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Bashir Saadi Talks at Anniversary Celebration of ADO in Turlock
by Zinda Magazine
Posted: Thursday, September 21, 2000 03:50 am CST

(ZNDA: Turlock) On Sunday, August 13, Bashir Saadi, a prominent member of the Assyrian Democratic Organization engages a small group of California's Central Valley residents in a discussion on the history of the ADO and its current activities. Mr. Saadi, born in Syria, was a representative of the Syrian Parliament between 1994 and 1998. In 1999 he, along with four other Assyrians were arrested for aiding the Assyrian villages by drilling water wells in areas affected by drought and Khabour River's reduced water levels. Through the efforts of local groups and outside pressure Mr. Saadi and his colleagues were freed from their prison in Damascus.

Mr. Saadi briefly reviewed the history of ADO since its inception in 1957 in Qameshli, Syria by a few Assyrian young followers of Malfono Naom Faiq and his contemporary Assyrian nationalists. He noted that there remain only 2400 Assyrians in Turkey. "Our lands must be returned to us in Turkey", said Mr. Saadi and explained the importance of pressuring the European countries in asking Turkey to recognize its Assyrian population in the Tur-Abdin areas. "You must work together in bringing greater recognition of the 1915 Genocide by the Turkish government against our Assyrian people and Turkey must be brought to justice for its acts against humanity," noted Mr. Saadi. Turkey has already been accepted as a non-official member of the European Union and is on its way to full recognition by 2004.

On the condition of the Assyrians in Syria, Mr. Saadi explained that Assyrians and the Syriac-speaking groups that do not recognize themselves as Assyrian are identified by their religious affiliation and not ethnic identity. "There is religious freedom in Syria for all Christians and each church manages its own activities," explained Mr. Saadi. He continued: "Our people support the new President, Bashar Assad. He's educated and very open-minded. We expect that he will open our economy and allow greater political freedom." At the end of his lecture, Mr. Saadi reminded his audience that such issues as inadequate water in the Assyrian villages and lack of funds to assist Assyrian students in Syria are daily realities in Syria.

The 43rd Anniversary Celebration of the ADO was held in the Gardens Motor Inn in Turlock and was also attended by Mrs. Irene Warda, ADO Representative in California; Mr. Andreous Yonan, Assyrian Aid Society- Modesto Chapter; Mr. Charles Evans, Assyrian American National Federation representative in California; and Mr. Lazar Piro for the newly-formed "alliance" of the 16 Assyrian religious, cultural, and political organizations in the Central Valley. Mr. Esha Warda was the master of the ceremony.

Through the generosity of the individuals present and other concerned Assyrians elsewhere, a few thousand dollars were collected after Mr. Saadi's talk to assist the 47 students with their school tuition and related costs. Zinda Magazine contributed $500.00 toward the education fund set for these Assyrian students in Syria.

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