Denying Ethnic Identity - The Macedonians of Greece, April 1994

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  • DDDDENYING ENYING ENYING ENYING EEEETHNIC THNIC THNIC THNIC IIIIDENTITYDENTITYDENTITYDENTITY The Macedonians of GreeceThe Macedonians of GreeceThe Macedonians of GreeceThe Macedonians of Greece Human Rights Watch/HelsinkiHuman Rights Watch/HelsinkiHuman Rights Watch/HelsinkiHuman Rights Watch/Helsinki (formerly Helsinki Watch)(formerly Helsinki Watch)(formerly Helsinki Watch)(formerly Helsinki Watch) Human Rights WatchHuman Rights WatchHuman Rights WatchHuman Rights Watch New York New York New York New York $$$$ Washington Washington Washington Washington $$$$ Los Angeles Los Angeles Los Angeles Los Angeles $$$$ London London London London

  • Copyright April 1994 by Human Rights Watch. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 94-75891 ISBN: 1-56432-132-0 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, formerly Helsinki Watch, was established in 1978 to monitor and promote domestic and international compliance with the human rights provisions of the 1975 Helsinki accords. It is affiliated with the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, which is based in Vienna. The staff includes Jeri Laber, executive director; Lois Whitman, deputy director; Holly Cartner and Julie Mertus, counsels; Erika Dailey, Rachel Denber, Ivana Nizich and Christopher Panico, research associates; Christina Derry, Ivan Lupis, Alexander Petrov and Isabelle Tin-Aung, associates. The advisory committee chair is Jonathan Fanton; Alice Henkin is vice chair.

  • TABLE OF CONTENTSTABLE OF CONTENTSTABLE OF CONTENTSTABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgments .............................................................................................................................................viii Frequently Used Abbreviations ................................................................................................................... ix Introduction and Conclusions........................................................................................................................1 Background ................................................................................................................................................................4 Denial of Ethnic Identity.....................................................................................................................................11 The Number of Ethnic Macedonians ...................................................................................12 Macedonian Ethnic Identity......................................................................................................13 Ethnic Macedonians Whose Identity is Greek, rather than Macedonian ....................................................................................... 17 Requirements of International Human Rights Law...................................................18 Denial of Permission to Establish Center of Macedonian Culture.........................................................................20 Restrictions on Free Expression................................................................................................................22 Discrimination against the Macedonian Minority ........................................................................26 Deprivation of Citizenship and Denial of Visas...........................................................26 Language..............................................................................................................................................36 The Greek Government's View...........................................................................37 Restrictions on the Use of the Macedonian Language ......................................................39 Views of Ethnic Macedonians............................................................................41 Requirements of International Human Rights Law............................................................................... 44 Employment .......................................................................................................................................45 Harassment .............................................................................................................................................................49 Harassment of Human Rights Monitors ..........................................................................49 Harassment of Ethnic Macedonians..................................................................................56 Fear ..........................................................................................................................................................58 Recommendations ..............................................................................................................................................61

  • Appendices: A. List of place names changed according to Decree No. 322 of 1926................................................................................................................62 B. Decree No. 106841 of December 29, 1982.......................................................................................68 C. Law No. 1540/85...............................................................................................................................................69 D. U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious, and Linguistic Minorities........................................70 E. Decision of Multimember High Court in Florina, August 1990............................................76 F. Charges against Christos Sideropoulos and Tasos Boulis, 1992 ................................... 79 G. Copy of visa application "meant only for the Yugoslav Citizens who are born in Greece and of Macedonian Origin" ................................................................................................................83 H. Copy of Stohos article on July fact-finding mission................................................................84

  • viii

    ACKNOWLEDGMENTSACKNOWLEDGMENTSACKNOWLEDGMENTSACKNOWLEDGMENTS This report is based largely on information gathered by a fact-finding mission in the Macedonian region in northern Greece in July 1993, organized and co-ordinated by the Minority Rights Group-Greece. The participants were Panayote Dimitras, representing the Minority Rights Group-Greece; Erik Siesby, head of the Danish Helsinki Committee; and Lois Whitman, the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch/Helsinki. The report was written by Lois Whitman and edited by Jeri Laber, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch/Helsinki. The Greek Foreign Ministry, which initially refused to meet with the three groups making up the fact-finding mission, was subsequently very cooperative with Human Rights Watch/Helsinki in answering questions and providing information. Macedonian rights activists were very helpful in providing interviews and information, sometimes at considerable risk. In many cases activists and others interviewed by the mission requested that their names not be used, for fear of retaliation by authorities.

  • ix

    FREQUENTLY UFREQUENTLY UFREQUENTLY UFREQUENTLY USED ABBREVIATIONSSED ABBREVIATIONSSED ABBREVIATIONSSED ABBREVIATIONS CSCE Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe ECHR European Convention on Human Rights FYRM Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ICCPR International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights MMBP Macedonian Movement for Balkan Prosperity MMHR Macedonian Movement for Human Rights

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  • 1

    INTRODUCTION AND CONCLUSIONSINTRODUCTION AND CONCLUSIONSINTRODUCTION AND CONCLUSIONSINTRODUCTION AND CONCLUSIONS The Greek government views the term "Macedonian" as a geographic term that describes all Greek citizens living in the Macedonian region in northern Greece. The government denies the assertions of the ethnic Macedonians1 in Greece that they are are a minority group; officials refer to them as "Slavophone Greeks" or "bilinguals."2 The Greek government asserts that there is only one minority in Greece--the Muslim (Turkish) minority in Western Thrace, whose existence was confirmed in the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 which established the rights of the Muslim minority in Greece and of the Greek minority in Turkey. Ethnic Macedonians, on the other hand, take the term "Macedonian" to mean a person of Slavic descent who speaks, or whose ancestors spoke, Macedonian, and who has a culture and customs different from those of the Greek majority. According to anthropologists who have studied the area, Macedonian ethnic identity has existed since at least the nineteenth century.3 In July 1993, a fact-finding mission made up of representatives of three organizations, the Danish Helsinki Committee, Minority Rights Group-Greece, and Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, went to northern Greece to look into the situation of the Macedonian minority there. We interviewed ethnic Macedonians who consider themselves Macedonian, Macedonians who consider themselves Greeks of Macedonian origin, and Greeks not of Macedonian origin who identify themselves as Greek.

    1 In this report the word "Macedonian" refers to a person who considers him- or herself to

    be a member of an ethnic Macedonian minority in the Macedonian region of northern

    Greece; it does not refer to a Macedonian from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

    unless that is specifically stated.

    2 For a report on the treatment of the Macedonian minority in Bulga