A history of the AMHRC (1984 – present)


Established in 1984 the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) is a non-governmental organisation that informs and advocates before international institutions, governments and broader communities about combating racism and promoting human rights. Our aspiration is to ensure that Macedonian communities and other excluded groups throughout the world, are recognised, respected and afforded equitable treatment.

 

International Activism

Since its formation, the committee has achieved a great deal in pursuit of its goals. In 1989 the organisation sent two delegates to Europe, who together with activists of the Central Organizational Committee for Macedonian Human Rights in Aegean Macedonia and the Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada visited the United Nations, European Parliament and the Council of Europe where they discussed issues related to the defence and respect of the human rights of the Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia in Greece.

In 1990 two delegates were provided to a united Macedonian delegation- including delegates from Canada and Aegean and Pirin Macedonia- which participated in the Human Dimension Conference in Copenhagen organized by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and where it lobbied for the respect of the human rights of Macedonians in Greece and Bulgaria. In 1991, the AMHRC once again provided two delegates to a broad international delegation of Macedonian activists which again lobbied for the respect of the human rights of the Macedonians in Aegean and Pirin Macedonia as well as in Albania at the Human Dimension Conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which was held in Moscow. In 1992 a delegate of the committee formed part of an international Macedonian delegation which attended the third Human Dimension Conference of the OSCE in Helsinki. Once again, this delegation raised the question of respect for the human rights of the Macedonians in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania.


Campaigning for the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia

In 1992 the AMHRC played a major role in organizing the large all-Macedonian rally in Melbourne in 1992 in support of the Republic of Macedonia's name and the massive protest meeting held in July 1994 against the Australian Federal Government's renaming of the Macedonian community in Australia as “Slav-Macedonians” and “associates of Slav Macedonians”.

 

Challenging discrimination in Australia

In 1994 the Committee played an active role in the campaign to have the Slav prefix removed. In 1995 the AMHRC lodged a complaint in the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission (which represented the Federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC)) against the renaming of the Macedonian language by the Kennett Government as 'Macedonian (Slavonic)'. The long legal campaign waged by the AMHRC and Macedonian Teachers’ Association ended successfully on 8 September 2000 when Alexander Street SC of the Federal Court of Australia decided in favour of the AMHRC and declared illegal the Victorian Government's attempts to rename the Macedonian language. Today the term Macedonian has been restored.

 

Cooperation with Macedonian groups in Aegean and Pirin Macedonia, Mala Prespa and beyond.

Over the last decade, the AMHRC has intensified its cooperation with the parties representing the Macedonian minorities in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania; that is, EFA-Rainbow (Vinozito) and OMO-Ilinden-Pirin in order to provide those parties with greater support so that they can achieve the goals they have set themselves. In 2004 the AMHRC sponsored the visit to Australia of leading EFA-Rainbow members, Pavle Voskopoulos and Natse Parisis. In March 2009 the AMHRC sponsored the visit of Dimitri Ioannou and Natse Parisis of EFA-Rainbow and Stojko Stojkov of OMO-ilinden-Pirin to Melbourne as the central part of its 25th anniversary celebrations. In future the AMHRC will endeavour to strengthen its ties with EFA-Rainbow and OMO-Ilinden-Pirin, as well as with the Macedonian parties and movements in Albania, so as to assist their struggle for the maintenance of Macedonian identity, language and culture in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania. The AMHRC sincerely hopes that the Macedonian community in Australia will continue to support the work of the committee, as it has to date, so that we can in the near future achieve the goals that Macedonians have for so long struggled.

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