UMD Mourns Passing of Macedonian Leader in Bulgaria, Stojan Georgiev

UMD Mourns Passing of Macedonian Leader in Bulgaria, Stojan Georgiev

Stojan Georgiev (1938-2023), a great Macedonian patriot and activist in Bulgaria, passed away on July 5, 2023, at age 85. For close to 70 years, Georgiev championed Macedonian minority rights in Bulgaria – a country that, to this day, denies the very existence of an ethnic Macedonian identity and represses anyone who identifies as a Macedonian.

Born in Petrich, Pirin Macedonia, Bulgaria, in 1938, Georgiev created a Macedonian group at age 18. The creation of this group led to his arrest by state authorities in 1956, including 18 days of interrogation. After being released to complete his education, he founded another group in 1957, leading to his being rearrested and subjected to 114 days of interrogation and torture. For declaring himself as a Macedonian, in 1958, he was sentenced to four years in prison; he was again sentenced to four years in prison in 1973.

In 1990, Georgiev co-founded OMO Ilinden-PIRIN, an organization created to protect the human rights of Macedonians in Bulgaria, and served as its first president. He was elected Honorary President in 1998 and served on its central council from 2006-2007 and its co-president from 2007-2010.

Bulgaria was taken to the European Court of Human Rights by OMO Ilinden-PIRIN on numerous occasions for violating their freedoms to assembly and association and won those cases – ECHR has ruled 14 times against Bulgaria for violating Macedonian human rights.

Georgiev fought for Macedonian equality and brought awareness about Macedonians in Bulgaria until the very end. Just last month, on June 25, Georgiev met with Swiss doctoral students, where he shared his personal experiences in life and the challenges he faced as an activist.

Throughout his life, Georgiev wrote two books about his experiences and struggles. Despite suppression and hardship, he always remained cheerful and positive.

In 2009, the United Macedonian Diaspora hosted Georgiev in Washington, D.C., at its first UMD Global Conference, where he accepted the UMD Human Rights Award on behalf of OMO Ilinden-PIRIN. In his remarks, he said:

“I have dedicated my whole life to Macedonia. Since I was a child, I am Macedonian, and I will stay Macedonian. The young people of the United Macedonian Diaspora give me hope that we will keep fighting. We will win this war.”

Georgiev’s full video remarks can be found here or below.

Argie N. Bellio, UMD Chairman:

“Georgiev inspired countless Macedonians in Bulgaria to action, despite the oppressive nature of different Bulgarian regimes. He gave a voice to the voiceless and stood for what he believed in – OMO Ilinden-PIRIN, and all of us Macedonian advocates have a duty to continue in his footsteps.”

Aleksander Mitreski, UMD Board Member and Chair of the UMD Advisory Council, stated:

“Macedonia lost a great patriot, and the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria lost a great leader. I had the fortune to meet Mr. Georgiev in 2009 and heard firsthand his struggles, imprisonment, and state tortures for simply declaring himself Macedonian in Bulgaria.

“His love for Macedonia was so pure, his pursuit for human rights was so noble, yet, 70 years since his initial agonies, the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria is still denied the most basic human right of self-determination. Mr. Georgiev will be remembered as a brave individual that stood up for what was right, even when faced with great harm to his well-being. Thank you for all of the work you have done to advance the Macedonian cause in Bulgaria.”