UNFORGETTABLE TEL- KEF’S SON
Sixty-three years ago, when the Assyrians were prostate after the horrible
catastrophe they had suffered during the First World War, when the cream
of the Assyrian men and women had been massacred by Turks, Kurds, Turcomans
and Iranians, whenfew Assyrian leaders had survived the holocaust, one
of the veryfew voices raised to protect themfrom extinction was a young
manfrom a small village near Nineveh - Tel Keif - Yusuf Malek . He along
fought the newlyformed Iraqi government and the British colonialists.
And his lone efforts gave hope to the remaining Assyrians. For his
unforgettable heroic deeds, it is worthy to remember him)
Yusuf Malek was born in Baghdad, Iraq, on 28th of March 1899 and died
in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1959. His parents were from Tel Keif, one
of the villages of Nineveh.
Yusuf Malek received his education from the Latin College in Baghdad
then he attended the American College in Basrah. He held the position
of War Interpreter when the British dominated Basrah. After they
lost in Ctesiphon on their drive to Baghdad Mr. Malek returned to Kut-al-Amara
which was besieged by Turks for 143 days. He was captured by Turks
and was sentenced on 30th of April, 1916. With the help of a Christian
lady and a Turkish spy he fled in June of that year to Kuwait , a small
village on the Tigris River. From there he went to Amara which was
captured by the British.
In July 1917 he joined the British Administration and worked for the
political offices of the States (Governorates now) of Amara, Nassiriya,
Baghdad, Ramadi and Nineveh.
During the Arab revolution of 1920 he was appointed to the post of
Special Assistant to the Governor of Samarra, a position held by British
personnel in other states. The last position he held in the Government
of Iraq was "Secretary for Administration Inspector" for the State of Nineveh
which was a high position with a salary of 350 Rupees.
In a confidential letter of 16th August 1930, the Administrative Inspector
for the State of Mosul promoted Mr. Malek to the position of Mayor of Sheehan
with a salary of 450 Rupees. Two days later the Minister of Interior
sent an order transferring Mr.Malik to Nassiriya without showing any specific
Since the position Mr. Malek was promoted to was higher, his people
requested him not to leave it since that might jeopardize their jobs.
He wrote to the Government informing them that he would obey the order
of the Minister of Interior if he was given the reason behind the transfer.
The Minister was furious and he cabled the Governor and the Administrative
Inspector to enforce his order. Mr. Malek rejected the order.
The government then asked for his resignation. He replied that he
would resign on the condition that he be paid for his services of 13 years
which amounted to 3,500 Rupees plus 1,750 Rupees for 5 months of vacation.
These conditions were rejected by the government on 18th September 1930.
Mr. Malek then brought his request to the British High Commissioner
in Iraq but to no avail.
Thus he left for Beirut in April 1931. On his way he attended
the Assyrian-Kurdish Conference held in Halab (Aleppo), Syria.
In 1932 while in Beirut Malek fought vigorously through newspapers
which caused the British High Commissioner in Iraq to complain to the French
authorities in Lebanon.
Mr. Malek stayed in Beirut until the battle of August 4th and 5th of
1933 between the Assyrian militia and the Iraqi troops ended.Two days later
the French authorities asked him to leave the country. Mr. Malek
was captured at his home when the Iraqi Exterior Minister Nuri al-Saeed
Pasha flew to beirut due to the circumstances prevailing then.
The French officials, upon the complaints of the Assyrian community
in Lebanon freed him and he was able to join the Patriarch of the Assyrian
Church of the East who was exiled from Iraq to Cyprus. Malik arrived
in Cyprus on 26th August 1933 and was the guest of the Assyrian leader.
On September 28th 1933, the two leaders left Cyprus for Geneva, Switzerland,
the League of Nations and arrived there on October 4th 1933.
Malik accompanied the Assyrian Patriarch as secretary
to defend the
rights of the Assyrians. It was scheduled
that the League of Nations
was to discuss the "The Assyrian cause" on October 14 1933 allowing
two leaders only 10 days to prepare for the meeting.
They worked 18 hours each day and besides, they made several trips
to Paris and London to explain the Assyrian Cause. On September 28th
1934 Malik returned to Beirut to discover that the Assyrian cause had been
known to all.
In Beirut he worked as Editor of an Assyrian
National Newspaper (Atra-Watan) which was being supported by the Assyrian-American
He has valuable publications in English and Arabic among which is "British
Betrayal of Assyrians" a book which shook the world.
Martyr Yousif Malik was Assyro-Chaldean. He lived and died as
a noble Assyrian. The echo of his work for the Assyrians did not
die with him but will live through the ages.
From THE ASSYRIAN STAR
VOL. 48 NO. 2 MARCH-AUGUST 1996