Ms. Rosie Malek-Yonan is an Assyrian-American Christian and a descendant of one of the oldest and most prominent Assyrian Christian families, tracing her Assyrian roots back to more than eleven centuries as evidenced by the Malek Family Tree. She carries the title of Malek as it is passed on from generation to generation symbolizing the Assyrian identity.
The Malek-Yonan Tirbe originated from the Assyrian region of Jilu. In the 16th century, Malek-Yonan, the Jilu Chieftain or Malek of the Tribe led his people away from Jilu after the region became devastated by the Black Turkomen. He settled the tribe in Urmi, Iran, where the Assyrian village of Geogtapah was founded by Malek-Yonan. There he built the church of Mar Zaya, set with stones brought from the original church in Jilu. The Malek-Yonan family never considered themselves as anything but Assyrian.
The Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918 that wiped out two-thirds of the Assyrian Christians of Turkey and Urmi totaling 750,000 souls, marked the beginning of the dispersion of the once closely knit Malek-Yonan Tribe as they were once again forced to flee to far corners of the globe from Europe to America.
March 1918, Ms. Malek-Yonan’s grandparents fled to Mesopotamia, where her father, George, was born, while her maternal grandmother fled to Russia where her mother, Lida was born. Years later, both families returned to Tehran where her parents met and were married. Ms. Malek-Yonan's sister, Monica Malek-Yonan, works very closely with her on most of her projects.
Living as a minority Assyrian Christian in Iran, the Malek-Yonan Family always used its influence and the Malek title to further the interests and welfare of its Assyrian nation. The Malek family has produced many great sons and daughters.
Her father, George Malek-Yonan, a leading Assyrian international attorney, was personally responsible for negotiating and procuring a seat for the Assyrian nation as a recognized minority nation in the Iranian Parliament, thus giving them a political voice. This was a remarkable achievement, to say the least, considering that Assyrians have been a people without a formal country since the fall of the Assyrian Empire.
Her mother, Lida Malek-Yonan, was equally influential in demanding recognition for Assyrian women in Iran by launching and presiding over the Assyrian Women Organization, which was the only officially recognized charter member of the Iranian Women Association up until the end of the Pahlavi Dynasty.
Other notable Maleks include Dr. Jesse Malek-Yonan, who left Urmi for America to study medicine. After earning his medical degree, he returned to his tribe where he knew he was needed most among his Assyrian nation. After the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918, he represented the Assyrians of Iran at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.
A Renaissance man, entrepreneur, art collector and inventor, Milton Malek-Yonan, received his doctorate in divinity in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Urmi-born, grew up in America but never abandoned his Assyrian roots. Instead, he actively sought out non-Assyrians to educate and enlighten them about his Assyrian heritage, culture and history. He invented the widely used process called rice conversion or Malekized Rice. It was a revolution in the treatment of rice. During the war, General Douglas MacArthur ordered that all the rice shipped to the Pacific should be Malekized. When the patent ran out, the invention became known as popular products such as Uncle Ben's Rice, though in countries such as Brazil and India the name Malekized Rice lives on.
Rev. Isaac Malek-Yonan, was the author of several books and essays including The Beloved Physician of Teheran (1933) and Persian Women (1898). His wartime diaries and journals are considered an indispensable source of information, giving an insight to the daily struggles of the Assyrian refugees during the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918 and in particular the Great Exodus from Urmi.
David Aghabeg Malek-Yonan was a graduate of the Class of 1900 at Davidson College in South Carolina. On July 12, 1900, he attended a Presbyterian Church picnic before returning to his native Urmi. While swimming in the Catawba River near Davidson, he and a friend who were both medical student graduates died heroically trying to rescue a drowning student. A five-foot high white marble obelisk marks the site where Aghabeg David Malek-Yonan is buried at Davidson. A scholarship was created for members of the Malek-Yonan family to attend Davidson in honor of Aghabeg David Malek-Yonan. His tragic death was written about in a book entitled Campus Heroes.
Shushan Malek-Yonan author of a children's book published (1927) in Tabriz, Iran; Norman Malek-Yonan author of The Christmas Story (1958), and award winning writer and director Terrence Malick.
In the 17th century, Geogtapah became the setting for the tragic love story of Aslee from the House of Malek and Karam, a commoner. The tale has been recounted in numerous Assyrian and Russian books. The Aslee and Karam Opera was composed in 1912 by the Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov. This tragic love story has been compared to that of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. A stone well was erected in the village of Geogtapah in Aslee's memory after her heartrending and untimely death.
The versatile Ms. Malek-Yonan is a natural-born artist, with concentrations in classical music, piano, acting, directing, producing, writing, documentary filmmaking, and figure skating. She knows the unhurried craft all too well. She began composing classical music as early as her teens and continued her musical studies at Tehran Conservatory of Music. Upon receiving her LC degree in English from University of Cambridge, she moved to the United States where she continued her musical studies with Saul Joseph at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and at San Francisco State University (SFSU) earning a BA and a BM in Music. Concurrently, she studied acting with Ray Reinhardt at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and at SFSU.
To music and acting she also added another challenging dimension from the time she moved to the States: the sport of Figure Skating. Her sister, Monica, soon followed suit. When Queen Farah Pahlavi took notice of their passion and commitment to figure skating, she invited the sisters to represent Iran as the first female athletes in the sport. Their dedication, talent, and hard work earned them both spots on the 1980 Olympic Team representing Iran, the first ever in the history of that country, and of the Assyrian history.
However, by 1979 the political climate in Iran drastically shifted when the Royal Family left the country. With their departure, the aspirations and dreams of ever skating in the Olympics at once became illusive for the Malek-Yonan sisters unless they were to comply with the restrictions that the new government was demanding to impose upon them. In order to continue to represent Iran, the Malek-Yonan sisters had to abide by the newly mandated dress code of skating in long gowns (the country's uniform for women), wear headscarves, become Moslem, and refrain from using music at the competition. Having composed the orchestral score for her short program for the Olympics, Ms. Malek-Yonan was devastated at a decision that seemed inevitable. Faced with a government's attempt to implement a series of ridiculous demands, the sisters walked away from the games prior to the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Ms. Malek-Yonan went on to compose many classical orchestral pieces including the Assyrian Requiem and continued to study acting. By the early 1980's, she won an invitation to study Drama at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA).
While still a student at AADA, she made her television debut on the series Dynasty, followed by a national commercial for AT&T where she spoke in Assyrian.
After leaving AADA, her television career began to blossom. As an Assyrian, Ms. Malek-Yonan is a pioneer in the filed of acting having over the course of a 30+year career, compiled an impressive list of credits, which include performances on the stage and roles in television and film opposite Hollywood's Oscar, Emmy and Tony winning actors and directors.
She starred in New Line Cinema's Rendition, helmed by Oscar winning director, Gavin Hood. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Shortly thereafter, she returned to daytime drama for several episodes joining the cast of ABC's longest-running series, General Hospital.
Amongst her numerous plays that have been produced and performed on stage, she is most proud of her one-woman play, An Assyrian Exodus (Hartford, Connecticut). The work is based on true Malek-Yonan family diaries written during the 1918 Great Exodus from Urmi, Iran.
In 2015 she joined the Executive Board at the Beverly Hills Film Festival.
Ms. Malek-Yonan has amassed an extraordinary list of accomplishments. She is the author of The Crimson Field (ISBN 0-9771873-4-9 Pearlida Publishing, USA), an historical and literary work, based on real events and true family chronicles set to the backdrop of the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918 that coincided with World War I when two-thirds of the nation totaling 750,000 Assyrians were massacred by the Ottoman Turks, Kurds and Persians.
The Crimson Field was chosen as required reading by Professor Ellene Phufas for her World Literature class for the SUNY system (State University of New York) to represent a work about the Christian Genocides in Asia Minor. This achievement is being hailed as a milestone in the study and recognition of the Assyrian Genocide at an institution of higher learning. Up until now, the study of the Assyrian Genocide was globally absent from the curriculum of educational institutions.
Rosie Malek-Yonan and Monica Malek-Yonan won the Golden Palm Award for Best Screenplay for The Crimson Field at the Beverly Hills Film Festival. The screenplay is based on Rosie Malek-Yonan's book by the same title (2005 Pearlida Publishing).
Seyfo: Genocide, Denial and the Right of Recognition (ISBN 91-972351-2-1 Seyfo Center, Netherlands Publisher) is a compilation of articles and speeches presented at conferences held in the European Parliament. Contributors include Rosie Malek-Yonan (author of The Crimson Field), MP Stephen Pound (House of Commons of the United Kingdom), Prof. Ove Bring (Swedish Parliament), Sabri Atman, Mechtild Rothe (Vice President of the European Parliament), Prof. David Guant (Södertöms University College, Sweden), Markus Ferber (EVP-ED, Member of the European Parliament) and Willy Foeutre (Human Rights Without Frontiers).
The Assyrian native remains unaffected by her Hollywood success as she continues to speak on issues regarding her nation's struggle. When Ms. Malek-Yonan's The Crimson Field was brought to the attention of the U.S. Congress, on 30 June 2006, she was invited to testify on Capitol Hill before a Congressional Committee of the 109th Congress on religious freedom regarding the genocide, massacres and persecution of Assyrians in Iraq from 2003. Reading a passage from The Crimson Field, she compared the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918, as depicted in her book, to the current plight of the indigenous Assyrian Christians in Iraq. Her passionate Congressional Testimony and plea to the United States government, ultimately prompted Congressman Christopher Smith to travel to war-torn Iraq to witness matters for himself. While in Iraq, after meeting with local Assyrians, he turned in Ms. Malek-Yonan's report to U.S. Officials in Iraq. One year later, a Congressional appropriations subcommittee unanimously voted to send $10 million to aid the Assyrian Christians in Iraq. The complete archived transcript and webcast of the actual Congressional Testimony is now part of the official Congressional records and is available at the website of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Monica Malek-Yonan's documentary film, My Assyrian Nation on the Edge, is based on this Congressional Testimony. It was released September 2006. On 7 August 2008, the documentary film was screened at the Australian Parliament of New South Wales in Sydney. Among the attendees were Rev. Hon. Fred Nile MLC, Hon. David Clarke MLC, Senator Helen Coonan and Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. The documentary has been screen in many universities throughout the world.
Ms. Malek-Yonan embodies the fighting spirit of her ancient Assyrian ancestors. She is an outspoken human rights activist and 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.
She is frequently interviewed on television and radio programs worldwide including Australia's ABC National Radio (pdf Download) and publications such as the New York Times, (pdf Download) giving her assessment of the current situation of the Assyrians in the Middle-East as well as discussing the topic of the Assyrian Genocide.
Her articles are published globally and translated into many languages. She has been on a lecture circuit since the release of her book in 2005 and is often invited to address the topic of the Assyrian Genocide. She has lectured at University of Berkeley, University of California at Merced and Woodbury University.
Various media sources including The Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the U.K. Iraqi Study have quoted and used Ms. Malek-Yonan's Congressional Testimony and her various published articles, speeches and interviews regarding the current state of affairs in Iraq concerning its Assyrian Christian indigenous people.
In 2008 she was invited to address the topics of genocide, world peace and in particular the Assyrian Genocide in statements presented at the British House of Lords and at the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.
Ms. Malek-Yonan has been involved in numerous charity events and programs and has endorsed various organizations including the Special Olympics and Neurofibromatosis.
In 2009, she became an ambassador for the Swedish-based, Assyrians Without Borders.
She is a founding member of The Assyrian Cultural and Arts Society that provides scholarships to students who focus on an Assyrian element within their studies at an accredited school or university. For several years, the scholarship was offered at Woodbury University's Design School through an annual Assyrian Design Competition. The event introduced the university students, faculty and invited guests to Assyrian history, culture, textiles, art, music and food. All scholarship candidates are sought out through the society’s own process. No personal queries and/or requests will be accepted.
I am an Assyrian and an Americn citizen. To label me anything but Assyrian-American is unacceptable and an insult. My birthplace does not define my nationality.
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.
Follow me on Twitter, Facebook Fan Page, and my Blog to see more on this topic as I continue to post about the anti-Assyrian and bullying of so-called Wikipedia editors, admins, and contributors who vehemently oppose my nationality in Wikipedia's article about me.