Toronto, Canada and Melbourne, Australia (April 28, 2010) - Bulgaria has begun to emulate long time EU member Greece's practice of harassing or banning "undesirables" from entering their country. This includes anyone who dares to proclaim the existence of a Macedonian minority.
On Sunday, April 18, 2010, members of several Macedonian organizations, including Todor Petrov, President of the World Macedonian Congress, and Georgi Donevski, President of the Association of Refugee Children, were on their way to visit OMO Ilinden's traditional commemoration of Jane Sandanski's death but were stopped at the Delchevo border crossing. After a detailed search of their vehicle, the border officials said that one letter on their car registration was illegible, so they were refused entry. The delegation managed to secure a new vehicle and was finally allowed to enter Bulgaria. Shortly afterwards they were stopped by the police, subjected to another search of their vehicle, and fined for not wearing seatbelts. They were told that they had to go to Blagoevgrad and wait for the police chief to "confirm" the fine. By the time the chief appeared, over two hours later, the commemoration was over.
The Australian-Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC), Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI), the Association of the Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia of Melbourne and Victoria, the Association of Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia (ARCAM) in Canada and Macedonian refugee associations in the Republic of Macedonia have decided to launch a campaign for legal action against the Greek state to restore citizenship and property rights to Macedonians from Greece.
Yesterday, Premier Rann's office released to the media a response to the complaint lodged by the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) against the Premier at the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commision), for discriminatory statements in reference to Macedonians. We consider Mr. Rann's response to be unsatisfactory. He claims that his criticisms were directed at the "incumbent President" of the Republic of Macedonia. However, this is not borne out by a reading of the transcript of his comments that he himself provided, nor, in any case, is it a valid defence.
The Australian Human Rights Commission ("the Commission") has acted on the complaint lodged by the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee ("AMHRC") against the Premier of South Australia, Mike Rann. Mr Rann is at present the subject of an investigation by the Commission for an alleged discriminatory slur against Macedonians. At the 31st Annual "Dimitria Greek Festival" (29/11/09) in South Australia, Mr Rann made the following statement in reference to Macedonians: "People sometimes say to me, but why is this important? It is important because no one is entitled to steal another nation's history or culture; that's why it's important". ?
STATEMENT OF EFA-RAINBOW, AMHRC AND MHRMI ON THE 2010 STATE DEPARTMENT REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES IN GREECE
12 March 2010
The European Free Alliance Rainbow, the political party of the Macedonian minority of Greece, the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) and Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) call upon the international community to demand that the Greek government take action to end its human rights violations in light of the US State Department's annual report on human rights practices in Greece.