Picture above is of my mom Yola and I
By Abbey Mikha
Shlama Qa Qol Ashouraye!
I hope you are all having a great summer, enjoying the nice weather, and doing things you love! Yesterday I was just sitting there alone at home and I remembered my mom’s town in Jilu Hakkari called Zerineh. I had some time and made a YouTube video with the song Zerineh by Janan Sawa and included some of my pictures. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Rufq4zmmAE
I always loved Janan’s songs and especially his songs to do with Atra, Kha’b Nissan, and Zerineh. I remember being at a Assyrian convention in Detroit in 2002 and dancing to his many beautiful songs at the picnic.
I’m not sure when the song Zerineh was written, but I can remember it since I was very young. It is a beautiful song with a sad tune, a tune that resembles the sadness that our ancestors felt when they had to flee Zerineh during the Seypa Genocide that devastated our nation.
This Genocide was perpetuated by Islamic Kurds and Ottoman Islamic Turks. They openly did then what they are covertly trying to do now! This Genocide is the first of the century and it is many times falsely called the Armenian Genocide. I say falsely because there were also Pontic Greeks and Assyrians who suffered and were killed and annihilated.
A lot of historians say that had this first Genocide in World War I been prevented, the other Genocide in World War II would not have taken place. This is something very significant that the people of the world must realize and give consideration to. We should never condone genocide! It is wrong on all levels. All good peoples deserve to live and the Assyrians definitely deserved and deserve to live.
One day I will see the ground where you stood Zerineh and one day I’ll go back to my homeland to sit in your fields, to see your mountains, and to wonder why time has created this distance between us. Even though I am far from the lands of my ancestors I’ll always be a flower from the fields of Zerineh.
I have never been to Turkey but I always think about Zerineh. I imagine it as a very lovely place. I wonder who lives there now and do they remember it as my beautiful Zerineh ?
I am an Assyrian born in Lebanon. My mother’s family be Yousip left their homeland in Zerineh Hakkari and escaped to Kiev during the Seypa Genocide. There is a story passed down in my family that my great grandfather Adam Yousip from Zerineh walked from the Hakkari region with his family to Kiev. My grandfather Kostan was born in Kiev. His mother was an Assyrian originally born in Russia. They must have been strong people!
My grandfather moved to Lebanon with his family when he was very young.
I grew up listening to Assyrian music in the town of Ksara in Lebanon at the yearly Sherat Mar Zaia celebration and I have always loved Assyrian music even though my family left Lebanon to Germany and then to Canada at a very young age. I love the country of my birth Lebanon, but my heart pulses the song of Assyria and the song of Zerineh.. I wonder and have an inquiry if there will be future songs about Zerineh with a happy tune?
The Assyrians in Ksara call the town in Lebanon Zerineh because so many people in town come from Zerineh Jilu Hakkari originally. They are survivors of the Seypa Genocide. The houses in the town of Ksara were given to these Assyrians who still live there amongst each other. There is a beautiful church in the town called Mar Zaia to remind us of our beautiful church in Hakkari. Lebanon has many beautiful churches and monasteries and so does Hakkari! Although they are simplistic in their style they still are dripping with Christian Assyrian devotion, spirit, and love.
I hope to visit Hakkari one day and see what is left of the towns and villages of the Assyrians in Turkey. This land belongs to us but who will listen? This land was stolen from us! I hope that life will give you an opportunity to go back and visit our homeland as well. If one day you visit Zerineh think of me and I am with you there in spirit.
I have written an article about the Hakkari Assyrians called, “The Metis of Red River and the Assyrians of Assyria.” It is from some years back. Many people disagreed with my opinions in this article. I used to believe that multiculturalism should spread and the whole world should become one. Witnessing what is happening in the Middle East now to the Assyrians and other minorities, and the way people in the world are turning a blind eye to so much suffering and murdering, makes me question my old opinions. Nonetheless, here is the link for the article:
The Song “Zerineh” is one of my favourites ever since I was a child because I always knew that my mom’s ancestors were from Zerineh and because I myself like the lady in the song have green eyes. I wonder if many women from Zerineh have green eyes!? It is said that only 1-2 % of people in the world have green eyes. It could be typical of the Assyrian people of the region as I have many relatives with green and blue eyes.
I also have heritage from Alqosh and Mardin in Tur Abdin, but I always felt close to the town of Zerineh because I grew up with the kids of the town in Ksara until I was five years old many of which were Zerne. I am proud of my entire heritage. It is my honour to be from Zerineh, Alqosh, and Mardin! I never forgot the people in the town of Ksara no matter which countries I traveled to just like I never forget the people of Zerineh, Alqosh, and Mardin and all Assyrian towns and villages. They all always stayed in my heart. I think of them every day and even in dreams.
I hope to visit my relatives in Ksara Lebanon one day again and one day I hope and wish to see you Zerineh.
My friend Ashour and I were discussing this issue of returning to the homeland and he said, “We should ALWAYS think of our beautiful homeland and the glorious day that we return, like a lost child returning to his mother.” I responded to him: “Children sometimes grow up and search a lifetime for their mother even if she gave them up at birth or at a young age! Many of them forgive their mothers for letting them go because they realize that her situation was very difficult at that time. In a way our homeland gave us up since 1915, but this does not have to be forever. Those of us who are attached to the beat of our land and ancestry are connected to an invisible umbilical cord. It is like something that pulls us to the direction of the East. Like an image of beautiful goddesses of our homeland calling our names to return and signalling with their hands and telling us that we are all flowers who are supposed to be blooming there in those fields by those mountains.
Zerineh, you feel far away but close to my heart. If one day there will be justice in the world then houses for Assyrians will be built again in Zerineh.. One day the Assyrians may be allowed to go back to build their homeland, and all Assyrians shall realize that they were born Assyrian in this life because their soul was attached to and remembered the atrocities which took place in Assyria at the hands of the foe. Every Assyrian is here on earth to defend the memory of our martyrs, our great grandfathers who fought, and the future of our nation. There is one thing I’m certain of and that is that I will always love and think of you Zerineh!
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Abbey is a writer and blogger interested in humanitarian issues. Abbey is striving to be a mental health consultant. She is writing her second book, "Not The End" and she hopes to speak to mental health communities all around the world using her story and experience with mental health to give hope to others struggling.
All articles at the Assyrian Thinker website are the copyright (©) 2016 Abbey Mikha