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Bulgarian Media Sets New Low for Publicly Sanctioned Racism Against Macedonians

September 19, 2006


Macedonian Human Rights Movement International - Press Release

The Bulgarian media, namely, the Focus News Agency, has set a new low in the country's publicly sanctioned racism, xenophobia and intolerance toward its Macedonian minority. 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 the party. Since OMO Ilinden PIRIN announced that it had signed up more than 5,000 members and planned to register in the Sofia Court, Focus has engaged in a campaign of slander and defamation of the Macedonian minority party. Focus' unfounded claims led to Bulgarian politicians denouncing the Macedonian party and threatening legal ramifications in an effort to prevent its registration. Following are examples of the hysteria that ensued which are indicative of a country that views itself as a western democracy worthy of EU membership but consistently proves itself to be the very antithesis of one.

In an interview for Focus, VMRO leader Krasimir Karakachanov said: "On Monday VMRO will alarm the Prosecutor in Chief and the Regional Prosecutor’s office in Blagoevgrad on the collection of signatures in return for money."

According to Focus, the Chief Secretary of Party Order, Lawfulness and Justice Yane Yanev, "Will plead in court against registration of OMO Ilinden–Pirin". Yanev said "Bulgaria is a state and not unfenced yard. The group that is laundering money buying people in order to establish some kind of political formation with unclear aims is just wasting their time”.

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".

According to Focus, "The fact that OMO Ilinden-Pirin seeks the support of organizations which not only do not reject terrorism but use it as well is very indicative – after OMO Ilinden-Pirin contacts such organizations they become a part of them." This is in response to OMO Ilinden PIRIN's meeting in Bulgaria with the European Free Alliance, an organization that is a member of the European Parliament and which visited Bulgaria in order to report on human rights violations against the Macedonian minority. Focus continued, "Krassimir Karakachanov joked that he wouldn’t be surprised if OMO Ilinden-Pirin invite Osama bin Laden himself. OMO Ilinden-Pirin ‘also have an extremist way of thinking because they want to separate the region of Blagoevgrad from Bulgaria’, the VMRO-BND leader added. He advised that the illegal party should not be underestimated and should not be allowed to hold separatist activities in Bulgaria."

Furthermore, on Saturday, September 9th, Botjo Vangelov, a member of OMO Ilinden PIRIN, was arrested and detained by police in Blagoevgrad where he was interrogated by state secret police for several hours. Prior to being detained, documents relating to the registration process of OMO Ilinden PIRIN were confiscated.

MHRMI calls on the international community to condemn Bulgaria's state-sponsored acts of oppression, and demand that Bulgaria 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 enforce the European Court of Human Rights October 20, 2005 decision in favour of OMO Ilinden PIRIN's immediate registration and 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
E-mail: info@mhrmi.org Website: www.mhrmi.org

     
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