Attiya Gamri | Attiya The Assyrian
Posted: Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 05:23 PM CT
I met Attiya years before she entered the arena of Dutch and European politics. Almost a decade later, Ms. Gamri has rightly so become the extraordinary voice of the Assyrian rights in Iraq and around the world.
It was the Assyrian convention in Turlock, California. Within minutes after our first encounter I knew this was no ordinary activist. Sitting across from me, accompanied by two other activists from Europe, here was a passionate patriot - not a nationalist. She had already surpassed that intermediary stage between becoming a concerned Assyrian and the culmination of a freedom-fighter. Through her work with the brave Assyrian patriots in Turkey and Iraq she had passed through the final deconstruction of her 'self' and was ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people. The rest of us were merely too busy running the annual conventions in California, Chicago, and the East Coast. That day, while a few Assyrian women were walking on the runway and presenting the latest Assyrian fashions from 2000 B.C., Attiya Gamri was outlining to me her ideas for increasing the political activities in Europe and the Mid-East. Attiya was years ahead of us then as she is today.
She spoke about the Assyrians fighting in "Othro" and the relentless inhumanity facing our people in "Assyria". That was the first time I was hearing anyone openly speak about "Assyria" - not Bet-Nahrain, neither North Iraq, nor Mesopotamia. She spoke about "Assyria" as if it were a UN-recognized territory in the Middle East. This was no ordinary Assyrian. Attiya had a vision and a plan to bring back her Othro.
In the next few years Attiya would travel to every country in the Middle East with a substantial population of Assyrians. She would challenge the Assyrian leaders, activists, foreign journalists, European diplomats and even the Middle Eastern heads of states. She took observers from the European Union, the Dutch parliament, human rights organizations to see for themselves what it feels like to be Assyrian in a country beset by the majority Moslems, Arabs, and Kurds. Yet she challenged herself even further. Her political, academic, and social achievements are remarkable. In our feature article we note only a few of these accomplishments.
But don't let her soft smile fool you. The wonder woman of the Assyrian politics is a radical ideologue whose plans and determination have and will continue to turn the Assyrian politics upside down. Unlike those of us in North America, born politically into our consensus-minded communities, Attiya is always unsettled with the stagnant politics of her day. Instead of spending weeks and months delivering empty promises she travels to the trouble spots where Assyrians need someone to hear their grievances. For Attiya Gamri Assyrianism is not a part-time hobby or extra-professional activity. I saw this on that magnificent day in Turlock and in every act she has embarked upon since then. She has successfully put the governments in the Middle East and the Kurdish Regional Government on the spot for their treatment of the Assyrians and is often accompanied by Dutch and European Union representatives on her trips to the Middle East to illustrate her points at the high-level meetings she holds with her European counterparts.
In recognition for her remarkable successes in meeting great challenges as an Assyrian activist, diplomat, and freedom-fighter, the Zinda Magazine Selection Team has selected Ms. Attiya Gamri as this year's Assyrian of the Year.
History will remember Attiya Gamri as the Assyrian Joan of Arc. I am confident that she too heard voices in places she traveled, amidst the trees and hills of Urmia, the valleys of "Othro" or sitting alone under the shade of an old tree in a village in Syria. She is now on a historic mission to save us from the yoke of self-denial and hopelessness - ready or not we have - contentedly - no choice but to follow the Lioness of Assyria.