Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Press Release
Canadian Human Rights Activist Rejected at Greek Border

Steve Pliakes, a well-known ethnic Macedonian activist from Canada, was turned back by Greek border officials at the border between the Republics of Macedonia and Greece. Mr. Pliakes attempted to cross the Bogorodica-Negocani (Niki) border crossing on July 6, 2002 to visit the land of his birth.

Greek border officials informed Mr. Pliakes his name was on that country's "Inadmissible List”, although they could not explain why. Officials gave Mr. Pliakes an official document verifying that his name is registered on Greece's "Inadmissible List”. (Click to see the document)

This is not the first time that Mr. Pliakes has been refused entry into Greece. The first time occurred in 1992 and since then he has been refused entry into Greece five times, including 1996 when he was part of the entourage travelling with the dance group "Makedonka” from Toronto. On that occasion, Mr. Pliakes's wife Lily Pliakes was allowed to enter Greece with the dance troupe while he had to stay behind.

Mr. Pliakes was born June 2, 1940, in the village of Zeleniche (Sklithron in Greek), and in 1952 legally emigrated from Greece to Canada. Since then, he has been allowed to visit his birthplace only twice.

Mr. Pliakes believes he was put on Greece's blacklist right after becoming an activist for the rights of the ethnic Macedonians in Greece and elsewhere. Namely, in 1988 he became president of the United Macedonians Organization of Canada, an organization that espouses the ethnic, cultural and spiritual unity of all ethnic Macedonians, born in ethno-geographic Macedonia and their descendants. For the last two years Mr. Pliakes was also the president of the "St. Clement of Ohrid” Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral in Toronto.

Mr. Pliakes said, "Calling for the just treatment of the Macedonian minority in Greece should not be a crime. By this action, Greece has once again shown itself to be the antithesis of a democratic country where the open exchange of differing points of views is accepted and encouraged. This sort of high-handed conduct makes Greece a disgrace to the European Union.”

The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada has been active on human rights issues for Macedonians since 1986. It pursues its dual roles of advocacy and education throughout Canada and in the Balkans by, among other actions, highlighting cases of human rights abuse or wrong-doing against members of the Macedonian minorities in the countries of the Balkans.

Bill Nicholov
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada
Address: P.O. Box 44532, 2376 Eglinton Ave. East, Toronto, Canada M1K 5K3
Tel: 416-493-9555 Fax: 416-412-3385
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