Z I N D A  M A G A Z I N E
Shvadt  27, 6750              Volume VII                      Issue 1             February 27, 2001

To receive our weekly notification message or this issue in text format write to z_info@zindamagazine.com.

T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z I N D A
The Lighthouse Did Christianity Thrive in China?
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain Joint Condemnation Statement on the Killing of Hariri
New Patriarch of Antioch Elected
News Digest AUA on the Assassination of Fransu Hariri
Father Abkulut's Trial Delayed Again
An Evening of Assyrian Literature in Austria
Vatican Opposes Latest Bombing of Iraq
Surfs Up! "Hariri was not Assyrian!"
Surfers Corner Beth Mardutho
Literatus I Remember Nana!
Bravo Rev. Yusif Abdulmasih
Assyrian Surfing Posts The Arrest and Trial of Father Yusuf Akbulut
Live it. Give it. Wear it. Share it.
Milestones Tabetha Gabriela Kiraz (born Feb 10)
Natalie Ready Bakal (1921-2001)
Pump Up the Volume Fountain & Waterfall
Back to the Future Honeymoon & Abracadabra
This Week in History Rev. Yacu Diliqu
Calendar of Events AAS Dinner & Dance Party in Chicago
Gilgamesh Lectures in Sydney

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


 Martin Palmer was covered in bird droppings when he made the discovery of a lifetime. He clambered up a rickety ladder into the ancient pagoda, picked his way through broken tiles and wood beams, looked up–and was shocked by what he saw. Above him, shrouded in dust, was a 10-foot-high clay grotto. The top was classical Tang dynasty sculpture, but at the bottom were the remains of a figure, one leg cocked and wearing flowing robes. Palmer recognized it at once: "It was a depiction of the Virgin Mary, and I was looking at China's first Nativity scene."

Here, beneath fields of kiwi fruit bushes, lay what is likely the oldest surviving Christian site in all of China. Dating back to 638 A.D., the site provides the first evidence that Christianity thrived throughout China from the seventh to the ninth centuries as the imperially sanctioned "religion of light." The excavation project was launched last week. "If they have found any Christian buildings, it would be an earthshaking discovery," says Jason Sun, associate curator of Asian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Palmer, who heads the Britain-based Alliance of Religions and Conservation, became interested in the site while translating ancient Christian scrolls that describe it. His research turned up a map, made by Japanese spies posing as archaeologists, who had charted the area before Japan's invasion of China in 1937. The map showed only religious sites (and, if soaked in lemon juice, every military post in the county). Palmer followed it to an area 50 miles southwest of the ancient Chinese capital of Xi'an, where there stood a leaning pagoda called Da Qin, meaning "To the West."

Palmer's first clue to the significance of the site came when he climbed a hill overlooking it. Looking down, he realized that the site was laid out not on a north-south axis, as Chinese temples are, but instead pointing toward the east like a proper Christian church. Palmer ran excitedly down the hill and was immediately confronted by an old Buddhist nun, who demanded to know why he was shouting. When Palmer told her he thought the site was Christian, she surprised him by snapping, "Of course it was! This was the most famous Christian site in all of China!"

Previously, all that scholars knew about the earliest Christians in China came from the Nestorian Stone, a tablet discovered in the 17th century that describes the arrival of Christian missionaries in 635 A.D. Led by a Bishop Alopen, they came from modern-day Afghanistan and did not recognize the pope. But in the absence of other documentation, they had long been considered a marginal group that never penetrated Chinese culture. But Palmer's discovery shows how important these first Christians really were: Their church sits squarely in the middle of what was an imperial compound for the study of Taoism, the official religion of the Tang dynasty.

The finding demonstrates the religion's powerful influence on Chinese culture. For example, the goddess of mercy, Guanyin, is the most popular Chinese deity and for centuries was depicted as male. It was not until the eighth century, when Christianity was at its height in China, that Guanyin began appearing as a female, wearing robes and carrying a baby–just like the Virgin Mary. "Here we see a Christian figure passing into Chinese folk religion," says Palmer.

The discovery also introduces a uniquely Chinese brand of Christianity. This version, mixed with Taoism and Buddhism, differed from the Roman church by discarding the idea of original sin and preaching against slavery and for gender equality and vegetarianism. "At the time Rome was trying to convert Anglo-Saxons to Christianity," says Palmer, "the church in China had developed another understanding of Christ that was more egalitarian, compassionate, and all-encompassing than the one in the West."

The excavated site is expected to become a major tourist attraction. Excavation of the sealed underground rooms, beginning this summer, could turn up liturgical vessels, scripts, and statues of saints. Palmer is working with Chinese officials on plans for a museum to house the artifacts. But sometimes he thinks back on the moment of discovery: "We all stopped suddenly in front of the Nativity scene and realized we would tell the world, and this was the last time it would be our secret. Then we all bowed and went out."

Bay Fang
Lou Guan Tai, China
Reporting for US News & World Report
March 5, 2001 Issue

Zinda News From Northern Iraq

5:  The Assyrian Students and Youth Union ends its Congress in Nohadra (Dohuk).  The Executive Committee releases a statement on the success of the 4th Congress.
15:  The new issue of Assyrian Democratic Movement's Bahra Magazine is published in Arbil.
22:  Nechrivan Barazani's statement on the assassination of Fransu Hariri:  "Faranso Hariri was a Christian in his religion, a Barzinji in his course of struggle for freedom, a KDP follower in his political believes, an Assyrian in his nationality, and a Kurdistani in his national struggle."


"Joint statement of a broad meeting of Kurdistani and Iraqi political parties"


We, the Iraqi and Kurdistani political parties and groups signatories to this statement, met on 19 February 2001 in the capital Arbil to discuss the assassination of our militant brother Faranso Hariri, member of the Central Committee and the official in charge of Branch Two of Kurdistan Democratic Party and the head of Yellow [KDP] Bloc in the Kurdistan parliament.

Without doubt, the assassination of a militant like Faranso is a great loss to the Kurdistan national liberation movement and the democratic experience in Kurdistan. This abhorrent act of assassination is a direct assault on the democratic experience in Kurdistan and an attempt to create insecurity and instability in Kurdistan.

We strongly condemn this act of assassination and stand against it. Meanwhile, we urge the competent authorities in the Kurdistan regional government to mount a serious investigation into this incident to find and punish the assassins. Towards this end, we call on the entire people of Kurdistan to cooperate with the security organs and the competent authorities in the Kurdistan government, because such a terrorist act is a threat to us all and it is our duty to make a stand against it. Arbil, Kurdistan, 19 February 2001.

Signed by the following political parties and groups:

1. Iraqi Communist Party
2. Kurdistan Islamic Unification Movement
3. Kurdistan National Democratic Union
4. Assyrian Democratic Movement
5. Kurdistan Communist Party of Iraq
6. Kurdistan Islamic League
7. Bayt Nahrayn Democratic Party
8. Kurdistan Independent Labour Party
9. Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Party
10. Union of Kurdistan Revolutionary People
11. Iranian Kurdistan Islamic National Organization
12. The Democratic Movement of Kurdistan People
13. Turkoman Qardashliq Ocaghi
14. Turkoman Cultural Association in Kurdistan
15. Kurdistan Oppressed and Farm Workers Movement
16. Iraqi Turkoman Brotherhood Party
17. Iraqi Turkoman Union Party
18. Kurdistan National Islamic Movement
19. Kurdistan Liberation Movement
20. Kurdistan Turkoman Democratic Party
21. Kurdish National Association
22. Turkoman National Liberation Party
23. Kurdistan Democratic Republican Party
24. Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party
25. Kurdistan Independent Party
26. Assyrian National Party
27. Kurdistan Popular Movement
28. Organization of Toilers' Struggle
29. Kurdistan Democratic Party


(ZNDA:  Vatican)  According to the Vatican News Agency, John Paul II has sent his congratulations to His Beatitude Ignace Pierre VIII, the newly elected Syriac patriarch of Antioch.  The Patriarch was elected by the Bishops' Synod of the Syriac-Catholic Church on February 16.   He is replacing His Beatitude Ignace Moussa I Daoud, recently made a cardinal, who quit his patriarchal post following his appointment as prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

H.B. Ignace Pierre VIII will greet John Paul II when he goes to Syria on pilgrimage in May. On this same trip, the Pontiff might visit Malta and Athens, Greece, following in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul.  Ignace Pierre VIII (Pierre Abdel-Ahad) was born in Aleppo, Syria, on June 28, 1930. After studying in the Syriac-Catholic Patriarchal Seminary of Jerusalem, he completed his studies in the major seminary of Charfet, Lebanon. He has been a priest since 1954, and worked for many years in the minor seminary of Charfet. Later, he was appointed parish priest in Bethlehem.  During the Middle East wars of 1967 and 1973, he was involved in the humanitarian assistance and pastoral care of prisoners. In 1979, he was appointed patriarchal vicar, that is, exarch of Jerusalem.

He established a house for pilgrims in Bethlehem, and the Church of St. Thomas of Jerusalem, which has a youth center. Elected bishop by the Syriac-Catholic synod on June 29, 1996, he has kept the post of patriarchal exarch of Jerusalem.

As is traditional in this Church, the new patriarch took the name Ignace, in honor of his predecessor, St. Ignatius of Antioch.


Assyrian Universal Alliance
Press Release
Re:  Assyrian Governor of Arbil

Thursday, February 22, 2001
Assyrian Universal Alliance extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Fransu Hariri, the Assyrian governor of Arbil in Northern Iraq, and a senior member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

We condemn the barbaric act of those who have perpetrated this inhumane action against Mr. Fransu Hariri and his bodyguard. We further demand from the local officials and those world organizations and governments who are responsible for the safety of all citizens in the so-called safe haven zone to seek and bring these criminals to justice.

Acts of violence against Assyrians in Iraq are continuing and the murder of Mr. Fransu Hariri proves that the certain elements are actively pursuing their policy of denying human rights to the Assyrian people.

We demand an immediate investigation of this matter and proper action instituted against those responsible. The Assyrian people will monitor the activities of the responsible institutions until justice is served.

Assyrians are the indigenous people of Iraq, and our desire is to live in freedom, equality and peace with the people of Iraq, the land of our forefathers.

Senator John J. Nimrod
Secretary General
Assyrian Universal Alliance

Photo of Mr. Fransu Hariri courtesy of AINA


(ZNDA:  Ankara)  The trial of the Assyrian priest, Father Yusuf Abkulut, accused of speaking up in support of the Seyfo Genocide in Turkey, was delayed at last week's hearing.  The trial is now scheduled for April 5th.  Father Abkulut appeared at the Diyarbakir State Security Court on February 22, where many European, Assyrian, and human rights groups had come to observe the trial.  Mr. Abkulut's lawyers stated that the speech for which Abkulut is being accused and was recorded on cassette tape was made during an informal discussion and was never released to the press.  It, therefore, did not constitute a crime.  In addition, there was no need for the cassette to be transcribed by experts, they said, and added their client was simply availing himself of his individual right to criticize.  The lawyers also commented that their client was being tried for freely expressing his personal thoughts on that matter and that the trial was itself in contradiction to the European Human Rights Convention.  Father Abkulut's lawyers stressed that the place in which their client spoke did not have a concentrated population of either Assyrian or Armenians, therefore he could not be in contravention of Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), under which he was being charged.  They then demanded full acquitted.

The hearing was observed by Parliamentarians from Germany and Switzerland; the Swiss Consul Sture Theolin; the Norwegian Consul Haakan Svane; and the representatives of various human rights organizations.  An Assyrian observer noted that the "Turkish court was amazed at the international coverage of the trial. They delayed the trial with the argument that they had to study the case more.  But the main reason is that they try to diminish the international interest for this case."

A protest outside of Turkish Consulte in Melbourne, Australia was held today (Wed, Feb 28) by the Assyrian-Australian activists. between 11 am and 2 pm.  In an email earlier this week the group commented that Fr. Yusuf Akbulut was "non-violently exercising his right to not only express his own beliefs, but for also expressing historically documented fact, and is detained for expressing his beliefs contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

A full report of the protest will be published in the next issue.


(ZNDA:  Vienna)  On February 19, some 130 Assyrians gathered for a two-days meeting of the Mesopotamia Culture and Sports Association at the Brigittenauer Chapel in Vienna.  The program included lectures by Dr. Gabriel Afram of Sweden on the role of Assyrian Language and media in preserving the Assyrian cultural identity.   According to Dr. Afram, in Sweden Assyrians enjoy three 15-minute radio programs per week in the Assyrian language.  Mr. Aslan Gueltekin, chairman of the Mesopotamian Culture and Sports Association, noted that "The literature evenings are an important contribution for the preservation of our culture and for our youth a substantial factor for identification."

Courtesy of ORF-Center, Vienna, Austria


(ZNDA:  Vatican)  On February 21 the Vatican expressed its disapproval of the latest bombing of Iraq by U.S. and British warplanes.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, also protested the embargo imposed on Iraq, when he met the press at a reception in the Italian Embassy.  "We pronounce ourselves again against the embargo," he told Vatican Radio. "As to the rest, the Holy See is not the only one: Many governments, including the Italian government, at times have expressed concern over the humanitarian situation of these youths, patients, deprived of assistance, and have always appealed for change. We also hope that wisdom will prevail... It is believed that the method of force will resolve problems; the Holy See thinks otherwise."

Last Friday, for the first time in two years, U.S. and British planes bombed targets near Baghdad, to enforce a military "no-fly" zone.

Meanwhile, Caritas-Europe has called for an end to sanctions against Iraq, labeling them "humanly catastrophic, morally indefensible, and politically ineffective."  Caritas-Europe, a network of organizations embracing 48 Caritas of 44 European countries, made the appeal after its delegation visited Iraq at the start of the year.

Julian Filochowski, director of CAFOD, the English Caritas, said: "We are not trying to apologize to the Iraqi regime, but we do want to apologize to the Iraqi people."

Iraq's infant mortality rate is among the highest in the world. One-fourth of the children under age 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition. Only 41% of the population has access to potable water, and 83% of the schools need essential repairs, according to Caritas-Europe.

Denis Viénot, president of Caritas-Europe, said: "Our recommendation is simple, clear and can be applied rapidly: The sanctions against Iraq must be suspended immediately."  Caritas' international network has been supporting humanitarian aid programs in Iraq for years, through Confrérie de la Charité, Iraq's Caritas.

In the name of the Association Assyrophile de France I express our congratulations to the amount and quality of your work.  We read with great pleasure your corner titled "Bravo" which featured Adad Joel Warda.  Please extend to him our sincere congratulations for his successful efforts in keeping up the language of his forefathers.

Jean-Paul Sliva
Honorary chairman

Thank you for the excellent product you produce, keep up the good work!  Just a quick suggestion, like many others that I know, I print your articles and enjoy them on my train ride home. However, unless you save the articles in some kind of text file, the right margins will be chopped off, therefore I highly recommend either a text version of your articles or printable format available for such uses.

Sargon Yalda

Next month Zinda Magazine will be featuring its new printable format for your reading pleasure.  To request our entire magazine in text version please contact us at z_info@zindamagazine.com.

My name is Adrianne Alkhas and I am looking for an old friend, Teklad Pavisian.  If anyone knows his whereabouts or has his email address please contact Zinda magazine for my e-mailing address.  Thank you!

Adrianne Alkhas

On 18th of February Mr. Frances Hariri was assassinated in the northern region of today's Iraq (Atour) by a terrorist group as we are being told.

The death of Hariri does not surprise us at all because it's just another crime of many committed so far in that unstable region by those who claim they lead a democratic government.  But what really surprises us is the attention his assassination was given by the Assyrian political parties and Assyrian media sources, the press releases and headlines like "Assyrian Governor of Arbil Assassinated."

Yes Hariri was born from Assyrian parents in northern Atour but was he really an Assyrian?  A famous philosopher once said: " WHAT YOU THINK IS WHAT YOU ARE".  Did Hariri really think that he was an Assyrian?

Hariri was a member of the KDP since 1963 and worked actively with Mala Mustafa Barazani and proved his loyalty for his Kurdish party of KDP till his assassination.  He was the author of two books, "The Politics of KDP in Kurdistan, Iraq" and the other "The Internal Conflicts of the Region After 1994".

In the 11th and 12th conferences of KDP he became member of the central committee of the party and the administrator of the relations between the national and Kurdish parties, for a certain time.  IN 1992 he was the head of the parliamentarian fraction of KDP in the Kurdish parliament shortly after he became the governor of Arbil and then the director of the Kurdish democratic branch of the region's capital.

Hariri had excellent negotiation tactics and was a well-known personality among the Kurds.  In all his speeches he used to openly take pride and say "As Kurdim" meaning "I am Kurdish".  He used to affirm and vow "B'GORA MALA MUSTAFA" or "By the Grave of Mala Mustafa".  Just like Masa'ud Barazani he utilised multiple names for our nation and not as one nation, as Assyrian nation, Chaldean nation, and Syriac nation as if we were not all one, even worse at times, Kurdish Christians.   You know the trick of DIVIDE AND RULE.  Sorry, I have to be honest here, he used to call us Assyrians and say, we are all one and not Kurds, only when it would serve the benefit of his beloved KDP party.

Hariri was not Assyrian.  An Assyrian would not say I am Kurdish and instead of Mala Mustafa, an Assyrian would vow by great Assyrian leaders (the likes of Agha Petrous, Ashur Yousip, Mor Yohanin Dolabani and Mar Shimon), take then as idols and follow their footsteps not a Kurdish leader.  Hariri did not think Assyrian.  How can somebody think Assyrian and give 40 years of his life for a party that wants to make Kurdistan out of Assyria.  How can somebody think Assyrian and carry the mentality of a Kurd that wants the extinction of the Assyrian name and unity and dare call us Christian Kurds.  No, Hariri did not think Assyrian therefore is not Assyrian.  After all, what you think is what you are.

Should we take pride in Hariri?  Why should we be proud of Hariri because he was a Kurdish activist?  Or because he was an Assyrian traitor who wasted 40 years of his life for the Kurdish and not the Assyrian question and because his coffin was covered with the Kurdish flag (not our Assyrian flag) and counted as a Kurdish martyr.  Can we call Michael Aflaq (one of the founders of Ba'ath Party) or Tarq Aziz, Assyrians?  Then why are we calling Hariri an Assyrian?

The economic crisis were finally progressing for the better in the northern region of Iraq (Atour) and the Assyrians of the region had less reason to migrate from their ancestral homeland.  The assassination of Hariri is another strategic move taken by the Kurds and KDP to encourage the Assyrians to migrate and evacuate from the land of their forefathers.  By installing the thought of "THE REGION IS NO LONGER STABLE, ITS GOING FROM WORSE TO WORSE.  WE ASSYRIANS NO LONGER HAVE ANY ROON IN THIS LAND.  IF THEY ASSASSINATED HARIRI, WHO WAS THEIR SHEEP DOG, THEN WHAT ABOUT US?" the same strategy that the PKK used against the Assyrians of Atour in Turkey.

The assassination of Hariri should be a lesson for every Assyrian that believes that the salvation of our nation depends on the fate of the Kurds and to those who follow his footsteps.

The conclusion is lets all think Assyrian for the sake of the Assyrian nation and Assyria.  There is no virtue in calling Hariri and his likes Assyrians.  Remember that Napoleon the Great did not shake hands of a traitor.

Let's all be conscious of the strategic moves of our enemies who are utilising every form of tactic to steal the dreams of our nation that stood and still stands strong facing death directed on our immortal nation by our enemies.

Anuiel Ursin Lamasu


The Syriac Institute (formerly The Syriac Computing Institute) has launched its new web site at www.BethMardutho.org. The site contains the latest information about the Institute and its activities.

The launching of the site follows a reorganization of the Institute, and a broadening of its goals. The Institute aims to globalize Syriac studies, bringing it to every university, classroom, library, and home through the Internet.

Among the activities of the Institute are the publication since 1998 of Hugoye, a semiannual peer-reviewed eJournal, and the compilation of an encyclopedia of the Syriac heritage. Since 1995, the Institute held three one-day forums on Syriac computing, in association with international Syriac-studies conferences. In the past three years, the Institute was instrumental in the inclusion of Syriac in the Unicode standard, and provided consultation to Microsoft for the implementation of Syriac support in Windows 2000™, Internet Explorer 6.0™, and the forthcoming version of Office™ 10.0. With the Institute's suite of free Syriac fonts, users can compose documents in Syriac, Sooreth, Turoyo, Garshuni, and Palestinian Aramaic using Windows 2000™. With Internet Explorer 6.0™, users are able to view documents and web pages in these languages under Windows 95/98/ME. The Beth Mardutho web contains a brief outline of the history of the Syriac language. The site is the official home of the Symposium Syriacum web site, and maintains the directory of the North-American Syriac Symposium.

About Beth Mardutho:

Beth Mardutho seeks to promote the study and preservation of the Syriac heritage and language, and to facilitate opportunities for people to pursue the study of this ancient legacy globally. The Institute aims to serve the academic community, and the heirs of the heritage – the Syriac Orthodox, Assyrians, Maronites, Chaldeans, Syriac Catholics, St. Thomas Christians, and the Antiocheans and Melkites, transcending denominational diversity. Its Academic Committee consists of the most prominent scholars in the field.

Beth Mardutho
New Jersey


The Portland Art Museum's current exhibit, "Empire of the Sultans," promises to open our eyes to "the splendors of an artistic tradition with which few of us are familiar."

Unfortunately, this lack of familiarity extends to the history of the Ottoman Empire and of the current Turkish government as well. The lavishly funded exhibit attempts to equate the genuine beauty of the artifacts with a disingenuous and painfully misrepresentative image of the culture that amassed them.

In short, the exhibit functions as propaganda for a Turkish government that is desperately attempting to rewrite its history, both of the distant past and of the present. After all, if beautiful objects can obscure subjugation and genocide in the past, they can help to falsify the image of a violent and repressive culture today, as well.

The art works, from the private collection of Nasser D. Khalili, are accompanied by a rich catalog that opens with a curious five- page "political outline," setting the tone for the exhibit. In it, the Ottoman Turks, who held sway in much of the area surrounding the Mediterranean from 1280 to 1922, are represented as tolerant lords of a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic society whose "legacy is still apparent" and whose "positive contribution has come to be steadily appreciated."

Multi-ethnic has a comfortable ring today, one of those buzzwords like diversity and multiculturalism that project images of harmony and peace.

In the long history of the Ottomans, however, it more often denoted slavery, terror and the repression of subjected peoples, overrun by the military expansionism and conquest that fed wealth -- and art -- into the sultans' coffers. Armenian, Greek and Arab Christians paid a head tax, under which families were forced to give sons into slavery. Slaves were frequently eunuched, and although some were used in the military and even in government, most wound up in forced labor, from the harem to the galley (the sultan was still purchasing slaves in the 20th century).

To label such a culture multi-ethnic is a bit like saying the same of an early American culture, because it imported and enslaved Africans and conquered Native Americans, enslaving some of the latter as well. Image is all.

Of course, such things happened in Western Europe, too, but our history recognizes them. Imagine, say, an exhibit of the art of the Borgias that represented them as a nice, extended Italian family.

What is false about this exhibit and its contextualization is what it ignores. Virtually all of the art is Islamic, most of it Arabic rather than Turkish, though the catalog makes it look the other way around.

Islam is given lavish and due praise for its artistic productivity. But this is ironic today, as the militantly secularist government of Turkey arrests members of its own parliament simply for wearing the Islamic head scarf.

Christian art, which flourished in the Greek, Armenian and Assyrian enclaves of the empire, goes unacknowledged in both the exhibit and the text.

So, too, does the suffering of these peoples at the hands of the Ottomans. World War I, which ended the empire in a haze of blood and the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians, as well as the wholesale slaughter of other minorities, is passed over in a sentence about Ottoman survival.

The exhibit and the speakers and events surrounding it are supported by deep pockets: Fred Meyer, Mentor Graphics, etc., as well as the American Turkish Council, the American Friends of Turkey and Portland State's Turkish studies program, funded directly by the Turkish government.

In fact, Portland State has signed a contract with the Ataturk Research Center, a Turkish propaganda organ, to provide a repository for its publication in the United States. The exhibit, and the interpretations surrounding it, further their work.

Turkey's record is one of denial -- of the Armenian genocide, of the invasion of Greek Cyprus, of the ongoing slaughter of the Kurds and of religious and political repression.

Human rights violations in Turkey are among the worst in the world. "The Empire of the Sultans" exhibits beautiful work, but we should understand that it is dyed in minority blood.

Prof. Gregory Goekjian
Portland State University

The Arrest and Trial of Father Yusuf Akbulut

Live it. Give it. Wear it. Share it.



I can remember many different things as an American-Assyrian growing up in Chicago. There was this one time in particular when I was around nine or ten years old and I was in the alley with a group of friends. Well, Nana (my grandmother) had called out to me, yelling something or other in Assyrian, to which one of the girls asked me, "Is she speaking Spanish?" This was my first real recollection of feeling embarrassed about her speaking Assyrian to me in front of others. I can remember saying to her later, "Please! Please do not speak to me like that in front of other people!"

That embarrassment remained a "good lesson" for me, one that I would carry into my adult life. And it was because of this lesson, that I would take all three of my sons to a preschool that was less convenient, being further from my home. The first school I had visited was very close to my home. I had taken with me, my second son Ashour. During this visit, one of the children asked what the baby's name was. I responded with, "Ashour." The little girl said, very strangely, and yet, very comfortably, "What kind of name is that?!" I recognized right off that this type of attitude would cause my children an embarrassment to speak their own language. And so, with this reality, I would need to find a school that had a mix of different children who spoke different languages. I wanted my children to recognize that there were other languages in the world and to respect, not only their own language, but others as well. For the most part, it worked!

Nana had died a few months short of my wedding. She never saw my children and they never saw her. But, in a way, she played a very important part in their lives, because if it were not for her, I would never have had the foundation I had to have learned to speak Assyrian as an adult. I learned to speak Assyrian with Adad, my first-born son. There have been so many times that I had wished she could have been here to see them. She would have loved them and they too, would have loved her. She would have been able to communicate with them and they with her in their own language, Assyrian. I was the link in the chain that would connect them. Through me she gave her great grand children a gift, a language. And so, we need to recognize the importance to to remain connected and to pass down the love of our language and of our culture. We need to remember to be proud, our children are not only watching us, but they are learning from us. More importantly, we need to remember, that they will not forget.

Susan Warda

Mrs. Warda is a mother and a college student in California, and has joined our Crew this year.  Zinda Magazine will be featuring more of Mrs. Warda's articles in future.             

Do you have similar memories that you wish to share with other readers?  Please email them to us at z_info@zindamagazine.com.  Our address and fax number appear at the end of this issue.


Courtesy of Springfield State Journal-Register; February 21
Based on an rticle by Steven Sprearie

The Rev. Yousif Abdulmasih, a Catholic Assyrian priest from Iraq, spoke to the Dominican Sisters of Springfield last Tuesday about the economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations on the Iraqi people.

He has seen his native Iraq decimated by a decadelong war with neighboring Iran and economic sanctions from before the Gulf War, imposed as a response to the invasion of Kuwait.

He has seen families and children die and a culture literally brought to its knees.

But since his 1995 appointment to minister to the Assyrian Catholic community, first in Newark, N.J., and then the Chicago suburb of Techny, his vantage point has been from 3,000 miles away.

"It's very hard and difficult to be far away from my native land," said Abdulmasih, who was visiting at Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield Tuesday.

Abdulmasih was here in part to lend moral support to a Springfield Dominican nun, Sister Beth Murphy, who will be traveling with nine others to Iraq March 5-19. The trip, illegal under U.S. law, is the third such undertaking by the Dominican community in support of its own nuns and priests there and others victimized by the economic sanctions, Murphy said.

Abdulmasih, who ministers to about 80 families in the Chicago area, said that because of the sanctions and posturing of governments, the Iraqi people are caught "between two rivers of fire," an allusion to the region of Iraq, including Baghdad, that is bordered by the ancient Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

"I know people are suffering and dying, and nobody cares," he said. "Nobody defends the rights of dying people.

"You see (President George W.) Bush and Saddam (Hussein) laughing on the TV, and they don't care. It's not fair to forget dying people. It's not fair to forget children and women who are suffering."

From 1982 to 1992, Abdulmasih served as pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Basra, a city in southern Iraq. The church was bombed three times and destroyed during the conflict with Iran. The church, eventually rebuilt, sheltered Muslims and Christians of Basra.

Abdulmasih's visit to Springfield comes just days after U.S. and British warplanes attacked targets around Baghdad. Authorities said the mission was to safeguard allied air patrols over the southern no- fly zone.

"I wasn't expecting it, especially not from Bush," Abdulmasih said. "It seems like a continuation of the term (of former President George Bush.) He lost a wonderful chance to be a leader of peace and the nation to be a builder of peace."

Abdulmasih rebuked the United Nations as "a weak umbrella for crimes (committed) against Iraqi people."

"Under the name of the U.N., our children are dying, and we have lost everything," he said.

According to UNICEF, 5,000 to 6,000 children die monthly in Iraq from preventable diseases or malnutrition directly linked to the sanctions.  There are over one million Christians living in Iraq of whom a majority are of Chaldean Catholic faith.

Abdulmasih said he deplores the fact that Saddam's image is part and parcel with that of Iraq. For that, he says, there is another enemy.

"You are victims of your media," Abdulmasih said. "... It's like (the Iraqis) are nothing. There is no mention of suffering."

Murphy said her religious community has passed a resolution calling for the end of economic sanctions against Iraq and the advancement of "creative diplomatic solutions" in dealing with the country.

"Most of all, (I want to give people) an opportunity to hear the truth," she said. "Most everywhere else, support for the sanctions is eroding. People need to hear that."

Murphy's trip, which begins with a sendoff March 4 at Dominican University in River Forest, has Abdulmasih's approval.

In Iraq, "she will see lovely people," he said. "She will be very welcome."


Tabetha was born on February 10th at 3:35 AM at St. Peter's Hospital in Piscataway, New Jersey.  The baby girl is the first child of Dr. George and Christine Kiraz.


Mrs. Bakal, 80, of Port Richey, Flordia., formerly of Bergenfield, died Sunday.  She had been a bookkeeper for Duro-Test Corp., North Bergen.  She was also member of the Assyrian Church of the Virgin Mary, Paramus, where she was past president of the Mr. and Mrs. Club.

ei/na (d' meey/ya)  'Eye of the Water"

BC (2000)

It was the accepted practice in Babylon that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all
the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because the Babylonian calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month or what is known today as the "honeymoon".

AD (1903)

Why is it that magicians utter the word "abracadabra"? What is the origin of this word? Bischoff in his Kabbalah of 1903 derives the formula for this word from Syriac words "Abbada Ke Dabra". Because it was a mysterious word and was said to possess magic power, over the centuries it became connected with necromancy - the art of communicating with the dead.

World Reporter (TM); February 23, 2001


March 1, 1898  :  Rev. Yacu Diliqu's funeral is held in northern Manchuria.  Born in the village of Qarajalu of the Urmie region, Rev. Yacu was a prolific writer and a missionary of the Church of the East in Central Asia and China.


Mar 17

The Assyrian Academic Society invites you to attend a dinner and dance party in honor of the newly elected Executive Officers. Bring your family and friends and dance the night away!

Entertainment by Ogin
7:00 PM
Ticket Price: $30.00
Edens Banquet Hall
6313 N. Pulaski Rd.

Limited seating- call now to reserve your tickets: (773) 461-6633

AAS Email: staff@aas.net

Mar 25

"The Aramaic Language, its origin and history"
Miss Ruth Lewin, Univesity of Sydney

"Father Abraham, Isaac and Ismail"
*Rabbi Woolstone

6:00 PM
Nineveh Club
Smithfield Rd

For more info contact Alfred Mansour at
(00612) 9832-9888 or Mobile 0410461755.

Mar 31

"Writing Syriac:  From Stone to Bytes"
Chair:  Prof. Amir Harrak, University of Toronto 

1:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. 

1.  Marica Cassis, University of Toronto 
The bema in the West and East Syriac Churches 

2. Amir Harrak, University of Toronto 
Patriarchal Tombstones at the Monastery of Rabban Hormizd: Types and Origins

3. Wolfhart Heinrichs, Harvard University 
Turkish Karshuni 


4. George Kiraz, Syriac Computing Institute 
From Parchment to Open Type: The Development of Syriac Digital Types 

5. Wassilios Klein, Bonn University 
Writing Syriac and Speaking Turkic in Light of Central Asian Tombstone Inscriptions 

6. Eden Naby, Harvard University 
The Cultural Context for Writing Syriac During the 19th and 20th Centuries

Panel to be held at the 211th Meeting of the American Oriental Society
Toronto Colony Hotel
89 Chestnut Street

Mar 29

"Syriac Heritage at the Northern Silk Road: The Archaological & Epigraphic Evidence of Christianity in Kirghizia"
by Dr. Vassilios Klein, Bonn University
8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre, Room 1050
5 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Since the 1890s Kirghizia has attracted the attention of scholars in the field of Syriac epigraphy, when Daniel Chwolson published about 600 Syriac funerary inscriptions found there.  The discovery of these inscriptions came as a surprise since there was little literary evidence that Christianity had played any important role in the lands located to the north of the Tianshan Mountains.  In recent years archaeological excavations in the Middle Age capital revealed a church with three naves and the grave of a holy man.  Taking into consideration these excavations, the other religions coexisting with Christianity in Central Asia, and the political history of that region at that time, we shall describe the role played by East Syriac (so called Nestorian) Christianity  and the Syriac language in the daily life of the Sogdian and Turkish people.

Apr 1 

Organized by a network of Assyrian youth, the Assyrian community and the wider Australian multi-cultural community

Fairfield Showground 
Smithfield Road

9:00 AM 
Parade 12:00 PM 

Games, rides, shows, drama, & Fireworks
Information and international food booths
Assyrian and English musical bands and DJ music.

For more info:  Nina @ 0416041432 or toomani@cba.com.au
                       Maji @ 0404124930

May 6
Objects from one of the most important archaeological finds

The Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Avenue

Adults $8, Children $5:  includes audio tour and museum admission

May 24
KALU SULAQA :  Bride of the Ascension Festival

This year marks the 600th anniversary of the remembrance of the men and women who died in 1401 A.D. when Timurlane attacked the Assyrian villages near Nineveh.  Each year children dress-up as brides and grooms and go to homes in the neighborhood to collect sweets.

Nakosha "Assyrian Holidays" Calendar
Jul 2-6

International Congress of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archaeology 
"Sex and Gender in the Ancient Near East"
University of Helsinki

Registration Form:  clickhere

Jul 22 

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.

Aug 7

A day to commemorate the Assyrian martyrs throughout history.

 Thank You!

        Shukri Aziz (Holland).............Sharokin Betgevargiz (Chicago).........Ramin Daniels (San Jose).......Nadia Joseph (Chicago)...........Nina Tooma (Australia)


ZINDA Magazineis published everyTuesday.  Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarilyrepresent thoseof the ZINDA editors, or any of our associated staff. This publicationreserves the right,at its sole discretion, not to publishcomments orarticlespreviously printedin or submitted to other journals.ZINDA reservesthe rightto publish and republish your submission in any formor medium.All lettersand messages  require the name(s) of sender and/orauthor.All messagespublished in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 wordsorless and bear thename of the author(s). Distribution of material featuredinZINDA is not restricted,but permission from ZINDA is required. Thisservice is meant for theexchange of information, analyses and news.To subscribe,send e-mail to:z_info@zindamagazine.com.

Zinda Magazine
12 South First Street, Suite B11
San Jose, California  95113
Voice    (408) 918-9200
  Fax     (408) 289-9996