June 4, 2009, Washington, D.C. – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) strongly condemned the appalling attack by militant operatives of the Greek Ultra-nationalist political party “Chrysi Avyi” (Golden Dawn) at a peaceful presentation of the 1st Greek-Macedonian Dictionary to be published in Greece written by Vasko Karadzha on June 2, 2009 at the Foreign Press Association in Athens, Greece.
The attack occurred at the presentation while renowned American linguist and Southeast European languages expert Professor Victor Friedman of the University of Chicago was giving a speech on the Greek suppression of the Macedonian language during the 20th Century. As Professor Friedman was speaking, twelve unidentified men dressed in black and wearing combat helmets blocked the exit and started verbally abusing everyone present. Two assailants detached from the group and menaced the speakers and attendees with shouts of “Oli ekso!” [Everybody out!], and “Prodhotes!” [Traitors!] “Edo einai Ellada” [This is Greece’].
The audience was stunned as the attackers ripped a banner off the podium stating the name of Mr. Karadzha’s book in both Greek and Macedonian and ripped out wires for TV cameras. Another attacker stole the display copy of Mr. Karadzha’s dictionary and was about to assault Professor Friedman when another attacker restrained him from attacking the American.
“This troubling incident is the most recent example of seeming complicity between Greek authorities and ultra-nationalist groups in stamping out vestiges of ethnic minority identity in Greece. Governmental and non-governmental players in Greece appear to be resorting to tactics reminiscent of the Metaksas dictatorship in the 1930s, and again during and after the Greek Civil War, when the Macedonian language was banned and Macedonians and other ethnic minorities in Greece were forced to swear oaths to stop speaking their native languages.” stated UMD President Metodija A. Koloski.
As a democratic nation and EU and NATO member, Greece has a responsibility to ensure the right to free speech to all of its citizens. Moreover, as all nations, Greece has an obligation to insure the safety of citizens and foreign nationals from criminal acts and to uphold the rule of law. UMD calls upon the Greek government to condemn the attack as a hate crime and to fulfill its duty to arrest and prosecute those involved in this attack to prevent such abhorrent crimes from occurring again.
To view the video of the attack, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP2QcHohmFw
Founded in 2004, United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is the leading international non-governmental organization addressing the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities throughout the world.
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