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.”

FB Mention Kerry Kennedy 12March17.jpg

Kerry Kennedy Twitter 12March17.jpg

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

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

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)

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