Thursday, October 30, 2008

MarYosip Parish: The 18th Annual “All Saints Night”

Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East
MarYosip Parish


The 18th Annual
“All Saints Night”

Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder
them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
-Matthew 19:14

Bring your family and friends-Everybody is welcomed

Friday, October 31st, 6:00-8:00pm
Prizes, Food, Fun Games, & Astro Jump @ 680 Minnesota Ave, San Jose, Ca 95125

In order to create a wholesome family atmosphere, we ask that you please, not wear masks, devilish costumes, any type of weapons or
scary face painting

Iraq's Christians Flee 'Religious Cleansing,' and Arm Themselves

War is Boring: Iraq's Christians Flee 'Religious Cleansing,' and Arm Themselves
By: David Axe
World Politics Review Exclusive

In early October, news and rumors spread through the city of Mosul in northern Iraq that insurgents were targeting the area's Christian population. The attacks were apparently aimed at driving the Christians out of town -- a sort of "religious cleansing."

The anti-Christian campaign reportedly began in September, with "death threats through letters, SMS and e-mails," according to Mustafa Gundogdu, a researcher from the U.K.-based Kurdish Human Rights Project. (Iraq's minority Kurdish population, concentrated in self-governing Kurdistan, includes many Christians, although not all Iraqi Christians are Kurds.)

Gundogdu told World Politics Review that the threats were signed by a group calling itself "Al Mujahideen," a generic Arabic term for "freedom fighters." "After such threats, twelve Christian people were killed and three houses belonging to the Christian community were burned."

As panic flared, it became hard to tell fact from fiction. Several car bombs exploded in or near Christian neighborhoods around Mosul, but it wasn't clear if the bombs actually targeted Christians or were aimed at nearby soldiers. One woman told a reporter that men wearing the blue uniforms of the Iraqi police were killing Christians, echoing a trope that began at least four years ago with reports of police "death squads" in southern Iraq.

Amid intensifying rhetoric, an Iraqi general warned against "media exaggeration that gave rise to fear and horror among these families." Some foreign-based security analysts advised calm as they tried to sort truth from misinformation. One, Joost Hiltermann, from the New York-based International Crisis Group, said his sources in Iraq could not get close enough to Mosul to verify alarming reports.

By late October, as many as 13,000 Christians had fled Mosul, according to several news reports. The flight has exacerbated what Pary Karadaghi, an official at the U.S.-based Kurdish Human Rights Watch, calls an "epic" humanitarian crisis for Iraq's Christians.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled their homes in the five years since the U.S.-led invasion, some fleeing religious violence, others displaced by the ongoing insurgency. Thousands do not have access to food, water and shelter as the cold Iraqi winter approaches. Even those who do have basic necessities struggle to integrate into the predominantly Kurdish communities where they have sought refuge. Many Christians from the Mosul area do not speak the Kurdish language, so their children cannot attend school.

Christians have called Iraq home for more than 1,500 years. Today, the country's Christian population, probably numbering a little over a million, is divided between Chaldeans, who are formally associated with the Catholic Church, and Assyrians, who follow similar doctrine but have no formal ties to Rome. Assyrians claim to have one of the highest rates of martyrdom of any Christian sect: Some two million reportedly have died for their faith over the centuries. If the violence against Iraqi Christians indeed is religiously motivated, then today the martyrdom continues.

Hiltermann says U.S. forces are too focused on security in Baghdad to devote much effort to securing Mosul and other parts of Iraq where Christians are threatened. Defeating Mosul's extremists is a task that has fallen to the Iraqi army, a far less effective force that often endangers the very people it is supposed to protect. Early this year, the Iraqi army deployed tanks and other armored vehicles in operations around Mosul, and Christians got caught in the crossfire.

"There were also lots of raids going on in their communities," Karadaghi says of Mosul's Christians. "When the Iraqi government is looking for terrorist groups, they come to those neighborhoods. Their houses get searched. And once they get searched, terrorists see them as collaborators. So they are hit twice."

Now, instead of relying on Baghdad to protect them, some Christian neighborhoods are taking security into their own hands, forming unofficial militias that set up roadblocks to screen for weapons and strangers. Some of the Christian militias are getting support from the Kurdish Regional Government and its security forces, according to Karadaghi.

With refugee populations swelling and tensions mounting as Christians arm themselves, this year Christmas in Iraq will be "low key," Karadaghi says, instead of the traditional boisterous celebration.

H.H. MarDinkha IV (10-19-2008) Anniversay Dinner in Chicago

32nd Anniversary pictures of H. H. MarDinkha IV in Chicago. It brought tears to my eyes. May the Lord abundantly bless His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV and sustain him and the faithful whom he serve with his gifts of wisdom, joy and peace.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Urgent Need for Assistance for Christians in Iraq

Below is extracts from a speech by His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia’s recent speech at the NSW Ecumenical Council-act for peace Iraq seminar (together with the NSWEC briefing paper for this years’s Refugee & Migrant Sunday)
Extracts from the speech by His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia

Australia’s role in Iraq’s growing Refuge Crisis held at Sydney University

No one has been untouched by grief either by personal loss or to see their country torn apart by violence. I believe that all Iraq desire peace and stability for their loved ones and lament the current situation.

You may have heard that there are minority groups in Iraq – the Yezides, Mandaean and Christians, who because of their small numbers have tended not to be mentioned in the media. As such, the extent of their plight in the current Iraqis situation is not fully revealed. Although I will focus on Assyrians from the Assyrian Church of the East, what I will mention applies equally to our brothers and sisters in the Chaldean Church and Syrian Orthodox Church, who have suffered a similar experience since 2003.

Brief overview of the Assyrians History
The Assyrians are indigenous to the lands between the two great rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. Descending from the ancient Akkadians, the Assyrians had formed a city-state by 2,000 BC which eventually grew into an empire that ruled for 1400 years, and came to an end in 612 BC. During this period, our ancestors were sophisticated pioneers in the fields of science, literature and law, and government administration.

When the Assyrians embraced Christianity in the first century AD, our Church infused new life into our nation. Through the Church of the East, we embarked on missions that spread the teaching of Christ peacefully to India and China. We established the University of Nisibis in the fourth century AD that became a centre of intellectual development in the Middle East. But with the rise of Islam, persecution of Christians increased, and by the end of the 15th century, had dwindled in number and many Assyrians were driven to the harsh mountains of Southern Turkey to survive.

From the late 1800s until the end of World War One, around two thirds of our nation was massacred in acts of genocide, conducted by the Ottoman Turks and Kurdish insurgents - who wanted to eradicate our Christian presence, and free our lands from any future claims. In 1933, a year after Iraq became independent, another massacre in the town of Semelli occurred, where over 3,000 Assyrians were brutally murdered by the Iraqi army. Such prejudice against Assyrians has continued throughout the decades.

Assyrian persecution today
Like their ancestors, today’s Assyrians value education and many of these refugees have obtained university qualifications and worked in various professions. Their departure has contributed to a brain-drain in Iraq, which can only make it harder for that country to rebuild itself. Those that have stayed to assist international agencies that are trying to help rebuild Iraq, have become the target of extremist groups. They are constantly sent threatening letters instructing them to desist from their work for Westerners, their homes are bombed and their family members are stalked and murdered.

Many of our churches have been bombed. Threatening fatwas have been issues against our communities. Christian families have received instructions to send their daughters to local mosques to marry Muslim men or face violent retribution. By 2003, Assyrians, including Chaldeans and Syriacs, were estimated to be around 3% of the Iraqi population. However, today they represent up to 40% of the refugee population living outside of Iraq. We are looking at figures of up to 500,000 Christians living in camps. The population of Canberra is only around 330,000.

The work of the Assyrian Church and the need for additional Assistance
The Assyrian Church has, through its relief program, spent tens of thousands of dollars assisting Assyrians who have been internally displaced and refugees living in camps in other Middle Eastern countries. These funds are at present modest, but add to the constant financial support provided by Assyrians in the West to their families in the Middle East. Often when refugees arrive in Australia, one of their first objectives is to financially assist their family members (such as elderly parents) who have remained behind.

To give you an example of how this affects our people, when an Assyrian refugee woman arrived in Australia, she quickly found a job as a process worker to send money to her orphaned niece in Syria. This woman had breast cancer, but had decided not to stop work for over eight months while the cancer developed, because her niece had no one else to support her. The support provided by our newly arrived refugees to their families in the Middle East is quite a burden and adds to their stress in Australia.

Currently the need for assistance far exceeds the capacity of our Assyrian Church to provide support to our refugees in the Middle East. The impact is across all aspects of life as issues such as education, health, affordable housing and food become exasperated.

International agencies can best assist Assyrian refugees by working with the Assyrian Church and its aid body ACERO (Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organisation).

Solutions for Assyrian Christians at risk
The UN program for refugees has three components: Firstly, the resettlement of refugees (for example to Western countries); Secondly, the relocation of refugees in countries of asylum and Thirdly, to repatriate refugees to their country of origin. With regards to resettlement, only 1% of the applications for visas are approved. Even when visas have been granted, family members are torn apart and sent to different locations around the world.

One 22 year old refugee woman remarked that “My family has become the united nations.” When asked what she meant by that statement, she replied that her family was living together as refugees in Syria, but now her father and brother live in Germany, her older brother lives in Sweden, her mother and younger sister have been granted migration to Canada, and she is here in Australia all on her own. This story is repeated in the tens of thousands, tearing family bonds across the globe. Because they lack the financial means, we have learned from experience that many Assyrian families will not be reunited again.

The resettlement program must increase the number of visa applications and places like Australia can do a lot more, and reap the benefit of increasing their intake of Assyrian Christians. The resettlement program can also work to ensure that family members are allowed to migrate together, to assist their settlement in their newly adopted country.

The Assyrian community has a lot to offer Australia. The Assyrian community in Australia is about 40 years old and predominantly made of refugees who migrated over the years. Yet this small community has, through its own resources, established sporting and cultural clubs; built cathedrals and established parishes in Sydney and Melbourne; it has members who are in local councils and politics. The Assyrian Church has also built a private primary school and is starting the building of a private High School.

The Second component of the UN program, to relocate refugees in the country of asylum, is simply not an option. Refugees cannot integrate and live freely in those societies. Their status is often acknowledged as “Guests of the country”, and they are constantly at risk of being returned to Iraq when their temporary permits run out. Assyrian refugees are Christians living in Islamic countries, and as a result their status is even more vulnerable. Also, these host countries simply do not have the infrastructure to sustain the large number of refugees.

Repatriation is a viable option -only if Assyrians are allowed to govern themselves. Much like the Kurds were given a safe haven and later established the Kurdish Regional Government, Assyrians must be afforded the same right to self-determination;

Call for Assistance
We need people to assist us in organising the campaign to raise public interest, to establish contacts with the media and to lobby the Australian government. And any one who applies his or herself to this worthy cause will make a difference. I would encourage you to contact our Assyrian Church to obtain more information and link up with our efforts. Thank you for taking the time to listen to the Assyrians case and may God bless you in all your good work done for humanity.

Helpful links for contact -


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Assyrian Church of The East Relief Organization (ACERO) Provides Assistance to Christian Refugees From Mosul

Our people everywhere are greatly upset about the hardship that our people in Mosul have had to endure. The Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization (ACERO) is donating an initial $10,000 and in the process of donating more. This humanitarian aid is to help with shelter, supplies, and food.

Assyrian Church of the East and its monasteries have their doors open for all those refugees that are seeking sanctuary. Also, in these time of great need, any help that can come from the fellow Assyrians is greatly appreciated and needed. Please make this donation through your local Assyrian Church of The East parish.

Our prayers are with our Christian people in the homeland in such difficult times.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dr. Sargis Aghajan Welcomes the Christians Fleeing from Mosul to Nineveh Plains

Following the sad news that Christians from the city of Mosul in Iraq, were fleeing because they were being killed for refusing to convert to Islam, Dr. Sargis Aghajan has come to their rescue. Dr. Sargis Aghajan who is an Iraqi Assyrian politician who was appointed Minister for Finance and the Economy in the cabinet of Iraqi Kurdistan, has asked members of religious and national institutions in our homeland to come together and cooperate with them, while tirelessly working to make every effort possible for providing all of the necessary supplies and places to stay for the needed and displaced families.

Thank you Dr. Sargis Aghajan for all your hardwork and dedication to our people in the homeland. You truly are a great Assyrian hero. May God's blessings be with you always.

We pray, Lord our God, for all those who suffer from acts of war. Please accept our prayers, so that by your goodness, peace may return to all peoples. Lead everyone along the path of reconciliation and peace. Lord, hear the supplications of all who call to You in sorrow and affliction, day and night. Merciful God, let their lives not be lost, we pray You, hear us and have mercy. Amen.

IRAQ: Christians Flee Mosul

It is indeed heartbreaking to see our nation improvished in this poorly managed war. Please join me in praying for the safety of our beloved Assyrian Christian families of Iraq.

Latest report from Baghdad, Iraq:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least 900 Christian families have fled Mosul in the past week, terrified by a series of killings and threats by Muslim extremists ordering them to convert to Islam or face possible death, officials said Saturday.

Christians protest in Mosul last month ahead of elections. An official says protests may have led to the attacks.

Deputy Gov. Khasro Goran said 13 Christians have been slain in the past two weeks in Mosul, about 260 miles (420 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Fleeing Christians have sought refuge in monasteries and churches and with family members in other towns, an Interior Ministry official said.

The attacks began after hundreds of Christians took to the streets in Mosul and surrounding villages and towns, seeking greater representation on provincial councils, whose members will be chosen in the local elections.

Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula, Nineveh's governor, told The Associated Press that the exodus was "a major displacement."

"Of course, al Qaeda elements are behind this campaign against Christians," Kashmoula told AP.

The Interior Ministry official said the homes of three families were destroyed with explosives Saturday after the occupants left. No injuries were reported.

A week ago, leaflets were distributed in several predominantly Christian neighborhoods, threatening families to "either convert to Islam or pay the jizyah or leave the city or face death," said the Interior Ministry official.

Historically, jizyah is a tax paid by non-Muslims in exchange for protection.

Goran said that a few days after the leaflets were passed out, gunmen set up checkpoints in parts of Mosul, stopping vehicles to inspect identification papers, searching for Christian names or other signs of religious affiliation. Many of the Christians killed were targeted in this way, he said.

Bashir Azoz, 45, told AP he fled his Mosul home after gunmen warned a neighbor to leave or be killed.

"Where is the government and its security forces as these crimes take place every day?" asked Azoz, a carpenter who is staying with his wife and three children in a town about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Mosul, according to AP.

The Rev. Bolis Jacob, of Mosul's Mar Afram Church, told AP he couldn't understand the attacks.

"We respect the Islamic religion and the Muslim clerics," he said. "We don't know under what religion's pretexts these terrorists work."

Goran said police have set up security checkpoints in Christian neighborhoods.

In response to the violence, Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader al-Obaidi visited Mosul on Saturday morning, conducting meetings with local authorities and military commanders.

His spokesman, Mohammed al-Askari, said that in addition to ordering more checkpoints in Christian neighborhoods, al-Obaidi ordered more troops deployed, additional security patrols and an increase in aerial surveillance of Christian areas.

Al-Obaidi also ordered more guards for Christian clerics, al-Askari said.


Mar Yosip Parish - Third Annual Tea Time

On Sunday September 28th, 2008 Mar Yosip Parish of San Jose celebrated its 3rd
Annual Tea Time. The Tea Party was held at Mar Yosip Parish Church Hall. The
Ladies Auxiliary of the parish and other church members helped organize this successful event. A portion of the proceeds of the Tea Party will benefit all the Assyrians in need in our homeland, particularly the needy Assyrian children.

The event turned out to be a major success, with over 500 ladies in attendance.

Upon entering the hall, everyone was in awe at how elegant and beautiful everything looked. Each of the 53 tables were decorated in a different theme. All of the ladies had an amazing time and knowing that they were supporting a great cause, made the event more enjoyable for all.

Father Cor-Bishop David Royel first blessed the event with a prayer. Then we had the Guest Speaker for the event, Rosie Malek-Yonan, who gave a beautiful speech regarding "The Assyrian Woman" and all the hardships that our Assyrian Women have endured.

Sincere gratitude to all our beloved Mar Yosip Parish Ladies, for all their hardwork and effort in organizing this event. Also, our appreciation goes to all the ladies that supported this event and took part of this beautiful and memorable event. We look forward to the next upcoming Tea Time Party that Mar Yosip Parish hosts in the near future.