Press Release

OMO Ilinden" - PIRIN, AMHRC and MHRMI Condemn Bulgarian Census Results"

25 July, 2011



Census Blagoevgrad, Melbourne, and Toronto - OMO "Ilinden" PIRIN, the political party of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) and Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) confirm that after an abnormally long delay, the results of the Census in Bulgaria, held in February 2011, have at last been announced. Due to the absurdly large number of manipulations which were carried out during the period in which it was held, the Census results were declared as invalid by OMO "Ilinden" PIRIN and other Macedonian organizations in Bulgaria as early as April this year.

This time the Bulgarian state has decided to allocate barely 1,654 people to the Macedonian minority, the existence of which, it totally denies. The results of this quasi Census have only confirmed what we expected - a criminal falsification has been carried out. However, in its desire to reduce to the maximum the number of those belonging to the Macedonian minority, the state has gone too far and the manipulation carried out by it is obvious to all. During the course of the census, Bulgarian officials systematically refused to accurately record the answers of individuals who declared themselves to be Macedonian.

Following the release of the census results, OMO "Ilinden" PIRIN, the AMHRC and MHRMI have agreed to inform international human rights bodies in the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the EU of this scandalous act on the part of the Bulgarian state. The incident will be of particular interest to the United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Ms Gay McDougall who visited Bulgaria earlier this month and is currently preparing a report to present to the UN Human Rights Council at the end of the year.

OMO "Ilinden" PIRIN, the AMHRC and MHRMI also urge Macedonians (and indeed human rights defenders in general) to take action on this matter by directly contacting foreign ministries in their respective countries of residence and bringing the census scandal to their attention. In particular Macedonians in the United States are urged to write to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton who just months ago, on 3 March 2011, claimed that: "Bulgaria has led by example at home, striving to create strong institutions, enforce the rule of law and uphold democratic transitions. Your progress in building a vibrant democracy as a responsible member of the transatlantic community over the past two decades has given hope to so many countries in your region and around the world."

The stark contrast between Secretary Clinton's official praise for Bulgaria and the actuality of the situation on the ground is exemplified by the huge discrepancy between the 'official' number of Macedonians in Bulgaria (1,654) and the reality in Pirin Macedonia and beyond.

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OMO "Ilinden" PIRIN is a political party supporting the rights of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. It has been banned since 2000, despite a 2005 European Court of Human Rights Judgement ruling that the decision was a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. For more information please visit
www.omoilindenpirin.org.

Established in 1984 the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) is a non governmental organisation that advocates before governments, international institutions and broader communities about combating discrimination and promoting basic human rights. Our aspiration is to ensure that Macedonian communities and other excluded groups throughout the world are recognised, respected and afforded equitable treatment. For more information please visit www.macedonianhr.org.au, or contact AMHRC by email info@macedonianhr.org.au or via +61 3 93298960.

Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information: www.mhrmi.org, twitter.com/mhrmi, facebook, info@mhrmi.org, 1-416-850-7125..

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