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Dr. Freydun Bit-Abram
1892 – 1926?

A Brief Biography of Freydun Bit-Abram (Aturaya)

 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 family information.

Richard W. Baker


Bit Abram family photographs


  Freydun, Sonia & their son Sargon, about 1925 



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 committee.


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.