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Minority Rights Group on the Cancellation of the Vinozhito Congress

December 8, 2003

Minority Rights Group International - Press Release

Minority Rights Group International (MRGI) expresses its concern over reports received from Greece that the Rainbow Party Congress has been cancelled due to threats received from far-right, racist elements. This meeting of Rainbow, Political Party of the Macedonian National Minority in Greece, had been scheduled for 7th December. Open threats have reportedly been made to both organizers of the Congress and those who had agreed to host the event, causing the Congress to be postponed for the second time in the interest of safety. According to reports, personal threats were made to individuals and their families by extremists, and damage has been caused to property and potential venues for the event. Far-right parties have openly expressed their intentions to prevent the event from taking place and scheduled counter-events to ensure disruption and intimidation.

Minority Rights Group International calls on the Greek authorities to take action to allow this Congress to take place in safety and thus to ensure that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association (ECHR, Art. 11) is respected in practice. The government should take concrete steps to ensure the security of participants and condemn extremist parties and individuals that seek to damage democracy in Greece. These openly racist and xenophobic activities seriously threaten the international reputation of Greece ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games, which it proclaims to be a celebration of the diversity of cultures. In the light of these events, MRG reiterates its call for Greece to ratify the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, as a clear and unequivocal statement of its commitment to the rights of minority communities and democracy in Greece.

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