Opinion Editorial
The Fall of Nineveh is Not Over Yet
By Augin Haninke

Stockholm (AINA) -- Looking back at the past year, many events that are worth mentioning happened. We experienced a royal wedding and Sweden's first suicide attack. Seyfo was recognized by a parliament for the first time and a brutal double murder shook the Assyrians in general, and the soccerteam Assyriska FF in particular. But it has already been written meters of it, so I want, because of lack of space, to dwell on two issues that particularly caught my attention: The ongoing genocide against the Assyrians in Iraq and a unique cuneiform tablet describing the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC, since the fall of Nineveh is not over yet.

In the month of June when I was working a few weeks for the news programme of Ekot on Swedish Radio, I met one day Nuri Kino who asked me to watch a short video from Iraq. I would help translate the contents to the editorial board before it was sent. I said okey without asking for details of the contents. It was not the first time that Nuri had asked me to check out a document or an audio file, so I did not think much of what the clip was about.

But half an hour later I felt sick and could barely control the car on my way home. I called Nuri and told him that I had never experienced anything so horrible like when a young, innocent Assyrians head was cut off right before our eyes. To look at how the Islamists read the verses from the Quran while the large knife is pulled over the victim's throat until the head is lifted up like a trophy, it was a scene that I will never forget.

Nuri was apparently more hardened. He had seen similar clips a few times before and was mentally prepared. He has also written his latest novel about the violence in Iraq. I was not nearly as prepared and felt very bad when I had taken what I had just been through.

I immediately called Nuri from the car and said I wanted to write about the ongoing genocide against the Assyrians by illustrating with this video, but he asked me to wait until the feature was broadcast on the radio. What for me was a shattering experience is commonplace for those affected by daily experience such terrible wrongs committed against their loved ones. Certainly it is hard to read and hear about all the atrocities against our people in Iraq. But with my own eyes to see how to cut the throat of a young man whose only crime is that he is not Muslim, is totally incomprehensible.

In the case of the Assyrians in Iraq, no one can ignore the low-intensity genocide suffered by them. The above video is unfortunately only a drop in the bucket compared to all the atrocities suffered by our people, whose numbers are constantly decreasing in the "liberated" Iraq. The culmination of the oppression came October 31 when a church was exposed to a suicide attack with some 50 dead and 60 wounded. We hope this will be the culmination and that our remaining brothers do not have to feel even worse suicide attacks in the future.

But the church massacre has also brought a glimmer of hope now that our rival organizations seem to have realized the value of speaking with one voice. Let us hope that the proud declarations not remain words on paper as in previous times in our history. Our past is otherwise full of sad expeabrience of splits and internal dissension that often becomes an obstacle in our struggle for survival. The fall of Nineveh has unfortunately not come to an end when our ancient capital fell into enemy hands for 2500 years ago. Nineveh's children are expelled and scattered far and wide today and no one seems to care about this tragedy.

Speaking of the fall of Nineveh, how did that happen? Are there any testimonies from that time? Yes, for more than two millennia, we had only the Old Testament as the only source. And where is the most malicious pleasure that comes up when the prophet Nahum from Alqush find it difficult to hide his triumphant mockery of the fall of Assyria. He rejoices that Nineveh fell, and says that no one could collect her scattered sons again:

"Your shepherds are sleeping, the king of Assyria, your chiefs slumbers. Your people are scattered over the mountains and no one is collecting it. There is no cure for your damage, no healing for your wounds. Everyone who hears what has happened to you cheer on your misery . (Nah 1:3,18-19).

So far the biblical testimony of Nahum, but now also archaeological excavations shed new light on historical events such as the fall of Nineveh.

In early February I sat as audience at a lecture by the English archaeologist John MacGinnis at Assyria Cultural Center in Hallunda, Stockholm. He and his team dig a couple of years back in the city of Ziyaret Tepe in southeastern Turkey, which was the Assyrian provincial capital Tu?Khan. Many details of the lecture was very interesting, for example, that they have found lists of women servants of the Assyrian rulers, but by their names show us that these women were not Assyrians. There you can see how important it is to retain distinctive names.

But the task on a small cuneiform tablet caught my attention more than anything else. MacGinnis told of a unique clay tablet that has never been found elsewhere. Its contents suggest what it must have been like in the days when our capital Nineveh fell in 612 BC.

How do we know that? Well, the tablet seems to be a response to a letter from the king of Nineveh, which must have asked for reinforcements from his provincial governors. The very king's letter has not been found, but the answer, which apparently never managed to get away, goes something like this: "I can not send you any horses, arms or troops. Because all have fled away. I am the only one left and I do not understand why I must stay and die at my post."

An Assyrian governor's last words for a long time ago in a time when the empire is about to fall apart. For no kingdom on earth lasts forever. All empires fall sooner or later, but the difference is what you leave behind a legacy to the world. Despite Nahum and similar testimonies the Assyrian empire left a high culture to the world that we are still reaping the rewards of. But ingratitude is the civilized worlds pay, when they look at us while the genocide of Seyfo continues in silence against the Assyrians in Iraq.

Augin Kurt Haninke is an Assyrian journalist and author in Sweden.


Views and opinions expressed in guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AINA.
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