Home - Baker/Williams Genealogy
Dr. Freydun Bit-Abram
1892 – 1926?
A Brief Biography of Freydun
Information about the public life of the man known
only as Freydun Aturaya (the spelling varies) has been obtained from several
published biographies. For many Assyrians Freydun Aturaya is a legend only, overlooking
his family, and never even mentioning his real name. I have included parts of
his known biography and made adjustments in accord with common knowledge and
Richard W. Baker
Abram family photographs
Freydun, Sonia & their son Sargon, about
Freydun Bit-Abram was born in 1892 in the village of Charbash
near Urmia, Iran. His father was Yacob Bit-Abram
who died in 1940 and his mother was Insoph Taimoorazy who died in 1934.
The Bit-Abram family moved to Tbilisi,
Georgia, Russia about
1902. After finishing his primary education with honors, he attended the University of Saratog, Kharkov. About 1915 he graduated as a Medical
Doctor. It is said that he attended the military academy at the Leningrad University.
Instilled in him during early childhood was a love for the
Assyrian people - it was a passion that increased as he grew up. Along with
other leaders he envisioned a self-ruled and self-determined Assyrian nation.
He became known as Freydun Aturaya. The name Aturaya attached to his name
implies that he was a well-loved, honored and respected Assyrian. He earned an
appointment as a medical doctor in the Russian Army upon his graduation. He
then became the head of the military hospital in Georgia during WWI. Later he
attained the position of Chief Medical Officer for the Northern and Southern
Caucasian Railways. During this time, the Russian railways engaged heavily in
the transportation of troops to various war fronts. In 1917, he earned a
promotion to the rank of Director General of Finance to the USSR.
Dr. Freydun later transferred to the Russian Forces in Iran where he
served at the 492nd Army
Hospital in Khvoy as well
as a political officer. During these times, he worked zealously for a national
home for the Assyrian people. The high-ranking Russian officials apparently
held him in high regard. He established an Assyrian Association in Tbilisi as well an
Assyrian United Front, he also established the Assyrian National Committee in
Urmia and sent 250 young Assyrian men to Russia for military training and
requested, from the Russian Government, the delivery of arms and equipment for
the deliverance of Bet Nahrain for the Assyrians. Also during these times, he
collaborated with the Russian vice-counselor Kirsanov to organize and run a
refugee special committee. Thousands of Assyrians fleeing from genocide and
hunger to the Transcaucasus were helped through this Red Cross assisted
In 1917, the Russian Army in Iran was training about 2000
Assyrian soldiers to be the core of an Assyrian Army. They were under the
direct command of the late patriarch Mar Benyamin Shimun of the Assyrian Church of the East, and accepted not
only as the spiritual leader but also as leader of the Assyrian people.
Dr. Freydun was also an accomplished writer and a poet.
Among his writings we know of "Balbati Kamayi", "Dianta
D'kidvi" "Kala D'Karna", Shari Al Tiata Nahravati Di Urmi",
"Sluta D'milat", and the well known and cherished "Ya Nishra Di
Tkhumi" which has been sung by singers such as the late Gibrael Sayad and
Ashur Bet Sargis to mention a few. He established an Assyrian Library in Moscow and in Tbilisi, and he also
published an Assyrian magazine under the name of "Nakusha" as a means
to awaken the nationalistic ferver in our Assyrian people and to advance his
aim of a National Home for Assyrians; many of his essays were published in the
"Kokhwa" (Star) magazine published in Urmia.
In February 1917, Russia saw a bourgeois democratic
revolution. Many Assyrian intellectuals supported this event enthusiastically.
At that time Dr. Freydun Aturaya, Rabbi Benjamin Bet Arsanis and Dr. Baba Bet
Parhad gathered to establish the first national political party, "The
Assyrian Socialist Party". It is a great pity that the archives of the
Assyrian National Council and Assyrian Socialist Party as well as the personal
archive of Dr. Freydun Aturaya were destroyed during the revolution.
The prominent educator and historian, the renowned Assyrian
public figure M. Sargizov (Rabbi Ljova) found in the Russia's foreign archives the text
of the "Urmia Manifesto of the United Free Assyria" This material ran
to some 20 paragraphs. Dr. Freydun Aturaya completed it in the Assyrian
language in April 1917. In the first paragraph, he elaborated on the pursuit
and challenges of the union. He indicated his hope for a new democratic Russia
with the statement: "the goal of the free Assyrian unity is to establish
in the future the national self-governing in the regions like Urmia, Mosul,
Turabdin, Nisibin, Jezira, Julamaerk along with the reunification with the
great free Russia in terms of economic and military agreements".
The withdrawal of Russia from the war in 1918 and the
murder of the patriarch Mar Benyamin Shimun brought about extreme hardship for
the Assyrians. The general exodus, the mass casualties and the absence of
leadership resulted in the breakup of the national political and military
forces. The majority of the Assyrian National Council members gathered in Tiflis (Tbilisi).
From that time the council was run by Dr. F. Aturaya, however as a result
of endless conflicts all the Council members had to be re-elected, Dr. Freydun
Aturaya was accused by some leaders of being pro-English or pro-French.
After the Soviet power exerted its influence over Iran, Dr.
Freydun Aturaya hoped for repatriation of Assyrians in Urmia and Salamis. He took a trip
to see Mr. G. Chicherin, the Russian foreign minister, in 1921. However, this
meeting was not fruitful.
In 1922, Dr. Freydun Bit-Abram married Sonia and they had
two children, a son born in 1923 named Sargon and a daughter born in 1926 named
Nelli. According to Nelli her mother was pregnant with her at the time of Freydun’s
arrest by the Russian authorities. Freydun never saw his daughter.
Russian authorities arrested Dr. Freydun Aturaya 12 July 1926. The accusations against him were of being a
fanatic Assyrian Nationalist who inspired the Assyrian nation toward the hope
of returning to Bet-Nahrain (Iraq)
and establishing a free Assyria. It is said
that Dr. Freydun Aturaya was poisoned while in prison although the Georgian
(Russian Georgia) government officials denied involvement in his death and
instead, they asserted that he had committed suicide by hanging himself in
prison. Others have also stated that he was executed while in prison after
being accused of spying for the British government. His last letter was date of
August 30, 1926. He sent it to the USSR. Supreme Court of justice and it had
the title "my spy case, devised by my personal enemies". In the
entire 24-paragraph letter shows the courage and steadfastness of Dr. Freydun
Aturaya. The exact year of his death is unknown. The oral history known by his
family includes the mention of his being sent to Siberia.
The physician and the public
figure Dr. Freydun Aturaya will live in the memory of the Assyrian nation as a
martyred nationalist, a brilliant poet, and playwright.
Compiled and edited by Richard Walter
Baker - February 2003.