Posted by panchmaster from pool0389.cvx24-bradley.dialup.earthlink.net (18.104.22.168) on Monday, November 18, 2002 at 10:41AM :
+++I'm not happy to be "mentioned at least". This article is nothing to brag about. How anyone can believe the United States, or Britain before it, is going to "do" anything for anyone is beyond me. It is disgraceful that Assyrians play along with the Saddam as the worst thing to hit Iraq idea...when it is Sanctions imposed by this "democracy" that has been killing our people in far greater numbers than he ever did...and this government also that armed him and told him he was free to attack Kuwait.
+++I don't want "better than nothing".
Assyrians -- Not Just Part of Ancient
Monday, November 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
"I didn't think there were so many Assyrians in the world," said a non- Assyrian guest to Narsai David at the Ritz-Carlton on Friday night. David, the Berkeley food expert, had drawn 430 Assyrian Americans from all over the West to a banquet to raise money to build school buildings in their homeland in Northern Iraq.
"We don't get together often," said Dr. John Aivaz of Palos Verdes, president of the American Assyrian Chamber of Commerce.
It was an interesting time for an Assyrian get-together. Their brethren in Northern Iraq soon may be in the middle of an American invasion and, if all goes well, finally get a voice in Iraqi affairs. The Assyrian Americans at the Ritz-Carlton were still joyful that a month ago, for the first time, the president had recognized their role in a future Iraq.
"The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi'a and Sunni must be lifted," said President Bush in a speech on Iraq.
Immediately afterward, I got a call from David. Despite his not being a big Bush fan, he was bubbling over, saying, "Did you hear the president mention us?"
I have to confess that before August, when I wrote a column about David's visit to Northern Iraq on behalf of the Assyrian Aid Society of America, I thought Assyrians were something from ancient history.
It turns out they're a part of whatever history is to come in the next year.
We mentally isolationist Americans somehow missed the fact that the 20th century -- the world's most criminal century -- has been tough on this great civilization that became the first Christian nation.
Assyrians were slaughtered by the Turks, a mass murder more forgotten than the Turkish genocide of the Assyrians' fellow Christians, the Armenians. Surviving Assyrians trekked to Baghdad, where they were massacred again and forced to Northern Iraq, along with Assyrians from Iran. There, along with the Sunni Muslim Kurds, they have suffered Saddam Hussein's depredations.
At Friday's dinner, Youel A. Baaba, a literary scholar and patriarch of the Assyrian Aid Society, spoke in the Assyrian language about how few people knew of the 200 Assyrian villages destroyed by Hussein and people forcibly relocated to undesirable places. "Sadly, not too many people are aware of the atrocities committed against Assyrians or their deplorable living conditions in Iraq," he said.
Baaba spoke of the need to support their countrymen in the homeland to secure their language and culture. Or else, he said, "We, like millions of other people before us, will melt away in this beautiful pot called the United States of America."
The handsome, well-dressed people in the audience applauded Baaba, most without having to look at the English translation. They hadn't entirely melted in this beautiful pot.
A children's dance troupe ended its spirited interpretations of Assyrian folk dances by appearing with American flags and singing "God Bless America." They were greeted with the applause of immigrants and children of immigrants for whom the flag means what it's supposed to mean.
This was one of the few large gatherings in the Bay Area where you could find mass support for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. These are people who know a thing or two about Hussein's branch of the axis of evil.
"Assyrians and other groups should have their right of survival, property and democracy," said Aivaz. "They are just surviving. In the 21st century, that is not acceptable. They are looking for the greatest democracy in the world to do something."
"Whatever happens, it will happen for the best," said Los Angeles developer Pierre Toulakany. "It couldn't be worse that what we've had, with chemical weapons used against our people."
This is America, though, and you could find healthy dissent. Dorothy Clark and Julia Roberts of Modesto, both Assyrian Americans, said they feared a Bush invasion of Iraq. "That man will do what he wants," said Roberts.
There are many things I fear, among them America's power to fire and forget,
to use a missile metaphor. The world doesn't need more peoples used for our strategic purposes, then consigned to ancient history.
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