EFA calls for dignity and human rights for Macedonian political prisoners

Since 2017, a number of activists have been imprisoned and subjected to degrading treatment in the Macedonian prison system, many of them having been jailed on the basis of questionable charges. Their case is one of political persecution owing to their opposition to the government’s efforts to impose a change of the country’s name, against the will of a majority of the population, culminating in the “Prespa Agreement” with Greece.

Today, these political prisoners continue to face intolerable conditions, including the denial of urgent medical treatment.

Grave concern

In 2021 the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee adopted a report expressing grave concern for the prison conditions in the country, particularly noting the physical mistreatment of prisoners and neglect for their health requirements. In a recent meeting with EFA, Macedonian Human Rights Movement International explained that they have brought several cases to the European Court of Human Rights regarding this situation, seeking justice for the political prisoners.

EFA President Lorena López de Lacalle said: “The EU and international institutions cannot continue to praise the Republic of Macedonia for its supposed advancement towards EU membership, while simultaneously turning a blind eye to politically-motivated persecution and outrageous prison conditions. It is European values that are at stake here: the very European values that the country is required to respect to secure its path to the EU.”

Defending freedoms

“EFA stands for the defence of freedom of speech and strongly condemns any and all persecutions intended to suppress legitimate political criticism. We reiterate the right of the Macedonian people to identify as they please, to celebrate their own culture without capitulating to foreign demands, and to voice dissent against unjust government policy without fear of punishment.”

EFA has long been a champion of the Macedonian people’s right to dignity and self-determination, in collaboration with our member party OMO Ilinden-Pirin. We express our gravest concern for the worsening atmosphere of intimidation and violence facing the Macedonian community in Bulgaria, culminating recently in an attack on the premises of a Macedonian Cultural Club in Blagoevgrad. EFA calls for recognition, tolerance and respect for this long-suffering community, and the immediate condemnation by the Bulgarian authorities of all racially-motivated hostility towards them.