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Newspaper Censors Article on Macedonian Minority and Language

August 15, 2005


ALERT - GREECE

Newspaper censors article on Macedonian minority and language

SOURCE: Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), Athens

(GHM/IFEX) - GHM condemns the censorship by the Greek daily newspaper "Makedonia" of an article on the banned Macedonian language in Greece that was to be published on 14 August 2005, in the regular Sunday column of writer Thanasis Triaridis.

The article, entitled "A short note on a banned language", summarised the history and the reasons for the prohibition on speaking Macedonian in Greece, as well as Greece's refusal to recognise national minorities, such as the Macedonian and Turkish ones. The author concluded that it was time to lift the ban and teach the language with its songs and its literature at the schools in the areas where the language is spoken. The article can be found in Greek at the author's personal web site: http://www.triaridis.gr/keimena/keimD046.htm

In a postscript, the author relates how "Makedonia" editor Christos Kapsalis told him that his article could not be published "out of principle" and asked for another article. The author refused such an arrangement and informed the editor that he was putting an end to the 18-month collaboration with the newspaper.

GHM considers this censorship a violation of freedom of expression, symptomatic of the prevailing intolerance towards national minorities in Greece, and especially the Macedonian minority. Such an attitude is incompatible with the "state of law" that is supposed to prevail in Greece, and was denounced in 2004 and 2005 by a number of international organisations, which urged Greece to recognize its minorities and respect their freedom of expression and association.

BACKGROUND:
In June 2004, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance noted that "persons wishing to express their Macedonian, Turkish or other identity incur the hostility of the population. They are targets of prejudices and stereotypes, and sometimes face discrimination" and "encouraged the Greek authorities to take further steps toward the recognition of the freedom of association and expression of members of the Macedonian and Turkish communities living in Greece." ( http://www.coe.int/T/E/human_rights/Ecri/1-ECRI/2-Country-by-country_approach/Greece/Greece_CBC_3.asp#TopOfPage).

In May 2004, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stated that it was "concerned that there is only one officially recognized minority in Greece, whereas there are other ethnic groups seeking that status," "regretted the lack of information on the measures taken by the State party to preserve, protect and promote minority languages and cultures" and "urged Greece to reconsider its position with regard to the recognition of other ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities which may exist within its territory, in accordance with recognized international standards, and invited it to ratify the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1995)." (http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/E.C.12.1.Add.97.En?Opendocument)

Finally, in March 2005, the UN Human Rights Committee "noted with concern the apparent unwillingness of the government to allow any private groups or associations to use associational names that include the appellation Turk or Macedonian, based upon Greece's assertion that there are no ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities in Greece other than Muslims in Thrace. The Committee noted that individuals belonging to such minorities have a right under the Covenant to the enjoyment of their own culture, the profession and practice of their own religion, and the use of their own language in community with other members of their group (article 27)." The Committee called on Greece to "review its practice in light of Article 27 of the Covenant," (http://193.194.138.190/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/0b0fece5de7503b0c1256ffc004 89e4 b?Opendocument) which states that "[I]n those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to these minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language."

For further information, contact GHM at:
P.O. Box 60820
GR-15304 Glyka Nera, Greece
tel: +30 210 347 2259
fax: +30 210 601 8760
e-mail: office@greekhelsinki.gr
Internet: http://www.greekhelsinki.gr/

The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of GHM. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit GHM.

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