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Posted by Jeff from ( on Friday, January 31, 2003 at 1:25PM :

Re: Who created the Assyrian political movement?

[ Chaldeans Discussion Forum ]

Written by NIKKO on 31 Jan 2003 11:24:57:

As an answer to: Who created the Assyrian political movement? written by Ghassan on 31 Jan 2003 07:22:45:

Ghassan you are wrong!

No offence but I would not particularly call YOU an expert on Assyrian nationalism. Assyrian nationalism went through an awakening after the discovery of Nineveh in the 1840s-50s.

Despite this late renaissance, medieval Syriac writers such as Michael the Great often described the descent of the Syriac peoples from the Assyrians. Even many ordinary Chaldeans, Nestorians and Jacobites would tell stories of te greatness of their queen... Shamiram (a well-known Assyrian queen). The Assyrian name had never been completely lost. Indeed, the Syriac speaking people always called themselves 'Suraye' (i.e. Assuraye - Assyrians).

With the American missions in the Middle East at Urmia in Iran and at Aintab and Kharpout in Turkey, Assyrians began to open their minds to western education and the ideas of nationalism which had already taken root amongst their more educated and westernized Armenian neighbours.

The centre at Urmi acted as a centre for the development of Assyrian nationalism amongst the Syriac-speakers there and across the border in Hakkiari. The mission schools and colleges here gave birth to such partiots as Dr. Freidoun Bet-Oraham, Rabi Benjamin Arsanis, Agha Petros, etc.

Similarly, the schools and colleges at Kharpout and Aintab acted as a centre for Assyrian nationalism and influenced western Mesopotamia, including Urfa, Diyarbakir, Mardin and Tur-Abdin (mostly amongst the Jacobite and Syriac Catholic communities). Indeed, Syriac Orthodox Professor Ashur Yoosuf (1858-1915) of Kharpout was one of the lecturers at the Euphrates College in his hometown. He was also the editor of the "Assyrian Guide" (Asurilerin Rehberi, al-Murshid al-Ashuri) magazine from 1908 to 1915 when he was martyred in the Genocide. Major A.K. Yoosuf, also from Kharpout, was also eduacted in the Aintab college and was one of the founders of the first Assyrian associations in the USA. He was also one of the Assyro-Chaldean delegates at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Among their friends and pupils were David Barsoum Perley (from Kharpout), Naoum Faiq and Sanharib Balley (from Diyarbakir), Mar Hanna Dolabani (from Mardin) as well as many others such as Farid Elias Nuzha. This tradition was continued by AOSA (Assyrian Orphanage and School Association) which built schools in Adana, Jerusalem and Beirut.

The other more minor centre was Mosul, where Chaldean intellectuals - mostly clerics educated in Rome and Paris - also began to write more about the history of ancient Mesopotamia and started to call their people Assyro-Chaldeans or Assyrians. Among these were Mar Thomas Audo (from Alqosh), Mar Addai Scher (from Shaqlawa), Fr. Samuel Giamil (from Tell-Kepe), Fr. Joseph Naayem (from Urfa), Mar Petros Aziz (from Mosul), etc. Another smaller centre was Hakkiari which had been the focus of the Archbishop of canterbury's Assyrian Mission.

These two main centres of Assyrian nationalism, as well as delegates from Mosul, came together for the first time in a congress in 1908 in Diyarbakir to discuss the future of the Assyrian nation. They were left with little time to actually work on something.

In 1919 they again came together at the Paris Peace Conference to gather the scattered remnants of the Assyro-Chaldean nation. Among them was the future Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church (Mar Afram Barsoum), as well as a delegation sent by the Chaldean Patriarchate in Mosul and other delegations from the USA, Caucasia and Iran. They all worked togather and put forth the same claim in English and French.

>For those who don't know, it was Patriarch Mar Shamoun XIX Binyamin (1903-1918) who led his Assyrian people in a wrong alliance with the English ended up in their leaving their Hakkari homelands.

What did you want him to do? Turks had started to massacre Assyrians in Gawar, Albaq and the border regions with Iran in August 1914... Did you want him to say "please kill us, and we will remain faithful to you"?

At any rate, the alliance was with the Russians - the English came into the picture in 1918 after the Russians suffered the revolution.

>The political leadership of the Assyrians then moved to Mar Shamoun XX Paulos (1918-1920) then to Mar Shamoun XXI Ishaya (1920-1975) who was sent into exile by the Iraqi government for his working as a "full time politician".

He wanted something your patriarch never cared for. National rights for his people. Is that too much to ask? To have the same rights as anyone else?

They couldnt go back to Hakkiari, which had been kept part of Turkey, so did you just want them to melt away into Iraqi society and assimilate?

>Without the Assyrian Church priests there would have been NO Assyrian political movement. Period.

I disagree. Priests of the Nestorian Church of the East have done more harm than good to our national movement. It is them that started to alienate the Chaldean and Syriac elements in the 1970s and monopolise the national movement in a wrongful way by changing their name to "the Assyrian Church" thus making the ethnic name a sectarian one.

It was the intellectuals, academics and !!SCHOOLS!! that played the main force in the birth of the Assyrian national thinking - not priests. All many priests care about is how many people will listen to them and fill their pockets. They fear the educated.


-- Jeff
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