George Malek-Yonan is an Iranian international attorney, politician and champion athlete of Assyrian heritage.


A descendent of the Malek Family [1] from Geogtapah, Urmia in northwestern Iran, George Malek-Yonan comes from one of the most prominent Assyrian families, tracing his roots back eleven centuries. During the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918, Malek-Yonan’s family fled to Baghdad during the Great Exodus from Urmia where he was born on 11 October 1924. When still a young child, his family migrated back to Iran and finally settled in Tehran. His parents were Yosip (Joseph) and Suriya, both Assyrian. His older sister, Florence, was Knighted in the early 70’s and lived in Switzerland where she died on 18 February 2007. His older brother, David, was a renowned engineer in Iran who built many of Iran’s major freeways and roadways as well as numerous silo’s in Russia. His younger brother, Cyrus, left Iran for England when he was only seventeen to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and eventually settled in Paris.

Malek-Yonan married Lida Bet-Benyamin, also of Assyrian descent, [2] in Tehran in 1950 and has two daughters, Rosie Malek-Yonan, the author of The Crimson Field and Monica Malek-Yonan the editor of the book.

Malek-Yonan studied at Tehran University earning a Law Degree in 1946 and a degree in Political Science in 1947. In 1964 he studied law at Golden Gate Law School in San Francisco, California. He practiced international law for more than fifty years representing many of the American, European and Asian corporations in Iran. He was the attorney for the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the American hostage takeover. He moved to the U.S. after the Iranian Revolution.

The Malek-Yonan family has produced many great sons and daughters. Dr. Jesse Malek-Yonan represented the Assyrians of Urmia at the Paris Peace talks in 1919; Milton Malek-Yonan inventor of Malekized Rice; Shushan Malek-Yonan author of a children's book (1927) published in Tabriz, Iran; Rev. Isaac Malek-Yonan author of several books and essays including The Beloved Physician of Teheran (1933) and Persian Women (1898); Norman Malek-Yonan author of The Christmas Story (1958); Terrence Malick, Oscar winning director and writer of The New World (2005), The Thin Red Line (1998), Days of Heaven (1978), Badlands (1973).


Three gold medals from 1949 to 1951 presented at Mar-Mar Palace in Tehran by the former Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi [3], earned George Malek-Yonan the title of Champion of Champions in Iranian Sports in the fields of track and field, pentathlon and soccer bringing the total of medals awarded to him to 47.

His brother, David, was also awarded numerous gold medals by the Shah.


A leading international attorney, George Malek-Yonan was personally responsible for procuring a seat for Assyrians as a recognized minority in the Iranian Parliament, thus giving Assyrians and Chaldeans a political voice in Iran to date. This was a great accomplishment for a nation that has been without a country since the fall of the Assyrian Empire.

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See also

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