Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
International Helsinki Federation 2006 Annual Report

The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) posted the first ten chapters of the upcoming 2006 Report - "Human Rights In The OSCE Region: Europe, Central Asia and North America" (Events of 2005) on its website under: today.

The chapters cover the countries: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada and Croatia.

In the course of the next weeks the IHF will post further chapters from the 2006 Report on its website. The full report will be published in June 2006.

Excerpt from the report on Bulgaria

In 2005, the ECHR delivered three judgments against Bulgaria in which it found violations of the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly (article 11 of the ECHR). All three cases had been filed by Bulgarian Macedonians. On 20 October, the Court issued two judgments - in the cases of UMO Ilinden and Ivanov v. Bulgaria and UMO Ilinden PIRIN v. Bulgaria. In the former, the court held that a series of prohibitions issued by local authorities concerning the holding of peaceful public events by Bulgarian Macedonians were in violation of article 11 of the ECHR. In the latter case, the Court held that the Bulgarian authorities had violated the same article when they, in 2000, declared unconstitutional and banned a political party with a predominantly Macedonian membership. On 24 November, the ECtHR delivered its judgment in the case of Ivanov and Others v. Bulgaria, where it found violations of article 11 and 13 (right to an effective remedy) in relation to the banning of demonstrations by Bulgarian Macedonians in Sofia in August and September 1998.

During the year Bulgarian Macedonians faced new violations of their right to peaceful assembly.

On 12 September, the police in Blagoevgrad did not allow representatives of the United Macedonian Organization UMO Ilinden to lay flowers at the grave of Gotse Delchev, a 19th century Macedonian revolutionary. The police confiscated their banners, a poster and a wreath. Moreover, a number of UMO Ilinded activists were attacked by unidentified individuals on their way out of Blagoevgrad near the village of Chernice. The UMO Ilinden members subsequently lodged complaints with the district prosecutor's office in Blagoevgrad and with the regional military prosecutor in Sofia. In October, the latter declared that no crime had been committed, a decision which was upheld upon appeal by the Sofia appellate prosecutor's office.