4 Kanoon II 6757
Volume XIII

Issue 19

25 December 2007

1- 8 6 6 - M Y  Z I N D A

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Celebrating Christmas in a Troubled Land

Thousands of Assyrians bravely attend Christmas Mass in various churches in Baghdad and North Iraq. Shown here is Mar Eliya Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad.  AP Photo.

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
  On the Path to Reconciliation Habib Afram
  A Report on the Assyrian Refugees in Istanbul Sister Hatune Dogan
  Iraqi Christians Pack Churches for Christmas Mass Despite Violence
Iraqi Army Soldiers Deliver Season's Tidings to Assyrian Christians in Kirkuk
Kidnappers of Christian Doctors Arrested in Kirkuk
Stabbed Italian Priest Discharged from Turkish Hospital
7 Christian Families Leaving Turkey Again
Erdogan: Attacks on Christians in Turkey Unacceptable, Against Islam
Mar Delly Calls For Tariz Aziz' Freedom
Assyrian Monasteries in Turkey Destroyed by Treasure Hunters
  Assyrian Professor Murdered in Sweden
US House of Reps Passes $10M Assistance to Nineveh Plain
CASCA Release:  $10 Million Appropriation Headed to President's Desk
ISDP Release:  $10 Million for Nineveh Plain IDPs Passes
International Genocide Scholars Association Officially Recognizes Assyrian Genocide
Christmas Message of Save Assyria Front
Brother of Late Chaldean Patriarch Accused of Iraqi Spying
Synod Approves Consecration of Syrian Orthodox Bishop
U.S. Assyrians Worry about Cultural Survival
Van Cliburn Competition Winner Credits His Assyrian Teacher
  An Assyrian Christmas Prayer
In Appreciation of the Good Samaritans
Assyrian Youth and the Year 2008
Why Are You So Upset by the Truth?
Remembering Fuad Deniz
Statement Regarding the Late Hurmiz Malek Chikko

Click to Learn More :

  Nana's Magical Tea Obelit Yadgar
  Pictures and Letters from Miles City, Montana
  The Missing Christmas Present
Trilogoy of Murder:  Conspiracy & Beyond
God Revealing His Name
Ashurbanipal's Journey to Become a Hero
Assyrian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey & Adj Turkish Territories
Mikhael K. Pius
Orhan Kemal Cengiz
Pastor Henry Andrius Shaheen
Eli Mansour
Professor Anahit Khosroeva
  Alland Odisho's Shot at Olympics  

Since Our Last Issue
A Chronology of Important Events

Monday, 19 November According to an indictment unsealed in Michigan, Jamal Bidawid, brother of the late Chaldean Patriarch, Mar Raphael Bidawid, illegally acted as an Iraqi agent from 1998 until 2002, used the code name "374," and was paid several thousand dollars by the Iraqi Intelligence Service to cover expenses.
Thursday, 6 December A specially convened synod of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church held in India recognises the consecration of a German priest as Bishop of the newly formed Orthodox Archdiocese of Europe.
Tuesday, 11 December Dr. Fuat Deniz, an Assyrian professor of sociology at Örebro University in Sweden, is stabbed with a knife in the neck.  He died two days later.
Thursday, 13 December Police in Kirkuk, Iraq arrest 4 men charged with the kidnapping of "Christian Doctors".
Saturday, 15 December The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) votes overwhelmingly to recognize the genocides inflicted on Assyrian and Greek populations of the Ottoman Empire between 1914 and 1923.
Sunday, 16 December

Italian priest Adriano Francini, is stabbed at a church in Karsiyaka town of western province of Izmir, Turkey.  He was discharged later from the hospital on 20 December.

Turkish air-raid campaigns against Kurdish targets in north Iraq begin.  At Zinda press time according to reports from Ankara some 150 PKK rebels were killed.  Iraqi Kurdish officials say civilians were killed, which Turkey denies.

Tuesday, 18 December

Dutch Parliament approves spending US$ 8.6 million for the welfare of the Assyrian refugees in Iraq and the neighboring countries.

The head of Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government refuses to meet the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, because of the US position on Turkish cross-border raids.

Wednesday, 19 December US House of Representatives passes a final omnibus appropriations bill, including $10 million in assistance to internally displaced religious minorities in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq.
Saturday, 22 December Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that attacks on several priests and a publishing house in Turkey are incidents that the government "can never accept."
Monday, 24 December Mar Emmanuel Delly calls for the release of Tariq Aziz.

Zinda Says
An Editorial by Wilfred Bet-Alkhas


On the Path to Reconciliation

Habib Afram
President of the Syriac League

“To stand up I need, like a tree, the deepness of roots and the vastness of the sky.”
(Paul Claudel 1868-1955)

Let me start by presenting to the University of Istanboul a book on our living cultural heritage entitled Tur-Abdin. As a token of respect and appreciation, this is a Suryani approach to the events and issues.

Sometimes, yesterday is very far away.  And sometimes, history is present in the heart and in the veins, and you find yourself beholding, crystal clear, ninety years without the dust of time or the noise of events to obscure it.

Is it because it has been written in blood, and blood is the weapon of the innocent?

Here I am in Turkey, as if returning to the womb that has borne me and to the land that has displaced me. Above my head, in my office in Beirut, is a picture of my family tree that dates back to 1650 in the village of Aynwardo in Turabdin, in the southeast Turkey of today.

And at home are rocks from my village I feel are my yesterdays, and soil from the cemetery of sacred "Al saffron" Monastery I feel are my always.

And my mind, as the third generation in the line of my grandfather, Habib the first my grandmother Armenian “Takohe”, my mind is crowded by his tales from what we call the “leftovers of the sword” and from adventures of how he, reached Lebanon with companions.

And my conscience, as the son of suffering and bitter experiences, my conscience is haunted by the free Christian presence in the East now threatened with disappearance.  Having witnessed the dispersion of our people in all corners of the globe as they acquired new identities and various affiliations, I have come to realize that we have turned into the people of Diaspora.

And here I am in the University of Istanbul, proud to be its guest at this attempt to seek the truth and unveil what has happened, although late.

History is full of injustice, wars, even genocide. This is man’s odd destiny, to elevate humanity through the discovery of space and the atom, and to devalue him into a fierce wolf preying on his brother in the name of religion, ethnicity, self-interest, ideology, or simply for authority or power. But the harshest is best described in the words of the Turkish poet Bachar Kamal who said: “Separating a person from his land is like ripping someone’s heart out of his chest.”

So here is what I have to say.


What we call “Seyfo” is genuine history in time and place. And we have been both its witnesses and its victims, in our bodies, relatives’ stories, books, poetry, art, songs, tears, our flesh and our blood, in names, pictures, families, and remnants there that still hold the scent of our ancestors. No one can deny it or erase it. No one can wash their hands innocent of it, or neglect it or bury it. But especially, we cannot accept the claims that it did not take place or that it is some sort of myth. Memory cannot be obliterated our memory is neither fictitious nor invented, even if some academics, historians and thinkers have ignored it. But most of all, this memory is not for revenge, it is a memory for tomorrow.


What happened has affected people, ethnicities, and a variety of religious groups from Armenians, Syriacs and Chaldeans to Assyrians and Greeks of Asia Minor. True that the largest number of victims were Armenians who have come to call the event the “Armenian Genocide.”  All struggle in their own way to revive it. The majority of inflicted people were Christians who have fallen victims to killing, massacre, uprooting, hunger, disease displacement and relocation.


The subject does not revolve around figures and amounts, and it is surely not a proposition of numbers. And it is better not to mention that there weren’t in Turkey fifty thousand Syriacs, Chaldeans, Assyrians, despite The memoir of Patriarch Afram Barsoum I, which is well-kept in the archives of the British Foreign Ministry, and which assures that 90,313  of our people were killed in 336 villages, and that the number of families that have been exterminated was 13,360, while 160 churches, and monasteries were destroyed, and 154 priests were murdered. These people were killed although they were unarmed and unresisting. Only three villages mounted armed resistance, Azakh, Aynwardo, and Bisirniya.


We are not at all against Turkey, its government, people, or regime. We have no animosity towards it. Turkey is at the heart of our history. There are great names in our churches, books, and monasteries from Turkey’s constituency. Not to mention that a number of our people still live here in dignity and with fidelity to the state. We wish that Turkey will continue its path of democracy and freedom, and become a part of Europe in order to bridge East and West. But as we preserve our contact with Turkey, we call for its reconciliation with its history, without any intention of marring its image or tarnishing its reputation.


We urge Turkey to admit what has happened sincerely, clearly and transparently, so that the remains of our ancestors may rest in peace at last.We do not invest our ancestor’s blood except in the fields of honor and freedom. We do not open wounds and drag out sorrows, we do not seek revenge, nor do we hold any rancor. We just remember, not for the purpose maybe of retrieving land or financial restitution, but for the truth. And we welcome this conference that seeks to unveil the bare truth.


History is written by those who are grand. Turkey will be more powerful and immune if it acts with nobility. Who could believe that previously unaccepted and impossible discussion has become a reality? So why don’t we fully open the doors of dialogue and take courageous positions. The late Pontiff, Pope John Paul II, asked forgiveness for the crusades and the tragedies they caused. He also asked the Jews for pardon for any acts of neglect that may have led to the holocaust, and there is Germany admitting that the holocaust took place with regret but without hesitation. South Africa has formed committees for national truth and reconciliation, and Morocco will make amends to all those who have been subjected to torture and unjust detainment.


We scream out of our pain, in a loud voice, but we are definitely against murder, war, terrorism, and violence. We do not accept making use of painful events to sow rancor and hatred, but to strengthen our societies and our common Eastern civilization. And what we have rejected for our ancestors we reject for every other people, and we condemn it, no matter where it may happen in the world.


Co-existence is at the heart of our message and mind. We have lived here since the dawn of humanity, since before the beginning of Christianity, then with Muslims, sharing worries, concerns and days. True, that this history bears fearful and harsh memories, but it also shines with victories, bliss, and benevolence. We stand against the clash of civilizations, and not only do we call for dialogue, but for co-existence. We refuse attacks on any religion, and we respect and appreciate Islam, all while believing that in every Eastern Christian there is a spirit of Islam just as in every Eastern Muslim there is something of Christianity.


The world cannot shut its eyes and pretend that it does not know, hear or see. Wars cannot be a television series, and victims cannot turn into numbers without a flinch. Man cannot be neglectful towards any victim at any time in any continent for any reason. Silence is an accomplice to evil, and global conscience must remain alert to the rights of every human being. Right does not necessarily belong to force, so until when will the world shut its ears to the calls of innocence and follow its self-interests?


Our people refused to die, and they prove everyday that they are worthy of life and they look at history with a challenging eye. True that Diaspora is about to uproot this people from the land of the East, because we have become the guardians of stone in Turabdin. But a genuine resurgence in our parties,organizations, institutions, and media, as well as a return to the roots, language, and affiliation, coupled with the benefits of technology and communication would make us one people, vital with the sense of identity, adamant on our right to carry the message of distinction in a world that is nearly erasing every culture. We will remain a beautiful color in a world entitled variety.


We ask Turkey to initiate a fresh page of reconciliation with itself and its history. Many of our people would like to return to their villages, despite everything, and they must be given the guarantees and even the benefits of security and legal rights concerning their property, their language and their churches. I was in Diyarbakir last summer attending a ceremony for the restoration of a historic church, the Mariam Ana. This is a symbolic step, but it is not enough if the come back means the return to a regime of second class citizens. It is essential that our organizations and parties be allowed transparent action.

What if Turkey reinforced such historical religious sites such as the Mor Gabriel monastery in Midyat, or literary and cultural sites such as the homes of Naum Faiq in Diyarbakir, or of Sanharib Bali, both of whom represent foremost figures in our political thought.


We want Turkey to play a dynamic role in demonstrating the flourishing ethnic and cultural groups within it. We want Turkey, as the heiress of the Ottoman empire, to become a laboratory for dialogue and a free, respectful life to all its citizens without the denial and rejection of identities, the prohibition on speaking about them and preserving them. We want this out of intrinsic conviction, and not because of Western or European pressures.

Professor Ekmaleddin Ehsanoglou, the respected Turkish secretary general of the Organization of Islamic States which comprises 57 organizations, said in Mekka in December of 2005:  “We have to struggle to make the Islamic World as a whole and the Middle East in particular a land of security, peace and prosperity. We live in a region where the three religions of Abraham started and developed calling for peace and human equilibrium. We have to continue our duty in supporting justice in the world."


I hope that this historic meeting will become an entrance to a political dialogue whose banner I am willing to bear, with all our parties, institutions, figures, leaders, churches and the state of Turkey. It is a journey which must begin.

I come from Lebanon, where we, as Syriacs, have been molded by destiny and choice to believe that it is an oasis and exemplar despite all our mistakes as Lebanese. Lebanon is the role and the message, not just the fort and the shelter. We knew our hell too. We fought and we were a battlefield, we went through our nightmares and massacres.  As the world watched, we slaughtered each other and reconciled, we know, maybe more than others, that there can be no solutions except through dialogue, understanding, agreement, reconciliation and strength over the wounds. The love of truth has taught me to see the beauty of compromise.

We are here crying for the massacre not to happen again, to reconcile, all of us, as a single humanity that makes an effort towards perfection, and strives for a new East and a new dawn.

The above was presented by the Mr. Afram on Friday, 17 March 2006 at the University of Istanbul.

The Lighthouse
Feature Article


A Report on the Assyrian Refugees in Istanbul

Sister Hatune Dogan

Sr. Hatune Dogan

After my visit to Jordan with Nuri Kino and Febroniya Atto I heard that also in Istanbul, Turkey there are Christian refugees from Iraq.

Before my visit to Istanbul I had an idea about the situation of our people there. I myself am a refugee from Turkey and I know the mentality of the Turks and Kurds, so I could imagine their attitude towards the Christians from Iraq.

I decided to go to Istanbul to study the situation of the Christians of Iraq, to meet our people personally. My feelings pushed me to go there. I took 130 kilograms of various aid supplies for the refugees such as clothing, medicine, toys for children, etc. I took more toys for children to bring them joy and make them happy.

I landed on 26th of June 2007 at 6:00 at the Istanbul airport. At 7:00 Aboona Hanna Aykurt came with his daughter, Tullin, to pick me up. I had some rest until 11:00 and then he brought me to Aboona Y. Sag, as he lives closer to the place where our refugees from Iraq are living.

I also met Aboona Fransua. He is a Chaldean priest and is a very active and enthusiastic person. He took me to his office and described the severe situation of our refugees from Iraq. We had to plan what to do in the next few days.

I asked if he knew how many Christian refugees from Iraq there are in Turkey. He didn’t know the exact number, because many of them are not registered officially as refugees. In many cases they just stay for a very short period of time. He only knew the number of his parishioners. There were about 3600 persons in Istanbul.   Before that there were about 5000 people there. Recently a certain number of these refugees were sent from Istanbul to other places in Turkey. He also mentioned that people have been badly treated.

Thank God there is an organization called ACMC and Aboona Fransua presides over it. Together with some of his people they have established the KASDER society and try to help our refugees. Four people are working full time and others volunteer. Refugees with their UNCHR number are registered also by this Society and they are given clothes and other provisions. I left the clothes I brought with me so that the refugees could have them for free as well.

I stayed at this place with Aboona Fransua and his team until 13:00. During that time I could see how good people are working there. Later I was brought to the residence of Bishop Mor Filoksinos Yusuf Cetin. I stayed for a night at the Bishops’ place.

First working day with the Iraqi refugees in Istanbul

At 10 a.m. Essam Yousif picked me up from the Bishop’s House and brought me to the Refugee Office. He is one of the KESDER members. I talked with all four of them and Fr. Fransua. I asked questions about their working conditions and also about the situation of the Christian refugees in Turkey. I received detailed and factual information from them.

Ms. Wasam Davod Iskender and Mr. Esam Yousif expressed their willingness to go with me and show me some refugee families. They both also are refugees from Iraq. They were members of a Chaldean Church and were originally from Kirkuk. Now they have an official refugee status. They both were with me almost all the time and I could visit refugee families with their help.  

Second Day in Istanbul: Visiting the Family of Widat Hanna Matte

Father (47) Widat Hanna Matte
Mother (37) Sabah Matte
2 Daughters (17 and 13)

Widat Hanna Matte recently had an operation and he is paralyzed on one side. He is in need of an urgent medical treatment. The family is living in a damp basement and has only one sleeping room. The same living conditions are true for 98% of all Christian refugees from Iraq in Istanbul, because of the very high rental costs in Turkey. Their kitchen is too small; it is only 1 by 2 meters. All the walls are mildewed and half broken. For this so called apartment the family has to pay about 200 EUROs monthly. Their two daughters are visiting “Don Bosco School”. This is a private school and it is in the neighborhood. The school has been funded by the local Chaldean Church.   In addition to the many subjects, children learn English too. I gave 100 EUROs to the mother of the family and she got tears in her eyes. It was not so much. But unfortunately I couldn’t give more, because I wanted to help other refugee families as well.

June 27:  Visiting Rafael Israel and Maryam Yusuf

We visited another family. They also are living in a small, damp and mildewed basement. I could hardly stay there because of the moisture. I told myself how could this family live in such severe conditions? The family lost their two sons: Iskender and Israel. Rafael and Maryam have no idea what happened to their sons and where they could be. They also have one daughter, but I couldn’t meet her home. At that time she was cleaning somewhere to earn some money for their everyday bread. Also this family pays for their small living place about 200 EUROs per month. I gave them 200 EUROs and they were very happy with it.

Later, I met a quiet young Christian woman, a mother, 39 years old, and her three sons. One of them has heart problems. He overcame very serious surgical operation on his heart and for the rehabilitation he normally needs a special medical examination every two months. Because of the financial problems the family has no possibility to pay for these medical procedures. Two other boys are working, but they always are afraid of being recognized as Christians. Every day at work they hear what the Muslims talk about the Christians and they hide their religious belief. They need this work to earn some money for their everyday life. They also are afraid of being deported because of not having an official refugee status.

I got some donation in the amount of 300 EUROs and gave this donation to the family for the medical treatment of their sick boy.

After visiting this family I went to “Don Bosco School”. I distributed some toys for children there. Unfortunately it was not enough for all of them. I wanted to buy some ice cream for the other children but we had no time.

June 28:  Visiting Other Refugee Families

On that day I was alone because my helpers couldn’t come with me. I stayed at the Bishop’s house and from the balcony of this house I could see several families living in the neighborhood. On that day I visited 5 refugee families from Iraq.   Two of these families were living in better conditions. They also have very small premises, but they didn’t live in damp basements as others.  The men are working illegally and they are always afraid of being killed because of their religion.

The other three families are also living under very bad conditions. I tried to give each family 100 EUROs. But what is 100 EUROs? They told me why they left Iraq. They showed me their daughter. She was only 16 years old. She was kidnapped in Iraq and she was raped for 20 days before her family paid $USD 13,000 ransom. She doesn’t speak and is afraid of staying alone. She is in urgent need of psychological therapy.

Another girl was also violated for 6 months. Muslims called her and forced her to come and then they raped her.  She was told that her family members would be killed one by one if she didn’t visted them periodically.

An 11-years old girl was kidnapped and then raped by three men during a 10-day period before her family paid a ransom in the amount of $USD 10,000.

I have interviewed 41 families and I have heard about 21 cases of kidnappings and violations of the young Assyrian girls. They all are in need of urgent psychological assistance.

On 29 June I met a girl whom I will never forget. Her family consisted of 5 members and they lived in Baghdad, when in 2004 she was kidnapped. The ransom sum was in amount of $USD 10 000. The family and their relatives collected all their money and gold and gave them to their neighbor, who promised to release their daughter.

It is very difficult to tell this story. The girl could hardly speak about what happened three years ago. I understood she was violated and that’s why she couldn’t talk about it in the presence of her family. I asked them to leave me with the girl and asked her to tell me her story.

She started by saying how she was kidnapped when she was coming back from school. The kidnappers caught her and forced her in their car. They asked her for the telephone number of her parents and she gave it to them.

They asked her if she visited a Church and if she prayed there. She said yes. They spoke to each other: "She has to be from a rich family" and they increased the ransom.

During the 10 days she was violated by three men. It was terrible. When she told her story she could hardly breathe because of the tears. I put her in my arms and tried to calm her.  This story happened to the girl three years ago, but still she is living in great fear. When she hears Arabic language she panics. 
I asked her what would be her wish. She told me that she wanted to live in a calm place where only Christians live and where Christians wouldn’t be persecuted because of their religion.

This girl needs an urgent psychological assistance and she has to leave Turkey, because also in that country there are a lot of fanatic Muslims, who hate Christians. Christians have no rights in these Muslim countries.

I think everyone I met needs humanitarian and moral support. None of these Christian families can’t stay in here. First, they are not officially registered, and second, they live in fear because of their Christian religion.

Christian children go to Muslim schools and they have been attacked by Muslim children with knives. They are afraid to go to school and prefer to stay at home, in the damp basements.

This is a very long story and it is impossible to describe all the cases in detail. That’s why I will finish here. This is quite enough to understand what is happening to our Christian Assyrian refugees from Iraq.

If people want to donate to the Assyrian refugees from Iraq they can donate to the following foundation, mentioning ‘donation to the poor’ (Donations are tax deductable). I will take the responsibility that the most needy get your financial aid:

Sister Hatune Foundation
Sr. Hatune Stiftung
Helping hand to the poor

Bank details:
Helfende Hände für die Arman e. V.

For more information you can contact me at: india_charity@hotmail.de
Tel: 0049-1796664396

Sister Hatune Dogan was born in the village of Zaz in the Tur-Abdin region in Turkey.  She is a member of the Syrian Orthodox Church.  In 1985 her family, fearing Turkish and Kurdish persecutions, left Turkey for Germany.   In 1988 she joined the sisterhood at Mor Ephrem Monastery in Losser, Holland under the care of Mother Superior Seyde Atto.  After High School she attended the Theological Seminary at Mienz , Frankfurt in Germany and completed a degree in Practical Theology in 1996.   She was a practicing psychotherapist at the Kathekese Psychotherapy Institute in Augustburg, in southern Germany.  She has also worked as a teacher in the government schools, instructing religous studies and history.   Sister Dogan has visited 38 countries and performed charity works in many of them.  To learn more about her foundation please click here.

Good Morning Assyria
News From the Homeland


Iraqi Christians Pack Churches for Christmas Mass Despite Violence

Courtesy of the the Associated Press
25 December 2007
By Yahya Barzanji

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  Thousands of Iraqi Christians picked their way through checkpoints and along dusty streets lined with concrete blast walls, packing churches in Baghdad on Tuesday for Christmas Mass.

Iraqi Christians attend Christmas mass in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2007.  (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

Death is never far in Iraq — two separate suicide bombings north of Baghdad killed at least 34 people and wounded scores more. But the number of attacks has fallen dramatically in the past few months — the U.S. military says by 60 percent since June — and the country's small Christian community took advantage of the lower violence to turn out in numbers unthinkable a year ago.

"We did not celebrate last year, but this year we have security and we feel better," said Rasha Ghaban, one of many women at the small Church of the Holy Family in Karradah, a mainly Shiite district in downtown Baghdad where many Christians live. "We hope our future will be better, God willing."

Families streamed into the church's courtyard, wrapped in heavy winter jackets to protect them from the early morning chill. Young children with neatly combed hair held their parents' hands, and women stopped by the front door to pick through a basket of small lacy headscarves, placing them over their hair before walking in.

The pews were almost full — women toward the back and on the right side of the church, the men on the left — and still more people streamed in. Outside, police armed with automatic rifles manned a checkpoint at the corner of the narrow street, searching every passing car for possible bombs.

Christians have often been the target of attacks by Islamic extremists in Iraq, forcing tens of thousands to flee. Many of those who stayed were isolated in neighborhoods protected by barricades and checkpoints. Less than 3 percent of Iraq's 26 million people are Christians — the majority Chaldean-Assyrians and Armenians, with small numbers of Roman Catholics.

A coordinated bombing campaign in 2004 targeted churches in the Iraqi capital, and anti-Christian violence also flared last September after Pope Benedict XVI made comments perceived to be against Islam.

But this year, with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha coming just before Christmas, Iraq has been living through some of the most peaceful moments since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, leader of the ancient Chaldean Catholic Church and Iraq's first cardinal, celebrated Mass before about 2,000 people in the Mar Eliya Church the capital's eastern New Baghdad neighborhood.

"Iraq is a bouquet of flowers of different colors, each color represents a religion or ethnicity but all of them have the same scent," the 80-year-old Delly told the congregation.

Muslim clerics — both Sunni and Shiite — also attended the service in a sign of unity.

"May Iraq be safe every year, and may our Christian brothers be safe every year," Shiite cleric Hadi al-Jazail told AP Television News outside the church. "We came to celebrate with them and to reassure them."

William Jalal, a 39-year old father of three attending Mass at Mar Eliya, said this Christmas was clearly different.

"We didn't celebrate like this in the past two years as we were holding limited celebrations for relatives in an atmosphere filled with fear," said Jalal, a cook in one of Baghdad's social clubs. "Now we feel better as we see all these security forces in the streets to protect us."

Bombers still attack city markets, police or army patrols and stores, and the dead bodies of tortured kidnap victims turn up almost daily along river banks or dumped on the streets.

Venturing out in large numbers late at night in Baghdad is still unthinkable, so the capital's Christians celebrated midnight Mass in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Eve.

Delly, speaking to The Associated Press at his guarded compound in western Baghdad on Christmas Eve, said fear still pervaded everyday life, despite the fall in violence.

"Everyone is still afraid to go out," he said. "Even small animals are afraid of the danger."

But in Irbil, a city in northern Iraq's much safer Kurdish autonomous region, thousands packed the Mar Yusef church at night for midnight Mass on Christmas Eve — unlike in Baghdad, where the service was held in the afternoon.

Sita Butrous, a 31-year-old Chaldean Christian, wore a tight teeshirt and jeans, clothes she said she could no longer wear in Baghdad.

"There's some improvement in security (in Baghdad), but I'm not reassured," Butrous said. "Our sect doesn't have weapons to protect us, and we are a minority."

Worshipers headed to the town of Ain Kawa, near Irbil where Kurdish Christians live. Some 1,600 Arab Christian families from Baghdad and nearby regions have settled there, said the local mayor, Fahmi Sulafa.

Matti Gordese, a 40-year-old father of four originally from Baghdad, said that "here, I feel my soul is at rest.

"I can practise my religion without feeling that suddenly, a bomb will explode and kill you in God's house," he said.

Iraqi Army Soldiers Deliver Season's Tidings to Assyrian Christians in Kirkuk

Courtesy of the Black Anthem Military News
17 December 2007
By Staff Sgt. Margaret C. Nelson, 115th MPAD

Children from the Assyrian Christian School in Kirkuk, Iraq, sing Christmas carols in several different languages, including an English rendition of Jingle Bells, to the audience which included Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division, and the 2414 Logistical Transition Team, Dec. 15. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Margaret C. Nelson, 115th MPAD)

(ZNDA: Kirkuk)   The 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division invited Coalition Forces to a Christmas Party at an Assyrian Christian School in Kirkuk, Iraq, 15 December.

Representing approximately two percent of the population here, according to military officials, the theme of this year's celebration was ethnic and religious diversity.
"Kirkuk is a good place to be for Christians ... a place where all ethnic groups, Arab, Kurd, Turkman and Christian, are living in peace," said the priest of the Christian school. He also ministers to 2-4 IA Soldiers who operate from Iraqi Army Base K-1 in Kirkuk.
Both IA and CF Soldiers, with the 2414 Logistics Transition Team at K-1, came armed with presents, which they passed out to the children who were clothed in various ethnic dress to represent the cultures that are striving to bring back some semblance of normality to this ethnic diverse area of northeastern Iraq.

A 5-year-old Iraqi girl gives a thumbs-up at the Assyrian Christian Christmas Party attended by the 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division and Coalition Forces Dec. 15 in Kirkuk, Iraq. Soldiers with the 2414 Logistical Transition Team who are training the 2-4 IA logistics at Iraqi Army Base K-1 brought presents donated by employers, friends and family of Pennsylvania National Guardsmen, members of the LTT team. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Margaret C. Nelson, 115th MPAD)

"We want to live and work with our neighbors in harmony ... as Iraqis," Maj. Zyad Junaid Omar, 2-4 IA Civil Affairs officer, said. Zyad, whose father is an Arab and mother a Turkman, said that he invites CF Soldiers along to show Iraqis that, "Americans are good people that want to help." He also wanted the Iraqi public to see how well the IA and CF work together.
"Maj. Zyad is a patriot in the true sense," said Lt. Col. Greg Markert, 2414  LTT. "He wants to make a difference. He is not concerned about the ethnic background of these children. He's concerned about Iraq's future ... which they represent."
The gifts the Soldiers handed out were contributed by employers, friends and family of Pennsylvania Guardsmen Sgt. 1st Class Ken "Gunny" Ganiszewski, 2414 LTT, and Markert, both of Philadelphia.  "What started out as a suggestion snowballed into 200 packages full of toys, candy, blankets ... the response has been tremendous," said the former Marine.
This was just one of the several ongoing civil affairs programs run by the 2-4 IA's CA team.

A student of the Assyrian Christian School of Kirkuk, Iraq, opens her present donated by employers, friends and family of two Pennsylvania National Guard members during a Christmas party, Dec. 15. The U.S. Soldiers were invited by their Iraqi counterparts in the Iraqi Army's 2nd Brigade, 4th Division who provide supplies and gifts to schools throughout the Province. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Margaret C. Nelson, 115th MPAD)

"We're honored to be a part of their program," said Markert. "These children are the future of Iraq; they are the most important equation in our mission here."

"I fought as a Marine in the Gulf War against some of these Soldiers who I am now mentoring," Ganiszewski said. "This brotherhood we've formed is making a positive impact on the children of Iraq ... its future."

He said that both groups of Soldiers agree that what they are doing has a larger impact than "kicking doors down and brandishing weapons." He underlined the importance of getting involved by saying, "That child who is given a pair of shoes may return home and convince a relative not to place an IED out on the road. Or, if he sees someone trying to hurt an IA or CF Soldier, he'll report it."      

The LTT team has 10 members. They hail from the 240th Quartermaster's Company, 16th Sustainment Brigade from Bamburg, Germany; 13th Combat Service Support Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Ft. Benning, Ga.; the National Guard Bureau and its 28th Infantry Division's staff. All of the U.S. Soldiers are attached to the National Guard's 213th Area Support Group, Allentown, Pa., currently headquartered at Forward Operating Base Anaconda.

"We've come from all over the U.S. and Germany to form this team. We've since become a cohesive family, together with our adoptive family, meaning our fellow Soldiers with the Iraqi Army's 2nd Brigade, 4th Division." Markert said.

Kidnappers of Christian Doctors Arrested in Kirkuk

Courtesy of Asia News
14 December 2007

(ZNDA: Kirkuk)  On 13 December Iraqi police captured the members of a gang specialised in kidnapping Christian doctors.  The criminal organisation was made up of 4 brothers, arrested in various raids between December 11th and 13th.  Two unemployed relatives aided the brothers.  All of the gang members have confessed to the crime.  They are Muslims who have no connection to terrorist organisations, or Islamic extremism.  They, themselves confessed that they chose the kidnapping industry to “make easy money, what’s more according to sharia taking money from a Christian is legitimate”.  The group had a complete list of doctors and pharmacists, possible future targets.

The Chaldean Archdiocese’ excellent relations with other civil and religious authorities in Kirkuk greatly contributed to the capture.  Committed to protecting the community, Church leaders frequently visit and meet with political parties, government authorities, Imam’s, Sheiks and police and National Guard commanders.

The medical profession has long been a target for terrorists and criminals throughout Iraq.  Recently in Kirkuk 4 specialised doctors have been kidnapped.  Their families were forced to pay extortionate sums for their release, amounting to thousands of dollars.  Under increased pressure from constant threats 3 doctors had already left the city in the last few weeks heading for the safer climate of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Just this week in Baghdad unknown assailants killed the director of the psychiatric hospital 'al-Rashad', the nation’s most important clinic for mental health problems.  These increasing attacks on the medical profession have forced numerous leading doctors and specialists as well as simple GP’s to leave Iraq, thus depriving the nation of their vital talents.  In Mosul, for example, threats to male Gynaecologists, who are virtually extinct, have resulted in pregnant women being unable to find medical assistance for child birth.

Stabbed Italian Priest Discharged from Turkish Hospital

Courtesy of the New Anatolian
20 December 2007

(ZNDA: Ankara)  Italian priest Adriano Francini, who was hospitalized after he was stabbed at a church in Karsiyaka town of western province of Izmir on Sunday, 16 December, was discharged from the hospital on 20 December.

Prof. Dr. Sinan Ersin of the Aegean University (EU) Faculty of Medicine Hospital stated that the health condition of Italian priest Adriano Francini is well and he was discharged from the hospital Wednesday morning.

65 year old Priest Adriano Franchini had been missionary in the Aegean port city of Izmir for more than 27 years.

The priest was responsible for the Capucine order in Turkey and heads the Church of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus.

The suspected 19 year old assailant had traveled to Izmir from a town in the north, Balikesir, claiming to be interested in Christianity.  Franchini was taken to hospital, had minor surgery and spoke to the media from his hospital bed.

There have been a series of attacks on Christians in Turkey in recent years. In one of the deadlest incidents, three Protestants were killed at the office of a Christian publishing house in the eastern city of Malatya in April.

In February 2006, at a time of widespread anger in the Islamic world over the publication in European newspapers of caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, a 16-year-old boy fatally shot a Catholic priest as he knelt in prayer inside his church in the Black Sea city of Trabzon.

Following that killing, a Catholic priest was attacked and threatened in Izmir, and another was stabbed in the Black Sea port of Samsun. In November this year, an Assyrian cleric was abducted in southeast Turkey and rescued by security forces. In April, three Christians were killed at a publishing house that produces Bibles.

Last week, Turkey began an investigation into alleged collusion between police officers and at least one of the suspects charged in the killings. The three victims, a German and two Turks who had converted to Christianity, were tied up and had their throats slit.

The European Union has long complained that Turkey, an EU applicant, is not fully protecting the religious freedoms of its Christian minority, which makes up less than one percent of the population.

7 Christian Families Leaving Turkey Again

Courtesy of Doğan News Agency
7 December 2007
By Emin Bal

(ZNDA: Şirnak)  A group of Chaldean Christians who were forced to leave their homes in Beytüşşebap, Şırnak, near the border with Iraq, in 1988 due to an escalation in acts of terrorism have once again decided to abandon their homes and move to Belgium.

Forty people from seven families first moved to Belgium in 1988 but decided to return in 2004 when the terrorism problem had somewhat abated.

The families returned to their village of Cevizağaç and built modern homes.  However, with the escalation of outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorism in 2005, they were forced to begin packing for Belgium once again.

One villager, Şenol Yaramış, said: "We lived in Belgium for many years but never forgot our country. We longed for our village. We returned in 2004. However, the escalation of clashes last year, especially in our region, kept us up at night. We are going to lock our homes and go to Belgium. If the tension subsides, we will return next summer."

Erdogan: Attacks on Christians in Turkey Unacceptable, Against Islam

Courtesy of the New Anatolian
24 December 2007

(ZNDA: Ankara)  Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that attacks on several priests and a publishing house in Turkey are incidents that the government "can never accept."

"The Santoro incident in Trabzon, the incident in Malatya (publishing house incident), and the recent incident in Izmir (an attack injuring a priest). We can never accept them," he told in a gathering in Istanbul to exchange Eid al-Adha greetings.

"Those who are staging them do not know anything about Islam," he said.

Erdogan said his government is at equal distance to Muslims, Christians and Jews in Turkey.

"It is true that 99 percent of our country consists of Muslims, but there are also people of different religions."

Erdogan said the government has to guarantee security of life to every citizen and said those attacks are not things that a Muslim can do because Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance.

"We will do what we have to do (to end these incidents) until the very end," he told.

Erdogan said his government is against ethnic, regional and religious nationalism because one can be proud of his/her ethnic identity, but cannot keep it over the other's identity.

"Some say there are 38 ethnic identities in Turkey, some think there are 30 different ethnic identities," he told.

Erdogan said whatever the number of ethnic identities, what is important is the Turkish citizenship that unites everybody.

"As the administrators of the Republic of Turkey, we are at an equal distance to 70 million people in our country," he stressed.

On another issue Erdogan said nobody should think of "any surgical operation on Turkey."

"If there is any one with such a thought, they will see us against themselves he told members of his party at the Justice and Development (AK) Party office in Uskudar, Istanbul.

Erdogan said his party has red lines and it is against regional nationalism.

"Former governments made their investments in the west of the country," he said.

Erdogan said Turkey is a 780,000-kilometer square country and those who played on regional nationalism made wrong calculations.

"We have visited all our cities because we have a policy. It is one flag, one homeland, and one state," he declared.

Earlier Erdogan terrorism is a calamity for all humanity, not only Turkey.

"Therefore, all humanity has to launch a joint fight against terrorism," Erdogan told members of his party.

Erdogan said Turkey staged raids against the PKK in northern Iraq, and took diplomatic, political, economic, social and military steps before this operation.

"Turkey has rights under the international law, but being right is not always sufficient," he told.

Erdogan said Turkey should explain to the world that it is justified, otherwise it will be isolated.

"We visited Gulf countries, EU member states and the United States, and a positive atmosphere emerged after all these visits (allowinmg the raids in northjern Iraq)," he said.

Erdogan said Turkey is determined to eradicate terrorism.

Mar Delly Calls For Tariz Aziz' Freedom

Courtesy of the BBC
24 December 2007

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  The spiritual leader of Iraq's Chaldean Christian community has called on US forces to release Saddam Hussein's ex-deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

Tariq Aziz was for many years the face of Iraq around the world.

Cardinal Emmanuel Delly made the request in his Christmas message.

Mr Aziz, who is himself a Christian, gave himself up to US forces after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 but no charges have been brought against him.

He was seen in court last year in his pyjamas, testifying for the defence in the trial of Saddam Hussein.

"In terms of Tariq Aziz," Cardinal Delly said, "we have to demand the release of all those who were captured and which have no evidence against them."

The Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad, who criticised the US-led invasion in 2003, said his requests to visit Mr Aziz in prison had been turned down.

Iraqi prosecutors say he could face charges in connection with the crushing of the Shia Muslim uprising after the 1991 Gulf War.

In January last year, Mr Aziz's lawyer said his client had suffered a stroke.

In his message, Cardinal Delly also called for religious freedom in Iraq, where many Christians have been kidnapped, killed or forced to flee.

Assyrian Monasteries in Turkey Destroyed by Treasure Hunters

Courtesy of the Turkish Daily News
24 December 2007
By Yeni Şafak

(ZNDA: Midyat)  Treasure hunters are targeting Assyrian monasteries and churches in Şırnak and Mardin provinces as Assyrians have migrated abroad due to terror events in southeastern Anatolia, the daily Taraf reported yesterday.

The project to develop cultural heritage as part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project Region, organized by Midyat Assyrian Culture Association (MSCA) with European Union funds, seeks to locate and preserve vulnerable cultural artifacts for future generations.

“There is no place left in our houses of worship that is not dug out and destroyed. A history which is the common heritage of the world is disappearing,” said Yuhanna Aktaş, head of MSCA. Our sites of worship should be protected and restored by the Culture and Tourism Ministry immediately, said Aktaş, adding that Assyrians do not have the financial resources to do this work alone.

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Assyrian Professor Murdered in Sweden

Dr. Fuat Deniz (1967-2007)
Photo by Pavel Koubek

(ZNDA: Stockholm)  Dr. Fuat Deniz, an Assyrian professor of sociology at Örebro University in Sweden, was stabbed with a knife in the back of the neck on 11 December.  A six-hour surgery was performed immediately, but to no avail.  His conditioned continued to worsen until his death due to his injuries on Thursday, 13 December.  He dies two days later He was 40.   The attacker remains at large.

Dr. Deniz lectured at the Department of Social and Political Sciences at Örebro University.  So far there is no conclusive evidenceno as to the motive for Dr. Deniz' murder.

Swedish security police (SÄPO), the equivalent of the FBI in Sweden, suspects that the attack was politically motivated. Dr. Deniz’s work was mainly focused on the Assyrian identity and touched upon the Turkish genocide of Assyrians.

The identity of the suspect has not been fully described at press time, but a sketchy description has been provided by the Swedish police as a result of interviews with witnesses and a picture provided from a suveillance cameria.

According to the Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, Dr. Deniz and other researchers who have contributed to the study of the Assyrian Genocide in 1915- including Dr. David Gaunt - have been receiving death threats.

Dr. Deniz was born in the village of Kerburan in the Tur-Abdin region in south-east Turkey.  His family emigrated to Sweden when he was only 9.

He was invited to speak at the 69th Annual National Assyrian Convention in Detroit, Michigan where he lectured on the "Maintenance and Transformation of Ethnic Identity: the Assyrian Case".  This was also the title of his doctoral dissertation: "The Odyssey of a Minority. Maintenance and Transformation of Ethnic Identity in Response to Processes of Modernization - the Assyrian Case".  His dissertation was written in Swedish with an English summary.

On Wednesday, 19 December at 6 pm Swedish time eight Swedish university cities -Örebro, Stockholm, Jönköping, Uppsala, Lund, Linköping, Gothenburg and Norrköping - held special memorial ceremonies simultaneously for Dr. Fuat Deniz.

The Swedish flag in front of the Örebro University was flown at half mast.  Dr. Deniz was to receive the Örebro University's "Good Educator" award last week. He was admired among colleagues and students who chose him as their favourite for the award.

Fuat Deniz is survived by his wife and a 3-year-old daughter whose birthday was celebrated last week.

US House of Reps Passes $10M Assistance to Nineveh Plain

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk
Washington, DC

19 December 2007
For Immediate Release

Kirk Language Providing $10 Million to Assyrian Christians in Nineveh Plain
Heads to President’s Desk

Final Omnibus Appropriations Bill Reasserts Support for Nineveh Plain;
State Department Ordered to Appoint Lead Staff for Assyrian Issues

Congressman Mark Kirk

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today will pass a final omnibus appropriations bill, including $10 million in assistance to internally displaced religious minorities in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq.

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) first proposed the $10 million initiative in June as an amendment to the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.  The amendment passed unanimously by the full Appropriations Committee and later passed the House.

“As Sunni-Shia sectarian violence drops and refugees begin returning home, religious minorities in Iraq remain at risk and ignored,” Kirk said.  “We must build a safe and secure home for Christians in Iraq.  This $10 million is the first step toward building that home in the Nineveh Plain.”

In addition to the $10 million, Kirk won additional language in the final omnibus appropriations bill, ordering the State Department to designate a point person within the Department to “focus, coordinate, and improve United States government efforts to provide for [Assyrian] humanitarian, security and development needs.”  Kirk said he plans to arrange a meeting early next year between Assyrian-American leaders and the new State Department designee.

“There must be a clear line of authority and accountability at the State Department for assistance to the Nineveh Plain – less bureaucracy and a lot more action,” Kirk said.

CASCA Release:  $10 Million Appropriation Headed to President's Desk

For Immediate Release

Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America                                                                                          
Contact:  info@casca.us
19 December 2007  

CASCA Advocacy Successful in Shining Light on Plight of Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac People and Securing U.S. Government Aid

$10 million appropriation in the recently passed Congressional Appropriations
bill a boost to efforts
; Bill headed to the President’s desk

(Washington, DC) – Today the U.S. Congress completed action on the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act, sending the bill to the President’s desk for his signature.  For the first time, the bill contained money and policy direction for administering U.S. Government aid to address the suffering of the Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac people of Iraq. 

Specifically, the bill includes the following language:

“The Appropriations Committees support the use of prior year funds, as proposed by the House, to assist religious minorities in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq, and direct that prior to the obligation of funds, the Department of State consult with ethno-religious minorities and locally-elected representatives to identify Iraq-based non-governmental organizations to implement these programs.

The Appropriations Committees are concerned about the threat to the existence of Iraq’s most vulnerable minorities, particularly the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christians, who are confronting ethno-religious cleansing in Iraq.  The Appropriations Committees expect the Department of State and USAID to designate a point person within the Department to focus, coordinate, and improve U.S. Government efforts to provide for these minorities’ humanitarian, security, and development needs.”

The language is a tremendous victory for the advocacy efforts of the newly formed Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America (CASCA).

Jackie Bejan, the Executive Director of CASCA hailed the Congressional action, “The struggles of our people in Iraq are finally coming to light and Congress is stepping up to address the real challenges of the less recognized ethno-religious minorities in a meaningful way.”

Martin Manna, another director from CASCA added, “Before this year, we had very little luck in getting the needs of the Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac people recognized, much less addressed.  By coming together, we achieved a major milestone for our people.”

Ms. Bejan added, “There were several members of Congress who we worked with that understood the importance of making progress on this critical issue.  I want to especially thank Representatives Eshoo, Kirk, Wolf, and Knollenberg for their leadership on this issue.  I also want to recognize the openness and assistance of Representative Lowey and Senator Levin in this endeavor.  Without the assistance of every one of these thoughtful leaders we would not be able to have achieved this outcome.”

CASCA was formed in 2007 to educate U.S. policymakers on the plight of Iraq’s Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac Christian minorities and to advocate for policies that will support stability, security, aid, and reconstruction relief within Iraq and assistance and resettlement of the most vulnerable refugees of this fragile population outside Iraq.  CASCA was formed from the following 4 organizations: The Assyrian American National Federation, The Assyrian National Council of Illinois, The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, and The Chaldean Federation of America.

Iraq’s true minorities are being driven from their homes and communities all across Iraq.  Many have returned to their ancestral homeland in Nineveh, and many more have fled the country.  The violence, economic and social displacement that drove them from their homes in Baghdad and other, once-integrated Iraqi cities has followed them to Nineveh.  Today, violence permeates their existence and threatens to erase the presence of these people of antiquity from their ancestral homeland in Iraq altogether.

ISDP Release:  $10 Million for Nineveh Plain IDPs Passes

Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project
Washington, DC
Tel:  (202) 378-8082
Fax: 1 (800) 355-7228

For Immediate Release

$10 Million for Nineveh Plain IDPs Passes
Ensuring Full Benefit to IDPs is Next

Washington: December 21, 2007 In June this year ISDP announced the passage of $10 million in funding for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Nineveh Plain, proposed by Congressman Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).  It rallied numerous concerned representatives, and with its ease of passage in the Senate, the focus is on maximizing outcomes for IDPs.

The $10 million passed the Senate easily given the extent of the crisis facing the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christians, and other religious minorities in the Nineveh Plain.  “ISDP is proud that its policy work and research could be the driving force behind this entire effort and that others in the community were able to rally to it and support our ground-breaking work”, said ISDP’s Project Director Michael Youash. 

The $10 million amendment is a major breakthrough as it focuses on a specific geographic area – the Nineveh Plain.  This is unprecedented and reflects close to 3 years of constant work by ISDP to raise awareness on the vital role of the Nineveh Plain in ensuring a future for Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriacs, Shabaks, Yezidis and others.

This message is growing, as demonstrated by Rep. Kirk’s own statement that, “We must build a safe and secure home for Christians in Iraq.  This $10 million is the first step toward building that home in the Nineveh Plain.”

Additionally, it rallied numerous community organizations and countless individuals to the push, making this a genuinely grass roots effort.  From ISDP’s offices in Washington, events unfolded that made an entire community heard with historical results.

“We are overjoyed that so many people have been able to play a part in this process and that other organizations have been able to take forward their own work as a result of ISDP’s efforts in Washington,” added Youash.

ISDP has been working for months with aid and relief partners in Iraq on the types of projects needed for minorities, including IDPs, and coordinating its unique expertise with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.  This always has been and will remain a primary focus for ISDP.  Reconstruction and development is one of the central policy pillars on which ISDP is working; with security and governance matters also being of central importance.

International Genocide Scholars Association Officially Recognizes Assyrian, Greek Genocides

For Immeidate Release
15 December 2007

Adam Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Political Science
University of British Columbia Okanagan

In a groundbreaking move, the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) has voted overwhelmingly to recognize the genocides inflicted on Assyrian and Greek populations of the Ottoman Empire between 1914 and 1923.

The resolution passed with the support of fully 83 percent of IAGS members who voted. The resolution (text below) declares that "it is the conviction of the International Association of Genocide Scholars that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted a genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks." It "calls upon the government of Turkey to acknowledge the genocides against these populations, to issue a formal apology, and to take prompt and meaningful steps toward restitution."

In 1997, the IAGS officially recognized the Armenian genocide. The current resolution notes that while activist and scholarly efforts have resulted in widespread acceptance of the Armenian genocide, there has been "little recognition of the qualitatively similar genocides against other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire." Assyrians, along with Pontian and Anatolian Greeks, were killed on a scale equivalent in per capita terms to the catastrophe inflicted on the Armenian population of the empire -- and by much the same methods, including mass executions, death marches, and starvation.

IAGS member Adam Jones drafted the resolution, and lobbied for it along with fellow member Thea Halo, whose mother Sano survived the Pontian Greek genocide. In an address to the membership at the IAGS conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in July 2007, Jones paid tribute to the efforts of "representatives of the Greek and Assyrian communities ... to publicize and call on the present Turkish government to acknowledge the genocides inflicted on their populations," which had made Asia Minor their home for millennia. The umbrella term "Assyrians" includes Chaldeans, Nestorians, Syriacs, Aramaens, Eastern Orthodox Syrians, and Jacobites.

"The overwhelming backing given to this resolution by the world's leading genocide scholars organization will help to raise consciousness about the Assyrian and Greek genocides," Jones said on December 15. "It will also act as a powerful counter to those, especially in present-day Turkey, who still ignore or deny outright the genocides of the Ottoman Christian minorities."

The resolution stated that "the denial of genocide is widely recognized as the final stage of genocide, enshrining impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, and demonstrably paving the way for future
genocides." The Assyrian population of Iraq, for example, remains highly vulnerable to genocidal attack. Since 2003, Iraqi Assyrians have been exposed to severe persecution and "ethnic cleansing"; it is believed that up to half the Assyrian population has fled the country.

Extensive supporting documentation for the Assyrian and Greek genocides was circulated to IAGS members in the months prior to the vote, and is available at http://www.genocidetext.net/
iags_resolution_supporting_documentation.htm. IAGS President Gregory Stanton may be contacted at iagspresident@aol.com.


WHEREAS the denial of genocide is widely recognized as the final stage of genocide, enshrining impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, and demonstrably paving the way for future genocides;

WHEREAS the Ottoman genocide against minority populations during and following the First World War is usually depicted as a genocide against Armenians alone, with little recognition of the qualitatively similar genocides against other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire;

BE IT RESOLVED that it is the conviction of the International Association of Genocide Scholars that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted a genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Association calls upon the government of Turkey to acknowledge the genocides against these populations, to issue a formal apology, and to take prompt and meaningful steps toward restitution.

The successful passage of this resolution is due to the efforts of Ms. Thea Halo, author, independent researcher, and Director of the Sano Themia Halo Pontian Heritage Foundation, who has produced the best-selling memoir based on the lives of her Pontic Greek mother and Assyrian (Mardin) father, during the years of the the Ottoman genocide at the start of the 20th century. Her book, NOT EVEN MY NAME (www.notevenmyname.com) appears in many bookstores and reading lists, including at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

Christmas Message of Save Assyria Front

For Immediate Release
25 December 2007

Save Assyria Front

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Assyrians have four times wished each other Merry Christmas.  While the unarmed Assyrian nation is still confronting terrorism, Kurdification and Islamization conspiracies by the defiance of a large portion of the Assyrian people in the bereaved Assyria, we greet all the Christians in the world for the fifth time.  We congratulate the oppressed Assyrian nation and all its persecuted religious sects on the occasion of Jesus Christ’s birthday.

As we approach the New Year, we offer our best wishes to the hostage Iraqi nation including the Assyrians and the other groups.  We call for peace and understanding each other in a patriotic Iraqi spirit, far from ethnic and religious intolerance, in order to make Iraq an example of democracy as the Iraqi opposition has always promised after the fall of the former regime. 

In order to achieve the legitimate goals of the Assyrian nation, the Save Assyria Front promises Assyrians to cooperate in facilitating the union of the Assyrian political organizations as much as possible.  These are all mentioned in the closing statement of the Assyrian expanded conference, which was held in Stockholm from the 15th to 17th of December 2006.  As our main aspiration, we continue to ask the Iraqi government and the international community to recognize Assyrians as the indigenous people of Iraq according to the principle of equality.

Long live the Iraqi nation
Long live the Assyrian nation

Brother of Late Chaldean Patriarch Accused of Iraqi Spying

Courtesy of the Detroit News
21 December 2007
By Paul Egan

(ZNDA: Detroit)  An active member of Metro Detroit's Chaldean community and a younger brother of the late patriarch of the Chaldean church was secretly indicted for spying for Saddam Hussein shortly before he died, court records show.

Jamal Bidawid, who was 67, died of a heart attack in a health club hot tub last month, federal officials said Thursday.

Since then, Bidawid, of Sterling Heights, has been praised by some users of an online message board popular with Chaldeans as a "great Assyrian," but denounced by others as a traitor.

Federal court records show Bidawid was named in a sealed federal indictment in August, accused of infiltrating opposition groups and spying for Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Intelligence Service. He was the third Detroit-area man charged with spying for Saddam.

On 27 November U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook quietly dismissed the charges of conspiracy, illegally acting as a foreign agent and violating the embargo with Iraq. Cook cited Bidawid's death Nov. 7 as the sole reason for the dismissals.

Though charged, Bidawid had not been arrested or arraigned and the charges against him had not been publicized.

"I don't believe it," Bidawid's daughter, Balsam Bidawid of Hazel Park, said Thursday. "He was not a spy."

But Andy Akrawi of Sterling Heights, a local member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, said intelligence reports Bidawid filed about Detroit-area members of the group that opposed the Saddam Hussein regime were found at Iraqi Intelligence Service headquarters after the fall of Baghdad.

"Who could you trust more than the patriarch's brother?" Akrawi asked. "I'm so sorry he died. I wanted to go see him in jail."

Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church and Jamal Bidawid's older brother, died in Beirut, Lebanon, in July 2003.

According to the indictment, which was ordered unsealed 19 November, Bidawid illegally acted as an Iraqi agent from 1998 until 2002, used the code name "374," and was paid several thousand dollars by the Iraqi Intelligence Service to cover expenses.

Bidawid, an Iraqi-born U.S. citizen, provided the Iraqis with cassette tapes and other materials, the indictment alleges. The indictment does not mention the specific groups Bidawid allegedly spied on. It does mention a trip Bidawid allegedly made in 1999 to the annual Assyrian Book Fair in Chicago.

Sam Darmo, a Phoenix, Arizona Realtor who hosts the California-produced satellite television program "Assyrians for Justice," said he exposed Bidawid on his TV program in March.

"He spied on the Chaldean community in Detroit, the Assyrian community in Chicago, and mainly the Assyrian Democratic Movement," endangering relatives of members who were still in Iraq, Darmo said, adding that he has copies of the Iraqi Intelligence Service reports related to Bidawid.

Balsam Bidawid said she knew FBI agents had questioned her father, who was retired from the plumbing and heating business, but her understanding was that federal officials had dropped the matter.

Ghazi Al-Awadi, 78, of Dearborn, was this month sentenced to 18 months in prison for spying for Iraq. Al-Awadi, who earlier served prison time for stabbing his son-in-law to death, bolstered his credentials with the Iraqis by telling them the killing was related to his son-ion-law's connections to an opposition party, officials said.

Najib Shemami, 59, of Sterling Heights, who allegedly traveled from Michigan to Iraq on several occasions between 2002 and 2003 to meet with Iraqi intelligence officials, is awaiting trial.

Synod Approves Consecration of Syrian Orthodox Bishop

Courtesy of the Hindu
7 December 2007

(ZNDA: Kerala)  A specially convened synod of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church held at the church headquarters at Devlokam, Kerala, India on Thursday, December 6th recognised the consecration of a German priest as Bishop of the newly formed Orthodox Archdiocese of Europe.

Ramban Moosa Gurgan, a priest of the Antiochian Church in Germany, under the Holy See of Antioch, was consecrated Bishop Savarios Moosa Gurgan by two Bishops of the Orthodox Church clandestinely at Thrissur. The development marks a milestone in the decades-old war of nerves between the Orthodox Church and the Holy See of Anitoch.

On 6 December, the Catholicate office said the Catholicos Baselius Marthoma Didymos I and the synod sought explanation from the two Bishops on the issue and they were satisfied with the explanation and accepted them.

A section of the German Church which had differences of opinion with the parent church had sought the help of the Malankara Orthodox Church which had a similar fight with Antioch, in establishing their identity.

The issue of consecration of the German Bishop had come up at the synod held in August. Things had moved in a clandestine manner and the progress was slow, as differences of opinion developed among the five Bishops who were in the know of things. However finally, while two of them kept away from the consecration ceremony, two of them were present at Thrissur. The third extended his support through a special message.

Friday’s synod was scheduled earlier to discuss the revised norms for bishop-candidates. The Catholicate office said the decision to accept the explanation of the two bishops were unanimous.

U.S. Assyrians Worry about Cultural Survival

Courtesy of the Associated Press
24 December 2007
By Juliana Barbassa

(ZNDA: Modesto)  Isaac Samow's ancestors have occupied Mesopotamia for millennia, surviving innumerable conquests and massacres.

The headstones in the cemetery of his hometown near Mosul, Iraq, document centuries of his family's history there, and the ancient ruins that dot the arid plain near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers tell of his people's role in building humanity's first cities.

Yet another war is now threatening the survival of Assyrian culture and language -- a derivation of the tongue spoken by Jesus -- in its native land.

Among the first converts to Christianity, thousands of Assyrians have fled since the U.S. invasion. Samow's relatives are scattered worldwide, with some in Canada, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Greece, the Netherlands, England, Sweden and Germany.

Others are refugees in Syria, Jordan, and inside Iraq, not knowing whether they can return to cities and towns carved into Sunni or Shiite enclaves. In such a climate, minorities such as Assyrian Christians face an uncertain future.

"My children speak my language, but what about my grandchildren?" Samow said from his home in Modesto. "If there are no Assyrians left in Mesopotamia, how will our culture live?"

Successive waves of Assyrians have landed in the Central Valley, beginning with those who fled a massacre by Turks near the end of World War I.

They were joined by families who escaped Iran when an Islamic revolution overthrew the shah in 1979, then by new arrivals escaping the first gulf war, when Samow came here with his family. A similar Assyrian community also thrives in Chicago.

But with their numbers now dangerously low in the region where Iran, Iraq and Turkey meet, Assyrians here fear that the current wave of migration could mark their end. Community leaders in the United States are working to support Assyrians back home.

The Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock is housed in a fortress-like hall decorated with winged bulls that have human heads -- a traditional Assyrian protective figure known as a lamassus. An old map on the wall shows population centers that no longer exist.

"Once, most villages in that area were Assyrian," said the club's president, Fred Betmaleck, who is Iranian-Assyrian. "Now there are very few left."

The club works to keep Assyrian culture alive by hosting a radio station that plays Assyrian music and carries community news. It also holds festivals, such as the Assyrian New Year's celebration known as Kha-b-Nissan, in the spring.

Members also raised money through dances and raffles to help Assyrians who remain in Iraq.

"We try to help them stay there as much as possible, because when you leave, you never go back," Betmaleck said. "We encourage them not to come, but when there's persecution, what can you do?"

For Isaac Samow, staying was too risky an option.

He and his wife took their seven children -- the youngest a 1-year-old that Samow strapped to his back -- on a dangerous hike across the rugged snow-covered mountains between Iraq and Turkey.

He spent all the money he had saved from his job as a construction contractor to smuggle his family to the dirt-floor tents of a Turkish refugee camp, then to Istanbul. They spent a year and a half in Greece before, with Red Cross help, they applied for asylum and were accepted into the United States in December 1992.

Now, 15 years and another Iraq invasion later, the family is safe, but they worry about relatives back home -- and about the survival of their culture.

"We feel this could be the end of a people who have survived since Babylonian times," said Zack Samow, 34, Isaac's oldest son. "This could be the wave that pushes Assyrians out of their homeland for good."

Relatives and friends in Iraq have found menacing notes on their doors and heard of churches being bombed. The priest in Samow's hometown of Telkaif disconnected his phone to stop the barrage of threats, the family said.

As cities and towns are reshaped at gunpoint into homogenized Sunni, Shiite or Kurdish territory, groups without their own militias or political power are left vulnerable to attacks, said Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom and a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Assyrian Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities have been particularly hard-hit by the sectarian violence, she said. Among those leaving are Jews; Sabean-Mandeans, who follow John the Baptist; Yazidis, who are ethnic Kurds whose religion precedes Christianity and Islam; Baha'i; and Iraqi Turkmen, Shea said.

They might dress differently from their Muslim neighbors, speak other languages and pursue businesses that make them stand out -- selling liquor, for example. In addition to a construction business, Samow also ran three eating and drinking establishments in Iraq.

Besides their religion, the fact that many speak English and work as translators means they also are often seen as siding with the United States, said Bill Frelick, refugee policy director for Human Rights Watch.

"They're not just being hunted down because of their religious identity," he said. "Many of them are regarded as being pro-Western."

Their absence could allow the region to become less tolerant as it loses the diversity that has characterized it for centuries. That could have long-term geopolitical consequences, Shea said.

"It's a profound loss," she said. "These populations have lived together for a long time, but if this continues, it will not be a plural society any more. It'll be devoid of non-Muslims."

Van Cliburn Competition Winner Credits His Assyrian Teacher

Based on an article in the Modesto Bee
6 December 2007
By Lisa Millegan

Jon Nakamatsu credits his music success to his Assyrian piano teacher, Marina Derryberry.

(ZNDA: Modesto)  Jon Nakamatsu, 39, a San Jose navtive who won the 1997 gold medal in the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition credits his Assyrian piano teacher for most of what he knows about piano playing.  The Van Cliburn Competition is held every four years and the winner and runner-ups receive substantial cash prizes plus a concert tour at world-famous venues featuring pieces of their choice.  It rivals the Tchaikovsky competition.

Nakamatsu performed a recital at the Gallo Center for the Arts last weekend.  He says that his teacher, Marina Derryberry "was an incredible influence musically and became the conservatory for me."

An Assyrian, Derryberry grew up in Tehran, Iran, and studied in the late Shah's conservatory. Now retired, she started teaching Nakamatsu in Sunnyvale when he was only 6 and continued coaching him through adulthood. He recalls her speaking fondly of visiting family and friends in the Assyrian community in the Turlock area.

Nakamatsu considered pursuing a music degree but decided not to on his teacher's advice. She had spoken with a lot of professionals in the field who pointed out that enrolling in an acclaimed music school is no guarantee of a music career.

Nakamatsu settled on studying German at Stanford University because he had always wanted to learn another language and he thought that one would be particularly helpful with music since so much of the great piano repertoire came out of German-speaking cultures.

To hedge his bets in case his piano career didn't work out, Nakamatsu got a master's degree in education at Stanford and got a job teaching German at a high school in Mountain View.

He was still working at the school when he entered the Cliburn competition.

Out of the 250 pianists who applied to enter the contest, he was one of 165 given live auditions by judges, and then one of 35 invited to perform in Fort Worth, Texas, where the finals are held.

"For me, that was a last chance," Nakamatsu said. "The competitions end (when pianists are) around 30 years or so, and I was already 28. The competition is only every four years and then I would have been too old."

Nakamatsu didn't feel particularly confident about his abilities in Texas and considered quitting after the first round. But he persevered and emerged victorious at the end, becoming the first American pianist to win the contest in years. He quit the teaching job and launched his full-time professional solo career.

Today, he is constantly on the road, going from concert to concert, and he couldn't be happier.

"It's like living a dream," he said. "It's something in some ways I thought I'd never be able to do. Now that I'm doing it, I feel like I'm on vacation. I can't believe this is my life."

At his recital at the Gallo Center, he played Haydn's dynamic Sonata No. 33 in C Minor, Beethoven's lyrical Sonata No. 15 in D Major and Chopin's technically demanding Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise.

He also played three pieces by the great pianist Liszt, as well as five dances from "Danses Fantastiques" by Armenian composer Loris Tjeknavorian.

Surfs Up!
Your Letters to the Editor


An Assyrian Christmas Prayer

Maggie Yonan

The Ancient Assyrians had a name for Christmas-They called it YALDA-Just as they had a name for God, (the beginning) which they called ASHUR.   Since we have those words in our language, I use it, lest we forget these words, and they get obscured and lost in time.

Ashur is still our holy name, whether we use it for our people, our scattered nation, our language, or holy land.

As Assyrians, we are all suffering, no matter who we are, no matter where we live, what we are doing, how we worship Ashur, or what political ideology we follow, because we are all struggling to maintain our national existence, our holy land, our language, and our culture.

At times we forget all this, and our struggle manifests itself in ways that are incoherent, fractured, divisive, internally damaging, and externally skewed.   When tempers flare, when passions run a muck, and our ideologies get the better of us, we pray that you deliver us from ourselves, dear Ashur, for you know better than all of us, that we are the sons and daughters of one nation, indivisible, fighting for liberty, and justice for ourselves and for others in your creation, just as our forefathers did centuries ago.   It is in those times we need your wisdom and inspiration, dear lord Ashur.   It is in those times that we ask you to shine your Shamash light and help us to see that we are all inter-connected, inter-related, and parts and parcels of the whole of Ashur, each acting a role to fulfill the purpose of our BE-ing.

If we are left alone just a few decades, without massacres, without genocides, we begin to create, to rebuild what was destroyed, to recover from loss and displacement, and we begin to grow and flourish, and find ways to heal ourselves and our tattered nation.   We begin to work for our existence, our survival, working to keep your holy name alive, the name we chose for ourselves, our land, our language, and our nation.

Help us to heal and get past the darkness, our lord Ashur.   Help us to work selflessly for our struggling nation, and future generations of Assyrians still to come, still unborn.   Help us create something they will be proud of and will gladly work to preserve for all eternity.   Keep us whole dear Ashur, by helping us to recognize our weaknesses and overcome them.   Help us to realize our strengths and build upon them.   Help us to love one another in your holy name, for it is your great and eternal love that binds us together in times when only despair surrounds us.

Khaya Umtan Ashureta, Khayeh kool kha Ashuraya, khayeh kool gabba, shootasa, motwa, pilkhana qa Da’ateed d’Umta Ashureta.

Long Live Assyria and all Assyrians.   Eida d’YALDA hawe breekha, kool sheeta khayakh b’khadoota, psakhoota, shlama.


In Appreciation of the Good Samaritans

Mikhael K. Pius

Your feature article by Francis Sarguis “Assyrian Refugees in Jordan—The Primer” was, I think, the highlight of your issue of December 5.  It is both interesting and a great work by someone who really cares enough to go to the trouble of making such a long trip to see for himself and report the real situation to his people, not to mention the sizeable expenses involved, presumably paid out of his own pocket.  I hope those who have stuck cotton in their ears, particularly those individuals with “hot pockets” and the ‘big shot” organizations will wake up and heed the call and do their part in alleviating the misery of our displaced and needy, instead of just blowing hot air of “nationalism” and “Assyrianism”!

I have read many of Francis’ writings.  He is an accomplished writer, a retired lawyer and a savvy politician who says it as it is and doesn’t pull his punches. His attitude towards those who brag, exaggerate, and sometimes lie in order to prove themselves or their nationalism is always to the point.  A good portion of our “prominent” Assyrians including the clergy does resort to such fake nationalism.

Congratulations to Assyrian Aid Society for raising $160 (or was it $175?) thousand dollars at Narsai David’s November “A Taste of the Mediterranean.”  Despite its limited resources, the Society has been doing a good humanitarian work for 15 years. And according to their statement 87% of the money raised goes towards alleviating the dire needs of our people in our homeland. Similarly, appreciation must go to the Assyrian Foundation of America from all men of good will for its long history of assistance to both our needy people and our disadvantaged students who show promise for higher education, in U.S. and elsewhere; as well as to all other groups or individuals who have helped. 

In early December someone from San Jose bragged that the $110 thousand dollars Bet-Nahrain Organization made recently by their telethon is a record Assyrian fund-raiser ever.  Well, as he can see, it is not!  Congratulations to Bet-Nahrain, nevertheless. But I hope this extra 110 thousand, or most of it, will benefit those who need it most and not those who need it least and whose coffers are already overflowing.

Thanks also to all the persons or groups mentioned by Francis for their work and support as well as to the Assyrian aid church committee members in Jordan, regardless of denomination, for their work in properly distributing the aid received to the right people.

Previously, dedicated voluntary work was also done for the refugees in Jordan by Raabi Farieda Benyamin Adam, Hormis Odisho Rehana, Patros A. Odesho, Frankie Sarmo and other unknown Good Samaritans.  May God bless with health, wealth and happiness all those who have a soft spot in their hearts for the plight of our people and shame on those who do not lend a hand!

Assyrian Youth and the Year 2008

"Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt."
                                                                                               - Herbert Hoover

Steven Ishak Darmo

As we celebrate the holidays and forthcoming of the year 2008 I would like to congratulate you and wish you all wellness happiness and accomplishments. As we are getting ready to celebrate opening a new page from our jouraney’s book, lets take a moment and remember what our ancestors in Assyria and Babylon went through in order for us to carry this glorious name, let’s remember our martyrs and their dreams of having one unified strong nation, lets remember our emotions when we held our first Assyrian flag or when we tattooed the Assyrian Atta on our arms. I am sure that’s enough remembrance for you my fellow Assyrians to know how much our Ator is important in our life which we are all aware of, but what is not being brought up to reality is the following question, did we pay our dues to Assyria? And did we fulfill our forefathers’ dreams?

After you thought of your answer, I would assume that you said no since we don’t have our own state or our own little house called (Ator) but now I would like to add this question: is it to late to act?  And the answer to the previous question would be absolutely no!

Comparing our ancestors accomplishments from Ashur Panipal all the way to Agha Potrus we can see that everything was done with generic tools (lack of education lack of communication tools and above all lack of global support)

And with a quick glance at our current statues as youth, I can see that we fulfill all the previous needs and more.  Despite all of that some of you khonwate o khatwate would refer to our tribal and church issues as our main road block in the way to an advanced unified independent nation, which is totally understandable due to the current miss understandings and obligations, how ever we shall not forget numerous nations had the same road blocks that we do( multiple beliefs or dominations, multiple tribal ties and loyalties) and let’s take Israel and Pakistan as a simple example to prove that. How ever, all those nations overcame their objections and achieved the most valuable dream which is a state for their people.

Our nation is going through many curved roads( segregations and demographic changes) with our increasing numbers of citizens seeking refuge in numerous countries around the globe, therefore we should start expecting a major land fall and lack of national

Khoba Atoraya!

Why Are You So Upset by the Truth?

Margareta Viklund
Swedish Committee for Assyrians

In the November issue of Zinda Magazine a man called Elias Bet-Shmuel presented several accusations against me. Bet-Shmuel and a few other individuals have lately become desperate to undermine my credibility and in the long run the credibility of the report I have written about the conditions of the Assyrians in northern Iraq. Bet-Shmuel and these few others are astonished to see that I call things by their true name.

A traitor is a traitor, and I know a traitor when I see one!

Was it not for people like Nemrod Baito, Sargis Aghajan and a few others, the Kurdish political parties in northern Iraq would have no chance of carrying out the marginalizing policies against Assyrians as they do today.

I am hopeful that the Assyrian nation will not be deceived by these men who have sold the true interests of their own nation for their personal interests and that of the Kurdish political parties. I am hopeful they will be held accountable for their deeds when the day comes.

I want also to announce that I will not answer any further inputs by Bet-Shmuel or any other person regarding this issue, neither in Zinda Magazine or any other media.

Remembering Fuad Deniz

Abdulmesih BarAbraham
Chairman of Trusty Board
Yoken-Bar-Yoken Foundation

To the beloved family of Fuat Deniz and his Friends!

I am shocked by the cowardly murder of an Assyrian young man, who by his virtue, life story and education became a role model for a future generation to come.

I regard his killing as an attack on Assyrian identity and I am convinced that it will mobilize reams of young Assyrians to follow Fuat's footsteps and accomplish his vision.

My deepest condolences to the family of Denis and all the friends and relatives.

Prof. Dr Bas ter Haar Romeny
Leiden University

Prof. Romeny read the following statement at the comencement of the conference titled ‘Religious Origins of Nations’ at Leiden University, The Netherlands held between 14 – 16 December 2007.  Dr. Fuat Deniz was to attend this conference.

Unfortunately, at the beginning of this meeting I have to bring you very sad news.   Last Tuesday one of our speakers, Dr Fuat Deniz, was attacked on the campus of his University in Örebro, Sweden. He was stabbed in the back of the neck. At the hospital, they have performed surgery on him for six hours, and although his situation seemed to stabilize at first, later it deteriorated. He died on Thursday as a result of his injuries. Swedish police have collected a description of the suspect, who remains at large, from witnesses and have a picture of him from a surveillance camera. The motif remains unclear.

Fuat Deniz was married and had one daughter, three years old. He himself was born in the village of Kerburan, in Tur-Abdin, as the family’s eldest son. When he was nine years old, his family emigrated to Sweden. As a bright young man, he studied in University and sociology became his main subject. In recent years he moved to other subjects as well, but his first books discuss the situation of the Assyrians/Syriacs. I am referring to his A life between two worlds and his 2001 dissertation The odyssey of a minority. Maintenance and transformation of ethnic identity in response to processes of modernization – the Assyrian case, written in Swedish with an English summary. This dissertation considers the history of the Assyrians/Syriacs in the twentieth century in the context of the break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of the Turkish national state which brought with it discrimination, forced movement, and mass murder of the Christian minorities. In addition to the historical investigation, the dissertation investigates Assyrians/Syriacs who have migrated to Sweden, and adapted to a new context, maintaining as well as transforming their identity in doing so. He discusses, for instance, how the elderly coped with the fact that they expected to arrive in a Christian country, only to discover on Swedish soil that Sweden was a secularized nation. Fuat was the first to publish an in-depth study of the migration of his people and their experience as a minority in Sweden. As his methodology is very strong, I am sure that this book will remain a standard work for a long time. He set an example to all of us of how this kind of research should be done.

In 2005, we invited Fuat to lecture for us, and since then we have maintained contact, and we established cooperation between our project and his research. He became one of the main members of the committee of examiners of the PhD thesis of Naures Atto, which deals with the identity discourses of Assyrians/Syriacs in Sweden and Germany. She has now almost finished and was looking forward to discuss a number of chapters with him this weekend.

In Sweden, at the University and in the community, people are shocked and saddened by the news. Fuat was to receive Örebro University’s ‘good educator’ award next week. He was admired among colleagues and students, who chose him as their favourite for the award. But he was also respected outside Sweden. The members of my research project here in the Netherlands and all of us present at this Symposium join in their feelings of admiration, and in the sense of disbelief, shock, and sadness that is caused by his death. We find it hard to understand that such a wonderful and promising colleague and friend would meet his end in such a way. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family, relatives, and friends. We have decided to dedicate our symposium to his memory.

His Excellency Mor Polycarpus Augin Aydin
Metropolitan of the Netherlands

I am glad to be able to say few words and chant a prayer in memory Dr Deniz, a remarkable scholar and intellectual who was pioneer among the Diaspora Suryoye in writing and telling the story of his people in Mesopotamia, and chronicling their dramatic journey from their homeland and their settlement in Western Europe. Dr Deniz himself had fled with his parents from his homeland in Tur ‘Abdin and took refuge in Sweden in hope of finding a brighter future as well as security there. Indeed, he found a better place in his new home, Sweden, where he flourished and soon became a role model for his fellow young Suryoye in the Diaspora. It seems that people who had feared the acumen and brilliance of his words wanted to end his life and thereby silence him. However, they did not realize that Dr Fuat is able to speak and guide even after his death. The story which he wrote and shared with the academic community and his people will continue to speak volumes through future generations, and will even become a poem as well as a psalm for them. 

The prayerful poem I chose to chant in memory of Dr. Fuat Deniz is taken from Mor Sohduno, also known as Martyrius who lived in the seventh century. The poem is relevant to the life and mission of Dr. Fuat Deniz and clearly tells us that our academic hero is not dead. The knife and silence of the coward killer(s) can not put him to sleep. The story spoken through Dr. Fuat Deniz will be spoken by future generations of the academic community and will become a poem of praise in the mouth of energetic and peaceful young Suryoye throughout the world. Here comes the poem in Syriac/Aramaic:

It translates:

Even after my death, I will not refrain from your praise
For the one who lives in you never dies.
Your word is awake, and the silence of Sheol cannot put it to sleep.
Let it be spoken through me so that the future generations may speak it.
                                                                                                                                                                   Mor Sohduno/Martyrius

May the memory of our Malphono Fuat Deniz be eternal. At this time our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his friends. I would like to conclude by saying the Lord’s Prayer in memory of our Malphono.

Dr. Alison Salvesen
Oxford University, UK

We arrived in Leiden to learn of the shocking murder of one of the participants, Dr Fuat Deniz, of Örebro University in Sweden. He was attacked on Tuesday and died in hospital just the day before the  conference was due to start, as yet we don't know the motive for the  murder, but his work on the communal identity of the Assyrians in  Sweden may be connected in some way to the tragedy of his death. Though we as academics may imagine that we can examine such a theme in an abstract and dispassionate way, without risks, it apparently raises strong feelings because of the challenge that it poses to other views. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with the family, friends and students of our esteemed colleague Fuat Deniz.

Zinda Magazine extends its deep-felt condolences to Dr. Deniz' wife, Runa, and his family members, his collegues and students, and Ms. Naures Atto, his PhD Thesis Advisee.  Dr. Fuat Deniz will be greatly missed.

Statement Regarding the Late Hurmiz Malek Chikko

Fred Aprim

An article about a soccer (football) tournament organized in Alqosh (Nineveh Province, northern Iraq) on November 22, 2007 for the 44th anniversary of the death of Hurmiz Malek Chikko was posted on Ankawa website. Malek Chikko was killed in December 2, 1963 in a battle with Iraqi army units in the village of Aalooka, southeast of the Assyrian city of Nohadra (Dohuk):  click here.

The article stated that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) – Alqosh branch and the Kurdistani Youth Union in the region sponsored the event. Besides the two Kurdish groups, the article did not mention any other groups or institutions (Assyrians or non-Assyrians) as sponsors or organizers of the event.

The article was posted on Beth Suryoyo Assyrian Forum. The post stirred some back and forth arguments between two groups. One group (camp A) that posted the article considered Hurmiz as an Assyrian martyr because he, as they stated, fought for the rights of the Assyrians. The other group (camp B) asked why was the soccer field where the event took place filled with Kurdish flags (not a single Assyrian flag), decorated with a large sized picture of Masoud Barazani (and a very small one of the late Hurmiz), and dressed up with banners in Kurdish language only (not a single one in Assyrian language). They concluded, was this an Assyrian event or Kurdish? They also wondered: Why was this happening in Alqosh, in this purely Assyrian town, which is not even within the Kurdish regional government (KRG) territory?

I, as one of two moderators of the Beth Suryoyo Assyrian Forum, received several e-mails and even phone calls questioning why I was removing and/or keeping certain responses related to the article.  

It is very unfortunate that some people jump to point fingers unfairly and without studying all facts and circumstances. It is also unfortunate that few individuals allow emotions to dictate the course of their actions.

There are two sides to this matter that I would like to address:   The first as a moderator and the second as an activist Assyrian.

As a Moderator

As one of the two moderators of the Beth Suryoyo Forum, I have the responsibility to protect common individuals from false accusations, slander, etc. While public figures are subject to criticism, the laws of the United States protect ordinary citizens from slander. One cannot just call another person a Ba'athi agent in this country; this is not the Middle East where people are crucified before facing a fair trail and convicted. In this country one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. I am not sure if those few individuals from camp (A) understand the meaning of the word slander. I wonder if those two or three individuals in camp (A) understand the possible legal ramification of accusing an ordinary Assyrian falsely and maliciously trying to injure his reputation. If a person in camp (A) called another from camp (B) a "Ba'athi agent" then that is slander, which might be subjected to prosecution; however, if the person in camp (B) who is being labeled as a Ba'athi agent called anyone "not bright" then that is not slander. Calling anyone "not bright" is not a crime. Therefore, deleting posts that contained slander and keeping one that called someone "not bright" was neither strange nor bias.

We, as moderators at Beth Suryoyo, abide by set of rules and general guidelines. Unlike certain other forums, we will not accept anonymous individuals calling a known individual, who courageously posts under his real name, a Ba'athi agent unless solid and documented proof is provided. As a moderator, I have deleted only those responses that included slander. I left everything else, including the post regarding the life of the late Hurmiz Chikko. That post has 1460 hits and counting. Of course, the hits count is misleading in a way because there are individuals that click on the same post repeatedly in order to give the impression that many people are reading it.

People have the right to use public forums in order to express their personal opinion about historical figures. That does not mean that I, as a moderator, agree or disagree with what I leave or delete. I just moderate by following the rules and guidelines and I try my best to be fair to everyone. In this process, one cannot satisfy everyone and that is expected.

As an Assyrian Activist

In regards to my personal opinion about the event, allow me to explain that when the late Hurmiz Malek Chikko was part of the armed movement against Baghdad's regime in northern Iraq, Assyrians did not have a known organized political party to be part of or to join. Years before the British were driven out from Iraq with the 1958 revolution, they shut down an organized Assyrian political movement that its seeds were planted in Habbaniya after World War II. That left a vacuum in the Assyrian organized political activities. However, the Assyrian national thought never died since the days it was born prior to World War I. It is believed that many brave individual Assyrians fought side by side with the better-organized Kurds in and after 1961 hoping that a Kurdish progress would mean a progress for the Assyrian national dream as well. I could imagine that this was the feeling of most, if not all, of those Assyrians that fought besides the Kurds in the 1960s, including the late Hurmiz Chikko. Therefore, I am not going to second-guess what those Assyrians were thinking during that period and under those circumstances.

However, in 1970, seven years after the death of Malek Chikko, things changed. The Kurds proved to us that they were not really interested in the Assyrian cause. Why should they? They are occupying Assyrian historic lands after all. In March 11, 1970 the Ba'athist Government and the Kurds reached a peace agreement. The Assyrians were completely ignored in the articles of that peace treaty. Few might argue that the Kurds might have been working for a special and separate arrangement for the Assyrians. Well, couple of years later, we witnessed the Iraqi Presidential Decree # 251 on April 16, 1972 that granted cultural rights to those uttering the Syriac language (as the decree put it), but nothing on the Assyrian patriotic and national level. Here, many could argue that Assyrians had no more excuses to join the Kurdish movement again. In fact, documents will be published soon, which show how Kurdish leadership much earlier had undermined the Assyrian movement in northern Iraq. At any rate, one group in the Kurdish leadership realized later that the 1970 peace treaty came short compared to what the Kurds were hoping for and for others it was ink on paper. The Kurdish armed struggle continued and we all know what happened after Iraq and Iran reached their peace agreement in Algiers in 1975. The Iranian support to Kurds was halted, the Kurdish armed rebellion felt apart and their main leader Mustafa al-Barazani fled to Iran and from there to the United States.

Let it be clear that these activities by Kurdish political groups (a controlled soccer tournament in this case) are planned for one purpose only and that is propaganda. It is kurdification at its best; this is one form of acculturation (brainwashing). When Assyrian kids and youth participate in such events and they see nothing but Kurdish flags, Kurdish banners with Kurdish language, pictures of Barazani everywhere they would begin to wonder. When these kids watch continuous glorification of the Kurdish leadership on presumed Assyrian websites and TV stations such as ankawa.com or Ishtar TV and when they listen to unjustifiably repeated praise for the Barazani clan by Assyrian religious leadership or certain Assyrian politicians, they would get the impression that their own leaders accept the Kurdish leadership and its policies. I just want to ask, what is the difference between what Saddam Hussein did and what Masoud Barazani is doing? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! The former was a Pan Arabist and bloodthirsty dictator ruling from Baghdad while the latter is a Pan Kurdish tyrant ruling from Arbil.

Kurdish nationalists never had any good intentions for Assyrians as a nation, but to use them. That has been the case in the past and that is the case at the present. May be few individual Assyrians and Assyrian families, groups or institutions benefited and continue to benefit from their relationship with the Kurds and the Barazani family. However, as a nation, the Assyrians continued, continue and will continue to lose land, property and demography to the Kurds. The Kurds will continue with their planned policy until northern Iraq (historic Assyria) is almost completely emptied from the indigenous Assyrians. Those few Assyrians that would remain in northern Iraq few generations from today would know one reality and that is that they are Kurdistani Christians.

May God rest the soul of Hurmiz Malek Chikko, a brave Assyrian.


Sargon Levi Gabriel

Patriotism is a Holy duty. We learn it at home from our patriot parents, our patriot brothers and sisters and our friends. Patriotism must be taught to our children, and grandchildren in our churches, social and political gatherings every day of the week by competent and educated tutors and cadres.
Let our Churches know that patriotism is not politics, but a sacred belief that our nation of Ashur has the right of self-determination, and which is a right that belongs to our people. It is a feeling of fidelity, loyalty, integrity, hard working, personal responsibility, family and allegiance to one’s own people and homeland. National identity is far greater than tribalism and clanism. Unfortunately many Ashurayeh identify themselves by their tribes, or their towns and villages. To them it is not obvious why national identity should be a more important element of personal identity than any other.

The word nation is often a synonym for people. What had given unity to our nation in the past were our pre-existing characteristics, language, religion, tradition, customs, and the most important our glorious history. All these characteristics are common today among us but we are not united. The division has been sown among us by ourselves, and these divisions have become indigenous to our beloved Assyrian nation.

To erase these divisions we need competent and educated leaders in the field of patriotism.

Courageous leaders, with identity and full of energy, skilled and experienced in public life, not wimps and clan persons like the ones we have today, whose consciousness is shaped by favouritism and tribal bond. Tribalism and clanism have become a source of political division and weakness that plagues the unity of our nation.  

We must force the Assyrian patriot movement to chip away at the tribal, and regional divisions, and try to create that unity which will at last make the nation of Ashur possible. We have to be aggressive, voice our concerns when an Ashurayeh individual, or a secular or religious institution acts wrongly. Division creators and reactionaries must not intimidate us.

It was the leadership and tribalism that prevented our people from joining the educated and patriot Ashurayeh, Malik Kambar Malik Warda who created an enclave in Jazira, Syria, from 1919-1922, and it was the same leadership and tribalism that prevented our unity to fight under the leadership of the most decorated and educated Ashurayah military leader General Agha Petros in late 1920’s.  Let all Assyrians know that General Agha Petros was accepted only as a military leader by Urmia battalion and Malik Khoshaba as he was the most qualified for that post. Leadership and tribalism killed our patriot feelings then as is doing today.

Since the assassination of His Holiness Mar Eshay Shamoun one of the learned and eloquent Assyrian Patriarchs in the history of The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the east, and one of the many patriot Assyrian Patriarchs of the past, in cold blood, turmoil has been created in the Assyrian Nation. We lost a great and true Assyrian Patriot leader, courageous, and determined person who was moving the Assyrian Nation irrevocably along her goals trying to claim our legitimate rights as the heirs of the plains of Nineveh, Land of Ashur, The Assyria, (the case that was shelved at the Conference of Lausanne in 1923). Since then the tribalism has been creating havoc in The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East and among our national political parties and organizations.

The division created today was to get rid of the qualified one to replace His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV the Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East in the future, and to promote their own man But what I have noticed, there is no one of substance on the stage or any understudy of caliber among the division creators that might rise as a patriot leader, and even a pundit to replace His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV.

The Canon, a guiding principle, a law of the Church for centuries, was changed in a split second.

We spent Millions of Dollars in vain for lawyers to deprive our faithful Assyrians from a Church or a place of worship, while our beautiful innocent daughters and sisters, Assyrian refugees from Iraq, in Syria and Jordan are going into the sickening trade of prostitution to earn their daily bread to feed their families. It is all over the Internet regarding the Iraqi women. What are the gains that the Assyrians are cheering about? The division among our people has been exacerbated.

This is what James says in The Holy Book, “Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you are not proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? You say to them well goodbye and God bless you, stay warm and eat hearty and then didn’t give them clothes and food, what good does that do?

What is happening to our Assyrian Christian faith and our patriot feelings? We are becoming perfunctory patriots, more revengeful and full of hatred. The poison of tribalism is turning us into monsters. Wake up you faithful Assyrians and ask questions. Why? Do not be careless, as your carelessness is doing more damage to our Assyrian unity than any thing else. You can see that the ones who are obsessed by a specter that perturbs their minds are in full control.

Jesus Christ our saviour faults anyone for placing heavy burdens on the shoulders of their parishioners while not lifting a finger to help lighten their burden. Spending millions of dollars in vain for lawyers and in gigantic cathedral buildings similar to Hanging Gardens of Babylon is to aggrandize their our image and reputation. Taking portraits of themselves with the Tiara on their heads and holding the Scepter of authority, and not the shepherd’s staff, by their right hand posing as if they are the emperors.  This is Pride the general root of all Evils. From Pride springs certain branches, as Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Avarice, and Lust. But Humility is truth in self-understanding and truth in action. Humility does not demand that we deny our goodness, and our talents. It is a direct opposite of Pride.

One truism that I have often proclaimed is tribalism and clanism poison souls. This may sound harsh to some, trite to others, scintillating to politically astute. Today Iam convinced it is more on the mark than ever. Tribalism is like a disease or an addiction that can destroy the character of the person who falls under its spell. We must motivate our people, successful people, productive and patriots. We have to force our Ashurayeh institutions to abide by the ideals of patriotism, one nation, nation of Ashur.

The Ashurayeh have always understood and accepted sacrifices. They knew in years gone bye there were things worth dying for. Let us unite now, and force all Assyrian Churches, and our political parties’ leaders to stand firm and proclaim that we must unite and be one powerful force to resist assimilation into Kurdish identity. We do not have to praise Sarkis Aghajan or Ninef Matran. They have sold their dignity for a fistful of dollars and the positions in KRG’s parliament. KRG stands for Kurdish Regional Government in the heart of Assyria. Through Masaoud’s money they are debasing our national and patriot movements, and promoting Kurdish identity and a compound nation name.

This will be a national movement of rebirth and renewal in the land of Ashur, the historical birthplace of the nation of Ashur. The yearning to return to Ashur, the Biblical name of our land must be the cornerstone of Ashurayeh religious life and to be embedded in our prayers, ritual, literature and culture. Let us create cohesion to fuse the ancient Land of Ashur, biblical and historical ties to the ancestral homeland with the modern concept of patriotism into a vision of establishing an Ashurayeh state in the Land of Ashur.

This movement will consolidate various strands of our political, social and religious parties, organizations, and institutes into an organized political movement advocating for international recognition of our homeland, and encouraging immigration of our people to rebuild the land. Such movement will be the duty of the committee of elected Leadership by all. It will also be the guide of our patriot movement for all Ashurayeh around the world who believe in, support and identify with The Land of Ashur, our homeland.

History has demonstrated the need to ensure our survival as a people through such a homeland. This movement with the support of all Ashurayeh world-wide will struggle to re-establish a safe haven, or an autonomy in Bet-Nahrain after centuries of struggle to overcome foreign rule and mass immigration is a vindication of the fundamental concepts of the equality of nations and self-determination. To question our right to national existence and freedom is not only to deny our people the right accorded to every other people in the universe, but also to deny the central precepts of the United Nations.

We have to expose Saddam’s cronies and informers and all the ones that attended his birthday party in Rashid hotel in Baghdad before the invasion of coalition forces and Kurdish cronies of today everyday in our writings. We should not be intimidated. But we have to expose only facts, no rumors. We have to find out why His Holiness Mar Eshay Shimoun was assassinated?

Long live Ashur the Highland (Arid-Ram) between the two Great Rivers, Tigris and Euphrates.

Musing with My Samovar
with Obelit Yadgar


Nana's Magical Tea

Nana’s tea lulled me into a state of bliss. I felt calm, serene, my senses porous and hungry to absorb everything around me. The brew sparkled with an amber color and had a pleasant but unassuming taste. Its pungent bouquet summoned the warmth and charm of village life. On balmy summer afternoons long ago in Urmia, she set up the samovar on the table on the deck in the yard, which was cooled by the shade from the big cherry tree. From there, I would delight in the view of the garden. I spent many summers in Digala, a village in Urmia in northwest Iran, and tea was a daily ritual. That particular summer, my last Urmia, remains the most special.

My grandmother bought the tea in bulk from the city of Urmia, a 20-minute droshky ride from her home, or sometimes from the little general store in Digala. The store was located in the village square known as tanbal khana – loosely describing a lazy hangout. I don’t recall what type of tea she used, except that it was one of the numerous Iranian or Russian-style black tea blends popular in the region. She brewed it by filling the samovar with water from her well that was a few steps away from where we sat. Then she dumped a handful of loose tea in the teapot and filled it when the water boiled. Five minutes later we had Nana’s magical tea.             

Nana also put out a delicious spread of lavash bread, butter, goat cheese and fruit preserves including quince, apple and berries. No matter how much I ate, it wasn’t enough for her. “What’s the matter, why don’t you eat?” she would say. The lavash was baked in the oven pit in the yard. Every few weeks the local baker, an eccentric woman with a ready smile and a bank of tall tales, came in and by day’s end we had stacks of lavash. Nana then turned to nature’s refrigeration and stored the bread in a cool and dark room. A couple of minutes before serving, she sprinkled the crisp flats of the lavash with water and wrapped them in a clean cloth to soften just enough to make them pliable.

Sometimes we also had the Assyrian pastry kadah. Nana’s kadah burst with a rich, buttery flavor and a sweet tingle. Its intense golden brown color echoed the fields of wheat after a rain in the Nineveh of my imagination. I have been blessed with a lifetime experience of culinary delights, but kadah holds a special place in my heart. One reason is because of my memories of that summer, when I had Nana all to myself. Another is that kadah also possesses the earthy and hearty character of the Assyrian people. And of course, for me, nothing makes kadah dance on the palate like sweet tea.

Those afternoons of my last summer in Urmia, as the birds chattered in the trees and the dry breezes fanned my brow, I feasted on a hearty spread of Nana’s delights, washed down with glass after glass of tea. Nana was full of stories about the old days, and colored them in her wry wit and natural humor. Even after all the years, I find myself going back to that summer when Nana and I whittled the afternoons away as if in an idyllic scene from a Chekhov story. Nana was not only my beloved grandmother with a heart as big as the universe, but she was also my best friend and tea companion.  

In the old country, Assyrians drank tea plain in a glass through a lump of sugar held inside the front of the mouth. Nowadays I drink it in a glass with a little sugar substitute stirred in. Real sugar raises the wrath of my daughters Sonja, a dietician, and Sadie, a nurse – life’s not fair, what can I say? In my British mode, the tea, with milk and sweetener added, is exquisite in my cup and saucer in the Royal Albert design. As a special treat, my Royal Highnesses approve tea with British sweetened condensed milk.

Since tea was a favorite staple and a symbol of welcome, Assyrian homes sported at least one samovar. I imagine many still do. For those unfamiliar with the samovar and the Assyrian tea culture, the samovar is a Russian invention that conjures up an image of a portly gentleman with squatty legs and an open-topped chapeau. The rotund appliance is used for heating the water by wrapping a water tank around a perpendicular pipe that runs its full height. Lighted charcoal in the pipe heats the water in the tank. Some modern samovars are electric. Either way, when boiled, the water is defused from the samovar’s spout into a porcelain teapot with a handful of loose tea. The teapot then is placed on top of the cradle resembling the open-topped chapeau to steep. And voila! It’s art – and a piece of heaven in Assyrianland.

Samovars vary in size and ornamentation. Nana owned two in the popular sizes: a fancy one, which she stoked when we had guests, and a regular one for our daily use. Through the years I have tried to duplicate her wonderful brew, and even though I know that’s not possible, I still love trying. What I don’t have is one of the most important ingredients in Nana’s tea: the fresh, cold and crisp water from her well.

Tea’s history is steeped in myth and legend, much like our history. Tea is known to have originated in southwest China. By 350 A.D., the Chinese were cultivating what they called “froth of the liquid jade.” By then the Assyrian empire had fallen, but the Assyrian people flourished throughout the Middle East. At what point in history did our people embrace tea I have no idea, although I assume it was when the rest of the Middle East discovered it. Travelers and missionaries took tea to Europe in the 17th century, and the Dutch settlers introduced it to America around 1750. By then tea was also the national drink of Britain.

I drink both straight black teas and blends, depending on my mood. In straight teas, I prefer those of Sri Lanka and India. Indian Darjeeling (full-bodied, fragrant and golden red) and Assam (hearty, pungent and red) both make delightful brews. Black teas from Sri Lanka are splendid, with strength, sweetness and fragrance. The celebrated Earl Gray blends Ceylon and other teas with a touch of the oil of bergamot for a refreshing afternoon tea. Some English breakfast blends include Keemun teas from China, while others combine Indian and Ceylon teas. Irish breakfast tea is somewhat similar with a slightly richer and stronger flavor. Russian-style tea, smoky in flavor, combines black Indias and some Chinese green for a satisfying brew.

As I look back on those last summer afternoons in Urmia with Nana, I know she would roll her eyes and announce, “What’s all this fancy talk about tea?” She then would stoke the samovar and say, “Now let’s have a little tea, bruni.” When making tea in my home in Wisconsin, Nana’s spirit is always with me, because I know she made the greatest samovar of tea I have ever tasted. Her method was simple, really. Nana’s brew started with the sparkling water from her well. Her loving heart did the rest.

Surfer's Corner
Community Events

Pictures and Letters from Miles City, Montana

Christmas, US Troops and American Students and Iraqi and Assyrian News and Culture

Zinda Magazine:   Basil “Wiska” Pius, is a retired college teacher in Miles City, Montana, where he has been living with his family since 1966. He and his wife, Babs. have three grown-up sons and a daughter. They lost their first-born Ben, aged 33, to cancer in 1998 and their second son, Daniel, has been in the Navy for more than 12 years. Three months after Ben’s death  in June 1998 Wiska went to Jordan and “fought” tooth and nail and finally managed, with official assistance from his congressman and financial sponsorship from his siblings and relatives in Modesto, to obtain visa in November 1998 and bring his disabled younger brother Meshael “Kooya” (now aged 68) to Miles City,  where he and Babs have been taking care of him in their home.  Though retarded, Kooya was granted American citizenship last year. 

Wiska, now 75, is a University of Baghdad former graduate with a MA degree from the University of Portland majoring in English Literature. He has taught for 30 years in Miles Community College, including a class in Middle East Culture.  He is quite well known in Miles City with a population of 10 thousand and is the only Assyrian living there.  Among his students were foreign exchange students from various foreign countries and former students now include the Manager of the bank, the police chief supermarket workers and other Miles City officials and people of various walks of life.  He tries to keep in touch with his Assyrian people and their problems and lends a helping hand whenever he can. Wiska, with Babs and Kooya, will be reuniting with siblings and relatives and with a niece and her daughter from Germany in Modesto and Turlock, California, for the Holidays. 

The following pictures and letters were forwarded to us from Modesto by his older brother, Mikhael Pius.  We are publishing them because we think they are of human interest.

Wiska leads Garfield School students in a slow Assyrian khigga as Carolyn Dusatko (background) smiles. (“Pity, I didn’t have an Assyrian national costume!”)

Soldier’s mother Christina giving Sacred Heart students a hand while Wiska & Brother Kooya look on.  Kooya (left) look on.

Wiska leads Sacred Heart School students in a slow Assyrian khigga.

Wiska  and Brother Kooya, laughing it up!

Editor's Pick


The Missing Christmas Present

A Christmas Short Story

Mikhael K. Pius                                                                                                                    

As Yaqu strolled on the street, snowflakes crunched under his shoes. But his attention was not on the snow.  His eyes and mind were focused on a big house at the far end of the coarsely-paved street.           

It was Christmas morning, approaching noontime.  The weather was somewhat chilly, but sunny and bright. It was a perfect day for a holiday; for rejoicing in the birth of Christ Child, the Redeemer; for dispensing love and goodwill; for feeling at peace with himself and the world.
Yet as he walked his thoughts were not of Christmas but of the big house and the people it had sheltered. He was also not really feeling at peace with himself, for there was a strange feeling in his heart.  He did not know exactly what it was.  But it was a mixture of longing, anticipation and disquiet. It nibbled at his heart and tugged at his heart strings the way a little fish nibbled at his bait, gently tugging his fishing line.
The warm rays of the glowing sun were already beginning to melt down the snowflakes that had fluttered down during the night and formed a thin white blanket on the ground. Yaqu could feel the strong sunrays filtering warmth into his body too as he walked. And yet there was this strange sensation in his heart, this tingling, chilly feeling that made him tremble ever so slightly, from the inside.
An hour earlier he, his wife, his 15-year-old son and his two younger daughters had returned home from church, having heard Mass and received The Sacraments.  They all had sheepishly embraced and kissed each other on both cheeks, wishing each other a Merry Christmas. Then his wife had prepared breakfast and they all sat down to enjoy a special Assyrian holiday treat of fried eggs, kada [1], kellaicheh [2], goupta toumerta [3], takheen [4], date molasses and lawasha [5], washed down with rose-colored sweetened tea, in little glasses that tinkled when stirred like tiny bells.
Some years earlier, he recalled, he and his growing family also lived in the big house he was going to now. The house was in Dawwasa neighborhood of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq and close to the ruins of his ancestors’ historical city of Nineveh. They lived amongst a flock of kin: his father Iskhaq and mother Miriam (Mary); a younger married brother, Issa, and his wife and two children; two unmarried sisters and another brother, Havel, followed by their unfortunate youngest sister, a lovely girl, with big brown, soulful eyes, who was born with a deformed left foot. All of them lived together in the same house as one traditional Assyrian family.       

The house was a two-storey, burnt-brick structure with six bedrooms, a large sitting room and halls and corridors. It usually hummed and vibrated with a variety of noises: talk, murmur, soft laughter, yelling. And sometimes it rumbled with sharp resounding noises and lusty voices. They were mostly sounds of joy and laughter, but there were also loud, angry words and occasionally screams and tears. But most of the time they were homey sounds of a big vibrant family that lived happily together, loving and supporting each other despite the occasional differences of opinion or outbursts of emotion. It had been like that for many years as the family gradually almost doubled from eight to fifteen members. Then suddenly things began to change. And Yaqu made the first change himself.
One morning he woke up and decided that he no longer wanted to live with his extended family. It wasn’t a sudden decision.  He had been contemplating it for some time. But that morning he made up his mind. 

Despite his parents’ pleadings to dissuade him, he soon rented a smaller house farther up on the street and went with his wife and purchased some furniture and placed it in it. He then came with a hired truck to remove his family’s personal belongings from his parents’ home. 
After he and his wife, helped by the driver, had loaded their beddings and other personal things into the truck, Yaqu stopped for a moment and looked at his parents, who were standing by, with long, pale faces, watching him.
His aged father had his hands in his pockets. He looked tense and moved around awkwardly like a restless animal, not knowing what to do next. Likewise, his petite and gentle mother stood beside him, wringing her hands. With a misty shine in her eyes, she gazed from him to his father and back again as though expecting a last-minute miracle to cancel out the changing situation.  
The sight broke Yaqu’s heart. He knew his parents were well set and had no real need for material support from him. He also knew they needed his moral support and wanted him as their first-born to stay with them. But the house had become too crowded for the whole family and the occasional domestic friction between women and between children was disrupting their lives. He therefore felt the only way to ease the situation was for him to move out. Moreover, he felt his parents depended more on his younger brother than they did on him to take care of them, in their declining years. 
When all their belongings were in the hauling truck, Yaqu approached his parents to say goodbye. He was feeling tense and nervous and dreaded the moment more than he did the time when his teacher asked him for the first time to recite a poem in class, when he was ten years old.  He wondered if he could manage now to deliver his message as he did then without choking.
He stepped forward and shook hands with his father. “Remain in peace, my father” he said in Assyrian language. “And I thank you…thank you very much…uh… for everything you have done for us,” he ended with a querulous voice, embracing his father 
He then hugged his mother.  Sobbing, she pressed him hard to her breast and kissed him on both cheeks, wetting his face with her tears. He could not manage to say anything to her.                      
“My son…my son, you are brouna boukhra d’baitan,” [6] his father stammered with emotion in a last hope to reverse the situation. “Why…why are you leaving us in our old age?” he pleaded.
Yaqu stood for a moment, speechless, gulping down the big lump that was choking him.
“My father, I will still be close to you,” he tried to comfort him.  “uh...and Issa my brother... he will take good care of you and my mother…uh…better than I,” he mumbled in a tremulous voice as he stumbled away to join his departing wife and children. 
From then on other changes followed one on the heel of the other. First, some months later, his brother Issa found a well-paying job in Baghdad.  After a couple of months of living alone, much to his own sense of remorse and to the distress of his parents he had to take his family down and settled in the Capital. Shortly thereafter, his eldest sister was married. She moved in with her husband and parents who lived in their neighborhood and the young couple were blessed the next year with a very pretty baby girl. She was baptized Mary, after her grandmother.

Before Mary could toddle, Yaqu’s other sister was betrothed. She was married some months later to a distant cousin living in Kirkuk. And a year later, war broke out between his country and the neighboring Iran. His youngest brother Havel, barely out of his teens, was called up for military service and after only a very brief training period, he was dispatched to serve at the southern city of Basra.
Although the Iraqi Army was on the offensive, Basra was often targeted by enemy rocket shelling across the Shat al-Arab estuary separating the two countries. The Iraqis were sustaining heavy casualties. This impending dread from war hung over the family’s heads month after month like a guillotine that was about to come down.
And one day, like a guillotine, it finally descended, mercilessly!
Havel was killed, like thousands of other young and helpless Assyrian and other Christian conscripts and countless other Moslem Iraqis who were forced to fight in the senseless war waged by Saddam Hussain, the brutal Iraqi dictator.

As if this wasn’t enough pain for the family, some months later his mother became ill with a mysterious disease. Aggravated by her unrelenting grief for her dead son, her illness wore her down rapidly despite the good medical attention she received, and she finally succumbed to her illness, stunning the whole family a second time and leaving her aged husband and teen-aged handicapped daughter to manage the big house and to cope with its echoing emptiness and the haunting memories its empty chambers held.
Yaqu’s mother was a neat, pretty woman. She was kind, gentle, affectionate and a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. And she was still in her middle-age, much younger than her aged husband. Yaqu loved his mother dearly. Losing her, hit him very hard.
In fact both of his parents were dedicated and loving persons. Barring trifling inter-family squabbles and tiffs, they both cared for each other and their children and grandchildren very much. But both of them were shy and were not given too much to open display of affection.  But they did cuddle their grandchildren and embrace and kiss their grown up children on special occasions, such as Christmas and Easter. Yaqu and most of his siblings had inherited their parents’ coyness.
Parents as a rule bought their children new clothes for Christmas and Easter and sometimes purchased toys or small presents for their younger ones.  But it was not his people’s traditional custom to exchange presents between adults on these holidays. But they did exchange social visits and kisses. There was a great deal of fraternization among family, relatives, friends and neighbors in the community.  People would visit each other’s homes to greet each other, to chat, eat and drink together, and to enjoy each other’s company and bask in the warm spirit of the holiday.
It was his family’s custom also to observe these special days in a private way too. All the siblings, their wives and or husbands and their children would gather at his parents’ home one evening of the holiday and they would all share a dinner feast.  They would drink and make merry throughout the evening, enjoying each other’s company.  
Unlike the boisterous merrymakings of earlier years, however, Yaqu expected this Christmas celebration to be quiet and somber due to the recent loss of his mother. 

Ever since the day he “separated” from his extended family, Yaqu had made it a habit to drop in on his parents often to see how they were faring. He would also visit them first thing after breakfast on every

Christmas and Easter Day to wish them beforehand a happy holiday.  This was the first Christmas visit he was making to his father and his youngest sister, the only remaining occupants of the big house, following the death of his mother three months earlier. 
The thought intensified the mysterious sense of anticipation and apprehension he felt inside him.  What was it, he wondered?  Was it an inner sense of guilt, guilt because he had not honored the residency bond between parents and their first-born? Or was it because he felt things might have been different if he had been living with them?         
As he approached the door, his train of thought was interrupted when he spotted his father standing behind the window, staring out. He could also perceive his little sister standing behind him, two deprived and lonely people in a big empty house.      

As he felt his father’s hand rest upon his shoulder, Yaqu stood and stared for a long moment at the empty seat where his mother would always sit, a strange, tingling sensation coursing through his body... It was vacant and his mother was not there.

He remembered his father in earlier years. Though getting on in years, he was robust and healthy and usually happy and proud especially when surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren. And to continue to be living during old age with a son or sons, especially with the first born, was every Assyrian parent’s privilege and pride. 

But as he saw his father staring out of the window, all alone with only a handicapped daughter for company, Yaqu suddenly realized how lonely, forlorn and really old his father was. The realization added to the tremulous disquiet he felt in his heart. 

He drew in a deep sigh and mounted the three familiar steps he had so often climbed. But as he lifted his hand to knock, the door squeaked open. His father stood in the doorway.  He was stooped with age, his face wrinkled and his long beard almost white.  He was steadying himself with his walking stick as he smiled wistfully.

Yaqu gazed at his father intently.  His father looked back at him, still smiling. Then they both moved forward hesitantly and embraced, wishing each other Merry Christmas. 

In their mutual awkwardness, Yaqu’s kiss landed on his father’s eyebrow instead of his cheek and his father kissed him on the chin.
His little sister then limped with effort toward him, smiling timidly through her soulful eyes.
Edakh breekha, Khaati,” [7] he greeted her in a hoarse voice, hugging her warmly and kissing her on both cheeks.

He then absent-mindedly turned as though to meet and greet a third person. His gaze fell on the family-room sofa on which his mother would always sit. It was vacant and his mother was not there.

Yaqu then remembered that his mother was no longer there to rise up to meet and greet him with her shy and gentle smile as she had done on previous Christmases and Easters; to give him his holiday present—a warm kiss on each cheek.
He felt a sudden overwhelming sadness!  He also felt lonely and confused like a little boy who expects a Christmas present that isn’t there. 
His father’s hand then rested upon his shoulder, as though to comfort him. Yaqu stood and stared at the empty seat for a moment, a strange, tingling sensation coursing through his body. He then felt his throat tickle…and the sofa swam before his eyes.

Standing stock-still for a long moment to catch his breath and check his emotion, he looked deeply into his father’s eyes and said:  “My father, my family and I…we are returning…uh… to live with you again!”

Before his father could comprehend his meaning and reply, Yaqu heard a pattering of little feet.  He glanced sideways and saw his three-year-old niece Mary running towards him and crying out “Khaalu! Khaalu!” [8]  She was followed by her mother who apparently had preceded him for a Christmas visit with her father and sister.    
Yaqu was very fond of his niece. She was a cuddly little girl, affectionate and cheerful and he often pampered her.  She had a pretty round face that looked every day more and more like his mother’s,  he thought.
Bending down, he scooped her up into his arms. She wrapped her little arms around his neck and planted a warm and moist kiss on each cheek.
Smiling through his tears, Yaqu looked at his father and his two sisters.  All of them were beaming back at him through shining eyes.
Yaqu had found his missing Christmas present!

* * * * *

  1.  A big inch-thick oval or round Assyrian pastry baked from a mixture of flour dough, butter and egg yoke and stuffed with mirtukha,  another mixture of flour fried in butter and sometimes sweetened with sugar.
  2. Small oval-shaped cakes made with mixture of milk, white flour, butter and yeast and stuffed with either a thick mixture of dates, water
    and cardamon or a thick mixture of sugar, walnuts, water and cardamon and baked in oven.
  3. Lumps of white ground cheese stored in the ground for months in an earthenware jar sealed with cloth plastered with mud.
  4. An unsweetened butter made from crushed sesame seeds, somewhat like peanut butter, but darker and more liquidy, with a different taste.
  5. A large oblong sheet of thin bread made from whole wheat dough, baked in a special earthen oven.
  6. First-born son.
  7. “Merry Christmas, my sister.”
  8. “Uncle! [maternal] Uncle!”

Trilogoy of Murder:  Conspiracy & Beyond

Courtesy of the Turkish Daily News
15 December 2007

Orhan Kemal Cengiz

Let us look at the Father Santora, the Hrant Dink and the Malatya murders from a different perspective.  Santora was a Catholic priest in Trabzon. Hrant Dink was of Armenian descent and a well-known intellectual but also he belonged to the Orthodox community. As everyone knows, the missionaries who were brutally killed in Malatya were Protestants. Basically three sets of murders eliminated people who belonged to three different sects of Christianity. If you are a person who likes conspiracy theories you could produce really complicated and plausible conspiracy theories in the face of these murders.

Imagine there are some “deep state” elements within Turkey who follow the Ittihat ve Terakki (Union and Progress) mentality which prevailed in the falling Ottoman Empire. If you assume the existence of this kind of central power/deep state apparatus which wishes to manipulate Turkey and its political atmosphere, and their involvement in these murders, then the whole meaning and the context of these man slaughters would be changed.

The message of the murders

Let us continue our conspiracy instruction process. What would these murders then mean? What would be the target of these moves? What kind of purpose would these murders possibly be serving? Three murders from three Christian sects in Turkey. You are sending very strong message to the every individual member of these sects that they are not wanted in Turkey. In this way you would be one step closer to your final goal of getting rid of the remaining handful Christians and you would contribute to the ethnic/religious “purification” of Turkey. What else? These moves will also have the potential to block the European Union process. Do not forget that just last week a Syriac priest had been kidnapped and a journalist of Greek descent have been severely beaten by “unknown” people, both of which indicate that, if there is such a conspiracy, it is still unfolding. If you want to continue this conspiracy theory you can go even deeper and make it more sophisticated still.

Trabzon and Malatya

Santora was killed in Trabzon which is very cosmopolitan and full of potential for conflict between different sectors of society who are sharply separated ethnically, religiously and culturally. Likewise, Malatya has a similar demographic structure. Dink was killed in Istanbul but his murder was a huge conspiracy on its own. As you see this chain of murders have the potential to serve multiple purposes at once. The Christian population will be got rid of. The seeds of huge conflicts will be sown in some cities that have huge potential for internal conflict between different sectors of the society and another obstacle between Europe and Turkey will be put in place. I could continue this conspiracy producing process but I think this is far enough!

People in Turkey like conspiracy theories a lot and most of the time they tend to think that “foreign intelligence services” have had a finger in these kinds of events in order to lead Turkey into an unknown position. Our people, however, are not aware of the fact that what has been happening in Turkey has a huge potential to create implausible, well supported conspiracy theories about Turkey's internal power balances, as I indicated above. Let us put conspiracy theories aside for a while and look at some concrete facts and try to evaluate them in this trilogy of murders

If we leave aside speculations, what we have in our hands is the following: These are typical hate crimes aiming at eliminating some people because of their thoughts and their religious affiliations. In spite of these murders there has been no punishment or a prosecution for the ongoing hate speech campaigns toward minorities on the Internet and in media in Turkey. There is no awareness whatsoever on the part of the judiciary about their duty to stop these kinds of “hate speech campaigns,” instead they still press charges against intellectuals who publicly discuss the existence of minorities in Turkey. Basically legal provisions, similar to their western counterparts, aiming at protecting minorities against hate speech are used to punish those who claim that there are certain minorities in Turkey. This is really unbelievable but unfortunately a routine practice.

What about the court cases that continue right now?

... It would constitute a conspiracy theory to allege that all these murders are centrally planned and coordinated.

... A Syriac academic, who was reportedly working on Armenian and Syriac genocide related issues, was killed when his throat was slit and as you all know a catholic priest was stabbed in the stomach while he was conducting a religious ceremony in İzmir. After each incident I kept saying that these incidents would not be the last ones.

I was in Malatya just one day after the massacre of three Christians there and I held a press conference together with the leaders of the Protestant community in which we said, we know this will not be the last incident. And it was not. Murder of the Syriac academic and the assault on the catholic priest will not be the last ones either. This will continue. Maybe until Turkey faces a series of pressure from the outside world!

I still do not believe any central planning for these attacks. What I do believe, though, is not less serious than these conspiracy theories about the central power's notorious acts in Turkey. I believe there is a deep-rooted institutionalized racist attitude among the security forces in Turkey. I believe a significant portion of Turkish society somehow identify themselves with the murderers not with the victims. I know many people believe that Christians, especially missionaries, are extremely dangerous and their only aim is to divide this country for the Western powers!

There are many books, thousands of articles about these kinds of “clandestine” missionary activities. The National Security Council, which includes our big, big generals, seriously put the threats posed by the missionaries on its agenda. Our generals have discussed many times the dangerous activities of the missionaries who were able to convert at the most 2,000 Muslims to Christianity so far. Our population is 70 million and we have the second biggest army within NATO, yet we are still deeply afraid of handful Christians. Of course if these big, big generals discuss this issue seriously, ultra nationalist, violent youth start to consider the matter as a life or death problem. When these youngsters decide to handle the problem in their own way, our security forces turn a blind eye to their activities, and many people applaud these youngsters after such incidents. Affiliations of the security forces some times go well beyond ignorance of the preparation processes. Some officials and some people who have links with officials whisper into the ears of these youngsters: “Look our country is in great danger! Someone should stop these Christians! Our hands are tied by laws, we cannot do anything, and someone should do something.”

There are thousands upon thousands of youngsters out there who are ready to kill someone on the slightest indication that the person concerned is doing something against Turkey. These murders will continue unfortunately, because all necessary conditions exist and there is no plan, action whatsoever to stop this man eating machine.

The government's responsibility

For a long time the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan government has benefited from our infamous, notorious, unique, so-called division between the “state” and the “government.” This division indicates that you cannot be in power in Turkey just by being elected by the people because there are some other self appointed central powers. This is true to some extent. However, it is not a good excuse for the Erdoğan government for doing nothing in the face of these attacks over Christians. They not only are the government but also got the second man in the AKP elected as president. They may not be controlling the army but they have full control over the police forces. In all these murders, when you dig enough, you can trace the links of the murderers both within the police and the gendarmerie. Another institution, which is fully under control of the government, the Directorate of Religious Affairs, spreads discriminative and provocative propaganda against Christians in this country. It is high time for Erdoğan and his friends to put aside this role of helplessness and innocence. These attacks are strong wake up calls for the government. They preferred not to hear and to compromise against what happened in Şemdinli in which soldiers were caught red handed after bombing a bookstore. However if they continue this way, they may find themselves in a nightmare on Elm Street after which they may not be able to wake up again.

I think Erdoğan government has no excuse anymore! If they do not take the necessary steps, they will have the full responsibility of these shameful acts! I hope they will wake up soon!

God Revealing His Name

Pastor Henry Andrius Shaheen
United Kingdom


If God, the creator of heavens and earth, has a Name then who would know it and how? Would this God accept the name we, sinners as we are, give to Him? Can the created give a name to his creator? Do we give names to our parents? Would any name we may choose be suitable of His nature, Person, Character of holiness, righteousness, justice and all His other attributes, all that He is? If we don’t and can not know Him then how can we name Him? The simple answer is: No; no one can unless He reveals Himself and His Name to us.

In this article I will attempt to help fellow believers in Jesus Christ within our nation to understand the meaning of the Name of God, that He (God) revealed to Moses as we read in (Exodus 3:13-15), within the context of the whole Bible, and how that meaning is powerfully revealed, fulfilled and manifested in the Name above all names, in the Person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – Emmanuel (God with us Matthew 1:23).

a)  Jesus Christ and the Scriptures:

Rev. Henry Andrius Shaheen

For all believers in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ is the Lord God (John 20:28) whom God the Father sent as the Saviour and Redeemer and the present and future Judge, to all nations of the earth to save them by His Grace revealed in Jesus (John 1:16-18) from Sin (John 1:29; Romans 3:9), and grant those who believe in him eternal life (John 20:31), and judge those who don’t believe accordingly (Acts 10:42).

Jesus is the subject and interpreter of the Scriptures in both Old Testament (OT) and New Testament (NT). Now because Jesus is the climax, full and final Revelation of God and His glory (John 1:1, 14; 2 Timothy 5:16), then the key to understand OT Revelation is the person of Jesus Christ, his Words and Works and ultimately in his death on the cross and resurrection and ascension, and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is himself The Revelation of God. He alone fulfils all Scriptures and all Prophecy (Matthew 5:17). The OT is the book about the Lord Jesus as he himself taught, preached and attested (Luke 24:25-27, 44-45) & (John 5:39-40). Jesus says that the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, all predicted his suffering and glory. Jesus speaks of Moses as a real historical person who wrote about Jesus coming (John 5:45-47), and Moses wrote by the Holy Spirit of Christ’s sufferings (Hebrews 11:24-27). Therefore the Scriptures (from Genesis to Revelation) are our final and ultimate Authority in matters of faith and life, as well as in matters of interpretation and understanding the living Word of God the Word of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21). The fundamental rule is that Scripture interprets Scripture because it is one book and about the Person of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, we listen first to Jesus our Lord, and secondly to his witnesses (the Apostles and the Prophets in the OT), and last of all sift what men and women, sinful as we are, say about biblical matters of Christian faith. We listen to our Lord and to his disciples how they quoted the OT Scriptures as being fulfilled in Jesus Christ the Saviour; and the NT is full of such quotations; but this article is not the place to discuss this subject in details.

As believers we must be well educated and armed in the Word of God in both Testaments and ready to answer any one about our faith and hope (1 Peter 3:15). For some Christians the Word of God seems difficult to read and understand, but we forget that it is written for the normal person and not only for theologians or the most educated people in the society. Also, what helps in biblical studies is knowledge of the original languages of the Bible, namely Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek. We, the Aramaic speaking nation, are privileged to know Aramaic (if not then we aught to).

b) Understanding stories in biblical Revelation:

One of the main principles in reading, understanding and interpreting biblical stories is this: the Bible is God’s Revelation of Himself in time and space in the history of mankind. He describes and explains the significance of His actions with individuals and among all nations on earth. The biblical formula I would suggest when reading any biblical story, is what I have learned from a dear Christian believer, friend, theologian and preacher (Rev. David Jackman), and here it is:

Event + Divine Explanation = Divine Revelation

A good example is Luke 9:28-36 where Peter, John and James witnessed our Lord Jesus Christ in his eternal divine glory on the mount of transfiguration. Two other figures appeared with Jesus, namely Moses and Elijah. The Disciples saw something (the event) and they misunderstood its meaning when Peter made the wrong suggestion by making three shelters for each one of them, as if all three stand on the same level of importance and allegiance. But then the voice of the Father (the Explanation) came from heaven explaining what and why this happened, and what they should do about it. “This is His beloved Son” whom should be obeyed alone (proper demanded response) because he is the True Leader who will lead his flock after completing his mission in Jerusalem on the cross (Luke 9:31).

The Bible is God’s progressive Revelation of Himself. It is the story of God’s plan of salvation, His acts of salvation and judgement among all nations of the earth (none is excluded for God does not show favouritism Romans 2:11) since the Fall when man sinned and rebelled against God and His Word, as we read from Genesis chapter 3 onwards. It is about God the Father establishing His everlasting righteous kingdom (and not the kingdom of a specific nation; it doesn’t belong to any nation) and gathering people from all nations (since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23) by His Grace into this kingdom, without discrimination, where those chosen ones are created anew (a new creation), and transformed by the power of His Word and the Work of the Holy Spirit into Christ likeness, through faith in Jesus the King and His atoning death on the cross. He will rule through his cross. The Cross of Christ is central to the whole Bible.

c) Who can know God’s Name?

According to the biblical story (Genesis 6-10) only 8 people were saved from the universal flood judgement on sin and sinners (salvation in the midst of judgement). God saved Noah and his family by His Grace (Genesis 6:8); thus they have had the knowledge of the True God. In chapter 11 of the book of Genesis we read about the second universal judgement on mankind because of its rebellion against God in the story of the tower of Babel, where people had one language (all descendents of Adam from Noah after the flood) and tried to stay united and make a name for them other than the Name of God; they acted against God’s Will. The divine judgement was to confuse their language and make them speak different languages and then disperse them on the face of the earth. The knowledge of the True God and although was propagated through all succeeding descendents and generations, it became distorted from one people to another, and thus people according to nations began to create images from their own imaginations of this God. Some began even to classify gods and worship them accordingly. The history of all nations witness to this and world museums have these gods on their display for all to see and read about.

Whenever and wherever God revealed Himself and communicated His messages, He had spoken to (inspired) the Prophets in the language they and their people understood. For example, we know our Lord Jesus spoke (beside other languages) the Galilean dialect of the Aramaic language, and in his days the classic Aramaic was the lingua-franca of the day in the Fertile Crescent. The Revelation (message) is more important than the medium (the language).

d) The meaning of the biblical words “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh”:

In Exodus (3:13-15) God revealed His glory and His Name to Moses on mount Horeb in the flame of fire out of the midst of a mountain bush. It was an awesome sight that Moses couldn’t bare to stare at and look, that he covered his eyes and face, especially when God’s voice was heard; Moses was standing unconsumed in the presence of the Holy God.

God’s holiness is central to His being and His love as well. The word Holy in the Hebrew language (qodesh) (and I think also in Aramaic) implies the separation. God is separated from His creation because He is the creator; He alone is the God of glory. He is the ethical standard and the basis and the Reference of all moral distinctions; i.e. any thing good is that which He wills, and any thing that resists this divine will is evil and sin. He is the righteous, pure, good and just. Both Testaments witness to these attributes.

In this encounter, God reveals to Moses what He is about to do for His people the descendents of Abraham – the sons of Israel (Israel being the name which God gave to Jacob son of Isaac, son of Abraham). It is a crucial moment in the history of God’s plan of salvation for mankind, as we shall see later in this article, and also discover who the real children of Abraham and God’s people are. When Moses understands that he is chosen to take this message to the people and to Pharaoh, he asks God of His Name. He is aware that both fellow Israelites and Pharaoh will question him. Then God says to Moses (in Hebrew script): “- Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” is My Name; and “- Ehyeh” is My Name.

In Aramaic it is written like this: . But why did God use these specific words and what do these words mean?

We have here two words both in Hebrew language, namely: “Asher” and “Ehyeh”, and form the biblical text (Exodus 3:13-15) we can clearly see that God’s Name is emphasised and revealed in relation to the word “Ehyeh” and not “Asher”, and shortly we will discover why.

The word “Asher” in the biblical Hebrew language is a relative pronoun (made of three consonants only, Alap, Shen and Resh) and could be translated in our Aramaic language as either: “that - لأ ” or “which –” or “who –” (in Arabic ، ) depending on the context of the sentence (who or what is referred to). These are the only meanings of this word in any (OT) biblical text and Hebrew language. When the Old Testament Hebrew text was translated into other languages then the equivalent pronoun (of God) in those languages was used. Some translations kept the original Hebrew phrase as in our Aramaic Bible, since translators saw that that is revering to God, but the original meaning remains unchanged.

This word “Asher” must not be confused or replaced with the word “Ashur”. In biblical Hebrew the word is  “emphasis on s and therefore some times is written as Asshur” (in Aramaic is) which is a noun. In the Hebrew language the word “Ashur” as seen above is made of five consonants Alap, Shen (doubled with a dot inside), Waw and Resh (see Genesis 10:11, 22; two descendents of Noah named Asshur, one from Ham and the other from Shem). Linguists, and biblical scholars in particular would never attempt to impose the noun meaning within certain language over the pronoun meaning (or borrow the noun meaning from another language), because this will have impact on grammar and text meaning throughout the biblical text, and will render absurd grammar, translation, interpretation and meaning of text.

The second and more important word for our understanding of the Name of God is the word “Ehyeh”. It is a verb, the first person singular imperfect conjugation form of the verb (Hyh – in past tense), and the meaning (present tense) is: come to pass, become, be” (in Aramaic) and (in Arabic). In the present tense of the Hebrew verb is written as (in Aramaic) and (- in Arabic ) and it means “to be” or “to become”. In the Bible “Be” is often used with the subordinate idea of becoming: exist or be in existence; the meaning relates to origins and beginnings (Ethothah) and of (Shorayah ).

Thus, the word  Ehyeh reflects also a state of being or existence, and of being active (working always) according to original or existing nature of God.

Therefore, “Ehyeh” means either: “I AM”, or “I will be”.

Thus the literal translation of these words is (in English): I AM WHO I AM, or I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE, or I AM THAT I AM.

In Aramaic:

In Arabic:

In Exodus 3:15 God says – tell the people Yahweh (Yhwh) sent me; (in Aramaic); (in Arabic ) and grammatically this is the proper noun from the Hebrew verb “Hyh” mentioned above.

[It is clearly seen now that God chose the verb word “Ehyeh” as the meaning of His Name, and this word actually conveys who He is eternally. He is who He is and who was and will be always. He is the unchanging God from eternity to eternity and by choosing this verb then He reveals that He is not a passive and alienated God from His creation and human beings, rather He is active in His creation and in the history of mankind according to His Will and purposes as revealed in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. He is revealing and declaring independent existence, Will and determination].

Now that we’ve covered the literal meaning of these words, we shall resort now to the immediate and wider context of the book of Exodus and the Bible for deeper understanding of the meaning of God’s Name through God’s character, Word and Works; who He is, eternally that He is. The as a whole will help us to understand who He is (i.e. His Name). We already understood that He is the Holy God; holiness is His nature.

First we will look how God revealed the meaning of His Name among His elect according to the Old Testament and then we will look how that meaning was revealed gloriously in the New Testament among His elect, the Church; so please be patient with me.

 1)  God’s Name seals the Covenant with His chosen people:

Listen to what God says to Moses and to the Israelites when He revealed His Name:   I AM the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. God is revealing His Name (who He is) in relation to these three patriarchs, why and what relationship? It is the Covenantal Relationship which God has initiated with Abraham by His Grace, years and years ago when God made Divine promises to Abraham and his descendents (although Abraham was still childless), promises that which He (God) will bring to fulfilment. Through this Covenant Abraham and his descendent will become God’s people (His possession or property) and Him their God. Later in the article (point 3) we will understand who the true children of Abraham are. The blood of sacrifices which Abraham prepared as God commanded him sealed this Covenant, and was consumed by God (which means accepted by Him) (Genesis 15). In Genesis 12:1-3 (and repeated in following chapters too) we read about the threefold promises God made to Abraham: 1) God will make Abraham a great Nation; 2) God will give him a special Land and; 3) God will bless all nations of the earth through Abraham. Thus, the first aspect of the Name God is linked with His Will and what He has determined to do in accordance with His initiated Covenant.  This promise was confirmed to Isaac (the son of the promise born miraculously to Abraham and Sarah), and to Jacob as we read it in (Genesis 26:1-5; 35:9-15); He didn’t make a new Covenant with Abraham’s descendents yet.

He is the God of the Covenant and by this action people will have relationship with God in this Name (with who He is). Have you noticed God is simultaneously linking His Name with each of the patriarchs individually (… the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob …), and with the descendents collectively? He is, simultaneously, God of the individuals and God of the people; that is what He is always. He is the personal God who creates a relationship with persons (individuals) and people of His choice; the Creator is with His people on earth.

At the time when God appeared to Moses, God have already fulfilled His first promise to Abraham, that He will make him a great Nation (We know God changed his name from Abram - the high father, to Abraham -father of many, Genesis 17:4-5). Please note also (Exodus 1:7) in the beginning of Exodus book where the children of Israel have multiplied and are still increasing in the Land of Egypt even though under persecution; but it is not their land and it is not the Land promised to the forefathers. But now God is about to fulfil His second part of His promise and take His people in a journey into the Promised Land. God is faithful to His Word of promise because that is His nature: He is faithful and His Name is linked with His faithfulness.

So, God is the Covenant God who is Holy and faithful to His promises, who has willed and is determined to fulfil all His promises; this is who He is and how He acts from eternity to eternity; unlike sinful human beings, He never broke a promise He made to His elect.

2) The Name that Save His chosen people:

In (Exodus 3:7-8) of this chapter God says to Moses: “I saw and heard the cry, the suffering and humiliation of my People in Egypt and therefore “I came down” to rescue/save them: I came down to be with them; not that He wasn’t with them until that moment otherwise His first promise of great nation wouldn’t have been fulfilled. Rather it means that God feels with and for His people in their suffering. He is compassionate about His people and this is another attribute of His character and nature. He has forgotten neither His promises nor His people. He moves with compassion towards His chosen people. In (Exodus 34:5-7) God reveals more about His nature, that He is loving, kind and merciful and full of Grace. By His Grace He chose Noah, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Israel, not because of their goodness or piety. In (Deuteronomy 7:7) God says to Israel I have chosen you because you are the least of all nations, and He acted as such because He is the loving God who is faithful to His promises made to the fathers (the Patriarchs).

The Egyptians sought persecuting and destroying the people upon whom God chose and bestowed His Name those to whom the promises were made. The attack led by and under Pharaoh’s name and power is actually an attack on God’s Name and Word of promise and Will, on who He is. There is nothing that thwarts the Will of God from fulfilment and no one who can stop the Grace of God from achieving its works. In response to Pharaoh’s attitude towards the Israelites in Moses days, we know that more than 400 years had elapsed since Joseph and his family settled in Egypt. The new Pharaoh is either ignorant of his nations’ history, or (most probably) chose to refuse to recognize what this God saved Egypt and his forefathers from the famine through Joseph for Egypt.

In the book of Ezekiel (36:20-21, 22) God speaks with compassion about His Holy Name and how He does everything for the sake of His Name (who He is). God is about to judge and punish the land and the people who try to defy and humiliate His Name, Work and Will, those who seek to destroy His people, and in the midst of this judgement He will save His people; Salvation in the midst of Judgement; salvation and judgement through signs and wonders in heaven and on earth. “I will come down and I will bring them up”, from the land of captivity and slavery to the land of freedom to worship “Me”, the Lord alone and live under and My law; the people of God in the land of God and under God’s rule and kingship.

Moses says to God in V.11, who am I to go to Pharaoh; he is afraid, but God had already said to Moses: I AM sending you and I AM with you and I AM saving the people; not you Moses! He already said: I will come down; I will be with you; I will be with the people; I AM saving them and not you. It is as if God is saying to Moses: My Name is with you and with the people and against Pharaoh; I AM doing it for My Name. My Name is above yours and Pharaoh’s and above any other man’s given name under the sun.

Through 10 plagues and with the eleventh when Pharaoh and His whole army drawn in the sea, salvation was completed. God’s Name was revealed in powerful acts of salvation and judgement.

Thus, God wants His people to know, to remember and to teach and to proclaim Him as such, from one generation to another; that He is the loving gracious merciful God, who is the Saviour and Judge of all (even His own people when they rebel against Him), who keeps and fulfil every Word of promise that came from His mouth, because He is the only True God. This is His Name; I AM WHO I AM and He does every thing for His Holy Name (for who He is the Holy One).

3) The glory of God’s Name and the New Covenant in Jesus Christ:

According to the book of Genesis chapter 3 and when Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled  against God in the Garden of Eden the place of rest, harmony and peaceful relationship with the Holy God, God made a promise to both of them (Genesis 3:15) that one of their descendents (referring to a child/person in the singular) will come and will crush the serpent’s (Satan) head, and bring salvation to mankind (descendents of Adam & Eve, which means all nations are in view) and restore peace and rest with God. Satan enticed mankind to sin and thus were separated from God; sin became the barrier between the Holy God and sinful man (Isaiah 1:1). In Genesis 12:7 God reveals more about this promise of the special and unique descendent to Abraham the patriarch. A descendent (the word in this verse appears in the singular form, too) will come through whom the whole nations of the earth will be blessed. This is also confirmed (the descendent in the singular) by the Apostle Paul in his letter to Galatians (3:15-18). When we read about Adam’s descendents in Genesis 5, we note the phrase “… and he died …” repeated again and again of Adam and his children and grandchildren. Adam was eagerly waiting to see this descendent who will save him and all his family, from his/their sins and restore that lost relationship with the Holy God, and bring blessings. It wasn’t Able (who was killed) or Cane or Seth or Anosh or Noah or any of his children after the flood. It wasn’t Abraham nor Isaac nor Jacob or any body else, not even David or Solomon! They all died and their graves are witnesses to that till this day; they didn’t bring that great salvation to mankind, because a sinner cannot save sinners! Then who is he this child?

Those who knew God and believed unto and were faithful to Him (like Simon in Luke 2:22), those whom God revealed Himself to them waited in hope for the coming of this child; they looked forward to meet him generation after generation. They lived by faith in God’s Word and Promise to see him. Who is he and how can we know him?

Brothers and sisters, this child and person is the one in whom God will reveal all His eternal deity, glory and power and Grace, in him God will reveal the fullness of His Deity. In him God will reveal His mercy, steadfast love, salvation and judgment. In him God will reveal His Name and the power of His Name for salvation and judgement; to him alone will be given the Divine Name. This descendent will reveal who God is.

This child brothers and sisters is non-other than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as we find on the pages of the New Testament. In (Matthew 1:17) we read about all generations from Abraham to Jesus Christ which confirm that no one had ever filled this role, other than Jesus who is the Saviour. He is the blessing for all nations (Galatians 3:14). It is also worth noting that the Name of Christ is linked with captivity in Matthew (1:17). Spiritually all humanity is a prisoner and in the captivity of sin, and dead spiritually and eternally; all mankind is in need of this Saviour.

In (Matthew 1:21-23) we read of the good news and tidings of the birth of Jesus. The angel says that the child in the Blessed Virgin (Luke 2:48) Mary’s womb is conceived by the Holy Spirit and that the child is a boy and he must be named “Jesus” (which means Saviour in biblical Hebrew) for he shall save his people from their sins. He is the Son of the Most High; he is the Son of God the Father; he is The King who will rule forever. His Name is Jesus () because he saves (Matthew 1:22). Then and in accordance with Isaiah’s prophecy his Name is “Emmanuel” which we all know means “God with us”. God the Saviour is Himself here now with us in the flesh.

Unlike the Gospel writers and witnesses Matthew & Luke who wrote about Jesus earthly birth (in time and place), John by the Holy Spirit writes and reminds believers of the eternal existence of the Son of God Jesus Christ within the Holy Trinity. In (John 1:1,14) the Apostle writes of the Word of God who was with God and is God and that this Word of God became flesh and dwelled among us and showed his glory that which of the Father. He revealed God the Father to mankind (John 1:18). He also says in (John1:17) that Grace and Truth were in Jesus Christ. He is greater than Moses. “He came down” and emptied himself from his glory to save those who believe. And here we see more of the revelation of the Name of God and about God Himself. The Holy Trinity was not known to those believers of old, but now God reveals more about His existence, about who He is – The Holy Trinity, The Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit.

Paul writes to Timothy in (1Timothy 3:16) and says with all believers: “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory”. This person in whom God revealed all His Deity is Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9). With the Apostle Thomas we say:Jesus our God and Lord”. He himself came down to save humanity from the deadly disease called sin; where? Not in a palace! But on the cross; How? First by bearing our sins becoming the Lamb of God the holy divine sacrifice; secondly by taking the judgement and its punishment and wages of our sins that is eternal death. And then he rose in glory from the dead as a proof of his divinity and assurance of sin forgiveness and the promise of eternal life. “This is our God the Servant King” as we sing it in the church, joyfully. He had risen! Indeed risen and his tomb is empty; Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death for the sake of those who believe in him, and the Father who sent him.

On the cross we see God’s glory; we see salvation and judgement, mercy and love and justice. This is why we boast in and are proud of the Cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14). In his resurrection Jesus will bring those who believe up from their death into life, with him into his glory. “He will bring them up”. Aren’t these the same words of God to Moses! I came down to take them up. Referring to his death on the cross Jesus says “if I am lifted up I will attract all to me” (John 12:32-33); all those who believe in his Name. He is the only good Shepherd who will lead his flock into eternity.

In John 8:56-58 and speaking to the Jews our Lord reveals his eternal existence by saying: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.”

Jesus says: IAM the Way, the Truth and The life; I AM the good shepherd; I AM the door; I AM the light of the world. I AM the Resurrection and the Life. And in the book of Revelation (1:8) he says: “I AM the alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”; he is who he is eternally; He is Ehyeh

He is the God who is always with His people and will never leave them and who will take them to be with him forever in his second coming. Jesus is the Name above all names and before whom every knee shall bow whether as saved believers or condemned rebellious sinners (Gal. 2:9-11). There is no other name given under heaven for salvation other than the Name of Jesus.

Paul writes to the church in Philippi (2:8-11): … And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

But is the story over? No. Remember his name is God with us and this is his promise as we read in (Matthew 28:20) IAM with you for ever. How? He ascended to the Father and then sent God the Holy Spirit to be with the Church (all those who believe in him from all nations) and to save and judge and condemn people from all nations, those who don’t believe (John 14). The Holy Spirit is with us, in us upholding us and changing us into Christ likeness through obedience.

Now who are the true people of God who are Abraham’s descendents? Surely, they are not the descendents according to the flesh as Paul writes to the Galatians 3:26-29;

(… For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise; rather they are those who are according to the faith of Abraham ….). Can it be clearer than this? God’s people, Abraham’s children are not those who descended according to the flesh but born from God the Father by faith in God’s Word, Jesus Christ the Word of God who is God. Abraham was justified neither by works, nor by circumcision nor by Moses Law; rather he was justified (made righteous) by God’s Grace (act of God) (Romans chapter 4). Abraham is the father of all those who believe in the Word of God and justified by his work on the cross.

And what does the Apostle John says in the Gospel according to him in chapter one:

…. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.…. (John 1:12-13).

The children of God are those born of God through faith in Jesus His Son and his death and resurrection and second coming. Yes, brothers and sisters we are waiting and praying for his second coming as he commanded (Revelation 22:17 … And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come) and promised to take us to the heavenly city, the eternal kingdom where there is no death or tear or sadness, rather joy forever. He is coming back to take his true church to be with him forever. If some one thinks that Abraham sought the earthly inheritance, then he should read (Hebrews 11:10). Abraham was looking forward to see not a man made city, rather the heavenly city whose builder and architect is God Himself.

Paul writes in Romans 5:1-2; therefore, having being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And in Romans 3:21-31 we read:

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Salvation is by God’s Grace in Christ and his works on the cross, his blood, his righteousness and not our works; we are saved to do good works, we do not do good works to be saved. He bestowed on us his righteousness to appear righteous before God the Father, all glory to His Name.

On the Pentecost day (Acts 2) the Holy Spirit descended and gave the disciples to speak all available known languages to unite believers under one Name, Jesus Christ, by preaching repentance and salvation in his Name. This was the reverse of the incident of the tower of Babel mentioned earlier; Grace unites people whereas sin separates them from each other.


The Apostle Paul writes about the relationship between believers and both Old and New Testaments and Jesus, saying that we (the Church): “… are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20); and this is the faith of the Church since its birth in Jerusalem on the day of the Pentecost, and over the passed 2000 years and till this day, and will ever be till Jesus’ return. The church over the centuries preached the message of salvation in Christ Jesus Name as he himself preached it: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near”. Peter the Apostle commands all sinners to repent from their sins and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and call Jesus “the Lord our God” (Acts 2:38-39); this call is for each one of us.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews says: Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8); He is the never changing and the Great I AM.

As believers in the Bible we worship God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son (and his divine given biblical names) by the Holy Spirit, we pray as commanded in the blessed Name of Jesus; we are baptised in the Name of Jesus (Acts 19:5; Romans 6:1-14).

This is our God and this is His Name and the only Name found in the true and faithful church of Christ, before whom every knee ought to, must and shall bow in heaven, under the heavens, on earth and under the earth (Romans 14:11), either now for salvation or later for judgement. His Name is Jesus, the Rock of ages, and our Rock of Salvation and He will usher us into the everlasting Kingdom.

Book References:

  1. The Bible – KJV & The Aramaic Bible & The Arabic Bible
  2. New Dictionary of theology – IVP – Sinclair B. Ferguson & David F. Wright
  3. A practical grammar for classical Hebrew – J. Weingreen
  4. The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon
  5. Zarreera - Arabic – Syriac Dictionary

Pastor Henry Andrius Shaheen serves "The Assyrian Church" in London, England. He was born in Basrah-Iraq in 1959 and finished his university education with a B.Sc in Electrical Engineering-Computer science from Basrah University, Iraq (1980). He then completed a one-year Corn Hill training course in London, United Kingdom (1993). He holds a B.Sc in Pastoral and theological studies from Oak Hill College in London, United Kingdom (1996); and a post graduate degree in biblical linguistics-Hebrew language from the Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education in Cheltenham, United Kingdom (1997).  

Ashurbanipal's Journey to Become a Hero

Eli Mansour

King Ashurbanipal (ca. 668-627 B.C.) was the ruler of ancient Assyria at the height of the Assyrian military and cultural accomplishments. He is known in Greek writings as Sardanapalus and as Asnappeer or Osnapper in the Bible.  Ashurbanipal was not only a feared warrior but also a great patron of the arts.

Through military conquests Ashurbanipal also expanded the Assyrian territory and its number of vassal states. However, of far greater importance to posterity was Ashurbanipal's establishment of a great library in his capitol, the city of Nineveh. The military and territorial gains made by this ruler barely outlived him, but the library he established has survived partially intact. A collection of 20,000 to 30,000 cuneiform tablets containing approximately 1,200 distinct texts remains for scholars to study today. Ashurbanipal's library was not the first library of its kind, but it was one of the largest and one of the ones to survive to the present day. Most of it is now in the possession of the British Museum or the Iraq Department of Antiquities.

The importance of Ashurbanipal's Library cannot be overstated. It was buried by invaders centuries before the famous library at Alexandria was established and gives modern historians much information about the peoples of the Ancient Near East. The ancient Sumerian "Epic of Gilgamesh" and a nearly complete list of ancient Near Eastern rulers among other priceless writings were preserved in Ashurbanipal's palace library at Nineveh. Ashurbanipal's accomplishments are also of great importance to scholars of library history.

As a scholar Ashurbanipal reached greatnesss. His library was one of the largest and the first library modern scholars can document as having most or even all of the attributes one expects to find in a modern library. Like a modern library this collection was spread out into many rooms according to subject matter.  Some rooms were devoted to history and government, others to religion and magic and still others to geography, science, poetry, etc. Ashurbanipal's collection even held what could be called classified government materials. The findings of spies and secret affairs of state were held secure from access in deep recesses of the palace much like a modern government archive. Each group of tablets contained a brief citation to identify the contents and each room contained a tablet near the door to classify the general contents of each room in Ashurbanipal's library. The actual cataloging activities under Ashurbanipal's direction would not be seen in Europe for centuries. Partially through military conquests and partially through the employment of numerous scribes there was significant effort placed into what modern librarians would call collection development.

Thus, centuries before the library at Alexandria, a library with many of the characteristics of a modern institution was in existence. Scholars of library history would be well served by further study of Ashurbanipal and his palace library.

Ashurbanipal succeeded his father Esarhadon in 669 BC. He achieved the greatest territorial expansion of the Assyrian empire, which included Babylonia, Persia, Syria, and Egypt, although Egypt was soon lost as a result of a revolt.

Soon after his departure Assyria fell to the combined forces of Babylonia and Media, on 612 BC due to the flood, which destroyed the Assyrian defences and left, them wide open for destruction by their enemy.

Interview with Ashurbanipal

Interviewer:  Hello, I’m here with Ashurbanipal. First I’d like to thank Your Majesty for being here with me tonight.

Ashurbanipal:  Thank you, happy to be here.

Interviewer:  First, how did it feel to have been the leader and head commander of so many sieges that gave you such a massive empire?

Ashurbanipal:  Well, first of all it was very hard to achieve these successes. But I think I had the faith of my soldiers, which is why I was so successful in my mission in life.

Interviewer:  What do you mean by your ‘mission in life’?

Ashurbanipal:  My mission in life was one thing:  to expand Assyria to the farthest reaches of the earth.

Interviewer:  Why did you decide to learn to read and write in many languages even though so many kings before you didn’t?

Ashurbanipal:  I felt this could make me able to connect which the tribal leaders of Assyria and tribal leaders all over the world to make peace and share an understanding with them.

Interviewer:  So how do you feel being called the greatest king in the Assyrian history?

Ashurbanipal:  To tell you the truth it is quite a down-thing to hear it. I was just a man on a mission for the people. I did what I had to do to create peace and stability in the region. Since Assyria was a superpower it was my responsibility to work hard to achieve it.

Interviewer:  The last question I have for you tonight is how would Your Majesty feel about a possible loss of your large empire after so many years of victory during your reign?

Ashurbanipal:  It would be shocking, knowing that my country could have fallen and that I couldn’t save the soldiers and the innocent people.

Interviewer:  It was lovely to speak with you and ask Your Majesty these questions.

Ashurbanipal:  It was a pleasure being here with you tonight and I trust my people will rise again and free themselves from Humbaba.


  1. www.google.com.au
  2. www.About.com
  3. Biblical World
  4. History of the World's Art
  5. and information from my family

Mr. Eli Mansour is 13-years-old and lives with his family in Sydney, Australia.  Zinda Magazine encourages our young readers to present book reports, original research, and social commentaries from our youth for publication in Zinda.

Assyrian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey and Adjacent Turkish Territories

The following is an exerpt from the book “Assyrian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey and Adjacent Territories” by Professor Anahit Khosroeva, an Assyrian scholar of the genocide studies, living in Yerevan, Armenia.  This excerpt was first published in the Hetq Online, the official website of the Investigative Journalists of Armenia, on 10 December 2007.

Professor Anahit Khosroeva

Throughout the history of the world, namely the 20th century, there have been numerous wars and much genocide to go along with them. So, the 20th century has entered into history as a century of genocides. In the history of mankind it had never occurred before that so many nations be subjected to physical extermination or the danger of it. The reality of the genocide has been one of the worst acts throughout the history of mankind.

The word “genocide” originally comes from the combination of the ancient Greek word “genos”, meaning people or folk, and the Latin word “caedere”,  meaning slaughtering or destroying. The term “genocide” first appeared in scientific literature and political lexicon in 1944, with the right of authorship pertaining to Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent. This invention of Lemkin’s is mainly due to two tragedies of the 20th century: the genocide of the Armenians in the Ottoman Turkey during World War I, and the holocaust of Jews in Fascist Germany during World War II [1]. As Lemkin has truly noticed, those were not the ordinary carnages or slaughters, but, qualitatively, a new phenomenon, which required a fundamentally new approach and assessment, and a new scientific definition. As a term and definition of crime, genocide was accepted by various international organizations, and first and foremost - by the United Nations, the most authoritative international body of today. On December 9, 1948 the General Assembly of UN adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which is an international document of historical significance.

The International Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on December 9, 1948 set the United Nations definition of genocide

General Assembly Resolution 260A (III) Article [2]

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  1. Killing members of the group
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

Today it is very well-known sad fact that the first genocide of the history, which took place ninety two years ago was the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkey. But during the same period together with Armenians, some non-Turkish nations were subjected to or faced the risk of genocide, also. Let’s particularly mention the Assyrians. Who are they?

The Assyrians are one of the most ancient nation of the world, whose ancestors stood at the cradle of the world civilization and made a great contribution to the development of world culture. More than two and a half thousand years have passed since the fall of the Assyrian kingdom (605 B.C.). The descendants of Assyrians, continuing to live on their historical land in ancient Betnahrain, which occupies the territory between the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea, Lake Urmia and the deserts of Mesopotamia, were consistently oppressed by Persians, Arabs, Mongols, Ottoman Turks and Kurds. Now this long-suffering people have refuged on the boundaries of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria - on a limited territory of the Upper Mesopotamia.

During their centuries-old history the Assyrian nation passed a severe way of struggle for existence and went through quite a few fateful moments.  In the second half of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century they were subjected to the oppressions carried out by Turkish authorities and fought against the Ottoman dictatorship. But the terrible ordeals that this nation underwent during World War I were unprecedented throughout the history of mankind. In 1914-1918, during World War I unleashed by the Great Powers, the traditional Turkish destructive policy reached its zenith. The Assyrians subjected to the severe Turkish yoke were murdered and died on the ways of deportation in the deserts of the Middle East.

What were the causes of the Assyrian genocide and was it possible to avoid it? In order to understand this we need to have some knowledge about the era of the late Ottoman Empire. Let’s see why and how the genocide of the Assyrians happened in this area?

At the end of the 19th century the Ottoman Empire was a multinational state, in which along with Turks lived Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Albanians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Bosnians, Jews, Serbs, Kurds, and other nations. All the political, military and spiritual power belonged to the Turks and only served toward their interests. Under the circumstances, the Turks only managed to maintain the authority by violence. It was not accidental that the policy of slaughters, which scope increased in the 20th century and rose to the level of state policy, presented the most critical feature of the internal political and national life of the Ottoman Empire and the principal weapon in solving the national problems. Hence, the history of the Ottoman Empire of the 19th and early 20th centuries appears an infinite series of slaughters, tortures and demeaning the dignity of the Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and the other non-Turkish peoples of the Empire. 

At the end of the 19th century a number of Assyrian villages could be found in the Eastern parts of the Ottoman Turkey: in the Hakkari sanjak of the vilayet (region) of Van, in the vilayets of Erzerum, Diyarbekir, Bitlis, Kharberd (Harput) and Sebastia (Sivas) in Western Armenia, as well as on the territory of Lake Urmia in Iran, Mosul  in Iraq and in the north-western regions of Syria. More than one million Assyrians with common language, culture and national traditions lived there. By their social and religious characteristics they were divided into several groups. In terms of religion Assyrians were divided into Nestorians, Chaldeans, Jacobites and Orthodox believers. Socially they were divided into two large castes: Ashirets (independent tribes) and Rayas (the subordinate people), who were mainly engaged in farming and cattle breeding. Ashirets paid only nominal taxes to the Turkish government, but Rayas constantly suffered from its pillages and lived in extremely poor conditions: they were almost starving, exposed to Kurdish forays and often were forced to serve in the Turkish army.

Many Assyrians studied in Turkish educational institutions, but getting the corresponding certificates could not fill public positions. They did not even have an opportunity to economically develop their regions. Turkish authorities dissolved the Assyrians among other nations in order to deprive them of the possibility of joining and putting up a united front. Eventually, as the subsequent historical events showed, the Assyrians suffered the same cruel fate as the Armenians and other minorities living under the control of the Ottoman Turkey.

In 1876, Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1842-1918) rose to the Ottoman throne, who governed with iron hand for 33 years, up until 1909. He kept in fear and horror everyone, both his advocates and opponents, all the peoples, even the Turks. The years of his reign went down in the history of the Ottoman Empire as years of “zulum” - horror and autocratic dictatorship. He introduced individual and mass murders into the Ottoman political “culture”, as the best method to settle the problems the Empire faced. Mass murders of the non-Turkish peoples in the Empire a component of the new political “culture” by Abdul Hamid. It is known that the pivotal idea of Abdul Hamid’s external and internal policies was Pan-Islamism, which aimed at joining together around Turkey all the countries and territories populated with Mohammedans, by no means excepting the oppressions of non-Turkish nations and repression of national liberation movements. Military and political authorities, Kurdish Hamidiye cavalry units, and Muslim mobs all participated in the crime. In this period along with hundreds of thousands of Armenians, tens of thousands of Assyrians also fell a victim to the mass slaughters, which were organized based upon this very political intentions.

In October 1895 the mass massacres of Assyrians started in Diyarbekir and, afterwards, spread everywhere in the Empire. The Assyrian slaughters reached unprecedented levels: horrible events happened in many places, during which a great number of people emigrated, were forcedly converted to Islam or murdered. About 100 thousand Assyrians from 245 Christian villages were Islamized2. Thousands of Assyrian young girls and women were forced into Turkish and Kurdish harems.

On October 20, 1895 in Amid (Diyarbekir) slaughters of Christians were perpetrated by Turkish and Kurdish rabble. The Assyrian Church of The Blessed Virgin gave refuge to many Christians: Assyrians, Armenians, and Greeks. Fortunately, this church was not exposed to aggressions which can hardly be said about the Assyrian villages most of which were ruined and plundered by Kurds. During those dire days several Assyrians went to their clerical leader suggesting making Armenians go out of The Blessed Virgin Church in order not to draw down Turk’s anger. In response to this request the Assyrian priest answered to his people: “The people who cross themselves will stay in church to the end. Should we be killed, we will be killed together”[3].  119 villages in Diyarbekir region were scorched out and ruined. 6 thousand Christian families, about 30 thousand people were killed[4].

The massacres of the Assyrians were continuing in every region of the Ottoman Empire. At the end of the 19th century as a result of the massacres organized by Sultan Abdul Hamid II in the Ottoman Empire along with 300 thousand Armenians 55 thousand Assyrians also fell a victim to the Turkish dictatorship[5]. During the Armenian slaughters these brutalities perpetrated towards the Assyrians added new pages to the bloody history of the Ottoman Empire. These were the total massacres, genocidal by nature. In fact the 19th century and especially the dreadful events of its last decade had baneful consequences for the Assyrians in the Ottoman Empire paving the way for even greater disasters.

So, the Ottoman Empire entered the 20th century as a backward dictatorial state, which organized mass slaughters of the nations inhabiting the Empire. The crisis, which involved the political, economic and social systems, still deepened. The massacres exacerbated the situation and bared the vices of the Ottoman state. In the eyes of all the peoples of the Empire, even in the eyes of the Turkish people, Sultan Abdul Hamid was an odious person, the symbol of their misfortunes, violence and torture. The idea of riddance of the bloodthirsty sultan was growing and maturing. The Young Turks were the ones to effect it. On July 23, 1908 the Committee of  Union and Progress (Ittihat ve Terakki) organized a coup. Sultan Abdul Hamid was deprived of power; in 1909 he was dethroned.

The Young Turks came onto Turkish arena under the slogans of the French Revolution: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. All the nations in the Empire, Moslems or Christians, welcomed the overthrow of the “red sultan” with enthusiasm. The people believed in that a new era in the history of the Ottoman Empire had dawned. Yes, shortly after, it turned out, that the Young Turks were well disguised ardent nationalists, who continued the policy of oppressions and slaughters, carried out by the preceding sultans. They were advocates of the idea of assimilation of all the nations of the Empire to create a pure Turkish nation, never even stopping before mass slaughters in order to achieve that goal.

As Henry Morgenthau, the American Ambassador to Turkey 1913-1916, says: "The Young Turks were not a government; they were really an irresponsible party, a kind of secret society, which by intrigue, intimidation, and assassination, had obtained most of the state"[6].

It was stated in the Young Turks’ party program: “Sooner or later all the nations under Turkish control will be turned into Turks. It is clear that they will not convert voluntarily and we will have to use force”[7]. During one of the secret meetings a Young Turkish ideologist Dr. Nazeem said: “The massacre is necessary. All the non-Turkish elements, whatever nation they belong to, should be exterminated”[8].

So, as we can see, the figures changed, new rulers came, the policy persisted. And the problem of minorities, racial and religious, had been to a large extent solved by the simple method of extermination[9].

On August 1, 1914 World War I broke out. World War I was a most tragic episode in the history of mankind, which, certainly, didn’t go past the Assyrian nation. The Ottoman Turkey officially joined in the war on October 29, 1914. Turks thought that participation in the war will considerably raise Turkey’s authority, satisfy their vanity and dignity. In fact this war was a good opportunity for Young Turks to test the viability of the all-Turkish ideas in practice, to realize their aggressive and wild plans, which met with support among the military-feudal, bourgeois, ittihatic-chauvinistic elite. Talaat Pasha, Turkish Minister of Interior, in a conversation with Dr. Mordtman, the dragoman of the German Embassy in Instanbul, said: “Turkey is intent on taking advantage of the war in order to thoroughly liquidate its internal foes, i.e., the indigenous Christians, without being thereby disturbed by foreign intervention”[10].  A central committee member Union and Progress Bahaeddin Shakir told almost the same: “We are in war, there is no threat of intervention by Europe and the Great Powers, and the world press either will not be able to voice a protest. Even if we do not succeed, the problem will become an accomplished fact, the voices will calm down, and no one will dare to express a protest. We should make use of this exceptional situation as much as possible. This kind of opportunity is not always available …”[11].

The subsequent events showed that Turks really were not afraid of the Great Powers’ intervention and perpetrated massacres of a number of nations in the Ottoman territory. The Assyrians also did not elude the mass slaughters and forced emigration. The genocide of the Assyrians was perpetrated with unspeakable brutality. From May, 1915 mass murders and deportation of the Armenians and Assyrians began in the regions of Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Erzerum, Kharberd, Sivas and Van. The expelled Assyrians, attended by armed detachments of Turks, were exiled to the deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia.

The American Ambassador H. Morgenthau says: “When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact”[12].

The extermination of the Christians in Diyarbekir was controlled by the head of that region Reshid Bey. The Assyrians of Mardin, Midyat and Jezire regions were especially badly hit by the Turkish massacres. The priest of local Chaldean Assyrians Joseph Naayem reported that “since April 8, 1915 horrible massacres had taken place: Turks gathered men above 16, beat, tortured, killed them, and afterwards put turbans on their heads and photographed them in order to prove the world in future that Christians oppressed Mohammedans[13].

In September 1916 the American periodical “Martyred Armenia” translated from the “Original Arabic” an article by an Arab eyewitness of massacres, Fayez El Ghosein, where the author adverted to the slaughters of the Assyrians in Diyarbekir: “In Midyat and Mardin an order was issued to murder only Armenians, and not to disturb the members of all the other communities. Learning about the misfortune of their brothers (the Armenians) the Assyrians immediately took a position in three villages close to Midyat and rebuffed the Turkish army exhibiting bright examples of valour. …The Assyrians fully recognized that they were dealing with a deceitful state, which will tomorrow withdraw the promise of not disturbing them and will strike more badly those whom it had granted a pardon yesterday”[14].

Jevded Bey, the governor of the region of Van, a person with a number of negative characteristics, who was a master of misdeeds, conspiratorial plans and at the same time was specialized in lying and shamming, had a “butchers’ battalion” comprised of 8,000 soldiers. Jevded organized horrible massacres of the Assyrians in this region never seen before. One of the striking examples of this was the terrible slaughter organized in Hakkari region in spring 1915, where Turks murdered about 60 thousand Assyrians. Then during the following years about 70 thousand Assyrians were annihilated: some of them were murdered, others starved to death or were killed in the battles against Mohammedans.

In early June 1915 mass slaughters of Assyrians took place also in the northern part of region of Van. The village Qochanis, which was considered the Assyrians’ clerical leader Mar-Shimoun’s residence, was totally destroyed. The patriarchy building was scorched out.

On June 30, 1915 Leslie A. Davis, the American Consul in Harput 1914-1917, wrote to US Ambassador H. Morgenthau: “Turks have found another way of exterminating the Christians - forced emigration. On June 18 it was publicly announced that all the Armenians and Assyrians should leave Harput within five days”[15].

Hundreds of children were bayoneted by the Turks and thrown into the Euphrates, and how men and women were striped naked, tied together in hundreds, shot, and then hurled into the river. In a loop of the river near Erzinghan, ...the thousand of dead bodies created such a barrage that the Euphrates changed its course for about a hundred yards[16].

Unfortunately, during the World War I the Assyrian massacres were carried out also on the territory of Iran, which had proclaimed itself a neutral country on November 2, 1914. On the Iranian side of the border a catastrophe took place during five months of Ottoman occupation in 1915 (January to May). Kurdish tribes and Ottoman troops moved in to an area characterized by anarchy. The Ottoman occupation of the Urmia was very bloody and the atrocities grew in violence once it became clear that the Russian army along with its Assyrians volunteers were returning. The first major massacre committed by Ottoman troop in Iran on defenceless civilians took place at the village of Haftevan at the end of  February 1915. Assyrian males from the area between Dilman and Khosrowa were assembled allegedly for registration, but instead were slaughtered in very primitive fashion. In the town of Urmia Ottoman officials entered the French mission compound on February 12 and seized more than 150 persons. Sixty of these men were kept in jail. Some were hanged just outside the city gates and the rest were shot at Jewish Hill cemetery on February 23. The inhabitants of the outlying village of Gulpashan were massacred and plundered despite having paid “protection” money to authorities[17]. The actual number of deaths during this time has never been calculated, but they must have been enormous.

R. Stafford, an Englishman who was the former administrative inspector of Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, fairly observed: “It would be a great progress for Turks if they could show that regardless of what happened to the Armenians, another Christian community in Turkey (the Assyrians) is quite satisfied with its fortune”[18]. And what was their fortune?

The strategy of the slaughters, the way they were organized and carried out served as an irrefutable evidence of the slaughterers’ decision to totally exterminate a nation whose striving for unity, the desire to be loyal to its national identity and the Christian religion was impossible to destroy or shatter for a long time. Doomed to a total extermination, this outcast nation could rely only on its desperate bravery. The Assyrians really did not let that villainous crime be committed in obscurity. Even though unarmed, they fought to the very end without a slightest hope of victory.

As it can be seen, the Assyrians, being a national and religious minority, were in a dependent position in the society they lived. This means that in the existing Ottoman regime, this nation had to suffer oppression and different forms of deprivation of rights. The antichristian oppressions became more acute especially because of the existing religious hostility towards this nation.

André Mandelstam, the first dragoman of the Russian Embassy at Constantinople wrote: “The Young Turk government was able to only partly carry out its plan to establish a radically turkified Ottoman Empire by way of profiting from the opportunities afforded by the Great War. Nevertheless, it succeeded in destroying approximately one million Armenians, and hundreds of thousands of Greeks, Lebanese, Assyro-Caldeans”[19]. In reality, as we know today 1,5 million Armenians[20] and 750,000 Assyrians were subjected to genocide during World War I.

In November, 1916 the New York Times published Dr. W. Rockwell’s (Professor in Union Theological Seminary and member of American Committee for Armenian and Syrian relief) article entitled “The Total of Armenian and Syrian Dead”, where telling about the Armenian massacres in Turkey the author wrote: “How many Armenians and Syrian non-combatants have died of disease, hardship, or violence during the last two years? ...The Armenians are not the only unfortunates; the Syrians (Assyrians) also have been decimated. Great numbers of them have perished, but no one knows how many”[21].

Another American periodical,  newspaper the Atlantic Monthly wrote: “In six months the Young Turks succeeded in doing what the Old Turks were unable to accomplish in six centuries. The extermination of the Armenians is well under way. Thousands of Assyrians have vanished from the face of the earth”[22].

Thus, during the World War I in the Ottoman Turkey and the adjacent Turkish territories a real genocide was implemented according to the criteria of international law. The Ottoman Turkey and the Great Powers are guilty of the bloody massacres of both Armenians and Assyrians. With the criminal connivance of the Great Powers and taking the opportunity presented by the martial law Turkey committed the gravest crime against mankind - genocide. The criminal policy of Sultan Abdul Hamid II and the Young Turks against the Armenians and Assyrians permits us to conclude that at the end of the 19th - early 20th century the Ottoman state developed into a genocidal state and became the cradle of genocide.

But the tragedy of Assyrians did not come to the end with this. Both during the World War I and after it the Assyrian nation bled both from the Europe’s incitements and from the slaughters and oppressions organized by Turkish, Kurdish, Iranian and Arabic tyrants.

So, as we could see:

The Assyrian Genocide was an alleged genocide against the Assyrian population of the former Ottoman Empire and Ottoman Turkey. Those supporting the genocide theses claim that the Assyrian population of the Eastern parts of Ottoman Turkey were forcibly relocated and massacred by Turkish and Kurdish forces during the years 1895-1896 under the regime of  Sulat Abdul Hamid II and during WWI (1914-1918) under the regime of the Young Turks.

Reasons for the genocide vary. Since Armenians and Greeks also claim they were the subject of forced relocations and barbaric executions, some cite religious persecution against the Christian community of Anatolia as the cause. Others, including the Turkish government, claim that the Assyrians and Armenians sought autonomy from the Ottoman Turkey and joined the invading Russian army in the east. The Assyrian and Armenian communities, as Turkey claims, were seen as a threat and as a result were relocated to the Syrian Desert. Many deaths occurred on the "Death Marches" from starvation and dehydration, which Turkey claims was an accident.

The total death toll of Assyrians is unknown, but some estimates claim that 500,000-750,000 of them were killed.
The Assyrian question needs an international solution. This problem has so far been out of the limelight of the world community. For the reestablishment of justice, recognition of the national identities and cultural development it is essential that Turkey be condemned, as:

Since the proclamation of the Turkish Republic international laws have been ignored in this country.

A member of the UNO, Turkey implements decisions incompatible with the criteria it had accepted.

  1. Turkey does not fulfill the obligations placed on it by international agreements.
  2. Not recognizing the principle of “equality of rights and freedom of self-determination of nations and peoples” Turkey violates the rights of local Assyrians.
  3. “Genocide” considered the greatest crime against the humanity by the UNO, is even now consistently implemented by Turkey towards the Assyrians.
  4. Exiling Assyrians, qualified as a crime by the UNO, Is still the case in Turkey.
  5. The UNO condemns national discrimination. Turkey continues the policy of assimilation adopted by its forerunners under the slogan “One nation, one language, on religion, one flag and one country”.
  6. The UNO condemns terrorism, but Turkey still continues to carry out a policy of terror against Assyrians destroying their spiritual and material values.
  7. The Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly do not reach the territory of Turkey.


1. In 1933 Dr. Lemkin was deeply disturbed by the massacre of  Christian Assyrians in Iraq.http://www.europaworld.org/issue40/raphaellemkin22601.htm

2. Sargizov L., A Friendship Coming from the Ancient Times (The Assyrians in Armenia), Atra, N 4, St. Petersburg, 1992, p. 71. (Rus.)

3. Mkund T., Amita’s Echoes, New York, 1950, p. 234. (Arm.)

4. The Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire, A collection of documents and materials under the editorship of Prof. M. G. Nersisyan, Yerevan, 1966, p. 120. (Arm.)

5. Khosroeva A., The Assyrian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkey and the Adjacent Turkish Territories (late 19th and the first quarter of the 20th centuries), Yerevan, 2004, p. 44. (Arm.)

6.  Morgenthau H., Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, New York, 1918, p. 11. (Eng.)

7. Lepsius J., Bericht über die Lage des Armenischer Volkes in Türkei, Potsdam, 1916, p. 220. (Germ.)

8. Rifat Mevlan Zade, The Dark Pages of the Ottoman Revolution and Ittihat’s Plans of Extirpating Armenians, Yerevan, 1990, pp. 98-99. (Arm.)

9. Marriott J.A.R., The Eastern Question, An Historical Study in European Diplomacy, 4th ed., Oxford, Clarendon, 1958, p. 536.(Eng.)

10. Dadrian V., Documentation of the Armenian Genocide in Turkish Sources, London-New York, 1991, p. 112. (Eng.)

11. Der Zor, Paris, 1955, p. 258. (Arm.)

12. Morgenthau H., op. cit., p. 309.

13. Alichoran J., Du génocide à la diaspora: les Assyro-chaldéens au XX siècle, Paris, 1994, p. 370. (French)

14. Ghosein El Fayez, The Slaughters in Armenia, Cairo, 1960, pp. 19-20.(Arm.)

15. Leslie A. Davis, The Slaughterhouse Province. An American diplomat’s report on the Armenian Genocide 1915-1917, New-Rochelle, NY, 1989, p.144.(Eng.)

16. Morgenthau H., op. cit., p. 318.

17. Gaunt D., The Assyrian SEYFO in Hakkari and Urmia, Assyrian Star, vol. LVIII, Number 2, pp.14-15. (Eng.)

18. Stafford R. S., The Tragedy of the Assyrians, London, 1935, p. 27. (Eng.)

19. Mandelstam A., La Société des Nations et les Puissances devant le probléme Arménien, Paris, 1926, p. 23. (French)

20. Kherlopian K., Genocidology, A Study of the Armenian Genocide, Beirut, 2006, p. 398.(Eng.)

21. Kloian R. D., The Armenian Genocide, News Accounts from the American Press (1915-1922), California, 1985, p. 188-189. (Eng.)

22. Ibid., p. 193.

A Special Report on the Assyrians of Iraq by Barnabas Fund - 26 October 2007
To View the Report Click on Photo Above


Assyrians at Their Best

Alland Odisho's Shot at Olympics

Courtesy of the Catholic Weekly
25 November 2007
By Damir Govercin

Alland Odisho is chasing discus and shot put gold.  Photo by the Catholic Weekly.

Alland Odisho has set his sights on representing Australia at the Olympics after winning bronze medals in the discus and shot put at the recent state athletics titles at Homebush.

Alland, in Year 7 at Marist College, Pagewood, who is ranked third in the state under-12s in both disciplines, is gunning for the No 1 spot.

“I was delighted with the way I performed at the state titles going up against the best in NSW in the discus and shot put,” he said.

“I would like to be ranked No 1 in both events, but for that to happen I have to continue working hard in training to improve my skill level.”

Last month, Alland won gold in the discus and shot put at the Marist Schools competitions.

He then went on to compete at the Combined Catholic Schools competition where he won gold in the discus and finished runner-up in the shot put.

“The Combined Catholic Schools competition is really tough as there are so many students who have the potential to be No 1,” he said. “To come away with two medals from the competition was a great boost for my confidence, and gives me something to build on.”

Alland trains three times a week in his bid to improve on his personal best in shot put (11 metres) and discus (29 metres).

Marist College principal Damien Millar said: “Alland is a talented athlete who has already made his mark in the discus and shot put competitions.

“It is an inspiration to others that a young student could show such confidence to participate at major events let alone win them.”

Alland’s parents accompany him to all his competitions, giving him “great support and encouragement”.

“My parents have never put any pressure on me since I enrolled in the Randwick-Botany Little Athletics five years ago,” he said.

“They encourage me to do my best and are proud of what I have achieved in both disciplines thus far.

“My dream is to compete at the Olympics and with hard work and some luck I believe I can reach that goal.”

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

Naures Atto

Jacklin Bejan California
Dr. Matay Beth Arsan Holland
Ramin Daniels California
Mazin Enwiya Chicago
Peter Esho Australia
Dr. Eden Naby Massachusettes
Thomas PA India
Petr Kubálek Czech Republic

Anees Talia


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