Bulgarian Authorities Interfere with Macedonian Commemoration

April 27, 2005

Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada - http://www.mhrmi.org/

Press Release

On Sunday, April 24, 2005, the political party of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, OMO PIRIN (
http://www.omoilindenpirin.org/), held a commemoration in honour of Macedonian hero Jane Sandanski in the city of Melnik.

Although the event went off without any major disruptions - besides the initial farce regarding the forced change of the venues from Rozhen to Melnik - the Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada (MHRMC) would like to note the disturbances that plagued the Macedonian manifestation:

The five-hour detainment of the Macedonian Folk Ensemble "Mirce Acev" at the Bulgarian border crossing. The explanation for this detainment was that one of the members of the Macedonian Ensemble had the "exact same name as a Bulgarian criminal."

The vandalizing, theft and breaking and entering into the bus of the Macedonian Folk Ensemble "Mirce Acev" by unknown assailants in the city of Sandanski.

The harassment of Macedonian activists by members of the Bulgarian ultra-nationalist VMRO-SMD party. Macedonians went to lay wreaths and flowers at the grave of Jane Sandanski in Rozhen before the commemoration in Melnik and members of the VMRO-SMD party, headed by Krasimir Karakachanov, verbally assaulted them.

The MHRMC reiterates its condemnation of the Bulgarian authorities that forced OMO PIRIN to change the venue for its planned event from Rozhen to Melnik in order to accommodate three notoriously anti-Macedonian organizations, the Focus News Agency, VMRO-SMD and the society of "All Bulgarians Together" (see www.mhrmc.ca/press/05/rozhen.html). Two weeks before the planned event, local authorities from the City of Sandanski withdrew the permit already issued to OMO PIRIN to hold its commemoration at the Rozhen Monastery with the excuse that the Focus News Agency had previously booked the venue. Neither the Focus News Agency nor the neo-fascist organizations noted above have ever commemorated Jane Sandanski in the past. On the day of the commemoration no employees of Focus were present, only members of VMRO-SMD and the society of "All Bulgarians Together" attended. The Bulgarian government and its secret police's role in interfering with the free assembly of ethnic Macedonians and their continued persecution of the Macedonian minority is paradoxical given that on April 25, 2005, Bulgaria signed EU membership accession documents. The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada calls on the international community, and specifically the European Union, to demand that Bulgaria immediately recognize its large Macedonian minority and grant it the human rights that it is guaranteed by all international human rights conventions. Moreover, the MHRMC calls on the European Union to make Bulgaria's accession to the EU explicitly conditional on its recognition of its Macedonian minority.

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Bill Nicholov
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada
Address: P.O. Box 44532, 2376 Eglinton Ave. East, Toronto, Canada M1K 5K3
Tel: 416-493-9555 Fax: 416-412-3385
Website: www.mhrmi.org

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