Macedonian Human Rights Movement International condemns the continued persecution and intimidation of journalists in the Republic of Macedonia. Critics of the Zoran Zaev regime continually face threats and criminal proceedings, including Aleksandar Mitovski, editor of the Infomax news site.
Mitovski was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended over two years, for publishing key – and public – witness testimony in a racketeering scandal involving Zaev. The Macedonian Association of Journalists (Македонска асоцијација на новинари - МАН) praised Mitovski's courage in publishing the testimony and condemned the sentence:
“This document revealed that the prosecutors are deliberately concealing the involvement of Zoran Zaev in the Racket scandal. That is the real reason why they did not want this report to be published and that is why a journalist has been sentenced to six months in prison – to warn other journalists against doing the same, against reporting about the government, judges and prosecutors. This is a direct and clear threat. The prosecutors andjudges in this case are clearly serving the ruling SDSM party.”
The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (Здружението на новинари на Македонија - ЗНМ) also condemned the sentence. ЗНМ President Mladen Cadikovski said:
“I think that prosecuting people for speech does not contribute to a better climate insociety. I’m aware of the role and the responsibility of journalists in such sensitive issues, and even when there are indications that laws were violated I think we should have the broader public interest in mind. It is unclear why the prosecutors didn’t look for the mole in their own ranks who stole the witness testimony, and areonly going after the person who published it.”
In a statement to MHRMI, Aleksandar Mitovski said:
“Macedonia is a corrupt state with a criminal regime focused on censoring media that are trying to reveal the anomalies of the system and the involvement of government officials in criminal activities.It is not by chance that I am the only journalist in Europe convicted for exposing the involvement of Zoran Zaev in a racketeering scandal in Macedonia.”
Mitovski's press accreditation was also revoked.
Macedonians have been subject to a severe crackdown on their basic human rights in the period leading up to, and since, the illegal name change imposed on the Republic of Macedonia. Yet, the international community has remained silent, despite the use of brutal tactics such as imprisonment, beatings, threats, referendum and election rigging, the violation of international law, Macedonian law and international human rights conventions, including violations of freedom of association, self-determination, self-identification and freedom of the media. And in the case of many NATO and EU member-states, the forced name change was carried out with their complicity. (See MHRMI's recent meeting with Global Affairs Canada for details and background information.)
MHRMI is calling on all governments, human rights organizations and media outlets truly interested in defending human rights to condemn and apply pressure on the Zaev regime. Just as the international community takes action against regimes in other countries that violate human rights, MHRMI calls for equal treatment for Macedonia and Macedonians.
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI)has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. MHRMI demands respect for Macedonia's name, identity and human rights for oppressed Macedonians in the Balkans. For more information: 1-416-850-7125, firstname.lastname@example.org, mhrmi.org, twitter.com/mhrmi, facebook.com/mhrmi, instagram.com/MacedonianHumanRights #OurNameIsMacedonia