SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE
Last week His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV arrived in San Jose, California. Among other things on his itinerary, he will be meeting with local civic leaders, the divided Church of the East parishes in California, and perhaps discuss the future of his church's latest embarrassing situation, the fate of Mar Aprim Khamis.
Bishop Mar Aprim Khamis lives in Phoenix and oversees the affairs of the Church of the East's Western U.S. Diocese. These include Modesto, Ceres, Turlock, Southern California, and Arizona. One might expect that all California parishes would be combined into one diocese. However, San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento parishes are organized under a different diocese called Western California. Seattle-Washington is also quietly tucked into this last group. The bishop presiding over the Western California diocese is Mar Bawai Soro.
In February 1995, Zinda Magazine reported that Mar Aprim Khamis was assigned to the Diocese of the Western U.S., replacing Mar Bawai Soro. At the time Mar Aprim was the Bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern U.S. and Canada. Mar Bawai Soro was then appointed the Secretary General of the Inter-Church Relations and sent off to Vatican to complete his theological studies. Shortly after, it was revealed that Mar Aprim was brought in to handle his predecessor's mismanagement of funds in California. In no time, Mar Aprim gained and wielded influence throughout California.
In December 1996, Mar Bawai Soro informed the readers of Zinda Magazine that Mar Aprim Khamis, had released Reverend Barkho Daoud from his pastoral duties in the North Hollywood Parish. Rev. Barkho was replaced with Rev. Rasho days after Mar Bawai's letter was published in Zinda Magazine. Rev. Barkho's followers never gave up supporting the renegade father and the division among the church's faithful in Southern California has never fully been appreciated by the Patriarchate. Today the outcome of such dissection can be felt even in the elections of the Assyrian American Association of Southern California.
Tales of scandals, greed over bingo profits, and tribal affiliations later forced the reapportionment of western parishes into their present form. Before digging too deeply into local church issues in California, let's return to the bishop from Phoenix.
Last year Zinda Magazine published Mar Aprim's letter to the Census in which he stated "We are convinced that to corrupt the norms of history would be an insulting act: a violation of history...We are Assyrians; therefore, we request that you keep the 'Assyrian' category separate." The Patriarchate of the Church later commented that it was unaware of the contents of Mar Aprim's letter. It neither accepted nor condoned Mar Aprim's actions toward the Census Bureau's decision to alter the category of Assyrian to Assyrian/Chaldean/Syraic.
In 1998 Mar Aprim was transferred from California to the diocese in Arizona. In October a certain Pakistani woman, Yasmin Khan, invites Mar Aprim Khamis to her apartment in Chicago's North Side for dinner. She then declares her love for the Assyrian bishop and tells him that she wants to marry him. According to court papers, Mar Aprim kisses her several times, but refuses Yasmin's offer.
Mar Aprim meets Yasmin once again on November 10 and engages in "consensual kissing and touching." The next day, he receives a hand-delivered copy of a videotape as well as a threatening voice-mail message from Yasmin. The day after the delivery, Mar Aprim withdrew $17,000 in cash from his personal bank account, hands his Pakistani lover the money at her home and in exchange receives a videotape and numerous audio tapes. According to Chicago Police, over the next several months, the bishop gave Yasmin an additional $41,500. Yasmin Khan had secretly videotaped her sexual encounters with Mar Aprim Khamis.
In May 2000, Zinda Magazine reported that Yasmin Khan was charged in a 10-count federal indictment in Chicago.
Adultery by a bishop leader, according to the canon's of the Church, constitutes a grievous violation of the law of chastity. The council of bishops may either excommunicate or disfellowship an adulterer. It was expected that at the recent synod of the Church in June 2001, Mar Aprim Khamis would be defrocked from all his bishopric duties. He was neither defrocked nor banished from the Church. His bishopric duties were only "suspended" for a period of less than two years. He will also remain on the Church's payroll during the suspension period. Zinda sources indicate that all attendees agreed to this resolution except one - Mar Bawai Soro.
Why did the bishops refrain from defrocking Mar Aprim Khamis at the last synod? Did the bishops and Mar Dinkha know something about Mar Aprim that prevented them from declaring a moral decision based on the Canons of the Church? The answer to this question is quite complex and rooted in a lurid nightmare that began 26 years ago in California.
On 15 September 1973 at the synod of the Bishops in Beirut the late Mar Ishai Shimun, patriarch of the Church of the East, was defrocked from all church ranks. While the late-Patriarch disagreed with that decision, the bishops of the church sent their representative, our very own Bishop Mar Aprim Khamis, to the U.S. as the administrator of the Church of the East in the United States and Canada.
In early February 1975 Aprim DeBaz, Pastor of Mar Sargis Parish in Chicago, sent a telegram to Mar Ishai Shimun speaking against the Patriarch. The Patriarch had transferred Rev DeBaz from Chicago to Michigan in 1970 because he had allegedly embezzled money from his church in Chicago. Sounds familiar?
One month after the correspondence between Rev. DeBaz and the Patriarch who was then living in San Jose, Rev. DeBaz meets with an Assyrian Universal Alliance representative and the brother of the Patriarch's assassin, Zaia Ismail at the San Francisco Airport. A few months later, David Malik Ismail assassinates Mar Ishai Shimun.
Rev. DeBaz knew of yet another Assyrian Universal Alliance representative and friend of Zaia Ismail. In fact, Sam Andrews is still an active member of the AUA and the leader of a group opposed to the re-election of John Nimrod to the position of Secretary General at the Marbella Congress in May 2001.
Rev. DeBaz also admitted that he had seen Mr. Ismail and Mar Khamis in July 1975, four months before the assassination of Mar Ishai Shimun. Currently Rev. DeBaz is an Archdeacon in the Diocesan Chancellery of the Eastern United States diocese.
What does Mar Aprim know about the events leading to the assassination of Mar Ishai Shimun, including the meetings between the Church representatives and the Assyrian Universal Alliance only months before His Holiness' assassination in California? Who is Yasmin Khan and what were her true intentions in producing the videotapes of her sexual encounter with Mar Aprim? Were others involved in the production of those videotapes?
The only thing certain is that the nightmare is not going to be over anytime soon. In 1975 Mar Ishai Shimun was assassinated in his house in San Jose, California. The ill effects of that incident have since overwhelmed every successor to his chancellery in California. With the decision of the bishops at the recent synod, we can expect further finger-pointing and perhaps unique answers to the questions addressed earlier. As one parishioner in Phoenix told Zinda Magazine last week: "Somebody's lying here and before we ALL get angry someone should break this silence and say something to the people."
Getting angry, we think, would be a good start.
Zinda Magazine Editorial
Dr. Efrem Yildiz was the second person to address the Conference, outside the three members of the human rights panel. Dr. Yildiz is a professor in the Department of Hebrew & Aramaic Studies, at Salamanca University, Spain. He is an Assyrian from Harbol, in southeast Turkey. He obtained his secondary education in Germany. For the next ten years, he studied Philosophy and Biblical Theology at the Pontifical University, Rome, culminating in a doctorate degree in 1997 (Ph.D. dissertation: "La 'Teoria' Biblica battesimale secondo Mar Teodoro l'Interprete"). According to a Georgian who was my Marbella roommate, for several of his years in Rome Dr. Yildiz was a classmate of Father 'Benny', who currently ministers to the Assyrian community in Tblisi. Not yet 35 years of age, Dr. Yildiz's phenomenal repertoire of languages includes Biblical Aramaic, Syriac, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Hebrew, Greek and Latin.
At Marbella, Dr. Yildiz spoke on the continuity of the Assyrian people
from the empire's demise in the 7th century B.C. to the present time.
He delivered his panegyric in our language, as well as in English. He
referred to documentation attesting to our continuity, which "consists
of Assyrian sources written in the vernacular, in Aramaic, in Greek, stretching
from the fall of the Empire until well into the Christian era"
and, just as importantly, to a "deeply-rooted
DECLARATION FROM THE ASSYRIAN DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT
Release of the Expanded Meeting of the ADM Central Committee
The Central Committee of our ADM held an expanded meeting to study the general political situation on all aspects in order to establish plans for the upcoming period and the strategies to advance our just cause on both the internal and external avenues. The meeting discussed details the events associated with the recent municipal elections that took place in Arbil and Dohok on 26 May 2001 for which we clarified our position as outlined in our declaration of 22 May 2001. That declaration explained our diligent and responsible efforts that we had put forward for the sake of obtaining the affirmation for the legitimate national rights of our people in municipal offices in districts, counties, provinces and towns where our Syriac Chaldean Assyrian people historically have lived in.
A suitable method to represent our people's legitimate rights was deemed necessary to provide for the most equitable and fair process to guarantee the principals of partnership and free choice of our people in exercising their political and administrative rights. It is also necessary to guarantee that they can obtain seats within these municipalities based on the demographics of the area and their small population compared to that of our brothers, the Kurds, within the administrative boarders of these districts. Factors such as wars, deportation, the building of forced concentration camps, the movement of refugees and the non-return of large number of people to their villages in the boarder areas due to the unstable situation, were all considered in order to reach the decision for having such a suitable method. This understanding is in line with what was declared officially by the laws enacted by the Kurdistan/lraq parliament when our people elected their own representatives to the parliament in a free election using voting boxes assigned to them specifically
As it was mentioned in the declaration of 22 May 2001, in addition to our diligence and responsible efforts, we had exercised equal share of responsibility towards helping advance the democratic process in the area and strengthening the relationship, partnership and the feel for shared destiny for all the people of the area. We supported the success of municipal elections believing it is a step in the right direction for building the infrastructure of a civil society. We were extremely patient in not declaring a position or passing a resolution on these elections until the last second in order to give ample time to have the situation rectified.
As we approached the Election Day, we finally received assurances from the Kurdistan Democratic Party Leadership that the situation will be corrected after the elections in accordance to the recognized laws.
Au explained in the Declaration, given the assurances that we received and with only one day left for the candidate to campaign, our leadership decided to participate in the elections even though we were convinced that the outcome would not be in favor of our people. The unfair environment surrounding the election process that was known to many contributed to the negative results.
Now, after the passing of considerable time since the conclusion of these elections, we have yet to hear about any legal or practical steps to remedy the situation. We were told that the situation would he corrected within two to three weeks after the elections. Thus, the expanded meeting reaffirms our Movement's position to reject the current situation that deals with the aspiration of our people and their nationalistic rights on a secondary level. Regardless of all the actions that we have witnessed in this period, our Movement is determined to continue its struggle and efforts to strengthen the principals of partnership and sharing in this land. Our people, regardless of what their population number is today given the current changing environment and conditions, will always be the rightful owner of a political cause and historical rights in a land that they have lived in for thousands of years and paid for it by large numbers of Martyrs. Our people have remained faithful to this country and remained committed to the principal of mutual coexistence with all the people of this county. It is these noble and patriotic qualities that exists in our people that have been displayed by our Movement since inception some twenty-two years ago during which we have given a group of unforgotten martyrs who act as shining stars lighting up the path of struggle. Our promise to them is that we will stay faithful to the same principals for which they gave their lives.
Meeting of the ADM Central Committee
BET-NAHRAIN DEMOCRATIC PARTY AT THE MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
Courtesy of Bet-Nahrain Magazine, May 2001.
(ZNDA: California) During the 26 May Municipal Elections held in two northern KDP-controlled provinces of Iraq, Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party candidates were elected in Dohuk, Sarsang, Arbil, Ainkawa, Shaqlawa, and Diana. BNDP is an Assyrian political party affiliated with the Assyrian National Congress who recently ended its Seventh Annual General Assembly in Stockholm, Sweden.
The BNDP candidates included Mr. Benyamin Esha Youkhana and Espania Oraha Es-Haq from Nohadra (Dohuk), Talia Baito Talia in Sarsang, Nestrois Youkhana Nissan in Bakerat, Gewargis Younan Khoshaba in Arbil, Essam Hana Kabo in Ainkawa, Arsanis Basa in Shaqlawa, and Gewargis Yosip Zaia in Diana.
The candidates ran on an independent ticket and according to the BNDP "were supported by an overwhelming majority of the Assyrian voters." The BNDP also referred to the Assyrian Democratic Movement in these elections as "Another Assyrian group, which has claimed falsely in the past to be 'the only Assyrian representative in Iraq'". In the same report BNDP explains that ADM "was denied permission by the Kurdish Regional Government in Arbil to field 'the only Assyrian candidates" in these municipal elections."
According to the BNDP report, at a meeting in Salah al'Deen two weeks before the Municipal Elections, attended by representatives of 32 political parties including BNDP, Mr. Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, had told the ADM leadership that "he or his group do not represent the Assyrian population in the region and the elections are free, democratic and open to all political parties operating in the region." BNDP goes further by stating that the ADM leadership "knowing in advance that its candidates will loss if ran independently" allied itself with the Communist Party and the Islamic Unity Party (Al Itihad Al-Islami) and ran a joint slate of candidates in Ainkawa, Diana, and Arbil.
On July 10, the ADM leadership released a Declaration (see above) explaining
that they "were extremely patient in not declaring a position or
passing a resolution on these elections until the last second in order
to give ample time to have the situation rectified." Without any
direct references to the BNDP election results the Declaration states
that the ADM leadership reaffirms its "position to reject the current
situation that deals with the aspiration of our people and their nationalistic
rights on a secondary level."
ISHTAR'S TEMPLE DISCOVERED IN IRAQ
(ZNDA: Nimrod) The team of Iraqi archaeologists reported in last week's issue have unearthed the remains of an Assyrian temple and sculptures in the north of the country dating back to the era of King Assurnasirpal II in the 9th century B.C. The head of Iraq's archaeology and heritage department, Jaber Khalil Ibrahim, said that two giant winged lions, frescoes and reliefs had also been found at the Nimroud site, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the town of Mosul.
"It's only the second time in 150 years that winged lion statues have been found on this site," he said, adding that the sculptures stand five metres (more than 16 feet) tall.
"Two identical statues were discovered by a British archaeological mission in 1850," said Ibrahim. "One is currently on display in Mosul museum and the other in Britain."
Dozens of Iraqi archaeologists have been toiling for the past five months at the site, where winged bulls have also been found in the past.
The temple they have unearthed is dedicated to Ishtar, the Assyrian goddess of love and war, explained Ibrahim. A pyramid-like structure has also been found with Assyrian inscriptions.
"The lower parts of the (lion) sculptures are in relatively good condition but their heads are damaged by erosion," added Mozahem Mahmoud Hussein, head of the archaeological team.
The cuneiform inscriptions on the base date them to the 884-860 B.C. reign of King Assurnasirpal. Hussein said the king ordered the winged lions to be erected at the entrance to palaces and temples "because he believed the sculptures prevented evil spirits from entering".
The newly-found temple contains a room 20 metres (66 foot) long and inscriptions of the names of King Assurnasirpal II and his son Salmanasar III and an account of a huge celebration to inaugurate the town of Nimroud.
REFUGEE CENTER OPENS IN NEW ZEALAND
of the Evening Post (July 18)
NICK YOHANNA, WORLD WAR II VETERAN DIES AT 78
(ZNDA: Chicago) Nick Yohanna, 78, husband of the late Vera; father of
Kenneth (Jeanine) and Nicholas Jr.; grandfather of Joseph and Alison;
brother of Joseph, the late Alex, the late Lillian and the late Alice
passed away in Chicago last week. Mr. Yohanna was a veteran of World War
II and member of the Assyrian American AMVETS Post #5. His funeral service
was held last Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Entombment Elmwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, his family requests donations to The Heart Fund. Info
BECOME A SPONSOR AT THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
Market your company to thousands at this year's Assyrian National Convention
The 2001 Assyrian National Convention (August 31-September 3 in San Jose, CA) marks the first opportunity for corporate sponsorship of this year's impressive cultural and educational programs. If you are a business or an organization that wants to extend its marketing communications and its support for the preservation of Assyrian heritage, you are invited to consider promoting your company by sponsoring a session at this year's convention. Your sponsorship package will deliver high profile visibility on-site and integrate your brand in the convention-marketing program.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or know of a company that would be interested, please contact Maha Hermes (firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-851-3692) for more information. You can also click to our website www.assyrianconvention.org for full convention details.
Please down load the pdf file for full sponsorship details. Click Here.
Thank you for your support.
American National Convention Committee
Aissors = Assyrians
The exiled Aissors lived, starved, plundered, aroused the burn-ing hatred of the Persians. They visited the bazaars dressed in small felt caps, multicolored vests and wide pants made from scraps of calico and tied above the ankles with ropes. The Chris-tian religion, which bound the Aissors together, had long since grown slack and subsisted only as another means of differentiating them from the Moslems.
There were religious missions in Urmia-Russian, German, French, American; they all pursued the souls of the poor Nestori-ans and, of course, played politics. The missions meddled in gov-ernment matters and they too constituted a sort of separate state. Each mission extended protection to its new converts. Because of this, there were some who changed their faith two or three times. In one family practically all the Christian denominations were represented.
The French mission in Urmia had a strange appearance. A large monastery with columns, men in black soutanes and round caps with pompons. It was the largest building in town.
The Russian mission, built, incidentally, on land illegally taken from private owners, looked like a large new monastery, with its red-brick walls. During my stay in Persia, the mission had already begun to decline: the bishop had left; its influence had waned.
All these organizations worked among the Urmian Aissors; the mountain Ashurite Aissors were harder to convert.
The Aissors had been living in the vicinity of Urmia for a long time: they had appeared here no later than the seventh century. But in our time, their relations with the Persians had become severely strained. The main reason was the Aissors' participation in the war. They had a guerrilla band which fought on our side. Christianity bound them to us, as well as their respect for the Allies. In their own way, the Aissors are an energetic people:
many of them had gone to America, where an Aissorian journal is even published. I remember someone pointed out to me an Aissor walking down the street in his national costume-patchwork pants and rawhide shoes-and said that he was a doctor of philosophy from an American university.
It was these fantastic people who had their own guerrilla band, men terrible in their thousand-year hatred of the Kurds and the Persians. The leader of this guerrilla band was a certain Aga Petros Elov, a black-haired man with a low forehead, curly hair and a broad, barrel-like chest. His striped pants and formal dou-ble-breasted jacket with red piping made him look like a telegraph operator. Elov had a colorful past. The consul showed me a printed résumé on him in a secret official publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I don't know it by heart, but I'm quoting rather accurately from memory:
"Aga Petros Elov is the party who was in such-and-such a year the Turkish consul in Urmia; in such-and-such a year he governed a certain locality in Turkey and ruined the populace with exorbi-tant taxes; while residing in America, he was sentenced to a term of hard labor in Philadelphia. At the present time, he sides with Russia and is our unofficial dragoman. His services are to be used with extreme caution."
Aga Petros and his guerrilla band had rendered us great serv-ices in the campaign against Oramar. I accidentally saved his life a few days after my arrival in Urmia. Drunken soldiers of the Third Frontier Regiment had arrested him in the street and were threat-ening to bayonet him. I got him away from them by saying that I was arresting him; then I took him to my apartment. He spoke good French and English and bad Russian.
We didn't feed his band; we gave them nothing but rifles and cartridges. And even the rifles supplied were mediocre-the three-shot French Lebel without muzzle rings. You can burn your hand with this kind of rifle if you aren't careful how you pick it up after shooting. This guerrilla band damaged the relations between the Persians and the Aissors, which had already been essentially bad. But in any case, Aga Petros was a daring and, in his own way, an honest man. This is the kind of thing that happened to him:
Several years previously, before starting to serve the Russians, he was summoned before the Persian governor of Urmia on some charge. He handled this matter by arresting the governor himself and forcing the khans to recognize him, the Aga, as governor. The shah summoned Petros to come before him, but he didn't go, wisely believing that home is best; instead, he summoned the shah. Finally, the shah persuaded him to resign by sending him a medal. That's the kind of man this unofficial dragoman was. And I've forgotten something else: he wasn't a malik-the chieftain of ancient times-but one of the maliks, a man named Hamu, worked for him. Mar Shimun's faction looked down on Petros, considering him an upstart.
The third segment of the population-second in numbers-were the Kurds. In peaceful times they lived on the border between Turkey and Persia. More accurately, Turkey and Persia bordered on the lands where they lived. Part of them were Turkish citizens, part Persian. All together, there are about two million Kurds. In the 1880's they had tried to set up an independent state. The initiative came from the Persian Kurds. But the cultural level of the Kurds makes it impossible for them to set up a strong organiza-tion. To this day, they live as clans. With extensive cattle-raising and some farming, they live very well during peaceful times. Our soldiers used to say the Kurds were "richer than Cossacks."
But now they were completely ruined, suffering terribly from the war. Above all, from the fact that the war had closed their nomadic routes.
Formerly they had driven their cattle into Mesopotamia in the winter and in the summer moved into the mountains to escape the heat.
The war had closed the routes. Part of the herd stayed in the valleys and died from the heat; part was lost in the mountains.
Moreover, the Russians came to Kurdistan already hating the Kurds-a hatred inherited from the Armenians and understandable in them.
The formula "The Kurd is the enemy" deprived the peaceful Kurds, and even their children, of the protection afforded by the laws of war.
The general who took Solozhbulak (I've forgotten his name) proudly called himself "the exterminator of the Kurds."
With all their valor, the Kurds couldn't offer resistance to us. They still live not even as tribes, but as scattered clans.
After the February revolution, there was an important move-ment among the Kurds toward a covenant between the free Kurds and free Russia. There were all kinds of meetings and they sent men to us for negotiations.
The envoys returned saying: "The Russians are free, but they understand
freedom only in the Russian way."
The Kurds were also living wretchedly in the valleys of Mergevar and Tevgevar.
No, not at all. They had been driven out of these valleys, which they once inhabited as a rich tribe with 200,000 sheep and 40,000 cattle. The Transbaikal Cossacks had settled there. In the army committee, they were referred to as the "yellow peril" and not just because of the yellow stripes on their pants. Broad-faced, very swarthy, they rode ponies that could live literally on roots; the Transbaikal Cossacks were valiant and cruel, like the Huns.
However, without knowing much about the Huns, I think that the cruelty of the Transbaikal Cossacks was more absent-minded.
One Persian told me, "When they slash with their sabers, they probably don't realize they're using sabers. They think they're using whips."
I had a chance to experience the intransigence of these Cossacks first-hand.
I was driving into Gerdyk, our outpost in Mergevar.
A broad valley. On a knoll, a destroyed Kurdish fortification. Beside it, stumps, a lot of stumps. From high, high on the moun-tain fell a waterfall, shattering into dust.
On the other side of the valley, a jet of water the width of a barrel came gushing out of the mountain. Silence. Not a soul in sight. At night jackals howled. Foxes, gray foxes, caught trout from the bank of the river.
I had come to ask these Cossacks not to hinder us from return-ing the Kurds to their homes, where they might be able to live off the millet which had been sown and had not yet completely crum-bled.
I spoke to them about the children wandering around our camps, about the fact that we were leaving anyway. And got nowhere.
In the geographical entity known as Russia live all kinds of people.
By the way, this whole valley apparently belonged to an Arme-nian-Manusurians; and its khan also belonged to him.
That's how the Kurds were perishing in Persia. The Persians themselves were hostile to them because of religious differences. The Persians were Shiites, followers of Ali; the Kurds were Sun-nites. These Moslem sects got along together like Catholics and Protestants (during the era of the Huguenots).
The position of the Kurds in Turkey was not much better. The Turks used them as fighting material, maintaining them as irregu-lar units, not on food allotments, but on grass.
All these tribes-Persians, Kurds, Aissors, Armenians-hated each other. From time to time, out of a feeling of self-preservation, the desire to make peace would appear.
In my time, even a holiday, "Reconciliation of the Nations," was declared. The most eminent representatives of each national group assembled and swore to end internecine war. It was even touching: they all exchanged kisses. They had left their weapons at the entrance.
I don't know where they got the weapons: we had supposedly disarmed the populace.
In honor of this occasion, everyone decided to wear a special green-and-white rosette.
All this was brought off very seriously, slyly and naïvely. Irony hadn't been introduced into their relations as yet.
What struck me about the holiday were the mullahs with their red beards and deliberate, stately movements. They move more gracefully than Europeans.
Russian authority was represented in Persia by the consul, the commander of the army, the commissar, the committees, each official in charge of an outpost, many of whom subjected the populace to extortion, and, in addition, by every soldier with a rifle.
Urmia was restless. Shooting was heard every night-one of the signs that there was no longer any discipline in the garrison. Dull, humdrum complaints trailed in from all sides. The army was quietly rotting. I was miserable in the East, just as Gogol had been miserable in Palestine waiting at the dreary station in Nazareth. The main complaint had to do with fodder. Huge convoys were going hungry. The hay stored somewhere in the mountains near Diza had been carelessly stored, or too cunningly. We didn't get it out in time. There weren't enough ropes and the Kurdish Khan Sinko provided no means of transport. Fall had begun. The springs began to run and the hay was ruined. Task spent a long time looking into this incident, picked fights with everybody, but didn't find the guilty party. The reserve supply of fodder was in the Khoi-Dilman region. This was a rich area, but the location was inconvenient-on the right flank of our front. Sumna-a straw that has been crushed and bound at the time of threshing in special Persian threshing machines-as well as alfalfa and hay, was stored in rather large quantities, but it had to be pressed and the work detail stationed at Dilman sabotaged the pressing operation, pressed the fodder wrong and broke the presses. The loaders worked half-heartedly, as did the hungry men of the convoy.
In Bana, on our left flank, the horses ate oak leaves and bark and gnawed at fences; whole herds of horses died. And cavalry units predominated in our army. The ability to work declined markedly. The army committee sent inspectors to all the harbors -it did little good. The situation was complicated by the fact that the loading and freighting crews at many harbors consisted of German colonists, who had strongly Germanophile sentiments about the war.
The hired crews of Persians could have helped out, but the populace persuaded them to quit work and not help the Russians. The loss of horses was taken very hard by our cavalry, which consisted of Cossacks, men riding their own horses-in other words, sentimental about them.
To add to all this, the army was faced with a currency problem, which soon became critical. To make everything that follows more clear, I'll say a few words about Persian money-"doggies," as the soldiers called it. They called Persian money "doggies" because it bore the picture of a lion.
The monetary unit was the kran-a silver coin which had pre-viously been worth about thirty kopeks.
The five-kran piece was called a half-toman. It was bigger around than our ruble and had been coined at the Petersburg mint. The five-kran piece was worth from one ruble, fifty kopeks, up to one ruble, eighty kopeks.
After we stopped importing goods into Persia, the exchange value of the ruble fell; it was decided to pay our troops in Persian currency, figuring the half-toman at one ruble, eighty kopeks.
Being paid in the local currency would have worked decidedly to the troops' advantage. But we didn't have enough silver for such a payroll. This idea was talked about, then forgotten, but the ruble continued to drop. In the Kuchin Pass, I saw with my own eyes trains of donkeys whose khordzhiny (saddle bags) were crammed with Russian bank notes. They weren't a very precious commodity. The matter was complicated by the fact that the units in the rear were being paid in Persian currency.
The problem got worse. Everyone took an interest; consequently it was impossible to approach the problem rationally.
The Third Frontier Regiment was especially insistent. It was an enormous regiment consisting of four battalions. Finally, with difficulty, enough silver was obtained for a partial payment; for the remaining sum, in line with Task's suggestion, savings-deposit booklets were given out in which the sum still owing was entered as a credit. Then a new difficulty arose. It's impossible to imagine anything more capricious than the rate of exchange in Persia. Small silver coins had one rate of exchange, rubles another. Even gold had its own rate of exchange-not according to weight, but according to where it was minted, so that one weight of gold in Turkish lira was worth much more than the same weight in Russian pieces. Small Russian banknotes had their own rate of exchange.
Hundred-ruble notes and five-hundred-ruble notes had still another rate of exchange, the thousand-ruble note showing the Duma another, the "kerenkas," just issued by the Provisional Government, still another. Moreover, the rate for the Russian ruble would change literally twice a day, depending on the latest infor-mation telegraphed from Tabriz. No need to say that the Russian bank in Tabriz wouldn't take Russian money. The situation got to be such that at each change in value, the soldier felt that he'd been cheated-and, in fact, he had been.
The minute the silver was handed out, the soldiers all rushed to change it into rubles, which they would take back to Russia. The bankers (sarafs) would momentarily inflate the ruble by fifteen kopeks (shai) and more, and the soldiers, feeling resentful, would stage a series of pogroms. The pogroms, however, were constant.
I'll describe one of them. For a long time, there had been rumors in Urmia that there would be a pogrom. Some Jewish soldiers warned a compatriot in the bazaar about it. One morning in winter when snow lay on the stones, I went out for a while. The irrigation ditches were frozen. The wretched Persian beggars, nearly naked Kurds from devastated areas, were huddling almost frozen against the walls. There was hardly anyone on the streets. A Persian I knew ran by and shouted at me:
"They're looting the bazaar!"
I lived across from headquarters, so I rushed to the commander, Prince Vadbolsky. He confirmed my news. Vadbolsky was a dar-ing and honest man. Now he lost his head. Who could be sent to put down the pogrom? There were no disciplined units! Each would only join the looters. The Transbaikal Cossacks could be called from the outskirts of the city, but everyone knew the risk of throwing wood on the fire. The Kubans could be sent-Kubans didn't loot, at least in Persia-but they maintained a shrewd neu-trality of the Khokhol-Caucasian variety and wouldn't interfere with the looting. More than anything, they were afraid to spoil their relations with the infantry. Their maximum program was to get back home. I raced to the army committee. It was meeting in full strength and deliberating on ways of combating hypothetical pogroms. No one wanted to do anything about a real pogrom. Everyone was afraid, and particularly dreadful was the thought of driving off the marauders with weapons. But meanwhile the army committee, together with the town regimental council, would have made up a group of about 150-a force to reckon with. I told the committee members that I would go by myself. Task was away.
I went to the bazaar. Several men were clustered around the entrance. Two or three scared Persian police and a few French officers observing everything with an air of calm, disdainful amaze-ment. Soldiers came running past, bent over, carrying all kinds of stuff in their arms and dropping it. The bazaar itself was dark with dust and there was the constant cry-ow, ow, ow-as in a bath-house. A blind animal rage swept over me. I picked up a board and with a shout ran down the dark tunnel hitting all comers. The broken shutters of the stores hung on their hinges. Men were rummaging in the interiors of the dark stalls, jerking out long strips of material like intestines. Beggars were snatching the pieces and hiding them.
They were robbing the shoemakers. Tools, shoe trees, pieces of leather, assorted slippers of yellow leather littered the ground.
Several Persians squatting in front of their stalls as the intrud-ers broke in were wailing in high, wild voices and gouging their faces. The bazaar thundered from the blows of rocks against the doors, hollow as drums. The dust raised by the vandals made you want to cough and spit up your insides. Ahead of me, I drove a mob as reckless and blind as I was myself.
Most of the men were in the carpet section. One of them, in a leather
jacket, very tall and stocky, was breaking down a sturdy door with a crowbar.
I rushed over to him and clumsily hit him. He recoiled, but didn't run-instead
he threw his crowbar at me. I caught the blow on the shoulder and immediately,
automatically, began to shoot point-blank at him, time after time, without
hitting him. By doing this, I broke some unwritten law of pogroms.
At the sound of shots, men came running.
This happened at a point where the tunnels intersected. I started to
run, which didn't demonstrate a lot of valor.
I remembered and relived that nightmare again while awake in the gray tunnels of the Urmian bazaar.
Behind me, people were running and shouting. At the bend, the tunnels
converged from two sides like arrows; a mob was running down each one.
I pulled off the fur jacket I was wearing a1171d flung it behind me.
The two waves turned and met at my jacket and seized it, temporarily forgetting about me.
I gained a few steps and rushed toward a narrow passageway. Three or four men started to run after me.
I fired without looking back. They disappeared. I sprang out of the bazaar.
It was cold. Snow was falling and melting. The pavement glistened; a wet lantern hung on its bracket just as in Petersburg.
The bazaar rumbled.
I went around the bazaar and returned again to the exit.
The broad-faced Transbaikal Cossacks had arrived. The plane of their temples makes an angle with the plane of their faces-but just barely. I don't know how their heads got to be so round.
They stood there and calmly filled their saddlebags with the cloth that was strewn about-the shabby rough Persian calico. .
I ordered them to leave.
The Kubans arrived on foot. The appearance of these calm men in black fur coats who weren't taking part in the pogrom, who were just walking past these thugs with a half-derisive, half-conde-scending grin, somewhat abated the pogrom.
The Persians were offering no resistance: they knew that if they killed or wounded even one soldier, the pogrom would spread to the town.
A detachment of Aissors arrived; they had heard that I'd been killed.
They couldn't be allowed in, nor could the Dashnaks: we couldn't embroil them with our troops.
Finally, the committee members arrived-with no weapons, of course.
They too thought that I'd been killed.
We picked up boards and went along the passageways driving out the men. They had already been looting for about four hours.
We ran down the tunnels, dragging the soldiers out of the stalls, throwing them out of there, kicking them-despite the fact that the marauders were sometimes in the majority.
And the committee, of course, believed in procedures that were strictly democratic.
I remember . . . the dust in the air. The din of doors being beaten down. A kind, once very honest and daring committee member stood on the high, wide cornice running along the stalls and shouted:
"Comrades, what are you doing! Is this really the way to fight capitalism?
Capitalism has to be fought efficiently!"
It was strange. A man would be running with a dagger in his hand and wild eyes; you caught him, shook him and he had: two gilded frames, two boots for the left foot and several handfuls of currants.
Incidentally, Prince Vadbolsky was right when he told me, "Seventy-five per cent of the soldiers are passively honest, but they're also neutral."
Two soldiers were leading one of these "neutrals"-holding his arms, while he shouted hysterically:
"They're looting. A disgrace . . . I'm a Bolshevik . . . dis-grace. . . I don't believe you."
But all the same, the passive majority looked on the pogrom as a bit of harmless mischief.
We barricaded all but one of the entrances and drove everyone out of the bazaar.
That night, details went around and confiscated the loot The men were all in an ugly mood: "It's wrong to loot. But it's all right to harass the troops?"
The soldiers felt very sorry for me. What a bad deal for a man to lose a fur coat because of some Persians! The coat is expensive. And the man is all right. They looked everywhere for the coat.
Ushnuiyeh, Sharafkhaneh, and many other places were plun-dered in about
the same way-and two or three times.
The town of Khoi was plundered by the troops passing through it on their way to Dzhulf a during the evacuation of Persia.
Tabriz wasn't plundered. The bazaar at Tabriz has goods from all over the world; it's a big city with goods lying about in piles.
It's so big and intricate that when the merchants themselves go into an unfamiliar section, they take along a beggar for a guide.
Looters went into the bazaar several times, but they didn't come back out. . . . They got separated in there and, in all probability, were torn to pieces.
Tabriz wasn't sacked.
I remember the day that one unit stationed in the city departed. They engaged musi-cians, got a pitcher of wine and did Cossack dances for two hours without stopping.
Then, with some difficulty, they mounted their horses and rode away, seemingly sober.
Some Persians stood across the way and watched fondly.
Even the sailors of the Black Sea fleet had taken part in the Dilman pogrom.
Already headquarters was being guarded only by Aissors. By this time, all that remained of the Army of the Caucasus were the various headquarters companies.
Because of the withdrawal, the problem of currency exchange again became critical. The withdrawing Transbaikal Cossacks arrested the new chairman of the army committee, who had been elected at the army conference; that was Comrade Tatiev, a very honest man who devoutly believed in world revolution.
These Cossacks demanded that their currency be exchanged at a rate of nine shahis for one ruble. They rushed to the governor and, by threatening the bankers with sticks, he got the exchange. Ta-tiev was released.
The armistice didn't present much of a problem on our front. We had almost
no contact with the enemy. Winter had swept the Turks and us from the
mountains into the valleys. Outposts were maintained only at a few points.
It was necessary to make this state of affairs official and we received an order to that effect from the regional soviet.
An airplane was dispatched to the Turks to drop proclamations suggesting that we begin negotiations. In addition, we sent a radiogram. The main problem, in general, was to negotiate a line of demarcation.
The Turks answered us with a radio communication in German and proposed that we go to Mosul for negotiations.
I stayed with Tatiev to manage the army. I had the same feeling I'd had when wrestling. You're grappling with a man many times stronger than you are. You have him in a bear hug and you're still holding your own, but your heart has already surrendered. You're holding your own, but you aren't breathing.
And the brakes had to be applied.
It was easier for Tatiev. He had received a telegram that we got by accident about how Russia's peace offer had been received in Berlin-a telegram now forgotten about the tears of joy in the streets-so he told me in his soft voice with a Georgian accent:
"You'll see. Our revolution will save the world." I'm now writing at midnight on August 9.
Hungary has fallen. The banker is raking our stake from the table.
My head aches; I want to sleep all the time. I'm suffering from severe anemia. If I suddenly stand up from my chair now, my head will start spinning and I'll fall.
I can write only at night. I know what that means. The oil has burned up and, by nighttime, when all my strength is gone, the wick burns.
This is how I lived.
I woke up in the morning in a small white room. It was freezing cold. The heat had escaped through the panes of the window, installed without any putty. But the sun was shining. I fed the small iron stove with poplar logs; it got warm, cozy, and smelled of resin.
It was the best moment of the day.
I got up and opened a pile of telegrams-all about one thing: the disintegration that demanded immediate withdrawal and prevented it.
Individual units were already rushing to Dzhulfa, trying to get to Russia as fast as possible.
A bottleneck developed. The escaping soldiers seized the trains bringing us provisions, threw off their cargo, boarded them and turned them back toward Russia.
The Dilman work detail had fled.
I cursed the tracks along which they were traveling and de-layed them.
We were carrying on various negotiations with the local Persian community.
Another evening I went to the home of Aga Petros for a dinner party, to celebrate Mar Shimun's being awarded the Order of St. Vladimir.
Who says Assyrian girls don't wear the pants? We know one Melburnian Assyrian girl in particular who definitely wears the pants - and she holds them up with a black belt.
She is Katie Toina, master of the Goju-Rvu style of karate.
Goju-Rvu is Japanese for 'soft-hard', a name which aptly describes not only this karate school's philosophy, but also Katie herself. On the outside, she is softly spoken, gentle and petite-that's her 'soft' side. Deep down, she is tough, independent and above all unexpectedly confident - and all this at only seventeen years of age.
Katie first became interested in martial arts at the age of ten - when
most girls that age are following the latest teeny-hopper fashions, Katie
was studying Bruce Lee's life-story, his movies and his message: rise
above your difficulties through determination and succeed in life ....
in reality though, being beaten up by two girls at Brunswick High School
was all the excuse she needed to take up karate.
Initially, as with most youngsters who take up martial arts, she used it to 'get back' at others. That quickly changed. Part of maturity is learning your limitations and being able to say "I don't know" or "I can't". Self-knowledge and confidence both replace youthful over-confidence and arrogance - which really all just stem from insecurity. "I didn't speak much English at the time," she tells us, "and things were difficult for me at school. I was a bit of a troublemaker. I had to 'prove myself.
Karate taught me confidence - I learned about anger and how to deal with it - you're braver if you can smile and walk away."
Competitions taught Katie a lot about herself too. Initially, she had to prove she could win, and when she didn't, she would take it out on herself and others. "She wouldn't talk to anyone for a week after she lost a competition," her older sister Vienna smiles, "now she's a lot more philosophical about it all."
Losing a competition simply means she can now identify her weaknesses
and do better next time. She'd learned the value of hope -'failure' in
karate, as in
The Gqiu-Rvu insignia consists of three petals placed around a white circle. Each of the three petals represents a major sensei(teacher) of the school surrounding the pure white circle of life.
Education is very important for Katie too, and her major life influences come in threes as well. The three most important figures in her life have also been teachers of various sorts: her older sister, her school-teacher and her karate sensei-each one has played, and continues to play, a vital role in her education in not only school and sport, but in life.
And Katie has now herself become a teacher. Being a black-belt, it's expected of her. "Before, I hardly had the confidence to speak in front of little kids, let alone grown-ups, and wasn't too confident at school," she explains, "but now, I can stand up and talk to a group of adults."
You may feel that Katie is just brawn and beauty, but you'd be wrong - she's brains too. Currently in Year 12, she plans on studying Law in the future. She attacks life with the same competitive, confident spirit that she attacks karate. "I want to prove to those people who think I can't make it, that I can become a lawyer," she states confidently. Being Assyrian, and a girl, and a future potential lawyer, you could be forgiven for seeing her as a minority within a minority within a minority. But that's exactly the kind of attitude Katie wants to karate-chop to pieces : "I want to show that I'm different from most other Assvrian girls - that girls can achieve. Training six clays a week and studying in order to accomlish these goals, she even manages to squeeze in time for her hobbies - dancing, singing, the guitar, learning the piano and her real passion - acting.
When asked what her greatest triumph in karate is so far, she doesn't speak of competitions or trophies - her answer is unexpected: it's having learned to do the best you can in life today, and to live it as if there's no tomorrow.
With her winning attitude, we're sure Katie will tackle whatever is dished out to her - both in the karate ring and in life..
( 303 B.C.)
The Seleucid ruler of Persia, Seleucus Nicator, renames the Assyrian city of Urhai - Edessa.
(A.D. Feburary 641)
Assyrian Patriarch Cyrus, governor of Mesopotamia, after negotiations with Moslems and Byzantium, signs a peace treaty with Moslems and surrenders Babylon.
July 23, 1873
Nazar Agha Yamin al'Saltaneh, Iran's Counsel in France, signs a trade treaty between his country and Switzerland in Geneva. Yamin al'Ssaltaneh's true name was "Lazar" and he was the son of a Polish father and an Assyrian mother.
Share your local events with Zinda readers. Email us or send fax to: 408-918-9201
A festival celebrating the descent of the god Tammuz to the Underworld and the end of spring in Bet-Nahrain. It is customary to sprinkle water on friends and family members, wishing for Tammuz' safe return to his beloved Ishtar.
WALTER AZIZ AWAY TOUR PARTY
Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock
MARTYRS DAY COMMEMORATION
A day to commemorate the Assyrian martyrs throughout history.
SARGON GABRIEL PARTY
by the Assyrian Eagles Basketball & Soccer Teams of Bay Area
For Tickets & Infor contact:
August 28 - Sept 3
ASSYRIAN AMERICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
A PERFORMANCE OF SUMERIAN STORIES
The Zi-Pang Trio
November 8 thru
March 17, 2002
AGATHA CHRISTI & THE ORIENT
Revealing Agatha Christie the archaeologist and how her discoveries in the Near East influenced her detective writing.
The hitherto unknown interests and talents of the great crime writer are told through archaeological finds from the sites on which she worked with her husband Max Mallowan at Ur, Nineveh and Nimrud. Important objects from these sites in the Museum's collections are combined with archives, photographs, and films made by Agatha Christie herself.
Personal memorabilia and souvenirs of travel in a more leisurely age are only some of the exhibits which range from first editions of those novels inspired by her other life to a sleeping compartment from the Orient Express, from a lethal 1930s hypodermic syringe to a priceless first millennium ivory of a man being mauled to death
Admissions £7, Concessions £3.50
West Wing Exhibition Gallery Room 28
MIDDLE EAST STUDIES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE
Middle East Studies Association of North America Panel
Hyatt Regency Hotel, San Francisco
Dr. Arian Ishaya - Urmia to Baquba: From the Cradle
of Water to Wilderness
THE NIMROD CONFERENCE
Sponsored by the British School of Archaeology in Iraq
Cost To Be Determined
Contact Dept of Ancient Near East 020 7323 8315
Coincides with Ancient Near East week at the British Museum:
FIRST UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO's CSSS SYMPOSIUM
Sponsored by Canadian Society for Syriac Studies (CSSS)
Zindamagazine would like to thank:
ZINDA Magazine is published weekly. Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarily represent those of the ZINDA editors, or any of our associated staff. This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals. ZINDA reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium. All letters and messages require the name(s) of sender and/or author. All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 words or less and bear the name of the author(s). Distribution of material featured in ZINDA is not restricted, but permission from ZINDA is required. This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news. To subscribe, send e-mail to: email@example.com.
Zinda Magazine Copyright © Zinda Inc., 2001 - All Rights Reserved - http://www.zindamagazine.com