Macedonian Minority Organization OMO Ilinden Attacked by Bulgarian Nationalists
October 1, 2002
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada - Press Release
On Thursday, September 12 at approximately 3:00pm, OMO Ilinden, a Macedonian minority organization in Bulgaria, intended to commemorate Vartolomey Night (massacre of Macedonians in Bulgaria in 1924). About 45 members and sympathizers gathered in front of the US University in Blagoevgrad and marched to the Gotse Delchev monument in Macedonia Square. They intended to place flowers, a wreath, and a banner that contained the text "OMO Ilinden - Stop the Assimilation: We want Macedonian language and culture, human rights, and the right to work!"
Upon reaching the monument, about 25 civilians (all members of the Bulgarian nationalistic political party VMRO) attacked the OMO Ilinden members and beat several of them with sticks. They demanded that OMO Ilinden give up the banner, wreath and two Macedonian flags. The VMRO members took the banner and one flag before the local police, which were already present, separated the two groups.
OMO Ilinden were successful in placing the wreath and flowers at the back of the monument (VMRO members were blocking the front) and Jordan Konstantinov, past-president of OMO Ilinden, gave a speech. At the end of the ceremony, VMRO members again assaulted the Macedonians and the police eventually stopped them.
The next day, the Bulgarian newspaper, Trud, slandered the Macedonian activists claiming that they attacked the VMRO members. They also claimed that the OMO Ilinden members were "drunk" and that they "cursed Bulgaria, VMRO and the journalists that were present during the ceremony."
As reported by the BBC, a roundtable was held after September 12 because, according to Bulgarian authorities, "The illegal organization OMO Ilinden held an anti-Bulgarian event in Blagoevgrad". Bulgarian parliamentarians from Blagoevgrad, as well as representatives of political parties, the state and local institutions demanded the passing of a law for the fight against anti-Bulgarian activity in that region, and in the territory of the country as a whole.
According to the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA), the ceremony of September 12 brought about social protests and tension and was condemned by all political parties. The following quotations were made by Bulgarian members of parliament:
Stanimir Ilchev - MP of the National Movement Simeon II - "Bulgaria should go to the European court to prevent events like Sept. 12."
Rositsa Totkova - MP United Democratic Forces - gathering of OMO Ilinden was "without the respect of the feelings of others and an open threatening act"
Aleksandar Abadjiev - MP Left Coalition of Bulgaria - "It's paramount to prepare the mayors and representatives of local administration how to react to these types of events according to the law and constitution."
The MHRMC condemns such state-endorsed acts of oppression and calls on the international community to increase pressure on Bulgaria to conform to the many international human rights conventions to which it is a signatory.
For more information about human rights violations against Macedonians in Bulgaria, please see the MHRMC's 2001 Annual Report - The Macedonian Minority in Bulgaria (
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