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MHRMI Condemns Defamation of Ethnic Macedonians by Bulgarian Media

September 14, 2006

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Macedonian Human Rights Movement International - Press Release

Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) condemns the Focus News Agency's constant defamation of Macedonian minority political party OMO Ilinden PIRIN. Focus is notorious for its anti-Macedonian rhetoric and frequently incites Bulgarians to condemn any expression of Macedonian identity. Macedonians are consistently arrested, detained, threatened, and even beaten.

In its most recent attack on September 12, 2006, Focus referred to OMO Ilinden PIRIN as "separatists", and claimed that the party paid individuals to sign up to become members. In order for a political party to register legally in Bulgaria it is required to obtain 5,000 members. This law was introduced in Bulgaria just before the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the Bulgarian government and ordered it to unconditionally allow the legal registration of OMO Ilinden PIRIN. Focus' unfounded claims led to Bulgarian politicians denouncing the Macedonian party and threatening legal ramifications. Eliana Maseva, member of the political party "Democrats for Strong Bulgaria" said "Buying votes is inadmissible from both a legal and moral point of view" and added "...the Criminal Code already contains texts that incriminate such actions." Union of Democratic Forces member Filip Dimitrov said that "buying votes" is "indictable". Responding to the June 2006 Congress of OMO Ilinden PIRIN, Blagoevgrad Mayor Lazar Prickapov said, "Macedonians should go to Macedonia. Such assembly [of Macedonians in Bulgaria] is illegal." The Focus News Agency quoted Bulgarian MEP Boris Jacev, "The competent authorities should undertake measures. If ordered, the members of VMRO BND will hamper any provocation targeted at Bulgaria's national security and sovereignty."

MHRMI calls on the international community, and specifically the European Union, to apply pressure on Bulgaria to end its state-sponsored acts of oppression and to immediately recognize its large Macedonian minority and grant it the human rights that it is guaranteed by all international human rights conventions. Moreover, MHRMI calls on the European Union to make Bulgaria's accession to the EU explicitly conditional on its recognition of its Macedonian minority.

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
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