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2011-07-05 15:39:46 Views : 4520 |

Assyrian Writers League

The Assyrians have always had their own literature, writers and poets, but were unfortunately under oppression since the establishment of the new Iraq state. Only a few of them were able to struggle along towards reaching an international level amid a lot of intellectual and mental oppression.

However in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq war, amid hopes of change, some Assyrian writers and poets emerged and set forth to express their political, doctrinal, and regional loyalties. This was followed by the establishment of various unions, societies and centers that addressed issues related to Assyrian culture, language and literature, though still being disadvantaged by limited resources and thus failed to revive the language.

This condition continued until mid 2006 where 11 Assyrian writers and poets held a meeting in Baghdad on 06/06/2006 and decided to establish the Assyrian Writers League. During the meeting the League’s by-laws were agreed upon. Then the late Donny George was unanimously nominated to head the league with Odish Malko as deputy.


The league works to spread a spirit of nationalism and respect for the Iraqi people and contribute to supporting democracy and pluralism through Assyrian and Iraqi creative literary works. It also strives to consolidate bonds of friendship and cooperation in the field of writing and publishing as well as intellectual creativity between the league and other Assyrian cultural, artistic and intellectual institutions in Iraq and the diaspora as well Iraqi literary leagues.

The second objective is to help develop contemporary Assyrian language and literature through surveys and literary criticism and present it to the Iraqi readers in a modern language. The league also works to encourage the teaching of the Assyrian language and literature to foreign learners. The league has managed to establish a library and encourage translation and the publication of the Assyrian intellectual and literary heritage. It has also turned the league into a center for Assyrian studies.

When the late Donny George was forced to leave the country, his deputy, Odisho Malko Ashetha took over as head of the league until he was officially elected by the general body on 01/06/2007, with Aprem B. Isho as his deputy. Susan al-Qasrani was assigned to the post of editor in chief of Ma’altha, a quarterly magazine issued by the league.


The league an is independent civil organization that has no political aims and is not related to any political party. It maintains an equal distance from all national political blocks whether Assyrian on non-Assyrian. It strives to transcend over religious, nationalistic or political loyalties, as its members who come from different backgrounds. Currently the league has well over 100 member and has branches in Iraq and abroad such as Europe, Russia, United States, Canada and Australia.

With an objective to encourage women in the league’s work, a women’s assembly was formed comprising exclusively members of the league with the notion of supporting the Assyrian women in regards with intellectual, literary and cultural aspects. The assembly publishes "Bebla" (rose) which addresses women issues and supports women in their literary and writing activities.

Main Activities

Since its establishment, the league has been active in various different fields:

- Language courses: the league is very keen about teaching the modern Assyrian language through modern teaching methodology. It has also worked to raise awareness and love towards this Assyrian national language, particularly among those who are interested in the language such as teachers and those working in the educational field in Kurdistan Region in both the primary and secondary levels. The league has held more than 3 condensed courses in focusing on grammar and word formation.

- Cultural seminars and social occasions: the league has also held poetry soirées in both Assyrian and Arabic in addition to many linguistic seminars in various villages and towns such as Duhok, Ainsifni, Berseve, Sharafia, Jambour and Dore. Memorial celebrations have also been held by the league to commemorate Assyrian intellectuals and writers. These seminars have been televised on Ishtar TV and other satellite channels abroad. Despite being relatively new and limited financial support it has been able to hold more than 10 historical, intellectual, cultural and linguistic lectures. It has hosted Assyrian and non-Assyrian scholars and academics from inside the country and abroad.

- Activities in the diaspora: the league has taken special care to establish intellectual, literary and linguistic bridges between the Assyrians at home and in the exile. Such a concern was realized through:

       a. sending hundreds of free copies of journals and books issued by the league abroad to be within the reach of everyone interested in and concerned with the Assyrian linguistic, intellectual, literary and nationalist  writings.

       b. the members of the league have made many visits abroad to meet Iraqi Assyrians in diaspora. Lectures and seminars on various issues related to Assyrian literature, culture, and language were organized. Malko and other members of the league made many visits between 2006 and 2009 to Jordan, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and Australia where they delivered many lectures on important issues related to the modern Assyrian language, history and culture. In 2009, Malko and other members of the league participated in the conference of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) in Australia. In 2010, the head of the league took part in the general conference of Arab archaeologists held in Tripoli where he presented a research on means of maintaining the Iraqi Assyrian architecture following 2003. In 2001, the head of the league took part in the international symposium held by the University of Damascus, in which Malko presented a paper on modern Assyrian language. In April 2001 the head of the league and his deputy participated in a linguistic and cultural conference held in Saint Petersburg in Russia where each one of them presented a paper on Assyrian language and literature.

- Printing & Publication: the league has given priority to the encouragement of writing and publication of various Assyrian literary and intellectual issues. The first issue of the league’s multi-language magazine "Ma’altha", was issued in late 2007 and continues to this day. The league has so far published ten books in Assyrian and Arabic written by members of the league.

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