An Interview with Rosie Malek-Yonan

9/27/2005 6:44:04 AM
An Interview with Rosie Malek-Yonan

1- Why is "The Crimson Field"? Is it to preserve memories or to benefit from the mistakes?

I am a true-born Assyrian and I want the memories of my ancestors cared for and protected. I am a survivor because someone paid a very heavy price to safeguard my future from extinction. It is imperative for me to preserve my history and to acknowledge the loss of one-third of my nation's population nearly a century ago. We who are the survivors of that national tragedy, have an obligation to remember and to pass on to the younger generation our history and identity. The younger generation and future generations must recognize and acknowledge whom they are and where they have come from. You cannot erase the genocide and massacre of a nation and simply sweep it under a carpet of deceit and duplicity. Our people paid a heavy price in blood and losses of lives. The Crimson Field should be a reminder of that price for generations to come. The Crimson Field is not just the story of my family's struggle. It is the story of every Assyrian (who also call themselves Syriac and Chaldean).

2- Who are the readers of this book? And to whom it is directed?

I wrote The Crimson Field as a historical and literary novel because I wanted it to be accessible to readers from all walks of life. The Crimson Field is intended for the western reader but most importantly, for our younger generation as to always remember.

3- Do you expect any reactions? And from who?

By nature, any book that deals with a controversial subject matter will generate reaction and discussion. If The Crimson Field generates reaction, then I have done my job because I will have brought awareness to our people. A negative reaction is obviously expected from those who have denied the occurrence of an Assyrian Genocide and refused to concede to its existence. Denial and defiance will always generate a glaring response.

4- It's obvious that you live in a cultured family that sticks to its roots. Do you see that the new generation is attached to its civilization or is it lost in the allurements of the country of freedom?

My Assyrian roots constitute my identity. I cannot separate that identity and distinctiveness from the fabric and structure of my family. I believe we must instill and encourage that same bond in the younger generation especially Assyrians born outside of the Middle East. Freedom is taken for granted, particularly in America. Shamefully, the past struggles and even the conflict that is engaging our people today in Iraq may matter less to the newer generation who are so far removed from it that they may not identify with the challenges our people face. It is up to my generation to make a difference. It is up to my generation to keep the flame of truth ablaze to enlighten the young.

5- A writer and historian in a democratic country, to what extent does our nation enjoy the freedom of expression there? And do you think that our rights are denied and stolen in our motherland?

As a writer in a democratic country, I certainly have the privilege and advantage of exercising my freedom to articulate and express myself through the written words without censorship. However, with that liberty, I believe, comes a responsibility to draw on the power of freedom of speech to inform and bring about the truth where truth is stifled and suppressed.

6- What's your view to our people in Iraq? And what are your comments about the new draft constitution?

Our people worldwide and especially in Iraq deserve recognition and acknowledgement. We have earned that right. Our people are the indigenous people of Iraq and are utterly voiceless in their own homeland. Their cries have been defused and muted for a multitude of decades. If Iraq's new draft constitution does not give our people a voice, the cycle of violence and bloodshed will never be broken. The genocide and massacres of Assyrians in the shadows of World War I will continue by way of civil war in Iraq leading to repeated carnage of our people unless Assyrians are given their rightful, equitable and lawful place in their own motherland.