July 24, 2011 – Washington, D.C. – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) slammed the Bulgarian government for its National Statistical Office’s (NSO) 2011 Census that was released this past Thursday. According to the NSO, only 1,654 Bulgarian citizens – out of the total of over 7.3 million citizens in the country — declared Macedonian descent, suggesting quite ridiculously that the Macedonian population has somehow decreased three times in size since 2001, or more than 100 times in size since the 1958 census when 187,789 Bulgarian citizens declared themselves to be of Macedonian descent. Such unfathomable statistics could only result from manipulation of data and intimidation of Census participants (and workers) by the Bulgarian government.
Stojko Stojkov, leader of the Macedonian minority party OMO “Ilinden” – PIRIN, and Jordan Ivanov, leader of OMO “Ilinden”, both denounced the 2011 Census as just the most recent chapter in the Bulgarian government’s longstanding pogrom to eliminate the extant Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. The Association of Repressed Macedonians in Bulgaria, Independent TMO VMRO, Macedonian Christian Brotherhood of Prophet St. Ilias, Cultural and Educational Association, “Victory – 2010” Association, People’s Will Newspaper, and Macedonian Voice bulletin joined OMO “Ilinden” – PIRIN and OMO “Ilinden” in strongly repudiating the Census. They have issued a declaration to the Bulgarian government condemning the serious offenses that continue to be perpetrated against Bulgaria’s Macedonian minority.
UMD’s concern for Bulgaria’s Macedonian communities was heightened in early February 2011, when officers of Bulgaria’s State Agency of National Security (DANS) confiscated copies of Macedonian Voice and harassed the bulletin’s employees (UMD Deplores Actions of Bulgarian National Security Agency to Stamp Down on Media Freedom ). Macedonian organizations suspect that government officials were displeased that the bulletin encouraged readers to acknowledge their Macedonian heritage on the Census. In addition, the Bulgarian government dismissed and threatened Census employees who allowed Macedonians to register, and threatened self-determining Macedonians with lawsuits. These outrageous actions and the fearful climate they engendered forced the Macedonian minority largely into silence.
Such censorship and serious violations of basic human rights demonstrates that the Bulgarian government – like that of Greece to its south — denies the Macedonian minority and nation. Sofia refuses to register Macedonian organizations and disseminates negative and false stereotypes about Macedonian-identifying people. OMO “Ilinden” – PIRIN and OMO “Ilinden” demand that the Bulgarian government cease violating the rights of Bulgarian citizens of Macedonian ethnic identity – including that it place “Macedonian” in the census card, refrain from spreading inaccurate and insulting stereotypes, guarantee Macedonians’ right to self-determination, and rehire the NSO individuals unlawfully dismissed from their jobs.
UMD strongly supports the organizations of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria in renouncing Bulgaria’s Census results. We urge the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and European Union authorities to promptly and thoroughly investigate this matter. The Bulgarian government must cease committing human rights violations, and it must end its over century-long campaign of cultural genocide against the Macedonian community.