Australia Should Urge Greece to Uphold Human Rights Laws

For Immediate Release: 5/23/07
Contact: Tom Vangelovski, Director, Canberra Office
Phone: (0) 4 14 441 579
E-mail: [email protected]

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIAThe United Macedonian Diaspora encourages the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon John Howard MP to use his meeting on Wednesday, May 23, 2007 with his counterpart Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis to call on Greece to cease the repression of its ethnic minorities.  Australia should play a more constructive role in Southeastern European affairs by recognising the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name, as have the majority of permanent members of the UN Security Council, and by encouraging Greece to meet its human rights obligations and to protect the civil liberties for all of its citizens.

The Greek Government systematically denies the most basic human rights to its ethnic minorities as part of its specious attempt to claim that Greece is an ethnically homogenous nation.  Although Greece has a plethora of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, it refuses to even acknowledge their existence.  Macedonians are one of these minorities, along with large Jewish, Turkish and Roma communities.

The indigenous Macedonians in Greece are not allowed basic liberties such as (1) simply identifying themselves as Macedonian, (2) speaking or studying their own language, (3) change their last names to Macedonian ones (4) expressing their religious affiliation and worshiping God in their language, (5) sharing their culture with their fellow citizens, (6) establishing community, cultural, and political associations, and (7) petitioning the Greek government for the redress of their grievances and injuries.

The European Court of Human Rights has recently found Greece GUILTY of human rights abuses against its ethnic Macedonian national minority and its rulings are substantiated by the findings of and reports by the Council of Europe, the European Commission, OSCE, the US Department of State, Amnesty International, the Greek Helsinki Monitor, and the International Helsinki Federation.  In its report titled “Denying Ethnic Identity: The Macedonians of Greece”, the Human Rights Watch-Helsinki found that:

“The Greek Government’s denial of the existence of the Macedonian minority violates international human rights agreements to which the Greek Government is a party. (Under international law), minority identity is a matter to be determined by the individual, and not by the state.”

A multicultural society like Australia should be discouraging ethnocentric discrimination by other nations, not encouraging it through silence, inaction, or use of Greek-created derogatory terms or acronyms for the Republic of Macedonia itself and ethnic and racial slurs for ethnic Macedonians. 

The United Macedonian Diaspora urges Australia to (1) condemn the violation of human rights by Greece, (2) call upon Greece to prove that it is a full democracy worth of its European Union and NATO membership by protecting the human and civil rights of all of its citizens, and (3) recognise the Republic of Macedonia, under its constitutional name, following the example of 120 other countries, such as the United States, China, and Russia.  Under the rule of international law, there is no precedent granting any government the power or authority to dictate to a sovereign state what that sovereign’s name is or should be.

Founded in 2004, United Macedonian Diaspora is an international membership organization addressing the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities throughout the world.  For more information about United Macedonian Diaspora activities in Australia the public is invited to contact the Canberra office at (0) 4 14 441 579, or e-mail at[email protected]

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To read letter to Prime Minister Howard, please click HERE.

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