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United Nations 61th Session of the Commission on Human Rights
14 March – 22 April 2005, Geneva


The Macedonian Minority in Albania
Report by the Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada (MHRMC)


Table of Contents

Introduction
Violence Against Ethnic Macedonians
Census
The Use of Macedonian Names
Macedonian Media in Albania
Arrest of Macedonian Activists and Students
Expulsion from Work
Macedonian Party for European Integration
Contact Information for Macedonian Activists in Albania

Introduction

The following interview with Edmond Temelko, president of the Macedonian organization “Prespa” in Albania, outlines the precarious position of the Macedonian minority in Albania. It appeared in the Macedonian weekly, “Makedonsko Sonce”, on June 15, 2001. Unfortunately, the situation of the Macedonian minority in Albania has not improved since.

"The plight of the Macedonians in Albania is already known. Macedonians in Albania are discriminated against and the government continues to unrealistically present their numbers. Albania recognizes that on its territory live only 5,000 Macedonians. But we alone, as Macedonian organizations in Albania number 120,000 Macedonians who are members of our organizations, or if we investigate there are perhaps more then 350,000 Macedonians in Albania."

"According to the Albanian Constitution, the minorities are allowed 60% education in their mother language. But this is not happening. There are Macedonians who live in other parts of Albania who do not have the right to get an education in their own mother language, the Macedonian language. They do not have schools. But even where we have schools, there is very little. For example in the village of Pustets there is elementary education from first to fourth grade in Macedonian and one course in Albanian. What happens between fifth and eight grade? Only three courses are in Macedonian, and the history in taught only in seventh grade and only for one hour. But the worst of all is that although the kids study in Macedonian, the literature is not original. The Macedonian grammar is translated from Albanian grammar. This is one of our complaints. We demand that the children by educated with original Macedonian textbooks."

"The Albanian press has branded us a potential hotspot. After a peaceful protest, they began to treat us as terrorists, although nobody raised a gun to fight in Albania. All we did is sent a call that we are fighting for our rights through the institutions of the system. For example, we publicly proclaim that we do not like the Constitution of Albania. Why? In article 20 it is written that in Albania exist minorities whose cultural identity should be guaranteed and preserved. But which minorities are these? Let it say: Greek, Macedonian, Vlach, or Roma minority. The Albanian government is afraid of this because if this is written, i.e. if a real analysis is conducted, Albania is a multiethnic state. If you enter inner Albania, there live 40-45% of the minorities. There are Greeks, Vlachs, Macedonians, Roma. This is what the Albanian government is afraid of and this is why it conducted such census. This census was regularly conducted in only one village. It is discrimination and because of it Macedonia will have to develop a clear strategy for the plight of the Macedonians in the neighbouring countries."


Violence Against Ethnic Macedonians

The following is a press release issued by the MHRMC on March 12, 2005:

On December 1, 2004, two ethnic Macedonian citizens of Albania, Jani Nesto (40) and Sotir Nestor (40) from the village of Pustec, were heavily wounded while coming under gunfire by a band of Albanian Cacaks, who proceeded to shoot at them and their vehicles with Kalashnikov assault rifles while the two were making their way home from Korca.

According to Edmond Temelko, the president of the “Prespa Society” – the organization which protects the rights of the ethnic Macedonian minority in Albania – this has been the third such incident in the last year.

“We believe that these violent armed attacks are based purely upon political motives, aimed at scaring the Macedonians of Mala Prespa. We contacted the police in Korca and the Helsinki Committee in Albania because of this gross violation of human rights and freedoms of the Macedonians of Albania and we expect the relevant institutions to undertake the necessary steps to protect the freedoms of mobility and property and the lives of the Macedonians of Albania.”

The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada condemns these attacks and urges that a full investigation be undertaken in order to bring the perpetrators to justice and to prevent such attacks from occurring again.

The MHRMC also asks the international community to carry out its own investigations in regards to the treatment of the ethnic Macedonian minority in Albania and to demand that the Albanian government grant its minorities the human rights that are guaranteed by all international human rights conventions.

Census

The four Macedonian organizations in Albania, Mir (Peace), Gora, MED (Macedonian Aegean Society) and Prespa, boycotted the 2001 census in Albania because there was no option for Macedonian in the census list. The Albanian government continues to minimize the actual number of Macedonians, and other minorities, in the country and in 2003, the Association of Macedonians in Albania (consisting of the four organizations) conducted their own census of the number of Macedonians in Albania. It is estimated that this number is between 120,000 and 350,000 while the Albanian state only officially recognizes 5,000. Because of irregularities and intense minority complaints, the Council of Europe has also recommended that Albania conduct a new census.

The Use of Macedonian Names

The Albanian state pressures Macedonians to use Albanian names while forbidding the use of traditional Macedonian names. They frequently impose Albanian names on Macedonian children in their continued attempts to assimilate the Macedonian minority.

Macedonian Media in Albania

Access to public media in Albania for ethnic Macedonians is almost non-existent. There has never been a Macedonian language television program in Albania and there is only one five-minute weekly Macedonian language radio program on Albanian radio. In the economically ravaged village of Pustets, Macedonians opened a private radio station in 2002. It operates from 7:00am to 8:00pm daily provided there is electricity in the area. Financial constraints have threatened the existence of the radio station since it opened.

Macedonian human rights organizations have published various Macedonian language newspapers over the past decade only to see them fold due to financial difficulties. The only one still in existence is a quarterly newspaper published by the Prespa organization.

Arrest of Macedonian Activists and Students

Albanian authorities have intimidated, threatened and pressured ethnic Macedonians to stop their activism and promotion of Macedonian human rights. Ethnic Macedonian students from Albania who study in the Republic of Macedonia are sometimes detained and interrogated by the Albanian secret police when returning to Albania. The secret police demand to know the reasons why they studied in the Republic of Macedonia, who “convinced” them to go there and study in the Macedonian language, what connections they have with Macedonian leaders in Albania and in particular the president of MIR, Kimet Fetahu, and whether they have contact with Macedonian secret police. They tried to pressure them to become Albanian informants. Macedonian activists, in particular Kimet Fetahu, Spase Masenkovski and Eftim Mitrevski have been arrested, interrogated, threatened and pressured to stop their activism.

Expulsion from Work

In April 1995, all Macedonians were expelled from the police force and armed forces. Not a single ethnic Macedonian is employed by the police or army to this day. Macedonians have been fired from other jobs simply based on their activism and promotion of human rights for the Macedonian minority in Albania.

Macedonian Party for European Integration

On October 30th 2004, the Macedonian community in Albania, comprised of and represented by its four founding cultural, social and ethnic, societies and organizations, declared that they would be forming the Macedonian Party for European Integration in Albania. The main principle of this party is the protection of the rights and social, political and ethno-cultural interests of all Albanian citizens with Macedonian ethnicity, who identify their mother language as Macedonian, and who have saved and inherited their culture and tradition over centuries.

The party also has as its objectives, a willingness for collaboration among the other minorities living in the territory of the Republic of Albania. It will also fight for the respect of their ethnic rights, language and culture – all things that have been so far denied by the Albanian state – and will also advocate for the use of all democratic means for the integration of Albania in the Euro-Atlantic structures.

The party will fight for the passing of a law that will guarantee the rights and freedoms of the national minorities. Freedoms such as: the right of education in the mother tongue of the minority; guarantees for cultural and religious freedoms and assembly; equality of employment and official recognition of the minority languages.

Bill Nicholov, President
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Address: 157 Adelaide St. West, Suite 434, Toronto, Canada M5H 4E7
Tel: 416-850-7125 Fax: 416-850-7127
E-mail: info@mhrmi.org Website: www.mhrmi.org

Contact Information for Macedonian Activists in Albania

For more information, please contact Macedonian Human Rights Movement International or the following organizations of Macedonians in Albania:

MIR
President - Kimet Fetahu
Rr. “Prokor Muzeqari”
P. 31/1/1, Tirana, Albania
Tel. ++3554-341265
Fax ++3554-249945
E-mail: mirshoq@yahoo.com

Prespa
Edmond Temelko
Pustec (Korca), Albania
++355682360274
++355682054652

Association of Macedonians in Albania (consisting of MIR, Prespa, Bratstvo, MED)
E-mail: info@macedoniansinalbania.org
Website: www.macedoniansinalbania.org

     
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