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Bulgarian Ultra-Nationalists Threaten Ethnic Macedonians

September 14, 2005


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SEPTEMBER 14, 2005

Macedonian Human Rights Movement International condemns the recent provocations against the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria during their annual Ilinden celebration.

On July 31, 2005 in Betalovoto, Bulgaria, (near the city of Razlog) Macedonian organizations: OMO PIRIN, OMO "Ilinden" PIRIN, TMO VMRO, "Sonce" the Organization of Muslim Macedonians, the editors of newspapers "Narodna Volja" and "Makedonski Glas" and other Macedonian activists gathered to commemorate Ilinden, (Macedonian uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1903).

Despite a history of violence by Bulgarian ultra-nationalists against ethnic Macedonians the Bulgarian government chose not to provide security for the celebrants. Instead, the event was monitored by two members of the Bulgarian state security agency, one of whom was Alosa Kapcin, the Regional Chief of the agency in the Pirin region of Bulgaria. The security agents observed the Macedonian commemorations - which included such innocuous activities as the singing of Macedonian folk songs and the dancing of Macedonian folk dances, - for some time from a distance and then subsequently left the scene.

Minutes after the departure of the state security agents, 15 men armed with bats and sticks emerged from the woods and confronted the Macedonian celebrants, evidently with the intent to harass, intimidate and possibly attack, the Macedonians at the event. The Macedonian activists present believed that the Bulgarian ultra-nationalist party "VMRO" organized the anti-Macedonian group - as it has frequently done in connection with previous Macedonian events of this kind, (please see earlier MHRMC reports at http://www.mhrmi.org/reports.asp) Despite the provocation that armed men appearing at a peaceful cultural event represent, the Macedonian activists showed great restraint and did not allow any violence to occur. Seeing the large numbers of ethnic Macedonians at the event and seeing that they could not change the will of the people by force, the Bulgarian nationalist group subsequently scurried away, throwing down their weapons in the process.

Macedonian Human Rights Movement International denounces this - yet another - interference at the hands of Bulgarian officials and Bulgarian ultra-nationalists against the ethnic Macedonian minority in Bulgaria and reminds the government of Bulgaria that its actions will be held up to the greatest scrutiny under domestic, European and international laws.

MHRMI further asks that all of the relevant Bulgarian authorities stop orchestrating these violent anti-Macedonian attacks and provide Macedonian activists with appropriate police protection, as is now the norm in democratic countries around the world.

MHRMI also reminds the authorities of the Republic of Bulgaria that in order to join the European Union in 2007, it must meet all of its human rights obligations, including the recognition of the ethnic Macedonian minority within its borders.

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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