Washington, D.C. and Toronto, Canada – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) and Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) call on the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights to intervene immediately to ensure that the human rights of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria are respected by the Bulgarian government in accordance to the verdict by the European Court of Human Rights on October 25, 2005.
The Bulgarian government’s latest denial of the Macedonian minority’s freedom of association and freedom of expression occurred on November 1, 2006, with the rejection of a valid OMO Ilinden PIRIN application for registration as a political party. OMO Ilinden PIRIN was not provided a legally coherent rationale for this rejection by the Court and was only allowed 30 minutes to make its rebuttal argument. This denial is a blatant contempt of the recent European Court of Human Rights’ verdict that the Bulgarian government is in violation of OMO Ilinden PIRIN’s freedom of association and that it should be allowed to register as a political party.
OMO Ilinden PIRIN is an organization that represents the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. The organization was originally registered as a political party in 1999 and it did participate in the municipal elections in October 1999 where five of its members were elected as local officials. However, on February 29, 2000, for unknown reasons the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria declared OMO Ilinden PIRIN as unconstitutional. Such action by the court directly violated the right to freedom of association and the right to freedom from discrimination as the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg stated “The fact that the applicant party’s political programme was considered incompatible with the prevailing principles and structures of the Bulgarian state did not make it incompatible with the rules and principles of democracy.”
The Bulgarian government continually suppresses and refuses to acknowledge the existence of the large Macedonian minority in Bulgaria and as such clearly violates the basic human rights for self identification. Members and supporters of OMO Ilinden PIRIN (political party and human rights organization) and OMO Ilinden (human and minority rights organization) have been videotaped, harassed, beaten, fined, and even imprisoned simply for asserting their ethnic Macedonian identity.
In yet another bid to regain registration as prescribed by the European Court of Human Rights, OMO Ilinden PIRIN re-commenced the process in June 2006 and accumulated the necessary signatories. However, Bulgarian authorities continued to hinder the registration process for OMO Ilinden PIRIN with unnecessary changes to relevant legislation, including increasing the minimum party membership from 1,000 to 5,000 signatories. OMO Ilinden PIRIN accumulated nearly 6,000 members for the registration procedure to ensure full compliance with the new rules.
In the lead up to the Bulgarian Court’s decision Bulgarian authorities have engaged in the intimidation of members of OMO Ilinden PIRIN with detainment and threats of deportation, loss of citizenship, loss of employment and pension benefits and even execution. These incidents have been recorded by OMO Ilinden PIRIN and are available for review at www.omoilindenpirin.org.
The European Union is based upon the premise of equality, freedom and unity. It is unthinkable that these abuses can occur in the 21st century by a chauvinistic government that desires to be part of the European family. The Macedonian minority in Bulgaria is real, their harassments are real, and their struggle for human rights is real and they will prevail. However, the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights must intervene immediately to accommodate the most basic needs and rights of the Macedonian minority.
Founded in 2004, United Macedonian Diaspora is an international membership organization based in Washington, D.C. addressing the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities throughout the world.
For more information about United Macedonian Diaspora the public is invited to contact the D.C. office at (202) 294-3400, or e-mail at [email protected]
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. Its main objective is to pursue and attain all fundamental human and national rights including the right of freedom of expression and association and to support all democratic principles for all ethnic Macedonians, and other oppressed peoples.
For more information please contact MHRMI at (416) 850-7125, or [email protected]