Paris (AINA) -- Founded in 1856 by lay people and professors at the Sorbonne University, the Oeuvre d'Orient is a French association devoted entirely to aid Eastern Christians. It works under the auspices of the Catholic Archbishop of Paris. Annually, Oeuvre d'Orient awards outstanding publications on Eastern Christians.
The 2016 French Academic Prize of Oeuvre d'Orient was awarded to Professor Joseph Yacoub and his wife Claire Yacoub for their French book Forgotten by All -- The Assyro-Chaldeans of Caucasus, published by Cerf.
With this award, the jury praised the work of Professor Joseph Yacoub and his wife Claire who researched intensively to highlight the plight of the Assyrian-Chaldeans in the Caucasus. This nearly forgotten minority of Eastern Christians has suffered persecution, deportation and humiliation, as well as emigration and mass exodus in its history, particularly during the Turkish genocide of Assyrians from 1915-1918, the late period of the Ottoman Empire.
While the genocide of Armenians and Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) unfolded at full speed in Anatolia, it also extended into the Caucasus. The book documents diplomatic and military maneuvers of the great powers, Russia's penetration into the Ottoman and Persian Empires, the Bolshevik Revolution, the rise of the Soviet Union, the Stalinist terror, and Nazi invasion.
"A century later, while Eastern Christians again face agony in their ancestral homeland [in Iraq and Syria]," according to a statement by Oeuvre d'Orient, "Claire and Joseph Yacoub complete a book, the first of its kind, which describes the adventure of the Assyrio-Chaldeans of the Caucasus ignored in its continuity. Their book is a document of history, a testimony to this. Today, with the Caucasian independence and the new Russia, the Assyro-Chaldeans regain their freedom, re-establish contacts with their compatriots in the Diaspora and learn to hope."
Joseph Yacoub says "my people are religious, ethnic, linguistic, and once a prosperous nation, who, despite the tragic history, kept their Aramaic language, the Eastern Christianity and the memory of the country of their ancestors."
Joseph Yacoub is an honorary professor of the Catholic University of Lyon, Christians of East specialist and is author of several articles and books. His recent book on the genocide of 1915 (Year of the Sword: The Assyrian Christian Genocide, a History) will become available in English on August 2016. The French edition, Who will remember? 1915: The Assyrian-Syriac-Chaldean Genocide, was published in 2015. His wife Claire Weibel Yacoub published the The Broken Dream of the Assyrio-Chaldeans: An Elusive Autonomy (in French) in 2012.
For the fifth consecutive year, Oeuvre d'Orient awarded such a literary prize to honor two works dealing with the situation of Christians in the East. The Academic Award recognizes a book for its scientific style, quality and clarity of its text. The literary price was awarded to Falk van Angaver and Kassam Maadi for their book "Taybeh, Last Christian village of Palestine."
The award ceremony was conducted by Cardinal Andre Vingt III on Sunday, May 29, 2016 after the Mass of the Oeuvre d'Orient at Notre Dame. The Catholic French Televisio TVChannel KTO broadcast the mass and the award ceremony.
In his short speech after receiving the award, Professor Yacoub said:
His Eminence Cardinal Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, His Beatitude Cardinal George Alencherry, Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church of India, Monsignor Pascal Gollnisch, Director of Oeuvre d'Orient and his team, Christians of the East and West,
With my wife Claire, we are very touched that Oeuvre d'Orient chose our book that discusses the Assyro-Chaldean fate in the Caucasus, long forgotten. Thank you for this act of confidence. In keeping with a tradition of solidarity with the Eastern Christian since 1856, Oeuvre d'Orient has consistently supported Christian culture and education. Due to both objective and hope, the culture is, obviously, the major element that helps withstand the bad climate of history and vagaries of politics and migration storms. In societies with assimilationist trend, culture is a bulwark that protects the dissolution and it supports to protect the disappearance of an identity while being a key tool for integration and mutual understanding. The day the world will discover the multiplicity and infinite richness of Eastern Christianity, which embraces all areas of knowledge, yes, that day, we can say that the Christians of the East will not disappear. With our reiterated thanks."