Assyrian Martyrs Day: The British Betrayal of the Assyrians by Yusuf Malek
For this Assyrian Martyrs’ Day, we encourage you to explore and study an intriguing book from the Ashurbanipal Library, housed at the Assyrian Cultural Foundation.
Originally published in 1935, Yusuf Malek’s The British Betrayal of the Assyrians is a detailed narrative that delves into the events leading up to the Simele Massacre in Iraq in August 1933. Throughout the book, you will find several duplicated letters from government officials alongside the author’s firsthand experiences.
Yusuf Malek, an Assyrian politician, author, and interpreter for the British army during the first World War, embarked on a journey in a newly independent Iraq, where he dedicated his focus to advocating for the Assyrian cause.
Before creating his book, Malek requested the British government to respond to the Simele Massacre, which was committed by the Iraqi government forces. The British, however, had their own interests, and those interests were with the Iraqi government, since Britain had an agreement protecting its dominion over Iraq’s petroleum. The Assyrians and their wellbeing mattered little.
The British Betrayal of the Assyrians puts forth the argument that the British government is responsible for supporting Iraqi ruler Faisal even as the Iraqi government infringed on Assyrian national rights and persecuted them. Additionally, the book criticizes the British government’s deceptive reaction to the Simele Massacre and its abandonment of its Assyrian allies, leaving the Assyrians at the mercy of Iraqi government officials. This led to Arab, Kurdish, and even Yezidi tribesmen to kill Assyrians indiscriminately and destroy and loot their villages.
The book contains an assortment of letters that vividly depict the atrocities of the Simele Massacre. One of these letters, written by Reverend R.C. Cumberland, an American missionary, observes that the “Simel[e] massacres and similar events have gone far to destroy the confidence of the Assyrians… in the good-faith of the Government. There seems not to be the personal integrity in the government services to form a stable administration.”
Indeed, the Iraqi government’s perpetration of the Simele massacre and the persecutions that followed silenced the Assyrian movement in Iraq and divided the Assyrian leadership for decades to come. However, it also fomented a renewed nationalist spirit among Assyrians in the diaspora.
Today, the Assyrian Cultural Foundation honors the Assyrian martyrs of the Simele Massacre, the Assyrian Genocide during World War I, and other catastrophic events throughout Assyrian history. Let us commemorate the sacrifices of our martyrs throughout the long history of the Assyrian nation that have been the foundation of our existence as a people today.
To learn more about this book and explore its contents, please contact our librarian, Sarah, at firstname.lastname@example.org, to schedule a visit to the Ashurbanipal Library.
You can read a digital copy of the book here: https://archive.org/details/britishbetrayalo0000yusu/page/n389/mode/2up?q=massacre
If you want your own physical copy, the book can be purchased here: https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/yusuf-malek/the-british-betrayal-of-the-assyrians/paperback/product-15perr.html?page=1&pageSize=4
Written by: Sarah Gawo
Published by: Brian Banyamin
“The British Betrayal of the Assyrians.” Lulu, www.lulu.com/shop/yusuf-malek/the-british-betrayal-of-the-assyrians/paperback/product-15perr.html?page=1&pageSize=4. Accessed 1 Aug. 2023.
Lang, Esther. “Assyrian Martyr’s Day.” Assyrian Cultural Foundation Assyrian Martyrs Day Comments, www.auaf.us/blog/assyrian-martyrs-day/. Accessed 1 Aug. 2023.
“Yusuf Malek.” Wikipedia, 16 June 2023, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yusuf_Malek.
Yusuf, Malik. The British Betrayal of the Assyrians. Lulu Press, 2005.