Assyrian Genocide Commemoration in Toulouse, France

 

I received the following beautiful message from Ms. Sharukina Davidoff, an Assyrian from France:

Dear Mrs Malek Yonan,

The Assyrian Federation of France had the honor of quoting you, on our speech on April 24th in Toulouse, France during the commemoration of the Seyfo Genocide alongside with the Armenians.

Thank you for being such an inspiration.

Our blessings.

Youtube Link

I am an Assyrian. That is not negotiable.

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I was an Assyrian thousands of years before Christianity. I am millions strong, living in far corners of the globe. I am the first nation to accept Christianity. I am persecuted for my name and religion. My ancestral homeland is Occupied Assyria. You know it as Iraq. But regardless of my current geographic location, citizenship, and religion, I alone know my identity. I was born Assyrian. I live Assyrian. I will die Assyrian. I am entitled to my identity. I claim my identity. I have absolutely no ambiguity about my identity. I will not be politically correct. I will not follow the masses. I will always be true to who I am. Generations before me made enormous and unthinkable sacrifices to ensure my existence. I would be dishonoring those sacrifices if I failed to protect my heritage, my language, my history, my religion, and my name. I don’t seek acceptance. I don’t seek approval. I am who I say I am. Nothing more…Nothing less.

“I am an Assyrian. That is not negotiable.”
Rosie Malek-Yonan’s The Crimson Field

Music by: Rosie Malek-Yonan

Rosie Malek-Yonan Music

A Film by Ferran Barber – Music by Rosie Malek-Yonan

Watch Short Video Clip on Facebook:

Asirios. Cronología de la persecución más brutal jamás contada. Música compuesta por Rosie Malek-Yonan

[Assyrians. Chronology of the most brutal persecution ever told. Music composed by Rosie Malek Yonan.]

An open letter to Congresswoman Anna Eshoo

Boy & Assyrian FlagDear Congresswoman Anna Eshoo,

I am an Assyrian and I am the grand daughter of a survivor of the Assyrian Genocide. This makes the issue of the Assyrian Genocide extremely personal to me. And I am not alone. We are millions strong living in every corner of the world and the Assyrian Genocide unequivocally unifies us as a people because we are all children of survivors of those horrific years of 1914-1918 when Assyrians lost two-thirds of their nation.

In the aftermath of the 750,000 Assyrians who were butchered by the Ottomans, Kurds, and Persians, in Turkey and Urmia, Iran, surviving Assyrians were left with shattered lives and broken families and by the grace of God, found the courage to begin planting seeds of new generations of Assyrians to protect the Assyrian bloodline.

Assyrians may be a stateless nation, but we are not invisible. We are not nameless and we are certainly not the “other minorities” as you have callously labeled us in your April 24, 2017 statement.

Though you are only half-Assyrian on your father’s side and Armenian on your mother’s side, you have no right to denigrate the Assyrian identity.

Assyrians are a proud and ancient people. We “never forget” or take for granted our past history and struggle. We are proud of our Assyrian identity and will not tolerate anyone, not even a half-Assyrian, to behave dismissively and with malice towards our Assyrian identity.

I say malice because this isn’t the first time you have denied the Assyrian name and identity. Once is a mistake to be forgiven and corrected. Yours is a pattern of denial time and time again. How many occasions have you referred to Assyrians as “Iraqi Christians” or “Christians of Iraq?” You do realize Assyrians are not all from Iraq?

Your reference to “other minorities” also included the Greeks who suffered greatly in this period of genocide alongside the Assyrians and Armenians. Is the Assyrian name so offensive to you that you couldn’t show some semblance of respect for the Assyrians as well as the Greeks in this case to mention them directly?

Congresswoman Eshoo, Assyrian blood runs through your veins and your name is Assyrian. Your denial of the Assyrian identity is a denial of yourself. You may not care, but Assyrians take offense when you reduce their identity to “other minorities.”

You, Madam Congresswoman, have no right to insult or degrade the Assyrian people as you have done when they have always respected, supported, and looked up to you as a voice for the Assyrians. Though you are a representative of the United States Congress and not a representative of the Assyrians, there are occasions when you can lend your voice to the Assyrian cause. But it seems you are too embarrassed and hesitant to utter the Assyrian name.

Perhaps you thought we wouldn’t take notice when you referred to Assyrians as “other minorities.” But we’ve all taken notice . . . again.

You shouldn’t have to be reminded to correct or issue another statement as some have suggested. You can’t un-ring the bell.

I believe what you do need is no more support from Assyrian organizations, groups, or individuals. What you need is no more invitations to Assyrian events and photo ops. What you need is no more Assyrian votes  or contributions from your district.

You’ve disappointed the Assyrians for the last time. It’s rather simple: Deny Assyrians and Assyrians will deny you.

Respectfully,

Rosie Malek-Yonan

Update: A followup article published in AINA.

Related Video Clip

Listen up, Wikipedia!

 

Wikipedia Anti-AssyrianPublished: March 19, 2017

Updated: April 10, 2017

The discrimination against Assyrian Christians does not stop in the Middle East. It is allegedly exercised daily on Wikipedia where anyone from any walk of life can take on the role of a so-called editor. I say so-called because a large number are not remotely qualified to take on the role of an editor, however, Wikipedia’s formula allows for anyone to jump in and start editing. The problem with this setup is that biographies of living persons can and often times do become targeted by individuals or groups whose motives are to push forward their own agenda and spread misinformation online. Their bullying tactics are atrocious.

I have been witnessing an alarming trend where these so-called Wikipedia editors are allegedly actively seeking to eradicate the Assyrian identity from articles about Assyrians. I have personally experienced this anti-Assyrian trend and bullying for the past several years, since an article about me was created on Wikipedia. This is also true in the case of family members who also have articles on Wikipedia. This is a blatant assault and discrimination against Assyrians.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that Everyone has the right to a nationality, and No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

My birthplace does not define my nationality. I am a U.S. citizen and I choose America as my home where I have lived much of my life.

Listen up, all you so-called Wikipedia Editors, Admins, Contributors, and other Biographers who continually alter my nationality based on your limited knowledge of who I am, just stop. I will not be misrepresented and bullied by Wikipedia or anyone else particularly so-called Iranian Muslim Wikipedia editors who seem to be under the impression that they have the final say with their nauseating anti-Assyrian discussions. When I, as the subject of the article declare that I am an Assyrian-American, there should be no further discussion.

Since Wikipedia has blocked me, and my representatives from making corrections to an article that is about me, citing conflict of interest and does not directly respond to requests, I will therefore continue to call out Wikipedia and its so-called editors here on my blog, my Personal Website, Twitter, Facebook Fan Page, and other social media outlets until the bullying stops. Wikipedia’s alleged discrimination and hatred towards Assyrian Christians must be exposed.

The following entries are just the latest attacks on my Assyrian identity. I will continue to post updates below.

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March 7, 2017

It has come to my attention that a Muslim Iranian Wikipedia editor who goes by the handle, LouisAragon, an Iranian living in the Netherlands, is at it again trying to change my Assyrian identity to Iranian on a Wikipedia Article about me and has proceeded to add me to various Iranian groups and lists. There is no dispute and it is not up for discussion by anyone that my nationality was not, is not, and will never be Iranian. It is not for the arrogant LouisAragon or anyone else to alter this reality or make misrepresentations as this Wikipedia so-called editor has been doing for a few years. LouisAragon‘s obsession with me, verging on cyber stalking, is extremely alarming and Wikipedia needs to put a stop to it immediately, restore my nationality to Assyrian-American, and remove me from any and all Iranian categories, Iranian lists, and Iranian groups on Wikipedia.

March 8, 2017 Update

Wikipedia’s all-knowing-so-called editor, LouisAragon, continues to argue/rant that he/she knows my nationality better than I (being the subject and primary source), assumes to know how many years I’ve spent in Iran and now further assumes to know the birthplace of my parents to be Iran. Is this how these so-called editors contribute to Wikipedia? By assumption or bullying? Really? LouisAragon can best serve Wikipedia by refraining to inflict his/her views on biographies of living people. Perhaps this so-called editor’s skills should be exercised on biographies of the dearly departed. There’s bound to be less objections at least directly from the subjects of the articles.

March 19, 2017 Update

After my previous blog post on the same subject was brought to the attention of LouisAragon, he/she reverted my nationality to Assyrian-American, removed a few Iranian categories, and vowed, “Any further picosecond wasted on this is a lost one.” I had hoped he would be lost for good. But on the heels of LouisAragon‘s pledge to control the obsession with my nationality, a new so-called-all-knowing Wikipedia editor who goes by the handle, ZxxZxxZ, and is another Muslim Iranian, took up the anti-Assyrian position where LouisAragon left off.

I find it curious that of all the articles on Wikipedia, these two converge on mine with the same changes. Perhaps LouisAragon and ZxxZxxZ are one and the same since the edits on the article about me directly focus on my nationality and exhibiting the same type of sick obsession.

ZxxZxxZ claims “there is no such thing as Assyrian-American,” and concludes that I must be Iranian-American! It is disgusting to see how anti-Assyrian these so-called Iranian Wikipedia editors are and to what lengths they will go to in order to slap an Iranian identity on me.

ZxxZxxZ, stop obsessing and bullying. I’m not Iranian! Never was! Never will be! This is an insult to me, to my family, and to the entire Assyrian Christian nation. I demand that my nationality be corrected to what it legally is: Assyrian-American. Further, I demand to be removed from all Iranian lists, categories, and groups.

March 20, 2017 Update

My Assyrian-American nationality has be restored…for the moment. However, I am furious to still be included in all Iranian lists, categories, and groups.

March 31, 2017 Update

LouisAragon‘s crazed obsession to alter my nationality to Iranian in the Wikipedia article about me has once again resurfaced in the form of “reporting” anyone who dares to correct my nationality to Assyrian-American. In fact, in the past, this so-called Wikipedia editor even reported me when I corrected my own nationality on Wikipedia.

I will continue to document LouisAragon‘s obsessive behavior because these types of aggressively single-minded individuals who remain focused on a public person, must be observed very carefully and reported to authorities should the obsessive stalking continue and change form.

April 5, 2017 Update

Fake WikipediaBerean Hunter, a handle used by another one of those Wikipedia admin bullies, cares very little about correcting content. I contacted this individual directly in 2015 and asked to have my nationality restored to Assyrian. You would think Wikipedia would be more sensitive to articles on biographies of living people. Instead this bully not only did not assist in making the correction and resolving the problem, he/she banned me and my entire management team.

It is quite logical for people connected to the subject of an article to make corrections or changes facts which seem necessary. Especially those who are public people and have a team of representative, agents, managers, P.R. agents, legal representatives and so on. No public person wants lies and fake news published about them.

Many don’t care about Wikipedia and view it as an “unreliable” source altogether. From my personal experience, Wikipedia is not a trustworthy source to be quoted. However, a lie can spread like cancer and that is the concern here. Wikipedia allows lies to be published.

Wikipedia publicly states:

The content of this article has been derived in whole or part from Rosie Malek-Yonan. Permission has been received from the copyright holder to release this material under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. Evidence of this has been confirmed and stored by OTRS volunteers, under ticket number 2006022410007291.

Despite the above statement, Wikipedia consistently denies my Assyrian identity which would have been part of the original content I gave permission for use. The ongoing discussion about my Assyrian identity for the past several years, is truly offensive, bigoted, prejudicial, and malevolent.

I don’t know why Wikipedia is so hell bent on disseminating false information because their actions have consequences. When Wikipedia’s deliberate fake information about my identity is quoted by other sources, they are directly harming me and taking part in the spread or lies.

Berean Hunter and others like this individual who hide behind computer screens using handles, and fiercely guarding their anonimity, are directly perpetuating this anti-Assyrian campaign by those who wish to eradicate the Assyrian Christian identity. In my case, most have a Muslim-Iranian or Muslim-Middle-Eastern connection like the so-called-editor, LouisAragon. Perhaps some of these so-called Wikipedia admins don’t grasp the magnitude of their actions, but many do and don’t care that their decisions and contributions will greatly harm subjects of biographies of living people.

First it was fake news, now it’s fake Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia editors are incapable of listening to reason, and  my representatives and I have been banned from editing, commenting, and communicating with Wikipedia in any fashion, I began writing this piece to document what transpires. I am certain these so-called editors and admins are paying attention. Today Berean Hunter removed the link from this article that was posted on the talk page of the article about me on Wikipedia only to prove that Wikipedia exercises censorship of truth.

April 7, 2017 Update

Another WIkipedia’s so-called editor using the handle, Bri, has changed my nationality once again from Assyrian-American to Iranian-American. Bri has also combed through the article removing as much Assyrian reference as possible and slanting the article to fit an “Iranian narrative.” Perhaps I should be flattered that Iranians including the Virtual Iranian Embassy has a need or desire to claim me as one of their own because of my accomplishments. I am not flattered. I am repulsed. I am not Iranian. Never was. Never will be. This is defemation and an anti-Assyrian stance that Wikipedia is taking.

April 8, 2017

Fakepidia editors are scrambling. As soon as my Assyrian-American identity was restored, another editor using the handle Anthony_Bradbury, reverted it back to Iranian. I’m amazed that these pathetic attempts to alter my identity won’t stop. Now it seems these editors are recruiting accomplices to keep the Iranian narrative going. Why so much focus on an article about me? The only conclusion is that these are anti-Assyrian editors pushing forward their own sinister agenda. This will eventually have to come to an end. Suddenly all these so-called editors are converging on this issue. Very suspicious behavior.

And….Wait for it….enter Ravensfire, another idiotic so-called Fakepidia editor regurgitating the same nonsensical assertion as all the others! Oh, and Bri is back claiming and I quote “…statements on [a subject’s] nationality are not WP:reliable sources; many people self-identify with nationalities which are different from their legal nationality.” And then Bri throws in Nikola Tesla as backup to the argument! Nikola Tesla? Really? Keep piling on the rubbish you are trying to pass for logic, Fakepidia editors and admins!

As this farce continues to unfold, Wikipedia’s anti-Assyrian position solidifies. I am fairly certain before the final curtain, the original instigator, LouisAragon, the Iranian Muslim, will grind on to once more take the spotlight. At the moment this lunatic is working behind the scenes as he pushes his own demented scheme which points to his utter disdain for Assyrian Christians. This psycho becomes completely unhinged when anyone switches Iranian to Assyrian. Goodness, me, so much hatred for Assyrians? So much hatred for Christians?

Fakepedia would love to carve the Assyrian out of me. It’s truly comical to sit back and observe a bunch of half-baked hysterical editors and admins hovering over my nationality on Fakepedia to ensure that it doesn’t get reverted to Assyrian. To what end?

How exciting for you to spend your time making the Assyrian Rosie Malek-Yonan, the center of your attention! Cheers!

April 9, 2017 Update

It was a busy few days for the anxious and overly zealous Fakepedia admins, editors, and contributors in regards to the article about me. In order to make their case for an Iranian narrative, Bri hastily combed through my bio removing as much reference to Assyrian as possible. The key biographical information removed was this:

Malek-Yonan is a descendant of one of the oldest and most prominent Assyrian families, tracing her Assyrian roots back nearly 11 centuries. The Malek-Yonan family originated from Jilu and eventually settled in the Assyrian Christian village of Geogtapa, in the Urmia region of northwestern Iran. (See Malek-Yonan Family Tree)

Deleting this key piece of information that points to the Geographic origins of the Malek-Yonan Family not being Iran is duplicitous and underhanded.

For a few hours, my nationality was restored to Assyrian-American. And then…yep…you guessed it…Bri stops by to revert it back to, well you know what by now…Iranian. This is getting tedious Bri! This comical idiot’s source is the Virtual Embassy Tehran that has compiled a list of “Prominent Iranian-Americans.” Well, I am prominent, I’ll give you that much. But the listing does not exist!

April 10, 2017 Update.

A new cast member has been added to the farce. Enter Vanamonde93 who locked the article in order to stop the general public from correcting my nationality. And in the meantime the gang of bullies at Fakepedia are ransacking through the article like vultures removing as mugh reference to “Assyrian” as possible. Bri even removed the IMBd sources to two of my documentary films, The Assyrian and My Assyrian Nation on the Edge claiming IMDb is not a reliable source! Why not remove the sources to all my other films? I never imagined admins would lock an article only to vandalize it. Please, just delete the whole article! You are not a reliable source of anything.

Wikipedia editors are cherry picking biographical information to fit their own narrative. This is wrongful appropriation of my identity.  

Stay tuned. Let’s see which Fakepedia jester is going to jump into this farce.

April 26, 2017 Update.

After a lengthly battle and many email exchanges with a several Wikipedia editors, I came out victorious…well somewhat! At least my Assyrian identity is preserved for the moment.

NOTE: This article will be updated periodically.

/RMY

Kerry Kennedy

It was such an honor and privilege to read posts on Facebook and Twitter from Kerry Kennedy who included me in Women’s History Month Spotlight. Thank you, Ms. Kennedy, for this unexpected recognition.

Kerry Kennedy is the President of Robert F. Kennedy Center Human Rights and the author of “Speak Truth To Power” and “Being Catholic Now.”

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Kerry Kennedy Twitter 12March17.jpg

AUAF’s Bizarre Behavior Continues…

one womanOn International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017, a tribute to 12 Assyrian women was posted on the Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation’s (AUAF) website penned by a young woman,  Reine Hanna. Shortly thereafter, in a haste, AUAF leadership including president Tiglat Issabey allegedly ordered the removal of the tribute. This action resulted in an immediate outcry from the Assyrian community around the globe as evidenced by the multitude of posts and comments on Facebook and Twitter.

In a bizarre plot twist, rather than issuing a heartfelt apology, AUAF threw Ms. Hanna under the bus by having her issue a forced letter of apology for her role as the villain in this macabre tale.

AUAF is one of the oldest Assyrian institutions in America. Today it is a male dominated “boys club.” There is only one woman, Ms. Helen Badawi, who holds a seat on the board while the president and the balance of the board members are men: Mr. Tiglat Issabey (president), Mr. Joseph Badalpour, Mr. Tiglad Ashorian, Mr. Billy Mendo, Mr. Ed Yonan, Mr. Edmond Ebrahimi, and Mr. John Guliana.

In the aftermath of the AUAF’s alleged decision to pull Ms. Hanna’s tribute, they eventually capitulated to issuing a formal apology. But the apology was far from genuine as it did not come from the president or the board. A misguided clumsy attempt to address the issue distorted Ms. Hanna’s intent and used her as the scapegoat in this grotesque fiasco.

Ms. Hanna’s genuine attempt at elevating a handful of women of her nation by way of a beautiful tribute has been perverted by the men of AUAF. Would it not have been more productive to applaud her initiative and encourage her to continue to highlight the accomplishments of other Assyrian women from around the world?

A simple apology by the AUAF leadership would have gone a long way to swiftly put this entire episode to rest. Instead they chose to hide behind the skirt of a young woman and make her apologize for her supposed misdeeds in writing the tribute in the first place. How dare she write about a few fellow Assyrian women? What about the rest? I’m really surprised the men of AUAF haven’t stoned Ms. Hanna yet.

In an attempt to save face, Mr. Issabey has clearly coerced Ms. Hanna to issue the ridiculous apology posted on AUAF’s Facebook page. Judging from all the comments this has now turned into a contentious issue. Perhaps Mr. Issabey will issue yet another executive order for the removal of the comments.

I will always hold Ms. Reine Hanna in the highest regard. Her heart was absolutely in the right place and when the men of AUAF couldn’t bring themselves to utter the words “we apologize,” she was unnecessarily and unfairly burdened with the responsibility.

Stay strong and hold your head up high, Reine Hanna. We have your back.

/RMY

AUAF Removes Tibute to Assyrian Women on International Women’s Day

IMG_6866In late 2005, I was in Chicago promoting my book, The Crimson Field. One of the stops on my tour was at the Assyrian National Council of Illinois on Peterson where I met a lovely 13-year-old Assyrian girl with beauutiful inquisitive eyes. Her name was Reine Hanna. After my presentation, she approached me and we spoke at some length about Assyrian history and the Assyrian Genocide. I autographed Reine’s book and made her promise to never forget our history. As I watched her walk away, I wondered if our paths would cross again.

She is in her twenties now and as fate would have it, we did reconnect after all these years. I am so proud to see how she has blossomed into an articulate and caring young woman and a passionate and dedicated activist.

March 8, 2017, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, this thoughtful young woman decided to honor twelve Assyrian woman she selected from around the world by writing about their accomplishments and highlighting their contributions to the Assyrian community. I was honored to be included in her list and delighted to be amongst the other fabulous women whom I already admired as strong role models for the Assyrian youth. I don’t believe any of the women selected knew this was coming. It was a surprise to us all.

On the morning of March 8th, the tribute was posted on the Assyrian Universal Alliance Federation’s website and linked on Facebook. Within an hour the post went viral and then suddenly the link to the AUAF page disappeared leaving a lot of unanswered questions. Family and friends who had grabbed screenshots of the individual articles, began to tag and share them. Soon the tribute was back on Facebook in bits and pieces. Like a jigsaw puzzle, everyone was piecing it back together.

As the day wore off speculations floated around as to why the link to the page at AUAF was no longer working. Clearly it wasn’t just a technical glitch. Everyone was posting theories as to what was going on. Eventually we learned that the AUAF Leadership had ordered the tribute post to be pulled. What they failed to consider was that it was too late to un-ring the bell. The post was already flooding Facebook news feeds and Twitter.

When on the occasion of International Women’s Day, AUAF Leadership ordered the tribute to Assyrian women be removed, not only did they insult those 12 Assyrian women, but also insulted all Assyrian women around the globe by sending a message that denigrating women was acceptable. Their callous disregard for the women of their own nation was inexcusable and at the very least a public apology should have been in order. However, I have personally decided to forgive AUAF’s lack of sound judgment and instead choose to stand tall with my Assyrian sisters because that’s what a strong women would do.

Assyrian women are the heart of our nation. Without them, the heart will beat no more. They should be celebrated everyday and not just once a year. I hope that the thoughtful young woman who created the 2017 tribute to Assyrian women will expand the list and continue to honor other women as well. What a wonderful way to get to know all the fabulous Assyrian women around the globe. I would encourage her to create a Facebook page where she can promote Assyrian women from all walks of life and do so without fear of censorship or retribution.

“Never look down at anyone unless you are extending a hand to lift them up.”

/RMY

12 Incredible Assyrian Women Around the World

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By Reine Hanna

March 8, 2017 marks International Women’s Day. Here are 12 of many Assyrian women inspiring positive change across the globe. (The list is not in any order)

Attiya Gamri (Haarlem, Netherlands)

Born in Tur Abdin, Turkey, Attiya Gamri is an Assyrian member of parliament in the Netherlands. Attiya is also the President of the newly established Assyrian Confederation of Europe, and as such is the leading voice for more than 500,000 Assyrians across Europe. In this new role, Attiya advocates forcefully for the rights of Assyrians in the homeland, and looks to build stronger diaspora communities in European countries.


Rosie Malek-Yonan
 (California)

Rosie Malek-Yonan is a woman who wears many hats. She has gained international recognition as an actress, author, and activist—among many other things. Born in Tehran, Iran, she is a descendant of one of the oldest and most prominent Assyrian families. Rosie has dedicated much of her career to advocating for the rights of Assyrians, using her platform to bring attention to the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918. She has starred in major Hollywood films. As a human rights activist, Rosie has challenged world leaders for their failure to protect Assyrian communities in the Middle East.

 Jonta, “Yimma d’Nahla” (Nahla, Iraq)
Photos of Jonta bravely standing up to Kurdish police were all over Facebook and Twitter when Kurdish police attempted to block a protest organized by Assyrians. The protest was with regard to ongoing theft of Assyrian land in northern Iraq in response to attempted encroachment in her beloved hometown Nahla. Known a affectionately as “Yimma d’Nahla” meaning the mother of Nahla, she risked her life by demanding that Assyrians from Nahla be allowed to pass in order to reach Erbil and join the protest, proving no one is tougher than an Assyrian woman.
Helen MalkoHelen Malko (New York City, New York)
Dr. Helen Malko is a Research Associate at the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. Born in Iraq, she received a PhD in archaeology and anthropology from Stony Brook University, and a Master’s degree in archaeology of the Ancient Near East from Baghdad University. She also holds a diploma in Historic Preservation from Rutgers University. Her current research is focused on the ongoing deliberate destruction of monuments and historical landscapes in Iraq and Syria, and she was recently in Iraq doing fieldwork. She has also testified in U.S. Senate Hearings to address the cultural heritage crisis in Iraq and Syria.
Nineveh Dinha (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Swedish-born Assyrian Nineveh Dinha is the founder of HER Magazine. She spent a decade working as a journalist for local television stations in Arizona (KYMA, NBC) and Utah (KSTU, FOX) and made appearances on Fox News, before pursuing her dream of launching her own digital publication. Through HER Magazine, Nineveh seeks to recognize the pioneering achievements of today’s women – who are forging the path for others to make their mark.

Muna Yaku (Erbil, Iraq)

Dr. Muna Yaku is a Professor of Law at Salhaddin University in Erbil. She is a widely respected advocate for Assyrian rights in Iraq. She was elected to serve as the only representative of Assyrians on a committee formed when the Kurdistan Regional Government began drafting a new constitution in 2015. Members of the KRG Constitutional Committee sought to reduce the rights of minorities during the process. Despite the pressure, she fought forcefully for the rights of Assyrians. When it became clear that her demands would not be met, she bravely walked o the committee in protest, saying “These are my principles, and I will never betray my people. I will not take part in the exploitation of my people.”

Sumer Homeh (Nairobi, Kenya)

Sumer Homeh is the founder and CEO of LocalAid, an organization that strives to empower vulnerable children and marginalized communities in Kenya. Under Sumer’s leadership, LocalAid has established a number of sustainable development projects which are aimed at ending poverty, such as the LocalAid Community Health Clinic, providing free services for people living with HIV/AIDS, and the New Horizon Family, a home for former street children, providing all of their basic needs and practical education in sustainable agricultural skills. An Assyrian native to Australia, she is a long way from home.


Savina Dawood (Ankawa, Iraq)

Co-founding Etuti Institute is just the latest item to be added to Savina Dawood’s resume. A beloved Assyrian activist, Savina has made a name for herself by voicing human rights violations against Assyrians in Iraq and Syria. She has dedicated her life to humanitarian work, entering conflict zones and providing food, shelter, water, and medicine to internally displaced people. Through Etuti, Savina works to empower Assyrian children and young adults in Iraq and Syria—in the hopes of creating a new generation of leaders in the Assyrian homeland.

Atorina Zomaya (Chicago, Illinois)

Atorina Zomaya is the founder of Assyrian Kitchen—an interactive cooking show based out of her hometown Chicago. Assyrian Kitchen explores traditions and ingredients that make up the Assyrian cuisine. Known for her contagious smile and entrepreneurial spirit, Atorina has recently partnered with the Oriental Institute to host Assyrian cooking classes. She was also recently featured on Windy City Live for her newest product, Buried Cheese. Outside of the Kitchen, she has been involved in a number of cultural and humanitarian projects related to Assyrians.

Maryam Shamalta (San Jose, California) 

Maryam Shamalta has quickly become a household name in the Assyrian community worldwide. The host of “Khayla d’Attayouta” or The Assyrian Feminine Power on Assyrian National Broadcast, Maryam uses her weekly television program as a platform to empower Assyrian women. Each week, she invites inspiring Assyrian women onto her show to talk about their achievements in their various fields. In a community that has traditionally has been dominated by male personalities, Maryam has changed the game.

Kara Hermez (Stockholm, Sweden)

Kara Hermez is an Assyrian activist based in Sweden known for her courage. She is an international advocate for Assyrian rights in Iraq and Syria, representing Swedish Assyrians in the Assyrian Confederation of Europe. She has been featured in a number of television programs and various publications regarding her work as an Assyrian. Just last month, she returned home to northern Iraq with two Swedish journalists highlighting injustices faced by Assyrians in the region.

Samar George (Khabour, Syria)

Samar George is barely recognizable now as a soldier in the Assyrian Khabour Guards. In 2016, photos of Samar kneeling over her husband’s casket went viral after he was killed in action just months after they’d married. Not long afterwards, photos surfaced of Samar in uniform, training with the Khabour Guards. She decided to honor her husband’s sacrifice and carry on his mission by taking his place on the battlefield, defending Assyrian lands against terrorism and other threats. The Assyrian region of Khabour in northeastern Syria saw its darkest period when ISIS invaded its villages in February of 2015. It is said that Samar now carries her late husband’s gun.

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This article is re-published with permission from the author, Reine Hanna.

To Wikipedia Editors & Biographers

March 7, 2017

It has come to my attention that a Wikipedia editor who goes by the named LouisAragon is at it again trying to change my Assyrian identity to Iranian on a Wikipedia Article about me and then proceeded to add me to various Iranian groups. There is no dispute and it is not up for discussion by anyone that my nationality was not, is not, and will never be Iranian. It is not for LouisAragon or anyone else to alter this reality or make misrepresentations as this Wikipedia so-called editor has been doing for a few years. LouisAragon’s obsession with me, verging on cyber stalking, is extremely alarming and Wikipedia needs to put a stop to it immediately, restore my nationality to Assyrian-American, and remove me from any and all Iranian categories, and groups on Wikipedia.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that Everyone has the right to a nationality, and No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

My birthplace does not define my nationality. I am a U.S. citizen and I choose America as my home where I have lived much of my life.

So to all you so-called Wikipedia Editors and Biographers who continually try to alter my nationality based on your limited knowledge of who I am, just stop. 

Since Wikipedia has blocked me, and my representatives from making corrections to an article that is about me, I will post responses to its so-called editors here on my Blog, Twitter, Facebook Fan Page, and my Personal Websites. I will not be misrepresented and bullied by Wikipedia.

March 8, 2017 Update to My Post

Wikipedia’s all-knowing-so-called editor, LouisAragon, continues to argue/rant that he/she knows my nationality better than I (being the subject and primary source), assumes to know how many years I’ve spent in Iran and now further assumes to knows the birthplace of my parents to be Iran. Is this how these so-called editors contribute to Wikipedia? By assumption or bullying? Really? LouisAragon can best serve Wikipedia by refraining to inflict his/her views on biographies of living people. Perhaps this so-called editor’s skills should be exercised on biographies of the dearly departed. There’s bound to be less objections at least directly from the subjects of the articles.

NOTE: My next post Listen Up, Wikipedia will continue to develop and update  this post on Wikipedia’s Anti-Assyrian bullies.

/RMY

Merry Christmas!

 

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas

and if you celebrate other faiths,

I wish you a very Happy Holiday Season filled with love and peace.

The Crimson Field is available at  Amazon and The Crimson Field

Assyrian Martyr’s Day

Image

In August of 1933, the Simele Massacre would become the first of many massacres committed by the Iraqi government against the Assyrians of Northern Iraq. The systemic targeting of this Christian nation rapidly extended throughout 63 Assyrian villages in the Dohuk and Mosul districts resulting in the deaths of 3,000 Assyrians.

The Simele Massacre would also become the inspiration for Ralph Lemkin who would later coin the term “genocide.” In 1933, Lemkin made a presentation at the League of Nations Conference on international criminal law in Madrid. His essay on the Crime of Barbarity as a crime against international law was presented to the Legal Council. Based on the Simele massacre, Lemkin’s concept of the crime would later evolve into the idea of “genocide.”

Today, Assyrians around the world commemorate this event on August 7th as the Assyrian Martyr’s Day.

Akitu, Assyrian New Year 6761!

Happy Assyrian New Year, Akitu! 6761 years and still standing strong!

Akitu, is the Assyrian New Year Festival. In Assyrian it is also called Kha b’Neesan which translates into “the first day of Spring.”

The Akitu Festival began with the Sumerians. The word Akitu means “barley” in Akkadian. The Sumerian calendar had two festivals one in the Autumn beginning in the month ofTashritu in celebration of the “sowing of barley,” the other in Spring, beginning in the month of Nisannu celebrating the “cutting of barley.”

The Babylonians celebrated Akitu but only in Nisannu, a festival that lasted eleven days in honor of the supreme god Marduk and his crown prince Nabu.

The Assyrians also adopted the Akitu Festival when in 683 BC King Sennacherib built two Akitu Houses, one outside the walls of Assur, and the other outside Nineveh.

Modern day Assyrians continued to celebrate the festival but called it Kha b’Nisan, the first day of Nisan or Spring, however, it is usually observed on April 1st, which corresponds to the start of the Assyrian calendar. In recent years, the Akkadian name, Akituhas been re-adopted by Assyrians and is the most important national festival.

After the invasion of Babylon, the Persians adopted many Assyrian and Babylonian customs and practices. The celebration of Norooz (new day) on 21 March, has its roots in the Akitu Festival.

© 2011 Rosie Malek-Yonan. All Rights Reserved.

Fox News: Christians Persecuted in Iraq

FOX 11 News video report.

Published : Tuesday, 21 Dec 2010, 2:49 AM PST

Reporter: Christine Devine

Posted by: myFOXla.com

Los Angeles – Christians who live in Iraq are targets of terror, and becoming an endangered species. That’s the disturbing message coming from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, where leaders of many faiths came together to call attention to what’s happening.

On October 31st, suicide bombers attacked a Christian church in Baghdad, killing 68 people.

The Christian community says al Qaida has targeted them, and that the church bombing is the latest of many incidents.

Thousands of Iraqi Christians are leaving the country.

Rosie Malek-Yonan, author of The Crimson Field, the story of the massacre of Assyrian Christians a century ago, weighs in on whether history is repeating itself.

Related Articles The Christian Post and Christian Today Australia:

Faith Leaders: Stop Religicide of Iraqi Christians

Assyrian Christians will be among those minority groups that will not be free to worship as they choose this Christmas, according to Rosie Malek-Yonan, Assyrian activist and author of The Crimson Field, which chronicles events of the Assyrian genocide in Iraq.

“They will be playing a game of Russian roulette,” Malek-Yonan said. “They never know when they leave home to attend church if that is going to be their last mass, if that is going to be the last time they will leave home.”

YouTube Link

Rosie Malek-Yonan Speaks at the Simon Wiesenthal Center

(Los Angeles) – In the aftermath of the October 31, 2010 Massacre at the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad, the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, California, hosted a Press Conference at the Museum of Tolerance on Monday December 20, 2010, to expose the crisis that the Assyrian nation has been facing in Iraq.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States.

Assyrian activist, Ms. Rosie Malek-Yonan, and religious leaders of various faiths were invited to attend the conference to call attention to the extermination of Assyrian Christians in Iraq.

Conference speakers included Ms. Rosie Malek-Yonan, author of The Crimson Field, Dr. Carl Moeller, CEO of Open Doors, Fr. Alexei Smith, Director, Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Imam Jihad Turk, Director of Religious Affairs of the Islamic Center of Southern California and Swami Sarvadevananda, Assistant Minister of the Vedanta Society of Southern California.

Also in attendance were Randolph Dobbs, Secretary of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of Los Angeles, Nirinjan Singh Khalsa, Executive Director of the California Sikh Council and Joel Pilcher, V.P. of Communications for Open Door.

In his introduction, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, director of Interfaith Affairs at The Simon Wiesenthal Center noted that the systematic campaign of persecution of Christians in Iraq, namely the Assyrians, was a repeat of what happened to the Jews in the1940’s.  He thanked Ms. Malek-Yonan for bringing the plight of the Assyrians in Iraq to the attention of the Wiesenthal Center and said,  “We call on all people of faith, and all Americans, to speak up for the embattled Christians of Iraq and against the disturbing pattern of violence against other faiths and places of worship.”

In her media address, Ms. Malek-Yonan thanked the Wiesenthal Center and Rabbi Adlerstein for hosting the press conference but stressed the importance of not reducing the Assyrian Nation to a mere religious designation as it only served to further eradicate the Assyrians from their crumbling ancestral homeland.

An outspoken advocate of the Assyrian identity, Ms. Malek-Yonan said, “Assyrians were in the region long before Iraq was a country and long before the advent of Christianity.”  She spoke of the personal nature of the Iraq War against her nation.  “This war is personal.  It is my nation…my blood.”  Her heartfelt comments struck a chord with the attendees as I glanced around the room and witnessed the quiet nods in solidarity. “The Assyrians in Iraq will be playing a game of Russian roulette this Christmas.  They never know when they leave home to attend church, if that is going to be their last mass.”

Ms. Malek-Yonan spoke of the crimes committed against the Assyrian nation in Iraq since the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.  She criticized the silence of the western media in the face of the ongoing atrocities committed against her vulnerable nation including sixty-six bombed churches, massacre, kidnappings for ransom, murder and the total devastation of lives.

Ms. Malek-Yonan also touched upon the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918 and the Semele Massacre of Assyrians in Iraq and explained that the term genocide was coined as a result of the Semele Massacre.

The conference attendees called on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass HR 1725, a resolution “condemning and deploring the murderous attacks, bombings, kidnappings, and threats against vulnerable religious communities in Iraq.”

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the day came at the conclusion of the Conference, when Imam Jihad Turk, Director of Religious Affairs of the Islamic Center, expressed to Ms. Malek-Yonan his disdain for the maltreatment of the Christians in Iraq.

Ms. Malek-Yonan asked, “Why then do you not stand with us and make public statements condemning the acts of violence and aggression against Christian Assyrians?  Why have the peace loving Moslems not attended any of the Black Marches around the globe in opposition to the Baghdad Church Massacre?

“We didn’t know what was going on in Iraq.  No one informed us,” Mr. Turk replied.

“So now you know, Mr. Turk.  Now you are informed,” replied Ms. Malek-Yonan.

In a follow-up to the Press Conference, Ms. Malek-Yonan, was interviewed by Fox News that aired the same evening in a live broadcast.

The YouTube link to the Fox News interview can be found here.

After leaving the Museum of Tolerance, I sat down with Ms. Malek-Yonan to ask her a few questions.  She graciously obliged.

Miller: I noticed when you got up to speak today, you had a prepared statement but then you folded it and spoke from your heart.  Can you elaborate on that?

Ms. Malek-Yonan: I was very honored and appreciative to be given the opportunity to speak at the Conference, but I was also getting annoyed that the Assyrian identity was kept out of the equation by all the westerners.  Yes we are a majority Christian nation, but that is separate and apart from our national identity.  I had to address that fact and it became necessary to dispense with my prepared statement and speak from my heart.  I am very much involved in the Assyrian fight for recognition.  I’m part of the movement.  I live it and deal with it daily.

Miller: If you can describe Assyrians in one word what would that be?

Ms. Malek-Yonan: Tolerant.  And how befitting that the Press Conference was held at the Museum of Tolerance.

Miller: Why do you say tolerant?

Ms. Malek-Yonan: Just look at what Assyrians are enduring and yet they don’t retaliate against their oppressors.  When they bomb our churches, we don’t go bombing their mosques.  We remain tolerant.  Perhaps one day our oppressors will learn to be tolerant as well.  They will have to in order to become a democratic society.

Miller: What is your view on the Iraq War?

Ms. Malek-Yonan: You haven’t done your homework if you have to ask me this question.

Miller: I think I know your view.  I want others to know it as well.

Ms. Malek-Yonan: I am absolutely anti war!  I was against the Iraq War from the onset.  War was not the answer because there was no pending question that warranted the attack or invasion of Iraq.  Weapons of Mass Destruction was just a cover story.  Unfortunately the Assyrians and other minorities in Iraq became casualties of a senseless war that has caused devastation and loss of precious life on all sides.

Miller: What about the non-Assyrian or non-Christian Iraqi casualties of war?  Do you ever speak for them?

Ms. Malek-Yonan: They have louder voices and resources than the Assyrians.  There are enough activists and politicians fighting their cause.  But Assyrians have no voice.  As I said before, war devastates all sides.  It’s only natural that I speak for Assyrians.

Miller: What will you do next?

Ms. Malek-Yonan: Continue to write, speak and educate.  Continue to call upon Congress and the European Union to address the crises Assyrians are facing.  Though I know those calls will fall on deaf ears as they have in the past years.  But for the sake of the Assyrians in the homeland and the multitude of refugees still struggling in Iraq’s neighboring countries, we must speak out at every opportunity.

Miller: What keeps you going day after day?

Ms. Malek-Yonan: The belief in the basic goodness of humankind.  I hope that one day we will in fact witness democracy, equality and tolerance not just in Iraq but also throughout the world.  It many not happen in my lifetime, but one has to hold on to hope and work towards bringing that dream, that idea to fruition.  Assyria will never be abandoned because I am not alone in the peaceful battle for her.

Miller: Thank you for your candor and Godspeed.

Ms. Malek-Yonan: My pleasure.

by T. Miller

20 December 2010

Photo of Rosie Malek-Yonan Courtesy of John Chimon

The Baghdad Church Massacre: Waiting for Godot!

by Rosie Malek-Yonan and Soner Önder

23 November 2010

(AINA) — When on 31 October 2010, the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad was purportedly seized by terrorists, Al-Qaida’s Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), claimed responsibility and defined churches as:  “The dirty place belonging to the infidels that Iraqi Christians have long used as a base to fight Islam.”

The well-organized attack on civilian parishioners and priests resulted in a terrifying hostage takeover.  As the drama unfolded, it became one of the bloodiest massacres against the Assyrians since the beginning of the 2003 Iraq War.  Three priests and 68 non-combative parishioners were murdered and dozens of terrorized men, women and children wounded, leaving a nation forever emotionally bewildered and scarred.  Amnesty International called the barbaric attack a “war crime” while worldwide, Assyrians view this massacre as yet another attempt to uproot their existence from the Middle East.

In a press release, ISI stated: “All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can be found.”

However, the selection of Christian Assyrians as “legitimate targets” by fundamentalists is not a new phenomenon.  One can find similar events throughout the course of history.

But why do they want to target the Christian Assyrians?

The simple answer is that these fundamentalists want to rid Iraq of its Christian population.  Historically, one can find deeply rooted discourses towards Christians in the Middle East, which also constitute the background for the present-day discrimination, oppression and massacres.

Hostages and Infidels

It is common knowledge that Christians in the Middle East are viewed as “infidels” and “collaborators” with Western countries and as such have become targets whenever there is a crisis in the region involving Western countries, particularly if the west is the aggressor.   Fundamentalists such as Al-Qaida often act out their aggression against Western politics by attacking Christians in their own backyard.  The rapidly shrinking number of Christians in the region attests to that.

What is remarkable in the case of the Assyrians of Iraq is that they are not only in the midst of an ethnic cleansing but also a religious cleansing since they are essentially the people of the cross and as such, not only have they become hostages in their own churches, but are also hostages in their own homeland.  The tolerant behavior of the Assyrians particularly their acceptance of others in the region is viewed by the oppressors as being submissive and since the Assyrians do not strike back in retaliation, they continue to remain easy prey.

Even though Assyrians are the indigenous people of today’s Iraq, having been there long before the creation of Iraq and the birth of Christianity, they are treated as outsiders and are being forced to leave their homeland.  This peaceful nation has been turned into a “hostage nation” with no one negotiating a release.  They are hostages since so many have virtually nowhere to go and no means to help the situation they are trapped in.

The mass migration into neighboring countries in the past several years has produced catastrophic results.  Poverty, kidnappings for ransom, and the lack of provisions for even a meager existence is what this “hostage nation” is forced to contend with since the international community has until now to a large extent ignored this massive problem.  Their thunderous silence is a contributing factor to the ongoing violation of the human rights of the Assyrian nation and all Christians who call the Middle East home.

In the eyes of the Assyrians, this indifference to their suffering is nothing new.  The 20th Century was wroth with events that shaped the future of this small nation as it clung to survival through periods of genocide, massacres, discrimination, death marches, and forced mass migration to distant shores.  To say they are disappointed in the international community for not having shown interest in their crisis is indeed an understatement.

Sometimes it is difficult to find the right words when confronted with unbearable reality.  The bloody Church Massacre in Baghdad is indeed one of those times.  It leaves one speechless.  To convey mere words of condolences is simply not enough for the survivors and a nation in mourning.  This is more than just a tragedy when one hears the testimonies of the surviving eyewitnesses and studies the published and unpublished photos and videos of the bloodshed.  Bodies ripped to pieces, chunks of flesh stuck to wood and plaster and a desecrated house of worship turned into a house of death.

How does one begin the healing process?  How does one mend the minds and hearts of the survivors who will forever recount the long ordeal and the aftermath of such a tragic event?  The bombed church will be rebuilt.  Bullet holes will be repaired.  Shattered glass will be replaced and a new coat of paint will cover the bloodstained walls and ceiling.  But what does one do with the memories that will linger on at Our Lady of Salvation?  How can one push the ghosts away that will remain there for all eternity?

These collective images reconstruct the post-modern version of El Guernica.  For the minorities of Iraq, the war against human rights and humanity has reached its boiling point.  All polite social behavior is meaningless when despicable acts are unleashed on the meek. Offers of condolences are hollow words to the Assyrians who are facing extinction.

What this nation needs is a concrete plan of action to be formulated and enforced immediately for their protection.

Admittedly, the Church Massacre in Baghdad did generate a modicum of sentiment from the international community, more so than in the past.  But the overall reaction has been weak.  The obligation for a serious global address of the ethnic and religious cleansing of the Assyrians including all its various Christian denominations in Iraq is met by avoidance of the issue altogether.  Most Western leaders and in particular the U.S. are defining this critical moment in history by their words or lack there of.  It is not only this ancient civilization that is on the verge of extinction.  It is rather the beginning of the demise of all civilizations when humanity crumbles and no one attempts to stop the domino effect that will soon become a global epidemic.

Is it just wishful thinking on the part of the Assyrians and many other ethno-religious minorities to continue to wait for the Iraqi Government and the international community to bring about peace and safety to the region?

Samuel Beckett’s 1948 absurdist play, Waiting for Godot, serves as a grotesque metaphor for the Assyrians.  They are much like the two main characters of the play who wait for Godot while occupying themselves over a course of two days with everything from the mundane to even contemplating suicide.  And Godot never arrives.

Assyrians have been waiting for Godot for many years.  They waited for Godot during and after the Assyrian Genocide (1914-1918) when two-thirds of that nation perished in Ottoman Turkey and Northwestern Iran.  They waited for Godot during the 1933 Simmele Massacre.  They waited for Godot during the first and second Gulf Wars.  Today Assyrians are still desperately waiting for Godot.

ESTRAGON: What do we do now?

VLADIMIR: Wait for Godot.

ESTRAGON: Ah!

Silence.

VLADIMIR: …What are we doing here, that is the question.  And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer.  Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear.  We are waiting for Godot to come—

ESTRAGON: Ah!

Post Saddam: Unfolding the Assyrian Destiny in Iraq

Before the US-led invasion of Iraq, there were around 1.4 million Assyrians living in the Iraq.  Today less than 400,000 remain.  Following Saddam’s fall and during the reconstruction of Iraq, many NGOs reported that minorities have become even more isolated and discriminated against in all aspects of social and political life, inevitably turning into soft targets for Al-Qaida and related sub-contractor organizations.

To date, the Iraqi Government has proven to be incapable and grossly unmotivated to protect the ethnic and religious minorities who are citizens of its own country.  This indifference is resulting in massacres and mass exodus particularly in the case of the Assyrian Christians.  Assyrians are facing two choices: either continue to wait for Godot or flee from Iraq.  The latter is a difficult decision in light of the fact that many do not want to leave what they recognize to be their ancestral homeland dating back thousands of years.  Despite this, multitudes have been forced to leave for Western countries.

According to UNHCR statistics, although Assyrian Christians constituted 3% of the Iraqi population before the war, 15% of the registered refugees are in fact Assyrians of all Christian denominations.  According to church sources, 40% of Iraq’s post-war refugees are Christians.

Those who fled to neighboring countries continue to live in deplorable conditions.  There are numerous published reports on the alarming circumstances of these refugees in Syria and Jordan.

Refugees who are able to reach Western countries, more often than none, will face an unfriendly reception.  This attitude partly stems from the financial burden host countries are forced to bear, resulting in the development of inhumane and unethical policies in dealing with Iraqi refugees. Closing their borders and sending these helpless refugees back into the middle of conflict and doing almost nothing for their protection in Iraq, is unjustified and does not fit with democratic moral values.

The Approach of the International Community

Western countries have moral and political obligations to act effectively not only by voicing their concern, but by actively protecting the human rights of at risk nations. Why are they then casting themselves in the role of Godot?

On 26 October 2009, the US Senate adopted Resolution 322 whereby expressing the need to call for a more effective policy. However, the crux of the problem has not been addressed and nor has a specific measure been developed regarding the protection of the ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq.

A statement issued by the White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, in the aftermath of the Assyrian Church Massacre in Baghdad, is indicative of the superficial approach to this massive problem in Iraq: “The United States strongly condemns this senseless act of hostage taking and violence by terrorists linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq…”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has stated that it is time for the Obama administration to “ensure that U.S.-Iraq policy prioritizes the plight of the country’s vulnerable religious minority communities (…)”.

On the issue of “political agenda”, political scientist, John W. Kingdon (1984), theorizes that the first necessary step is the recognition of a question as a “political problem.”  Applying this to the situation of the Assyrians, their problems in Iraq are not recognized as a specific “political problem” to warrant the issuance of a strategic policy.  Thus, many countries are not becoming vested in this issue and do not see this as worthy enough problem.

One of the obvious pitfalls of isolating the Christian question is that since they are in fact Iraqi citizens, they are being treated equally and not looked at as a separate ethnic group that is internally under attack by other Iraqi citizens.  Inserting this kind of diplomacy is just a polite way of overlooking the question altogether.  This argument is definitely blind and unethical with regards to the specific problems of minority groups.

The March Towards the End of Time for the Assyrians and Other Minorities in Iraq

The end of time is close at hand for the Assyrians in Iraq.  On the heels of the Church Massacre there were additional attacks on individuals and on Christian Assyrian homes resulting in more murders and devastation.  One does not need to be an analyst to predict the future.  It is rapidly writing itself.

Assyrians have lost their patience after seven years of endless attacks, constant threats and the nonchalant shrug of the international community.  Peace is nowhere in their future and their homeland.

The UK based, Archbishop Athanasios Dawood, has openly advised all Christians to leave Iraq.  A week after the massacre, in an interview with an Assyrian, the respondent said, “In my neighborhood they all hate me…When you see people on the streets, they ask, ‘Why are you still here? You should leave…'”

Although it may seem wrong to advise people to leave their homeland or country of origin, however, one must consider the safety and welfare of the innocent who are caught in the crossfire of a situation not of their own making or choosing.

If this acute condition persists and no serious efforts are taken for the protection of these people, they will rapidly flee.  In that case, is any Western country ready and willing to receive thousands of refugees?  Is any government ready and willing to orchestrate a safe mass exodus without merely distributing them around the globe but relocating them near already established Assyrian communities in order that the integration into a new life will not be a complete culture shock?  They will need the support of their own communities in the diaspora.

It must be noted that German and French officials have offered asylum to Iraq’s Christians, however, according to the Washington Post (23 November 2010), Yonadam Kanna, the Christian Representative in Iraq, has rejected asylum offers from the west, criticizing them as “meddling in Iraq’s problems.”

No Democratic Future for Iraq Without Minorities

The U.S. must develop a clear and concrete policy to address the core problem it had a hand in creating.  The United Nations Secretary General must play a key role by taking immediate initiative to follow through with a solid plan to insure the security and well-being of these minorities.  Similarly, the European Union, particularly the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy must become involved in the process in order to develop a European approach to the question at hand.  Considering the fact that many refugees are seeking protection in EU Member States, this question should be of high priority to the EU.  International humanitarian organizations, the Iraqi Government and even other Middle Eastern countries must all step up to the plate.

In order to discuss the different dimensions of the problem and focus on finding common solutions, an international conference focusing on the situation of Iraqi minorities can be a significant starting point.  With the UN or Iraqi government’s initiative, such an international conference may be able to bring all concerned policy makers, including states and NGOs under one roof leading to the development of a new policy for the protection of all minorities in Iraq and eventually all minorities in the Middle East.

Finally, it is essential to consider as a viable solution, the realization of a self-administrative area in the Nineveh Plains in Northern Iraq where Assyrians and other ethnic and religious minorities constitute the majority of the population.  Aside from its potentially democratic function, a self-administrative area can become a “shelter” for Christian Assyrians and other minorities in Iraq.  If the true aim of Iraq is to realize a democratic society and not an Islamic state, it must tolerate and safeguard all its citizens regardless of differences in religion, language, ethnicity, race and gender.  As a matter of policy, Iraq should immediately provide effective security measures in Baghdad, Mosul and particularly in other areas where minority groups are targets of Al-Qaida and other terrorists groups.  With the disappearance of its indigenous people, there will be no democratic future for Iraq.  Without democracy in the region, the demise of the human race is at hand.

©2010 Rosie Malek-Yonan and Soner Önder.  All Rights Reserved.

Rosie Malek-Yonan, Author, The Crimson Field

Soner Önder, Political Scientist, Stockholm University

Published: Assyrian International News Agency

A Final Curtain Call

My first encounter with Lisle Wilson was during my first year at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts/West in Pasadena, California when he directed me in Murry Schisgal’s play, All Over Town at the Charles Jehlinger Theatre.  He was a brilliant director and a remarkable human being.  Long after my days at AADA, we remained friends and from time to time, talked about projects we intended on doing.

As an actor, Lisle Wilson was best known for his role as Phillip Woode in Brian De Palma’s 1973 film, Sisters, with Margot Kidder and Dr. Loring in the 1977 sci-fi horror The Incredible Melting Man.

In the early 1970’s Lisle appeared in the films Cotton Comes to Harlem and Mississippi Summer and from 1974 to 1975, he starred as Leonard Taylor in ABC’s That’s My Mama.  He also appeared in episodes of ALF, Tales from the Crypt, Falcon Crest, Night Court, The White Shadow, and the 1988 TV movie, Disaster at Silo 7.  More at IMDb.

For several years, Lisle became the Director of AADA while the campus was still in Pasadena and later taught vocal techniques at the Academy of Radio and Television Broadcasting in Huntington Beach, California.

Earlier this evening, I decided to look up my old friend but only to learn that he had passed away shortly after our last communication earlier this year.

Lisle Astor Wilson, Jr., was born on September 2, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York, and died in Rancho Mirage, California, on March 14, 2010, at the age 66.  (Obituary)

I was so fortunate to have been one of Lisle’s students.  He was always kind and understanding even when I would dare to put him in the precarious position of asking him to look the other way, as I’d sneak off to a film or TV audition in the middle of rehearsals.  Clearly this was against AADA rules but the end justified the means when I landed my first real acting job on Dynasty which marked the beginning of my acting career.  The success of Lisle’s students outside AADA was a direct reflection of who he was as a teacher and mentor.

Godspeed dear friend until we meet again!

An Assyrian Tragedy

by Rosie Malek-Yonan

Assyrian International News Agency

23 August 2010

Los Angeles (AINA) — What will you do if a loved one is kidnapped?  To what extreme will you go to see them returned safely?  Will you pay a kidnapper to have your child returned?  What will you do if the authorities do not mount an investigation?  Will you give in to the demands of the kidnappers? How much will you pay to have your teenage son returned?  What if you can’t come up with the thousands of dollars being extorted for the return of a brother or sister?  Would you pay the ransom knowing there is a chance you would still never see your abducted father or mother?

These are not just hypothetical questions.  They are questions Assyrians have been forced to reconcile with since the onset of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.  The targeted kidnapping of Assyrian Christians in Iraq has been big business and will continue to escalate with the U.S. withdrawal from the region.

How to pay for the release of a loved one is a monumental concern for those who have no means to pay the kidnappers.  On the other hand, paying off kidnappers in Iraq carries a greater ramification as the U.S. treats these Assyrian victims as colluding with Islamic terrorists.

But what if you didn’t have the means to pay the ransom?  What then?

This is the anguish Yonan Daniel Mammo’s family has been living with since his abduction several weeks ago.

Yonan is married and has two small children.  They live in the Assyrian neighborhood in Kirkuk. Yonan’s sister and brother also live in the area.  His children have no idea why they have been separated from their father, though I suspect his six-year-old daughter will most likely understand more than her two-year-old brother.  She is old enough to know her mother’s tears are caused by her father’s absence.

Yonan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Baghdad University. He worked at Hammurabi Exchange Office on Al-Jamhwaria Street in Kirkuk and supported his family on a modest salary of $300 a month.

At 8 pm on 29 July 2010, when Yonan left his place of work, four armed gunmen jumped out of a BMW in front of the Exchange Office and took the Assyrian man as hostage.  According to witnesses, Yonan was stuffed in the trunk of his abductor’s vehicle.  That evening, Yonan’s family waited for his return.  There was no sign of him.  The family clung to hope and prayer.  Nothing else was in their power.  With the dawn of a new day, their hopes were shattered.

On 30 July 2010, the Muslim kidnappers used Yonan’s own cell phone to contact the family.  Yonan was allowed to briefly speak with his family.  He informed them that he was taken against his will. The kidnappers then demanded ransom in the amount of USD $150,000 for Yonan’s safe release.  When the phone went dead, Yonan’s family realized their nightmare had already begun.  Countless Assyrians had been kidnapped.  They knew all the stories.  All the lives that had been cut short.  And now the tragedy was theirs to live through.

Yonan’s family did not have the means to come up with this kind of money.

Two weeks dragged on.  When on 14 August 2010, the kidnappers realized that this was an impossible amount for the family to raise, they lowered their demand to USD $100,000.

On 23 August 2010, sources informed me that the local police in Kirkuk raided several locations in the city in search of Yonan but came up empty-handed.

There has been no other contact with the kidnappers.

This Assyrian tragedy has not come to an end yet.  Yonan’s future rides on the morals of his hostage takers as his family continues to hold on to hope that perhaps they will be able to raise the money to buy back Yonan’s freedom.

The Assyrian tragedy in Iraq is the hidden carnage that the world has chosen to ignore.  But what of the role of the elected Assyrian officials in Iraq?  What are their responsibilities towards members of their nation in these cases?  Why are they not publicly demanding the release of Yonan?  Why are they not publicly demanding a full investigation?  Why are they silent when so many Assyrians continue to suffer in this manner?  Why is Yonan’s release not being negotiated with the kidnappers?  Why must the family remain in isolation and live in fear of further retaliation from the kidnappers?

One family member writes in frustration, “Why am I Assyrian?  Why am I Christian?”  These are questions of frustration that stem from Islam’s intolerance of the Assyrian nation in Iraq.

What if Yonan were your father, brother, son, husband or friend?  What would you do?

© 2010 Rosie Malek-Yonan.  All Rights Reserved.

Rosie Malek-Yonan is an Assyrian actress, director and author of The Crimson Field.  She is an outspoken advocate of issues concerning her nation, in particular the Assyrian Genocide and the plight of today’s Assyrians in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. On June 30, 2006, she was invited to testify on Capitol Hill about the genocide and persecution of Assyrians in Iraq. The study of the Assyrian Genocide globally absent from the curriculum of educational institutions changed when in 2009 the SUNY system (State University of New York) added “The Crimson Field,” to its curriculum for a World Literature class.  She has worked with many of Hollywood’s leading actors and directors. She played the role of Nuru in New Line Cinema’s “Rendition.”  To schedule an interview with her please send your request to contact .

Akitu, Assyrian New Year 6760!

Akitu, is the Assyrian New Year Festival. In Assyrian it is also called Kha b’Neesan which translates into “the first day of Spring.”

The Akitu Festival began with the Sumerians. The word Akitu means “barley” in Akkadian. The Sumerian calendar had two festivals one in the Autumn beginning in the month of Tashritu in celebration of the “sowing of barley,” the other in Spring, beginning in the month of Nisannu celebrating the “cutting of barley.”

The Babylonians celebrated Akitu but only in Nisannu, a festival that lasted eleven days in honor of the supreme god Marduk and his crown prince Nabu.

The Assyrians also adopted the Akitu Festival when in 683 BC King Sennacherib built two Akitu Houses, one outside the walls of Assur, and the other outside Nineveh.

Modern day Assyrians continued to celebrate the festival but called it Kha b’Nisan, the first day of Nisan or Spring, however, it is usually observed on April 1st, which corresponds to the start of the Assyrian calendar. In recent years, the Akkadian name, Akitu has been re-adopted by Assyrians and is the most important national festival.

After the invasion of Babylon, the Persians adopted many Assyrian and Babylonian customs and practices. The celebration of Norooz (new day) on 21 March, has its roots in the Akitu Festival.

©2010 Rosie Malek-Yonan.  All Rights Reserved

Assyrians and the 2010 Iraqi Elections

With the onset of the 2004 US-led invasion of Iraq, the ancient Assyrian Christian community was at once under attack. An early sign of violence against the Assyrians was the bombing of the Holy Spirit Church in Mosul on 26 June 2004. To date, 65 churches have been attacked or bombed; 40 in Baghdad, 19 in Mosul, 5 in Kirkuk and 1 in Ramad

Thousands of Assyrians have fled their ancestral homeland in Iraq and are living as refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Western media and the press has willfully neglected to report the countless murders, rapes, kidnappings for ransom of Assyrians in Iraq. In 2006, a western source in Iraq informed me that there was a “blackout” on Assyrian stories out of Iraq. At the invitation of the U.S. Congress, on 30 June 2006, I brought these deliberate atrocities against the Assyrian nation in Iraq to the attention of the U.S. government in a testimony I gave on Capitol Hill. Congressman Christopher Smith assured me that he would look into all the crimes against my Assyrian nation. You can find the text of my Congressional Testimony here.

Six years later, the violence against Assyrians shows no sign of letting up. The Iraq War has now lasted longer than WWI during which time the Assyrian nation lost 2/3 of its population in a systemic ethnic cleansing in Ottoman Turkey and northwestern Iran.

With the 2010 Iraqi elections just a few days away a new wave of threats, intimidation and murder is being unleashed against my nation in “so-called” democratic Iraq in order to deter Assyrians from going to the polls.

On Sunday 28 February 2010, hundreds of Assyrians in Baghdad came out in a peaceful demonstration against the murder of ten Christians in Mosul. The murders sent Assyrians in a mass exodus from Mosul.  On 4 March 2010, the United Nations humanitarian arm reported that 4,320 Iraqi Christians were displaced following the recent unrest in the northern city of Mosul.

The International Assyrian News Agency (AINA) published the following list of the Assyrians who were murdered in February 2010:

♰ February 20: Gunmen entered the house of Aishwa Maroki, 59, and killed him and his two sons: Mokhlas, 31, and Bassim, 25.

♰ February 20: Adnan al-Dahan, 57, was found with bullet wounds to his head in the northern Mosul district of al-Belladiyat. He had been kidnapped from his grocery shop the week before in the neighborhood of Al-Habda, also in northern Mosul.

♰ February 17: The bullet-riddled body of Wissam George, a 20-year-old Assyrian Christian, was recovered on a street in the south Mosul residential neighborhood of Wadi al-Ain.

♰ February 16: Zia Toma, a 21-year-old engineering student, was killed and Ramsin Shmael, a 22-year-old pharmacy student, wounded.

♰ February 15: Rayan Salem Elias, a Chaldean Christian who ran a business dealing in a traditional meat dish, was killed outside his home in East Mosul.

♰ February 14: Fatukhi Munir, an Assyrian Catholic, was gunnd down inside his shop in a drive-by shooting.

The recent events in Mosul, should give the Assyrian communities outside of Iraq enough of an impetus to go out and cast votes without fear of persecution or loss of life. For those of us who live comfortable lives in the west, the importance of voting in the 2010 Iraqi elections are even greater than ever. We are at a turning point. In the upcoming Iraqi elections that will take place on March 5, 6, and 7, we are limited to five seats only!   Please take the time to vote your conscious and don’t remain unconcerned.

If you are an Iraqi citizen, or have a parent or grandparent born in Iraq, you are eligible to vote.  Please exercise that unique right!

But before heading out to the polls, here’s what you need to take with you to cast your vote in the United States:

Iraqi born citizens: Two forms of identification, an Iraqi passport and Iraqi citizenship and a US identification or passport.

American born citizens: Parent’s Iraqi passports or Iraqi citizenship documents along with either a US identification or passport.

You may cast your vote for any of the following slates and choose any of the 48 candidates on the slate. There are also three Christian candidates running in Prime Minister Maliki’s Party. You do not have to cast a vote for a candidate from a political party you do not agree with. You can choose any slate and any candidate from the same or a different slate.

Slate #389 (Two Rivers List) The Assyrian Democratic Movement

  1. Younadam Joseph Kanna Khoshaba
  2. Basim Jacob Jajo Balloo
  3. Basima Joseph Peter Jumaa
  4. Thabit Michael Shabeh Samaan
  5. Waheed Ablahad Hirmiz Michael
  6. Janan Nathem Joseph Antoine
  7. Adrees Mirza Maleel Mirza
  8. Emad John Jacoub John
  9. Khalida Shaba Elias Simon
  10. Nisan Mirza Greemo Mirza

Slate #390 The Assyrian Chaldean Syriac People’s Council

(Note: The Kurdistan Democratic Party and Massoud Barzani are openly supporting this slate since the candidates are card carrying members of the KDP and as such this vote will in essence be for a KDP member.)

  1. Khalis Chris Estepho John
  2. Louise Caroo Bandar Mansour
  3. Fahmi Sleewa Babika Banoos
  4. Ra’ad Emmanuel Thomas Alshmaa
  5. Fatin Nasir Jacob Nomila
  6. Edward Abraham Odisho Adam
  7. Rafeeqa Elia Saka Abraham
  8. Ameed Abdlraheem Jajoo Joseph
  9. Ra’ida Oraha David Naaman

Slate #391 The Chaldean Council

(Note: The primary candidate, *Hikmat David Elias Hakim, is a card-carrying Kurdistan Democratic Party member. Please be aware that this vote will be a KDP vote!)

  1. Hikmat David Elias Hakim*
  2. Thiyaa’ Peter Sleewa Hanna
  3. Viyan Jalal Marcus Abdooka
  4. Zuahir Sabri Peter Gabriel
  5. Fouad Matthew Thomas David
  6. Lamya’ Saa’ib Zaya Joseph
  7. Amir David Peter Alqas-Zakaria
  8. Atheer Eleesha Oraha Maqoo

Slate #392 The National Ur List

(Note: *Ablahad Efrem Sawa Hanna is a card-carrying member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Please be aware that this vote will be a KDP vote!)

  1. Ablahad Efrem Sawa Hanna*
  2. Ramzi Mikha Jajoo Sadiq
  3. Serwan Shabey Bahnan Marcus
  4. Limyah Abraham Dinkha
  5. Basim Jacob Joseph Jacob
  6. Talaat Mansour Aprim Mansour
  7. Widad Joseph Dinkha Esa
  8. Sa’id Matthew Peter Elias
  9. Rajaa’ Elias Saeed David

Slate #393 (independent) Sargis Jospeh Sargis

Sargis Jospeh Sargis Ohan

Slate #394 Ishtar Democratic Coalition

  1. Emmanuel Koshaba Youkhana Boodagh
  2. Habib Luke Hanna Nabatee
  3. Mary Hashim Shmoel Joseph
  4. Fathil Peter Poulos Matthew
  5. Arsanis Basa Abdlahad Mahmood
  6. Silvana Booya Nasir Kadoo
  7. Sammy George David Marcus
  8. Firas Fa’iq Kamil Iskandar
  9. Blandina Zia Abdoo Bla
  10. Amir Hormiz Hanna Habib

Slate #395 (independent) John Joseph Thomas Yousif

John Joseph Thomas Joseph

Slate #337 Prime Minister Maliki’s Party

  1. George Bakos (Maliki’s Political Advisor)
  2. Wijdan Michael Salim
  3. Kamal Fredrick Astanilos Field

Please get out to the polls and vote! Your vote will send a loud message to our brothers and sisters in Iraq that they are not forgotten and that we stand with them. If you are among the handful who are calling for the boycotting of the elections, I am asking you to take a hard look at the bigger picture. No one will care if we boycott. But they will gladly take what is rightfully ours because we will be giving it to them. Step in the shoes of members of our own nation who can’t make the trip from their homes to a voting place to simply cast a vote because they are being threatened. I am also asking you to please consider those who will bravely make the deadly trip to the polls.

Please vote! The alternative will be devastating for the future of the Assyrian nation.

by Rosie Malek-Yonan

4 March 2010

SUNY Days for “The Crimson Field”

Assyrian International News Agency

Guest Editorial by Rosie Malek-Yonan

24 January 2010

Los Angeles (AINA) — The State University of New York, also known as SUNY, is the largest university system in the United States.  With sixty-four campuses, it can be traced back to 1816.  Four Ivy League State University of New York colleges, which still exist today at Cornell University, were established in 1862.

Professor Ellene Phufas, who teaches World Literature for the SUNY system, contacted me to include my book, “The Crimson Field” about the Assyrian Genocide (1914-1918) for her students to read.

This all came about after Professor Phufas read an article I wrote for AINA about my book’s website being hacked into and defaced by Turkish criminals.  Though the actions of cyber-terrorists are a felony in the U.S. and most countries, they did in fact increase book sales, caused option offers and paved the path for my book to become a vehicle for the study of the Assyrian Genocide at institutions of higher learning.

“I have the privilege of selecting texts that I believe are very significant and sometimes ignored or unknown,” Professor Phufas wrote to me.

Up until now, the study of the Assyrian Genocide that coincided with WWI, and took place in Turkey and northwestern Iran in the Assyrian inhabited region of Urmia, was globally absent from the curriculum of educational institutions.

The Crimson Field” is on its way into classrooms and in so doing the Assyrian Genocide is no longer invisible.  It was required reading in 2009 and will continue in 2010.  Phufas’ own translation of Ilias Venezis’ “NOUMERO 31328” had previously been used as an example of books about the Christian Genocides in Asia Minor by Ottoman Turks and Kurds.

Professor Phufas gave me her rationale for selecting “The Crimson Field”:

“The interplay of history and fiction is a subject of immense range and has been used to greater or lesser effect over the years by ethnic groups who have been victimized by catastrophic genocide aggression and hatred.  A successful author of such a work must also necessarily be a researcher in order to delve into the past and the horrible events that have occurred especially if there is no substantial body of scholarly material available in the academic milieu of that particular historic event.  From this point of view a work such as this becomes as significant a historical document as any other written by the standards of historical research methods.  When a work such as this, is one of few if any to be found, then it become even more important that the wider public becomes aware of these events.  Such a work is Malek-Yonan’s ‘The Crimson Field.’

For many years of my life I was vaguely aware of modern day genocides, but was overwhelmingly familiar only with the Jewish Holocaust committed by the Nazis and their allies in Europe during WWII.  I was vaguely aware of the Armenian genocide but that too was a reality beyond my immediate concern or interest.  It was never discussed in Church or any of my courses while at college.  After I started teaching at Erie Community College in Buffalo, NY, I came into contact with refugees from Southern Sudan, people who had witnessed and survived unbelievable horror: indiscriminate bombing, enslavement, rape, and even crucifixion.  I realized then that all these refugees had been victimized because of their faith – they were Christians who had been deliberately attacked by Muslims and the Islamic government in their country for the simple fact of being Christian.  As I started to read about their plight, I began to discover and re-discover my own history, that of the Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians who had virtually disappeared from Asia Minor now the land called Turkey.  And then I learned that they had disappeared not because of emigration for political positions but simply because of the genocidal ethnic cleansing policies of the Turkish government based on religion and ethnicity before, during, and after WWI.

Millions of people had vanished in a brutally short time:  men women and children murdered as well as forced into exile from their millennia-old homelands.  Having read many works about the Jewish holocaust I wondered why there were so few sources – both fictional and non-fictional about the Christian Holocaust in the Middle East, a tragedy that continues to this day especially as experienced by the Assyrian People of the Middle East in Iraq, a people who had already suffered repeated attempts to wipe them out and who had somehow managed to survive.  Why was so little, if anything, being said in the popular media about these millions of victims?  Why were repeated attempts to recognize the Armenian Holocaust being debated and then mysteriously dropped from sight?  Why was the Greek Genocide of Asia Minor not being discussed or even written about except rarely and only fairly recently?

I decided that there were some small steps that could be taken that were within the realm of my capability.  First I started translating works from Greek into English, realizing that many of the descendants of the Greeks who came to America could no longer read Greek.  Secondly, I decided that I would use works of literature in my classes at the college…works that focused on the deliberate attempt to destroy the millennia old communities of the peoples throughout the Middle East.  However, very few sources were available.  Then one day by reviewing the AINA website I found out that an author called Rosie Malek-Yonan had written a book called ‘The Crimson Field.’  Not a moment passed before I ordered the book and read it—yes, in one night.  I knew that this would be a world that my students could read about and understand while at the same time learn about a people who so often resided in the recesses of our minds if at all.  Yes they were as important as the Jewish Communities of Europe, as the Southern Sudanese of Sudan, or the Tutsis of Rwanda.  Their story had to be told too.  Malek-Yonan had started the process.

I can only hope that more authors of these above mentioned communities will begin to tell their stories – the stories of the ancestors who lived and died, and yes, some of whom survived.  Santayana had it right:  ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’  We can no longer afford to keep the past in darkness, what the Ancient Greeks call ‘Lethe’ – concealment or forgetfulness.  We owe our unforgettable ancestors a debt of memory:  We cannot give them anything else.  But we can at least give them their words back and an audience to read them.  That is the first step.”

Every Assyrian is a living link to the genocide.  The past does not end.  In writing “The Crimson Field,” I wanted to at the very least preserve the history of my own family but the process and end result has proven to be much more than that.

© 2010 Rosie Malek-Yonan.  All Rights Reserved.

Rosie Malek-Yonan is an Assyrian actress, director and author of The Crimson Field.  She is an outspoken advocate of issues concerning Assyrians, in particular the Assyrian Genocide and the plight of today’s Assyrians in Iraq resulting from the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. On June 30, 2006, she was invited to testify on Capitol Hill about the genocide and persecution of Assyrians in Iraq. She is on the Board of Advisors at Seyfo Center in Europe that exclusively deals with the Assyrian Genocide and is an Ambassador for the Swedish based Assyrians Without Borders. She has worked with many of Hollywood’s leading actors and directors. She played the role of Nuru Il-Ebrahimi, opposite Reese Whitherspoon in New Line Cinema’s “Rendition.”  To schedule an interview with her please send your request to contact @ theCrimsonField . com .

Published: Assyrian International News Agency

I Am Assyria

Assyria (Rosie Malek-Yonan)

“I am an Assyrian.

That is not negotiable.

I may not have a country with boundaries, but my country is in me.

My country is in my soul and in my heart.

I am Assyria.”

from Rosie Malek-Yonan’s THE CRIMSON FIELD

YouTube Video


In Memoriam: The Assyrian Genocide (1914-1918)

In Memoriam-The Assyrian Genocide (1914-1918)

Remembering the Assyrian Genocide (1914-1918)

View videos dedicated to the Assyrian Genocide:

An Assyrian Exodus (ENGLISH)

An Assyrian Exodus (EASTERN ASSYRIAN)

An Assyrian Exodus (WESTERN ASSYRIAN)

Stop Killing My Assyrian Nation!

Stop Killing My Assyrian Nation

Rosie Malek-Yonan, Awarded 2009 Assyrian Woman of the Year

Rosie Malek-Yonan, U.S. Congress

Assyrian Author, Actor, Activist Elected Woman of the Year

(Los Angeles – AINA) At the Assyrian Universal Alliance’s 26th World Congress held in Sydney, Australia, in May 2009, Rosie Malek-Yonan, author of The Crimson Field, was named as “the 2009 Assyrian Woman of the Year” for her substantial contribution in advancing the Assyrian national cause by promoting international recognition of the Assyrian Genocide and for her extensive efforts in conveying the needs of the Assyrians to the United States government.

This prestigious award is given annually to well-known individuals in both the Assyrian and Non Assyrian communities in acknowledgment of their achievements in providing individual service to the Assyrian community worldwide.

The selection process of the AUA 26th World Congress was made after a special committee chose a number of names that included those who have achieved excellence in community accomplishments, leadership and service.

The Assyrian Universal Alliance is a member of Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO).

Press Contact for Ms. Malek-Yonan:
Trip Miller
The Trip Miller Company

Turkish Hackers Facilitate Assyrian Book Sales

Assyrian International News Agency

Guest Editorial by Rosie Malek-Yonan

1 June 2009

Rosie Malek-Yonan's "The Crimson Field"

Los Angeles (AINA) — In the early part of the 20th century, the Ottoman government carried out a deliberate and systematic mass ethnic cleansing of its Christian inhabitants, namely the Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks. The proclamation of a fatwa for jihad against the Christians in Turkey quickly spread to northwestern Persia, in the densely Assyrian populated region of Urmia (Urmi). From 1914 to 1918, two-thirds of the Assyrian population perished in a genocide that has remained cloaked under a shroud of secrecy. However, the anonymous Assyrian Genocide’s staggering losses of 750,000 souls remains ever present in the remembrances of a nation that has vowed to never forget.

My maternal grandmother and paternal grandparents were survivors of the Assyrian Genocide. As I was growing up, the oral history describing the events of 1914 through 1918 by my grandparents were constant to me, just as they were to most Assyrian families. There seemed to be a need for a steadfast vigilance by these family elders who spoke of the mass murders of our nation in great detail.

Touched by a single event that unified the Assyrian nation, for survivors such as my grandparents, the constant retelling of these events was indicative of the personal conflict the elders were sorting through and a reflection of the frame of mind of much of the nation.

In time I began collecting corroborating letters, photos, family journals, family war diaries, newspaper articles and clippings and the quest for documenting and preserving this unwritten chapter of Assyrian history.

The extraordinary events my grandparents described formed images that hung in my mind haunting me my entire life. To this day, I am astounded at the valor of all the survivors and how they faced their demons and lived to tell their tales as eyewitness to their own tragedy. Their bravery and dauntless spirit and ability to endure in times of adversity were nothing short of remarkable.

I am in awe of the fallen Assyrians who called on their own courage to face the heinous crimes committed upon them. They are the silent heroes of my nation.

Those who know no compassion and mercy astonish me. Those who live daily lives weighted down by hatred resulting from ignorance. The very ones who continue to condemn Assyrians for their nationality and religion.

But mostly, I am still lost in admiration of my grandparents’ sense of dignity, honor and grace that was the code by which they lived. They were among the more than 70,000 Assyrians forced to flee Urmia in the final mass exodus of the winter of 1918 that split off in two opposing directions. My 18 year-old maternal grandmother, Maghdleta, whose husband had just been murdered, fled north towards the Russian frontier, while my paternal grandparents bundled their newborn infant and followed other Assyrians south towards Mesopotamia. Not everyone was as lucky as they were to reach safety.

Though the perpetrators of these crimes against the Assyrians were Ottoman Turks, Kurds and local Turks in Persia, I was never taught to hate an entire race of people. Everyone must be judged on his or her own deeds. “Don’t condemn one man for the sins of another even if they share the same blood or name,” my grandmother would say.

In 2005, I published my book, The Crimson Field, chronicling the life of Maghdleta, my grandmother’s hellish reality of the Assyrian Genocide. At the time, I wasn’t aware of the extraordinary journey I was about to embark upon. I was simply making a record of one Assyrian family’s life.

Against everyone’s advise, I sent a copy of The Crimson Field to a Turkish journalist from Istanbul. She wrote back saying: “It will be a privilege for me to read your book and to have a deeper insight about one of the oldest cultures of the world and their great tragedy. How I wished my heartfelt apology could alleviate the sufferings the Assyrian people have gone through! Your considering me as an elder sister would be a great consolation for my feeling of shame for being a member of a nation which is responsible for those sufferings.”

The book I had written to document my family’s history was rapidly leading to bonds across the seas with strangers whom I have come to know as friends.

The withholding of historical facts and the manipulation of evidential findings and lack of global public education on the subject of the Assyrian Genocide has not only lead to the persistence of denial by governments around the globe including the United States, but it has also perpetuated the continuation of a century-old raced-based hatred and hostility.

However, the Turkish journalist’s statement to me reinforced my belief that there are courageous people who will stand with the Assyrians in their quest for the recognition of the past atrocities committed against my nation. Truth shines its own light and will emerge through darkness.

While Assyrian sympathizers are bountiful, Turkish laws prohibit journalist or anyone for that matter from publicly acknowledging and supporting the Assyrian Genocide. For this reason, I will not reveal the identity of this journalist who will surely be condemned for her perspective on a subject still taboo in her country.

The pledge of friendship with this remarkable Turkish journalist as well as scores of other Turkish readers of my book, are the bonds of humanity and understanding that I had hoped my book would bring about. Atrocities committed by a nation cannot reflect every member of that nation. Every person shall stand alone on judgment day regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion and color of skin.

In her final review of The Crimson Field she writes: “It’s a deeply moving, impressive, inspiring book, full of emotions and vivid depictions of life. I admire it.”

But it is naive to presume that one journalist’s viewpoint is representative of all Turks. Clearly there still exists a deep racial hatred and intolerance that is passed on from generation to generation. Since 2005, my book’s website has been hacked into by Turks several times (AINA 1-21-2008, 11-20-2007). The latest and sixth such incident occurred just last week. The Turk behind this malicious act was most probably a young hacker who knows nothing of the circumstances of the Assyrians who seek justice and not revenge.

This Turkish hacker has no idea who my grandmother, Maghdleta, was and what sacrifices she made to ensure the safety of future generations of her family and nation. All he sees is a book that represents a nation that he must hate not because of anything done to him or even his family but because he blindly follows in the footsteps of his father.

Ironically, as savvy as they are, the only thing these Turkish hackers have managed to accomplish thus far is to drive the sales of my book through the roof! Perhaps a nod of gratitude is in order for this economic boost.

The Turkish government’s shroud of secrecy to suffocate the Assyrian Genocide is slowly slipping as more and more hackers continue to bring focus on this issue through Internet vandalism. Though I cannot condone such dreadful behavior, I can’t help but chuckle at the end result.

The acceptance of the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek Genocides will ultimately result in the downgrading of many Turkish notables who have been revered as historical heroes of the Ottoman Empire.

I am an optimist and will hold out to the idea that perhaps one day, civilization will advance to a level when we can begin to have open dialogue about all genocides and holocausts without contributing to more hatred even if we have to downgrade a few heroes.

© 2009 Rosie Malek-Yonan.  All Rights Reserved.

Rosie Malek-Yonan is an Assyrian actor, director and author of The Crimson Field. She is an outspoken advocate of issues concerning Assyrians, in particular bringing attention to the Assyrian Genocide and the plight of today’s Assyrians in Iraq since the U.S. lead invasion of Iraq in 2003. On June 30, 2006, she was invited to testify on Capitol Hill regarding the genocide and persecution of Assyrians in Iraq by Kurds and Islamists. She is on the Board of Advisors at Seyfo Center in Europe that exclusively deals with the Assyrian Genocide issue. She has acted opposite many of Hollywood’s leading actors and has received rave reviews both as an actor and director. Most recently, she played the role of Nuru Il-Ebrahimi, opposite Reese Whitherspoon in New Line Cinema’s “Rendition,” directed by Oscar winning director Gavin Hood. To schedule an interview with Rosie Malek-Yonan, please send your request to:  contact @ thecrimsonfield.com.

ASSYRIANS: Religion & Religious Divisions

AshurThe first Assyrian religion was Ashurism derived from Ashur, the Assyrian supreme god. In the first century A.D. under King Abgar V of Edessa, Assyrians were the first to collectively as a nation convert to Christianity.

Considered as the first Patriarchs, Thaddeus, Thomas and Bartholomew lay the foundation for the Church of the East in 33 A.D. Today, the church’s official name is the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East with Mar Dinkha IV as its Patriarch with his See in Chicago.

By 451 A.D. in the Council of Chalcedon, a conflict arose over the belief of whether or not Christ’s single inseparable nature was both human and divine, leading to the split of the Church of the East thus giving birth to the Syriac Orthodox Church (Jacobite). Presently, Mor Ignatius Zakka I is the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East with his See in Damascus.

By 780 A.D. the Syriac Orthodox Church witnessed a division when Mar Maron lead his followers from Syria to Mount Lebanon and founded the Maronite Church, named after its founder. The church is now a Roman Catholic Uniate and its Patriarch is Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir with his See in Bkirki, near Beirut.

When in 1552, election vs. hereditary became the main source of dispute in choosing a Patriarch in the Church of the East, the election faction split off, establishing allegiances with the Catholic Church of Rome. Pope Julius III named this new church, the Chaldean Church of Babylon to distinguish it from the Church of the East. Emmanual-Karim Dally is its Patriarch with his See in Baghdad.

Cross_Rosie Malek-Yonan
Today Assyrians are also members of other Christian denominations of Assyrian churches, including Presbyterian, Evangelical, Pentecostal and Baptist. And of course there are Assyrians who have no religious following and those who have been forced into Islamization.

Leading to WWI, almost all Assyrians continued to live in their ancestral homelands of Northern Iraq, Southeast Turkey, Northwest Iran and Northeast Syria. The Assyrian Genocide of WWI, the Semele Massacre, continuous persecution and policies of Arabization, Turkification and most recently Kurdification, forced many Assyrians to leave their ancestral homelands. During the gulf war of 1991 and the 2003 U.S, lead invasion of Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Assyrians were forced to flee Iraq. Additionally, the 1979 Iranian Revolution also witnessed a huge migration of the Assyrian population from Iran.

The recent mass exodus and forced migration of Assyrians from the Middle-East has dispersed the four million population to live in diaspora in their adopted countries across the globe.

Regardless of religious denomination, regional dialects and geographic setting, Assyrians are of one common ancestry sharing the same history and struggles.

© 2009 Rosie Malek-Yonan. All Rights Reserved

Akitu, Assyrian New Year 6759!

Rosie Malek-Yonan's Akitu Assyrian New Year 6759

Akitu, is the Assyrian New Year Festival. In Assyrian it is called Kha b’Neesan which translates into “the first day of Spring.”

The Akitu festival began with the Sumerians. The word Akitu means “barley” in Akkadian. The Sumerian calendar had two festivals one in the Autumn beginning in the month of Tashritu in celebration of the “sowing of barley,” the other in Spring, beginning in the month of Nisannu celebrating the “cutting of barley.”

The Babylonians celebrated Akitu but only in Nisannu, a festival that lasted eleven days in honor of the supreme god Marduk and his crown prince Nabu.

The Assyrians also adopted the Akitu Festival when in 683 BC King Sennacherib built two Akitu Houses, one outside the walls of Assur, and the other outside Nineveh.

Modern day Assyrians continued to celebrate the festival but called it Kha b’Nisan, the first day of Nisan or Spring, however, it is usually observed on April 1st, which corresponds to the start of the Assyrian calendar. In recent years, the Akkadian name, Akitu has been re-adopted by Assyrians and is the most important national festival.

After the invasion of Babylon, the Persians adopted many Assyrian and Babylonian customs and practices. The celebration of Norooz (new day) on 21 March, has its roots in the Akitu Festival.

©2009 Rosie Malek-Yonan.  All Rights Reserved

Aishu Auraay: A Missing Seven-Year-Old Assyrian Boy

by Rosie Malek-Yonan
11 March 2009

Aishu Auraay(AINA – Los Angeles) He is only seven-years-old and another one of the children of Assyria who has gone missing without a trace.

I received his photo and information less than 24 hours ago.  Time and time again, I kept returning to the photo of the beautiful dark eyed boy with dimples framing his smile and I wondered how many more Assyrian children will be snatched from families in the Middle-East who are desperately trying to make it through just one more day without incident.

The photo belonged to Aishu Auraay.

He loved learning to read and write Assyrian.  He attended classes at the Assyrian School at Mar Oraha Church in Jaramana, located some ten kilometers Southeast of Damascus.

On Tuesday, 2 September 2008, Aishu and his sister, Aumta, left home to meet up with a friend and the three walked to the Assyrian School at Mar Oraha Church.  That afternoon Aishu was seen playing in the school/churchyard playground.  When at 5:30 P.M. the school bell rang, he never made it to class and was nowhere to be found.

His sudden and unexplainable disappearance left his family devastated and in shock.

For twelve years, Aishu and his parents, Auraay D. Nissan and Yuneea A. Zumaeeah and five siblings, Mati, Aumta, Katreen, Linda, and Auleen lived in Tel Kepe (Telkaif), fifteen miles from Mosul in Iraq.  On 16 November 2007, the family was forced to flee to Syria in search of freedom from oppression.  Little did they realize that by crossing into Syria they were embarking on an unthinkable journey no one should experience.  Having arrived in Syria, the family was obliged to live in three separate locations in the vicinity of Mar Oraha Church.

Aishu’s family, like most Assyrian refugee families was subjected to extortion, harassment, threats and discrimination by bands of criminals who continually prey on the helpless as soft targets.

When Aishu’s disappearance was reported to the authorities, the local police with no results conducted a poor investigation at best.  Six months later, the bewildered and distraught family arrived in Australia in March 2009 without their beloved Aishu.  They have now settled in western Sydney near Fairfield.  Having finally arrived in a country far from the criminal elements they were accustomed to confronting daily, nothing settles their troubled minds and broken hearts knowing a part of them is left behind in Syria.

For Aishu’s parents, today hope is their guiding light as they stumble through their darkest hours.

The family now wants to re-open the investigation into the disappearance of their son by seeking the aid of international organizations and police agencies.

They are also looking to the Assyrian community to lend a hand in their endeavor to locate Aishu by keeping his image and name in the public eye by placing his photograph on personal, business and social network websites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter as well as satellite television programs.

Most refugees facing abuse and exploitation are generally reluctant to come forward with information and decline to speak to police or local authorities.  But they may confide in other family members and friends.  In this case, Aishu’s family believes that someone may have information that can lead them to his whereabouts.  Therefore, the public is asked to contact family members and friends that live in Jaramana or have recently migrated from there or visited the region.

As this is an on-going inquiry, the public is asked not to jeopardize the investigation by posting any publicly undisclosed details or information they may have on forums or websites.  Instead you are asked to submit your information privately and directly to the contacts below.  All information submitted will be handled with the utmost confidentiality and care.

Primary Contact:
Mr. Gaby Kiwarkis
Telephone: +0410086479

Secondary Contact:
Mr. Ashur Isaac

Official Website for Aishu Auraay

©2009 Rosie Malek-Yonan.  All Rights Reserved.
Rosie Malek-Yonan is the author of The Crimson Field and can be reached at Rosie.

Published: Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) 12 March 2009

Rosie Malek-Yonan’s “An Assyrian Exodus” Video Project

Press Release

5 February 2009

Rosie Malek-Yonan's AN ASSYRIAN EXODUS

The untold Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918 was a systematic ethnic cleansing of the Assyrian people perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks, Kurds and Persians. Two-thirds of the Assyrian nation totaling 750,000 souls perished in the Ottoman Empire and Northwestern Iran as a result of genocide, starvation, dehydration, disease and exposure to elements while thousands fell victim to kidnappings, forced assimilation, deportation and migration.

The Assyrian Genocide is a missing chapter of world history. For the Assyrian people, it is very difficult to fathom how the genocide of a nation, can so easily be dismissed and intentionally ignored by the international community. To date, the Assyrian Genocide has not been publicly acknowledged.

Rosie Malek-Yonan’s AN ASSYRIAN EXODUS is a short video project that has brought Rosie Malek-Yonan (author of The Crimson Field), David Yonan, Ninos Aho and Emil Brikha, four accomplished Assyrian artists from around the world in a common belief, that while the world may not acknowledge the Assyrian Genocide, however, through the arts, the history of the Assyrian nation can be preserved.

This project is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Assyrian Genocide and those forced to walk the “Death Marches.”  Survivors who safely made the unthinkable journey to distant shores around the globe, were able to secure the identity of future generations of Assyrians now living in diaspora.

The text of this video p

Presented in English, Eastern Assyrian and Western Assyrian languages, An Assyrian Exodus video project is a Rosie Malek-Yonan and Emil Brikha Production recorded in Los Angeles, Chicago, Sweden and Malta in 2008.

Official Facebook Fan Page for Rosie Malek-Yonan’s AN ASSYRIAN EXODUS video project.

For further information about this project and how to reach the artists, please contact: Trip Miller at The Trip Miller Company.

roject is derived from the overture of the original full-length piece by the same title, written and performed by Rosie Malek-Yonan, which was previewed in Hartford, CT in August 2008. The stories of An Assyrian Exodus are based on Malek-Yonan’s personal family journals and war diaries written during the final exodus of the Assyrians fleeing from Urmia, Iran in 1918.

YouTube Links:

English

Eastern Assyrian

Western Assyrian

Rosie Malek-Yonan’s “An Assyrian Exodus”

Rosie Malek-Yonan

4 July 2008

I stand for a thousand voices. I stand for the voices of the past. I stand for the voice of my Assyria. I stand for those who speak to me in my dreams, consuming my mind. They nudge me out of sleep to tell me their stories. Their images haunt me. I lay awake to hear their tales:

“You didn’t walk the Death Marches, but your soul was here among us. You will carry the memories of our nation with you when you are born in the future. You will have the memories of the ragged people we became. You will know our pain. You will see our eyes. They stifled our cries but you will hear us. Be our voice. Tell our tale.

We carried very little on our backs and so heavy a load in our hearts. Fear and panic crippled us. Sleep was snatched from our eyes. Comfort gave way to blistered feet and thirsty mouths.

Mothers with swollen bellies carrying hope of the future, sang lullabies to stone babies discarded on the roadside.

We witnessed our Assyrian nation being torn down soul by soul. But we pushed on days into nights. We prayed nights into daybreak hoping to survive the carnage.

We didn’t know it then, but we, living a threadbare existence, were planting the seeds of the future children of Assyria even as we dragged our tired limbs across the desert towards the unknown.

The Death Marches into the wilderness became a journey to safeguard the future of the Assyrian nation. You are the future of Assyria.

Strike a match to light the night out of its darkness. Don’t forget us. La menshiyat.

I strike a match to light the night out of its darkness. Le menshiyan. I will not forget.

© Rosie Malek-Yonan 2008.  All Rights Reserved.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rosie Malek-Yonan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Note: This piece is the “Overture” to a one-woman-stage play written and performed by Rosie Malek-Yonan. The play is based on true family journals and war diaries of the Malek-Yonan Family written during the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918 and the final Assyrian Exodus from Urmi, Iran in 1918. The play was previewed in August 2008 in Hartford, CT.

Rosie Malek-Yonan's "An Assyrian Exodus" Previewed in Hartford, CT. Sept 2008

 

Children of Assyria

by Rosie Malek-Yonan

26 November 2008

The quotes we believe in, say a lot about who we are. His favorite quote is: “A musician must have the heart of a gypsy and the discipline of a soldier.”

His name is Elden and he’s a soldier at heart. He is a young man who lives in the epicenter of the Assyrian homeland. He can hear the steady heartbeat of Assyria pounding in the ancient tombs of his ancestors. He can feel the pulse of his nation pumping life into his veins. He knows the history of the Assyrians who have walked the land he treads on. His cradle rocked where civilization was once born. A common ancestry links him to me, but our realities are a world apart.

“I finished my high school in Assyrian language. The dream is still going on here,” explains Elden. “Our mother tongue, our language is preserved. There are schools that teach in Assyrian language. All subjects are translated to Assyrian. Can you believe that?”

I envy Elden’s excitement for having graduated from an Assyrian school though I realize the hefty price tag attached to that privilege.

“I believe in unity. I hate discrimination. I am Assyrian,” says Elden in no uncertain terms.

He is one of the children of Assyria. He was only a boy when the war in Iraq started. But growing up in a war-zone, childhood is short lived. Now at twenty-one, he has seen more than his Assyrian brothers and sisters outside of Iraq will ever witness.

The Internet is his connection to the outside world. From his home in Iraq, he sends me an urgent message: “Our fellow brothers in Mosul are in danger… Someone has to do something or they are eliminated.”

Elden is acutely aware that Assyrians living in Iraq are powerless. He knows that his life is balancing on the grotesque edge of devastation. He pins his hope on his nation living outside of Iraq to do right by him and those like him who remain loyal to the motherland at any cost.

How do I respond to Elden’s plea? Can I promise him that my nation is doing everything in its power to safeguard its own people? Can I give Elden my word that help is on its way? Can I tell him that we have a National Plan? Can I assure him that the wellbeing of our nation in atra, our homeland, is the priority of every Assyrian around the globe and that every Assyrian community and church has set aside its internal conflicts to devise a mutual plan that will ensure his future and the future of all the children of Assyria? How do I respond to the appeals of a young man who has a limited future in the only country he will know as home?

I become paralyzed when Elden and other young Assyrians from Iraq write to me. I wonder how to reply truthfully without stripping away hope because without hope to nourish the soul, the children of Assyria will wither and die.

Elden writes to me: “You are free but you should come and see what’s going on here…Any how thanks…”

I reply, “Stay strong.”

“You’re not here. You just don’t know!” He reiterates.

He is right. I don’t know. I write back to him meaningless words of encouragement, “We haven’t abandoned you. Our thought and prayers are with you…”

“You just don’t know…”

Elden stops writing for a while. I read his frustration when he stops communicating. He finally breaks his silence: “Our votes will be stolen. Our people will be intimidated to not vote Assyrian. Thank you and I wish you a good day.”

“Elden, our greatest challenge will be to find optimism in a time when the world is spinning out of control in confusion and chaos,” I reply. “Please don’t give up hope”

In reality what I was saying is that his greatest challenge would be to find optimism. After all, it is he and those living in Iraq who face overwhelming challenges in search of survival while the rest of us sit comfortably in the west dispensing advice from a safe distance and most of us go on about our daily lives unscathed by the violence that is furiously writing our present history in blood.

A student from Iraq writes to me: “It’s very bad…The U.S. did this to us. Now the Arabs and Kurds won’t leave us alone.”

No…I guess I will never fully know. I am not there. But what I do understand is living as an Assyrian in Iraq, is to perpetually wear a badge of condemnation.

It’s Sunday, October 12, 2008. It’s a somber morning in the village of Nahla, in Northern Iraq. A slow procession makes its way down an unpaved road. Young Assyrian children carrying flowers walk ahead of a coffin weighing upon the shoulders of pallbearers who have carried Assyrian coffins more times than they should ever have to in a life span.

The remains of fifteen-year-old Ivan Enwia Younadam are laid to rest in the gaping mouth of the earth that swallows him whole. An Assyrian flag covers the mound of dirt and rocks mark his grave.

Ivan Enwia Younadam

Ivan should be kicking around a soccer ball and chasing dreams of seeing the world one day. Yet here I am, thousands of miles away, sounding an elegy for a boy whose absence from my nation, I sharply feel and mourn. A boy I have never met but he is a son of my nation and my brother. He matters to me. He was another one of the children of Assyria.

Just eight days earlier, Ivan was standing in front of his home in Mosul, a stone’s throw from the Alzhara mosque. Three gunmen approached him and in a flash, his life was snatched from him so violently…so senselessly only because he was an Assyrian. He was shot at point blank range and killed instantly.

What went through Ivan’s mind in that split second as he gazed down a barrel of a gun?

Who now but a few will remember him in a year? In five? In a decade?

I want every Assyrian to remember Ivan. I want the world to remember Ivan.

Despite the constant threats of “leave or die” posted at Assyrians doors testing their will and endurance, Elden declares, “I am not afraid of anything.”

“You have the soul of an old Assyrian warrior,” I tell him.

“Thank you,” he replies and remains quiet a beat or two. I can sense a rare smile crossing his otherwise solemn young face. “I really want to help from all my heart. But a single person cannot do anything here.”

His future like the future of the Assyrian nation is uncertain at the moment. Remaining in Iraq keeps our roots in place. But today, Iraq is a deadly prospect for the indigenous people of that land who have just as much right if not more, to choose to remain there.

I would like to write to Elden and say: We’ve been planning demonstrations around the globe and we’re coming out in droves to support you. We are making a difference! We are trying our very best!

But that wouldn’t be entirely true. Though many decent and hard working Assyrians continue to organize rallies globally, they must contend with opposition from their own kind who still ridiculously argue which flag to waive at an Assyrian rally! One flag. One nation. Perhaps that idea is too simplistic. So while we squabble, Assyrian lands and property are confiscated leaving our nation displaced and in exile.

“Innocent souls are more important than land…Nobody can ignore our identity, says Elden. “Our written history is not going to change. Our mother tongue, our language is preserved.”

Yes, indeed, our mother tongue is preserved in the homeland. But can the same be said for Assyrians who have migrated to the west, raising a new generation of Assyrians who do not speak their mother tongue?

Iraq is being emptied of its minorities. A campaign to exterminate Assyrians has been underway since the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States and its Coalition Forces. Shrouded in silence, the maltreatment of the Assyrian nation for its ethnicity and faith continues with renewed determination and effort.

The latest surge of attacks arrived on the heels of a single event that put into motion the murder of thirty-two Assyrians in Mosul while 15,000 fled to the Nineveh Plain. On September 24, 2008, the Iraqi Parliament’s removal of Article 50, a key clause that would have reserved seats on Provincial Councils for Christians, triumphantly resulted in Mosul being cleansed of its Assyrian population. Assyrian lives are gutted. A nation is uprooted and stripped of its liberties and human rights. Once again Assyrians embark on an exodus to destinations unknown.

We blame religious extremists for much of the violence against Assyrians and other minorities in Iraq. Is this meant to infer that it is only a small group that is anti Assyrian, anti Christian, anti all minorities? Or are we masking the truth as to not offend the true criminals? Who are these religious extremists? If they are an isolated group, then it stands to reason that the majorities who must not be religious extremists will stand with the minorities to defend their rights. How many are standing with the Assyrians?

The term genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.

How many deliberately killed constitutes genocide?

This is a violent time for the children of Assyria who are living life on the run. For nearly 2,000 days, the Assyrians in Iraq have been under unprovoked attacks.

It’s not about which particular group is targeting and killing the Assyrians. It’s about an ethnic cleansing to rid Iraq of Assyrians. Much like the Ottoman Turks did during World War One.

Today democracy has its own interpretation in Iraq. The new Iraqi constitution that was meant to protect the rights of all its citizens has failed its minorities since its inception.

I wonder if all hope and talk of establishing an autonomous region with legislative and executive authorities where Assyrian would be the official language is nothing more than nonsensical and fanciful wishing while our nation on ground zero takes flight. Or will someone in the not so distant future remark, “The children of Assyria did not die in vain. This is how it all began. These were the sacrifices our nation made to resurrect Assyria.”

Though we are thousands of miles apart, the stars that blanket Elden’s night sky are the same as mine. I bid him goodnight and light a candle for all the Children of Assyria.

Stay safe my young Assyrian warrior.

© Rosie Malek-Yonan 2008.  All Rights Reserved.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rosie Malek-Yonan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Note: Article published in AINA (26 November 2008).