task force responsible for monitoring religious freedom in the world, has urged the U.S. government to address the serious threats to Iraq’s religious minorities and has specifically mentioned the Chaldo-Assyrian Christians as one of the communities facing intense persecution and possible “extinction” in Iraq.

Facing New Terror as Turkey Targets Kurdish Rebels

Courtesy of the Guardian
20 October 2007
By Michael Howard

(ZNDA: Dohuk) When Youssef Toma and his family fled their home in Baghdad's perilous Dora neighbourhood and found refuge in the peaks and valleys of Kurdistan, they assumed their fear had been left behind with their furniture.

With the help of local authorities, Mr Toma, a former manager of an insurance company, had spent the last year building a new house, and life, in Anishky, a village nestling at the foot of the Matin mountains in the bucolic Sabna valley, 13 miles from the Turkish border.

Mr Toma, a deacon in the Assyrian church, and his family soon became active members of the neighbourhood congregation. He took special pride in developing his garden. Standing by a healthy crop of tomatoes this week, he gestured with his trowel at the perimeter walls of a palace Saddam Hussein built for his wife Sajida in the late 70s - a reminder, he said, that the beauty of the region was not just prized by locals.

Last weekend, however, Mr Toma's rural idyll was brutally disrupted. The dread he felt in Baghdad returned. For about 45 terrifying minutes, a barrage of Turkish artillery shells rained down from the clear night sky upon Anishky.

Turkish troops gathered across the border had supposedly been aiming at rebel bases of the Kurdistan Workers party or PKK, believed to be hiding high up in the mountains. They missed.

"Our house was shaking. I told my family it was thunder," said Mr Toma, as he looked at a blackened patch of mountainside about 100 metres behind his house, where a shell had fallen. "But I have lived in Baghdad for 40 years, so I know the sound of bombs. There were 22 of them. We escaped the Islamic terrorists, and now we are terrorised by the Turks. Where else can we run?"

Anishky was not the only village shelled this week. According to Bishop Shlimon in the nearby town of Sersing, at least six other villages in the area, many inhabited by Christian refugees from Baghdad, were affected.

"The bombardment lasted for more than four hours, striking farmlands, killing livestock and destroying orchards and roads used by villagers," he said. "It is a miracle no one was killed."

In the provincial capital of Dohuk, the deputy governor, Gorgees Shlaymoon Kaaee, also a Christian, said that night the area was hit by at least 250 shells. "Our villages have been here for centuries. We have nothing to do with PKK. Yet we are being punished all the same."

The shelling came as the Turkish parliament prepared to sanction cross-border attacks to root out guerrillas from the PKK, which has fought a bloody campaign for Kurdish rights against Turkish forces in the country's heavily Kurdish south-east since 1984. Turkey says 30 soldiers and civilians have been killed in PKK attacks since late September.

Domestic pressure

Under huge domestic pressure to take action, Ankara has deployed about 60,000 troops on its side of the border with Iraq, and has demanded that Iraq's Kurdish leaders, whom it accuses of aiding the PKK, cooperate with Baghdad in eradicating the rebel bases and extraditing PKK leaders. Turkey also accuses the US and the government in Baghdad of not doing enough to crack down on the rebels in Iraqi territory.

Though the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said this week an invasion of northern Iraq was not imminent, Turkish leaders say they reserve the right to protect the country against the rebels it claims are launching attacks from Iraq. The decision was criticised by the international community, who fear an attack would destabilise Iraqi Kurdistan, the country's most secure region. Iraq's Kurdish leaders have urged dialogue and peace.

Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, himself a Kurd, this week demanded the PKK leave Iraqi soil. He predicted any Turkish attacks on northern Iraq would be on a limited scale.

But that is of little comfort to the villagers. They are particularly alarmed by reports that Turkey's generals have drawn up plans to establish a 15-mile buffer zone along the Iraqi side of the border that would include many places where refugees have settled.

Yet the Turks are already here - and have been for over a decade, with the tacit agreement of the Kurdish authorities. At one end of the Sabna valley, a garrison of Turkish soldiers occupies the Barmani airbase. To the east, in the hilltop town of Amediya, a Turkish tank watches from a small outpost. Their role is to monitor the PKK fighters, though the guerrillas are actually far away. "We don't like them to be here, but what can we do?" said Mohsen Qatani, a local tribal chief. "We ignore them and hope they ignore us. It is not our fight."

Bishop Shlimon said an estimated 6,000 Assyrian Christians who have been uprooted by violence elsewhere have found homes along Iraq's northern border with Turkey. The influx has breathed new life into many semi-abandoned rural communities, he said. This week in Anishky, for example, a Christian from Baghdad opened a hall where 1,000 people could gather for weddings.

"But if Turkey continues to raid or bomb us, or even invades," said Bishop Shlimon, "then how will any of us get the peace or the life we are looking for?"

Refugee warning

Local authorities in the Kurdistan region said they feared 30,000 people may be displaced if Turkish troops enter across the border. The UN's high commissioner for refugees, Antonio Guterres, also warned of the danger of a refugee crisis in northern Iraq if Turkey attacks. "The northern governorate, or Kurdistan ... has been the most stable area of Iraq," he said. "It is an area also where you find Iraqis from the south and central Iraq who came seeking security. I can only express our deep concern about any development that might lead to meaningful displacements of population."

In the village of Barnatha, Juliet Jabril, 37, said she missed her life and her hairdressing business in Baghdad, which she left in July.

"There was no alternative but to leave," she said tearfully. First she saw an 11-year-old boy, who was selling petrol on the street outside her salon, shot dead. Then masked men visited her salon and told her that hairdressing "was against the will of Allah".

"I know the fate of other hairdressers," she said. "All I want is to live in peace, and I thought Kurdistan would offer me sanctuary." She said she did not support the PKK's violence, but worried that if they were forced to leave their bases, "it might create space for Islamic militants to come in from Iran".

"And then we'd see the masked men in our beautiful valley," she said.

Mar Delly Appointed Cardinal

Based on news from the AsiaNews
18 October 2007

(ZNDA: Rome)  Pope Benedict XVI announced 23 new cardinals during his weekly general audience in Vatican City. The pope will officially appoint the cardinals at a consistory ceremony on 24 November. Among those chosen is the patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Mar Emmanuel III Delly.

Mar Delly who celebrated his 80th birthday on October 6, was born in Tel-Keppe (Tel-Kaif), an Assyrian village, predominently populated by the Chaldean faithful.

Mar Delly (right), patriarch of the Chaldean Chatholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI.

In 1952 he was ordained priest in the Chaldean Church and ten years later, on December 16, 1962, he became bishop. In 1967 he was elevated to the post of archbishop even though under the preceding patriarch he was still auxiliary bishop of Baghdad. In December 2003, he was elected Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldeans, replacing Mar Rophael Bidawid I, who had died in July of that year in Lebanon. This put to an end an impasse at the time when choosing a patriarch was a particularly delicate step given Iraq’s situation under US occupation and strong internal tensions, which resurfaced again during the synod of the Chaldean Church last June. The Chaldean community is ancient and spread around the world, from the United States and Canada to Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria, altogether some 1.5 million members. But for thousands of years Iraq has been its heartland, home to about 800,000 Chaldeans at least until 2003, with the Patriarchate centred in Baghdad.

Eighteen of those selected (those under the age of 80) will join the group of princes of the Church, which forms the conclave to elect the new pope when a pontiff dies. Five of the new names, including Mar Delly, will not be eligible for the conclave however, as they are over the 80-year age limit.

The status of cardinal only comes into effect at the consistory, when the pope publishes the decree of elevation.

News Digest
News From Around the World


Assyrian Universal Alliance-Americas Press Release on AANF

For Immediate Press Release

September 25, 2007

AUA Americas Chapter Board of Directors
AUA Americas Chapter Inc.
2559 South Bascom Ave.
Campbell, California  95008  USA
Phone: 1-408-892-5914
Fax:      1-408-369-0186

On September 1, 2007, a motion on the floor of the Assyrian American National Federation (AANF) annual national convention in San Diego, California, received two-thirds vote compelling the AANF to constitutionally disassociate itself from the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA).

In associating with the AUA, the historic and constitutional mission of the AANF had been to serve as the representative of the Assyrians residing in the United States of America in order to voice their ideas and opinions at the AUA, which is a worldwide political and civic Assyrian collective institution. It is regrettable that the AANF in the recent past had neglected to serve its constitutional mandates, as follows:

  1. There has been an ever exacerbating alienation of the member associations from the AANF. This has resulted in the AANF leadership to either engage in matters that are unknown to some of its member associations or pursue activities that are against their expressed wishes. The AANF leadership in the recent past has ignored and remained irresponsive to the complaints and demands of its member associations.
  2. AUA Americas has received numerous complaints from the AANF member associations stating that in blatant abusive measures the AANF rules and regulations in the election proceedings have been grossly manipulated by depriving the voices of dissent and votes of the member associations that express legitimate oppositions.
  3. In spite of expressed protest from the member associations, the AANF has and continues to engage in activities that are political in nature and are both in direct conflict with the AANF constitutional By-laws, and breach the U.S. laws applicable to the not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organizations.
  4. In numerous instances, the leadership of the AANF has unduly engaged and entrenched itself in petty divisive positions stemming from unwarranted religious conflicts and impositions of a single-party dogma.
  5. The AANF has demonstrated gross and material fiscal irresponsibility and has over-extended its activities beyond its constitutional mandates.
  6. In the past years, the AANF (i) has not participated in the AUA Congresses and thereby depriving the Assyrians of America from having their legitimate representation, voice, opinions and ideas heard at the AUA, (ii) has failed to name delegates to the AUA, and (iii) has failed to pay its nominal membership fee to the AUA.

As a result, the disaffiliation of the AANF from the AUA is practically irrelevant for the following reasons: (i) the AANF has evolved itself into an illegitimate representative of the Assyrians in America and (ii) ulterior motives have long deviated the AANF in paths that make it unable to bring forward the voice and opinions of the Assyrians of America to the AUA.

In spite of the foregoing environment, the AUA showing restraint did not take action such as expelling the AANF from the AUA for its failure to serve its constitutional mandate as a representative in the AUA. This determination by the AUA was made for two reasons:

A.  For honoring the long history and some honorable traditions of the AANF in its past history; and

B.  For the sake of the Assyrian unity in the face of the ever-increasing attacks against Assyrian institutions by divisive forces.

For the record, at the end it was not the AUA that ceased the affiliation of the AANF, but rather the AANF using trickery on its own affiliates that formally voted to cease its long-standing constitutional mandate to serve as the legitimate representative of the Assyrians of America at the AUA.  

The AUA Americas Chapter and its Board of Directors would like to make it abundantly clear that the entire occurrence at the AANF San Diego convention was fully expected by the AUA. In spite of this given knowledge, the AUA did respond positively to an invitation by the AANF proposing an AANF-mediated conference in the course of the convention. The AUA constitutional policy is to respond affirmatively to legitimate calls for the sake of the Assyrian Cause. Hence, the AUA delegates did participate in one closed-door session with a number of political parties and organizations, consisting of the Chaldean Democratic Forum, the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, the Chaldean Federation of America, the Assyrian Council of Illinois, Zowaa’d Khorara and the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM). In the session, the AUA presented its comprehensive policy positions elaborately and openly, warning of the enormous dangers of accentuating our nation’s Christian Identity during these turbulent and sensitive times of the rising Islamic Fundamentalism.

As a result of the stated developments, the AUA Americas Chapter is hereby informing all Assyrians of its new policy positions:

  1. The recent failures of the AANF and its formal determination for not wanting to serve its mandated representative role at the AUA render the AANF an illegitimate representative of the Assyrians of America. Therefore, the AUA hereby formally severs its relationship with the AANF.
  2. All Branches of the AUA Americas Chapter are directed to embark on establishing direct relationship with all the legitimate Assyrian associations, organizations, learned individuals and the Assyrian public at large to bring forward the voice and the opinions of the Assyrians of America to the AUA.

In conclusion, the Assyrian public is hereby assured of the eternal commitment of the AUA to remain representative of all Assyrians and to provide an open and democratic forum for participation of all ideas and opinions that advance the Assyrian Cause. The AUA open forum, however, shall never serve advocacy of any form of despotic and totalitarian impositions that restrict the Assyrian nation’s personal and group freedoms.

Save Assyria Front Report of the Moscow Meeting

"Save Assyria" Front
28 August 2007

Between 24 and 26 August 2007, a meeting of "Save Assyria" Front (SAF) took place in the Russian capital of Moscow, where the following political and social institutions attended:

• Assyrian Democratic Party (ADP)
• Assyrian Universal Independent Activists Forum (AUIAF)
• Assyria Liberation Party (GFA)
• The Regional Organization of the Assyrians in Russia
• Assyrian National Council of Georgia

The bylaws and the political platform of SAF, as well as the final format of proposals to amend to the Iraqi government regarding the Iraqi constitution were decided. And at the third day was the presidential election of the temporary leadership board that will conduct the Front's work until the next conference, which will be announced at that time, the presidential body has met several political Russian figures where SAF explained the situation in Iraq and explained its stand regarding the serious developments that threaten Iraq, and the Assyrian nation.

Also the elected temporary leadership appointed official representatives in Iraq and the Assyrian Diaspora.  They are as follows:

• Iraqi Office: 
• Ninos Isho:                                                 Syrian Office
• Ashur Giwargis:                                        Lebanese Office
• Dr. Abrohom Aphram:                             Swedesh Office
• Giwargis Shlemon:                                    German Office
• Iskander Bulut:                                         Swiss Office
• Achurena Aksen:                                       Belgian Office
• Joseph Zayya:                                            Russian Office
• Edgard Petbunov & David Adamov:       Georgian Office
• Sarah Betu:                                                 Canadian Office
• Yonan Homa:                                              USA Office
• Elias Yalda:                                                 Australian and New Zealander Office

Save Assyria Front representatives meet in Moscow between 24 and 26 August 2007.

Political Platform of Save Assyria Front (SAF)

Moscow, 26 August 2007

The transition from the reality of our divided nation toward unification is the duty of the Assyrian contemporary political movement, where the rules of procedure and the political agenda of Assyrian organizations and parties recognize the historical and national inherent rights to Assyria, with no non-Assyrian patriotic affiliation by the Assyrian individual to abolish national affiliation.

Due to the tragic situation of the Assyrian cause, an Assyrian expanded Conference was held in Stockholm, Sweden from December 15- 17, 2006, which was followed by the SAF founding conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, from March 15-17, 2007. Since its founding, SAF has emerged as a national, political, and ideological front which believes that “Ashur” (Assyria) is land, people and culture. SAF represents parties and civil and political institutions of the Assyrian nation, which are currently struggling for the inherent national rights of the Assyrian people.

Positions and Objectives of Save Assyria Front

At the international level:
First: SAF is struggling for the recognition of the Assyrian people as an independent identity, equal with other citizens with rights and obligations in every country.  SAF also strives to  influence key decision-making centers and players, at international, regional, or national levels to ensure the future and the fate of Assyrians as an indigenous people, based on the Charter of the Declaration of Human Rights of 10/December 1948 (and other international covenants).  SAF works to secure the national rights of the Assyrian people regardless of changes to the political map.

Second: SAF rejects all kinds of terrorism and ethnic discrimination among human beings on the basis of color, language, religion, social origin, and differentiating between men and women contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Third: SAF is working at the international, regional and national levels to spread democracy to launch political and civil freedoms, through strengthening relations with the governments and peoples of the world.
Fourth: SAF supports the peaceful coexistence between ethnic components internationally, regionally and nationally, preserving ethnic rights equally, furthering freedom and justice, strengthening relations with peace makers, and supports democratic movements and the institutions of civil society, to reinforce national independence and end all forms of exploitation and subordination, politically and economically.

Fifth: SAF recognizes the ability of the United Nations, its affiliates, and other international organizations in resolving disputes peacefully and protecting world peace.
At the Assyrian national level:
First: SAF maintains that Assyria is occupied; therefore we are working for an Assyrian region to be called “Assyria”, linked directly to the central Iraqi government, where Assyrians will preserve their identity and presence in the land of their ancestors. An Assyrian region is currently defined as follows:

North: The international borders of the state of Iraq with Turkey and Syria.
East: Including the Nirwa and Rikan regions, down to the Greater Zab River.
West : The Tigris River.
South: The point where the Greater Zab meets with the Tigris River.
Second: SAF assures the authenticity of the Assyrian people in Iraq, and will work to gain the international and Iraqi recognition for the Assyrian people as indigenous people of Iraq, and the right of every Assyrian to gain Iraqi citizenship regardless of residence or current citizenship.
Third: SAF assures that the Assyrian identity is inclusive for all Assyrians and rejects all the new-made and compound names to identify the Assyrian nation, and will work to correct the clauses of the Iraqi constitution concerning the Assyrian identity.

Fourth: SAF assures that the Assyrian political decision must be independent and not linked to any other option.

Fifth: SAF will confront and stand against any attempt to marginalize the Assyrian identity as land, people and culture.

Sixth: SAF assures that immigration and deportation from Assyria is incompatible with the national aspirations of the Assyrian nation.  SAF will therefore work to end the forced displacement.

Seventh: SAF assures that claims for the inherent rights of the Assyrian people in Iraq should be directed through the central government and the international level, and has the right to use all means to achieve its goals.

Eighth: SAF maintains the necessity to purify the current Assyrian political atmosphere from remnants of previous eras, in what serves the Assyrian nation’s interest.
Ninth: SAF recognizes that Assyrians suffered Genocide at the hands of Turks and Kurds during the 1st World War, and that this Genocide was planned by the Ottoman Empire.  SAF also maintains that the massacre which took place Northern Iraq in August of 1933 was also Genocide, planned and carried out by the Iraqi government, and SAF will work to gain recognition of these Genocides through the legal process.

At the Iraqi national level

First: SAF understands the need for purposeful dialogues with all Iraqi factions to reach firm convictions regarding the recognition of the legitimate national rights of the Assyrian people and the rest of the Iraqi groups who are subject to persecution and forced displacement.

Second: SAF recognizes the necessity of brotherhood between all ethnic and religious groups existing in Iraq.

Third: SAF demands that the Iraqi constitution must equally safeguard the national rights of all Iraqi groups, and rejects any attempts to marginalize the Assyrian nation’s rights and presence in its historical land under sectarian and factional concepts.

Long live Iraq
Long live the Assyrian nation

Assyrians & Armenians in UK Join for Genocide Recognition

Stichting Seyfo Centre
Postbus 515
7500 AM Enschede
The Netherlands
United Kingdom

Press Release

23 October 2007

Sunday 21st October marked a step forward for the Assyrians fighting for genocide recognition committed almost one-hundred years ago in Turkey.  The Armenian community, who have the genocide of their people officially recognised in 19 countries, pledged to work with the Assyrians to also gain genocide recognition, for the very least within the UK.

The event which was organised by CRAG (Campaign for the Recognition of Armenian Genocide), saw scholar Sabri Atman discuss issues surrounding the Genocide of the Assyrians and Armenians, proposing questions for thought and challenging controversial differences between the two communities to inevitably bring them together.

The event, held at the Assyrian House, Ealing, brought together both members of the Assyrian and Armenian community.  It was here that representatives from CRAG and the Armenian Solidarity offered to unite with the Assyrian community in equal footing and on all levels, to achieve recognition of the Assyrian and Armenian. 

The Genocide of the Assyrians and Armenians took place during the rule of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey.  The focus of the Empire was to ethnically cleanse the nation, in a bid to create a Pan-Turkish state with one Flag, one race and one religion. This resulted in the brutal murders of millions and an equal deportation of others.

The objective of the lecture was to discuss the possibility of Turkey joining the EU (European Union), and whether this should be allowed while their Government still accept no responsibility for their past crimes. 

Campaigning organisation for the Genocide, Seyfo Centre UK, who were also in attendance and co-hosted the event, would like to extend a warm heartfelt thanks to CRAG for organising the event, and for officially pledging, together with Armenian Solidarity, to work with the Assyrian people in achieving recognition. 

Mr. Nineb Lamassu of Seyfo Centre UK said, “This is of course a positive step forward and this would be empowering not only for the Assyrians but the Armenians too. For from now on we can speak in one united voice and demand what is just from our governments. We are positive these pledges – from both the Armenians and Assyrians - were not rhetorical and we should see them manifested in the very near future”.

Viklund Responds to Baito's Accusations

Courtesy of the EasternStar News Agency
8 October 2007

(ZNDA: Stockholm)  Mr. Nemrod Baito, the Tourism Minister in the Kurdish Regional Government in north Iraq, gave a lecture in an Assyrian club in Sweden on 23 September.  During the lecture Baito accused Margareta Viklund, the chairwoman of the Swedish Committee for Assyrians, who recently visited Assyrians in northern Iraq, for giving false information.

Answering a question about the report of Margareta Viklund concerning the Kurdish persecution of the Assyrians, Nemrod Baito explained that the entire report was incorrect: "It seams Margareta Viklund did not move outside certain places while in Iraq.  I encourage her to visit northern Iraq on my expense in order for her to move freely and write about everything she sees, instead of just writing what she heard from others."

The following is Chairwoman Margareta Viklund's reply to the accusations made by Mr. Nemrod Baito:

Margareta Viklund
Chairwoman of the Swedish committee for Assyrians, SKA

Nemrod Baito is an Assyrian working for Kurdish interests.

He is either bribed, bought, indoctrinated, hypnotized, manipulated with large sums of money in order to betray his own people, or, he is blind to the extent he can no longer se the truth. It is therefore good that a person like me, from the outside, has had the opportunity to go beyond the common fairy tale and see what is really happening. For this I thank my brave and hospitable Assyrian friends!

I became aware of the vulnerable situation of the Assyrians already when I was a member of the Swedish parliament. I realized that they are betrayed by members of their own people. When I informed the minister responsible for integration and international aid about the situation of the Assyrians, I was met with suspicion. The minister could not believe what I had written about the situation of the Assyrians. He decided to send a delegation to northern Iraq in order to check the information I had presented. The delegation he sent was directed only to persons who were totally dependent on the means they had been bribed with and therefore the conclusions of the delegation were completely different from my conclusions. On top of this, the leader of the delegation is married to a Kurdish woman.

This episode is still very sensitive. When I once brought it up for discussion with Assyrians, some of them holding high political positions, there was an awkward and embarrassing silence around the table. But they did not deny the truth in my statement.

During my recent visit to northern Iraq I met Assyrians living in great fear but who do not want to give up what they consider to be their indigenous land and their human rights to live in freedom and with human dignity. They are doing everything possible in order to supply their children with education and a belief in a future in freedom and security. This security is lacking for Assyrians today, whether they live in southern or northern Iraq.

To give the impression that I am lying in my report is one of the worst attacks I have ever been subjected to. But the worst thing is not that I am accused of lying but that all the hundreds of Assyrians I met during my visit are accused of lying. Everything I experienced with my own eyes, ears and other senses is wrong according to Nemrod Baito, despite that no authorities or any bribed Assyrian was involved.

Christian Couple Flogged in Iran for Worshiping in Secret

Courtesy of Iran Focus
14 October 2007

(ZNDA: Tehran)  A Christian couple were flogged in Iran for participating in an “underground Church”, according to an Iranian Christian group.

The unnamed couple were arrested on 21 September, 2005, the report said, adding that a Revolutionary Court reviewed their case in July 2007. Even though the couple had decided to marry seven years ago, the country’s marriage laws - which prohibit the union of ex-Muslims and members of other religious minorities – prevented them from obtaining a certificate of marriage.

The report said that the woman was born a Christian in an Assyrian family and the man was a convert to Christianity prior to getting married. The court ruled that both the man and the woman were Mortad, a description of someone who has committed apostasy by leaving Islam.

A husband and wife couple show marks of flagellation by the Iranian authority.  In Iran it is unlawful for a Moslem to convert to Christianity or marry a Christian.  The woman is from an Assyrian family in Iran.

Plight of Christians of Iraq Raised at UNHCR’s Annual Consultation

Australian Assyrian Christian Association (AACA)
Press Release
22 October 2007

Responding to the concerns of Australian Assyrians raised by the Australian Assyrian Christian Association (AACA), the National Council of Churches of Australia (NCCA) has made presentations at UNHCR’s Annual Consultation with NGOs in Geneva during September and October 2007. The presentations highlighted the plight of Christians in Iraq and their growing number of refugees.

At the rally held in Canberra by AACA in August 2007, the president of NCCA Rev. John Henderson called upon Australians “to pray for Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq”; and “to do whatever is in their power to urge the Australian Government and other governments to assist refugees, particularly Christians who have been singled out for persecution in the Middle East, by providing financial assistance and granting humanitarian and other visas.”

President of AACA, Mr Gaby Kiwarkis said “We are thankful for the efforts of Rev. John Henderson and James Thomson, who have shown a great willingness to advocate on behalf of our refugees and for taking this issue to the international community at the UN.”

Mr James Thomson, Director of Policy and Advocacy of Christian World Service (CWS), presented two briefing papers on behalf of CWS-NCCA that were directed at the Australian Government and UNHCR’s Executive Committee. During several meetings in Geneva, Mr Thomson voiced concern about the lack of international support given to Assyrian refugees who have fled Iraq. 

Although Mr Thomson noted in his communication with AACA that no Assyrian representatives were present during the UNHCR consultation, it has been reported that the World Council of Churches is now urging over 330 member churches “to take up the silence on Iraq’s humanitarian crisis with their own governments.”

The Australian Assyrian Christian Association is a community-based organisation established by Australian Assyrians to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis faced by Assyrian Christian refugees of all denominations and to lobby the Australian Government for effective interventions. For further information, contact Gaby Kiwarkis by email: gaby6@aapt.net.au

Assyrians in Finland Establish New Association

On 16 October 2007 the Assyrians of Oulu (or Uleaborg) in Finland established the Finland Assyria Association.  The FAA is headed by Dr. Simo Parpola, a professor of Assyriology at the University of Helsinki and   Professor Svnate Lundgren, senior lecturer at the Academy of Abo in Finland.

Other board members include Veijo Koivula, secretary of the Christian Democratic members of the Finnish parliament and two Assyrians, Benjamin Hurmiz and Amer Butros Hanna.

Nearly 300 Assyrians live in Finland, most of them in the city of Uleaborg. The Finland Assyria Association members are planning activities to inform the Finnish decision makers, media and the public about the critical situation of the Assyrians in the Middle East. The association hopes the Finnish government will take initiatives within the EU and other forums in order to guarantee the rights of the Assyrians.

Prof. Simo Parpola specializes in the epigraphy of the Akkadian language, and has been working on the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project since 1987. He is also Honorary Member of the American Oriental Society.  Prof. Parpola, through his interpretation of the Assyrian tablets, explains that the Assyrian mode of thought and philosophy eventually reappear in Greek Philosophy and the Kabbalah.

Oulu is the sixth largest city in Finland with a population of 130,000 residents.  Oulu is considered the Silicon Valley of Finland and home to a number of high-technology companies such as Nokia.  Oulu is also best known for the Air Guital World Championships.

To learn more about Oulu click here.

In Moscow Assyrian Cobblers Face the Boot

Courtesy of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
14 October 2007
By Chloe Arnold

(ZNDA: Moscow)  Russian winters are unkind to boots and shoes, and have traditionally provided ample opportunity for the ubiquitous cobbler's shop in Moscow. But with more money in their pockets, many Russians today's are buying new shoes instead of mending their old ones. Now the trade faces a more formidable threat: Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who is calling for a crackdown on street stalls.
"My name is Yukhan Daniilovich Bavidov," says a man working in a small street stall. "I've been here in Moscow since 1955. I've had two cobbler's stalls, and I've been in this one for 35 years. Before that I worked in a stall on Chekhov Street, as it used to be called. Now it's Little Dmitrovka Street."

A Service in Demand

"When they arrested us, they forced us to say that we were Kurds, not Assyrians. But we kicked up a great fuss. We wouldn't say we were Kurds. We are Assyrians, and we will always be Assyrians."

Trade is brisk at Bavidov's tiny stall, located just a stone's throw from the Bolshoi Theater in central Moscow. A long row of shoelaces, in every size and color, hangs from a piece of wire that stretches the length of his shop window. Inside, there's just enough room for a cobbler's wheel, a rickety stool, and a battered leather satchel full of tools.

"What is he going to do with the people who work in them? Are they just supposed to lie down and die? You have to provide for people."

A distraught young woman in an expensive suit comes in to have the heel of one of her gold stilettos repaired. She perches on a pile of boxes, as Bavidov lovingly tends to the shoe. Then an old man arrives with three pairs of well-worn winter boots wrapped in a paper bag.

Like many of Moscow's cobblers, Bavidov is an Assyrian Christian, descendents of the ancient kingdom of Assyria through which the Euphrates and Tigris rivers flowed. Bavidov's parents lived in Ottoman Turkey until the empire targeted the Assyrian diaspora in 1914, reportedly massacring hundreds of thousands.

Like thousands of others, Bavidov's parents fled to Russia and the South Caucasus, where they were granted asylum by the tsar.

"From the time of World War I we started to work, to labor, so the sweat stood on our brows, he said. "And then, in 1949, 90 percent of the Assyrian population was banished to Tomsk in Siberia. Most came from Azerbaijan and Georgia. When they arrested us, they forced us to say that we were Kurds, not Assyrians. But we kicked up a great fuss. We wouldn't say we were Kurds. We are Assyrians, and we will always be Assyrians."

Not Following In Dad's Footsteps

Bavidov's family was rehabilitated in 1955 and he moved to Moscow, where he was apprenticed to an Armenian shoemaker. Bavidov says that in those days, 90 percent of Moscow's Assyrian community worked as cobblers and shoe-shiners. The more experienced ones had their own stalls, the younger ones simply set up shop on the pavement.

But today, he says sadly, their children don't want to follow in their fathers' footsteps.

"The old ones have gone, the young ones don't want to be cobblers," he added. "They've become too bright. They have different qualifications. Look here, I have four children. The first went to university. The second went to university. The third went to a vocational college. Do you really think they'd want to become cobblers now?"

Bavidov sets to work hammering a steel cap onto the heel of a man's leather shoe. But this is a sound fast disappearing from the streets of Moscow. It isn't just that Russia's Assyrian community is moving away from the cobbler's trade.

Beware Of Luzhkov

Yury Luzhkov, the powerful mayor of Moscow, has declared war on the thousands of stalls and kiosks that clutter the capital's streets.

This week, he told television viewers that street stalls were unsanitary and provided poor service -- and vowed to get rid of them all.

But Bavidov, who has lived through exile to Siberia, World War II and the births of four children, seven grandchildren, and one great grandchild, is not worried.

"Oh yes, I read an article about this! But how is he going to do it? OK, so he clears them all away. Fine. But what is he going to do with the people who work in them? Are they just supposed to lie down and die? You have to provide for people. But what do I have to be afraid of now? What do I have to fear? Let's just wait and see what happens."

Sweden's Fashion Police Picks Nuri Kino as Most Stylish

(ZNDA:  Stockholm)  Camilla Thulin, Sweden’s leading stylist and designer has chosen ten Swedish men she considers living on the edge of good taste and style for her newly-published book, "Karlar med stil" or Men with Style .   Among these is the well-known Assyrian journalist and filmmaker, Nuri Kino.

Following the success of her book, Style for Women, Thulin's new book went on sale on 9 October.  In her book, she calls Kino, “The Star of the Middle East”, and dedicates eight pages to him and his two younger brothers, Amanuel and Markus.   Thulin writes:

"He [Kino} is perhaps Sweden’s most awarded reporter with such prizes as three Guldspaden Award, an Ikaro prize, and a”Golden Palm” from Hollywood in his collection. He has also been chosen as the Assyrian of the Year in the World, a prize and a heritage he cherishes with pride.  This investigative journalist, who fears nothing, is rumored to being extremely vain and well-dressed.  I have even heard that he has flapped around the corridors of the radio house wearing a cloak, hardly a normal thing to do. At the Swedish radio house, the dress code is “to work but not be seen” and to be taken really seriously one must be fairly gray and unglamorous. Nuri Kino is deadly serious, but often chokes the journalism society by looking like a film star.  A fact which amuses him greatly."

About the book, Nuri Kino comments: "At first I was skeptical of being part of something like a book that teaches Swedish men class and style. But the author Camilla Thulin is a person who does not give in that easily. We had a lot of fun during the photographing sessions and the interview, and now I feel proud and happy to be part of the book. I’m honoured."

In the book, Nuri Kino tells why he thinks that Assyrians are so aware of their looks. It is interesting, rewarding and inspiring information.

Critics predict that Men with Style may just be the Christmas gift of the year for men.

Photos of the Assyrian journalist and filmmaker, Nuri Kino, in the newly-published fashion book in Sweden, "Style For Men".

Inga modeller. Bara äkta karlar! Stil måste inte vara trendigt eller ändra sig efter varje säsong. Tvärtom är stil något man håller sig till och utvecklar genom åren. Det anser Camilla Thulin, som besökt några av Sveriges mest välklädda män: Möt bland andra: Johan Hakelius, Peder Lamm, Lars Nittve, Kjell A Nordström, Peter Kvint, Dregen och Jean Pierre Barda. Samtliga poserar i sina hem, i sina egna kläder, med egna accessoarer.   Personligt berättar de om sitt förhållningssätt till kläder och mode. Boken innehåller dessutom shoppingtips, råd om hur man enkelt förvandlar och förbättrar sin stil och praktiska skötselråd. Karlar med stil är en inspirationsbok för män som vill snygga till sig!  Camilla Thulin är underklädsdesigner, kostymtecknare, kreatör och stylist. Hon har tidigare givit ut bokenStil på Bokförlaget DN.

Rosie Malek-Yonan in Latest Role in "Rendition"

News Release

Media Contact for Rosie Malek-Yonan
Trip Miller
The Trip Miller Company

LOS ANGELES, 22 October 2007 – Rosie Malek-Yonan’s latest role in New Line Cinema’s Rendition is opposite Reese Witherspoon as an Egyptian mother, Nuru El-Ibrahimi, whose son, played by Omar Matwaly, is kidnapped by the CIA in Oscar winning director, Gavin Hood’s politically charged thriller that sweeps through the world of terrorism and torture.

Malek-Yonan is an Assyrian activist and author, intimately familiar with her nation’s struggle as minority Christians in the Middle-East.  With the publication of her book, The Crimson Field in 2005, Malek-Yonan brought the Assyrian Genocide to the limelight.  While Armenians are awaiting the next step by the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize the Genocide, Malek-Yonan strives to set the record straight that the Assyrians and Greeks were also a part of the Genocide by the Ottoman Turks during WWI, wherein the Assyrians lost two-thirds of their population.

Due to her expertise on the ongoing Assyrian Genocide, as evident from her book, The Crimson Field, on the suggestion of famed Oscar winning director, Terrence Malick, in 2006 Malek-Yonan testified on Capitol Hill about the plight of the Assyrian Christians in Iraq.

Rendition premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in early September 2007 and is now in theatres worldwide.  The film also stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, Peter Sarsgaard, and Alan Arkin.  Film Critic, Roger Ebert, gave the film four out of four stars, saying that, “Rendition is valuable and rare.  It is a movie about the theory and practice of two things: torture and personal responsibility. And it is wise about what is right, and what is wrong.”

Rising Assyrian Stars Appear in "The Kingdom"

(ZNDA: Los Angeles)   Two rising Assyrian acting stars, Yasmine Hannani and Lilly Enwiya, appear in the recently released mega-hit, The Kingdom, directed by Peter Berg.

Yasmine Hannani plays "the Aunt" in The Kingdom.

Yasmine Hannani's face is familiar to the readers of Zinda Magazine (See Zinda 24 May 2006).  She's appeared in "Blockbuster! The 9/11 Commission Report (2001)" a dramatization of events leading up to the attacks of September 11, and in Albert Brooks' "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World."  Hanani competed as Miss Iraq in the Miss Asia USA Pageant, held in Southern California in 2006.

Hannani in a scene, Battle for Haditha, from The Kingdom, Photo by Phil Fisk.

Lilly Enwiya's acting career began back in Chicago in 2001 when she was noticed in her freshman year in college. In 2002 she moved to Arizona and continued to pursue her dream. In 2004 she filmed a commercial and a year later found a casting agency in Phoenix that landed her the part of "Maggie Hayes" in The Kingdom

Notable Hollywood stars appearing in The Kingdom are Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, and Jason Bateman.

The Kingdom is about an elite group of FBI agents on the hunt for a terrorist. Maggie Hayes appears in a conference room listening to Jamie Foxx talking about who the agents are after and the identity of the FBI agents lost due to the terrorism attack.  

In August 2006 Enwiya filmed another film "The Road Less Traveled", an independent film which will be released on DVD.

Lily Enwiya plays the role of FBI agent, Maggie Hayes, in The Kingdom.

Rabat Tepe Cuneiform Inscriptions Confirm King Sargon’s Invasion of Northwest Iran

Courtesy of the Tehran Times
30 September 2007

The Assyrian king, Sargon II (r. 722 - 705 BC), with the crowned prince, Sennacherib (left).  Lake Urmia (Yama d'Urmi) region was occupied by Sargon's Assyrian forces around 713 B.C. 

(ZNDA: Tehran)  Four brick inscriptions discovered at the 3000-year-old site of Rabat Tepe II in northwestern Iran substantiate that the Assyrian king Sargon II invaded the region.

The 10 centimeter-thick and 34x34 centimeter-square bricks have been inscribed with white glazed cuneiform script.

The inscribed bricks were unearthed by a team of Iranian archaeologists during the second season of excavations at the site in October and December 2006.

“Two of the bricks carry the name of a Mannai king (same as Minni in the Bible:  see Minni in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:27), Ata or Ada, and the name of his land, Shurdiro or Dira,” team director Reza Heidari told the Persian service of CHN on Saturday.

The other two inscriptions contain the names of Bal and Nabu, two gods worshiped by the Assyrians, he added.

The inscriptions were deciphered for the first time by Rasul Bashshash Kanzak, an expert at Iran’s Cultural Heritage Research Center, and later by a linguist of the British Museum. The translations of both experts matched.

To see the entire map of the Neo-Assyrian Empire click here.

Up until now, inscriptions using white glaze have only been discovered at the famous Gate of Babylon.

Ancient inscriptions previously discovered in the region have been written on cliffs or on steles, but these are the first brick inscriptions to be discovered in the area, which is located near the town of Sardasht in Iran’s West Azarbaijan Province.

Archaeologists believe that Rabat Tepe was the capital of the Musasir state about 3000 years ago.

Musasir was a semi-independent buffer state bordering Mannai between Assyria and Urartu. It was a vassal state of Assyria yet Urartu had some claim over it.

They also surmise that it was an ancient city probably located near the upper Great Zab River between Lake Urmia in Iran and Lake Van, in present-day Turkey. Musasir was particularly important during the first half of the 1st millennium BC and is known primarily from bas-reliefs and inscriptions of the Assyrian king Sargon II, who captured it in 714.

According to the inscriptions, Sargon first plundered the palace and storerooms that belonged to Urzana, the king of Musasir, and then seized the even richer contents of the temple of Haldi, the god of the ancient kingdom of Urartu.

Surfs Up!
Your Letters to the Editor

Believing in God's Miracles

Basil Khammo Pius

Thank you for all the straightforward reporting and stories about the Assyrians. You are one accessible source of informing Assyrians about the good, the better, the bad and the ugly which hovers over our different fragmented groups; it is normal for most cultures throughout history, whether we like it or not.

The important unifying force for those fortunate of us who are enjoying the fruits of a free society outside of Iraq is to keep praying for the safety of our Assyrian brothers and sister in Iraq in spite of our differences. Yes, we must believe in God's miracle and in His healing of our troubled world - and we ask Him to hurry up, please.

Let's all enjoy the beautiful autumn season wherever we are. We are the lucky ones. Thanks to many of His wonderful blessings.   Peace.

Disregard for the Voices of the Youth

Shervina Takhsh

In response to Wilfred Bet-Alkhas' editorial, An Awakening in San Diego, I say bravo.

As a member of the Assyrian youth community of Los Angeles, I have always felt that my voice has no value. As much as our elders speak of lack of youth participation, it is their disregard for our ideas that has put a barrier between us. The only place where the youth participates is in religious organizations, like St. Mary's Parish in Encino, CA. However, that will never be a place where open minds and open discussions will prevail. The divide between Pro-Mar Dinkha and Pro-Mar Bawai has caused rifts in friendships and families that will soon not recover. That was my reason to attend the 2007 Convention.

I wanted to meet people who wanted to discuss the issues plaguing Assyrians today: the war, welfare for poor families in America, students learning in destitute environments in foreign countries, etc. Instead, I was met with purple flags, purple wrist bands and the ridiculous notion of ONE-NESS. Don't get me wrong, I am all for the unity of Assyrians and Chaldeans but under the Assyrian name. I am the secretary of the Assyrian-Chaldean Student Alliance at the Univeristy of California, Irvine and it has been a struggle to communicate the difference between the History of the Assyrians and the History of the Chaldean, or Catholic, faith. The reason why I say that the notion of ONE-NESS is ridiculous is because those of us who call ourselves Assyrians cannot unite ourselves, let alone try to unite with those who choose to ignore their history and refuse to accept the idea of Assyrianism.

My good friend, Larsa Davidson (VP of the Assyrian Student Association of UCLA), and I were walking through the corridors of the hotel and entered the elevator with Assyrians from Chicago. We were all introducing ourselves and they immediately chastised us for being Assyrians whose parents were born in Iran. "Are you Iranian," one of them asked with a very abrasive tone. My head immediately snapped and I replied: "NO. We are Assyrians. Why? Are you Iraqi?" We were hurt and angry that there is still a divide between Iraqi/Iranian Assyrians, not to mention the divide between Church of the East and other Christian sects in our community.

There is no such thing as unity--not as long as we keep referring ourselves as Iraqi/Iranian Assyrians.

There is no such thing as unity--not as long as all political parties are not represented and accounted for at all AANF SANCTIONED conventions.

There is no such thing as unity--not as long as ALL religious heads keep dictating the terms of what a unified Assyrian community should entail.

There is no such thing as unity--not as long as our so-called "leaders" continue to sponsor an alternative Anti-AANF/Anti-Assyrian/Pro-Church of the East convention in Modesto, CA--just as was done this year.

There is no such thing as unity--not as long as there is no divide between CHURCH and STATE.

I am not just another Liberal Democrat. I am a Political Science major who has studied the catastrophes that history has dictated in terms of Religion ruling a country, let alone a diaspora-ridden community like ours.

This is the only forum to which my voice won't be silenced by the religious fanaticism that has engulfed my community. Thank you for allowing there to be a discussion, controversial or not.

Ms. Takhsh studies political science at the University of California in Irvine and is focusing on Middle Eastern studies.  She is planning to attend law school.

Suryoyo Pride in Seattle

Suha J. Eisho

We are all aware that the majority of our Assyrian population is concentrated in Illinois, Michigan, California and Arizona.  However, I would like to bring to your attention that one Suryoyo family does exist in Seattle, Washington.  This family is Shamasha Sabah Jabbouri's family. Sabah, my father, is a University of Washington alumnus whose children are following his footsteps.

Rita Jabbouri

I am writing to you today on behalf of my eighteen-year-old sister, Rita Jabbouri, whom we are extremely proud of.  She is recognized in Washington State by the American people for her scholastic accomplishments.  It's only fair that our Assyrian people know and be proud of someone of their own!
Rita was nine when she came to the United States.  After only one month in ESL (English as a Second Language), she learned English and skipped from Third to Fourth grade.
In high school, Rita challenged herself with Advanced Placement and Honors classes and excelled in her studies.  She was one of only two students from her high school to receive the American Association of University Women of Washington Outstanding Junior in Mathematics Award.  Rita won several Student of the Quarter and Student of the Year Awards.
Not only did Rita succeed in academics, but she also managed to stay involved in the community and devote over two hundred hours to community service.  She was voted Secretary of Key Club her Junior Year, then she became President in her Senior Year.  Under her leadership, Kentwood Key Club won the Gold Award at the Pacific Northwest District Key Club Convention.  Rita was also involved in Future Business Leaders of America.  She placed third in Business Communications and first in Business Law at the 2007 Washington State FBLA Midwest Region Winter Conference, and was the only representative from her school at the state conference.  While there, she was awarded the Outstanding Member Award for her chapter.  Rita also played tennis and the flute throughout her high school career.  She was first flute, leading a dozen other flute players her Senior Year.  She competed in the Solo and Ensemble contests and earned a Superior Rating for Flute Duet her freshman year and another Superior Rating for Flute Solo her Senior Year.
Last June, Rita graduated with highest honors from Kentwood High School.  She won the Outstanding Conqueror Award from her school, which is only presented to one female who represents the best in academics and leadership from the entire Senior Class.  At graduation, Rita was named School Board Scholar.  The Seattle Times selected her as one of the outstanding graduates of 2007 and featured her in an article.
Rita won several scholarships and was accepted to the University of Washington, a school ranked 16th in the world.  Rita plans to major in biology, continue to study French, and then attend medical school.  Her dream is to help people in Third World countries.
To view the article published in the Seattle Times, please click here.

Heroes of our Times

Sargon Levi Gabriel

The founding committee of Habbaniya Union School namely Benyamin Yalda, Sargon Aboona, Odisho Warda and Zacharia Zacharia and the late John Baijo Rehana, and the affiliated Committees in Canada, Australia and UK, that are chaired by John Aghajan, Dinkha Warda and Andrious Jotyar MBE, and their spouses have given me inspiration not only by their courage, a quality all of them share in remarkably diverse forms, but by their Assyrian Christian Faith. They never give up. They have undertaken tasks voluntarily no one else would imagine, if they did, would consider impossible. They have accomplished these tasks by determination, stubbornness, and imagination. These are people who never consider that failure is possible. Their manners are singularly winning and graceful, and their prodigious powers of mind are accompanied by a childlike simplicity of character. In other words they are just great. They have fulfilled perfectly the roll God has chosen for them in life. And we admire and emulate them for this very fact. Their platform is of conciliation and pacification, smoothing the animosities within our Assyrian Nation.

I recommend them as role model for all Assyrians to see and imitate. There are many of their qualities that I would like to possess. They are very pleasant and very friendly persons. They are too restless, too impatient, too obsessed with their goals.  They have instilled in us a social education, which strengthens and develops within our-selves the spirit of solidarity, obedience and sacrifice. The true aims of Assyrian Nationalism.

Since the fall of Saddam the Assyrian Nation has been infested by pragmatic political parties with virtually no real vision for an Assyrian homeland. The lack of political ideologies and the overwhelming number of parties whose sole purpose is responding to current events according to personal gains without a futuristic vision, is the biggest contribution to the strives we are facing today. Tell me what tribe you are from and I will tell you who you are with. That is what it all came down to. Nationalist feeling does not exist. The Nationalist feeling to them is nothing but an illusion because it comes from a tribalism point of view, and tribalism cannot turn in Nationalism unless the Nation eradicates it from among us.

The Platform of Habbaniya Union School does not restrict person’s affiliation with different political parties or Churches. All Assyrians who believe in the future of Assyria and the struggle for the Assyrian Nation’s Homeland are welcomed to attend the reunion every second year. It is a symbol of unity for the worldwide Assyrians. It is a renaissance movement, not a populace movement. We need all Assyrians intellectuals, great thinkers, people that can motivate us and break the tribalism nightmare that is in full control of our life to join.

The founding members have become prominent advocates of Assyrian National movement, at a time when there is so much division in our greatest and true Church The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East and our Assyrian Political and Social Parties and Organizations.

I am sure their prestige will ensure a unified front for all Assyrians to follow. They are proving that they are natural leaders of great intelligence. They are specialists in religion, and cultural leadership. They have become leaders in a complex struggle to unite our people. The Assyrian History of 21st century will be a biography of great men like them. They have distanced themselves from tribalism, and favourtisim.

They have made Habbaniya Union School reunion such that persons who attend do not feel that there is contradiction in their belonging to other Political Parties or Churches. Once gathered together we leave our differences outside, feeling that we are all one big family, brothers and sisters united for the good of our beloved Assyrian nation and our greatest Church The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East.

They profoundly believe that the individual can impress the mark of his will on historic events.
To unify our Beloved Assyrian Nation, we need leaders. The forces of history cannot generate unification of our Churches and our Political and Social Parties and Organizations without the aid of tightly knit, highly motivated vanguards like the Habbaniya Union School founding fathers.  They have gifts of leadership. They are obviously the messianic heroes for whom the Assyrian Patriots are clamouring to resurrect the Assyrian Nation from her prostration. The Habbaniya Union School was a veritable seed-bed of Assyrian Nationalism. Habbaniya as a whole was particularly rich in Assyrian Nationalists and main credit goes to Khet Khet Alap. It created cadres with real common ideology. They shared a passion for a homeland and make Assyrian Nation a strong and proud Nation again. They extirpated tribalism from among us, the same tribalism that is weakening and creating that massive division among us today. We became a closely-knit cohesive society.

Of course, integrity and energy are the defining qualities the founding fathers posses. Humility is their characteristic virtue. So thoroughly have they realized the greatness of God and their own nothingness that in moment of intimacy they are able to say to our Assyrian Nation “Thanks be to God.” Never have any of their scholastic acts aroused in them a single movement of vainglory. From their humility sprang their extreme modesty in the expression of their opinion, never in the heat of disputation.

I am hoping that all Assyrians will look at Habbaniya Union School organizers and learn something. They are going to be a roll model to all to copy, to forget our divisions and try to unite. Unite and be a strong nation. Then we will be able to influence the policy makers of the world to recognize us as a United Assyrian Nation.

We Assyrians certainly cannot depend upon the U.N. Human Rights Council to stop the genocide in Iraq of our Assyrian people. Do not forget that the same powers that we allied with them in WWI and WWII did not support our claim that the Turks and Kurds massacred us from 1914-1918. and they denied us their promises for a country of our own. It was the gallantry of our people under the command and leadership of Rab Khaila David Mar Shimon, Agha Petros and our Assyrian people that we survived.

We cannot depend on Western countries to accept our displaced people as refugees that are scattered all over Middle East, Turkey and Greece. We have to do it ourselves by uniting and becoming one gigantic Political Power to fight for our rights and be recognized as indigenous people of Ashur. This is the Sacred Mission of the organizers of Habbaniya Union School.

Thank you and God Bless our Assyrian Nation, our Assyrian Churches and God bless you all.

Was the Reunion held in Canada really a Habbaniya Union School Reunion?

Mikhael K. Pius

"To sin by silence when we should protest
makes cowards out of men."

                                   —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Sargon Levi Gabriel wrote (in Zinda of 19 Sep 2007) with glowing terms about the 7th Habbaniya Union School Students’ Reunion held in Toronto, Canada, during the third week of August 2007.  He expressed repeated lavish thanks to the organizers and appreciation of the event and said it was “full of fun, extremely well organized, fantastic, and with lots of friends. Those that missed it really missed something great.”  Sargon has obviously “had a ball,” enjoying himself, meeting a few friends, having fun, hearing his wife singing on the bus, seeing his youthful Habbaniya picture on display and spending “a wonderful and peaceful time” with a friend,  “chatting and watching the wonderful [Niagara] Falls.”  (And can he imagine how much more enjoyable the event was for those who were always in the limelight—the “honorable” and the “honored” members?)

That is well and good and I have no argument with Sargon’s statement. Already a few friends who attended the event have either told me, or written me, of their great satisfaction of the reunion in question.  In fact I have no doubt that many—or perhaps all—the participants had a great time and enjoyed the event. For one thing, John Aghajan, one of two favorite “sons” of “Mr Chairman” (aka Benyamin Yalda) is a good organizer and, with hard work from his team, he apparently has done a good job.  In addition, he is also a good musician, entertaining people with delightful tunes on his accordion, not to mention other entertaining features the reunion offered, such as Western and khigga dancing, food and drinks, the Niagara Falls visit, and so on, even though, I’m told, you had to pay for anything you received.   

Sept.2005: At Dr Norman Solkha’s Mesopotamian Museum in Chicago, Mr.Chairman, in “skipper’s" cap and windbreaker for better effect, giving instructions to Reunion group, with head and shoulders above all, while the cameras roll.

But my question is:  was this celebration in Canada really the Habbaniya Union School Reunion—or even Habbaniya Community Reunion?  In fact, can all the last few reunions planned and organized under the command of “Mr Chairman,” though enjoyable and successful they might have been, be classified as Habbaniya Union School Reunion or even Habbaniya Community Reunion?  And least of all, can they really be called “Habbaniya Union School Students’ Reunion”, as they are officially known?  I say definitely not. Why not?  Because, I believe, the Reunion has gone astray and has lost its way, and the name is a misnomer now!

The Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines “reunion” as “a gathering of persons after separation; a meeting, assembly or festive gathering as of a family, familiar friends, associates or members of a college class or society.”  

Well, we can certainly call Ben’s Reunions “a meeting, an assembly or festive gathering,” but can we really add “as of members of a college class (Union School in this instance) or society” (Habbaniya community), after separation?  I say no!

A reunion is actually a festive gathering of a specific group of people (along with their spouses and family members and, perhaps, some invited guests), after separation, be they family members or were once co-workers, or classmates or schoolmates, or teachers, or firemen, or community members, or—what have you—held for the purpose of seeing each other again, renewing ties or friendship, eating, drinking, singing, dancing, and reminiscing together and having fun.

The Habbaniya Union School Students’ Reunion was launched in 1992 by a group of four close friends (without a “Mr Chairman”), namely Sargon Aboona, Benyamin Yalda, Zacharia O. Zacharia and Odisho Warda, and was organized and held by them and their spouses and children. It was held in Chicago on September 4 that year and was attended by some 350 people. The big majority of this number was from the Chicago area (232), but there were 51 from California, 20 from Canada, 17 from England, 12 from Australia, 5 from Virginia, 4 from Pennsylvania, 3 from Colorado,  2 from Carolina, one each from Louisiana, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. 

Of the total number of attendees more than 90 were former students and (a few) teachers of Habbaniya Union School and the rest were their spouses, children and some invited relatives or friends. And it was organized and held by former H.U.S. students and their families. So you see, it was a reunion by and for Habbaniya Union School Students.  It consisted of one night event only, as traditional, without two additional days of other activities, as it is now. The first part was a couple of hours of a quiet getting-reacquainted gathering over drinks and was then followed by the main event, the banquet.

The banquet was well organized in most respects, with a fairly decent menu and a program of various speakers, memorable jokes and anecdote-telling, music, songs, and dancing, all reminiscent of Habbaniya. In fact the main singer (the late William David Shino) and a couple of musicians (Zacharia O. Zacharia, saxophone, and Andrious Mama Jotyar, trampoline) were the very persons who were members of the main local band, Assyrian Band, in Habbaniya some 35-40 years earlier.  And most of the participants knew each other and were meeting after many years and, in some cases, after decades of separation.  The Reunion not only had a Habbaniya socializing flavor but also a euphorically nostalgic effect on most of the celebrants!

The subsequent H.U.S. Reunions, and especially those held in this decade, have been mostly organized celebration conventions. Most of the celebrants are from Chicago area who meet each other regularly in their community’s various social functions and include many with no ties to Habbaniya.  The reunions consist of speech-making, back-patting and kissing and repeated exchange of trophy presentation by the same “honorable” members and for the same “honored” recipients, while the assembly watches, listens and loyally cheers and applauds, mostly Mr Chairman’s speech and actions.  Of course they also have food and drinks and some music and dancing and sometimes a tour and/or a picnic.  And some of the organizers, even though their services are appreciated, are actually not former H.U.S. students and a few are not even former Habbaniya residents and the event is open to anyone who has the price of a ticket.

I attended the 2005 H.U.S. Reunion, in Chicago.  It was a three-day event.  It was packed tight with hundreds of people, a good portion of which were neither Union School students nor former residents of Habbaniya. In addition, some of the individuals who ran the show for “Mr Chairman” had no connection whatsoever with Union School or Habbaniya. From what I could see, only about 10% of the 350 participants were former Union School students and more than a third of the remainder was not connected with Habbaniya at all.

Like Sargon L. Gabriel, I enjoyed the Reunion because I met many old school mates and Habbaniya friends. But I had a frustrating time locating them among the milling crowds of strange faces in the first night get-together and I could hardly exchange a few words on top of my voice with those I could find because of the noise, the din and confusion. Wouldn’t the reunion have been more manageable and enjoyable had the participants been confined to just former students (or former residents) of Habbaniya with their family members, all numbering, perhaps, half of the above number, or less? After all, the original purpose of the Reunion was to bring together Habbaniya old schoolmates and friends to renew friendship and reestablish ties rather than to attract as many different people as possible in order to make a profit and generate more cheers and applause for some. Was it not?

The second day Juliana Restaurant dinner and music was relaxing and enjoyable. Most of the “tourists” were bored and hungry following a dull bus tour of the city of Chicago and visits to a couple of museums of Assyrian antiquity artifacts. They rested and enjoyed the tasty food, while many of the 250 participants sang along and clapped to Albert Oscar’s Habbaniya songs and some danced and enjoyed themselves. That afternoon and the sing-along session at the previous day’s get-together were the only aspects of the Reunion that generated Habbaniya nostalgia. 

But the third-day pompous Banquet, held with pomp and glory, was also packed to overflowing with more than 350 people. It offered very little in the way of entertainment or enjoyment. The food was lousy and there was no program other than hugging, kissing, back-patting, the usual ridiculous trophy-giving back and forth and patronizing among the “honorable” and the “honored” members, with “Mr Chairman” in full command, monopolizing the microphone, making speeches, issuing orders, and thanking a long list of names, among them two Assyrian national has-beens merely for giving Mr Chairman the prestige by being his honored guest. His thanks and appreciation also included the hotel manager—but he missed the janitor!—while his two fellow-founding members obediently stood at attention, with hands clasped in front of them, smiling and clapping. 

Habbaniya Reunion has become a tradition and should certainly be carried on as long as possible, perhaps by offspring of the current organizers, or other young people of Habbaniya parentage that care.  But despite the hard work and good organization and enjoyable time, it should not be allowed to be high-jacked by the whims and fancies of one person and neither should it be made an open celebration for all comers. And since the former surviving Union School students can now be counted on one’s fingers, it should be renamed Habbaniya Union School & Community Reunion and confined to these two specific groups. Otherwise, the organizers should call it quits—by order of “Mr Chairman,” of course!

Remember Smyrna!

Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA)
2578 Broadway #132
New York, NY 10025
New York: Tel. 917-699-9935
Email: cana@cyprusactionnetwork.org

For Immediate Release: September 18, 2007

Contact:  Nikolaos Taneris, New York, Tel. 1-917-699-9935

On September 9th, 2007, exactly 85 years since Mustafa Kemal's Turkish armies entered Smyrna, Greeks and philhellenes organized by the Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA), and Armenian activists, participated in a peaceful assembly and Memorial in front of the Turkish Embassy in Washington DC.
Survivor testimonies, were read aloud at one point, several passersby and drivers expressed support, asked questions and carefully read the placards we carried that wrote "Never Forget Smyrna 1922" , "Turkey Apologize!!!", and "Turkey Commits Mass Murder". 
Two American journalists from alternative news outlets interviewed CANA Press Officer Nikolaos Taneris. When asked what it is the activists sought, Taneris replied “None of us were alive when the Smyrna Massacre was committed by Mustafa Kemal's Turkish armies, but we know survivors and witnesses, and the wounds from this great crime that was part of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocide of 1915-1923 have never healed because Turkey refuses to apologize. Instead, Turkey continues to degrade the victims, by its denial of Armenian Genocide, by Turkey’s merciless blockade of Armenia, by Turkey's brutal occupation of Cyprus, by Turkey's continuing aggression against Armenia, Cyprus and Greece. Turkey please apologize!"
The event ended with the lighting of candles, a short video clip of this has been uploaded to You Tube, as well as onto the popular website Omogenia .To view, please visit here.

Community newspaper, Greek News, published a condensed version of the Sevasti Boutos, article covering our event: click here.

The complete version, in Greek, can be viewed here.

This press release, along with a picture of the event can be viewed here.

Finally, Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA) encourages all survivors and descendents of survivors of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and Genocide, to stand up in the name of justice and human rights. Media outlets, and all those who wish to offer us support are welcome to contact us, through the address, we offer below, We will never forget Cyprus, and, We Will Never Forget Smyrna!

Our Message in the Bottle

Sargon Gabriel
Assyrian Cultural Association of London, Ontario

This letter was written and sent to the Liberal Party when they were in power, on 12 February 2004, but no action was taken due to Federal Elections. So we decided to email it to the new Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Canada, Hon. Diane Finley:

The present day Assyrians are the descendents of the ancient Assyrian Race. Assyrians have suffered enormously over the past twenty centuries. The centuries of holocausts, exile, and occupation of their ancestral homeland.

Over 90 years ago the international community, through the League of Nations, realized their sufferings and determined to grant the Assyrian the smallest ally of The Victorious Allies, Great Britain, France, Russia and United States, in World War I a self-government in the “Wilayat of Mosul” the ancient Nineveh, a province in North of Iraq of today that is called Kurdistan.

The official representatives of Great Britain, France and Russia urged the Assyrians, to enter into the war on the side of the Allies, and were induced into a state of belligerency with the most solemn promises of being given their land Wilayat of Mosul (Nineveh Assyria) back to them. For such promises the Assyrians made such appalling sacrifices upon the alter of freedom, and which were never fulfilled, by the same people who promised them. 

Here are the promises and the denial of the promises given to the Assyrians by the Great Britain, and its allies

April 26, 1916         The Syxes-Picot Agreement.

After the World War I ended in favour of Allies, Great Britain, France, United States, and Russia. The four met to decide on the partition of the Ottoman Empire. Mosul was zoned as a territory under the France’s control.

Note:  the new Bolshevik Government of Russia made this secret agreement public after the revolution.  (This agreement was to remain top secret and confidential)

April 19, 1920 Treaty of Sevres  Between Great Britain, Allies and Turkey.

This treaty was signed on August 10, 1920, put the foundations for the new Turkish frontier post World war I. Assyrians were not permitted to participate in these deliberations by the Great Britain.
In 1921 Mosul (Nineveh, Assyria) was granted to the New Iraqi Government, headed by King Faisal I, and France was guaranteed 25% of Mosul’s oil production. Great Britain sold the fidelity, loyalty, sacrifices, and honesty of a Noble Race and their Smallest Ally (The Assyrians) for a fistful of Dollars.

November 20,1922     Treaty of Lausanne Between the Allied powers and Turkey.

The treaty of Lausanne, signed on July 24, 1923, took place after Turkey requested that the issue of Mosul needed to be re-examined again. Assyrians were not permitted to attend by Great Britain. The United States stood beside Great Britain in these deliberations as the latter promised 20% of the oil industry business to be awarded to the American companies. Turkey lost its appeal to win Mosul. Great Britain claimed that this region would be saved to the future settlement of the Assyrian People.

November 11, 1927     Human Rights of Assyrians

The Assyrians continued to protest about their mistreatment and continued to send letters to the League of Nations, which requested a report from both of the governments of Britain and Iraq about the situation. The Permanent Court of International Justice in Hague did not accept the reports of Britain and Iraq and requested from both countries to fulfill their obligations towards the Assyrians.

In autumn of 1932 and the following year of 1933, a plan for the final solution of the Assyrians was put into motion. On August 7, 1933 the Iraqi Army under the command of General Baker Sidqi a Kurd and with the approval of Prince Ghazi The Simeli Massacre  (Simeli a village in Mosul Region) of innocent Assyrians took place with the full knowledge of the British authorities in Mosul. Since then the mistreatment of the Assyrian Christian in Iraq has never stopped.

It is very sad to note that the Assyrians are continuing to be threatened with violence and persecuted and killed by the Shia Arabs and the Kurds by the virtue of their ethnic and religious status. Still the Assyrians are neglected by the international community, in spite of the fact that the Turks and the Kurds between 1915-1918 massacred two thirds of the Assyrian Nation in cold blood, because they sided with the Allies in the WWI.

Great Britain needed the Assyrians to safeguard their oil fields and installation in Iraq. The Assyrian Levies crushed the Shia revolt of 1920, which the Shia are mentioning even today.
Lt. Col. R. Stafford, who was the Civil Administrator in Mosul in 1933, wrote “Political and Commercial interests have a rule tended to suppress moral impulses which have occasionally been
Felt” This indeed was the exact policy adopted by Great Britain in its dealings with its Smallest Ally the Assyrians.

British Air Commodore J.L. Vochell testified to the gallantry of the Assyrians whom he called our Smallest Ally May 1941.

The period between the Two World Wars the Assyrians were primarily responsible for safeguarding our airfields in Iraq and for providing the ground forces, which are essential complement to air control. Not only did air control in Iraq save this country many million of Pounds, but also it served as a model, which was extended, to several parts of the empire. What is not generally appreciated is that, after severe disillusionment during that period, the services of the Assyrians during the present war have exceeded anything they did before. Had it not been for the loyalty at the time of Rashid Ali’s German inspired revolution in Iraq in May of 1941, our position in the Middle East might have become most precarious”
Captain A. M. Hamilton wrote in the Journal of the Royal Central Asian society on May 1945 (Vol. 32, Part 2):

“The British Empire, and indeed all the allied nations, (this includes Canada) owe the Assyrians a heavy debt following their key victory at Habbaniya in 1941.  (Habbaniya was Royal Air Force Base in Iraq it is situated Between Falujah and Ramadi in Anbar Province). That victory checked German expansion to Asia Minor and stopped a rapidly growing danger of linkage in force with Japan via the Persian Gulf at a time when the latter was posed to attack. But for the Assyrians’ historic stand at Habbaniya, Rashid Ali and Nazism would certainly have controlled Iraq. The Allies would thus have been split at a crucial phase of affairs before they had mustered their strength, and the vital oil region would have been lost as probably would have been the war itself. India and Russia would have been isolated and the Mediterranean flanked.
Mr. Winston Churchill wrote, “If it wasn’t for Assyrian’s victory in Habbaniya we would have lost the second World War.”

These are the reasons that the Kurds and the Arabs do not want any Assyrian in Iraq. We are either called Christian Kurds or Christian Arabs, which we Assyrians resent. And because according to the League of Nations then and United Nation of today the Mosul situation is still pending. Kurdish Action Committee has been set to stop migration of non-Kurds to Kurdistan and especially the Assyrians. KAC is encouraging non Iraqi Kurds from Iran and Turkey to come and settle in the abandoned Assyrian villages, providing them (the Kurds) with Iraqi papers like Birth Certificates, prove of Citizenship and so on.

Masaood Brazani is a fanatic Kurd who was born in Iran when the Assyrian Levies, under the command of Assyrian Officers, drove his father Mullah Mustapha out of Iraq into Iran in mid-1940's. He hates the Assyrian people. He forces the Assyrian Christian to call themselves Christian Kurds, to boost the number of Kurds into majority in Mosul and Kirkuk, the two oil regions, which fall in what, he calls Kurdistan Regional Government. He is a man of a thousand faces. Recently he has been very polite with the Assyrians until the referendum that will decide the future of Kirkuk and Mosul. He is trying his best to convince the Christian Assyrians to vote in favour of K.R.G.

He issued a decree, that if a family had abandoned its property it has no right to claim it after one year. Just imagine how many Assyrian families abandoned their estates when Jundi Al-Islam and PKK were roaming freely in the region controlled by Barzani, and Talabani, just before the allies invaded Iraq and were forcing the Assyrian families to leave or else.

Kurds see their region as becoming semi-autonomous, so they want to include in Kurdish region, Mosul, Kirkuk and Khanaqin to have access to lucrative oil fields.

In Southern part of Iraq, Islamic Dawa Party an old Shia Islamic organization who was based in Tehran, now back in Southern Iraq, and which supports an Islamic state in Iraq, is forcing the Assyrian Christian women into the wearing of Islamic Hijab like any other Muslim woman. They already have killed Christian shopkeepers who were selling liquor. They are forcing the Assyrian Christian to convert into Islam, with the knowledge of United States, and British, authorities. The British forces are helpless to stop these atrocities. Many Assyrian Christian men and women have been killed just because they work to the allies to earn their living.

The Assyrian Christian community is largely peaceful. It has no political aims of its own and is trying very hard to have good relations with the Kurds in the North and with the Arabs in the South. They have been suffering discrimination at the hands of local Muslims who identify them with the Christian
West. As anti-Christian / western sentiment increased the Islamic extremists will turn on local
Assyrian Christian and Churches. If this happens it is possible that the less extreme majority will go along with such violence as they release pent up fears and aggression. This could happen in either the Kurdish north or Arab Shia south.

The latest terrorist attack on the headquarters of KDP and PUK on Feb 1, 04 has made the situation worse. 60 persons killed and 200 injured on one of the holiest days of Muslim Nation.

This is the situation of Iraqi Christians. They have nowhere to go. In north of Iraq they are not welcomed and in south of Iraq they can’t live among the fanatic Muslims.

This article was written on Feb. 12, 2004. I predicted that the situation will worsen and the Muslim fanatics will start exploding our Assyrian Churches and was presented to The Hon. M.P. Pat O’Brien Liberal M.P. of London Fanshawe to be read at the Liberal Party the Governing party when the Liberal Caucus meets.

Musing with My Samovar
with Obelit Yadgar

The Roomtah

Some nights I was sure I heard voices from the Roomtah. They were like scattered bits of disjointed chatter punctuated with music, laughter and tears. Except for an occasional clearly articulated word, I failed to make out what was said. One thing of which I am certain is that the voices were those of Assyrians, and that like a distant echo, they teased my young my mind with surreal images. As I lay in my bed on the balcony and searched the sky for surprises, I felt as if I were an audience to a complex stage play mounted on the Roomtah by the ghosts of Assyrians past.

The more I listened the more curious I grew about the cast: who were they, what were they, and what did they say? Could the voices have come from another location in the village? Possibly, but they did not. How did I know? I don’t know how I knew, but I knew. They came from the Roomtah on the other side of the village. 

The sounds awakened me about the same time, and since I did not own a watch, I put curtain time in the early morning hours. First whispers, the voices and the sounds grew louder and exaggerated, as if in a 12-tone opera, and slowly choked the other night sounds around me so that all I heard was the dialogue of the Roomtah. While the village slept, I roamed a strange world to the beat of a clock without hands, and to keep from losing my way, I pulled on a thread along the sometime lighted but always mysterious passage toward the Roomtah. The farther I traveled the longer my journey stretched. Yet I never tired of it. Nor did I look back. The Roomtah lay ahead of me and waited, always in the same place, and always with its cast of ghostly Assyrian voices. 

The Roomtah was the site of an ancient ruin in Digala, a quaint little village a short droshky ride from the city of Urmia, which is in northwest Iran nestled between Lake Urmia and an aggregate of prominent rivers. When the Assyrians founded the city centuries ago, they aptly named it Urmia for the cradle of water that held its fertile land. Ur means “cradle” and mia means “water” – Urmia, the “cradle of water.” By the 9th century Urmia was a booming town with a large and prosperous Assyrian population. That same land now carries tragic memories of the Assyrians who later suffered horror and bloodshed at the hands of the Ottoman Turks and their allies.

In the following years thousands of Assyrians found themselves on a long march away from home. By the time of my visits to Urmia, relatively few remained in the villages that dotted the province, to live among the many ghosts with stories to tell. Assyrian history is cluttered with ancient ruins occupied by such ghosts. On those cool summer nights I heard their voices from the Roomtah, inviting me to take a seat in the front row and explore the play that opened a window into the pages of our turbulent past.

The Roomtah sat on the outskirts of the village, along the little road that meandered past the bustananeh, the fruits and vegetable fields, to the highway that connected many of the villages in Urmia. It had no name, only Roomtah, which in Assyrian translates into some type of a rising, as in a mound of earth or grass. Yet everyone knew something had been there at one time in history. When that was no one seemed to know: 100 years ago? 500? 1000? Longer perhaps? I had heard of villagers who occasionally found pieces of pottery there or rusty kitchen utensils. Of course, something had to have been there, but what? A temple? A church? Maybe a complex of administrative buildings? Homes and barns? Who knows?

To me it was an intriguing mystery. And that mystery still haunts me. No one in the village could tell me the Roomtah’s story. Yet there it stood, in ruin like a derelict abandoned by life, an oblong mound of smooth brown earth with a forgotten past. But the Roomtah must have had a story. Every ancient ruin, every remnant of the past comes with one. Ours include many ghost stories. I ache to find them, the bitter and the sweet. I long to rest against the crumbled walls of Assyria, as others like me have through the centuries, and turn the pages in our diary.

For me as a boy, the Roomtah was more than just a mound of earth without a name. I hung around and played on it with the other youngsters as I played elsewhere in the village. That at the time I failed to show a stronger interest in its historical value I fault my youth. I was too busy horsing around and thinking about pretty girls to think of anything else, even the Roomtah. Early on I felt guilty for my negligence, but later the voice of reason convinced me to forgive myself for the oversight because of that youth.

Then again, the Roomtah must have played on my mind more than I think, for sometimes in the dark of night it spoke to me. I now realize that even then I saw that haunting place as a postage stamp from another world that was strangely familiar to me. I was not from Urmia, but, rather, born in Baghdad and raised in Tehran. My mother was from Urmia, and my grandmother had a home in Digala, which I visited as a child almost every summer vacation. Yet I felt at home there. I roamed the vineyards and the forests, and hiked to the nearby villages without ever getting lost. I knew my way, felt it, as if I were born in Urmia. Perhaps that’s the Assyrian in me, at home with my heritage wherever I go.

I see most of today’s Assyrian youth as I saw myself at their age: I was curious about my identity, and proud of it without the trappings of blind chauvinism. We were a great people, and still are, but no greater than any others. I knew that then as I do now. I think our youth understands that more than anyone, because I hear it in its voice, for it echoes with reason and logic. It welcomes dissenting thoughts and different ideas. It invites discourse. That’s priceless political savvy and seasoned diplomacy. Those are such great attributes. Wisdom is the greatest power our youth holds in its hand.

Bravura and chest beating, like empty promises, accomplish nothing. They are like mist that fades into fog. I think our youth understands this. From what I see and hear, they more than anyone exhibit the strength to move our nation forward, and to do so with the power of thought and logic. I was always curious about our past, about who we are and where we come from. That’s how it should be for the young and the old, for we must use the past to chart the future, and we must do so by using our head rather than our brawn. The youngster in me taught me that lesson long ago. The Roomtah may have been part of that lesson, one that I still turn in my head like a kaleidoscope to look for different shapes and patterns.

I kept my mysterious journey with the voices of the Roomtah to myself, even though I was tempted to tell my grandmother. The many years that followed my summers in Urmia, my nocturnal journey remained my secret. As I look back, perhaps I should have shared it with someone, but I opted not to do so. I think that was because the journey was mine to take alone, because a companion might have littered my path with compromises and created a detour I preferred not to take.

In the end I never learned the story of the Roomtah. Perhaps the play by the ghosts I heard from its bowels was a recurring dream of a boy with a wild imagination. Perhaps that is so. Or is it? Because I still hear those voices as I do all the others from the Assyrians before me. Who is to say the mystery that shrouded the Roomtah was all my imagination? Could anyone be sure? How does one tell? Did I really hear the ghosts of the Assyrians past in my dreams those nights in Urmia, or did they come alive so that I would forever remember them?

Oh, how I wonder.

Surfer's Corner
Community Events


6th Annual Narsai's Taste of Taste of the Mediterranean

For Immediate Release

22 October 2007

Michael E Bradley, Administrator, AAS-A
T: 510-527-9997
F: 510-527-6633

The Assyrian Aid Society of America’s Sixth Annual Narsai's Taste of the Mediterranean fundraising dinner will take place on Friday, November 16, 2007 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco. Over four hundred supporters and guests are expected to attend.

The first five Narsai’s Taste of the Mediterranean dinners and auctions raised nearly $700,000 since the event's premiere in November 2002.

This year's chefs preparing our five-course gourmet dinner include Philippe Jeanty (Jeanty at Jack's in San Francisco, Bistro Jeanty in Yountville), Erik Cosselmon (Kokkari in San Francisco), Gary Rulli (Emporio Rulli in San Francisco), Nader Sharkes (Director, Culinary Arts Program, Contra Costa College), and Jean Pierre Dubray (Ritz-Carlton). Wines have been donated by Miner Family Vineyards, Darioush, and the Narsai and Venus David Vineyards, all wineries with Middle Eastern roots.

U.S. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo is the dinner’s Honorary Chairwoman.

Champagne and hors d'oeuvres will begin the evening, which will also feature traditional music by Dan Eshoo and the Ancient Echoes, a classical piano performance by Assyrian performer Lena Akopova, and both live and silent auctions with exciting dining and travel items.

Dr. Samir Johna will be the evening’s guest speaker. Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Staff Surgeon with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Dr. Johna spearheaded the effort to bring the so-called ‘miracle baby’ Kirillos Faris George from Iraq to the United States for life-saving heart surgery.

For more information and to purchase tickets, see our website at www.assyrianaid.org or call our office at 510.527.9997.

Narsai David, President of the Assyrian Aid Society of America since 1995, is Food and Wine Editor at KCBS Radio in San Francisco.

The Assyrian Aid Society of America is a charitable organization recognized by the State of California and the government of the United States of America, dedicated to assisting needy Christian Assyrians in Northern Iraq and around the world. Over the past 15 years AAS-A has raised over $4 million to, with its sister organization, the Assyrian Aid Society – Iraq, to build schools, staff and supply medical clinics,  facilitate life-saving surgeries, rebuild homes, irrigate farmlands, bring electricity to villages, and implement a host of other vital programs and services.

2008 Conference in Illinois:  Contested Cultural Heritage

Sharon Irish, Assistant Director
Collaborative for Cultural Heritage and Museum Practices (CHAMP)
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Department of Landscape Architecture
101 Temple Hoyne Buell Hall
611 Taft Drive Champaign, IL 61820
Email: slirish@uiuc.edu

A major conference, "Contested Cultural Heritage," to be held at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign on April 24-25, 2008, will feature keynote speaker Dr. Donny George Youkhanna, former Director of the Iraq National Museum and now Visiting Professor at the State University of New York-Stony Brook.

The conference brings together an international group of scholars to discuss how forces of religion and nationalism may act to heighten inter-group tension around heritage claims, even to the point of causing the destruction of ancient and historic sites. Among the cases to be considered are the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan; Christian and Muslim conflict resolution at a major mosque in Cordoba, Spain; different views and practices toward the indigenous past among Native Americans and the archaeologists who study their ancestors; the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles debate; Egypt's demand for the return of the Bust of Nefertiti; heritage frictions implicated in the recent Balkans War; Peru's attempt to repatriate the Machu Picchu collections from Yale University; and the aggressive marking of Protestant and Catholic identities in Belfast, Northern Ireland through wall art.

Devastating Last Thoughts on Iraq

Burbank, California (PRWeb)
October 6, 2007

Mesopotamia was once known as the greatest civilization on earth. But invasions, wars and sanctions have lead to the destruction remarkable civilization. Author Paul Batou shares his thoughts and feelings about the ruin of Mesopotamia in My Last Thoughts on Iraq.

This book is a collection of the author's memories and experiences as an Assyrian-Chaldean artist. He shares his reactions to the suffering and sadness, which has plagued Mesopotamia through poetry that clearly expresses the pain, humiliation and destruction of a once great civilization. My Last Thoughts on Iraq reveals the state of fear in Iraq, the wars, invasions and sanctions that led to the decay of modern Baghdad and the suffering of its citizens around the world.

My Last Thoughts on Iraq is a timely book that will give readers a glimpse inside Iraq during its most troubled times. Iraq at present is still at turmoil and Batou gives us insights on this place, its people and its gradual destruction. This truly interesting read will tell us the real score instead of the media's often-colored view of the news. Buy a copy of this intriguing read now online at Xlibris.com or your local book retailer.

About the Author

Paul Batou, a native Iraqi artist, received a degree in pharmacy in 1982 from the University of Baghdad. While in school, Paul worked and was inspired by many teachers and artists studying at the University. In 1980, he had his first art show in Baghdad. During his years spent in Baghdad, Paul placed his art in several galleries, learned to play the guitar, and was forced into service during the Iraq-Iran war as a medic. In 1989, he fled Iraq with his family and moved to Los Angeles. In the United States, Paul continues to create art and write poems that inspire all those close to him. As a father, an uncle, an artist and a pharmacist, Paul has achieved the admiration and respect of all those around him.

My Last Thoughts about Iraq
by Paul Batou

To order your copy click here.

Trade Paperback; $10.00; 75 pages; 978-1-4257-2923-3
Cloth Hardback; $16.99; 75 pages; 978-1-4257-2924-0

To request a complimentary paperback review copy, contact the publisher at (888) 795-4274 x. 472.

Tearsheets may be sent by regular or electronic mail to Marketing Services. To purchase copies of the book for resale, please fax Xlibris at (610) 915-0294 or call (888) 795-4274 x.876.

Xlibris books can be purchased at Xlibris bookstore. For more information, contact Xlibris at (888) 795-4274.

Middle Eastern Americans Exhibit at UCLA

Courtesy of the UCLA Newsroom
10 October 2007

(ZNDA: Los Angeles)  "Middle Eastern Americans on the Move," the first U.S. exhibit of items and programs reflecting the literary, cinematic, scholarly and cultural output of this panethnic community, is on view at UCLA's Powell Library through December 21.

Its contents reveal both American and Middle Eastern roots and traditions and offer opportunities for further exploration, study and self-reflection. They include popular culture items such as cookbooks, literature, magazines and newspapers; scholarly works by UCLA faculty and students documenting UCLA's impact on the emerging field of Middle Eastern American studies; archival documents; and documentaries and feature films.

Middle Eastern Americans have been contributing to American culture for more than a century, yet the community has remained largely invisible as a defined group. Among its members are numerous personalities and public figures, including politicians, activists, business and community leaders, educators, philanthropists, scientists, artists and entertainers.

Los Angeles and Southern California are home to the largest Middle Eastern American community in the United States. This diverse and vibrant group cuts across nationalities, religions (including Baha'ism, Christianity, Druze, Islam, Judaism, Mandaeanism and Zoroastrianism) and ethnicities (including Afghans, Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Copts, Iranians, Israelis, Kurds and Turks).

The exhibit is organized into eight sections. The section on UCLA's impact on and contributions to Middle Eastern American studies features pioneering works by UCLA faculty, students and alumni. The section on community studies examines Middle Eastern communities in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York, as well as in some smaller towns throughout the U.S. The group-studies section focuses on Arab Americans, Iranian Americans, Israeli Americans, Armenian Americans and smaller groups, such as Assyrian Americans.

The literature and literary criticism section spotlights Middle Eastern American writers whose work has enriched American literature and culture. Additional sections focus on memoirs and autobiographies; journals, magazines, newsletters and newspapers; and cookbooks. A section on films is installed in the Instructional Media Laboratory, located on the east side of the Powell Library Rotunda.

The exhibition curators are Jonathan Friedlander, assistant director of the Gustav E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies, and David Hirsch, librarian for Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at UCLA's Charles E. Young Research Library. It is sponsored by the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, the College Library and the Research Library and is co-sponsored by the departments of comparative literature, English and sociology and the UCLA International Institute.

Admission to the library and the exhibit is free. The library is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 to 10 p.m. Hours will vary on Monday, Nov. 12, and during the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 22-24. The exhibit will not be available Wednesday-Sunday, Oct. 10-14.  For more information click here.

Three talks are scheduled in conjunction with the exhibit. David Hirsch will present "From Assyria to Zoroaster: A Journey Through the World of Middle-Eastern Publications" at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24.   Mehdi Bozorgmehr, director of the Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center at the City University of New York's Graduate Center, will present "Middle Eastern American Studies: The Emergence of a Field" at 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 26. And Jonathan Friedlander will present "Photographing Middle Eastern Americans: Iranians, Israelis and Yemenis" at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29.

New Zinda Recommendations from Gorgias Press

For More Info
The New Syriac Primer:  Introduction to Syriac with a CD
George Anton Kiraz
The Acts of the Edessan Martyrs Guria and Shmona, and Habib and the Story of their Deliverance of Euphemia
F C Burkitt

Editor's Pick


Assyrian References in Modern Near Eastern Literature

(Part one)

Stan Shabaz
Washington D.C.

There are some works of literature that one re-reads several times. I have a list of books that draw me back to them every now and then. One of them is “Memoirs of a Vagrant Soul or, The Pitted Face” by Mikhail Naimy [1]. It contains the memoirs of a fictional character known only as Pitted Face. Pitted Face writes that he is “the silent part of humanity. The rest are all talkers.” He considers himself “a man withdrawn from the world of men and wrapped […] in silence that he may reach a world of a higher order.”
One of the characters whom Pitted Face encounters is named “Sennacherib”[2]. An Assyrian name to be sure. Pitted Face describes Sennacherib as follows:

The man walks and behaves like an enigma. Every time I look at him I feel as if I am looking at a great question mark. [Sennacherib has a] long, aquiline nose [and eyes that are] pale, calm, cold, deep and sad […] He is sparing of words. His voice is low and barely audible; his movements are slow, deliberate and sluggish. […] For some reason I find solace in Sennacherib’s presence, even if I be in no need of any solace from men.[3]

The quiet and calm Sennacherib suffers a concussion after trying to break up a fight between two patrons in a Syrian coffee house in New York. The patrons physically come to blows, arguing over an arcane detail of Arabic grammar, and poor Sennacherib the peacemaker gets hit over the head with a chair in the mêlée! Who is this mysterious Sennacherib? Is Sennacherib an Assyrian? Or does the name have a different significance? Well, I don’t want to spoil the story for those who have yet to read the book. But the name did get me to wondering if there were other potential references to Assyrians in modern Near Eastern literature.

Surprisingly, Assyrian characters are relatively rare, excepting of course, works written by Assyrian authors.[4] However, I was able to find a second instance of a “Sennacherib” character, although in a slightly modified form. Said Aql [5]  has a character named “Sanharib” in a story contained in his book “Lubnan in Haka”. Aql’s Sanharib is a monarch ruling in Yerevan in 912 AD. This monarch is portrayed as kind hearted and intelligent. Sanharib is responsible for getting the great scholar Qusta ibn Luqa al Ba’albaki to come and live and work in Yerevan after having served in the court of Baghdad many years as one of its leading intellectuals. In Aql’s telling of the tale Sanharib is a monarch, but there was in actuality no monarch by that name in 10th century Yerevan. The historic Sanharib was more likely a court advisor and perhaps he was an Assyrian, especially since he was responsible for bringing Qusta ibn Luqa all the way from Baghdad to Yerevan.

So we have two stories with a character named after the great king of the Assyrian empire. Yet despite the name, in neither instance are they referred to explicitly as Assyrian. As a matter of fact in both cases, aside from the name, their Assyrian-ness is left much in doubt.

William Saroyan and G.I. Gurdjieff

After a brief survey of the modern literature of the Near East, I was only able to find two instances of a full-fledged modern Assyrian character, explicitly stated as such. The first is in William Saroyan’s short story “Seventy Thousand Assyrians”. In this story Saroyan describes his encounter with an Assyrian barber in San Francisco in 1933. The barber’s name was Theodore Badal, “a son of an ancient race, himself youthful and alert, yet hopeless”. Why is Badal hopeless? Saroyan relates Badal’s answer as follows:

"Well," he laughed, "simply because everything is washed up over there." I am repeating his words precisely, putting in nothing of my own. "We were a great people once," he went on. "But that was yesterday, the day before yesterday. Now we are a topic in ancient history. We had a great civilization. They're still admiring it. Now I am in America learning how to cut hair. We're washed up as a race, we're through, it's all over, why should I learn to read the language? We have no writers, we have no news. […] We went in for the wrong things. We went in for the simple things, peace and quiet and families. We didn't go in for machinery and conquest and militarism. We didn't go in for diplomacy and deceit and the invention of machine-guns and poison gases. Well, there is no use in being disappointed. We had our day, I suppose."[6]

Saroyan presents us with a rather dour and depressing view of Assyrians in 1933, no doubt, due in large measure to the massacre in Simele [7] of that year. But at least Saroyan makes an explicit reference to Assyrians and introduces his readers to an authentic, if somewhat pessimistic, Assyrian character.

The other example is found in the book “Meetings with Remarkable Men” by G. I. Gurdjieff (1877-1949). Gurdjieff was born in Alexandropol [8] and was a mystic and spiritualist writer of Greco-Armenian heritage. In his book he devotes an entire chapter to Abram (Abrashka) Yelov, an Assyrian bookseller in Tiflis.  Gurdjieff described Yelov as an:

artful dodger if ever there was one, but for me an irreplaceable friend. He was even then a walking catalogue, for he knew innumerable titles of books in almost all languages, the names of authors, and also the date and place of publication of any book, and where it could be obtained. […] Besides being a phenomenon in the knowledge of books and authors, Yelov later on became a phenomenon in the knowledge of languages. I, who then spoke eighteen languages, felt a green­horn in comparison with him. Before I knew a single word of any European language, he already spoke almost all of them so perfectly that it was hard to tell that the language he was speaking was not his own. For example, the following incident occurred: Skridlov, the professor of archaeology […] had to take a certain Afghan holy relic across the [8] river Amu Darya, but to do this was impossible since a close watch was kept on all persons crossing the Russian border in either direction, both by the Afghan guards and by the British. Having obtained somewhere the old uniform of a British officer, Yelov put it on, went over to the post where the British troops were stationed and passed himself off as a British officer from India who had come there to hunt Turkestan tigers. He was able to distract their attention so well with his English stories that we had rime, without hurrying and without being observed by the British troops, to take what we wanted from one bank to the other. [9]

According to Gurdjieff, Yelov later moved to Moscow, passed the examination for the prestigious Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages and received a degree in philology at the Kazan University. He is said to have emigrated to the United States after he lost his numerous book and stationary stores in the Russian revolution. The character of Abram Yelov even made it into the 1979 film adaptation of this book.[10] This film is one of the few examples with a modern[11] Assyrian character in it; a character whose Assyrian ethnicity is explicitly mentioned in the film.[12]

Historical motifs in Near Eastern literature and popular culture

Beyond these references to individual Assyrians living in our modern era, we must also look for historical references to the ancient Assyrian civilization. But, before we look for references to ancient Assyria, we first need to examine the use of historical motifs in general. For this survey we will mainly confine ourselves to the works of the Arabic language[13] literary renaissance of the early modern era.

Popular motifs of this era included historic and/or mythic personalities of the ancient and medieval Near East. Examples include works by Dr. Khalil Saadeh[14] ( “Ceasar and Cleopatra”, “Anthony and Cleopatra” ), Said Aql ( “Cadmus” ), Salim Bustani ( “Zenobia” ), George Masru’ah ( “Ibn Zikar”[15] ), Chekri Ganem[16] ( “Antar” ) and Jurji Zeidan[17] ( “Armanusa al-Misriyyah”[18], “Fatat Ghassan”[19], “Ghadat Karbala”[20], “Shajarat al-Durr” [21], etc.).

This genre was so powerful that it even expanded beyond the bounds of the printed page and made its way into early theatre of the region as in the plays of Marun al-Naqqash [22] ( “Harun al-Rashid” ) and Najib al-Haddad ( “Hamdan” ) and in later years appeared as themes in major musical theatre works such as in the Rahbani brother’s “Petra” and “The Days of Fakr Din”. Historical themes even made their way into the cinema of the region. Jurji Zeidan’s novel “Shajarat al-Durr” was made into a film by Ahmad Galal in 1935 and Ahmed Badrakhan made “Dananir” in 1940. [23] There were even a few major epics made in later years as well, such as Yusuf Chahine’s “Saladin” in 1963 and “al-Qadisiya”, made in 1982 by Salah Abu Seif. [24]

The popularity of the historical narrative in this period served a very real need. These stories of bygone glory and heroism helped to galvanize an oppressed people with the confidence and optimism to reassert their national identities and to build new indigenous political, social and national structures and institutions at a time when the oppressive Ottoman Empire was faltering and western European imperial powers greedily plotted to carve up its remains for themselves. However, once a measure of independence was achieved and state structures came into existence, literary genres started to change. Stories started to be set in more modern, urban settings; heroic protagonists and happy endings were replaced with more realistic, controversial and ambivalent storylines. [25]

Yet even though the popularity of the historical novel has lost some of its popular appeal since its heyday during Jurji Zeidan’s time, we cannot deny that the genre is still able to capture a hold of the imagination of writers, artists and the general public alike. This can be seen in Mansour Rahbani’s new work “Zenobia” a star-studded historical epic musical. Co-composer and director Marwan Rahbani states “History repeats itself. We have to look into our past and history so that we'd be able to draw conclusions about the future. Zenobia is neither a documentary nor a political speech. It is a pure work of drama based on historical facts.”[26]

Returning to our survey, we see that intellectuals, journalists and socio-political activists of the region were extremely interested in using historical motifs in their writings. These historical motifs were very popular and covered a wide range of Egyptian, Phoenician, and Arab storylines. But Assyrian motifs seem notably absent in the historical fiction of this era. This may be due perhaps to a certain lack of familiarity with the narratives of Assyrian and Mesopotamian history. But also we must consider the specific circumstances of the time. Phoenician storylines centered prominently since the majority of these writers were originally from the coastal regions of Syria and Lebanon; Egyptian storylines were natural as well, since many of these writers spent at least some time in Egypt, due to the Ottoman occupation of their homeland; and Arab storylines figured prominently as the assertion and promotion of an Arab historical legacy was seen as a means to hasten the breakup, or at the very least, the decentralization of the Ottoman Empire. It was also a means for these intellectuals and writers, many of whom were Christian, to promote a secular narrative of Arab history; one in which sympathetic Christian characters figured prominently.[27]

Yet, despite this noticeable lack of Assyrian-centric historical fiction, there still seemed to be an interest in Assyrian and Mesopotamian themes. An example of this is the fact that Tolstoy’s short story “Assarhadon” was translated from Russian into Arabic in Egypt in 1928. Also, Jamil al-Mudawwar, the editor of “al-Muwayyid”, had written “Tarikh Babil wa-Ashur” (“History of Babylonia and Assyria”). This work would become serialized in the pages of “al-Muqtataf” [28] in 1879-1880. And in 1905, Zaynab Fawwaz [29] wrote the novel “al-Malik Qurush” (“King Cyrus”), which touches upon some aspects of Mesopotamian history. It tells of the rise of Cyrus after the defeat of Nineveh and Babylon. [30]

Other examples can be seen in some of the works of Said Aql. Even though Aql’s stories were unapologetically Phoenician-centric, he does include an Assyrian connection every now and then as in the beautiful story of “Ranzabaal” involving King Assurbanipal’s encounter with a Sidonian princess.[31] Although Aql usually portrayed the Assyrians as the foil of his Phoenician protagonists, his portrayal of the Assyrian empire was not wholly unsympathetic.

So we can discern at least some interest in Assyrian themes. Yet, while not a major motif in the historical fiction of the era, there is a genre where Assyrian references were much more prominent. And that is in the works of political and cultural essayists. Some of these essayists include Ameen Rihani, Charles Corm and Kahlil Gibran. In the second part of this essay we will review some of their writings and see how they included references to Assyrian themes in their works.

Part two will appear in the next issue of Zinda.


  1. Mikha’il Nu’ayma (1889-1988) born in Baskinta
  2. The Assyrian king Sennacherib was the son of Sargon II, whom he succeeded on the throne. He ruled from 705 BC to 681 BC.
  3. Mikhail Naimy, “Memoirs of a Vagrant Soul, or The Pitted Face”, pg.16-17.
  4. This essay will not cover Assyrian language literature nor works by Assyrian writers in any other language. That would require a separate detailed discussion of its own. This essay intends to study how Assyrians and Assyria are viewed by writers in the region. How we are viewed and depicted is an important indicator of our political and cultural influence in our region. For a review of how we Assyrians have represented ourselves and our history and culture through literature, folklore and especially the theatre, I highly recommend the Winter 2005 issue of the “Assyrian Star.” 
  5. Said Aql (1912-    ) born in Zahle.
  6. William Saroyan, “Seventy Thousand Assyrians”
  7. In August of 1933 there was a massacre of Assyrians in Simele and other areas of northern Iraq. An estimated 3,000 Assyrians were killed.
  8. Now named Gyumri.
  9. G.I. Gurdjieff, “Meetings with Remarkable Men”, pg. 110.
  10. Peter Brook, Director, “Meetings with Remarkable Men”, 1979.
  11. There are films dealing with storylines set in ancient Assyria however. The Italian films “Cortigiana di Babilonia” (1955), “Io Semiramide” (1962), “Le Sette folgori di Assur” (1962) are examples of films about the ancient Assyrian empire and therefore have Assyrian characters such as “Semiramis”, “Assur”, “Sardanapolo”, etc. Even the great director D.W. Griffith devoted a segment in his epic “Intolerance” (1916) to a storyline set in ancient Babylonia.
  12. Excepting, of course, Assyrian produced films, where the majority of characters are Assyrian.
  13. Though the authors under review mainly wrote in Arabic it must be noted that many of them had a familiarity and, in some cases, a strong knowledge of Syriac as well.
  14. Khalil Saadeh (1857-1934) born in Shweir. Publisher of several newspapers and journals, including “al-Majallah”, “al-Jaridah” and “al-Tabib”, the first Arabic language medical journal; author of several books including an Arabic-English dictionary.
  15. The story revolves around Phoenician resistance to Alexander the Great
  16. Chekri Ganem (1861-1929) born in Beirut.
  17. Jurji Zeidan (1861-1914) born in Beirut.
  18. The story revolves around Armanusa, the daughter of a Coptic governor in Byzantine Egypt.
  19. The story revolves around the love between Hind, the daughter of Ghassanid King Harith and Hamad, the son of the Lakhmid king, Nu’man.
  20. The story revolves around Yazid ibn Mu’awaiya and the Battle of Karbala. Interesting to note is the fact that Yazid’s mother, Maysun was a Syriac Orthodox Christian. She was the (favorite) wife of Mu’awiya, governor of Syria and founder of the Umayyad dynasty.
  21. The story of Shajarat al-Durr, the (favorite) wife of the Ayyubid sultan, al-Salih Ayyub. After al-Salih died, she ruled wisely and forcefully in the interregnum period, ultimately being proclaimed Sultana. However, due to a combination of palace intrigue and power politics, she is overthrown and brutally murdered. Some have suggested that she might have been of Armenian origin.
  22. Marun al-Naqqash (1817-1855) born in Sidon.  Naqqash is considered the first modern dramatists in the Arab world.
  23. Historical motifs were relatively less prevalent in the regional cinema of this era. Viola Shafiq in “The History of Arab Cinema” notes the high budgets required for this genre as a limiting factor.
  24. Interestingly, both of these historical epics were made in centralized socialist-Arabist regimes during a period of tension or open conflict with their neighbors: Egypt during the 1960s and Iraq during the 1980s. 
  25. In the 1950’s we see this trend in the demand for personal freedom and liberation, especially in the works of female novelists such as Layla Baalbaki and Colette Khuri. In later years we see the impact of traumatic regional catastrophes such as the 1967 War and the Lebanese Civil War. The impact of the ‘67 War can be seen in the works of Halim Barakat and Nizar Qabbani. Qabbani’s “Footnotes to the Book of the Setback” is very illustrative in this regard: “The ancient world is dead. The ancient books are dead […] My grieved country, in a flash you changed me from a poet who wrote love poems to a poet who writes with a knife.” The trauma of the Lebanese Civil War is reflected in the works of Ghada Samman, Hanan al-Shaykh and Etel Adnan. This trend can even be observed in theatre, for example when comparing some of Ziyad Rahbani’s theatrical productions to that of his father’s and uncle’s earlier works.
  26. Or in the words of co-composer Oussama Rahbani “History is a mirror of the future, If you don't have a history, you don't have a future.”
  27. As seen in the works of Jurji Zeidan, which emphasized the cooperation and reconciliation between Muslim and Christians characters. An additional factor to consider is that these Syrian writers were often discriminated against in Egypt. Emphasizing an Arab identity could be seen as an attempt at normalizing their position vis-à-vis Egyptian society.
  28. “al-Muqtataf” was founded in 1876 in Beirut by Ya’qub Sarruf and Faris Nimr. It was moved to Cairo in 1885. It was a secular and scientific journal. Interestingly, Albert Hourani writes that “when the first numbers of al-Muqtataf arrived in Baghdad in 1876 the conservatives were opposed to it in all communities, Sunni and Shi’i, Christian and Jewish, because it preached new and dangerous doctrines, and only some of the younger generation welcomed it.” Albert Hourani, “Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age”, pg. 247.
  29. Zaynab Fawwaz (1860-1914) born in Tabnin.
  30. She also wrote a play set in Iraq “al-Hawa wa-al-Wafa’” (Love and Faithfulness), 1893. It was the first play written by a woman in the Arab World.
  31. Aql has other similar stories revolving around the Assyrian-Phoenician rivalry, such as “The Awaiting Sword”, “Eluolaios”, “The Day Freedom Dies”, etc.

Assyrians Under the Islamic Dictatorship

Dr George Habash
United Kingdom


When the Arab Islamic armies poured into our heartlands in 636-341 AD conquering the civilised cultures, brought with them a culture of death and destruction that has permeated along all the centuries and up to our “valley of the shadow of death” in the current nation of Baghdad.

A nation that was up to its eyes submerged in vanity, war and hunger found itself after a short breeze of fresh air sliding into free entry to abandoned hope of extinction where Allah’s bandits pillage, spoil, maim and violate.

The recent years of bloodbath and nihilism are an inter-Islamic feud that started in 680 AD and has manifested itself in today’s Baghdad to repeat and avenge that battle.

The native people of the land, the Assyrians, Yezidis and Mandeans are used as scapegoats for sacrifice to elucidate a failed dogma and to counter-balance the Muslim loss perpetrated by Allah’s bandits. The majority (outside the non-Muslim ethnicities) seems to sympathise (openly or passively) with the slaughter and eradication of the original native peoples.

The new regime

The government, the Majlis and all the institutions of the new regime now ruling Baghdad are all Islamic with the dominance of the Supreme council for the Islamic “revolution” followed by Dawa Islamic party and Islamic Party (Muslim brotherhood). The remaining are Kurds who are also Islamic (Kurdish Islamic groups included) and other groups who adopt Islam and nationalism.

From above you notice the dictatorship of Islam and you surmise the calamity of the non-Muslim groups who are the native people of the land and who are deprived from any share in power and wealth apart from miserable handouts like a single MP, a single ambassador to Pope and a single secondary diplomat in Tokyo.

Jamil Raphael, an Assyrian writer, said that during the pre-Republican regime the Christians (mostly Assyrians) had 6/120 ratio in Parliament. They dominated the media and had a minister in the first cabinet (small cabinet at that time) which is also a high percentage.

During the four years and six months of the life of this regime the Assyrians and the Christian churches have been targeted by Allah’s bandits composed of former Aflaqites and their mukhabarat (now based in Britain with a shadow government in action readying itself for Baghdad’s takeover), local Islamists, foreign Islamic jihadists, some elements of pro-government groups and common criminals. The communal structure of the Christians has been altered with thousands fleeing the main cities either outside the country or to somewhat secure places like the north and the Assyrian heartland between the Tigris and Upper Zab.

The harvest of the new regime is Churches are bombed, Christians are killed, Christians abducted for ransom, Christians pay protection money, Christian demanded to convert, Christians demanded to flee, Christians forced to wear veils and Christians demanded to marry Muslims. This tableau of sorrow is another holocaust and is the repetition of the genocide and annihilation suffered by our people at the hand of Muslims since the seventh century and up to the grand finale of 1915-1923 at the hands of the Sultans and their collaborators.

The rule of Islam in Baghdad

Since the Islamists took power in Baghdad the Christians have been selected as a target due to their faith which is different than theirs for the purpose of draining their wealth or ethnically cleansing them or both as highlighted before. There are a few examples:

In spring 2007 the Islamists started an intensive campaign against the Christians of Dora in suburban Baghdad. They were asked to denounce Jesus, or pay protection money under Islam (200 dollars per person) or flee within 24 hours or die. Later in July this practise was also adopted in Mosul which is the centre of Christianity in the north and the Christians there were given three days to flee or anyone stayed behind will be killed.

Barnabas Fund, which is a Christian organisation says up to 30 Churches have been bombed in the country, mostly in Baghdad and Mosul. All these Churches were built privately by donations from believers unlike the Muslim mosques which are constructed by public funds. We built our Churches but Muslims destroy them.

In May this year the Prime Minister (PM) of Baghdad, feeling conscientious about the savages against the Christians, he donated 100m dinars for reparation of these Churches. The PM gave the figure in dinar currency in order to sound a huge sum but as you know, every American Cent is equivalent to 14.6 dinars. This figure could come to about 70,000 dollars, roughly speaking.

In June 2007 eight Christians (students and staff of Mosul University) were returning home by a chartered bus but were kidnapped in front of a police station. They were released within days after paying 0.25m dollars and instructed women to wear veils and men sit separately from women on the bus. This was reported by CBN of Pat Robertson.

These Assyrian Christians were kidnapped for being Christians first, and to obtain ransom second, and in this way they use the Christian wealth to finance the Islamic “insurgency” and the money the PM promised to give us we returned to him in 3-4 folds.

It is an Islamic way of life whenever a Muslim-majority country becomes unstable the Islamists exploit that situation to drive Christians out in a form of religious cleansing.

The failure of Assyrian politics in the homeland

1-The decline of ADM

In about mid 1970s the Christian youths (mostly Assyrians) feeling the marginalisation by Aflaq’s regime, sought ways to cluster the educated youth into a political front that would embark on agenda to steer this subdued nation into existence following centuries of suppression and neglect. Those youths were not lucky enough and most of them left the country seeking second life somewhere else.

Years later and specifically after the advent of the internet I was pleased to learn about the formation of ADM, its participation in the struggle against Aflaq’s regime and for being the vanguard for the Assyrian youths seeking their decent rights in their homeland.

But that dream of uniqueness and pride started to falter after Yonadam Kanna was given the rein of ADM and specifically after the new regime was inaugurated in the “Green Zone” of Baghdad.

Yonadam Kanna rose to prominence in his maiden year, but has declined rapidly thereafter plunging himself and the entire ADM into oblivion because he has failed his people and his nation.

The Assyrian masses saw two types of ADMs, the one before 2003 who abhorred the Aflaq’s regime, the one who steered the Assyrian cause and joined the armed struggle with other opposition groups in the north of the country. The other type of ADM is the post 2003 which is tainted with failure and incompetence.

Yonadam Kanna and the present ADM have failed in post 2003 Baghdad to advance the Assyrian cause one inch. He has become a man of the past and does not have any wisdom or any clue to lead his movement not alone the Assyrian masses.

He has only one thing to sell and that is the empty catchphrases he uses like “Madda 125” (article 125) and “Iddara Mahaliya” (Administrative Area). These are not the demands of the Assyrian people in new Baghdad but the catchphrases of ADM led by Yonadam Kanna. The Assyrians say the Kurds have three provinces and the rest of the provinces are divided between the fighting two Muslim groups but the Assyrians have nothing. In sober words the Assyrians want a province for themselves not on Nineveh plain only but in the lands between the Tigris and Upper Zab. In this way, the only way, we will reach equality with the other components of the society. The “Nineveh Plain Administrative Unit” and the “Administrative Area” and the Ankawa bandwagon are out of place and are rejected by the majority of the Assyrian masses.

2-  The Assyrians’ Saint Peter

The groups and individuals opposed to Aflaq’s regime prior to 2003 used the city of London as their power base. The groups like the Islamists and Communists and individuals like Ayad Allawi, Ahmed Chalabi and Hoshyar Zibarnaya. An Assyrian by the name Albert Yalda also joined the fray.

From media and television interviews Albert Yalda entered Britain in the 1970s and does not seem to belong to any political movement but joined the opposition in London on the Assyrian-Christian ticket.
When the Aflaq’s regime fell, Allawi, Chalabi, Zibarnaya, Islamists and Communists rushed into the “Green Zone” of Baghdad but Albert Yalda, the self-styled Assyrian-Christian decided not to get involved. He preferred to hang around Piccadilly Circus rather than go into dusty Sahat Al-Tahrir.

Had Albert Yalda moved into Baghdad he would have surely secured a place in the first cabinet as a reward for his high days with the opposition in London.

The new regime, and in order to appear to the outside world as clean-slated, sort of democratic and representative had in mind to “cherry-pick” some Christians for shabby jobs. Albert Yalda was appointed to the Vatican by Zibarnaya for two reasons the first is that he will be the regime’s representative but not the Assyrian representative and the second was that Albert Yalda would accept it as long as it would keep him outside the troubled land.

That was a nice setting for Albert Yalda, a home in London and a job in Rome with assurance that the air flight between the two cities need not stop over Dora suburb of Baghdad.

Now I go to the crux of the matter and according to Ankawa web site (August 2007) Albert Yalda said via Vatican radio that there is no force in the world that is able to “root out Christians from Iraq’s land” (translation from Arabic). And about a demand for a protected area he said there are no plans for such thing and Christians themselves reject such thought.

This is not the wish of the Assyrians in Dora, or the Assyrians in Ealing or the majority of worldwide Assyrians. It is the wish of Albert Yalda appointed by Zibarnaya.

3-  The Assyrian ghosts

In the early 1990s I came across an internal newspaper for the Baghdadi Communist party that was purposely left in the students’ section in my Department here in the UK. Although not a student even at that time, I sat leafing the papers and inside there was an interview with Toma Tomas, the then member of the central committee of the Communist party of Baghdad.

I come from the southern part of Nineveh plain; Toma Tomas comes from the northern part and is known in that part and among the party members. I had a vague idea of him and was pleased to read the interview as it was focused on him as being a member of the Communist party with Christian background.

In that interview Toma Toms made fun of our people for leaving their homeland for the sake of social security benefits in the West. He also derided the World Council of Churches that was facilitating, at the time, their transfer into Western Countries. Remember here our people were leaving after a decade of war and the hunger of the economic blockade. This is what I recall from my memory.

In 2003 Aflaq fell and his tomb was removed by American crane to unknown place and the head of the Communist party sat around a table chaired by Paul Bremer, the American imperialist.

In 2007 another Christian became a member of the central committee Ms Shamiran Mrokil. In an interview on Ankawa web site in May she said that the Communist party rejects what our people are facing and went further to say that it is a rejected and condemned situation. The holocaust that our people face was reduced to a tiny word “rejected” as though the option is either accepted or rejected.

The modern Assyrian national movement has a long history and is at least a century old and the peak of this is in the period 1915-1933. In the 1970s another generation of Assyrian nationalists came into the fore and is leading the way for the achievement of the Assyrian national homeland in northern Mesopotamia with the motivation of every Assyrian at home and in Diaspora.

With the fall of Aflaq imminent in Baghdad, the departure of the Soviet Communism, the advent of a “new world orders” and the age of a single “hyper-power” a new phenomenon appeared in the horizon. As a corollary of that overall process there appeared the concept of Chaldeanists, who are mostly former Communists copying Assyrian nationalism into “Chaldean” nationalism out of the blue. This process has never existed in the past 100 years. Only Assyrian nationalism did.

To make it short the Assyrian nation is a single nation and it has three main churches, the Madinha Church, and the Chaldean Church and the Syriac Church. There is no Chaldean nationalism in northern Mesopotamia. Furthermore according to my Holy Bible, the Bible confirms that Babylonia is the land of the Chaldeans (Ezekiel) but there is no Chaldean left in that part of the world. Mark Twain in 1899 wrote that the Babylonians disappeared but did not say Assyrians disappeared.

In 1961 Mullah Mustafa Barzani revolted against the central government that brought him home as a hero from a Siberian exile but this Kurdish Kaka turned his back on those who did good to him.

He fought many successive central armies and in that process he caused mayhem, destruction and loss of lives for many among them the Assyrian Christians who lost many dear ones and caused the destruction and cleansing of many Assyrian villages along all those bitter years.

In 1992 the Kurds under Mullah Mustafa Barzani’s sons and grandsons, formed their enclave sequestering Assyrian lands in the provinces of Duhok and Arbil; and after 2003 they remain eyeing the entire Assyrian heartland of the Nineveh plain.

As there are “Christian Arabs” like Michel Aflaq and Michael Yuhanna there are also Christian “Kudistanists” like Franso Hariri (his son also) and Sarguis Aghajan. The last two are more Kurd than the Kurds themselves even though they are Assyrian by blood.

The Kurds are crafty indeed not like the Arabs who used their Christian compatriots as second class citizens and shunned higher jobs in their faces; the Kurds seem happy to give Christians some good posts provided they serve their cause. For example Franso Hariri was the Mayor of Arbil and Sarguis Aghajan is the current Finance Minister of the enclave and both are members of the ruling Kurdish party.

In recent years Sarguis Aghajan has become the crown prince of the Nineveh plain as he channels the donated money from outside banks to finance erecting concrete buildings and renovating Churches in the plain. In return he gets awards and acknowledgements from various church leaders for his efforts. The Kurds in Salahadin demanded that the donated money go through their administration rather than directly to Assyrians themselves. By this they use Aghajan in the pretext that he is Christian and at the same time serve his Kurdish party and the Kurdish machine.

Aghajan now has become a formidable figure and can not be ignored and has manipulated his fiscal power to influence the poor area of Nineveh plain. He is photographed and filmed widely especially via Ishtar, the Kurdish-supported television channel, and his pictures started to appear in some social events as though Sarguis Agahajan is the inevitable and indispensable figure in the Assyrian heartland.
Sarguis Aghjan was also the brain behind the Ankawa bandwagon in March this year with the aim of championing the autonomous idea for the Nineveh plain that will be part of the Kurdish fiefdom of Masaud Barzani and his nephew and his brother in law. In this way he will steal the show from genuine Assyrians who seek the establishment of autonomous area that is loosely linked to central Baghdad.

Worldwide protests

Since the atrocious campaigns against our people and our Churches by Islamic militants who are composed of former mukhabarat, foreign jihadists, local Islamists and some loyalists of the Islamic regime, our people the Assyrian Christians and some sympathisers took to the streets of many Western towns and cities decrying these holocaustic campaigns to force our people out of their homes and to ethnic cleansing the Assyrian Christians from their lands bestowed to them by God almighty.

But the impacts of these demonstrations have not been tangible as our people are still targeted in many ways as detailed before.

The demos need to be planned and venues carefully selected to avoid being just a one day parade with the raising of the Allah Akbar flags. These demos ought to converge at the USA embassy, Russian embassy, the UN office, the EU office and the government of the home country. Petitions must be submitted in person to the respective embassy and office demanding action by imploring the new regime in Baghdad to take action in protecting the Assyrian Christians and their churches, their homes and business, and holding the Islamic regime accountable. Also obliging the new regime to work for the well-being of the Assyrian Christians and preserve their rights as another ethnic group, on equal footing with the larger groups.


If you follow the title and subtitles of this article you will notice that there is an Islamic regime in Baghdad and that is passively if not directly involved in the destruction and annihilation of the Christian-Assyrian population and that all attempts of the foreign presence to either “re-create Washington in Baghdad” or export a “Jeffersonian Democracy to the Middle East” or “turning Basrah into Luxembourg” have failed.

There is also a Kurdish factor where the Kurds are plotting to establish an empire that is to sit on the ruins of the Ottomans. Now they have an enclave of their own as well as presiding over the defunct throne of the Baghdadi Islamic regime.

The Assyrian nation and the Assyrian people have never been at low ebb since 1933 as they are today with Chaldeanists, Bishops of the Chaldean Church and Ankawa bandwagon all determined to sideline the annihilation we face and marginalisation we get while those who we assume to speak for us have become mere sitting ducks and despite that they continue to ignore our tragedy in the excuse that it is not our tragedy alone but the tragedy of the whole country

In recent history we faced the tragedy of 1915-1923 then 1933, then 1961-1962 then 1975 and 1988 and the hunger of 1990s and our latter-day holocaust 2003-2007.

The Assyrian nation and the Assyrian people are in need of an action and responsible leadership and none of this is epitomised in Yonadam Kanna or Albert Yalda or Sarguis Aghajan or the Bishops. Those figures and those Bishops have to cease talking on our behalf because we are a nation and people on the brink of destruction and annihilation. We are a small nation of a few, not many millions, unlike the others, that is dispersed and exiled and in another tragedy in 10 or 25 years from now we will remain mere individuals who will no longer be called a community.

We as a nation and people want a province for us between the Tigris and Upper Zab, equal to others like the Kurds and both Arabs, and this province be loosely linked to the centre if the centre show its credit and grant us autonomous status in that province.

On the basis of targeting and persecuting Christians especially in Baghdad and Basrah, there is no reason for the remaining Christians to stay especially when internal boundaries are going to be drawn that would divide our presence into thin communities in the seas of Islam. There is no reason for our people to remain in any part apart from the north and specifically the lands between the Tigris and Upper Zab.

Compensation for Christians must be demanded for properties lost, Churches bombed and private businesses wrecked and compensation of land for land for the ones who left Baghdad and Basrah and some parts of Mosul. Every Christian family have to be compensated for loss of lives, loss of wealth and for any form of abuse.


  1. According to Barnabas Fund about 75% of the Christian population in the country have fled their homes since 1990.
  2. According to Barnabas Fund in recent years 30 churches have been bombed, as well as Christian homes and businesses
  3. In a scale 1 to 5 put by Barnabas Fund (highest persecution to lowest persecution of Christians) that country comes under scale 2.
  4. Barnabas Fund is a Christian charity organisation helping Christians persecuted by Muslims (www.barnabasfund.org) and is based in the UK with offices in Jersey, New Zealand, Australia, USA and Germany.

Assyrian Suffering Overlooked in Iraq

Charles Rice

The Assyrians have lived in Iraq since 5,000 B.C. Ethnically distinct from Arabs and Kurds, they are Christians and speak neo-Aramaic, similar to the language of Christ. They include Chaldean Catholic, Apostolic Catholic and Syriac Orthodox churches.

"In Iraq," Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako, of Kirkuk, said last April, "Christians are dying, the Church is disappearing under persecution, threats and violence by extremists who are leaving us no choice: conversion or exile."

Prof. Charles Rice

Last June, the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) issued a report, "Incipient Genocide: The Ethnic Cleansing of Assyrians in Iraq." In 2003, Christians and smaller non-Muslim groups were about one million of Iraq's 26 million people. Probably 50 percent have now fled the country. Persecution began after the Gulf War and escalated after the fall of Baghdad in 2003. AINA reported that from 1995 to 2002 there were 19 murders of Assyrians in Iraq, with none in 1996, 2000 and 2001. From 2003 to June 2007 there were 370. Assyrians and other Christians have been attacked by Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and al-Qaeda in every part of Iraq. The Assyrians, with no tribal structure, military or militia, are defenseless. Since the coming of Islam in 630 A.D., noted AINA, Assyrians have suffered thirty "genocides at the hands of Muslims," several in the 20th century. They experienced comparative safety and tolerance under the oppressive but secular regime of Saddam Hussein.

Since the fall of Saddam, the persecution has intensified, with the added motive that many Iraqi Christians who speak English have worked for Americans. The AINA study, however, confirms that the persecution is primarily religious. Last October, for instance, Ayad Tariq, a 14-year-old Assyrian in Baquba, was accosted at his place of employment by insurgents who asked if he was a "Christian sinner." "Yes," he replied, "I am a Christian, but I am not a sinner." The insurgents quickly pronounced him a "dirty Christian sinner" and, shouting "Allahu akbar!," beheaded him. Also last October, Father Paulos Iskander was kidnapped in Mosul. His head, arms and legs were severed from his body.

AINA graphically described many attacks since 2003, which we can only summarize here. Five priests have been kidnapped and released after ransom was paid. 33 churches have been attacked or bombed since June 2004. At least 13 young women have been abducted and raped, causing some of them to commit suicide. Female students have been targeted in Basra and Mosul for not wearing veils; some had nitric acid squirted on their faces. Elders of a village in Mosul were warned not to send females to universities. The Madhi Army circulated a letter warning all Christian women to veil themselves. Al-Qaeda moved into an Assyrian neighborhood and began collecting the jizya tax and demanding that females be sent to the mosque to be married off to Muslims. Assyrian businesses have been targeted, especially stores selling alcohol, radios, TVs and music. On the night of Sept. 7, 2005, a fire, with arson suspected, destroyed or damaged more than 500 Assyrian shops in Dora. The fire trucks did not arrive for hours. The owners had to watch from their homes. If they violated curfew, they would be shot. Property of Christians has been confiscated by Kurds and Shiites. The Kurds blocked foreign aid for Assyrian communities and diverted water and other resources from Assyrians to Kurds. Kurdish forces blockaded Assyrian villages. Children have been kidnapped and transferred to Kurdish families.

The Assyrians and their supporters urge, in the words of Dr. Nina Shea of the Center for Religious Freedom, the "establishment of a new autonomous district," in the Nineveh Plains "that would be jointly governed" by Assyrians and smaller religious groups. Unfortunately, as Shea stated on Aug. 27, 2007, "there has been no progress" on creating "a Nineveh province" and "U.S. policy runs counter to the initiative. When asked about such a haven, the State Department's Iraq policy coordinator, David Satterfield, told me that it is 'against U.S. policy to further sectarianism.' The administration has not even brought together leaders of Iraq's non-Muslim minorities to discuss solutions."

Meanwhile, the mayhem continues. Father Ragheed Ganni and three deacons were assassinated by gunmen as they drove from a church in Mosul after Mass on June 3, 2007. Their car was bobby-trapped by the gunmen to prevent retrieval of the bodies. On June 19, at a Mass for Father Ganni and the deacons in Southfield, Michigan, Chaldean Catholic Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Bishop Ibrahim has a point. One result of the Iraq War has been to expose the Assyrians and other Christians to genocidal repression by all the major Muslim groups who appear to be of one mind on this. But the U.S. should not leave Iraq without ensuring the safety of those minorities in their homeland.

Bishop Ibrahim is entitled to make his point, because in December, 2002, he warned the United States against "going to war, which will be a disaster for the whole region, not only for the Iraqi people." Nor was he the only Chaldean prelate to do so. On Jan. 9, 2003, Chaldean Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad warned that "the war threatens our children, our elderly, our sick and our young." We can now add to that list the Christians who are about to disappear from Iraq. As Shea put it, "The very existence of these non-Muslims within Iraq may soon be extinguished under pervasive persecution that the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees says is targeted against them due to religion." President Bush should have listened to the Chaldeans.

Professor emeritus Charles Rice is on the faculty of the Notre Dame University Law School.  He and his wife, Mary, have ten children and they reside in Mishawaka, Indiana.

Save the Gnostics

Nathaniel Deutsch
6 October 2007
The New York Times

THE United States didn’t set out to eradicate the Mandeans, one of the oldest, smallest and least understood of the many minorities in Iraq. This extinction in the making has simply been another unfortunate and entirely unintended consequence of our invasion of Iraq — though that will be of little comfort to the Mandeans, whose 2,000-year-old culture is in grave danger of disappearing from the face of the earth.

The Mandeans are the only surviving Gnostics from antiquity, cousins of the people who produced the Nag Hammadi writings like the Gospel of Thomas, a work that sheds invaluable light on the many ways in which Jesus was perceived in the early Christian period. The Mandeans have their own language (Mandaic, a form of Aramaic close to the dialect of the Babylonian Talmud), an impressive body of literature, and a treasury of cultural and religious traditions amassed over two millennia of living in the southern marshes of present-day Iraq and Iran.

Raymond Verdaguer

Practitioners of a religion at least as old as Christianity, the Mandeans have witnessed the rise of Islam; the Mongol invasion; the arrival of Europeans, who mistakenly identified them as “Christians of St. John,” because of their veneration of John the Baptist; and, most recently, the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein, who drained the marshes after the first gulf war, an ecological catastrophe equivalent to destroying the Everglades. They have withstood everything — until now.

Like their ancestors, contemporary Mandeans were able to survive as a community because of the delicate balance achieved among Iraq’s many peoples over centuries of cohabitation. But our reckless prosecution of the war destroyed this balance, and the Mandeans, whose pacifist religion prohibits them from carrying weapons even for self-defense, found themselves victims of kidnappings, extortion, rapes, beatings, murders and forced conversions carried out by radical Islamic groups and common criminals.

When American forces invaded in 2003, there were probably 60,000 Mandeans in Iraq; today, fewer than 5,000 remain. Like millions of other Iraqis, those who managed to escape have become refugees, primarily in Syria and Jordan, with smaller numbers in Australia, Indonesia, Sweden and Yemen.

Unlike Christian and Muslim refugees, the Mandeans do not belong to a larger religious community that can provide them with protection and aid. Fundamentally alone in the world, the Mandeans are even more vulnerable and fewer than the Yazidis, another Iraqi minority that has suffered tremendously, since the latter have their own villages in the generally safer north, while the Mandeans are scattered in pockets around the south. They are the only minority group in Iraq without a safe enclave.

When Mandeans do seek refuge in the Kurdish-dominated north, they report that they are typically viewed as southern, Arabic-speaking interlopers, or, if their Mandean identity is discovered, persecuted as religious infidels. In Syria and Jordan, Mandeans feel unable to practice their religion openly and, after years of severe deprivation, some have begun to convert simply in order to receive aid from Muslim and Christian relief agencies.

Mandean activists have told me that the best hope for their ancient culture to survive is if a critical mass of Mandeans is allowed to settle in the United States, where they could rebuild their community and practice their traditions without fear of persecution. If this does not happen, individual Mandeans may survive for another generation, isolated in countries around the world, but the community and its culture may disappear forever.

Of the mere 500 Iraqi refugees who were allowed into the United States from April 2003 to April 2007, only a few were Mandeans. And despite the Bush administration’s commitment to let in 7,000 refugees in the fiscal year that ended last month, fewer than 2,000, including just three Iraqi Mandean families, entered the country.

In September, the Senate took a step in the right direction when it unanimously passed an amendment to a defense bill that grants privileged refugee status to members of a religious or minority community who are identified by the State Department as a persecuted group and have close relatives in the United States. But because so few Mandeans live here, this will do little for those seeking asylum. The legislation, however, also authorizes the State and Homeland Security Departments to grant privileged status to “other persecuted groups,” as they see fit.

If all Iraqi Mandeans are granted privileged status and allowed to enter the United States in significant numbers, it may just be enough to save them and their ancient culture from destruction. If not, after 2,000 years of history, of persecution and tenacious survival, the last Gnostics will finally disappear, victims of an extinction inadvertently set into motion by our nation’s negligence in Iraq.

Nathaniel Deutsch is a professor of religion at Swarthmore College.

Assyrians at Their Best


Milwaukee Talks: DJ & Author Obie Yadgar

Courtesy of OnMilwaukee.com
17 September 2007
By Bobby Tanzilo

Obie Yadgar was long a stalwart in Milwaukee radio and long-time fans of public radio as well as jazz and classical programming will remember his easily-recognizable name and voice.

Although he's no longer riding the airwaves, Yadgar has not stopped working. After publishing his first novel in 2005, Yadgar returns with a new book. "Obie's Opus" is a collection of classical music anecdotes that have entertained his radio audiences over the years, mixed with some of his own radio memories.

Of Assyrian descent, Yadgar also writes a regular column for the Web site of Assyrian magazine Zinda. Some of those columns will be collected in an upcoming volume.

We recently asked Yadgar about his long radio career and his more recent, print-based vocation.

Obie Yadgar, author of two books and Zinda Magazine's popular "Musing with My Samovar" stories.  Mr. Yadgar's next book, a collection of his Zinda stories will be published by Zinda Magazine in 2008.

OMC: Are you still active in radio?

OY: No, I am no longer in radio. Even though I loved the music and the audience, my last stint at WFMR was hell. The station's focus and philosophy soured me on radio in a most profound way. I still had to make a living, though, but the jobs were gone in a dying format. Since I've enjoyed a dual career as writer and broadcaster -- writing being my first love -- I chose to concentrate on my writing. I still want to do some limited radio, something in NPR, some type of intelligent and artistic talk show, and some classical music, if the opportunity arises.

OMC: How did you get started in the business?

OY: I had always loved radio, especially to do my own show where I would play the music I loved. After returning from Vietnam, where I served as a combat correspondent for the U.S. Army, I found a gig in a jazz station in San Diego, Calif. After that, I worked in pop station in upstate New York, an NPR station in St. Louis. Then WFMR. I also worked at WUWM, Milwaukee's NPR station. My best gig, though, was doing classical morning drive at the former WNIB in Chicago.

OMC: Do you listen to the radio a lot? What do you think of the current state of radio in Milwaukee and beyond?

OY: The only station in Milwaukee I listen to regularly is WUWM, for its news programming. I also used to listen regularly to WYMS, but I stopped listening when it dumped its jazz programming. Right-wing talk radio scares me and I don't listen to it. Rock and syrupy saxophone stations give me heartburn. I still do like some country music, though, and prefer the stations that play the more traditional country. Overall, except for NPR, I lament what's happened to radio, where the bottom-line programmers and managers have destroyed creativity and originality. For the most part, I find today's radio embarrassing and pathetic.

OMC: I can remember listening to you on the radio in the car years ago and yours remains for me a very Milwaukee voice. Do you hear that a lot from people?

OY: People still tell me I was very much part of Milwaukee's gentle and intimate voice. Part of its artistic voice. And I was myself behind the microphone and it showed, they said. They liked my creativity. I am grateful to them for their kindness, and for putting up with me. I have lived in many places, but Milwaukee will always remain special to me because of its people and its quality of life.

OMC: Tell us about your new book?

OY: I used to pepper my radio programs with amusing stories and anecdotes about the lives of the great composers. Here's a good one: An aging actor called on the composer Jacques Offenbach on the morning of October 5, 1880. "How is he?" he asked the servant. "Mr. Offenbach is dead," replied the servant. "He died peacefully, without knowing anything about it." The actor signed and said, "Ah, he will be surprised when he finds out."

Here's another good one: In 1896, The Item, a New Orleans newspaper, had no available music critic to cover Paderewski's piano concert, so the boxing editor was sent instead. "In my opinion, he is the best two-handed piano fighter that ever wore hair," the man wrote. "If I were a piano, I wouldn't travel as Paderewski's sparring partner for two-thirds of the gross receipts."

Well, people loved the stories I told and kept asking me to publish them in a book. I did. My recently published book "Obie's Opus" is a collection of many of these stories, colored with some of my reflections on life from behind the radio microphone.

OMC: Was it hard to collect them?

OY: I collected these stories through the years. I don't exactly remember where I found them, except that my listeners told me many of them. Little by little I began writing them down. People who have read the book love it for its humor. "Obie's Opus" is available from my Web site at obieyadgar.com, and also from Schwartz, Barnes & Noble in Bayshore Town Center and Borders at the River Point Shopping Center, at Port and Brown Deer Roads. It can be ordered from other stores as well.

OMC: This is your second book, right? Can you tell us a bit about the novel you wrote?

OY: My first novel "Will's Music" was published in 2005, when I was working at WNIB in Chicago. "Will's Music" is a love story set in San Francisco and based in the world of classical radio and dance. I wanted to write a gentle, sweet and sentimental love story, and I think "Will's Music" came out exactly as I wanted. Those who have read "Will's Music" have been very much touched by the story.

OMC: Are you working on book number three?

OY: Currently I am working on my second novel -- my third book -- and expect to complete it by spring. I am also working on a fourth book. This will be a collection of essays and short stories that currently I write in my column "Musing With My Samovar" for Zinda, an online Assyrian magazine -- written in English -- that's read worldwide at zindamagazine.com.

As you may know, I am a full-blooded Assyrian (we're the Biblical people). These essays and short stories are slice-of-life pieces on the Assyrian world. When I have a fair collection of them in about a year or so, I will publish them in a book under the same name: "Musing With My Samovar." Zinda Magazine tells me the "Musing With My Samovar" column is a big hit with Assyrian readers worldwide.

OMC: As someone long involved in the music world, we'd be interested to know what you're listening to these days?

OY: The music I listened to these days is from my own CD collection of classical and jazz. In classical, I love Bach, Schumann and Brahms, among many others. In jazz, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson remain my favorites, among many others. In other words, I listen to just about everything in classical and jazz. I also love South American music, especially tangos from Argentina.

Zinda Magazine is pleased to announce its publication of Obie Yadgar's next book in 2008, a collection of "Musing with My Samovar" stories.  Mr. Yadgar's nostalgic stories continue to be among Zinda readers' most popularly section in each Zinda issue.  Don't miss this week's piece:  The Roomtah !

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

Peter Badal Washington, DC
Jacklin Bejan California
Dr. Matay Beth Arsan Holland
Mazin Enwiya Chicago
Nahrain E. Kamber California
Ibrahim Mesut Sweden
Nineb Lammasu United Kingdom
John Stinson Virginia
Ninos Warda United Kingdom

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