Volume IV, Issue 24
Eelool 28, 6748 September 28, 1998
|The Lighthouse||65th Assyrian National Convention's Keynote Speech|
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain||Kurdish Rivals Sign Peace Agreement|
|News Digest||Assyrian Class Opens in Armenia, Funds Disposal Questioned
Tower of Babel Becomes Topic of Debate
U.S. Congress Passes Foreign Workers Bill
|Surfs Up||"an ample opportunity to present their organization's propaganda"|
|Surfers Corner||The Future of Assyrian & Syriac People in the Middle East
Pope Maps Out a Jubilee Trip to Iraq
|Calendar of Events||Parties in London and Chicago|
|Assyrian Surfing Posts||Assyrian on the Move
The Banquet of Ashurnasirpal
|Pump up the Volume||Coin & Money|
|Back to the Future||Assyria vs. Babylonia and the Bederkhan Bey Massacre of Tiyari People|
|Literatus||Bloodbath in Baghdad|
|This Week in History||Dr. Peera Sarmas|
|Bravo||AUA Foundation Scholarship Program|
All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.
KEYNOTE SPEECH AT THE 65TH ASSYRIAN AMERICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION- WATERBURY, CONNECTICUT
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are gathered here tonight to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Assyrian American National Federation. This Federation was founded on the premise of a national tragedythe 1933 massacre of the Assyrians in Similie.
Mr. President, with your permission, I would like to take this opportunity to observe a moment of silence in memory of our Assyrian brothers and sisters who passed on that fateful day in 1933.
We came together as a nation 65 years ago to serve our people in the homeland and pledged to work together to preserve our Assyrian identity, culture, history and language. At this very moment, as I address this bodywe as Assyrians in the United States are facing yet another national tragedythe Americanization and loss of our youth.
As a nationour fundamental responsibilities are two fold: First, to educate our youth on our rich history and language, as well as, FACILITATEand by that I mean raise funds for studentsenabling and encouraging them to pursue their academic careers. And second, to embrace the thoughts, ideas and concerns of the younger generation of Assyrians in this country.
During the course of this Convention, a budget of $15,000 was approved for the education committee. While this is a 50% increase over last years budgetit is still not enoughwe need to INVEST in our futureour youth.
Investing not only in their educationbut more importantlyinstilling a strong Assyrian identity in them so that they will continue to work towards raising the consciousness of those around them so that one day someone may say, AssyriansyesI have heard of them
Education. Education. Education.
Without it our Assyrian identity will be lostor even worsemisrepresented
in the historical archives of the world. Knowledge is powerwithout
it, we as a nation in diaspora will never be able to attain our
mission of maintaining our heritage and language into the next
In todays world we are in dire need of an intellectual --rather then militaryarmy if you will. A forefront of educated individuals in this country will in turn render a monetary influence. With knowledge and a sound financial basewe as a nation will be able to build a vocal lobby movement in Washington.
Two days ago I attended a lecture by Dr. Walid Phares sponsored by the Assyrian Academic Society. His talk focused upon the Maronites-the Lebanese Christianswho are dealing with sorting out their national identity. They are struggling to overcome arabization and we Assyrians need to help them solidify their roots and become one.
Assyrians have been facing the same problems for thousands of years---struggling to preserve our national identity, overcoming hardships, massacres and migration. We have persevered a long roadlet us not forget the challenges we have facedbut let us learn from our history and move forward.
We as a nation must always remember and focus upon the ultimate
goal of all of our activities: our parties, our picnics, our festivals,
our seminarsthese are all ways and means for us to fulfill the
goals set forth by the founders of this Federation: to preserve
our Assyrian culture.
Perhaps there are those in the audience tonight who may question the accomplishments of this Federation. It is always helpful to receive constructive criticismhoweverI implore youcome forward in the spirit of unitydont simply sit on the sidelinesjoin ushelp usbe proactive in communicating your thoughts and ideas to this organization.
This Federation needs to progress with todays technology. We need to provide a dynamic forum for our youth to want to participatewe need to put forth programs that are of practical yet tactical in nature to inspire our youth and be eager to attend these gatherings for reasons other than of a social nature. And that means that we need to listen to the voice of our futureour youthto understand and embrace their perspectivesand move forward.
After allat the end of the daywe are all working to achieve the same goalto preserve our Assyrian culture, language and history.
Isaac G. Sargiss
Mr. Isaac "Ike" G. Sargis, the keynote speaker at this year's
national convention, is a former president of the Assyrian American
National Federation from 1972 until 1974. He delivered his speech
on September 5th at the Sunday Night Banquet.
GOOD MORNING BET-NAHRAIN
KURDISH RIVALS SIGN A PEACE AGREEMENT
[ZNAF: Washington] Barzani, who heads the Kurdistan Democratic
Party (KDP), and Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
(PUK), sealed an agreement with a ceremonial handshake in Washington
D.C. The US official, who wished to remain anonymous, said both
sides appeared determined in meetings with top US officials to
bring about peace. The power-sharing agreement, which has been
described as a "transitional phase," will pave the way for elections
in 1999 establishing a regional assembly for the territory. The
official said the accord included a schedule for settling
differences, which would in turn enable the US and other countries to send aid to northern Iraq through non-governmental organisations. Without divulging details of this schedule, the official said he
would not be surprised if the Kurdish leaders were to meet in Ankara on their return to northern Iraq.
ASSYRIAN CLASS IN ARMENIA, DISPOSAL OF FUNDS QUESTIONED
(ZNDA: Yerevan) According to an email received last week, recently
an Assyrian Learning Center has been established in Yereven, Armenia.
According to Irina Sagradova-Gasparian, through the efforts of
the Assyrian Youth Center "Ashoor" in Yerevan, an Assyrian language
class has begun instruction on September 1. Ms. Alekseeva Sonya
was selected as this year's language instructor who, with the
aide of a colleague Taisia Muradova, has developed the language
curriculum. The message also noted the suspicious activities
of another Assyrian organization in Armenia, Atour Assyrian Association.
which helps the needy Assyrian families in Armena and continues
to depend on financial assistance obtained from Assyrian groups
outside of Armenia. "We have Assyrian families in Armenia, teachers
and pupils living in extremely poor conditions. They eat only
bread and do not have means to buy medicines, cloth, books and
other school appliances," commented Gasparian. Gasparian continues:
"The president of the Assyrian Association "Atour", Pavel Vasilievich
Tamrazov and Chairman Arsen Mikailov do not take any actions in
supporting the vulnerable Assyrian families and intended to close
the Assyrian school mentioned above. We do not have any information
as to how Mr. Tamrazov and Mikailov dispose the
money "Atour" receives as assistance." Ms. Irina Sagradova-Gasparian identified herself as the Chairperson of the Assyrian Community in Yerevan and president of the Assyrian Youth Center "Ashoor". ZENDA was unable to contact Misters Tamrazov and Mikailov for comments by press time.
(ZNAP: London) Iraqi and Western scholars met two weeks ago in Iraq to debate whether the Tower of Babel was myth or reality. Associated Press reported that there appeared to be a consensus from the Bible, ancient texts and classical authors that some kind of tower existed in Babylon during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century B.C. Fifty experts from Iraq, Britain, France, Austria, Italy, Germany, Poland and the United States met in the first such conference since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. A British researcher said, "Cuneiform texts tell us it was a monument of astounding beauty, dedicated to the supreme Mesopotamian god Murdoch and his spouse Zarpanitu."
Jack Van Impe Ministries International
September 19, 1998
U.S. CONGRESS PASSES FOREIGN WORKERS BILL
(ZNMN: Washington) Voting 288 for and 133 against, the House of Representatives passed a bill (HR 3736) that nearly doubles the number of H-1B visas to be issued from 1999 to 2001. Designed for skilled, temporary workers, the H-1B is used chiefly to fill technology jobs such as computer programming. The 1998 quota of 65,000 has been filled for many months. This bills sets the H-1B allotment at 115,000 in 2001, with a return to 65,000 in 2002. It prohibits laying off a U.S> worker from the same or equivalent position and makes it illegal to use the H-1B visa to slash payroll costs. It sets a $500.00 per-visa application fee that will fund math, science and job retraining programs for U.S. workers. Among the legislators voting for this bill was Assyrian Congresswoman, Anna Eshoo from California. Passage of this bill may help increase job opportunities for the skilled Assyrian workers in Europe and India.
"On behalf of the Assyrian American National Federation and the Assyrian Academic Society, I would like to extend our thanks and appreciation for your participation our education program for the 65th Assyrian Convention. The sharing of your talent and expertise will always be welcomed. Thank you very much."
No one can deny that our ultimate sacred goal is deeply rooted
within the existence of every decent Assyrian. However, we do
realize that to achieve this ultimate goal, there is much to be
The national goal we have in mind is the creation of an even closer alliance between all the Assyrian Mass media leaders. We propose to create most effective means to have our Assyrian Voice be heard, louder and clearer within the world community.
To propagate our message through the far reaching nations, making it to be known that Assyrian, the cradle of civilization, is not buried in the history.
To make the international organizations recognize the righteousness
of our Assyrian nation.
We, therefore emphasize on the urgency of requesting all Assyrian press media leaders to participate in this international forum.
Assyrians of the World, Unite!
The Committee on International Relations
Tehran Assyrian Association
CIR is chaired by Dr. Wilson Bet-Mansour of Tehran, Iran. An invitation was extended to the staff of ZENDA Magazine to participate in the International Union of Assyrian Mass Media conference. Special arrangements were made to facilitate the entry of our staff to Iran and our hotel accomodations. ZENDA was also informed that the Iranian embassies abroad are prepared to issue visas with less restrictive regulations toward the Assyrian media officials. ZENDA will not participate at this year's Tehran conference.
I am in total agreement with Rita's disappointment with how we
the Assyrians for years on have been disparaging the commemoration
of our Martyrs. For years, Assyrian organizations have developed
this ostentatious show of pretentious mourning and sorrow over
the loss of centuries long of our honored Martyrs. These so
called commemorations have become a yardstick with which Assyrians
measure the loyalty and sincerity of each other's nationalistic
views and stands. These routine programs of a table displays
of photos of our Martyrs have been used by many of the leaders
or spokes people of our political and non political organizations,
as an ample opportunity to present their organization's propaganda
as the only means by which these organizations can reap their
balance due of self-praising
and glory, regardless of the sincerity of our Martyrs and their cause.
The above being said, I would like to point out a few things that
I am in disagreement with Rita's opinion. First of all Rita starts
out her displeasure using the words "our Assyrian association
in San Jose". It is an accepted fact, when an individual proclaims
their allegiance and membership of an
organization, that person must have realized the facts behind their membership and that their obligation or devotion is not limited to the payment of the annual membership dues; further, the payment of annual membership dues, $25.00 or $2500.00 does not permit any individual to purchase their way into an organization, and give them an open season ticket to constantly criticize and demerit the qualities of individuals in the organization or the quality and quantity of their works; however with a membership comes the responsibility and diligence of painstaking efforts in improving and enhancing all that needs
improvement and enhancement.
Rita could have done a great service to the Assyrian community,
if she were to have shared any AudioVisual resources which she
may have, relating to Assyrian Martyrs of any massacre or genocide
of our people. For that mater, if Rita had other significant resources that could have made more serious and everlasting affect on "Assyrian Youth" watching the mentioned TV program, then she should have volunteered to assume the responsibility of hosting the Assyrian Martyrs Day commemoration TV program; if she had been refused the privilege; then I would have been the first one to echo her disappointment.
Armenians being similar in culture and religion to Assyrians, have also shared the same struggles and fate for centuries. They along with our own families, ran for their lives avoiding extermination by the Turks, Kurds and Persians. It is also known that the Armenians are better in documenting and preserving their historical resources than we the Assyrians have been.
During the Third Assyrian American Community Networking Conference
held in Modesto on May 25, 1997, I presented a talk in which I
stressed the important responsibility that every Assyrians has
to maintain, preserve and spread all resources of our culture
and history. I made the statement that every
Assyrian is a single page in our nation's history book and I urged that these pages which have remained apart for too long must now be brought together. A few individuals commented on this subject, but it was soon forgotten. It is our own misfortune that most Assyrians would rather discuss some ridiculous issues to show off their own individual or group pride and greatness, it is also a great disappointment that most Assyrians don not have the patience, the talent nor the means of doing serious investigation
and research to acquire such valuable information! So if the Armenians have something that indirectly portrays the story of our own people's genocide, then by GOD we should use those resources, and
that is what was done. So your conclusion as to the reason for using the said video, is not correct.
If toleration of such actions are not what you want and you want
to revert to those "serious consequences" you mentioned, then
get to it and do your share, and do not just cry about it. No
one can prove their patriotism by crying out to the public of
the damages being done by others. You are just as
irresponsible for not doing something about it since you also acknowledge that " This is not the first time that our organizations and our so called leaders ignore the importance of our history ....", you knew of this happening before, and you are still crying and blaming other for not doing anything about it.
I urge Rita or any other Assyrian woman or man who claim competence, to take on the responsibility of leading this local organization, since the current board term will end in December 1998. Anyone who believes that they have more of what it takes to run a small Assyrian organization, should stand up strait and announce their candidacy to lead these organizations. I would like very much to see what Rita has to offer to teach the "Assyrian youth" about our history.
San Jose, California
I had only seen him from afar. I knew his parents- a very nice couple, and true believers. But the sorrow in my heart was real. My heart was heavy and my tears would not dry. Everyone in the Assyrian community was talking about the loss. This was a national loss.
A group of us from the church together with the Pastor went to his home to pay our care and respect to his parents. What we saw there was amazing. The house and garden were full of people and every few minutes someone would walk in through the entrance. The parents were inconsolable. His mother was talking about him and said: "Steve was a gift given to us from God and we enjoyed him for 18 years. he belonged to God. Lord gives and Lord takes. Blessed be the name of the Lord." His father, a physician said: "I have saved so many people. But I could not save my own son."
At the funeral, on a sweltering Wednesday at 1 PM, close to 2000 young, old, of many nationalities had gathered to say good-bye to Steve. With a wonderful service and music, the Minister said he knew that Steve was with Jesus now. He had given his heart to Jesus in a young age, and through hs faith he had reached and touched so many people. He was a member of the church choir and always volunteered his services to others.
Steve's school principle remembered how Steve was a do-er and finisher, always motivating the ones around him. he was generous, bright in academics, and had registered in the UCLA Pre-med program. He had even found a group to worship with and was planning to witness to his new friends, and show them the way.
He volunteered in hospital and had prepared and computerized the Vacation Bible School Program for the children in the church. That was supposed to start the Monday following his death. It was later canceled.
His friends talked about his goodness and caring for others. It is amazing that in his short life he had accomplished more than a full lifetime! Where did all this come from? All this love and caring and wisdom in an 18-year-old, that by all accounts he was still a child.
From all that I've heard, it was the spirit within him that enabled him to see good in everyone, and be willing to dedicate himself in saving others. As sad as it was, seeing the number of people that came to the funeral, even in his death Steve shook the consciousness of Assyrians in this area and brought us together in love and unity. Like a bright star he shined in the sky for a short time, and made a difference, and just as quickly he was gone. My heart stays heavy and eyes tearful. I am so proud of who he was and so sorry that I never met him."
San Jose, California
LECTURE: "THE FUTURE OF ASSYRIAN AND SYRIAC PEOPLE
IN THE MIDDLE EAST" by DR. IMAD CHAMOUN
The Assyrian Academic Society is proud to host a lecture presented
by a well-known scholar, Dr. Imad Chamoun. Dr. Chamoun was born
in Saryn, Lebanon. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Islamology
from Kaslik University, Jounieh in 1994. He is currently a doctoral
candidate working on a second Ph.D. in Political and Religious
Sociology at the Lebanese University, Rabieh. Dr. Chamoun has
served in many academic and professional capacities in Lebanon.
He has published extensively in
Arabic and his publications include, A Message to the Christians in Lebanon, Ayotoullah Fadlallah: A Call for Dialogue or Dhimma? . Additionally, two studies titled, Fundamentalism in Lebanon and the Middle East, and The International and Islamic Human Rights were published in 1993 and 1994. Dr. Chamoun is fluent in Arabic, English, and French.
This lecture will be presented at the Assyrian American Association
1618 W. Devon, Chicago, Illinois
Sunday, October 4, 1998
Should you need more information, please visit the AAS web site
or call us at (773) 461-6633.
We look forward to seeing you.
The Assyrian Academic Society
P.O. Box 3541
Skokie, Illinois 60076
POPE MAPS OUT A JUBILEE TRIP TO IRAQ
With the permission of the Catholic Times we reprint the following article which appeared on Sunday, September 20, 1998. Catholic Times is a weekly Christian newspaper published in Manchester, United Kingdom. Tel: 0044-161 237 5590:
Ur it is believed to be the birthplace of Abraham, the prophet
revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, and it is a testament
to the glories of ancient Mesopotamian culture. Yet its ruins
sit on an unmarked road virtually forgotten, visited only occasionally
by intrepid tourists. The Pope has expressed interest in visiting
Ur along with such other sites as Bethlehem, Nazareth and Mount
Sinai, ideally in 2000. There is little to be seen in Ur apart
from its impressive ziggurat, or temple. In antiquity, Ur was
the capital of Sumer and an imortant commercial centre in Mesopotamia,
the fertile land that stretched between the Tigris and Euphrates
rivers. The city reached its zenith at the close of the third
millennium BC under
Ur-Nammu. The King sponsored arts and literature, promulgated man's most ancient collection of laws and revived agriculture.
But his name is most associated with the ziggurats, or stepped towers, that he erected in several cities. They were similar to the pyramids of Egypt, but had no tombs or chambers. His massive, 86ft-high ziggurat in Ur with its three flights of 122 steps each is among the best preserved. The city fell to marauding tribes from present-day Iran in 2004 BC and was abandoned. Its monuments remained under a blanket of dust and earth until 1922 when an expedition led by British archaeologist Leonard Woolley began uncovering its splendors. The expedition was partly financed by Christian missionaries, and Woolley wanted to prove Abraham had really lived in Ur, said Dony Youkhanna, assistant head of Iraq's Antiquities Department.
In a residential quarter, Woolley came across a clay tablet inscribed
with name 'Abram'-a chance discovery that caused a sensation at
the time. But not all are convinced. 'This is not enough proof.
Abram was a common name in the context of the Near East in those
days', said Behnam Abu al-Soof,
Iraq's leading archaeologist. Ur itself seems ignored. In Nasiriya, the nearest Iraqi city to the ruins, which are 230 miles south of Baghdad, no sign points to Ur, the ziggurat, the tombs or the traditional home of Abraham. The ancient city measuring two miles by three miles, is surrounded by military installations, including one of Iraq's main air bases. For security reasons, always a concern in Iraq. It is sometimes not possible to climb to the top of the ziggurat or take photographs.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Assyrian Human Rights in the Middle East
North Park University
Speakers in order of appearance: Wilfred Alkhas (ZENDA), Dr.
Don Wagner, Elahi Hicks (Human Rights Watch), Adrin Takhsh (Free
University of Berlin), Elise Auerbach (Amnesty International),
Abdulmesih BarAbrahem, Dr. Imad Chamoun (Lebanon), U.S. Congressman
Rod Blagojevich, Robert Dekelaita, & Dr. Walid Phares.
ASSYRIAN ACADEMIC SOCIETY'S 15TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY PARTY
ASSYRIAN SOCIAL PARTY TO BENEFIT ASSYRIAN AID SOCIETY
Organized by the Assyrian Aid Society (United Kingdom Branch)
LECTURE: "ASSYRIANS AFTER ASSYRIA"
Lecturer: S. Parpola, Asian and African Studies, University
MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE
A Sample of Presentation Topics at MESA '98:
To Register Click Here
NUZI & THE HURRIANS: FRAGMENTS OF A FORGOTTEN PAST
Hurrian settlements in Bet-Nahrain during mid-2nd millennium B.C. Hurrians settled between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers during the mid-second millennium B.C. The Pharaohs of Egypt sought marriage alliances with them and the Hittites feared them. More than 100 objects excavated by Harvard between 1927 & 1931
Harvard University's Semitic Museum
ASSYRIAN SURFING POSTS
Links to Other Assyrian Websites
Assyria On the Move
The Banquet of Ashurnasirpal
||Earning Money: qneta d'zooza|
||Old coin: Shamona ateeqa|
Cycles & Observances of the Eastern Assyrian Liturgical Calendars
Nativity of the Virgin Mary
Discovery of the Cross (Patriarchal Day)
AAC = Ancient Assyrian Church of the East
ACE = Assyrian Church of the East
CCC = Chaldean Catholic Church
MCC= Maronite Catholic Church
MOC = Malankara Orthodox Church
SKC = Syrian Knanaya Church
SOC = Syrian Orthodox Church
BACK TO THE FUTURE
External situations began to influence, more than they were influecned by, conditions in Mesopotamia. One effect of this change was to turn already existing differences between Babylonia and Assyrian into fixed points ofreference. Although Assyrian high culture seems to have become ever more Babylonian during the first millennium, this tendency may have only exacerbated the Assyrain sense of distinctiveness within the larger Mesopotamian culture and, if anything, galvanized military programs of action against Babylonia.
The Collapse of Ancient States & Civilizations, Yoffee & Cowgill
A Kurdish chieftain, Beder Khan-bey, began his attack on the Tiyari district and more than 10,000 people were supposed to have been killed; most of the survivors were taken away as slaves.
BLOODBATH IN BAGHDAD
The following article is based on a report written by The Sunday Telegraph's Con Coughlin on September 27, 1998 in a conversation with Sami Salih, one of Saddam Hussein's most senior advisers and the mastermind behind Iraq's sanctions-busting operation to obtain arms for oil, who recently defected from Iraq.
It is midnight at Saddam Hussein's presidential palace in Baghdad and the crowd of terrified men, women and children gathered in the Zahour room thinking they are all about to die. All of them have been dragged from their homes - most of them still in their night clothes - by Saddam's dreaded Amn al Khas, the Special Security Service. No explanation has been given for their arrest, other than that Saddam is demanding their immediate presence at the palace. Among their number is Sami Salih, one of Saddam's most senior advisers and the mastermind behind Iraq's sanctions-busting operation to obtain arms for oil.
Saddam came into the room. He was drunk. He was red-eyed and wild.
He was waving his gun around and screaming abuse. At that moment
there was no one in that room who believed they would survive
the night. The reason for Saddam's rage quickly becomes apparent.
Earlier in the day his two daughters and their husbands have returned
home from Jordan, whence they had fled several months earlier.
The high-profile defections of Saddam's two sons-in-law, Hussein
Kamel and Saddam Kamel Hassan (the two men are brothers), to Jordan
in August 1995 provoked the biggest crisis of Saddam's 20-year
Hussein Kamel had been in charge of Iraq's illegal chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, and his brother head of presidential security. They fled to Jordan with their wives after becoming involved in a feud with Saddam's son, Uday. Between them they were able to provide Western security chiefs with a damning account of how Saddam's regime evades UN weapons inspection teams.
Despite the enormity of their treachery, Saddam nevertheless succeeded in luring his recalcitrant relatives to return to Baghdad. The defectors had quickly become disillusioned with their treatment by the West. They had expected to be swept off to America and feted. But because both men were deemed by the allies to have blood on their hands, they were obliged to remain in Jordan, where they found themselves under virtual house arrest. In addition, their wives were homesick. By promising his daughters - on his word of honor as their father - that no harm could befall them or their families, Saddam was able to exploit their unhappiness and persuade the two couples to return.
They were escorted to a Mercedes parked outside the palace. They both had a haunted look in their eyes. But they did not seem to see anyone. Their epaulettes had been ripped from their uniforms. Once he had snared the defectors back to Baghdad, Saddam wasted no time showing he had no intention of honoring the pardons. At the border the Hassans were immediately separated from their wives and driven to the presidential palace. They were shown straight away to Saddam's office.
At Saddam's insistence, the brothers were forced to sign papers
sanctioning their immediate divorce from their wives. Saddam then
personally tore off their badges of rank - Hussein Kamel was a
lieutenant-general, his brother a lieutenant-colonel, ripping
their uniforms in the process. Saddam ordered them to stay at
their father's villa at Assadiyah, on the outskirts of Baghdad,
while he deliberated on
their fate. Later that same evening Saddam ordered commanders of his special security forces to round up relatives and associates of the two disgraced men. He told the security officers to bring them to the Zahour room - one of the palace's main reception areas for visiting dignitaries.
From the moment Saddam came into the room it seemed he had only
one thing on his mind - revenge. Saddam started to shout. He said
Hussein Kamel and his brother had shamed everyone in Iraq, and
particular their family. "You must remove this shame," said Saddam, "You must get hold of them
and cleanse this stain. Get rid of them." By this time some of the women were screaming for mercy, believing Saddam was about to shoot them. They were not sure whether Saddam was referring to them, or to the two defectors. The children were quietly sobbing, clinging to their parents for protection and comfort. Saddam then gave orders to his commanders and staggered out of the room, his gun still in his hand. The occupants of the room were herded at gunpoint outside into the cold night air. There they were made to wait in the presidential compound.
At about 4 am three 41-seater Toyota buses pulled into view. They
drew up by the crowd, and the security guards forced everyone
to take a seat. The buses drove off and made their way through
the suburbs of pre-dawn Baghdad. After about half-an-hour they
came to a halt. One of the guards climbed on to the bus. He told
them that they must all keep very quiet. Anyone who made a noise
would be shot.
Everyone obeyed the guard's instructions and they sat quietly, not daring to speak a word to each other.
The coaches had been parked a few hundred yards from Hussein Kamel's family villa. As his eyes became more familiar with the neighborhood, Salih could see that the adjoining houses had been evacuated and were now empty.
All around Hussein Kamel's villa he could make out the distinctive
silhouettes of Iraqi special forces units. They were dressed in
olive green combat gear; some of them had face masks. All of them
were heavily armed. Some distance away Salih could see a top-of-the-range
silver Mercedes, which he knew belonged to Uday Hussein, the Iraqi
leader's son. Standing at the side of the car was a figure with
a video camera, who appeared to be filming the activity. A calm
settled over the whole area like the lull before a storm and the
only sound one could hear was the muffled sobs of the women and
children held captive on the bus. The silence was eventually
broken when a bullet-proof Mercedes pulled
up in front of the Hassan villa. One of the occupants, using a loud hailer, called out to those inside the house: "You must surrender. You are surrounded. You are not in danger."
The occupants of the villa responded with a burst of automatic
gunfire directed at the car, which sped off. Within seconds groups
of special forces unleashed a hail of gunfire at the villa. Windows
smashed and the air was filled with pieces of flying masonry. Inside the buses, which had a grandstand view of the unfolding gun battle, the women and children were screaming with terror. The buses offered no protection against the bullets. And everyone was convinced that they were all going to be massacred at any minute. Every detail of the assault on the villa was being recorded on video by a cameraman dressed in special forces battle fatigues. The shooting lasted for several hours. There was a burst of activity, and then a lull, as the attacking forces worked out what they were going to do next.
As the hours passed, the defenders were picked off, one by one.
The defectors' father was the first to die. Then Saddam Kamel,
the former head of presidential security, was killed. A sister
of the brothers and her son were shot in another round of shooting.
Finally the only people inside were Hussein Kamel and a few bodyguards.
Uday emerged from his Mercedes, which was parked a safe distance
from the fighting. Uday and his brother Qusay were under instructions
from their father not to become directly
involved, but Uday could not resist supervising the operations. He issued orders to the special forces commanders, and a few minutes later soldiers moved into position carrying rocket-propelled grenades.
Two rockets were fired at the main doors of the villa, and they were destroyed. The furnishings inside the villa caught fire. The whole place was quickly filled with smoke. Then, amidst all this confusion, a group of Uday's soldiers ran into the villa. Three of Uday's men found Hussein Kamel cornered in an upstairs room. Hussein Kamel shot the first man five times in the stomach. But one of the others managed to return fire, hitting Hussein Kamel in the shoulder. As he fell to the ground, he begged for mercy. The special forces brought Hussein Kamel out of the villa. He was wearing a white shirt and blue trousers. There was a big red patch on his left side where he had been shot. By now all the shooting had stopped, and the terrified witnesses on the three buses were watching through the windows to see what happened next. Even the children were quiet.
The soldiers led Hussein to the front of the house next door. Uday and his entourage were there, as was the cameraman. Hussein Kamel was thrown on to the ground. A group of soldiers gathered around him. Uday was there, egging them on. One of the commanders put his foot on Hussein Kamel's throat, pinning him to the ground so that he could not move. He then pulled out his pistol, placed it against Hussein Kamel's head, and pulled the trigger, killing him instantly. The soldiers standing around the body gave a loud cheer. Uday pushed through them. When he reached the body he spat at his former brother-in-law. The cameraman, who had filmed the whole grisly episode, took his leave. He had to make a copy of the day's events on videotape. Later this would be handed to Saddam Hussein so that the Iraqi dictator could see for himself that his orders had been obeyed.
The remaining soldiers went into the burnt-out villa and brought out the other bodies. The two soldiers who had been killed in the shoot-out were placed on a truck and driven off to Baghdad, where they would be buried with full military honors. The bodies of the defectors, their father, sister and nephew were loaded on to a garbage truck and taken off, never to be seen again.
September 27 1998
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
October 2, 1972: dies, Dr. Peera Sarmas, Assyrian historian and author.
AUA FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
The Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation Scholarship Program in Chicago is now in its 14th year of service to the Assyrian community of Chicago. In 1998 62 Assyrian students were awarded assistance totaling over $40,000.00.
In the past 14 years over $550,000.00 have been awarded to over 700 Assyrian students. Each year tens of students submit their applications and the supporting material before the July 1 deadline. Awards range from $300.00 to $1000.00.
Today there are seven perpetual scholarship funds established
in honor or memory of a loved one, amounting to almost $200,000.00.
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