Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
European Free Alliance Calls for Dignity and Human Rights for Macedonian Political Prisoners
Press Release

European Free Alliance Calls for Dignity and Human Rights for Macedonian Political Prisoners

Macedonian Human Rights Movement International President Bill Nicholov met with European Free Alliance President Lorena Lopez de Lacalle and Political and Public Affairs Advisor Paul Butcher on January 26, 2023 to discuss grave issues facing Macedonians, including the abhorrent conditions that political prisoners are enduring in the Republic of Macedonia — stemming from their dissent against the forced and highly derogatory name change into "North Macedonia" — and the subsequent increase of violence, threats, and denial of basic human rights throughout the Balkans, also resulting from the forced name, identity and history change imposed on Macedonians.

EFA has consistently defended Macedonians' human rights and self-determination. MHRMI issues its sincere thanks for EFA's long-standing support, including its press release, below, of February 7, 2023. We call on other political parties and organizations to issue similar statements demanding an end to discrimination against Macedonians.

European Free Alliance Calls for Dignity and Human Rights for Macedonian Political Prisoners

Since 2017, a number of activists have been imprisoned and subjected to degrading treatment in the Macedonian prison system, many of them having been jailed on the basis of questionable charges. Their case is one of political persecution owing to their opposition to the government’s efforts to impose a change of the country’s name, against the will of a majority of the population, culminating in the “Prespa Agreement” with Greece.

Today, these political prisoners continue to face intolerable conditions, including the denial of urgent medical treatment.

Grave concern

In 2021 the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee adopted a report expressing grave concern for the prison conditions in the country, particularly noting the physical mistreatment of prisoners and neglect for their health requirements. In a recent meeting with EFA, Macedonian Human Rights Movement International explained that they have brought several cases to the European Court of Human Rights regarding this situation, seeking justice for the political prisoners.

EFA President Lorena López de Lacalle said: “The EU and international institutions cannot continue to praise the Republic of Macedonia for its supposed advancement towards EU membership, while simultaneously turning a blind eye to politically-motivated persecution and outrageous prison conditions. It is European values that are at stake here: the very European values that the country is required to respect to secure its path to the EU.”

Defending freedoms

“EFA stands for the defence of freedom of speech and strongly condemns any and all persecutions intended to suppress legitimate political criticism. We reiterate the right of the Macedonian people to identify as they please, to celebrate their own culture without capitulating to foreign demands, and to voice dissent against unjust government policy without fear of punishment.”

EFA has long been a champion of the Macedonian people’s right to dignity and self-determination, in collaboration with our member party OMO Ilinden-Pirin. We express our gravest concern for the worsening atmosphere of intimidation and violence facing the Macedonian community in Bulgaria, culminating recently in an attack on the premises of a Macedonian Cultural Club in Blagoevgrad. EFA calls for recognition, tolerance and respect for this long-suffering community, and the immediate condemnation by the Bulgarian authorities of all racially-motivated hostility towards them.