by Rosie Malek-Yonan
12 March 2008
LOS ANGELES, CA – With the world’s attention focused on the battlegrounds of Belgium and France, under the protective mask of WWI, the systematic extermination of Assyrians, Pontic Greeks and Armenians in Ottoman Turkey was carried out by Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, and the Young Turks, Enver Pasha, Talaat Pasha, and Djemal Pasha, the hallmark of the first Genocide of the 20th century.
Today in Turkey, openly discussing or writing about genocide and holocaust carries a heavy punishment including imprisonment. The fear instilled in Turkish society is implemented in an effort to conceal a nearly century-old dark chapter in its Ottoman past.
While freedom of speech and uncensored dialog about these genocides are heavily suppressed, the dialog is now slowly unfolding elsewhere in the democratic free world and the west. Just last week one such dialog was broadcast via the airwaves of Australia’s National Radio.
I was invited by a producer of Turkish descent to speak about the Assyrians and the Assyrian Genocide on the program Triple J, the National Youth Network of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
As an Assyrian, I found it very encouraging to have received an invitation from a Turkish producer to speak about a subject that is virtually taboo and unlawful in her own country.
But as I suspected, in no time the inevitable occurred.
In what is becoming a predictable and common behavior, Turkish hackers once again attacked my book’s website. This latest incident trailed on the heels of last week’s radio broadcast. This is the fifth such attack on the website of The Crimson Field, a book I wrote about the Assyrian Genocide.
If the string of assults in the past several months by Turkish hackers against Assyrian websites, including that of the Assyrian Academic Society, is meant to intimidate Assyrians from speaking about the Genocide, obviously, these tactics on the part of the hackers are futile.
Today’s Assyrians still carry with them memories and the wounds of those losses. And yet they are expected to remain quiet. When that expectation is not met, they encounter aggressive demands and intimidation to keep silent. The Assyrian nation will never remain silent.
Terrorization and bullying will not keep a nation silent when two out of every three Assyrians were murdered in the genocide and mass ethnic cleansing orchestrated by the Ottoman government in the early part of the 20th century.
What I find inexcusable is when decent members of society, irrespective of ethnicity, remain complacent with a do-nothing attitude, contributing to the cycle of fanaticism and odium in regards to the question of the Assyrian Genocide of not only last century, but also the ongoing violence towards that nation particularly in Iraq since the beginning of the 2003 war.
© 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: Published 12 March 2008: AINA, Zinda, Eastern Star News Agency, Tebayan, Ankawa and Christians of Iraq
Rosie Malek-Yonan, Assyrian activist, actor and author of The Crimson Field, is an outspoken advocate of issues concerning her nation, in particular bringing attention to the Assyrian Genocide as well as the plight of today’s Assyrians in the Middle-East since the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States and its Coalition Forces. A tour-de-force, The Crimson Field is a brilliant and gritty literary and historical novel with enormous implications. Uncompromising and unflinching, it is based on real events and true family chronicles set to the backdrop of the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918.