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If Only Rocks Could Talk!

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Sabri Atmanteam

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If Only Rocks Could Talk!

Dec-04-2016 at 00:35 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

Sabri Atman's rock from Arbo, Nsibin, Assyria.

If Only Rocks Could Talk!
by Nineb Lamassu, United Kingdom.
Source: Zinda Magazine, December 24, 2005.

“Since I left my village, I have not managed to return to it. For many years I dreamt of returning to that heavenly place. I have not been able to get close to reaching my village but this little rock has travelled from my village for many miles, and has managed to reach me!”

Last week I had a visit from a friend: Sabri Atman, a friend of integrity and convictions. He was here to meet with both Firodil and Gomidas Institutes to discuss two special Seyfo events, which Firodil Institute together with Gomidas Institute are organising for this January to coincide with Britain’s official Holocaust Memorial Day.

Whilst in London Sabri also met with prominent Assyrian personalities such as Rev. Dr. Khoshaba Georges, Mr. John Michael, and some active Assyrian youth. We also attended a special dinner organised by Gomidas Institute in honour of Prof. Hilmar Kaiser: a renowned historian and scholar who specialises in the genocide of 1915. During this dinner, Prof. Kaiser gave a short talk that touched on some changes in accessing the national archives of Turkey, which he described as, “a different side of the same coin”. He also gave a thorough analysis of the current politics in Turkey, and how these political maneuvers affect Turkey’s stance on the genocide of the Assyrians and Armenians. Later we all enjoyed the privilege of discussing many Seyfo queries with Prof. Kaiser.

On the way back to my place, the central line on the tube (subway) was abuzz as usual, creating an uncomfortable environment. The train was crowded forcing one to withdraw into a peculiar state of alienation. Yes, alienation, not just from the crowded train but from the entire world.

This was the state I found Sabri in on the train that night, when I noticed him holding a little rock in his hand. He was holding it like a mother would hold the life of her last surviving child in the palm of her hand. Not expecting such a long answer, I asked him, “What is this rock in your hand?”, and he replied:

“Since I left my village, I have not managed to return to it. For many years I dreamt of returning to that heavenly place. I have not been able to get close to reaching my village but this little rock has travelled from my village for many miles, and has managed to reach me!”

He sighed for a few seconds and then he opined, “This rock means everything to me, my roots are from this rock, and I share all my sorrow and happiness with it.”

“As you know I have been actively working for Seyfo’s recognition for a few years now. Because of this I have experienced many difficulties which I would rather spare you the boredom of listening to me telling you about them. But, I can tell you, I have received many threats and intimidations.”

“Seyfo is not about somebody writing articles and giving lectures. Seyfo is a big and complicated issue, and we must work on various levels to achieve its recognition. You see, other than being an academic matter, Seyfo is a political, historical, legal, humanitarian, and an identity issue.”

“I believe and feel there is an urgent need to work on all these levels. Every week, I travel around Europe presenting lectures. Everywhere I go, I attempt to exploit the opportunity and create a network of people who share a common belief of working on this cause. Recently, I have initiated relations with many individuals from multiple nationalities: Jews, Kurds, Turks, Armenians, Swedes, Germans and many more.”

“I am always writing for various magazines; I advocate Seyfo’s recognition in heated debates with the denialists; I strive to motivate the youth to take this issue seriously; I record the testimonies of the survivors, and in the recent past I ran a 42kms marathon for the recognition of Seyfo. Also, I have consciously tried, with a sincere objective to involve the church - the largest Assyrian institution - to become more active in achieving Seyfo’s recognition.”

“I do all this whilst I experience a huge economical crease. I scarcely have the finance, not only to do what I do but more importantly to continue doing this as I have been so far. Up to now, I have not received a single penny from anyone!”

“In conclusion, I have experienced many obstacles but this rock has carried me through. It somehow gives me the strength to continue.”

After a long conversation I asked him to share what he thinks about Turkey’s current stance on Seyfo, and he said:

“Three months ago Prof. Yusuf Halaçoğlu, the chairman of The Society of Turkish History and Ankara’s denialist think tank, stated on TRT (A Turkish national channel that can be watched all around the globe); “We are well aware of the allegations made by the Assyrians, and we follow all their activities.” And he continued by saying; “We will invite Sabri Atman to this programme, and embarrass him by proving him wrong.” I am still waiting to receive the invite! When I receive it, that is, if I ever receive it, I will gladly advocate the just case of my people.

According to Prof. Halaçoğlu, when Seyfo took place there were only 50,000 Assyrians, hence there could not have been 750.000 victims. “Of course this is nothing but an utter lie! This policy stands on a rocky foundation of denials!” said Sabri. He then continued to say, “One month ago Prof. Halaçoğlu was quoted by INKA - a Turkish news agency - as saying; “We are ready to reply to all the allegations made by the Assyrians, and we are organising a huge campaign for 2006 by agitating the 5 million Turks of the Diaspora to retaliate against these false allegations”

Then Sabri concluded, “When it comes to Seyfo we really are weak despite all the progress made to date, despite having elevated this subject to a degree where Ankara is following our activities. We must organise ourselves better and in haste in order to be ready not just to be on the defensive side but is vital to be making our own strikes.”

That night I could not stop thinking about that little rock and its relationship with Sabri. It may be a little rock but it represents the survival and the struggle of a nation. It may be an inanimate thing but it gives strength and motivates a giant, a man who is as unbreakable as the little rock itself, a man who like the little rock represents the survival, struggle and the gallantry of an obstinate people who refuse to perish.

Since that night on the train I can not stop thinking “If only rocks could talk” but I comfort myself by having the privilege of having two of them talk to me last week. How pleasant it is to converse with rocks.


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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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