An Assyrian Exodus (film)
Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 07:17 PM UT
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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 will be preserved.
This project is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Assyrian Genocide and those forced to walk the "Death Marches." The 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 project 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.
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.
Visit the Official Fan Page of the project on Facebook.
About the Artists
Assyrian actress, artist, writer, documentary filmmaker and activist, Rosie Malek-Yonan, was born in Tehran, Iran where she began studying classical piano at age four and composing music in her teens and continued her musical studies at Tehran Conservatory of Music. She won many national piano competitions in Iran and was invited by Queen Farah Pahlavi to play at a Command Performance. After receiving her LC degree in English from University of Cambridge, she pursued her musical studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and at San Francisco State University earning a BA and a BM in Music. She studied acting with Ray Reinhardt at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
She is the author of The Crimson Field, an historical and literary epic novel, based on real events and true family chronicles set to the backdrop of the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918. In 2006, she was invited to testify before Congress regarding the genocide, massacres and persecution of Assyrians in Iraq. One year later, a Congressional appropriations subcommittee unanimously voted to send $10 million to aid the Assyrians in Iraq.
The Crimson Field was chosen as required readings 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.
She has appeared in numerous notable television shows, films and plays, acting in a wide range of roles opposite many of Hollywood’s leading actors.
Assyrian artist, Emil Brikha, was born in 1979 in Tehran, Iran. At age two, he fled to Sweden with his family to escape war and the Iranian Revolution. He currently calls Saint Julians, Malta, home.
His artistic focus is in music production, poetry and photography. He is also a DJ and rapper. He has released three CDs. In 2006 he did a USA tour and has been on a Festival Tour with the Swedish National Theatre. He has worked with great artists like Taylor Mali and Rosie Malek-Yonan and done various television and radio projects in Sweden and around the world.
Assyrian-German violinist, David Yonan, was born in Berlin, Germany where he began studying violin at the age of six. At ten he made his recital debut in Berlin, Moscow and St. Petersburg after winning the Berlin Youth Competition. His debut with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra was at the age of twelve and a year later he was a featured soloist in Violinists of the 21st Century, presented by Deutsche Welle TV. He studied at the Berlin Music Academy where he received his Masters of Music, Artist, Graduate and Soloist Diplomas in Music with additional post-graduate studies at Northwestern University, the Music Institute of Chicago, the Juilliard School New York, and the Aspen Music Festival.
He performs and gives master classes around the globe. His Festival appearances included the Aspen, Mecklenburg Vorpommern, Rheingau, Cervo, and Bowdoin Music Festivals. He has won 1st prizes at the International Violin Competition Kloster Schoental (1993); the International Ruggiero Ricci Competition (1995) and Hanns Eisler Competition (Berlin); the silver medal at the 1995 International Violin Competition Vina del Mar, Chile; the Brahms prize at the Carl Flesch Academy (1995); and the International Queen Sophie Charlotte Violin Competition, Germany (2005).
He’s the founding member and artistic director of the Fine Arts Music Society in Chicago. The Price Waterhouse, Berlin, released his debut recording in 1995. He has since recorded numerous CDs and DVDs.
Assyrian poet, Ninos Aho, was born on 24 April 1945 in Gerke-Shamo, Syria. He moved to Damascus to attend college before the Assyrian cause took him around the world and finally to Southern California, where he now resides.
Symbolizing the indomitable spirit of the Assyrian nation, his poetry reflects his love and devotion of his people. His nationalistic ideology echoes in his poems. Having been raised with the Western Assyrian dialect, in 1972 he had the privilege of studying under the great Assyrian poet, William Daniel, mastering the Eastern Assyrian dialect. His published works are now in both dialects. His lyrics are the basis for dozens of romantic and national songs compiled and published as an Anthology in 2000.
Transcript: An Assyrian Exodus, English Version
Rosie Malek-Yonan (written, produced & narration), Emil Brikha (music producer), David Yonan (music & violin) and Ninos Aho (additional Assyrian voice).
An Assyrian Exodus, Text
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.