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MHRMI - Press Release

MHRMI Condemns Statements by Serbian Minister of Religion

August 13, 2005


Macedonian Human Rights Movement International condemns the recent declaration made by the Serbian Minister of Religion, Milan Radulovic, who stated that the Serbian government would not allow the construction of Macedonian places of worship – or Macedonian churches – in the Republic of Serbia.

The statement comes amid news by the President of the Democratic Party of Macedonians in Serbia and Montenegro, Dragan Velkovski, who affirmed that the party – which represents the Macedonian minority in Serbia – plans to build a Macedonian place of worship in Novi Sad.

“The Serbian government cannot prohibit us from building a church in which we could pray in our mother Macedonian tongue, there is no basis for this in (Serbian) law,” Velkovski said.

The Macedonian news agency, Makfax, reports Mr. Radulovic as stating, “according to church legislation neither the Montenegrin nor the Macedonian church can be registered as churches because ‘non-existent churches’ cannot be registered.”

This follows recent actions taken by Bishop Pahomije of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who openly refused to allow ethnic Macedonians the right to commemorate their August 2nd Ilinden holiday through worship at the Prohor Pchinski monastery in southern Serbia.

Notwithstanding the historical and cultural significance of Prohor Pchinski to the Macedonian people, Bishop Pahomije and the Serbian Orthodox Church violated the fundamental freedom of religion of the ethnic Macedonian minority in Serbia – as well as of the visitors from the Republic of Macedonia – and these violations must be held up to the highest scrutiny by the international community.

Macedonian Human Rights Movement International asks that the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian government finally allow ethnic Macedonians the right to worship any faith that they choose – be it Macedonian Orthodoxy, Islam or any other religion – to worship in any place that is tied to their religion – such as the Prohor Pchinski monastery – and to immediately end discrimination against Macedonians because of Serbia's non-recognition of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

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

     
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