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Awards Recipients at the AUA Gala in Australia
by Zinda Magazine - www.zindamagazine.com
Posted: Thursday, October 19, 2000 09:17 pm CST


The Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) Australian Chapter, held its annual VIP Dinner on 14th October at Edessa Reception Hall, St Hurmizd's Cathedral, Greenfield Park, Sydney. At this function a number of members of the Assyrian community were honoured for their dedication to Assyrian works and their contributions to the Australian community and welfare.

Guests of honour were Senator John Nimrod, General Secretary of AUA from the United State of America; Mr Homer Ashurian, member of the AUA- Executive board, and His Grace Mar Meelis Zaia, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East.

In this annual function there were about 600 attendees, including representatives from different organisations of the Assyrian community in Australia and Assyrian representatives from around the world ho had come to honour the members of our community who were presented with awards for their hard work and dedication. These Awards were presented by Senator John J. Nimrod.

Hermiz Shahen
Secretary of the AUA-Australia

Assyrian Human Rights Award - Suzy David

"Presented to Ms. Suzy David for her magnificent and pioneering role in preparing and presenting submissions to various UN working groups on the national, cultural and human rights of the Assyrian People."

Suzy David was born in Urmia, Iran. At the age of one and a half her parents and her brother Fred David moved to Tehran where she continued to live until migrating to Australia in 1970, when she was aged 9.

Suzy completed her higher school certificate (HSC) at Nazareth College Bankstown. She completed two degrees at Macquarie University, Bachelor of Economics (1983) and Bachelor of Laws (1984). In 1999 she completed her Masters in Laws degree from University of New South Wales. She was invited by the University to undertake her doctorate in Laws but declined due to time constraints. Suzy is a solicitor and barrister of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and a solicitor of the High Court of Australia.

She has been practicing law in New South Wales since 1984.

Suzy David was instrumental in setting up a law firm in Fairfield in April 1984 with another solicitor. In 1986, upon completion of her practice requirements for partnership she became a partner in the same firm. The firm grew from a small two-partner firm to a medium size firm in Fairfield employing several employed solicitors and support staff. By 1998 the firm had grown into a much larger legal structure. The firm is currently known as Dominic David Stamfords and today consists of 5 partners (including Suzy’s brother Fred David who is also a lawyer and a Master of Laws graduate), 10 employed solicitors and about 35 support staff. The firm has branches in Sydney, Fairfield and Parramatta. It also has an office in Melbourne and a number of associated and branch offices throughout the world. Suzy worked as a broadcaster in SBS radio (formerly also known as Radio 2EA) for more than 11 years until 1989. She speaks reads and writes three languages, Assyrian, Persian and English. Suzy has been involved in a variety of charity and volunteer work, particularly for Assyrians. In her field as a lawyer she has also carried out much pro-bono work for Assyrians and non-Assyrians who are in genuine need of assistance.

Suzy David has been a councillor to many Associations and Organisations including the Service Station Association of New South Wales (SSA), the Ethnic Affairs Commission of New South Wales and the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce. She has been appointed as the international legal counsel of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) and has served as legal counsel to many other organisations and associations including the Assyrian Australian Academic Society (TAAAS) and the Assyrian Australian National Federation.

Fairfield City Council appointed Suzy as the 1998 citizen of the year.

Award For Organizational Skills - Lounarda David

"Presented to Ms Lounarda David for successfully organising the Second Assyrian Genocide conference, on July 2nd 2000. And for a successful year of president of TAAAS 1999-2000."

Mrs Lounarda David was born in the city of Tehran, Iran in 1963. She migrated to Australia in 1979.

Lounarda studied year 7-10 of high school in Iran & then migrated to Australia & completed year 11-12 at Nazareth senior college in Bankstown. In 1986, she completed her bachelor of Business Degree with a Major in Accounting and Finance at Macarthur Institute of Higher Education. She also speaks fluent English, Assyrian and Persian language.

She is currently employed by William M. Mercer Pty Ltd that is an investment consulting company. In a short span of time, Lounarda was promoted to a principal Custody Consultant.

Lounarda has been involved with Assyrian Australian Academic Society for the last five years and she is the immediate past president for TAAAS. Mrs David worked extensively with TAAAS committee members and Center for Comparative Genocide Studies at Macquarie University in preparing for the first genocide conference and organising successfully the second Genocide Conferences arranged specifically on Assyrian issues, on September 17-19 1999 and on July 2nd 2000.

Assyrian Music Award - Alexander (Shoora) Michailian

"Presented to Alexander (Shoora) Michailian for decades of priceless contribution to Assyrian music and folkloric culture"

Alexander (Shoora) Michailian, son of Peera & Anna, was born in the city of Kharkov in Ukraine in 1930. The family immigrated to Iran in 1938. After the death of his father, Shoora's mother moved the family to Hamadan, then in 1949 to Abadan, Iran. After about 20 years of living and working in Abadan, Shoora's next move was to Tehran in 1969, where he spent the rest of his years in Iran.

In 1980, Shoora, his wife Lily and daughter, Sabrina, immigrated to the United State of America and settled in Flint, Michigan for a short period of two years.

Then Shoora moved with his family to Modesto, California for another two years before settling in Turlock, California in 1984. The Michailian's final and permanent move has been to Sydney-Australia in 1998. Shoora's parent placed him under the direction of two famous Russian music Professors, Mr.Wichman and Mr. Shedroff, at the School of Music in the City of Homel, Belorussia, to study classical violin. He acquired proficiency in playing violin at an early age, and his diligence paid off when as at 8 years of age he was to have his first recital in his School of Music in the presence of parents and teachers.

After immigrating to Iran, Shoora when at the age of about twelve, met the renowned Assyrian musician, the late Rabi William Daniel, and in turn became a student of his. Since moving to Australia in 1998, Shoora was invited by the Assyrian Church of the East, Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia, to help co-ordinate and train the church choir, to which he currently devotes much of his time and expertise. He prepared music programs for children and wrote scores for religious and national hymns. In a short period of time he was able to establish a choral and instrumental group of approximately sixty children. The magnificent performance of these groups during the Assyrian festivals and national days have captivated the audience and government official guests alike. The Assyrian community takes pride in Maestro Shoora Mikhalian who is not merely a master of music but one who has preserved and practiced what it truly means to be Assyrian throughout his life. Mr Michailian has devoted the longest part of his life to the art of music and still continues to do so with a most dedicated Assyrian spirit. As he himself puts it. " I am an Assyrian. I have and still am working for my Assyrian people. And, I will die an Assyrian.

Media Award - Wilson Younan

"Presented to Wilson Younan for the skillful and professional approach in bringing the world closer to the Assyrians of australia"

Mr. Younan graduated from the academy of fine arts in Baghdad, after he had spent 3 years in theatre, as well as 2 years in cinematic studies. He then went on to complete a post-graduate journalism course. He gained further experience, which would prove invaluable for his future career in radio, while working for T.V. Baghdad.

Mr. Younan is also an accomplished musician, he was the head of the ‘Wilson band’, in Melbourne and the former head of 3ZZZ Assyrian radio. Not a stranger to Melbourne’s Assyrian community, Mr. Younan’s Sydney program also broadcasts on Melbourne’s airwaves, when called upon to fill in on certain occasions. After his move to Sydney he began to talk once a week on Nineveh radio. A year after arriving in Sydney he applied for the head of SBS Assyrian Radio. He was successful in his application after undertaking a professional test. The aim of Mr. Younan's program is "to provide a professional news and current affairs program informing the listeners of local, as well as international news, and events that concern the Assyrian community". He helped to take the Assyrian voice further by reaching the entire world through the SBS - Radio program and deliver news to and from our Assyrian community in any country they live." Mr. Younan believes that "Media is the most powerful tool in our hands today. We can deliver education, language and civility to the Assyrian community". He has been awarded in the late convention by the Assyrian American National Federation.

Assyrian Language and Heritage - Mar Meelis Zaia

"Presented to Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia for the tireless and valiant efforts of His Grace Mar Meelis Zaia to revive, maintain and enhance our religion language heritage and history."

Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia is the Head of the Assyrian Church of the East in Australia and New Zealand.

He was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1956, ordained Deacon in Baghdad in 1973 by his Beatitude, the late Mar Yosip Khnanisho and His Grace Mar Aprim Khamis.

Mar Meelis completed his high school Certificate in Baghdad and attended the University of Technology, studying Architectural Design. He then received his theological training in Iraq and in 1979 migrated to America.

His Grace completed a Diploma in Computer Aided Design from San Jose City College in California in 1982. He was ordained a Priest of the Church of the East in 1982 for the Parish of Mar Yosip in San Jose, California and in October 1984 at Mar Gewargis Church in Chicago was consecrated Bishop for Australia and New Zealand.

Mar Meelis Arrived in Australia in March 1985. Here he obtained a B.A. in History and Philosophy from Macquarie University in Sydney. He is currently researching for unedited Syriac documents to complete a Doctorate Degree in Early Christian Studies at the Univeristy of Sydney.

His Grace is the General Secretary for the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East, a vice-president of the Australian National Council of Churches, and a member of the Society for the study of Early Christianity at the Ancient History Documentary Research Centre in Macquarie University. He has written many essays on the history of the Assyrian Church of the East, the early Church and the Christology of the Assyrian Church in Assyrian and English languages. He has also published two books, "Theodore of Mepsuestia", and "Sabbath in the Old Covenant". His English translation of the Liturgy of the Assyrian Church of the East was published in 1994.

Since his arrival in Australia, Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia in a short period organised the Parish committees, built the Diocese of Australia, St. Hermizd Cathedral, and the Magnificent Church Reception Hall. He anticipated and involved himself actively in most of the community affairs and needs. His biggest achievement came in laying the Foundation Stone for St. Hermizd Assyrian Primary School on Sunday 20 August 2000, to be the first Assyrian Private Primary School outside our homeland. The school will open doors for registration in early 2002. All subjects in addition to Assyrian language, culture and Christian traditions will be taught in order to foster the pride in Assyrian heritage, culture, traditions and history in all students. As Senator John Nimrod mentioned in his congratulation letter to the His Grace "You not only are ensuring our continuance but you have added the key to the success of our future, the education of our children. How can they go wrong equipped with the truth about our Christian Faith and understanding of our history, culture and contributions to civilizations? I thank you for your service and all the accomplishments you have achieved for the Assyrians of Australia. I know it has not been easy for you these past 15 years. I thank God that he has placed you there to provide such effective leadership and understanding to your Church and all the community. You are a credit to us all and I value your friendship".

Community Work Award - Younatan Afarin

"Presented to Younatan Afarin for years of devotion for Assyrian community work"

Younatan Afarin was born in Kermanshah, Iran, on 24 August 1931. Mr Afarin completed his high school in the same city he was born. He then joined the workforce in 1948, in the Abadan Petroleum Company. In 1950 he started his university studies in the same Petroleum University. He graduated in 1955 to become the head of the Oil Refinery in the same company.

Mr Afarin was a very active member in the Assyrian community and that has always earned him the respect and trust of the many community leaders and organisations. In 1950, He took part in arranging a Ball for the 1951 New Year in Abadan, Iran for the first time when he was a university student. He also took part in purchasing a block of land for the construction of the church school (Shooshan) and the entertainment hall for the Assyrians in the cities of Abadan and Khoramshaher from 1952 through 1955. The trust and respect of the community was evident when he was elected President of the school/Parents Committee, Head of the entertainment group, Director of the Church Committee and a president for four years.

Mr Afarin played an important roll in promoting the AUA between 1968-1973, and attended two AUA congresses in Iran.

Once he emigrated from Iran to Australia, Mr Afarin began volunteering his time to work for the Assyrian community. In 1983 he took a great deal of time to establish the Assyrian Charity and Educational Community. He has been one of the active committee members of the same organisation and was elected as president for six times. He had an active role in establishing the Assyrian National Revival League (1988-1991).

His biggest contribution to bring unity, peace and understanding into the community was in working closely with other prominent Assyrians to establish the Assyrian Australian National Federation, and hold the position of vice president for two years and was the immediate past president of the AANF from 1998-2000.

During his term as a president, the AANF become an affiliate of the Assyrian Universal Alliance.

Assyrian Cultural, Historical, & Leadership Award - Homer Ashurian

"Presented to Honorable Homer Ashurian for his outstanding achievement in developing the Assyrian Heritage Museum, thereby preserving our culture, language, customs and traditions for Assyrians of today and future generations. We also commend this legislator, curator, teacher and linguist for his outstanding political , leadership to our nation and the Assyrian Universal Alliance."

Homer Ashurian, former Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and presently a member of the AUA Executive Board, was born in the village of Charbash in Urmia in 1936. After finishing high school in his home town, he went to Tehran to pursue his higher education. He studied Archaeology at the university of Tehran and received his Masters Degree Archaeology, majoring in Assyriology.

While he was a college student he was recruited to work in the Ministry of Culture and a year later he was promoted to the position of the Head Curator of the Iranian Cultural Museum in Tehran. He served in this position until 1963. He was called upon and transferred to the Ministry of Education to head the newly established Shooshan High School of the Assyrian Society of Tehran. Later he was called to head another high school and he served as a principal of high school and a teacher until 1975 when he was elected as a Congressman to represent the Iranian Assyrians in the Majlis (Parliament).

After the 1979 Revolution, he migrated to the United States of America where he lives with Suzy, his wife, and two sons in Chicago, Illinois.

Homer has served in different capacities in the Assyrian organizations such as the Assyrian Youth Society of Urmia, Assyrian Youth Cultural Society of Tehran (Seeta Sapreta), Assyrian Society of Tehran (Motva), and as the Editor of the Assyrian Publications, Kirkha and Shvila.

Homer is one of the five persons who initiated the Assyrian Universal Alliance and made it a reality in 1968. He has served in this global the organization since its establishment. At the present he works with AUA Foundation in Chicago and runs its several programs including the Ashurbanipal Library, the Assyrian Heritage Museum, the Oral History project and other cultural affairs.

Special Religion Award - Dr. Peter Talia

"Presented to Dr. Peter Talia who for the first time in our history has translated the Bible (Old and New Testaments) from our ancient Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ, to our modern Assyrian language.:

In Dr. Talia's translation all foreign words have been eliminated. This is a monumental feat and gives Assyrians the opportunity to read the un-altered Word of God. We congratulate Dr Talia for this monumental work.

Business Community Award - Karl Soleman

"Presented to Karl Soleman in appreciation of his generous donation and support of the Assyrian community and organizations."

Special thanks to Mr. Hermiz Shahen for his compilation of this information for Zinda Magazine.



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