Z I N D A  M A G A Z I N E
Yaar 16, 6750                     Volume VI                      Issue 11                       May 16, 2000

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T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z I N D A
The Lighthouse A Brief History of Iranian Jews & Their Assyrian Origins
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain International Conference on Religious Life in Turkey
News Digest Assyrian Woman Injured in Dutch Factory Explosion
Ashur Bet-Sargis Concerts in Germany
Surfs Up "Syriacs do not have any problems with Turkey"
Surfers Corner

The Fate of Karkuk
34th Annual Assyrian State Convention
Assyrian Voice Chat Debuts

Assyrian Surfing Posts Assyro-Babylonian Mythology
Literatus Others Have Been Hanged
Bravo Ayad A. Yacoub
Pump Up the Volume Round & Circle
Back to the Future The Madness of Nabonidus & the Mongol Aramaic Script
This Week in History First Assyrian Traveler to America
Calendar of Events Social & Cultural Events

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


This week the last of the ten Jews held in Iran on accusations of spying for Israel appeared in court in the southern city of Shiraz.  Of the other nine Jews, seven are reported to have confessed to passing material to Israel; only one has denied the charges.  The three remaining Jewish defendants who are out on bail have yet to appear in court.  Iran has rejected international criticism that the trial, which is being held behind closed doors, is politically-motivated: Tehran says eight Muslims are also accused of spying for Israel.  Last Friday, Amnesty International called for the trials to be held in public.  The human rights organization holds that the proceedings in Shiraz fall short of international standards as the accused Iranian Jews were arrested without warrant early last year and denied access to lawyers and relatives for several months.  The case has provoked condemnation from Israel, the U.S. and several human rights organizations.

The Jews have a history in Iran which goes back more than 2,500 years.  Interestingly, the origin of Jewish presence in Iran is attributed to the mass deportation policy of the Assyrian kings (see this week's THE LIGHTHOUSE).  Indeed the history of Assyrian communities in Iran, from their persecutions under the Achamenids until the rise of anti-Islamic fervor in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century closely resembles the plight of the Jewish groups in central and northeastern Iran.  As with the Assyrian population in Iran, since the Islamic Revolution, the population of the Jewish groups has dwindled from an estimated 80,000 souls, to perhaps only around 30,000.  From an estimated 250,000 Assyrians living in Iran before the 1979 Revolution, there remain less than 16,000.  Although the Assyrians and the Jews are a tolerated minority and are respected as People of the Book, such politically-motivated actions as the Shiraz-13 Trials are viewed as the hard-liners' reaction to the Reformist government of President Khatami's appeal for renewal of ties between Iran and the West.

Haroun Yashaya'i, head of the Jewish Society notes that: "[Shiraz-13] has been one of the worst things that's happened to the Jewish community here since the Islamic Revolution.  The accusation of organized espionage has hurt us a lot, and it's caused feelings of insecurity within the community."  Similarly, some Assyrian political observers insist that the religious minorities are being used as pawns in the ongoing struggle within the Islamic regime between the Reformists and the hard-liners who wish to  undermine Khatami's proposal for "dialogue among civilizations".

This week, Zinda Magazine outlines the history of Iranian Jews with particular attention to its "Assyrian" origins and their analogous struggle for justice and fair treatment in a post-Islamic Revolution society of Iran.  Clearly, the future of Iran's religious minorities is subject to the strengthening the power of the Reformists and the proliferation of the liberal publications - many of which have been recently banned.

The following article is excerpted from an article entitled "A Brief History of Iranian Jews" which appeared this week's Payvand Newspaper of Iran.

For more information:  click here



Iranian Jews are amongst the oldest inhabitants of the country. The origin of Jewish Diaspora in Persia is closely connected with various events in Israel's ancient history. At the time of the Assyrian king, Tiglath-pileser III (727 BC) thousands of Jews were deported from Israel and forced to settle in Media. According to the annals of another Assyrian king, Sargon II, in 721 BC, Jewish inhabitants of Ashdod and Samaria in present day Israel were resettled in Media after their failed attempt against Assyrian dominance. The records indicate that 27,290 Jews were forced to settle in Ecbatana (Hamadan) and Susa in South West Persia. These settlers are referred to as one of the 'Ten Lost Tribes of Israel' in biblical records.

The next wave of the Jewish settlers arrived to escape persecution from the Assyrian king Nabuchadnezzar II.  Many were settled in Isfahan around 680 B.C. The conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great the founder of Achamenids Empire also brought many Jews into the country. In 539 BC, Cyrus entered Babylon with little resistance. The temple of Marduk their major deity was restored and Cyrus crowned himself in the name of Marduk. The Jewish exiles in Babylon were permitted to go home and reconstruct the temple of Jerusalem and some chose to emigrate to Persia. The restoration was confirmed by Darius the Great and commenced at the time of Artaxerxes I. Under Darius around 30,000 Jews left Babylon to start work on the temple.

Persians occupied the highest positions in the state apparatus. At the same time they extensively utilized cultural, legal and administrative traditions of the conquered nations. In the Murashu family documents (present-day Iraq, ancient Babylon) of the 23 high royal officers, only eight have Iranian names. Various ethnic and religious minorities followed their own legal code in personal matters such as marriage and family law.

The conquered people were also given land allotments in exchange for taxes and military service. Among these settlers were all groups such as Babylonians, Aramaeans, Jews, Indians and Sakai, etc. In Susa itself, besides the local population and the Persians, there were large number of Babylonians, Egyptians, Jews and Greeks. There were no restrictions with respect to religious freedom and practices. Hundreds of objects regarded sacred by various ethnic and religious groups are discovered both in Susa and Persepolis. In the Fortification texts discovered at Persepolis many foreign deities are mentioned. These cults and their priests received rations and wages for maintenance.

A priest serving the Elamite god Humban receives 4 marrish of beer, of which two were for the Akkadian god Adad. In 500 BC, the priest Ururu, having received 80 bar of grain from the storehouse, exchanged it for eight yearling sheep, of which two were used for sacrifices to the god Adad. The Persian religion was against offering of livestock for sacrifices and Zoroaster banned the practice, however others were not prevented from practicing such rituals.

Nations conquered would be treated as such, not because of their ethnic make up or religion. Even captive Jews brought into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar II, retained their faith in Yahweh and practiced their rituals and prospered economically. Zoroastrianism was also geared to tolerance, for it made a place for foreign gods as helpers of Ahura Mazda. One Aramaic inscription of the time speaks of a marriage between the Babylonian god Bel and the Iranian goddess Dayna-Mazdayasnish. In this document Bel appeals to his spouse with the words: " You are my sister; your are very wise and more beautiful than the other goddesses". At times Jews and other groups under Persians were mistreated and rebellions were put down. There is no evidence that such actions were based on race or religion. Persian kings were ruthless and firm with all rebellions including the ones by the Persian Satraps and members of the Royal household.

After the collapse of the Achamenids Empire, the later dynasties, i.e. Selucids and Parthians followed the same policies. Persian, Aramaeans, Babylonian, Greek, Christian and Jewish temples were present in all the Major cities. The Jewish chronicles mention the Parthian period as one of the best in their history. Centers of Jewish life in the Parthian Empire were situated in Mesopotamia in Nisibis and Nehardea. Jewish chronicles state that they enjoyed a long period of peace and maintained close and positive contacts with the reigning dynasty. This is proved among other things, by the participation of the Jews in the rebellions against Trajan (the Roman Emperor) in Mesopotamia (116 AD). In addition, the Jews took an active part in organizing the silk trade, an advantage they owed to the evident support of the kings.

The reign of the Sassanid dynasty from 205 AD to the conquest of Muslims in 651 AD, is full of contradictory and extreme policies with respect to the treatment of religious minorities. For the first time there is systematic oppression of different religious groups. In his inscriptions, the 'priest' Kidir (the chief Mobad) states that thanks to his efforts under King Bahram II (276-293), Zoroastrianism was promoted in the empire and other religious communities were persecuted. In one part of the inscription he declares:

"The false doctrines of Ahriman and of the idols suffered great blows and lost credibility. The Jews (Yahud), Buddhists (Shaman), Hindus (Brahman), Nazarenes (Nasara), Christians (Kristiyan), Baptists (Makdag) and Manichaeans (Zandik) were smashed in the empire, their idols destroyed, and the habitations of the idols annihilated and turned into abodes and seats of the gods".

Historical records are not very clear with respect to the Jewish persecution at this time. Though we know a lot about the Christian, Manichean and Mazdaean persecutions, we hear nothing about the persecution in the Jewish records until the fifth century. The Jewish centers in Mesopotamia [Bet-Nahrain] at this time were not as significant to the political processes as the Christians, Manichaeans or Mazdakites.

There is a phase of uncertainty and repression under Ardeshir (the first Sassanid king). Jews having had excellent relations with the Parthians were suspected to be collaborators with the deposed dynasty and their movement was restricted. Under Shapur I, the rabbis and the Jewish representative at the court (exilarch) came to an understanding, by which the Jews were granted more freedom of movement and the Sassanid could count on their compliance with taxing and general legal prescriptions. Shapur's antagonism against the ruler of Palmyra (in Syria), who had destroyed the Jewish center of Nehardea when he invaded Babylon, helped the situation and eased the tension between Shapur and his Jewish subjects.

In the wars between Rome and Shapur II, the Jews unlike Christians were decidedly loyal to the Persian king, with the exception of a few messianic groups. The later massive repression of the Jews under Yazdgird II, Peroz and Kavad was a result of political actions by such messianic groups, who anticipated the imminent arrival of a new Messiah on the 400th anniversary of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.

Iranian sources mention attacks by the Jews of Isfahan on the city's Magi. Later persecutions were also politically motivated. Khosrow's general Mahbad killed the Jewish followers of the pretender to the throne, Bahram Chobin. A further messianic revolt in Babylon was ruthlessly put down in 640. At the beginning of the seventh century, the Jews watched the Sassanid offensive against Byzantium with great expectancy and joyfully welcomed the conquest of Jerusalem. At the same time Christians were massacred in great numbers.

Little is known about the number of the Jewish inhabitants in the Sassanid Empire, but it must have been quite considerable, especially in Babylon. By far the majority of Jews made their living by farming, although handicraft and trade also played a part. They lived predominantly in villages, but also with many ethnic, linguistic and religious groups in larger towns and cities. There is no indication they were forced to live in closed Jewish quarters (Ghettos), as was the case in Islamic times.

They are mentioned as physicians, scholars and philosophers. They taught at famous Iranian universities amongst other Christian, Indian, Roman, Greek and Persian scholars. Jewish Physicians along with Christians ran the famous Medical school Jundishapur for decades. Several members of the famous Christian families of Bukhtyishu and Masuya were involved in this school and had many Jewish assistants. Hunain b. Ishaq is the most famous Jewish physician of the early Islamic period. His family served at Jundishapur and he is credited with the best translations of Hippocratic and Galenic corpus into Arabic at the time of caliph al-Mutazid.

Allah a term used by local Christian tribes, meaning god, became the only sovereign god, the almighty. Islam was the last and the most superior of all religions and Muslim males were made superior to all others including Muslim females. Christianity and Judaism were accepted as the only other true religions and their holy scripts were accepted as such. However despite a large number of Christian and Jewish tribes in Arabia, their freedom was substantially restricted and their legal status lowered.

They were given the right to practice their religion if they paid a discriminatory religious poll tax called 'jizya'. In Quran, these people are called dhimmis (ahle zimmeh); later Zoroastrians of Iran were included as well. Quran prohibits Muslims from becoming friends with Christians and Jews and calls the later liars, dishonest and violent. With Christians they are forbidden from any participation in building Mosques. Mixed marriages were banned for Muslim women. While Muslims could not become slaves, all others were subjected to slavery as purchased slaves or war booty. Later on Christians and Jew were banned from riding horses while carrying arms and could not increase their numbers through conversion of others. They were segregated and their houses should have not exceeded those of the Muslims in height (the Jewish quarter in Kirman is the best example).

Courts of 'Shariat' became the only legal vessel and Quran gave Muslim males superior legal status. For instance if a Jew or a Christian kills a Muslim, there is both 'Ghesas' (Physical punishment) and 'Dyeh' (Monetary compensation). If a Muslim kills a Jew or a Christian, there is no ghesas and they only pay dyeh, which is half of what the Jew or the Christian has to pay. There is no punishment for killing kofar (non-believers) or mortad (converters from Islam into other faiths).

In short all except the Muslim males became second class citizens (dhimmis). 'Covenant of Ummar' when Jerusalem was conquered made religious discrimination an institution. Ummar believed Arabia should be purely Muslim and Arab. The large Christian and Jewish communities of Arabia mainly in Najran, Khaybar, Hijaz and Medina were expelled to the conquered territories and their properties confiscated. His bias, brutality and discriminatory actions contributed to his assassination by a Persian slave.

The situation is worsening by the time of Harun Al Rashid in Eight-century AD. The overwhelming population of the area at the time was Christian, Zoroastrian and Jewish. Their houses of worship were destroyed, they could not build any new ones and jizya was increased substantially. Payment of the jizya was furthermore to be accompanied by signs of humility and recognition of personal inferiority.

Since non-Muslims were forced out of the government institutions, they went into trade and banking. A wealthy class of Jewish merchants emerged with cash but little political influence. Later on the money was used by some wealthy Jews throughout the Empire to finance the Caliphs' courts and wars, especially against the Crusaders. Exilarch still remained the vehicle through which Jewish affairs were regulated. The Muslim authorities appointed this figure.

Muslim treatment of the religious minorities varied in accordance with the policies of the caliphs and attitudes of different governors. While the Umayyad governor of Iran Hajjaj was ruthless and extremely biased others were more lenient and did not follow all the discriminatory rules. There were many Christian, Zoroastrian and Jewish Philosophers, physicians, scientists, engineers, musicians and court administrators in the first century of the Muslim Empire. Later on they all gradually convert or were forced out of government services. The coming of Abbasid improved the position of dhimmi for a while especially during the reign of Al Mansur. He was a devoted follower of the sciences and supported the great translation movement of the 8th century AD.

Initiated by the Syriac, Greek, Jews and Persians to preserve the ancient knowledge, the movement started in Syria and flourished in Baghdad. Scientists and intellectuals from all over got together and thousands of books were translated into Arabic from Greek, Hebrew, Persian and other languages. Iranian Jews were writing dari (new Persian) in Hebrew characters, the same way Christians used Syriac script to write Persian.

The Jews were largely occupied in trade and commerce. The Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tuleda reports large Jewish and Christian communities in many of the larger cities. He visited the area after the death of Sultan Sanjar (1157) and mentions Jewish communities in Hamadan, Isfahan, Nihavand, Shiraz, Nishapur and Baghdad. On the whole there appears to have been little discrimination against the dhimmis other than the usual restrictions. In one incident a prominent Jew, Abu Sad Samha successfully made a claim against Abu Shuja the Minster responsible for dhimmis. He claimed Abu Shuja had failed to protect the Jews and managed to get the Minster sacked. Samha worked for Malik Shah and was a friend of Nizam al-Mulk. At the same time Malik Shah in a new decree made it obligatory for the dhimmis to wear distinguishing marks on their cloths. Such orders were issued from time to time which indicates that these restrictions were not permanently enforced. However the Jewish clans who supported the Ismaili movement were gravely punished and massacres took place in the Zagros and Luristan regions.

The Mongol dynasties were a lot more tolerant to the religious minorities. Under the Mongol leader, Hulagu (1258 AD), the concept of the dhimmi and the division between "believers" and "non believers" were abolished. Once again non-Muslims were employed in the government institutions.

The next major change comes with the Safavids in 16th century. Shiism is introduced as the state religion. A religious hierarchy is established with unlimited power and influence in every sphere of life. The concept of "ritual pollution" (najes) of the non-Muslims is introduced. Suffering and persecution of all religious groups particularly the Sunnis becomes a norm (this period is one of the worst with respect to human rights in Iran).

Jewish chronicles are full of accounts of massacre, forced conversion into Islam and mistreatment. New institutions are created; nasi became the head of the Jewish community assisted by the rabbi, mullah (Jewish one), or dayyan. The nasi was responsible for the prompt payment of jizya to local authorities. All relations between Iranian Jews and others outside the country were completely severed. Christians and Zoroastrians were subjected to the same harsh treatments and Sunnis suffered most. Segregation became a reality again for all minorities and Jewish Ghettos were reinforced. The reports by European travelers and missionaries describe the tragic situation of the Jews and other religious minorities. Jews were forced to wear both a yellow badge and a headgear, and their oath were not accepted in courts of justice. A Jew who converted to Islam could claim to be the sole inheritor of the family property, to the exclusion of all Jewish relatives. If one Jew committed a crime or an illegal act, the whole community would be punished (other religious minorities were subjected to the same harsh treatments).

The end of the 19th century is the beginning of fundamental changes in Iran and the start of the Constitutional Revolution. Jewish partisans along with other minorities participated in the movement. They were instrumental in forming the first multiethnic Secret Society of 1905, which began the debate on political change. Jews, Christians, Bahai and Zoroastrians fought hard with the Constitutionalists to form a National Consultative Majlis instead of an Islamic Majlis as demanded by the religious hierarchy. Along with other religious minorities they succeeded in their efforts to ratify laws that gave equality to Muslim and non-Muslim (male) citizens in 1907 and defined a new concept of Nationality not based on religious origins (with the exception of Bahai who were not recognized).

According to the new constitution Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians had the right to elect one delegate each to the Majlis, but they could not participate in elections of other delegates. The constitution also prohibited non-Shiite Muslims from becoming a member of the Government. This was ignored by the Phahlavi regime and there were non-Muslim high government officials even Bahai by the 1970's.

Reza Shah was the first Iranian Monarch after 1400 years that paid respect to the Jews by praying to the Torah and bowing in front of it, when visiting the Jewish community of Isfahan. An act that boasted the self-esteem of the Iranian Jews and made Reza Shah the second most respected Iranian leader after Cyrus the Great. Still when in the 1970's, they showed up to support the Iranian Football team against Israel in the Asian games in Tehran, they were beaten up by the mob and the Iranian flags they were carrying were taken away.

In 1948, there was a high concentration of Jewish communities in Kurdistan. There were around 12,000 Jews scattered in approximately 15 Jewish settlements in Iranian Kurdistan. After the formation of the State of Israel many Jews in the area left for Tehran, in transit to Israel. The move angered the Muslim authorities. In March 1950, 12 Jews were murdered in Kurdistan. As a result more Jews moved to Tehran and demanded protection. The Iranian government guaranteed their safe passage. By March 1951, 8000, Iranian Jews had moved to Israel, the first major emigration in 20th century. The family of Mr. Barak, Israel's current Prime Minister may have been amongst this group. After the formation of Israel in 1949, all the Muslim countries in the region expelled their local Jewish population except Iran.  By 1966, the number of Jews immigrated to Israel had reached 22,000.

The Islamic Revolution of 1979, made Shariat the legal code and therefore gender and religious discriminations are an integral part of the system. Bahai once again are not recognized at all, Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians each have one representative in the Parliament and are not legally forbidden from employment in the government sector. But since the authorities only employ Muslims and a 'Shariat test' is required, in reality these people are once again barred from working for the government. Like Bahaies it was very difficult for them to leave Iran for a decade after the revolution and restrictions still apply. They are accepted into Universities, but are not given access to post graduate studies, though no law prohibits them. Their monetary transactions are monitored closely to make sure no money is sent out. There were 85000 Iranian Jews before 1979, almost half have emigrated mainly to USA. The largest exodus since Darius' time when 30,000 left joyfully to rebuild their temple. Their departure this time has not been a happy one!

Payvand Newspaper
May 15, 2000



Courtesy of Zenit News Agency, Vatican.  Reprinted from May 10th Daily Dispatch.  All Rights Reserved.

(ZNZT:  Istanbul)  Twenty-five Europeans from the fields religion and academics and hundred-fifty people from Turkey participated in a five day conference in Istanbul, May 3-7, 2000. The theme of the conference was "Religious Life in Turkey within the European Union Process."

At the European Summit last December Turkey was accepted as a candidate member state of the European Union. Turkish authorities want to complete the process towards full membership as soon as possible. They expect a lot of economic advantages from the move.

There are other questions than the political or economic harmonization and integration. There is the question of human rights and particularly the question of religion. In less than twenty years from now Turkey will likely be the country with the largest population in the European union, but also the only "Muslim" country.

According to Turkish officials there are no religious problems inside Turkey. Since the foundation of the Republic by Kemal Atatürk in 1923, Turkey has been a "secular" country. Religion has nothing to do with politics. To guarantee this separation, a "Directorate for Religious Affairs," the so-called "Diyanet," has been established.

Religious problems come from abroad, especially from Germany, stated Diyanet President Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz in an interview with the Belgian newspaper "De Standaard". There Turkish Muslims get the opportunity to create their own communities, not governed by the Diyanet. They often spread defiant views and even terrorism, with the support of European governments who claim unconditional respect for human rights, according to the Diyanet president.

During the Opening Session Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit blamed racism in Europe and its tendency to see itself as a "Christian Club". That claim was refuted later on by Msgr. Noel Treanor, Secretary General of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), representing the Holy See. Msgr. Treanor, who was assisted for the Conference by Vatican expert Hans Vöcking of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic Studies in Rome (PISA), stressed that the European Union is a political project and not a religious one. Member countries deal with religious freedom within the framework of their own constitutions and laws.

"The European Union is definitely not a Christian Club", Msgr. Treanor emphasised. "The EU rests on respect for the rights of men. All religions exist in Europe, and we are all brothers".

During the discussion sessions in the four working groups, it became clear that there are also considerable differences of opinion within the Diyanet itself. Most participants want the Diyanet to keep appropriate control on Islam practise within Turkish communities abroad. Therefore visa obstacles for the religious officials have to be removed and training of imams and theologians has to be promoted.

According to other participants, "Islam has to take into account the evolution within the civil society and must urgently modernize". Contact with other religions, the highly praised "interreligious dialogue", should be the first condition to bring Islam up to date and to foster the full membership of Turkey to the European Union.




(ZNDA:  Holland)  On Saturday, a massive explosion in a firework factory brought death and destruction to the Dutch town of Enschede where nearly 8,000 Assyrian-Suryoyo live.  According to Zinda's reliable sources, at press time an Assyrian woman was reported to have been slightly injured and minor structural damage to one of the two Assyrian churches, the Syrian-Orthodox Church of Mor Yaqoub d'Srug, was also reported.   According to Dutch officials, at least 20 people were killed and about 500 injured.  Eyewitnesses spoke of limbs flying through the air and dead bodies lying in the smoldering rubble.  As many as 200 others are still missing.


(ZNDA:  Berlin)  The legendary Assyrian singer, Ashur Bet-Sargis, concluded his successful concert tour in Germany where he performed for crowds of enthusiasts in Essen and Berlin.   Bet-Sargis' concert in Berlin was organized by the Assyrian Aid Society in Germany and well-attended by the different religious and political factions within the Assyrian community of Berlin.  Mor Khuri Hanna Teber and Qasha Ilas Tozman of the Syrian Orthodox Church were instrumental in publicizing the tour and its objective in raising awareness about the Assyrians in northern Iraq.  The Assyrische Union Berlin, represented by Mr. Jonie Eilo and other members also offered their support.  Malfono Murat spoke at the concerts about the projects underway in northern Iraq.   Ms. Adrin Takhsh talked specifically about the AAS projects in Northern Iraq.  Many German friends of the Assyrian communities attended these concerts.  A special dance performance by an Assyrian-Suyoyo troupe was among the highlights of these concerts.  The proceeds from these concerts will be used for the educational needs of the Assyrian students in northern Iraq.


I just want to say that your magazine is truly the best in Assyrian publishings. God bless you all and please never stop this great magazine.

Assyrian Voice Chat

In the last week of April, some circles who are claimed to be Assyrian-Syriac staged demonstrations and hunger strikes in order to protest the genocide of 1915 (Sayfo) in various European countries with the support of some Kurdish organizations and this has caused some suspicions about these circles. To make a protest speech in solidarity with the PKK, PSK and the other chauvinist Kurdish organizations by ignoring the role of the Kurds in the genocide means nothing but disrespect for the Assyrian-Syriac peoples and thousands of their martyrs.

Those who committed the genocide should definitely be protested and the murderers should be brought to book. But who are the real murderers? First, it should be found out. Unfortunately, these circles who claim that they are "Assyrian-Syriac" seem to be very friendly with the Kurds who are their real murderers. Isn't this a contradiction? Is it possible to forget the historical realities?

It is an undeniable fact that in the period between 1820 and 1920 the Assyrians and Syriacs were subject to the genocide mostly by the Kurds, that hundreds of thousands of Christians lost their lives in this genocide, and that hundreds of churches were plundered, destroyed and burnt down. The fact that in 1840's Bedir Khan, the Kurdish Emir of Cizre massacred more than 10.000 Assyrians/Nestorians and Syriac Christians was proven with the documents and this is only one example (See Yakup Hidirsah "Massacre of Christians -Syriac, Nestorian, Chaldean, Armenian- in Mesopotamia and Kurds", Hannover 1997).

In fact, even the Armenian writer Garo Sasuni confessed that all the genocides in Armenian provinces were carried out by the Kurds and during the genocides 300.000 Armenians were killed (See Garo Sasuni, Kurdish National Movements and Armenian-Kurdish Relations since the 15th Century, Stockholm 1986, p.124). In his book called "the 1914-1915 Massacre of the Syriacs from Farman Tur-Abdin" which was published in Athens, the capital of Greece in 1993, the priest of Syriac Church in Kuburelbith town of Syria, Hori Süleyman Hinno of the Harabale village of Midyat district of Mardin province describes in detail how the Kurds massacred the Syriacs living in almost 100 settlement places within the province of Mardin.

It is known that the Syriacs who fled from the brutalities and pressures of the Kurds during the years of World War I (1914-1918) took refuge in Iran/ Urumiye this time became the target of the Kurds in Iran and were massacred (See William Eagleton, Mehabad Kurdish Republic 1946, translated by M.Emin Bozarslan, Istanbul 1976, p.37-39; B.Nikitine, "Nestorians" Islamic Encyclopedia , Volume:8, p.210).

That is why the Kurds, the real murderers of Syriacs, should be those to be brought to book instead of doing this, attempting to look for others to put the responsibility means concealing the realities. It is significant that the Syriac Patriarch Ignatios Ilyas III was among the people who welcomed Atatürk in Ankara on December 27, 1919 and that he participated in the opening ceremony of Turkish Grand National Assembly on April 23, 1920.

The remarks made by the two Syriac clerics concerning Atatürk are significant in that they show their point of view towards the Republic of Turkey: In his book called "The History of the Turkish Syriacs" (Diyarbakir 1970) the priest of generations-old Diyarbakýr Syriac Community-Mother Mary Church, Aziz Günel states that "Enjoying the equal rights granted by the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey in the new epoch marked by Atatürk, members of the generations-old Syriac Community having a population of about 35-40 thousand can teach their own language in their own churches with pleasure, welfare and peace. Oh Atatürk, rest in peace.."(p.57-58).

In his book called "the 1914-1915 Massacre of the Syriacs from Farman Tur-Abdin" which he described the brutalities and oppressions conducted against the Syriacs by the Kurds, Hori Süleyman Hinno, the priest of Syriac Church in Syria / Kuburelbith states that " to tell the truth, in the era of Mustafa Kemal Pascha, who was called Atatürk-the ancestor of Turks-, everybody started to lead a comfortable life." (p.172)

As is seen, Syriacs do not have any problems with the Republic of Turkey. Some plots devised by some political interest groups in Europe who use the name of Syriacs will not do any good to Syriac people. Preserving their religion, language and culture in the environment of peace and tolerance in Turkey, Syriacs live in peace.

The Syriac Representative also participated in the symposium held in honour of Prophet Abraham of Syriac origin on April 13, 2000 in Urfa/Harran, one of the ancient cities of Syriacs. The symposium was organized with the contributions of the official institutions of the Republic of Turkey and with the participation of the representatives of the three religions with one God from 15 countries.

The Tourism Ministry of the Republic of Turkey, taking into consideration the importance of the Syriac culture and churches, opened this year's Tourism Week in Mardin, the sacred city of Syriacs on April 15, 2000. As well as some 150 scholars and clerics, Yusuf Sag, Turkey's Deputy Patriarch of Syriac Catholics was also invited to the International European Union Board Meeting organized in Istanbul on May 03, 2000 by the Turkish Directorship of the Religious Affairs.

All these recent developments were received with pleasure by the Syriac community.

Therefore, we, the Syriac patriots reject some political foci in Europe holding the Republic of Turkey responsible for the genocide of 1915. We believe that these attitudes damage the interests of the Syriacs in Turkey and we protest against them with all our might.

Mezopotamya Demokratik Forumu

For More information: Click Here



Recent reports have uncovered a proposal by the Iraqi government to resettle up to a half-million Palestinian refugees from various Middle Eastern countries into the Karkuk area of northern Iraq (AINA 04-01-2000). The probability of placing an already destitute, persecuted and disenfranchised refugee population in the midst of the smoldering cauldron of ethnic strife in northern Iraq has not escaped the Palestinian leadership. On February 24, 2000 Mr. Hassan Abdel Rahman of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in Washington declared the PNA's opposition to the plan. Clearly concerned about the prospects of wedging his refugee civilian population between the Arabizing policies of the central government and the ethnocidal policies of Sorani-Behdanani-Kurmanji tribesmen, Mr. Rahman stated that the "Palestinian Authority was opposed to any form of ethnic cleansing as a basis for the settlement of refugees."

The response from Sorani and Behdanani tribal leaders has been quite ironic. Sensing a threat to their ill-gotten Assyrian lands and the extensive oil resources contained therein, the Sorani and Behdanani leadership have now become self-described victims of "ethnic cleansing and Arabization" by the central government of Iraq. The Sorani-Behdanani leadership's inconsistency conveniently neglects to address ethnic cleansing of Assyrians by the central government as well as by these same Sorani and Behdanani tribes.

Well known to Sorani and Behdanani political elites is the fact that in the 1970's over 200 Assyrian villages were destroyed by the central government and then subsequently resettled by Sorani and Behdanani tribesmen often related to the tribal hierarchy of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). More recently, over 50 Assyrian villages have been expropriated by various Sorani and Behdanani tribes since the Gulf War. Attacks aimed at expelling Assyrians from their ancestral villages have continued in the Nahla region (AINA 10-16-1999) despite KDP denials. Facing an erosion of international sympathy for the Sorani-Behdanani tribes as ethnically persecuted minorities, some militants have even compelled vulnerable, unarmed Assyrian villagers to deny attacks against their villages (AINA 01-21-2000) despite confirmation by international organizations.

In a November 8, 1999 press release published by the Kurdish Observer, the Mayor of Aqra, Mr. Rasheed Hussein Ahmad also attempted to deny the ongoing attacks against the nearby Assyrian villages in Nahla. The denial, however, was accompanied by an historic admission regarding attacks against Assyrian villages. Referring to the destruction of Assyrian villages during the previous conflict between the central government and Sorani and Behdanani tribes, Mr. Ahmad acknowledged that "Indeed, the Assyrian villages were evacuated, and in an attempt to instigate division between the Kurds and Assyrians, the Iraqi regime repopulated these villages with Kurdish factions allied with the regime." Conspicuously absent from the Mayor's statement was an explanation of any concrete steps taken by the KDP and its subordinate regional government to repatriate Assyrians to their ancestral homes or pay just compensation especially in the past ten years when the KDP administered that territory. Nor was there an explanation for the continued expropriation of over 50 additional Assyrian villages following the Gulf War and the subsequent institution of the "Safe Haven."

Sorani, Behdanani and Arab claims on historic Assyrian cities and villages have continued. Claims on Karkuk are especially infuriating to Assyrians. Having historically suffered and survived wave after wave of slaughter and persecution, Karkuk Assyrians continue to inhabit the city. The most infamous massacre of Assyrians was recorded in 448 A.D. when the Persian King Yasdegard II executed 10 Assyrian bishops and 153,000 clergy and laity in "several consecutive days of slaughter on the mound of Karka d'Bait Sluk (Karkuk). Local tradition still asserts that the red gravel of the hillock was stained that color by the martyrs' blood, and the martyrium built over the bodies remains to this day. (Introduction to the History of the Assyrian Church page 138)"

Founded as an Assyrian city millennia ago and having sacrificed hundreds of thousands of martyrs, Karka d'Bait Sluk (Karkuk) remains forever etched in the collective consciousness of the Assyrian people. Whether illegally settled by Soranis, Behdananis, or Palestinians, Karkuk remains essential to the Assyrian national awareness and identity.

Assyrian International News Agency
May 16, 2000


May 26 - 29, 2000

Hosting Affiliates:
    Assyrian Club of Urhai
    Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock
    Assyrian American Association of Modesto
    Assyrian United Organizations of California


Friday, May 26

8:00 PM - 2:00 AM           Dance Party
AACC of Turlock
    Amanouel Bet-Younan
    Albert Mansour
    Robert Khanishan

Saturday, May 27

9:00 AM                     Athletic Games Open Ceremony
Turlock High School

11:00 AM                    Assyrian American National Federation
National Executive Committee Meeting
Modesto Center Plaza

11:00 AM                     Student Conference
Modesto Center Plaza

2:00 PM                     Assyrian Women Conference
Guest Speaker: Mrs. Jandak Hanna
Assyrian Women Union North Of Iraq
Modesto Center Plaza

4:00 PM                     Internet Seminar
Modesto Center Plaza

8:00 PM - 2:00             AM Dance Party
Assyrian American Civic Club Donation
$ 15.00
Fatin Shabou
Ramis Bet-shmouel
Albert Mansour

Sunday, May 28

9:00 AM                     Athletic Games
Turlock High School

11:00 AM                         Assyrian Women Conferece
Guest Speaker Mrs Jandark Hanna Part2
Modesto Center Plaza

2:00 PM                             Assyria Aid Society Rally
Guest Speaker Mr. Narsai David
Modesto Center Plaza

3:00 PM                             Political Rally
Modesto Center Plaza

8:00 PM - 2:00 AM             Dance Party
Double Tree Hotel, Modesto
$ 18.00
    Fatin Shabou
    David Simon
    Ramis Bet-Simon

8:00 PM - 2:00 AM                     Banquet Dance Party
Assyrian American Civic Club Of Turlock
    Lida Lawando
    Fatian Shabou
    Robert Khanishan

Moday, MAY 29

10:00 AM                                    Convention Picnic
Tuolumne River Regional Park, Modesto
$ 5:00
Parking Free, Live Entertainers
Food And Beverages Will Be Sold

Information Hotel Reservation
Double Tree Hotel
1150 9th Street
Modesto Center Plaza
K Street, Adjacent to the Double Tree Hotel
Ask For Assyrian State Convention Rates

Modesto Turlock High School
1600 East Canal Drive

Assyrian American Civic Club
2618 N. Golden Stse Blvd

Toulumne River Regional Park
1200 Tioga Drive

Ticket Will Be Sold At The Assyrian American Civic Club Of Turlock
For More Information Call (209) 668-4668 (209) 667-8444


We are glad to announce the opening of the new Assyrian Voice Chat, the first place where Assyrians can truly feel some sense of untiy.  Visit this website at www.assyrianvoice.cjb.net and talk live to Assyrians all around the world in all the different dialects of our beautiful Assyrian language.  In addition to meeting thousands of Assyrians online daily, we host Assyrian singers frequently, as well as writers, poets, politicians and many more important figures in the Assyrian society.  Invite your friends and come chat with us. All you need is to download the client HEARME software which takes about ten seconds, then you can start chatting.  If you have any problems please contact us at: assyrianauthors@hotmail.com

Thanks a lot and hope to see you there

Assyrian Voice Chat

Links to Other Assyrian Websites

Assyro-Babylonian Mythology
Gods & Heroes of the Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian Mythologies



Sad news. The Kurds driven back from Khoi massacred 800 Syrian and Armenian men with cruel torture. This in the plain of Salmas. In Urmia the largest and wealthiest Syrian village, Gulpashan, which had been spared by payments of large sums of money, was given over to plunder by the returning Kurds. The men of the village were all taken out to the cemetery and killed; the women and girls treated barbarously. Sixty men were taken out of the French Mission, where they had taken refuge, and shot. Others have been hanged. The Swiss teacher of the missionaries' children has died of typhoid. I have been asked to go to Urmia, but every way is blocked. Please let Mr. Speer know facts.

Rev. Rebert M. Labaree
12 March 1915
The Board of Foreign Missions
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.



Last week, The Detroit News honored some of Michigan's top graduating high school students as "Michigan's Top 20 High School Seniors".   Among the honored students was Lincoln High School Senior, Ayad A. Yacoub, an Assyrian-Chaldean resident of Detroit, Michigan.  Students were selected on the basis of grades, test scores, honors, community involvement and a demonstrated ability in one of the academic areas.  In a special category called "Against All Odds," students were recognized for succeeding despite a physical challenge or special, personal or family problems.

Category: Against All Odds
GPA:  4.0
Achievements: Co-valedictorian; National Honor Society; member of the track team, soccer team and Chess Club (tournament champion); assistant coach, youth soccer; Lawrence Tech scholarship; MEAP test scholarship; volunteer in Chaldean community
Parents: Athir and Nadia Battah
College: Lawrence Tech University
Major: Computer engineering
Career plans: Computer engineering

 gloo/la  (rounded = glee/la)  "g" as in "girl"


BC (May 556)

2256 years ago on this month, King Nabonidus is recognized as king in the city of Nippur, in southern Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia).  He was the son of the governor of Harran and the priestess of the moon god Sin.  A servant of king Nebuchadnezzar, he was in his sixties when he came to the throne.  Nabonidus was also a very religious man and a loyal worshipper of Sin.  This infuriated the priests of the other temples in Bet-Nahrain and they began objecting to Nabonidus' kingship.  At this time a famine struck southern Bet-Nahrain and Nabonidus, believing that gods were displeased by his holy men's treason, imposed a ten-year self-exile.  He spent these years in Taima in northwest Arabia.  In the Bible, Nabonidus is called Nebuchadnezzar and is said to have eaten grass and gone mad.  Modern scholars continue to disagree on the causes of this fascinating Mesopotamian ruler's self-imposed exile.  During the 10 years, the New Year festival (Akitu) could not be celebrated as it required the presence of the king.

The Reign of Nabonidus, Beaulieu

AD (1644-1910)

During the Ching Dynasty Chinese ceremonial writing often made use of the Mongol Aramaic script, written up and down, rather than right to left - a testament to the success of the Church of the East's spreading of Christianity in the East.

Assyrian Christian Architecture of Iran, Naby


May 16, 1874 :   Mar Yohanna, the Bishop of Urmie, Iran, dies in Urmie.  Mar Yohanna was the first Assyrian to travel to America.

May 22-26

"Near Eastern Archaeology at the Beginning of the 3d Millen. AD" 
Hosted by Carsten Niebuhr Institute and the University of Copenhagen. 

Contact:  Secretary of the 2ICAANE
Carsten Niebuhr Institute
Snorresgade 17 - 19
DK-2300 Copenhagen. 
Tel. +45 35 32 89 00; Fax. +45 35 32 89 26
e-mail: 2icaane@coco.ihi.ku.dk.

May 27

Double Tree Hotel
2:00 PM-10:00 PM PST
Organized by: Nineveh On Line
Click Here for more information
What is MIDI?  Click Here

Jun 9-11

Dance Party and Soccer Tournament
Entertainment by Juliana Jendo & Habib Mousa

Jun 10-11

Sponsored by the Association of the Assyro-Chaldeans of France
Champions & players will be honored at the party following the games

Participation Fee:  300 Franks per Team
For farther information:
Association des Assyro-Chaldéens de France :
Tél : + 33 1 39 90 87 11
Fax : + 33 1 34 19 84 72
E-mail : acc_f@club-internet.fr

Centre Socioculturel des Assyro-Chaldéens de France
Tél & Fax : + 33 1 34 04 26 47

Nuri Yaramis
Tél : + 33 1 39 33 48 74
Fax : + 33 1 39 33 41 40
Mobil : + 33 6 89 88 85 83

Suphi Oguz 
Mobil : + 33 6 81 90 92 47 

Jun 26-30

For the first time in 32 years this international conference is taking place outside of Europe & in Sydney

More than 100 eminent Syriac scholars from different parts of the world will be attending

For more information:
Louren David              Majidi Ann Warda
(02) 9822 1778    OR      0404 124 930          0413 854 936
Department of Semitic Studies
University of Sydney

For more information on speakers and papers click here

Jul 2
Persecutions & Massacres of the Syriac Speaking Christians

An international conference on the subject of the fate of the Assyrian people after the collapse of the Assyrian Empire (612 B.C. - 2000 A.D.).

Dr Gabriele Yonan - Germany
Dr Fuat Deniz - Sweden
Professor Abdul Massih-Saadi - USA
Dr Racho Donef - Australia
Panayiotis Diamadis - Australia
Nicholas Al-Jeloo - TAAAS

The Assyrian Australian Academic Society
The Centre for Comparative Genocide Studies at Macquarie University & the Department of Semitic Studies at the University of Sydney

Merewether Building, 
City Road
University of Sydney

For more information & Registration Fee Detail click here
REGISTRATION:  Closing 7th June

For more information: Click Here

Jul 10-13

"Nomadism and Sedentarism in the Ancient Near East"

College de France
52 rue Cardinal Lemoine

Contact: chrinico@club-internet.fr or fax 33-1-48-87-82-58

Christophe NICOLLE
Chaire d'Assyriologie
College de France
52 rue Cardinal Lemoine
75005, Paris - France

Jul 26-30

The Syrian Orthodox Archdioceses in Canada and United States
Led by His Holliness Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I
Hosted by St. Ignatius Church, Portland
Marriot in Portland

Agenda:  Review of the past 50 years of history of the church in North America to identify and cement the strengths and work on improving

In addition to a spiritual and cultural festival, a cruise on the Columbia River, a bus trip to Cascade Range, etc. are planned. Click Here

Jul 28-31

Speakers include representatives from the Office of the President of Lebanon
Mass celebrated by His Holliness Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I
Performances by a Maronite University musical group
Art Exhibition: Art works from artists of our community throughout the world
Dance party for the youth attending the conference
Book Exhibition
Suryoyo singers and folkloric dances
A visit to Zahle
Banquet in honor of the Patriarch
A special concert performance by George Badro, Suryoyo musician from Canada.

For more information:
Daghelian Bldg. - Bloc A - 2nd Floor - Jdeideh Blv.
P.O. Box: 55414 - Tel: 961-1-884810 / 961-1-884811
Fax: 961-1-884812 - E-mail: sua@lebmail.com

Aug 30 - 
Sep 4


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