UMD Hails ECHR Rulings Concerning Human Rights Violations by Bulgaria

The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) hails today’s two decisive rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg against Bulgaria in violation of Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. ECHR has been one of the rare institutions that continue to shed light on Bulgaria’s human rights violations against its indigenous Macedonian minority.

UMD condemns Bulgaria for not enforcing two treaties it has signed and ratified: the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. UMD calls upon the Council of Europe Commission for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, to apply pressure on Bulgaria to implement in their entirety the ECHR rulings.

In the two rulings: Case of Vasilev and Society of the Repressed Macedonians in Bulgaria Victims of the Communist Terror v. Bulgaria (Application no. 23702/15); and Case of Macedonian Club for Ethnic Tolerance in Bulgaria and Radonov v. Bulgaria (Application no. 67197/13), the European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled that Bulgaria violated Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and that Bulgaria must pay a collective total of 16,000 euros to the applicants.

To date, the ECHR has ruled more than a dozen times against Bulgaria for violating the human rights of the Macedonian minority, however, Bulgaria has failed to implement the judgments. The halls of power in Brussels have remained conspicuously silent over Bulgaria’s failure to remedy adverse human rights rulings, not just towards its Macedonian minority, but also Pomak, Roma, and Turkish minorities.

Bulgaria has been denying the rights of the Macedonian minority over the past century. By tolerating Bulgaria’s continued denial of basic identity and cultural rights, the European Union is, in effect, being complicit.

Recently, Bulgaria’s government, Bulgarian members of the European Parliament, media, and Academia have increased their rhetoric and xenophobic attacks against Macedonian history, language, and people. The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences’ recent pamphlet denying the existence of a unique Macedonian language goes against decades of fact and treatises by well-regarded linguists. Just earlier this month, Bulgarian member of the European Parliament Andrey Kovatchev attacked UMD and its member Mario Hristovski for organizing a virtual hour shedding light on Bulgaria’s revising Macedonian history on Wikipedia.

In 2006, UMD led a coalition of Macedonian human rights organizations globally in an e-mail writing campaign where more than three million e-mails were sent to European Parliamentarians urging them to vote in favor of an amendment to the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union protocol calling “on the Bulgarian authorities to prevent any further obstruction to the registration of the political party of the ethnic Macedonians (OMO-Ilinden PIRIN) and to put an end to all forms of discrimination and harassment vis-à-vis that minority.” The Bulgarian government fiercely lobbied against the amendment, which resulted in a rejection vote 303-141.

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