Volume V, Issue 2
Adaar  1, 6748                                                           March 1, 1999

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T H I S   W E E K  I N   Z E N D A

The Lighthouse Iran Diary- "Urmia"
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain Saddam to Send Mar Bidawid to Vatican
Turkomans May Demand Autonomy in Northern Bet-Nahrain
News Digest ANC Press Release re Ayatollah al-Sader's Assassination
A Harvard Exhibition:  The Assyrian Experience
Egypt's Coptic Church to Recover Confiscated Land
Surfs Up "This speech was quite surprising..."
Surfers Corner CAPNI To Help Build Assyrian/Chaldean Churches
Message in the Bottle At the Peak of His Life
Children's Essays
The Assyrians from Other Countries
Assyrian Surfing Posts Assyrian Women's Society of Tehran
A Brief List of Useful Assyrian Travel Phrases
An Old Assyrian Marriage Contract (19th Century B.C.)
The University of Sydney's Assyrian History Classes
Pump up the Volume Throat & Voicebox
Back to the Future The Palace Core & Tabari's Apology for Islam
Literatus Ecclesial Realities of Asia
This Week in History Yoash Yokhana
Bravo Walter Aziz
Calendar of Events Harvard University's Assyrian Exhibition & Lecture
Waterfront "The Assyrian Experience"
Persian-Assyrian Dictionary
Walter Aziz' "Change" CD
Khudra March 1999

All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.


Part IV

My recent two-week jaunt to Iran can be summed up in three segments: About 5 days in Tehran, followed by 4 days in Urmia, concluding with 3 days in Tehran. This essay has to do with the middle part.

The flight to Urmia on a Fokker seating perhaps 140 people (only some of them Assyrians) took about an hour and 5 minutes.  Much of the excitement came at Tehran's airport, prior to departure. Transportation centers in third world countries tend to be chaotic. There is the din of hawkers and eager cab drivers wooing passengers outside the terminal; and there is the hustle-bustle of passengers with mounds of luggage inside. There is scant respect for 'standing in line'. People cut in front of you at the drop of a hat. Mehrabad Airport is not unique in this regard.

But in the end, we got ourselves to the city of Urmia. As most Assyrians from Iran know, this city was known as Rezaieh in the time of the Shah.

In great contrast to Mehrabad, the airport at Urmia is quaint, serene, modest in size. There is some ongoing expansion at the terminal, and it typifies the entire metropolitan area. Everywhere, one sees new foundations being poured, new walls rising. Yet during our visit, there were many signs that Urmia and the general region continue as a backwaters, a 'country bumpkin', much as it did in our parents' era. This is not intended to denigrate Urmia. As is the case in most (but not all) countries, national life in Iran  rotates around the capital city. Whether it is a question of population, of culture, or of commerce, Tehran is clearly the hub of all things Iranian; other cities and regions are merely the supporting cast.

We traveled some 15 miles from the airport to reach town. On the way, we stopped on one side of Tcharbahsh, which happens to be my father's birthplace. Once a village geographically separate from the City of Urmia, our visit confirmed what I had already heard: rampant urbanism has obliterated  the distinction which once existed. Everything has been gobbled up by expanding city sprawl, and Sangar (which abuts Tcharbahsh) was digested by the city for an even longer period.

The face of Tcharbahsh has experienced typical "progress". This means that Assyrians have disappeared lock, stock and barrel, and they have been supplanted by mostly a Kurdish population. A divided four-lane highway now cuts through the former village. On the side of the highway where we stopped, one finds a large, rectangular, two-story building which was purchased by the Assyrian Association of Urmia (Motwa). After certain rehab work, several of the units were sold, but two or three of them were retained.

A very large cemetery containing countless Assyrian tombstones lies behind this large building. According to the script, most of these resting places date back to the 19th century. We were informed that for some time now, there are no more burials here. The cemetery is surrounded by tall walls to protect it from vandals. Beyond, one has a good view of the residential area known as "the Hill of the Jews", currently 100% Kurdish-populated.

The tiny church of Mart Maryam d'Tcharbahsh is typical of the many worship places we visited in outlying villages.  Except for the occasional curiosity stop by an overseas tourist, these structures are deserted and generally neglected.  Lit candles greeted us inside these places of worship, but one may assume that typically these churches are locked up and hors de service. Priests are a rare commodity, parishioners have evaporated.

In villages such as Seeri and Gulpashan, the evidence of any Assyrian past is hard to find, except as one may read the Aramaic script on neglected tombstones. The village of Seeri sits on a promontory above the city of Urmia and a mere handful of kilometers from it.  This is the village of John Nimrod's father, and the place also has the distinction of containing two cemeteries. One is the Assyrian cemetery.  The other is enclosed, and it is the resting place of many American missionaries. In fact, to read the tombstones in this latter (Cochran, Sheed, Packard, Austin, etc.) is to review a Who's Who of the Americans known to have played a major role in the history and the Western education of our people in the region.

Four churches once functioned in Geogtapa, but today none.  There are 4 Assyrian families remaining there, and 2 other families are city-dwellers who come only at summer time.

Gavilan, nearly 30 miles from the city, is the village of my mother.  Those who trace their roots there now represent a very large emigrant contingent, much of it relocated to central California.  Today, the village consists of several decrepit mud structures which have weathered centuries of suffering and high drama. But for all its dilapidation, the layout for Gavilan gives a feeling of airiness, and one can say somewhat the same for the neighboring hamlet of Jamlawa.

Thanks to my friend Amo, I met the 3 or 4 Assyrians (all very old) who remain in Gavilan. We were invited to drink tea by a couple perhaps in their eighties, who have three grown sons. The middle son is married and living in Modesto with his family.  He is the only one who has left Iran, and the only one who could provide his parents some assistance. To send his parents a mere $25 a month would probably mean little to his finances, but it would permit his parents to live in dignity.  Apparently, the emigrated son has chosen to entirely black out the existence of his parents. The mother grieved over this, but the father was inconsolable over the son's insensibility.  The amnesia which overcomes many who have escaped old world poverty is appalling and apparently not so uncommon.  Shame!

I had hoped for a leisurely opportunity to visit the city of Salamas and its Assyrian crown jewel of Khosrava.  Sadly, we breezed through these destinations hurriedly, and mostly in darkness. There was no "conspiracy" to minimize these destination stops. But even with the best of intentions, our group failed miserably to stay with its daily schedule:  If one or two members of the group were not present at the appointed departure hour, the entire group was forced to wait for them. The more proper approach would have been to leave at the prescribed time, thus assuring fairness to the rest.  As it was, our group saw perhaps less than half the villages and sites we had hoped to take in.

At the fabled Mar Sargis perched high on a hill, we attended a dokhrana celebration.  Assyrians, both visitors and locals, used small pebbles to rub the stone wall. According to legend, if the pebble sticks to the wall, your wish will come true.  I did not see anyone succeed in this exercise.  As with most gatherings of a 'private' nature -- and this was one of them -- alcoholic libation is freely offered. Alcoholic drinks usually consist of wine or hard liquor, both "home-made" and, in most cases, quite abominable to the palate.

One cannot help but be moved by a visit to the land of one's forefathers.  But the visit could have been fuller with some minor adjustments. For example, a formal tour of the City should have been arranged, to assure a visit to certain landmarks. For years, I had heard and read about the Assyrian Boys' School, the Fiske Seminary for Girls, and the missionaries' compounds which harbored thousands of our people during the massacres. No doubt all of these properties have now been converted to other public uses, but their location remains a part of our collective nostalgia.

We traveled through the city and the region of Urmia in two comfortable buses, each seating approximately 18 passengers. Most of the time, one or more local Assyrians rode in each bus. Regrettably, these individuals mostly engaged in random banter with one or two members of the group, and they rarely pointed out points of interest to the group as a whole. Obviously, their responsibility had never been spelled out. We must be grateful that they had volunteered their time to assist us, but with more experience their contribution can be made more meaningful to any future travel group.

For all its size, Urmia remains 'small potatoes'. Actually, it is no easy matter to find a good selection of postcards anywhere in Iran. And mailing anything depends on the region where you are. When I sought to send postcards from Tehran to the U.S., postage was at the bargain rate of 40 tuman per card (about 600 tumans to the dollar, and changing fast!). Moreover, in the capital I could choose from any number of post office stations. On my return home, I found that all of these cards arrived here within a week. On the other hand, when I proposed to mail just one postcard from Urmia, it involved three circular discussions, and the postage cost was several times the 40 tuman. Adding to the distinction, the card from Urmia required at least an extra two weeks to reach its U.S. destination!

On road signs today, the city variously appears as Oromiyeh, and Urmieh, and in other spelling variations. It is a sprawling city which gives the impression of having a greater population than its 1 million inhabitants (including surrounding region). These consist of approximately 750,000 Kurds and 250,000 Turks. It is true that there are still some Christians in the area, but these are few. The best estimate is under 5,000 Assyrians and perhaps 2,000 Armenians. There was a report in Zenda two or three months ago by a European Assyrian who visited Urmia. No doubt well-intentioned, her enthused comments implied the presence of a significant presence of our people in this region. Those who think along such lines should disabuse themselves of the notion. It turns out, just to cite one example, that Turlock and its environs accounts for far more Assyrians than Urmia and all of its region.

While Assyrians are less than 1/2 of one percent (0.005%) of the general population in Urmia and surroundings, it should be remembered that this percentage is only slightly lower than the percentage of Assyrians in relation to the general population in the free zone of north Iraq. There is no gainsay that Urmia represents the historical home of some of our parents and grandparents, and therefore it carries emotional content. But to invest any grand political ideology or future expectation on that region and its imperceptible Assyrian community would appear to be simply wishful thinking. We were reminded by local Assyrian leaders that, in the best of times, Assyrians in the Urmia region consisted of 85 villages and they worshipped in 118 churches. Today, one will be hard put to find any church (other that the principal 2 or three in the city proper) which are not boarded up. Furthermore, the villages have all been abandoned.

No matter the obviously changed circumstances, the city of Urmia and its environs contain emotionally-charged symbolism for many, myself included.  Based on my observation, the Assyrians in Iran are somewhat more blas? than those in the diaspora about "the old days in Urmia".  In a sense, this is understandable. Our immigrant parents (or grandparents) abandoned the area at a time when it represented a vibrant community, though it was under siege. There existed at that time a network of family affiliations difficult to duplicate in the diaspora. The image of Urmia as it was recounted to us from childhood is frozen in our memory for all time. As with all things 'remembered', the passage of time and closer examination forces a somewhat more realistic sense. For the Assyrians who live there, Urmia is like so many other places: It has been radically altered by urbanization, by technology, and by shifting demographics. It was an important visit to me personally but, like so much in life, half-bitter half-sweet.

Francis Sarguis

Mr. Sarguis is the English Language Editor of the Journal of the Assyrian Academic Studies.  To View Mr. Sarguis' related essays click here:  PART  I  ,  PART  IIPART III



(ZNAF: Baghdad)  President Saddam Hussein is sending the Chaldean Patriarch, Mar Raphael I Bidawid, in early March to Vatican to thank the Pope for his support of Iraq.  Mar Bidawid will lead the delegation which will also comprise two Moslem clerics and a foreign ministry official.  His Holiness noted that: "This visit reflects the appreciation of the Iraqi state for Pope John Paul II.  His holiness always calls for an end to injustice towards the people of the world, and especially the Iraqi people."

Pope John Paul II has consistently spoken out against embargoes, arguing that such measures only harm the population of the country targeted, especially the poor.  He branded the US-British missile strikes on Iraq in December, operation Desert Fox, as an "aggression."  In the year 2000 the pope will visit Iraq to mark the new millennium by visiting the ancient Sumerian capital of Ur, the birthplace of Biblical Abraham.

Last June, the Vatican sent papal envoy Cardinal Roger Etchegaray at the head of a delegation to take part in a Christian congress in Baghdad.


(ZNRF:  Prague)   Iraqi Turkomans are likely to renew their long sought demand to establish an autonomous region to be called Turkmeneli near Irbil, a city in northern Iraq now under control of the Kurdistan Regional Government.  The Turkmans are expected to make their case at a meeting of the Turkoman Council due to be held in Irbil.

But as in the past, they face a serious problem: the current Iraqi Constitution does not recognize the Turkomans or the Assyrians as separate ethnic groups. Indeed, that document does not recognize their languages because neither group uses the Arabic script: The Turkomans use the Latin script and the Assyrians-Chaldean Syriac.  So far, Baghdad has shown little inclination to make a deal. Were that to change, there are several models for how it might behave.

Such provisions of national autonomy were first accepted by the international community after World War I, when the empires in Central and Eastern Europe had collapsed and their successor states were not much more homogenous in their ethnic composition than their predecessors.  But at present, there is no international regulation obliging states to create special self-governing institutions for minorities on their territories. Nonetheless, success stories like that of the Gagauz in Moldova encourage both governments and especially minorities like the Iraqi Turkomans and the Assyrians to seek out such an arrangement. And their demands could find some support in Baghdad particularly if the central Iraqi government wants to re-extend its authority into the northern part of the country.

Excerpted from an article by David Nissman
Iraq analyst with RFE/RL's Communications Division



Press Release:  February 22, 1999

To:  All governments & International Organizations
       Iraqi Opposition Groups
       Assyrian Affiliated Organizations

Once again the tyrannical regime in Iraq committed a heinous crime against a prominent leader of the Iraqi people and assassinated the Grand Ayatoolah Sayyid Muhammad Muhammad al-Sader and two of his sons late in the evening of February 18, 1999 in the holy city of Najaf after returning from a visit to Kufa.

The U.S. State Department confirmed today the involvement of the Iraqi regime in this horrific crime.  This assassination is one in a series of crimes committed by the criminal regime in Baghdad against the Iraqi people and their true leaders.

The Assyrian National Congress and the Assyrian people strongly condemn this latest crime and ask the competent organs of the United Nations and all peace-loving governments and international organizations to interfere and stop such atrocities committed by Saddam's tugs against the innocent people of Iraq.

The Assyrian National Congress and the Assyrian people extend their heartfelt condolences to the family of the latest Iraqi martyr and to all the Iraqis worldwide.  The continuous suppression of the free will of the Iraqi people will not last for long.  We look forward to a bright future in a united, democratic and federated Iraq in which there is total respect for human rights.  This is a fitting destiny for Iraq, the cradle of civilization.

Sargon Dadesho, Ph.D.
The Assyrian National Congress
P.O. Box 3539
Modesto, CA 95352  U.S.A.

Last week the Iraqi security forces clashed with Shiite Moslem protesters in several Iraqi cities.  As many as 100 demonstrators may have been killed, according to one opposition leader.  Rioting erupted following the assassination of Iraq's
top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Mohammed Sadek al-Sadr, and his two sons.  Shiites form around 55 percent of Iraq's population, living mostly in southern Iraq, but play little part in the country's government which is dominated by Saddam's Sunni Moslem Arab minority.   Last week the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Berri, refused to meet with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf. Berri is a Shiite.


Between March 7 and April 8, 1999, an exhibition entitled "The Assyrian Experience" will be showcased by the Harvard College Libraries' Middle Eastern Division of the Widener Library.  The material on display was prepared by Drs. Eden Naby (Assyrian) and Michael E. Hopper of Harvard University.   These sources for the study of the 19th and 20th century Assyrians are among the collection of materials pertaining to Assyrian history and culture since the 17th century from the holdings of the Harvard University libraries.  Funds for the development of this collection were provided through the David B. Perley Memorial Assyrian Fund.  On March 7 a Mishael and Lillie Naby Lecture entitled "Syriac from Script to Print: 1539-1954" will be presented by Dr. J.F. Coakley of the Department of Near East Languages and Civilizations.  This program will be followed by a "Chai-Kadeh" reception organized by the Bet-Nahrain Assyrian Association (see CALENDAR OF EVENTS).  Dr. Naby, an active Assyrian scholar at Harvard University, has compiled an exhibition catalogue of the Widener Library Exhibition which documents the major holdings of the Harvard University Libraries.  For order information see WATERFRONT.


(ZNAF:  Cairo)  The Egyptian government has decided to return nearly 59 hectares (146 acres) of confiscated land to the Coptic Church, Minister of Religious Endowments Mahmud Hamdi Zaqzuk
said in statements published Monday.  The latest handback will bring the total amount of land returned to the church since 1996 to about 344 hectares (850 acres).  Most of the land given back is arable and
earnings from it could be used to restore Coptic churches across Egypt.   A committee representing the church and the ministry has met regularly since 1996 to discuss the return of land confiscated from
the church and is set to examine the handover of nearly 166 hectares (410 acres) soon.

Some of the land was confiscated under 1950s agrarian reforms while other areas were seized after the passage in 1971 of a law placing all endowments under government administration.


"A major Iranian Opposition newspaper called "Keyhan Landan" which is published in London has published a recent speech of Shimshoon Maghsood Pour the Assyrian Representative in the Iranian parliament called "majlis". He has harshly criticized the Iranian government and has expressed the concerns and problems of Assyrian community in Iran.

He criticized the government agencies that are not hiring the religious minorities. Also for the first time he has mentioned that the Iranian government is in the process of imposing extra tax called "Diyeh" according to Islamic law to minorities. If this happen the issue of human rights in Iran will gain a new momentum and will force more Assyrians to flee Iran.

Maghsood Pour said when Human Right Organizations contact us we try not to discuss these issues with them and try to resolve them internally and without publicity. But these issues relate to our lives, if they are not solved we cannot continue to live in Iran. that is why more than 20000 Assyrians have left Iran in recent years.

He said the major issue and concern of Assyrians in Iran is not economic since majority of them have their own businesses. However, our major problem is discrimination and variety of social injustice issues.

He said we do not have freedom to practice freely our religious customs and protect our language and and literature. He said that his efforts to ease issues with regard to Assyrian schools have not given any results.

This speech was quite surprising after recent congress of AUA in Iran and needs more attention by Assyrian communities around the world. Shimshoon Maghsood Pour has served as a high ranking official in Ministry of Agriculture of Iran for many years. He has also served as the head of the Assyrian Church of the East Association in Tehran for several years and has good relationship with Mar Dinkha the Assyrian Patriarch.

* * *

I have a couple of comments regarding Mr. Francis Sarguis comments on Assyrian population.

In current situation of our communities world wide it would be hard to strictly speak of accurate population of Assyrians unless we only speak of those who clearly identify themselves as Assyrian. For this reason demanding that the major Assyrian organizations provide precise numbers to us and to the world community is in my opinion unrealistic.

For example if you ask me what is the Assyrian population of Israel, I would suggest that it is over 15000 in which it includes the "Assyrian Jews" who trace their roots to Urmia and northern Bet-Nahrin and who speak a dialect of our language. However, convincing that the above mentioned population to identify itself as "Assyrian Jews" is another issue and it would depend on to what extent we are successful to advance our ideological struggle to assert the Assyrian identity to the lost and/or assimilated people of Ashur world wide."

Tony Khoshaba

"It is known that our people are religiously oriented. Considering the past century, for example, our Church Leaders were leading our nation in both religiously and politically. One reason is obvious that most of the Assyrians were living in villages, where political awareness together with education were null. That is a reminder since most Assyrians know the fact above. Based on that, it is vital to build a transition, as Nationalists, from the religion to political mentality, since our people currently live in Cities with environment full of education and professions, especially in the west.

The words "Eeta w' Umta" or "Church & Nation" are so common every where Assyrians live. It is exposed through TV's, Radios, publications and in certain Assyrian gatherings. I would like to get into that and through some analysis, if you would allow me to. On this date and at the end of 21st. Century, the Assyrian Church and or Churches are no more in position of handling political leadership. It has been said on many occasions by the spiritual leaders that they can not be part of the Assyrian political movement.

Assyrian people, as you know, have many different type of Churches. So when we say "Church & Nation", "which Church"? and that will lead to "what Nation"? is it correct to say that:

Chaldean Church and nation?
Syrian Orthodox Church and nation?
Syrian Catholic Church and nation?
Church of the East Church and nation?
Assyrian Church of the East Church and nation?
Evangelical Church and nation?
Pentecostal Church and nation?
Presbyterian Church and nation?

Therefore "Church & Nation" do not mean any thing but confusion. The good thing is to remove said confusion and mold our people into political movement. If Assyrian Churches decided to declare, in the days to come, political responsibilities for our Nation, then "Church & Nation" might be justified.

Currently, some of our people are pushed to handle the thinking of serving our Nation through the Church. In reality, Christian Churches are obligated to serve the humanity, per our God Jesus Christ's teachings. The word Nation means politics, to promote the interests of our Nation, means through the political process. Hence, any Assyrian loves and try to contribute for Assyrian Nation, is obligated to be part of the Assyrian political movement. This topic is not designed to direct reader's attention to certain political movements, that depends on the his/her conscious.

Christianity directs human beings to respect, love, peace, cooperation between people. We all, certainly in need all of those wonderful attitudes. But it is not right to escape involvement in the Assyrian politics and hide behind the Christianity in the Churches. It appears too aggressive to state that, but it is a reality. Our Churches are already divided to begin with, so it is dangerous to select them part of the Assyrian political fields. Because it will contribute more in the division of our Nation."

Kaiser Shahbaz

"Dr. Habash's article in this week's issue, "WHAT IS OUR IDENTITY," is a great idea, one that our political organization and our churches should discusses.  These maters are of great concern to all denominations of the Assyrian Nation.

There is one thing that personally I cannot agree and cannot accept: a foreign name to be put on my country, on my nation.  Yes, I agree that the name Mesopotamia is known in the world as the land of two rivers, that came from the Greek language.  However that name is still a foreign name to all of us.  In its place why not use the name "Bet-Nahrain" and let us call ourselves as Bet-Nahranin.  I think this name that is of our own language will fit more than Mesopotamia. Bet-Nahrain's name is familiar to all denominations of the Assyrian nation, even some of the Iraqi-Arabs will convert to their origin and to their original name.  They too will call themselves Bet-Nahranian.

Let the world get used to this name rather than Mesopotamia.  Under different circumstances, the name Assyria would be the most desirable name, in fact it is a blessed name, as it has been mentioned in the Bible, by God.  But, for the unity of our people until there is more understanding among all parties, to learn and to realize their origin, to release themselves from any given names, which these things will come by education, teaching, preaching, programming and so on which it takes a lot of time, to change the thinking of a child to be called a different name.  Until that day comes, let us call ourselves the people of Bet-Nahrain-Assyrian. No one group can denies that their origin is of Bet- Nahrain.  After all we all are from there.  I believe this will be a good starting point, many of the excuses and many of racial prejudices that is dividing our nation because of the insistence on a name, will die if we use the name of our country as ( Bet-Nahrain ). Once again your thinking must be taken seriously by all loving people of our nation. For the sake of unity, we must compromise for now. God bless the Bet-Nahranian People."

Martin David



I am pleased to inform you that through Christian Aid Programm- North Iraq (CAPNI):

1.  Within the coming days, the construction of a church in the city of Sumail will start.  It will be the first Assyrian church in Sumail since the massacre of 1933.  It is important to mention here for the historical record that since 1933 no Assyrian Church of the East service was celebrated in Sumail.  The first service was on October 1987, two months after I was ordained to priesthood and appointed to be the first Assyrian Church priest in Sumail.  I can remember when we asked for a land for the church, the reply of Sumail Qaimaqam was very negative.  It took us about two years to have the land.  The church construction is financed by the German Evangelic Church of Baden Wurttemberg and Lutheran Church of Bayern.

2.  Another Chaldean Catholic Church will be reconstructed in the village of Avzrook. The reconstruction will start on April, hopefully.  It is financed by the Catholic Church of Germany.  The reconstruction of the Avzrook church will be the first Chaldean church to be built by Assyrian humanitarian organization. It will be constructed by CAPNI.

Thanks to CAPNI committee in homeland as it is able to point out the priorities of our people and to put them in a credible program with everything and point made clear in it about the proposals (name, location,
cost, time table, etc.) Such clear programs and proposals had been highly respected by non-Assyrian organizations and churches. The results are for the benefit of our people.

Thanks to the donors who proved to be our people's brethren in these critical times.  May our GOD bless them all.

GOD bless you.

Rev.  E. Youkhana
CAPNI Representative


"I was wondering... Have you thought about creating a section specifically reserved to posting information about the Assyrians living in other countries.  I am interested and curious to hear about news and events
within their communities... For Example Assyrians from Australia, Sweden, London, Canada, Holland etc... I have lived here in the States pretty much all my life, so I would really like to here more information about our other communities around the world."

Natalie Ibrahim

Funny you should ask... Move over John Travolta.  'Cause here comes Robil from Sweden.

This is Robil Haidari, the webmaster of Assyria HomePage and a great friend of ZENDA.  His website is full of information about everything you wanted to know about the Assyrians in Sweden but were afraid to ask.  Robil has a great sense of humor.  Here's what he has to say about himself:

Born:    15 August 1972 in Midyat, Turkey
Eye-color:   Dark Brown
Hair-color:  Dark Brown
Length:       180 cm
Weight:       72 kg
Shoe-size:    42
Languages:  Assyrian, Swedish, English and German

"I am an Assyrian male at the peak of his life and whose main interests (besides the other sex of course) are computers and volleyball (the ultimate sport)."

At the peak of his life?  We'll just leave this one to your imagination.  And if you still need to know more about our Assyrian-Swedish friend then contact him at:  dprhi@cs.umu.se.

"There are quiet a few methods in getting recognized throughout the world.  Probably some of us would share my thoughts, some might have even better ideas.  I definitely believe in our new generation around the globe especially in the U.S.A.

  1. Ask the new Assyrian generation (junior high and high school) write about their great nation at schools where are currently attending. There are so many topics that teachers ask students to write about.  This way students and their parents will try to communicate and have better understanding towards their nation in approaching to the outsiders.  And in return students will have better grades that will go towards their GPA.
  2. One of the topics as an example is how much the Assyrian parents have struggled in bringing their children into this free nation and to carry this holy name (Assyrian-Chaldean) along with their holy cities of UR, Babylon, Nineveh.  This has been repeated over 100 times in the HOLY BIBLE.
  3. I think the most powerful tool to use are our churches.  The church committees along with their priests should agree in having holy masses in Aramaic, the Christ's language for other nationalities and not only Assyrian. Because from our experience here in the U.S.A. the Christians love to hear and learn the Mass in Aramaic language and they will keep it alive if they are approached in the right and truthful way."

Monica Benjamin

Links to Other Assyrian Websites

Assyrian Women's Society of Tehran
A Brief List of Useful Assyrian Travel Phrases
An Old Assyrian Marriage Contract (19th Century B.C.)
The University of Sydney's Assyrian History Classes




BC (2600)

Before this time the city-life was organized around the temple.  During the time of King Mesilim of the city of Kish a second core was added by the palace which then eclipsed the importance of the temple.  From this point in time until the coming of Christianity in Bet-Nahrain the palace and the temple were the two cores around which the life of any Mesopotamian city was organized.

Mesopotamia,  Nagel

AD (1922)

Assyrian linguistic scholar, Alphonse Mingana, publishes Ali ibn Rabban al-Tabari's Apology for Islam.  Tabari was a Christian physician and a personal friend of Caliph Mutawakkil (847-861 A.D.).  At the end of his life he converted to Islam and wrote this Apology.  The publication of Tabari's work provoked unexpected attacks on Mingana- a most serious scholar of Syriac language and collector of over 2000 documents in Classical Syriac language.

Alphonse Mingana (1878-1937), Samir



The ecclesial situation of Asia is as diverse and distinctive as its secular realities, as seen in the rich
variety of Churches.  Among the Churches of West Asia special mention must be made of the Churches of Antioch of the Syrians, Antioch of the Greek Melkites and Antioch of the Maronites as well as the Latin Church of Jerusalem. There are also the Chaldean Church of Babylonia and the Armenian Church. Today, most of these Churches live among predominantly Jewish or Islamic populations and cultures, serving their faithful who continue the Christian presence in these countries since the first centuries, and are witnesses to Jesus Christ among other religions.

Many responses mention that their work of evangelization is devoted mostly to works of charity and
Christian witness through schools, hospitals and other apostolic works. They seek to project the image of a servant Church. While these Churches are inculturated in Islamic cultures and in the Arabic language, and hence well placed for dialogue with Islam, they are also in a region of conflicts and are threatened by
religious fundamentalism.

Apostolic Churches, coming from the Syrian tradition, exist also in India, i.e., the Syro-Malabar Church
and the Syro-Malankara Church. Responses indicate that these Churches are well rooted in the Indian soil
and are generally flourishing with a large number of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. They have a significant presence in the field of education, social and health services and mass media. Large numbers of faithful from these Churches have migrated to many parts of India, the Gulf countries, Europe, Canada and the United States. According to some responses to the Lineamenta, however, certain
situations related to liturgical tradition, rites, and synodal forms of Church organization and administration
are still posing difficulties for these Churches.

Synod of Bishops
Special Assembly For Asia

The above description was a brief evaluation of Catholic mission history in Asia, published last year, highlighting the Church's missionary activity on the Western Asian continent.  For the complete text of this Evaluation click here.


March 2, 1958:  The body of the Assyrian-American Navy General, Yoash Yokhana, is put to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.  Yokhana served his country in the Second World War and the Korean War.


Walter Aziz

Walter Aziz was born in the Gailani District of Baghdad, Iraq.  His study of the Assyrian language and passion for singing lead him to his first stage appearance at a local wedding and to the release of his first two hits: "Qamo Khleti Chertewat" & "Zmarty Khareta." These were followed by his successful recording of "Yala Ruppe Eyda," a duet he performs with his sister Claudette. This breakthrough made him widely known throughout the Assyrian world and launched his professional career.

After moving to San Francisco he released "Assyrian Nation." This compilation contains several of his major hits, amongst them "Kaloo Khitna," a classic, still requested and performed at most of today's Assyrian weddings and the hit single Khayin.

His second album "Agha Petros," named after and dedicated to the First World War Assyrian General is followed by a third record entitled "Hera" containing the hits "Lela D' Setwa" and "Yapyanta D' Lakhma."

Walter Aziz used the end of the eighties and beginning of the nineties for a creative break, intense personal development and re-focusing.

His reclusion from public performances ended in 1993 with the album "Unity Dance," arranged by David Bet-Samo.  Featuring a more accomplished, creatively mature Walter Aziz, it introduced the first Assyrian musical ever released on CD and become an instant hit with the Assyrian market.

"Colours" (an international album containing songs in 9 languages) and "Destiny" have hit home with many Assyrians. Walter Aziz has also produced a collection of his top hits on a VHS music video now available in stores.

"Change" the newest release by Walter Aziz shows his dedication to quality and excellence. He continues to challenge, develop and transcend the standards of the Assyrian music world. Today he is an inspiration to a new generation of Assyrian men and women, facing new global challenges while gaining strength from their roots, having Walter Aziz's music helps keep them in touch with their heritage.

For more information on Walter Aziz click here.


Feb 6 - May 5

A presentation of 140 artifacts excavated in the 1920's by Sir Leonard Woolley at the 5000-year-old Sumerian site.

Frank H. McClung Museum

Mar 6

Ashur Bet Sargis in Concert
Sponsored by the Assyrian Aid Society in Germany
6:30 PM
Address: Mathäus-Müller Platz 4
66343 Eltville am Rhein
For more Information please contact: 
Adrin Takhsh  030-322 55 32 or 0179-29 111 93
Edvin Takhsh: 06722-910 390 or 0171-70 89 426
Alfred Babakhni: 06124-4301

The proceeds from this event will benefit the Assyrian Children in northern Iraq, and Dohuk's Nsibin School, in particular.
Der Assyrische Hilfsverein e.V. lädt Sie zu einer Feier mit dem berühmten Assyrischen Sänger; Ashur Bet Sargis
am: 6. März 1999 um 18:30
in in Bürgerhaus Eltville am Rhein
Adresse: Mathäus-Müller Platz 4
             66343 Eltville am Rhein

Der Erlös dieser Feier wird zu günsten unserer Assyrischen Kinder benütz;
ganz speziffisch, wird der Erlös der Nssibin Schule in Dohuck-Nord Irak zu
Helfen kommen

Mar 7

"The First Great Missionary Church:  The Assyrian Church of the East"
Speakers:  Dr. Samuel Moffett, Princeton Theological Seminary
& Mr. Abdul-Massih Saadi, Ph.D. Candidate, Lutheran School of Theology

4:00-4:45: Mr. Abdul-Massih Saadi
5:00-5:30: Break and refreshments
5:30-6:15: Dr. Samuel Moffett
Place:  Anderson Chapel (Corner of Foster & Spaulding)
North Park University
Entrance Fee: $5.00

Mar 7

Sources for the Study of the 19th and 20 Centuries
Middle Eastern Division
Widener Library

Mar 7

An Illustrated Lecture by Dr. J.F. Coakley
Presented by Harvard College Library & Bet-Nahrain Assyrian Association
Forum Room of Lamont Library at Harvard Yard
4:00 PM
Followed by an Assyrian Chai-Kadeh reception (Tea and Assyrian pastries)
For more Information:  617-496-3001

Mar 13

Conducted by Mastro Nabu Issabey
An Assyrian American Association of San Jose Event
Also: an honorary award presentation to a renowned Assyrian singer
Santa Clara Convention Center Theater
5001 Great America Parkway
8:00 PM (SHARP)
Tickets:   $ 20.00 To purchase your tickets call:
Nancy Isaac:       408-229-2100          Josephine Malhem:  408-323-1816
John Khangaldy:  408-978-8743          Ramina Ziyeh:        408-448-6225
No Tickets will be sold at the door.

Jan 28,

Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Assyrian Rite (Chaldean and Malabarese)
Basilica of St Cecilia in Trastevere 

New Releases of Books, CD's, & Magazines

"The Assyrian Experience" Exhibition Catalogue
 Major Holdings of the Harvard Univ Libraries for the study of Assyrians in the 19th & 20th Centuries 
$15, Cambridge, 1999, 150+ pp
Make Your Checks Payable to:
Harvard College Library
Middle Eastern Div.
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138
Persian-Assyrian Dictionary by William Sarmas
A reprint of the 1980 Original 
in 2 Volumes
1118 pages
$ 70.00 plus Shipping & Handling
Ashurbanipal Library
7055 N. Clark St., Chicago, Il. 60626
Tel.: (773) 274-9262
Fax: (773) 274-5866

Walter Aziz 
"Change" CD
Latest Release by Walter Aziz
Language:  Assyrian
Songs include:
"Mar'ra Zalim", "Qeetari", Zmarty Khareta", & "Qamoo Khleetie"
Walter Aziz
P.O. Box 842
Pinole, CA 94564
Voice (415) 807-4404
Fax    (510) 741-7484


 Internet Class for Assyrians
7-8 PM
Quick Internet of Modesto
1031 McHenry Ave. Suit # 18 
Modesto, California
Conducted in Assyrian 
Provided by Nineveh Online
Call (209) 578-5511 
Click Here
Aanya Meetings
7:30-9 PM
Assyrian American Assoc of San Jose
20000 Almaden Road 
San Jose, California
Young Adult Assyrians in the SF Bay Area are invited to join 
Call 408-927-9100
Computer Skills Class
10 AM-1 PM
Victoria, Australia
235/237 Sussex St. 
Nth Coburg
The basics of computer use from fiirst time users to more advanced 
Contact 9344 4791 for detail

Cycles & Observances of the Middle Eastern Christian & Assyrian Liturgical Calendars

 4th Sunday of the Great Fast
Sunday of the Canaanite Woman
Feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
 Feast of the Holy Cross;  Feast of King Abgar
5th Sunday of the Great Fast 
Sunday of the Hunch-back Woman
 Memory of Mor Osthatheose Sleebo 
Feast of the Cross
6th Sunday of the Great Fast
Sunday of the Healing of the Blind Man
Memory of H.E. Mor Yulius Gheevarghese
Suboro, Annunciation to the Mother of God
The Fortieth Friday 
The Raising of La'zar (Lazarus)
Feast of Hosannas
Oosh'ane (Palm Sunday)
Naheere (Lights)- Based on the Parable of 10 Vigins
 Commemoration of the Virgin St. Mary

AAC = Ancient Assyrian Church of the East
ACE = Assyrian Church of the East
CCC = Chaldean Catholic Church
COP = Coptic Church
MCC= Maronite Catholic Church
MSO = Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church
SCC = Syrian Catholic Church of Antioch
SKC = Syrian Knanaya Church
SOC = Syrian Orthodox Church


 Tehran, Iran
Turlock, California

This Week's Contributors:
in alphabetical order

Marko Puljik Chicago Good Morning Bet-Nahrain
Vasili Shimun (Shumanov) Chicago Waterfront

Thank You For Referring A Friend to ZENDA:

Albert Gabrial California

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The Directory of ZENDA News Sources
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ZNAF (Agence France-Presse)
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ZNMS (Mar Shimun Magazine-Canada)
ZNMW (Mideast Newswire)
ZNNQ (Nabu Quarterly)
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ZNTM (Time Magazine)
ZNUP (United Press International)
ZNUS (US News & World Report)
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